FBI Acknowledges Trump Backers Discussed ‘Revolution’ Before Jan. 6th

FBI Director Christopher Wray and other senior Bureau officials have consistently downplayed the intelligence value of social media posts by Trump supporters prior to the January 6th Capitol riot, suggesting the agency had no “actionable” warning that the Capitol would be targeted by a mob. But according to a document entered into court records last week, an FBI agent acknowledged in a February investigative report that angry Trump supporters were talking openly in the days before the riot about bringing guns to the Capitol to start a “revolution.”

According to the report by FBI Special Agent Patricia Norden, a review of “open source and social media posts leading up to and during the event indicates that individuals participating in the ‘Stop the Steal,’ rally were angered about the results of the 2020 presidential election and felt that Joseph Biden had unlawfully been declared ‘President-Elect.'” The report goes on to say that “users in multiple online groups and platforms discussed traveling to the Capitol armed or making plans to start a ‘revolution’ on that day.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Norden cited the posts as part of the FBI’s justification for opening an investigation into former NYPD officer Thomas Webster, who was indicted in March on seven counts after he admitted attacking a Capitol police officer on January 6th. Webster, who has pleaded not guilty, says he was struck first; a federal prosecutor said Webster displayed “pure rage” befitting a “junkyard dog.” Video of the alleged assault was released Thursday. Norden’s report didn’t accuse Webster of being involved in the social media agitation.

The FBI document doesn’t say whether their review of social media posts was conducted before or after January 6th, but the language in the document contrasts with how FBI Director Wray has described what experts say was a vast trove of open-source intelligence, beginning in December, pointing to potential violence at the Capitol on January 6th, the day Congress was to count the electoral votes showing Biden’s victory.

Wray did not explain exactly what the FBI did know, and why the bureau didn’t do more, including publishing an intelligence bulletin, in response to thousands of social media posts threatening violence in the weeks before January 6th.

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