Two Senate committees on Tuesday released their bipartisan report examining the January 6 Capitol riot that found a number of security, planning, and response failures by federal law enforcement and government agencies that prevented a sufficient response.
The report, issued by the Senate Homeland Security and Rules Committees, looked at the security, planning, and response failures of the entities directly responsible for Capitol security — the United States Capitol Police (USCP) and the Capitol Police Board, which is comprised of the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol as voting members, and the USCP Chief as a non-voting member.
It also looked at “critical breakdowns” between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense and made recommendations to address the failures.
The report faulted the FBI and DHS for not issuing a threat assessment warning of potential violence targeting the Capitol on January 6, despite having done so throughout 2020, when they detailed the potential for increased violent extremist activity at lawful protests and targeting of law enforcement and government facilities and personnel, and despite “online calls for violence at the Capitol.”
The report also faulted the USCP’s intelligence components for failing to convey the full scope of threat information they possessed. Its lead intelligence component — the Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division (IICD) — was aware of the potential for violence in the days and weeks ahead of January 6 but “failed to fully incorporate this information into all of its internal assessments about January 6 and the Joint Session.”
The report said “USCP was not adequately prepared to prevent or respond to the January 6 security threats, which contributed to the breach of the Capitol,” and that its leadership failed to prepare a department-wide operational plan or a comprehensive staffing plan for the Joint Session. The report said it also failed to provide front-line offices with effective protective equipment or training.
The report also said only four of seven special Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) platoons activated were outfitted with special protective equipment, and they were not authorized to wear the equipment at the beginning of their shifts. When they tried to access the gear, one platoon found that it was locked in a bus. In addition, many front-line officers had not received training in basic civil disturbance tactics since their initial Recruit Officer Class training. Furthermore, the report found the USCP’s leadership failed to clearly communicate during the attack, and that they “gathered in a command center, blocks away from the Capitol building.”
The report also found that “opaque processes and a lack of emergency authority” delayed requests for National Guard assistance. It said the USCP chief could not directly request National Guard assistance, but must submit a request to the Capitol Police Board for approval. The report said then-USCP Chief Steven Sund never submitted a request to the Capitol Police Board in advance of January 6, and that Capitol Police Board members in charge on January 6 did not appear to be fully familiar with the statutory and regulatory requirements for requesting National Guard support, which contributed to the delay in deploying the National Guard to the Capitol.
According to the report:
National Guard assistance was delayed while Steven Sund attempted to contact the Capitol Police Board members and obtain the required approvals. The intelligence failures, coupled with the Capitol Police Board’s failure to request National Guard assistance prior to January 6, meant DCNG was not activated, staged, and prepared to quickly respond to an attack on the Capitol.
The report said it could not be pinpointed at what time Sund did make the request on January 6, due to the lack of phone call transcriptions. After the request was made, the DOD required time to approve the request and gather, equip, and instruct its personnel on the mission, which resulted in additional delays, the report said. In addition, prior to January 6, USCP informed DOD officials on two separate occasions that it was not seeking DCNG assistance for the Joint Session of Congress.
The report said DOD officials claimed they received a “workable” request for assistance from USCP at approximately 2:30 p.m. The request was presented to the Acting Secretary of Defense and approved at approximately 3:00 p.m. For the next ninety minutes, DOD officials ordered DCNG personnel to return to the Armory, obtain necessary gear, and prepare for deployment as leaders quickly prepared a mission plan.
The report summary said, “Miscommunication and confusion during response preparations, demonstrated by conflicting records about who authorized deployment and at what time, contributed to the delayed deployment.”
DCNG began arriving at the Capitol Complex at 5:20 p.m.—nearly three hours after DOD received USCP’s request for assistance and more than four hours after the barriers at the Capitol were first breached, the report said.
The report also blamed “inaccurate media reports” for slowing the DOD’s response, specifically citing a tweet at 2:55 p.m. by a Washington Post reporter that claimed the DOD “had just denied a request by D.C. officials to deploy the National Guard to the US Capitol,” despite the fact that no denial had been ordered and senior DOD officials were still analyzing the request.
Although then-Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller approved the National Guard deployment at 3:04 p.m., then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy spent at least half an hour fielding calls and reassuring Congressional and local leaders that DOD “was indeed coming,” the report said.
The report faulted DOD for spending hours “mission planning.” After Miller gave his approval, McCarthy colocated with D.C.officials developed a concept of operations for the DCNG and believed he needed Miller’s approval for it. His plan was approved and the DCNG was authorized to deploy at 4:35 p.m.
The report said, “DOD and DCNG have conflicting records of when orders and authorizations were given, and no one could explain why DCNG did not deploy until after 5:00 p.m.”
The DOD faulted the DOJ — which was designated as the lead federal agency in charge of security preparations and response on January 6 — for not conducting interagency rehearsals or establishing an integrated security plan. McCarthy said the DOJ never established a point of contact and did not effectively coordinate a response during the attack.