As the country reels from the assault on the Capitol as Members of Congress were engaged in totalling the Electoral College votes received from the States in the presidential election, concerns continue to grow about further incidents domestic terrorism. WUSA-9, the Washington, DC CBS affiliate, had received questions from viewers about claims being made by conspiracy theorists that President Trump had invoked the Insurrection Act to seize military control of the country and even hold public tribunals to try those who would not reconsider the election results as criminals.

     The station turned to CCL's Robert S. Peck for an explanation of the Insurrection Act, which has existed in one form or another since 1807. As Peck told the station, the Insurrection Act can only be invoked unilaterally by a president, either when a state's legislature and governor were no longer functioning due to an insurrection or domestic unrest so that federal legal rights were being trampled, or when insurrection or domestic unrest prevented law enforcement or the normal processes from proceeding. To invoke the Act, a public proclamation is necessary so that the insurgents have an opportunity to disperse and return peaceably to their homes and so that other government actors might get involved. Not only is there a safeguard role for Congress and the courts during this cooling-off period, Peck said, but also an opportunity for the vice president to make use of the 25th Amendment, if the invocation of the Act is unjustified.