The FBI issued a warning of a possible attack on Congress a day before the deadly January 6 Capitol riot but the leaders of the Capitol Police and DC Police never saw it, according to their Senate testimony.
The FBI’s Norfolk Field Office issued a warning to all law enforcement agencies on January 5 that some Trump supporters were coordinating their plans to travel to DC for a possible “war” against Congress.
“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.,” the memo said. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
The FBI and other agencies downplayed the warning as “raw intelligence” that did not point to a specific threat or person but it came just two days after the Capitol Police issued an internal memo warning that “Congress itself” could be targeted by Trump supporters who saw the counting of electoral votes as their “last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
Memo never made it to leadership:
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the attack, said he saw the memo for the first time this week.
“If they were finding efforts that this was a coordinated attack, that had been coordinated among numerous states for some time in advance of this, that’s the information that would have been extremely helpful to us,” Sund acknowledged. “That type of information could have given us sufficient, advance warning to prep, plan for an attack such as what we saw.”
Acting DC Police Chief Robert Contee said he never saw the memo either.
"What the FBI sent, ma'am, on Jan. 5 was in the form of an email," Contee said. "I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something."
Former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger and former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, both of whom resigned following the riot, said they never saw the memo either.
Intelligence failure led to attack:
"Without the intelligence to properly prepare, the USCP was significantly outnumbered and left to defend the Capitol against an extremely violent mob," Sund testified.
"There were clearly intelligence issues with information that was out there that didn't get to the right people, actions that weren't taken," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who chairs the Rules and Administrations Committee.
"The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously to ensure they don't cross into the real-world violence," agreed Sen. Gary Peters, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.