Report: Capitol Police knew Congress might be targeted days before attack

“US Capitol Police were aware of the potential for violence specifically targeting Congress on January 6, at least three days before pro-Trump insurgents overwhelmed USCP officers and stormed the US Capitol, according to a Friday scoop by the Washington Post.

A January 3 memo from the Capitol Police intelligence division, parts of which were obtained by the Post, highlights the threat of violence by supporters of President Donald Trump in striking detail — and only adds to confusion about how the attack occurred anyway.

According to the memo, “supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021” — the day Congress convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory — “as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”

“This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent,” the portion of the memo obtained by the Post continues. “Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

The USCP memo also warned that the presence of “white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.”

“The memo from the Capitol Police’s intelligence division isn’t the only warning law enforcement agencies gave leading up to the violent events of January 6. On January 5 — just one day before the attack — an internal report produced by the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, warned of online calls for “war.””

“Sund was privy to the Capitol Police intelligence assessment ahead of January 6, and he reportedly asked the sergeants at arms for both chambers of Congress to put National Guard forces on emergency standby.

Sund’s request was ultimately denied, and National Guard troops were slow to respond as the attack unfolded, due at least in part to restrictions imposed by the Pentagon, which were first reported by the Washington Post.

In addition to Sund, both sergeants at arms have resigned their positions over the attack.”

There’s Still No Evidence Antifa Was Significantly Involved in the Capitol Riots

“Antifa is a real threat, and I’ve spent years documenting its illiberal activities. Most recently, antifa protested a book store for daring to sell a book by the antifa-critical writer Andy Ngo. (The predictable result of their efforts was that Ngo’s book surged to the top of the Amazon bestsellers list.)

But that doesn’t mean it’s fair to pin every example of mob violence on antifa. We know who caused the Capitol riots: supporters of the president who heard his call to protest the outcome of the 2020 election and took action.”

5 Profiles in Courage and Cowardice in a Trump-Dominated GOP

“Even before last week’s deadly invasion of the Capitol, McConnell, to his credit, forcefully rejected efforts to challenge duly certified electoral votes for Biden. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” he warned less than an hour before he was forced to flee the president’s enraged fans. “We would never see the whole nation accept an election again,” he added, and “every four years would be a scramble for power at all cost.”

Based on “sweeping conspiracy theories,” McConnell noted, “President Trump claims the election was stolen,” but “nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale…that would have tipped the entire election.” He added that “public doubt alone” cannot “justify a radical break” from historical practice “when the doubt itself was incited without evidence.”

These were strong words, but they came two months too late. From the moment that Trump began insisting that he actually won the election by a landslide, it was clear that the president’s conviction had no basis in reality. Yet McConnell humored Trump, neither backing nor rejecting his wild claims, based on the premise that Biden’s victory should not be conceded until the president had exhausted his legal options and the Electoral College had met. In the meantime, the fantasy underlying last week’s riot grew and spread, unchallenged by all but a few Republican legislators.”

“Even McConnell and Pence are models of bravery compared to Sens. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) and Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), who led the legally groundless objections to Biden’s electoral votes in the Senate. In doing so, they cynically and recklessly reinforced the twin delusions that gave rise to last week’s violence: that Trump won the election and that Biden’s inauguration could still be prevented.

At the same time, neither Cruz nor Hawley had the guts to explicitly endorse those beliefs. They calculated that they could reap the political benefits of kowtowing to the president’s supporters without paying the political cost of looking like kooks. It apparently never entered the minds of these two Ivy League lawyers that they might pay a cost for so blatantly trying to advance their careers by sacrificing their supposed devotion to the Constitution. The crucial question for the Republican Party now is whether they were right to ignore that possibility.”

Reviving Sedition Prosecutions Would Be a Tragic Mistake

“”That’s insurrection against the United States of America,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough declared after an angry mob overran the U.S. Capitol. “If Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump are not arrested today for insurrection and taken to jail and booked—and if the Capitol Hill police do not go through every video and look at the face of every person that invaded our Capitol and if they are not arrested and brought to justice today—then we are no longer a nation of laws and we only tell people they can do this again.”

