The Washington Post published a bombshell report that takes a deep dive into the events before, during, and after Jan. 6 that provides a massively detailed look at the Capitol riot. And while there is lots of new information that the team of 75 reporters uncovered in interviews with more than 230 people, thousands of pages of documents, and hundreds of videos and recordings, one thing that immediately stands out is just how many warnings were ignored. “The red flags were everywhere,” writes the Washington Post in the first of the three-part series.
In the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, the FBI and other agencies received lots of incredibly detailed tips about how the planned rally by supporters of then-President Donald Trump could turn violent. But they were repeatedly ignored. One particularly galling example came on Dec. 20, when the FBI got a tip that Trump supporters were discussing how to get guns into Washington so they could “overrun” police and arrest members of Congress. The tipster was incredibly specific, mentioning how those who were planning to be violent thought they had “orders from the president” and in one instance even mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney as a possible target. Days later, the FBI decided no further investigation was warranted.
That was hardly the first time the FBI had gotten word that violence was being planned. A few days earlier, the FBI had received a tip that protesters were planning violence against law enforcement officers. “Please be in DC, armed, on the 6th,” read an online post that was part of an FBI memo. “You might have to kill the palace guards. Are you okay with [that]?” read one comment.
It wasn’t just about one mistake but rather a series of errors. “The paralysis that led to one of the biggest security failures in the nation’s history was driven by unique breakdowns inside each law enforcement agency and was exacerbated by the patchwork nature of security across a city where responsibilities are split between local and federal authorities,” details the Post. The Capitol Police, for example, knew all about the threatening social media posts “but was hampered by poor communication and planning.” Despite all the warnings, with days to go before Jan. 6 top officials still largely believed the biggest threat involved potential for fights between pro-Trump and anti-Trump demonstrators.
While the attack unfolded, the president essentially became a “mere bystander,” the Post writes. As he watched the attack unfold, Trump resisted acting as he seemed to have no interest in either coordinating any kind of response to the violence nor tell his supporters to leave the Capitol. “He was enamored with [how] ‘all these people are coming to fight for me’,” a senior Republican close to Trump said. “I don’t think he appreciated what was going on.” It took Trump 187 minutes before he finally listened to several Republican lawmakers and advisers and told supporters to go home.
The Post gave Trump a chance to respond to the findings but declined to publish the former president’s entire response because it was filled with “unrelated, inflammatory claims.” Responding to the investigation, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said the former president “greatly objected” to the investigation’s findings, characterizing them as “fake news.” The response also repeated Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged. “The media’s obsession with the January 6th protest is a blatant attempt to overshadow a simple fact: there is no greater threat to America than leftist journalists and the Fake News, which has avoided a careful examination of the fraudulent 2020 election,” reads the response.