Jan. 6 Capitol Attack Was “Planned In Plain Sight”
U.S. Capitol Police leadership knew at least two weeks before the deadly Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot that supporters of Donald Trump had planned to stage an armed attack on the Capitol but failed to act. That’s the conclusion of a joint report issued Tuesday by the Senate Rules and Administration and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.
The bipartisan investigation provides the most detailed timeline yet of the serious communications and intelligence failures that caused the Capitol Police and other D.C. area law enforcement agencies to prepare for the “Stop the Steal” protest as it were a typical Trump rally, rather than the well-planned, organized assault that was largely planned out in the open online.
“There were significant, widespread and unacceptable breakdowns in the intelligence gathering. . . . The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the homeland security panel, told reporters. “The attack was, quite frankly, planned in plain sight.”
The report documents how the intelligence arm of the Capitol Police sent out security assessments that labeled the threat of violence “remote” to “improbable,” even as authorities collected evidence showing that pro-Trump activists intended to bring weapons to the demonstration and “storm the Capitol.” The report also is a direct rebuke to riot-deniers like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) who are trying to rewrite history and claim that those who broke into the Capitol were just “peaceful tourists.”
As early as Dec. 21 Capitol Police intelligence officers knew that protesters planned to “bring guns” and other weapons to the Jan. 6 demonstration and turn them on any law enforcement officers who blocked their entry into the Capitol. They knew that would-be rioters were sharing maps of the Capitol campus online and discussing the building’s best entry points — and how to seal them off to trap lawmakers inside. But that information was shared only with command officers, not with frontline officers. Those officers ended up in hours-long hand-to-hand combat with a riotous mob that sought to halt the certification of the 2020 election of Joe Biden as president.
Release of the report comes just days after Senate Republicans blocked passage of legislation to establish an independent bipartisan commission to broadly investigate the attempted overthrow of the U.S. government.