Capitol Police warned by FBI, NYPD of risk of violence at Capitol: report
FBI and New York Police Department (NYPD) officials warned U.S. Capitol Police of the risk of violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 amid the planned protests against certifying the Electoral College results, NBC News reported Sunday.
The law enforcement agencies reportedly passed along information indicating the protests could bring violence before rioters stormed the Capitol last week, leading to the death of a Capitol Police officer and four others, including a rioter shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer.
The NBC News report comes after several law enforcement officials said there was no indication that the protests would lead to violence or that the Capitol would be breached.
A senior FBI official told the network that before last week, the “FBI obtained credible and actionable information” about more than a dozen people “who were planning on traveling to the protests who expressed a desire to engage in violence.”
The official said the bureau was “able to discourage those individuals” from going to Washington, which they said could have prevented more violent riots Wednesday.
“The FBI and our federal, state and local partners collected and shared available intelligence in preparation for the various planned events,” the official told NBC News. “The FBI was prepared to adapt as needed to fluid events on the ground, including having rapid response teams in reserve.”
The FBI official said the protests were “peaceful and nonconfrontational” during most of the day but that “when it became clear that some individuals were surging onto the Capitol grounds and entering the buildings, the U.S. Capitol Police requested assistance.”
“Within 50 minutes of that request, three FBI tactical teams were on scene to gain control of the area and offer protection to congressional members and staff,” the senior official said. “Over the course of the evening, the FBI presence ultimately grew to over 150 agents and other personnel.”
The senior FBI official’s comments come after Steven D’Antuono, who leads the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said, “There was no indication that there was anything [planned] other than First Amendment-protected activity.” The official told NBC News they were not in a position to explain why D’Antuono made that statement.
The NYPD also reportedly sent law enforcement agencies, including Capitol Police, intelligence covering the threats of violence on social media ahead of the Jan. 6 protests, multiple law enforcement officials told the network.
These officials added that the Capitol Police were also provided with another more specific intelligence report detailing the threats and extremist rhetoric on social media. Officials familiar with the intelligence packets said President Trump’s encouragement of the protesters to go to the Capitol most likely brought a larger crowd to the Capitol.
The NYPD and Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the NBC News report. The FBI declined to comment.
NBC News also reported that a private intelligence report published in December said that “the ‘million-MAGA march’ in Washington DC on 6 January is the next major flashpoint … the mass event (which will be held in the National Mall and outside the Capitol) is likely to spark street violence, some of which may be lethal, between Antifa and Trump supporters or far-right groups.”
Capitol Police had refused assistance from the National Guard three days ahead of the protest and from the FBI as rioters reached the Capitol last week, The Associated Press reported in the aftermath.
The day prior to the riots, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) told Justice Department and Pentagon officials that D.C. police would not request assistance from federal authorities.
But Capitol Police clearly became overwhelmed after rioters reached the Capitol, forced their way in the building and vandalized offices.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have sharply criticized the police response to the riots, prompting Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving to resign last week and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to oust Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.
Updated at 9:24 p.m.