Police were warned about threat of militia members before Capitol riot
Michael Bolton, the Capitol Police inspector general, said on Thursday that an intelligence report was not shared or acted upon.
An intelligence report prepared for the U.S. Capitol Police before the Jan. 6 attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the building warned that the “Stop the Steal” rally scheduled for that day would attract white supremacists and militias focused on overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
According to ABC News, Michael Bolton, the Capitol Police inspector general, said on Thursday that the report was not shared or acted upon. According to his review of the events, “USCP did not clearly document channels for the distribution of intelligence up to the Chief of Police, down to line officers and across departmental entities.”
During a hearing of the House Administration Committee on Thursday, Democratic Rep. G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina noted, “We have a lot of work to do and we must do it quickly. January 6th was just absolutely unimaginable. And it can absolutely never, ever, ever happen again. Simply stated, Capitol Police were overrun.”
Bolton said that Capitol Police were provided with an intelligence summary that excluded key details of how extremists were being galvanized by rhetoric from Trump and other leading Republicans. It made it clear that the rally, organized by Women for America First and featuring Trump as a speaker, would attract violent extremists to the capital.
“Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike,” it said.
As predicted, many pro-Trump protesters who breached the Capitol’s security on Jan. 6 and were later arrested were affiliated with extremist militias such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers; many had clear white supremacist ties.
The report also warned, “Supporters of the current President see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election. This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent.”
The day before the attack, Trump fed into the narrative that the election had been stolen from him and could still be overturned, falsely claiming at a Jan. 5 rally in Georgia that Vice President Mike Pence would have the opportunity to right that wrong.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” Trump told supporters. “Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”
He also tweeted, “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
The intelligence report noted explicitly that the event would be different from ordinary protests in the capital: “Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”
Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives on Jan. 13 for “inciting violence against the Government of the United States” with his words on Jan. 6.
On Thursday, Bolton called for a “cultural change” that would provide vital intelligence to the Capitol Police to better prepare them for such threats.
Last month the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security released a report that said violent extremists “pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.”
“Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some DVEs [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year,” the report said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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