Despite weeks of planning between federal and local police agencies ahead of the Jan. 6 Trump rally — including tracking social media — officials said that going into that day they had no intelligence indicating there was a threat the US Capitol could be overrun.
It would turn out to be a catastrophic failure after an angry mob overwhelmed police and stormed into the Capitol building, ransacking lawmakers’ offices, injuring dozens of officers and stealing electronics and documents that could possibly include sensitive national security information.
Five people died during the riots, including a woman shot by US Capitol Police and a police officer.
During conference calls that included federal agencies and the city’s police ahead of the rally, federal law enforcement officials say the US Capitol Police assured counterparts they had the situation under control — they knew how to deal with large demonstrations at the Capitol, in large part because the complex was already being prepared for Inauguration Day, one of the most secure events in the city, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Federal and local officials said they did not have intelligence suggesting any violent mob was preparing to attack the Capitol, even as demonstrators were publicly saying on social media they were not planning a typical protest.
Of course, there were reports of violence when Trump’s backers had come to town last month, and the FBI was monitoring everything from social media to the hotels where some of the rioters were staying.
One sign of the preparations came in the days before the rally, when, acting on the FBI’s intelligence information, Washington’s Metropolitan Police arrested Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, after he left the airport en route to his hotel.
He was charged for his role in destroying a Black Lives Matter banner at a previous Proud Boys march in Washington, and prosecutors later added charges for carrying two extended ammunition magazines that are illegal in the city. As part of his release, a local judge told him to leave town and to stay away from Wednesday’s rally.
Police were caught flat-footed the next day. DC Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters there was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the US Capitol on Jan. 6. Three DHS sources, who usually receive such reports, were unaware of a threat assessment being shared from the DHS intelligence office ahead of Wednesday’s siege.
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