Scarborough isn’t the only one thinking along those lines. The airwaves have been filled with calls for charging not just the people directly involved in the riot but the people who spoke at the rally beforehand. The word sedition is getting thrown around a lot. Merriam-Webster reports that searches for the word spiked an amazing 1,500 percent on January 6, the day of the violence.”

“The history of sedition prosecutions is rife with injustices, and the precedent, once established, becomes a grotesque Frankenstein monster. In many cases, the same people demanding prosecutions end up, when political fashions change, facing prosecution for the same offense.
World War II provides two classic examples. President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration initiated two mass sedition trials under the 1940 Smith Act, formally known as the Alien Registration Act, which made it illegal to “advocate, abet, advise or teach” the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

The first prosecution was against 23 members of the Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyist group, for conspiring to overthrow the government by force. As is typical of these cases, the government never provided any evidence that the defendants had specific plans to do this, focusing instead on the potential that their abstract Marxist boilerplate condemning “capitalist wars” or playing up wartime injustices, such as police brutality, might incite insurrection.

Later in the war, the federal government hauled up 32 anti-Semites and other right-wing extremists in the largest mass trial in Washington, D.C., history. Most of them didn’t even know each other before the indictment. The evidence was just as tenuous as the evidence against thr Socialist Workers Party. According to prosecutors, the defendants’ writings against Roosevelt’s foreign policy may have had an injurious influence on some members of the armed forces, undermining U.S. security. This, it was argued, was reason enough to send them to prison.

In these trials, the administration had support from members of the Communist Party. Only two years after the war ended, the government began prosecuting Communists under the same statute.

Those who want a new round of sedition prosecutions make the same argument: that inflammatory language—no more heated than in countless other rallies and demonstrations held every year—should be punishable because others may be moved to act.

None of the people now being singled out for political or legal retribution explicitly advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, or even the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors, therefore, should concentrate on those who actually breached the building.”

“Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric may well be worthy of impeachment and removal. In my opinion it is. But, in and of itself, it was not a crime worthy of jail time. Not unless we want to go down the ugly road of criminalizing strong or misguided opinions on a mass scale.”

Rep. Liz Cheney has backed impeaching Trump — and even Mitch McConnell may be open to it

“Cheney is the highest-ranking Republican to commit to backing impeachment so far. In a scathing statement, she wrote that “the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”

Cheney’s statement continues: “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Not long before Cheney’s statement, Rep. John Katko (NY) became the first elected Republican member of Congress to commit to backing this impeachment. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in his own statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.” A third House Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL), announced his support for impeachment, too.”

Police bias explains the Capitol riot

“Across law enforcement agencies, many are echoing the same message: that no one anticipated an attack of this kind on Congress and the Capitol”

““You literally couldn’t have had more information,” R.P. Eddy, a counterterrorism expert and CEO of the intelligence firm Ergo, told Vox. But law enforcement agencies, starting with the Capitol Police, didn’t do what was necessary with that information: “The threat assessment, obviously, was a total failure.”
And the reason for that, he and others say, goes back to the inability of law enforcement officials to see Trump supporters — a group of mostly white Americans, some of them law enforcement officers themselves — as a real threat.”

“It’s only become clearer over the past six days that insurrectionists were planning their actions openly in the days leading up to Wednesday’s riot, and that many people had sounded the alarm. Posters in pro-Trump online forums were making plans to “encircle” Congress and “go after the traitors directly” and to “Bring handcuffs and zip ties to DC,” according to the Washington Post. And numerous watchdog groups and private citizens sent warnings to government officials about the threats.

“It’s not so much that the cops weren’t aware of it. It’s almost like they were willfully ignorant of the possibility of violence,” Marc Ginsberg, president of the Coalition for a Safer Web, who personally warned officials of his findings, told the Post. Tensions surrounding brutal police action against protesters this summer also left local and federal officials wary of a large police presence during the planned protest.

