New reporting finds that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was warned by a confidential informant that the far right saw a December 2020 tweet from President Donald Trump as “a call to arms” to attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021, adding to a mountain of evidence that federal agencies were unprepared on the day of the attack despite having had ample warning.
Weeks before the attack, on December 19, Trump called for his followers to gather in D.C. on January 6 for a “wild” rally. Repeating a lie that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from him, he said: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
This tweet was “gaining hold” on social media networks and was viewed by the far right as a rallying call, according to an emailed tip to the FBI that was first reported on by NBC.
“Trump tweeted what people on the right are considering a call to arms in DC on Jan 6,” the informant, who is still being used as a source by the FBI, wrote in the email the same day the tweet was sent.
Accompanying the message about the tweet were insights into far right activity on forums and social media ahead of the attack. The far right extremists were rallying for war, the messages showed, and spoke of readying their guns and preparing for violence in support of Trump’s goal of overturning the election.
“We all must join/link forces and be ready to leave our lives behind,” one “boogaloo” white supremacist extremist said, per messages sent to the FBI by the source. “We must pool resources and fight like there’s no tomorrow! The Constitution still lives and we must preserve it. Blood is the price of freedom.”
In all, the source says they sent hundreds of pages of reports, which went directly to an FBI agent, in the weeks leading up to the attack. “The bureau saw this coming,” the informant said.
“To me, there’s no excuse to say, ‘We didn’t see this coming,’” they added. They expressed frustration that the January 6 committee did not address questions regarding law enforcement agencies’ responses to the attack in their final report on the findings of their 18-month investigation, which was released this week.
In many cases, officials appear to have ignored the warnings of the attack, which allowed the Trump militants to make it as far into the Capitol as they did, resulting in close calls for members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence. Agency officials even appear to be aware of the deficiencies in the response, as reporters uncovered this summer that the Secret Service deleted texts from the days surrounding January 6 after oversight officials requested to see them.
The January 6 committee’s failure to discuss law enforcement’s negligence that day has come under fire from legal experts, some of whom say that the agencies’ relative complicity in holding back the response to the attack should be one of the most important takeaways from the investigation.
“The summary [of the report] systematically elides the egregious failures of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to predict and respond to the violence of Jan. 6. More than that, it goes out of its way to present those agencies in a positive light, despite their catastrophic neglect,” wrote Quinta Jurecic, Brookings Institution fellow, in Lawfare this week.
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