Jan. 6 panel effort to blame Trump for violence ignores pointed warnings Congress got much earlier

On New Year’s Eve, Capitol Police were warned protesters planned an “armed encampment” and would “hang corpses of Democrats” on Jan. 6. Other intelligence flagged potential for snipers.

Updated: June 29, 2022 - 12:56am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

With the help of a former junior White House aide, House Democrats on the Jan. 6 committee tried Tuesday to convince the public that former President Donald Trump and his team were aware of the potential for violence among armed protesters the day of the Capitol riot and ignored the security risks.

Their presentation, using the hearsay testimony of 25-year-old former presidential aide Cassidy Hutchison, for sure excited the news media.

But it could not obscure one stubborn fact that glaringly was ignored at the televised hearing: long before Hutchison overheard concerns inside the White House on Jan. 2 and Jan. 6, 2021, about guns and violence, the Capitol Police that reported to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly received intelligence warnings about such possibilities and failed to increase security adequately or accept the Trump Pentagon’s offer for 10,000 or more National Guard troops.

Documents obtained Tuesday by Just the News from Capitol Police sources show the department received a pointed intelligence report on New Year’s Eve 2020 – a full week before the riot – that extremists planning to attend a rally earlier that day were discussing using guns, possibly in sniper attacks, and planning to violently storm the Capitol and hang Democratic members of Congress.

"Far right extremists call for 'armed encampment' & to hang corpses of Democrats at January 6 pro-Trump demonstration in D.C.” one entry in the Dec. 31, 2020, "domestic terrorism summary" that Capitol Police official Matthew N. Hurtig sent to multiple offices inside his department.

Another entry in that same report read: “Armed and ready, Mr. President: Demonstrators urged to bring guns, prepare for violence at January 6 ‘Stop the Steal’ Protest in DC.”

A third entry in the same intelligence report – which was sent to email distribution lists for the Capitol Police’s intelligence, investigations and internal security units – included a discussion on an extremist online forum on which members of the groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were sharing plans.

“Far-right forum users discuss taking violent actions at DC Trump Rally,” the entry read.

A Capitol Police official who was present on Jan. 6, 2021, told Just the News that the department had repeated warnings dating to Dec. 21, 2020, that guns, violence, storming the Capitol and targeting lawmakers were being discussed by the very extremists who would later show up on the day of the riot.

"This was a slow-motion train wreck where we had the intelligence of what Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were threatening, and we neither hardened our defenses enough nor accepted the Guard troops,” the official said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t cleared to talk to the press. “It is a clear failure of leadership.”

Other Capitol Police officials said they believed the department briefed some of the intelligence it was receiving to the political leadership of Congress through the House and Senate sergeant at arms offices, making the decision to reject the National Guard troops all the more puzzling.

Just the News reported earlier this month that the night before the Capitol riot, Deputy Police Chief Sean Gallagher sent an email to an aide close to Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer warning that expected demonstrators had maps of the Capitol complex tunnel systems and were talking of targeting lawmakers.

A former Capitol Police official on Tuesday noted there was a warning much earlier, referenced in a little-noticed footnote of the Senate’s official investigative report on the Jan. 6 riot. That footnote states police sent an email as early as Dec. 19, 2020, to a sergeant at arms official about concerns about the Trump rally. The report wasn’t more specific.

But other Capitol Police documents obtained by Just the News show that numerous detailed and stark warnings were included in intelligence reports leading up to Jan. 6 warning of gun violence.

On Dec. 23, 2020, for instance, the U.S. Marshal’s Service warned Capitol Police that a TikTok video posted by extremists planning to attend the rally was "calling for the use of snipers during the planned march on DC on 6 Jan."

The Marshal’s Service included the specific language captured in the social media video.

"In about two weeks there is gonna be a march in D.C.," the video stated. "You know those cops are going to be lined up with their shields and shit, you know what I mean? We gotta get some shit going on with snipers."

The detailed warnings to the Capitol Police were far more specific and numerous than the two vague instances Hutchison detailed in Tuesday testimony that she heard inside the Trump White House.

Hutchinson said Trump dismissed concerns on the morning of Jan. 6 that some of the protesters attending his speech might be armed and wanted the metal detectors to be removed.

"I don’t care that they have weapons, they are not here to hurt me, take the f'in mags away, and they can march to the Capitol,” Hutchison claimed Trump said.

She also that four days prior to the rally, on January 2, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told her that "things might get real, real bad."

The danger of Democrats relying on a junior aide whose knowledge mostly came from hearsay became apparent hours after the hearing wrapped up.

One of Hutchinson’s most explosive claims was that she was told that Trump tried to take the wheel of his presidential limousine and force the Secret Service to take him to the Capitol.

But NBC News and Fox News reported that Secret Service sources had confirmed that the two agents with Trump that day were prepared to testify the incident never happened.

"A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel," NBC reported.

While the public sorts out that factual dispute, there is overwhelming evidence that long before Hutchison heard about concerns of potential violence inside the Trump White House the Capitol Police was already fully alerted via multiple intelligence sources inside the FBI, Marshal’s Service, Homeland Security Department and the Metropolitan Police Department.