Newly Obtained Intel Shows How the Capitol Police Didn’t See January 6 Coming

Despite early warnings, they assessed the chance of violence as remote.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The United States Capitol Police misjudged the potential for violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, forecasting it as only a remote risk, according to intelligence reports obtained by the Associated Press.

The reports, in the words of the AP, “show how the police agency for days grievously underestimated the prospect of chaotic violence and disruptions,” even as journalists and activists at the time were cautioning about the potential for violence that they were seeing in online far-right and pro-Trump spaces. 

The daily intelligence reports for January 4th, 5th, and 6th in 2021 had been discussed in congressional testimony and summarized in a Senate report on the failure to properly prepare for and respond to the chaos of January 6. In those full documents viewed by the AP, the publication found that Capitol Police had anticipated it to be “highly improbable” that people would conduct civil disobedience requiring arrests during the January 6 Stop the Steal protest. They rated other gatherings planned at the Capitol that day as “remote,” “highly improbable,” or “improbable”  in their chances of causing major disruptions. 

The reports for the 4th, 5th, and 6th contradict the findings and warnings of other Capitol Intelligence reports. A memo for January 3 found cautioned of a “significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike,” and a December 21st, 2020 report noted that people online were discussing and researching the tunnels underneath the Capitol, used by members of Congress, their staff, and journalists. 

The Capitol Police’s response to the riots and storming of the Capitol were harshly condemned in the Senate’s report on the “security, planning, and response failures to Jan. 6 noting that there was “a lack of consensus about the gravity of the threat posed on January 6, 2021.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate