The former head of the United States Capitol Police, Steven Sund, told a Senate committee Tuesday that cops in charge of Capitol security did not receive a copy of an FBI memo that warned of a “war” at the Capitol on January 6th.
Although Democrats have operated on the theory that President Donald Trump incited an impromptu attack on the Capitol building, encouraging his supporters to disrupt a planned vote verifying the results of the November presidential election, The Washington Post reported that the FBI had compiled a memo detailing a credible threat of planned violence on January 6th.
The memo, the report noted, detailed conversations taking place online between “right-wing extremist” groups plotting to attack lawmakers.
The memo “painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.”
“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.,” the memo said. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
The memo contradicts FBI statements indicating that they received no warning of plans for a riot at the Capitol — and the memo likely should have prompted a more significant response from Capitol Police.
Sund told lawmakers Tuesday that he saw no memo and had no warning of what was being planned.
Axios reports that “Sund testified that he just learned in the past 24 hours that his department had received the report from the FBI on the evening of Jan. 5. Sund said a member of the intelligence division at USCP did review the memo — but that ‘it didn’t go any further than that’ and that Sund himself had not seen it.”
Sund also told lawmakers that he believes those coordinating the Capitol attack prepared for weeks in advance because they came to the rally armed and ready for battle and because they seemed to have studied the Capitol security strategy, looking for weaknesses.
“These people came specifically with equipment. You’re bringing climbing gear to a demonstration, explosives, chemical spray – you’re coming prepared,” Sund said. “The fact that the group attacked our West Front 20 minutes before the event at the Ellipse ended – they were planning on our agency not being at full strength at that time.”
The attackers may have also used two pipe bombs as a distraction, Sund noted. Capitol police, he said, were “dealing with two pipe bombs, specifically set right off the edge of our perimeter to draw resources away” when rioters breached the Capitol building.
Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department acting chief Robert Contee backed up Sund’s claims, telling Senators that the rioters used “hand signals” to communicate during the assault.
“I certainly believe it was coordinated,” Contee said.
The hearings on the January 6th Capitol attack are expected to go on for several days, and the agencies testifying are expected to point fingers at each other, effectively sharing the blame for the breakdown in security that lead to the death of five people and dozens of injuries.
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