WASHINGTON — Transcripts of interviews with law enforcement officials released this week by the Jan. 6 committee reveal that the panel learned that numerous security concerns had been raised in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol.
Many of the revelations came from interviews with high-ranking people, such as former Secret Service and White House officials. antonio ornato; former executive director of the National Threat Intelligence Center on Capitol Hill donell harvin; former deputy director of the FBI David Bowditch; metropolitan police chief Roberto Contee; former capitol police chief steven sund; and Director of House Personnel jamie floats.
But some of the new information came from questions committee staffers asked those officials on January 6 based on details they had gathered over the course of the 18-month investigation.
Much of that information, mentioned by investigators during interviews, was not included in the appendix to the committee’s final report addressing intelligence and law enforcement failures. For the most part, the leaders of the January 6 committee decided not to focus the final report on how law enforcement became so unprepared for the attack.
The new revelations add to a growing body of evidence from news reports and court proceedings illustrating how federal law enforcement agents were in possession of extensive information indicating that January 6 was going to be violent. As NBC News first reported last month, employees were told that chapters prepared by committee staff, including material focused on intelligence and law enforcement failures, would be cut from the final version.
Among the disclosures in the transcripts: An FBI employee wrote in a Dec. 26, 2020 memo about planning for Jan. 6 that ran on a pro-Trump forum called TheDonald.
“They think they will have a large enough group to march into DC armed, and that they will outnumber the police so they can’t be stopped,” said the notification on the eGuardian system, which is intended to help federal, state, and state law enforcement. and local. law enforcement officials coordinate. “They believe that since the election was stolen, it is their constitutional right to take control of the government and during this coup US law does not apply.” Another group of Proud Boys will already be in DC and plan to block the roads with their cars to stop traffic.”
NBC News previously reported that one of the FBI’s own confidential sources informed the office the day Trump sent his December 19, 2020, “it’s going to be wild” tweet about January 6, that far-right groups viewed it as a “call to arms.” The FBI received numerous tips about the potential for violence on January 6, including from the son of a Texas man who ultimately made it to the Capitol with a gun, and the office informed other law enforcement entities about the threats, including intelligence that it suggested that the Oath Keepers had established armed “quick reaction forces” in Virginia that were poised to enter DC on Trump’s orders. Two Oath Keepers members were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in a trial that ended last month, and three others have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges.
The January 6 committee transcripts detailed the challenges facing the FBI in the lead up to January 6. Days before the attack, the FBI stopped using the program it had been using to track threats on social media as the bureau transitioned to a new open source intelligence-gathering product. An FBI intelligence analyst raised concerns about it on New Year’s Eve, as threats about January 6 continued to escalate.
“We are in dire need of the DataMinr replacement to be up and active as of January 4 in support of some potential issues in the DC area,” the analyst wrote in a December 31, 2020 email. Sudden outage is all the more untimely as so much of our crisis response is channeled through DataMinr.”
Bowdich, in his January 6 interview with investigators, said a lot happened at the office in the days leading up to the attack: there was a huge cyber intrusion; a bomb had gone off in downtown Nashville, Tennessee; the first anniversary of the US assassination of Iranian Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani was approaching; and the office was receiving a lot of information about the potential for violence, much of which was publicly available on social media.
“I wish they could see the volume,” Bowdich told the committee, referring to the number of threats the FBI reviews. “It’s off the charts. … One of our biggest challenges is social media today.”
The bureau made efforts to try to disrupt extremists’ travel to DC; The FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Operations Section sent a message to all domestic terrorism assistant special agents in charge across the country to determine if any of the extremists they were monitoring planned to go to DC on January 6th.
Ultimately, the FBI established a national command post for the event inside the Strategic Information Operations Center at FBI headquarters in Washington.
“The noise seemed to be growing as we got closer to the event, and it got to a point where we just didn’t know what was going to happen,” Bowdich said. he been doing it.
Some of the officials interviewed by the committee about intelligence failures made it clear that they thought there were problems that needed to be fixed, both before January 6 and in the future.
“[Y]You don’t need intelligence. I mean, everyone knew that the president had ordered people to come there. November was run-up, December was practice, and on January 6 he was executed,” said House Sgt.-at-Arms William J. Walker, who was head of the DC National Guard on January 6. 6 “was going to be a big problem,” he said.
Sund, the former Capitol Hill police chief who resigned the day after the attack, said the intelligence he received did not “send a lot of red flags for me” because most protests are targeting Congress. Harvin, the former D.C. head of intelligence and national security, told the committee that Sund should not characterize what happened as an intelligence failure, but a failure to act on intelligence.
“He said it was an intelligence failure,” Harvin said. “It may have been an intelligence failure by his agency and a failure to properly contextualize and penetrate the threat environment, but it was not an intelligence failure overall.”
Contee, the DC police chief, said there was a need for better intelligence sharing and that he would have liked to have heard about a Capitol Police report on some of the threats related to Jan. 6.
“I don’t think you want to receive an Armageddon notification via email,” Contee said. “That wouldn’t be my preferred notification would it?”
When asked what she thought the intelligence failures were, the D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser it was blunt.
“People didn’t think these white nationalists would bring down the Capitol building,” the Democratic mayor said.