This has brought political extremism in America to unprecedented levels, Simi said, adding, “We really are in unchartered territory.”

The coronavirus pandemic has proved a “terrible recipe for extremism,” Simi said. Then came the Capitol riots: “What we saw on the 6th is the culmination of something that has been burning and building for quite some time, and in that sense what happened was quite predictable,” he said.

The Texas woman who says two of her relatives were on the Capitol lawn also described radicalization long in the making.

“They have closed themselves off from the rest of society, everybody else is the enemy,” she said of her relatives. One family member has argued for a “white ethnic state” and the separation of races, she said.

“It’s almost like a cult,” she said. “They all sit around and share conspiracy theories, that the media is lying to them, they don’t want to believe any kind of fact outside of their circle.”