April 15, 2021
Despite being tipped that “Congress itself is the target” on January 6, Capitol Police were ordered not to use their most powerful crowd-control weapons, according to a scathing new watchdog report obtained in advance by The New York Times.
In the 104-page document, Inspector General Michael A. Bolton, criticized the way in which the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the insurrection on January 6. The report was reviewed by the Times and will be the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday, April 15.
Bolton found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians; and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also found that the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools—like stun grenades—to put down the onslaught.
The report offers the most devastating account to date of the lapses and miscalculations around the most violent attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
Three days before the siege, a Capitol Police intelligence assessment warned of violence from supporters of President Donald Trump who believed his false claims that the election had been stolen. Some had even posted a map of the Capitol complex’s tunnel system on pro-Trump message boards.
“Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th,” the threat assessment said, according to the inspector general’s report. “Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”
But on January 5, the agency wrote in a plan for the protest that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.” And the former chief of the Capitol Police has testified that the force had determined that the likelihood of violence was “improbable.”
Bolton concluded such intelligence breakdowns stemmed from dysfunction within the agency and called for “guidance that clearly documents channels for efficiently and effectively disseminating intelligence information to all of its personnel.”
“Mr. Bolton’s findings are scheduled to be discussed on Thursday afternoon, when he is set to testify before the House Administration Committee. He has issued two investigative reports — both classified as “law enforcement sensitive” and not publicly released — about the agency’s shortcomings on Jan. 6. He is also planning a third report.
CNN first reported on a summary of the latest findings.
Research contact: @nytimes