WASHINGTON – Shields that shattered upon impact. Weapons too old to use. Missed intelligence in which future insurrectionists warned, “We get our president or we die."
As Congress pushes for a return to normalcy months after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, a damning internal report about the deadly siege is painting a dire picture of the Capitol Police's ability to respond to threats against lawmakers. The full report obtained by The Associated Press before the department's watchdog testifies at a House hearing casts serious doubt on whether the police would be able to respond to another large-scale attack.
The Capitol Police have so far refused to publicly release the report — prepared in March and marked as “law enforcement sensitive” — despite congressional pressure. Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who heads the House Administration Committee, said last month that she found the report, along with another she had reviewed, “detailed and disturbing.” The inspector general who prepared it, Michael A. Bolton, was scheduled to testify before Lofgren’s committee Thursday.
The Capitol Police said in a statement Wednesday that the siege was “a pivotal moment” in history that showed the need for “major changes” in how the department operates, but it was "important to note that nearly all of the recommendations require significant resources the department does not have.”
Bolton found that the department’s deficiencies were — and remain — widespread: Equipment was old and stored badly; officers didn't complete required training; and there was a lack of direction at the Civil Disturbance Unit, which exists to ensure that legislative functions of Congress are not disrupted by civil unrest or protest activity. That was exactly what happened on Jan. 6 when supporters of then-President Donald Trump violently pushed past police and broke into the Capitol as Congress counted the Electoral College votes that certified Joe Biden's victory.
The report also focuses on several pieces of missed intelligence, including an FBI memo sent the day before the insurrection that then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund told lawmakers he never saw. The memo warned of threatening online postings by Trump backers, including one comment that Congress “needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in” and blood being spilled.
“Get violent ... Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest," read one post recounted in the memo. "Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
A separate report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security in December alerted the police to messages on a blog where people appeared to be planning for Jan. 6. One online post included a map of tunnels under the Capitol used by lawmakers and staff. “Take note,” the message said.