capitol riot

Capitol Police Were Told to Hold Back Against Insurrectionists: Report

Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

On Thursday, Michael A. Bolton, the inspector general for the United States Capitol Police, will deliver a report on the law-enforcement agency’s preparation for and conduct during the attack by Trump supporters on January 6. According to a copy of the 104-page report obtained by the New York Times, Bolton found several glaring errors with the Capitol Police’s approach in the days leading up to the attempted insurrection and determined that leaders told officers on the scene to hold back.

Bolton reportedly found that the Capitol Police did not properly prepare despite an advanced warning. Three days before the riot, a Capitol Police intelligence assessment warned that Trump supporters were planning violence on the grounds they are tasked with protecting. “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,” the intelligence report read.

Despite this report of the violence to come, the former chief of the Capitol Police determined that the likelihood of an attack was “improbable.” In a plan for the Stop the Steal rally, the agency wrote that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.” However, the January 3 intelligence assessment stated that “Congress itself is the target.”

As for the strategy on January 6, the inspector general found that Capitol Police leaders ordered the Civil Disturbance Unit not to use its most serious crowd-control weapons, such as stun grenades, as Trump supporters took over the building while lawmakers were still inside. Officers on duty told the inspector general that those tools could have helped “push back the rioters.” Bolton also found that some of the officers’ riot shields “shattered on impact” because they were improperly stored, and that other shields could not be put into the field because they were locked on a bus. To improve the response of the force and stop future intelligence breakdowns, he determined that the agency needed new “guidance that clearly documents channels for efficiently and effectively disseminating intelligence information to all of its personnel.”

With House Republicans blocking a January 6 commission studying the attack, the inspector general’s report is one of the clearest pictures yet of the Capitol Police’s failures to prepare and execute their role. The report further undermines the House testimony of former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund, who told lawmakers in February that “none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.” As early as December 21, the
Department of Homeland Security warned the Capitol Police of attacks from Trump supporters online, who encouraged each other by saying that “overwhelming armed numbers is our only chance.”

Capitol Police Were Told to Hold Back During Riot: Report