Two Senate committees released a report on the January 6 Capitol riot that reveals a massive breakdown in communication between agencies, driven by leaders of those agencies who didn’t take well-documented threats seriously or make plans to handle them.
But there was a glaring omission of the role of one person in particular: former President Donald Trump.
The 99-page report, authored jointly by Republicans and Democrats on the panel, said that Capitol Police knew weeks prior to the Jan. 6 riot that there were legitimate threats including maps of the Capitol tunnel system circulating online. It also said that the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Justice Department had their own major failures, and that Capitol police were ill-equipped to deal with hundreds of angry Trump supporters overrunning the Capitol.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, one of the report’s authors, told Axios that Trump’s role in the violence wasn’t investigated because of the ongoing Justice Department investigations into the riot. Instead, Blunt said, it focused on security failures, because the panel thought they “could quickly assemble the information about the failure to defend the Capitol.” Tellingly, the report includes a transcript of Trump’s speech at the rally that preceded the riot.
Neither Blunt nor Rob Portman, the other Republican author of the report, voted to convict Trump on his second impeachment charge. The report does not mention the word “insurrection” except in quotes, and CNN reported that the language was crafted in such a way to get Republican support for the report.
The division of U.S. Capitol Police dedicated to gathering intelligence and sharing information with other agencies—which at the time was led by current Capitol Police acting chief Yogananda Pittman—“knew about social media posts calling for violence at the Capitol on January 6, including a plot to breach the Capitol, the online sharing of maps of the Capitol Complex’s tunnel systems, and other specific threats of violence,” according to the report.
A December 21 report by that division, Intelligence and Interagency Coordination (IICD), attached dozens of pages of screenshots of comments talking about breaching the Capitol, according to the Senate report. “Deploy Capitol Police to restrict movement,” one comment said. “Anyone going armed needs to be mentally prepared to draw down on [law enforcement officers]. Let them shoot first, but make sure they know what happens if they do.”
But these threats were issued only to “command staff,” Pittman told the panel. USCP leadership including former police chief Steven Sund, and Pittman “failed to prepare a department-wide operational plan for the Joint Session,” the report’s authors said.
Regardless, IICD “did not convey the full scope of known information to USCP leadership, rank-and-file officers, or law enforcement partners,” the report said.
In a statement, the Capitol Police said it “appreciates and welcomes the Senate analysis” and said it has to make its own improvements in its intelligence operations. But, it insisted that agency officials didn’t and couldn’t have known that the threats they saw would turn into the events on January 6.
“The USCP consumes intelligence from every federal agency. At no point prior to the 6th did it receive actionable intelligence about a large-scale attack,” USCP said in a statement.
“Neither the USCP, nor the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Metropolitan Police or our other law enforcement partners knew thousands of rioters were planning to attack the U.S. Capitol. The known intelligence simply didn’t support that conclusion.”
The federal agencies had their own problems, the report found. Neither the DHS nor the FBI issued formal intelligence about the potential violence at the Capitol on January 6, according to the report. And neither agency deemed social media posts calling for violence credible: DHS officials testified at briefings in March that the threats were protected speech under the First Amendment, the report said.
The report issued a number of recommendations, including requiring department-wide plans at USCP for “special events,” better reviewing of threats and violence from intelligence agencies and for the Pentagon and National Guard, and developing “standing contingency plans for responding quickly to civil disturbance and terrorism incidents.”
The report also notes that neither the DOJ nor the FBI “fully complied” with the panel’s requests for information.
“The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,” Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, one of the report’s co-authors, told the Washington Post. “The attack was, quite frankly, planned in plain sight.”