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Capitol Police IG report criticizes January 6 planning

Prior to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, officials from the U.S. Capitol Police failed to act on intelligence that suggested protesters coming to rally that day could be armed and planned to “target” Congress, according to a report by the department’s inspector general obtained by CBS News.

The report, dated March 1, cites multiple “deficiencies” and the department’s failure to disseminate intelligence from as early as December 30 that suggested protesters “may be inclined to become violent.” Findings from the inspector general’s report have not been previously published and some lawmakers have been pressing to make them public.

“UCSP did not prepare a comprehensive, Department-wide plan for demonstrations planned for January 6, 2021,” wrote Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton. His review was the first federal audit of the January 6 attack. 

The report documented the department’s failure to pass along “relevant information obtained from outside sources,” including a memo from the FBI’s Norfolk division on the eve of the attack, which warned of the “potential for violence…in connection with a planned ‘Stop the Steal’ protest on 6 January 2021.” It said that late in the evening on January 5, a Capitol Police intelligence officer pulled the memo from the FBI system and emailed it around internally.

The IG also said the department internally disseminated “conflicting intelligence information” in the days leading up to January 6. The report cites a daily intelligence assessment shared among Capitol Police that lists an upcoming January 6 event as “Million MAGA March/US Capitol” and rates the possibility of “acts of civil disobedience/arrests” occurring as “improbable” — despite a previous internal assessment from January 3 that said the protesters’ “sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent” and “Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

Testifying in front of Congress in February, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said the department was aware that extremist groups would participate in a protest January 6 and could target Congress and become violent, but she denied the department received a “credible” threat for a large-scale attack on Congress.

“Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol, nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat,” Pittman said. 

Capitol Police declined to comment on the inspector general’s report. 

The report also revealed “inconsistencies” in the Capitol Police’s planning. Pittman and her deputy, Assistant Chief of Police Chad Thomas, told the IG they intended to use the department’s emergency response team to “extract non-compliant violators and disarm protestors if necessary,” but other officials told the IG they “were not familiar with any plans to…arrest or disarm protestors.”

In her testimony, Pittman said Capitol Police did take steps to upgrade security, such as increasing the number of officers assigned to civil disturbance units, deploying counter surveillance agents to monitor crowds and posting agents with assault weapons outside certain lawmakers’ homes. Capitol Police also added bike rack barriers outside the Capitol and helped intercept and monitor demonstrators’ radio communications on the day of the attack.

“While the Department was prepared to neutralize and remove individuals or groups engaging in civil disobedience or violence among the demonstrators, it was quickly overwhelmed by the thousands of insurrectionists (many armed) who immediately and without provocation began attacking officers, bypassing physical barriers, and refusing to comply with lawful orders,” Pittman said.

The IG document was the first in a series of “flash reports” from Bolton. It includes a timeline provided by the department, and makes eight recommendations for the department to implement, including recommendations that Capitol Police train its personnel on how better to understand intelligence assessments. 

The report also recommended all Capitol Police officers and employees obtain security clearances to receive classified intelligence briefings — a recommendation the IG first made to Capitol Police nearly two years ago.

Unlike other IGs in the executive branch, the Capitol Police is not required by law to publicly disclose reports produced by its inspector general. In a bipartisan letter earlier this week, Representatives Tim Ryan and Jamie Herrera Beutler called for its public release and criticized the department for its lack of transparency in the wake of the attack.

“This report will be a vital step to help better protect the Capitol Complex,” Ryan and Herrera Beutler wrote.



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