At the joint-Senate hearing on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot yesterday, top former Capitol security officers testified that prior intelligence neglected to forecast the extent of the potential damage that might occur. Testimony also revealed that on the night before the attack, FBI agents believed it was necessary to warn Congress that there was a threat of violence. Remarkably, the various officials attempted to blame each other and multiple federal agencies for their failure to protect the Capitol building as demonstrators flooded through security barriers to make their way into the building.
According to testimony at the hearing, on Jan. 5, an FBI intelligence report detailing plans for violence at the Capitol was sent via email to lower-level officials. It was never read by Capitol Police or Washington, D.C. leaders. Senators described that failure as "an intelligence breakdown" by both the Capitol Police and the FBI. Former Chief of the Capitol Police Steven Sund, who resigned from his post just days after the Capitol breach, agreed, telling senators during Tuesday's hearing about the incident, "I think in exigent circumstances there needs to be a streamlined process for the Capitol police chief, for Capitol Police, to have authority."
Senate Rules Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who helped preside over the hearing, told Sund, “Your testimony makes clear that the current structure of the Capitol Police Board resulted in delays in bringing in assistance from the National Guard.”
Sund, who indicated the incident wasn't his agency's fault, commented that on Jan. 4, the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms allegedly did not respond to a request for support. He also requested support from the National Guard but was denied. Sund confirmed the fact that President Trump was taking security seriously, stating the president requested the deployment of National Guard troops at the Capitol, but his request was denied by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Sund added that pre-Jan. 6 intelligence assessments indicated several extremist groups would participate in the Jan. 6 event in Washington. Sund said in a written statement to Senators, "The assessment indicated that members of the Proud Boys, white supremacist groups, Antifa, and other extremist groups were expected to participate in the Jan. 6 event and that they may be inclined to become violent." Sund described the violence as a "military-style" attack, saying, “These criminals came prepared for war.”
Raheem Kassam reacted to Sund’s explosive testimony surrounding the events of Jan. 6 on Steve Bannon's War Room, adding that his testimony all but proves Antifa’s involvement ahead of the storming of the Capitol building. Speaking about who should be held accountable, Kassam commented, "The main individual who must be held to account, however, is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell."
Earlier this month, Chad Wolf, Former Acting Department of Homeland Security Chief, said there are still questions why Capitol Police officers weren't adequately prepared. Wolfe noted that Capitol Police had "the same intelligence that we did" at the DHS, adding that intelligence was shared with the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department. He said the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies knew there was a “heightened threat environment” due to election tensions and therefore beefed up security ahead of Jan. 6.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has repeatedly questioned whether the riot was an "armed insurrection," defended the Trump supporters assembled that day as overwhelmingly pro-law enforcement, suggesting that a separate group of "provocateurs" turned unsuspecting rally marchers into an invading mob. Johnson propounded that police response, such as firing tear gas into the crowd, shifted the mind-set of a previously peaceful assembly, turning pro-law enforcement advocates against the police.
Hoping to offer a different perspective on what, how, and why circumstances got out of control on Jan. 6, Johnson used most of his Senate inquiry time to focus on the very detailed first-person account of J. Michael Waller, a Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy. Waller wrote that "the US Capitol riot displayed the markings of an organized operation planned well in advance of the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress. A small number of cadres used the cover of a huge rally to stage its attack. Waller stated that "before it began, I saw from my vantage point on the West Front of the Capitol, what appeared to be four separate cells or units."
Waller describes the four separate units he saw at the Capitol below:
- Plainclothes militants. Militant, aggressive men in Trump and MAGA gear at a front police line at the base of the temporary presidential inaugural platform;
- Agents-provocateurs. Scattered groups of men exhorting the marchers to gather closely and tightly toward the center of the outside of the Capitol building and prevent them from leaving;
- Fake Trump protesters. A few young men wearing Trump or MAGA hats backward and who did not fit in with the rest of the crowd in terms of their actions and demeanor, whom I presumed to be Antifa or other leftist agitators; and
- Disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. A column of organized, disciplined men, wearing similar but not identical camouflage uniforms and black gear, some with helmets and GoPro cameras or wearing subdued Punisher skull patches.
Responding to Johnson's use of his time on Tuesday, Klobuchar accused him of dabbling in a conspiracy theory, telling reporters, "He seems to be in denial and somehow wants to blame everyone but President Trump for inciting this."
Johnson, who acknowledged at Tuesday's hearing that the violence at the Capitol was sickening and reprehensible, has said he believes the Democrats are using the Capitol riot to characterize Trump supporters as an ongoing and broad threat. He suggested that the riot was a surprise to law enforcement officials because “the vast majority of Trump supporters are pro-law enforcement, and the last thing they would do is violate the law.”