Will Trump special prosecutor backfire on Democrats? Some think so, and here's why

Special Counsel Jack Smith will have to probe how much FBI knew in advance about Jan. 6, predicts famed former longtime anchor of prime-time hit "The O'Reilly Factor."

Updated: November 23, 2022 - 3:23pm

Many in traditional news media have suggested the Biden Justice Department's appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith to investigate Donald Trump is an ominous sign for the former president. But famed television journalist and best-selling author Bill O'Reilly has a different take, predicting it will boomerang on Democrats.

O'Reilly told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show that Attorney General Merrick Garland's appointee will have to probe what the FBI knew in advance of the Jan. 6 riot, whether law enforcement could have done more to prevent the tragedy, and why a reported eight bureau assets were embedded among the protesters who went to the Capitol that day. Those are all issues the Democrat-led House Committee on Jan. 6 failed to address.

Garland's appointment of another special counsel to investigate Trump is "a drastic mistake," warned O'Reilly.

"In order for [Jack Smith] to investigate what Trump did or did not do on Jan. 6, he has to get into the FBI and what the FBI did or did not do," O'Reilly explained in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday night. "He has to. He can't bury it."

Noting that the New York Times reported that "there were at least eight FBI agents embedded in the most virulent protesters that day," the former longtime anchor of Fox News Channel's prime-time ratings hit "The O'Reilly Factor" said: "They were there. The FBI was there. Well, what the deuce were they doing?"

That very issue came up at a recent House committee hearing during questioning of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who pointedly refused to answer whether FBI assets were dressed in pro-Trump garb at the Capitol when the riots occurred but adamantly denied any FBI personnel instigated the attacks that day.

"Did the FBI have confidential human sources embedded within the January 6 protests on January 6, 2021?" Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) asked Wray.

"As I'm sure you can appreciate, I have to be very careful about what I can say about when and where we do and do not use confidential human sources," the director answered before Higgins interjected another question.

"May I finish?" Wray protested. "But to the extent there is the suggestion that the FBI's confidential human sources or FBI employees in some way instigated or orchestrated Jan 6th, that's categorically false."

Higgins persisted. "Did you have confidential human sources dressed as Trump supporters inside the Capitol on January 6, prior to the doors being opened?" he asked.

"Again, I have to be very careful," Wray said.

"It should be a no!" Higgins shot back. "Can you not tell the American people, 'No, we did not have confidential human sources dressed as Trump supporters positioned inside the Capitol on January 6.'?"

"You should not read anything into my decision not to share information on confidential human sources," Wray answered.

O'Reilly said the pursuit of an answer to that question is not a conspiracy theory. He does not believe the FBI instigated the attacks. But the presence of informants would suggest the bureau suspected something bad may happen that day that could have been prevented, he explained.

During the Wray hearing last week, "the question," O'Reilly said, "was simple: Did any FBI agents dress up like Trump supporters and go into that Capitol? And Ray would not answer the question. Now, that should raise flags everywhere.

"I don't think Garland even considered that when he was mocking up the special counsel. I don't think he even considered it, but that — if it's proven to be true, and I'm not a conspiracy guy, I don't believe the FBI instigated anything — but if the FBI knew what was gonna happen and didn't report it to the White House and to the Justice Department, all hell's gonna break loose in this country."

The question of what the FBI knew and what it conveyed to Capitol Police and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer's teams is also an important question for Republicans taking over the House in January.

Capitol Police records obtained by Just the News show the FBI as well as other law enforcement agencies began providing warnings of potential violence as early as Dec. 21, 2020, nearly three weeks before the attack.

An after-action report obtained by Just the News stated that some Capitol Police leaders had received intelligence from outside sources like the FBI warning of the strong potential for violence, including the targeting of lawmakers, on the day Congress certified the 2020 election, but those warnings were not properly distilled into the operational plan given to front-line commanders or highlighted in the summary section known as the "Bottom Line Up Front."

"The assessment for 1/6 contained a BLUF that did not express the severity of the threat or the fact that USCP actually had knowledge of a plan in place," according to the report. "The statement that protesters may be armed was included, but it was never expressed with the urgency that they planned to overtake the Capitol and target Members of Congress."

Other documents show the FBI intelligence warning were sent to a top aide to Schumer the night before the attacks.

Capitol Police Deputy Chief Sean Gallagher emailed top Schumer aide Kelly Fado, now the Senate's deputy sergeant of arms, at about 9:40 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021 saying he wanted to "provide you visibility" to new intelligence that an FBI threat analysis center had received from a website owner, according to documents obtained by Just the News.

The information explicitly warned that demonstrators had detailed maps of the tunnel systems around the Capitol frequented by lawmakers and their staffs and they were plotting to create a "perimeter" for potential violence and to find "Democratic members early to block them from entering the Capitol." One point of entry the rioters were targeting was the Library of Congress, he warned.

"The owner of the website submitted an online tip to the FBI NTOC (National Threat Operations Center) stating that he has noticed a significant uptick in new visitors to his website," Gallagher wrote. "We have identified numerous open-source comments indicating groups intentions of finding the tunnel entrances and confronting/blocking" members of Congress.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), retiring ranking member of the House Administration Committee, told Just the News earlier this year he has interviewed multiple whistleblowers who allege there were significant intelligence failures before Jan. 6 and his investigators have obtained emails and text messages showing what congressional leaders knew in advance of the attacks.

One Capitol Police intelligence analyst named Eric Hoar even blew the whistle days after the attack, telling managers that law enforcement had adequate warnings that serious violence was going to happen on Jan. 6 but did not adjust their security plan adequately.

"We analysts have been reporting for weeks that Patriot groups are commenting on social media their intentions to storm the U.S. Capitol with overwhelming numbers," Hoar wrote in the Jan. 9, 2021 email to his bosses

"The notion that valid intelligence is trumped by optics or political decisions is unacceptable and puts lives in danger," he added.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told "Just the News, No Noise" on Tuesday that Republicans have an obligation after they take control in the new Congress to release Capitol security footage from Jan. 6 that Democrats have withheld.

"I've called on Speaker McCarthy, if he becomes speaker, if you can, get the votes to release all the video footage," Steube said. "You know, as we sit here almost two years from January 6, we still haven't seen the video footage from the Capitol from that day, we still haven't seen all the information and text messages and phone calls from Speaker Pelosi.

"Republicans have asked for all that information. Well, of course, we haven't gotten that. And of course, the January 6 committee hasn't asked for that information. So I think we will have a lot of that available to the public to see for themselves what happened on that day."

The goal of a GOP-led investigation isn't to cast shame, but rather to "see if there's security protocols that we need to change to ensure that we're safe there at the Capitol," Steube said.

"But release the information," he urged. "What are you hiding if you're keeping security camera footage secret for two years?"