Law enforcement officials were preparing for a crowd in the “low thousands,” according to Crow’s call on Sunday with Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy — not the approximately 8,000 people who showed up. They were also prepared for “small, disparate violent events” like stabbings and fistfights, despite numerous social media posts about guns, ammunition, and kidnapping lawmakers. The Capitol Police also had not requested federal support in the days leading up to the riot, and both the Capitol and DC Metropolitan Police Departments had declined offers of additional National Guard backup, McCarthy said.”

“After Bowser and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund requested federal reinforcements shortly after 1:30 pm on Wednesday, federal officials worked to understand the situation for more than an hour, according to the call with Crow. Their efforts were hamstrung by the lack of an operations center in the Pentagon, forcing them to “manage the situation by tracking down previously unknown contacts of local law enforcement and making ad hoc calls in an office environment,” according to the call summary.

But whatever happened at the Defense Department, responsibility for Wednesday’s events really started with the Capitol Police, Eddy said. “Every event like this has a lead agency,” he explained: “one group who’s responsible, ultimately, for what’s going to happen.” In this case, it was the Capitol Police. They failed to prepare their officers — many of whom were in ordinary uniforms rather than helmets and riot gear — and they failed to prepare in advance for the federal reinforcements they would need, Eddy said. “They obviously failed to understand what the threat was going to be.””

“Many of the rioters had a lot in common with the officials in charge of doing threat assessments in the days and weeks ahead of the riot, he explained: “They probably were very similar in race, probably very similar in income, probably very similar religious beliefs.” That includes a number of rioters who are law enforcement themselves. Departments around the country have suspended officers for their involvement in the riot.

The failure to anticipate the violence of January 6 was a “failure to imagine that folks who look like you, who probably think like you, are going to come do something that’s wildly different than what you’d want to do, and they’re going to try to kill you in the process,” Eddy said.

And it wasn’t just about failure to prepare. While some Capitol Police officers were assaulted by rioters, others appeared to aid or at least do little to stop them, with one officer taking a selfie with a rioter (he has since been suspended, Rep. Tim Ryan confirmed on Monday) and others appearing to move aside barricades to let them get closer to the Capitol.”

““On one hand, different groups of people are deemed a threat when maybe they’re not because they’re peacefully protesting, whereas a group of rioters full of domestic terrorists are not seen as a threat,” Karim said. Addressing that “is going to take transformational change.””

Members of Several Well-Known Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot

“The precise composition of the mob that forced its way into the Capitol on Wednesday, disrupting sessions of both houses of Congress and leaving a police officer and four others dead, remains unknown. But a review by a ProPublica-FRONTLINE team that has been tracking far-right movements for the past three years shows that the crowd included members of the Proud Boys and other groups with violent ideologies. Videos reveal the presence of several noted hardcore nativists and white nationalists who participated in the 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia”

“in December, as the group’s leaders planned to flood Washington to oppose the certification of the Electoral College vote this week for President-elect Joe Biden, they decided to do something different.
“The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist…,” Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the group’s president, wrote in a late-December post on Parler, a social media platform that has become popular with right-wing activists and conservatives. “We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows….we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion.””

“A journalist working with ProPublica and FRONTLINE encountered members of the Proud Boys in dark clothes walking through Washington on the night before the attack. The four men posed for a photo and confirmed their membership in the group. Few participants involved in the Capitol siege were seen wearing Proud Boys colors or logos.”

“since the incident, Proud Boys social media channels have flaunted their direct role in the attack and looting of the Capitol.

One prominent Proud Boys account encouraged rioters as the chaos was unfolding: “Hold your ground!!!… DO NOT GO HOME. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF SAVING THE CONSTITUTION.””

“eight men, whose movements were captured on video, were identified by ProPublica and FRONTLINE as members of the Oath Keepers, a long-standing militia group that has pledged to ignite a civil war on behalf of Trump. Members of the group joined the protesters and insurrectionists flooding into the Capitol. Footage from later in the day shows Oath Keepers dragging a wounded comrade out of the building.”

“Several other of the participants ProPublica and FRONTLINE identified from video have direct links to the white nationalist movement, which has seen a resurgence of activity during the Trump era.

