Speed Reads

investigations

Washington Post investigation details red flags federal law enforcement overlooked before Jan. 6

In the weeks before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, tips were coming into the FBI and Department of Homeland Security about explicit threats of violence made by people who said they planned on going to Washington, D.C., when Congress was certifying President Biden's victory, but top federal law enforcement officials didn't appear to understand the gravity of what was taking place, The Washington Post reports.

On Sunday, the Post published an investigation into the events of Jan. 6, after speaking with more than 230 people and going through thousands of internal law enforcement reports and memos, court documents, videos, images, and audio recordings. Tips came in from across the U.S. about people vowing online to go to D.C. to fight for former President Donald Trump.

The country's regional homeland security offices — known as fusion centers — were getting reports from social media companies about users who wrote of disrupting Congress on Jan. 6 and hurting lawmakers, the Post reports. The leaders of the fusion centers shared tips on a call a few days before Jan. 6, and afterward the head of D.C.'s fusion center became so concerned, he asked the city's health department to call local hospitals and tell them to prepare for a mass casualty event.

On Dec. 20, one tipster called the FBI and said some Trump supporters, under the impression they had "orders from the president," were discussing ways to sneak guns into D.C., where they intended to "overrun" police and arrest members of Congress, the Post reports. One dismissed threat specifically mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the Post reports.

In late December, the FBI received three screenshots of a Parler user threatening to kill politicians and stating, "Don't be surprised if we take the #capital building." The FBI mostly considered such posts to be "largely aspirational" and protected under the First Amendment, senior FBI officials told the Post.

One informant voluntarily sent screenshots to the FBI, saying Three Percenters militia members "literally" took a Dec. 19 Trump tweet about the "big protest" on Jan. 6 — "be there, will be wild" — and a "Fight for Trump" video he later posted as "a call to arms," the Post reports. 

Several of the agencies contacted by the Post for comment said they are complying with investigations and learning from what happened to prevent future acts of violence. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich told the Post its investigation was "fake news" and claimed the people who stormed the Capitol were "agitators not associated with" Trump.