One was Nick Fuentes, an internet personality who streams a daily talk show on DLive, an alternative social media platform. Fuentes, who marched in Charlottesville during the 2017 white power rally there, speaks frequently in anti-Semitic terms and pontificates on the need to protect America’s white heritage from the ongoing shift in the nation’s demographics. He has publicly denied believing in white nationalism but has said that he considers himself a “white majoritarian.””

“Another figure inside the Capitol with ties to white nationalists was Tim Gionet, a livestreamer who uses the handle Baked Alaska and who participated in the Charlottesville rally, which left one woman dead. Gionet was photographed within the Capitol and apparently used DLive to stream from within the building as events unfolded.”

“Other extremist figures present either at the rally or within the Capitol included Vincent James Foxx, an online propagandist for the Rise Above Movement, a now-defunct Southern California white supremacist group.

Also on scene: Gabe Brown, a New Englander who helped create Anticom, a now-defunct organization devoted to physically combating leftists. In 2017, Anticom members posted a vast trove of bomb-making manuals to a private online chatroom.”

“Photos from within the Capitol showed one unidentified man carrying a Confederate battle flag and another wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a skull and the words “Camp Auschwitz,” a reference to the infamous Nazi death camp.”

“After the siege, a Boogaloo Bois group called the Last Sons of Liberty, which includes militants from Virginia, posted a video to Parler purporting to document their role in the incident — a clip that shows members inside the Capitol. A loose-knit confederation of anti-government militants, the Boogaloo Bois have been tied to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and to the murder of two law enforcement officers in California. ProPublica and FRONTLINE have been unable to independently confirm their involvement.”

“The Proud Boys also celebrated on social media. On Parler, one Proud Boys leader posted a photo of members of Congress cowering in fear and captioned it with a menacing statement: “Today you found out. The power of the people will not be denied.””

The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration

“Instead of National Guard troops being posted en masse around landmarks before a protest even began, we saw the Defense Department initially deny a request to send in troops — and that was after the Capitol had been breached. Instead of peaceful protesters being doused in tear gas, we saw a mob posing for selfies with police and being allowed to wander the corridors of power like they couldn’t decide whether they were invading the Capitol or touring it. Instead of President Trump calling these violent supporters “thugs,” as he called racial justice protesters, and advocating for more violent police crackdowns, we saw him remind his followers that they were loved before asking them nicely to go home.

“It feels really unbelievable,” said Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation with the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. But, she said, it’s also totally unsurprising.
That’s because the discrepancies we saw Wednesday are just another example of a trend Kishi’s team has been tracking for months as they collect data on protester and law enforcement interactions across America. “We see a different response to the right wing,” she said.”

“in 2020, Kishi’s ACLED — a data-reporting project that began documenting armed conflicts and protests in African nations — extended its work into the United States. Using information gathered from local media, NGOs, individual journalists and partner organizations, ACLED researchers have catalogued months of detailed information about protests, including when clashes with law enforcement have happened and the type of force used by police. “We don’t necessarily have information on the number of Black vs. white protesters … but we do have a larger view,” Kishi said. “How is law enforcement responding to demonstrations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement versus demonstrations by the right wing … in support of [a] president that may or may not involve organized armed illegal groups?””

“Between May 1 and November 28, 2020, authorities were more than twice as likely to attempt to break up and disperse a left-wing protest1 than a right-wing2 one. And in those situations when law enforcement chose to intervene, they were more likely to use force — 34 percent of the time with right-wing protests compared with 51 percent of the time for the left. Given when this data was collected, it predominantly reflects a difference in how police respond to Black Lives Matter, compared with how they respond to anti-mask demonstrations, pro-Trump extremists, QAnon rallies, and militia groups.

The differences in intervention weren’t because BLM protests were particularly violent. ACLED found that 93 percent of the protests associated with BLM were entirely peaceful. “Even if we were to put those [7] percent of demonstrations aside and look purely at peaceful [BLM protests], we are seeing a more heavy handed response [compared with right-wing protests],” Kishi said.”