Did FBI leaders want Trump supporters to attack the Capitol? Did the leaders of the Capitol police want this? I can’t say they did.
What I can say is that the FBI was long concerned about the possibility of post-election violence, and that throughout the Justice Department there was grave concern about that possibility on January 6. Yet, neither the FBI nor the Capitol police did anything to prevent the storming of the Capitol.
Before the election, it was widely understood within the FBI and elsewhere at the Justice Department that Donald Trump, on the strength of in-person voting, would likely have early leads in swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, but that mail-in voting might well flip these states to Joe Biden. I’m told the FBI was worried that the erosion of Trump’s leads might lead to violence by Trump supporters.
Violence at that juncture was never likely and did not occur. However, as January 6 approached and many thousands of Trump supporters were coming to D.C., it was clear that violence and/or the storming of government buildings was very possible.
Accordingly, I’m told that Justice Department officials advised the FBI and the Capitol police to set up a perimeter to protect the Capitol and to deploy a force sufficient to prevent an attack. But this didn’t happen. Indeed, it’s my understanding that the doors to the Capitol building weren’t even locked on January 6.
By contrast, the Department of Justice’s main building was on high alert that day. I understand that forces were deployed to protect main Justice. Ironically, those forces eventually were sent to the Capitol to help quell the rioting. I’m told that Richard Donoghue, then the Acting Deputy Attorney General and a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, led them down Constitution Avenue to the Capitol.
Why, given all of the warning signs and actual warnings, wasn’t the Capitol protected? As I said, the FBI had been fretting for months about potential violence by Trump loyalists. FBI officials were part of the DOJ discussions about the possibility, if not probability, of violence on January 6, as well as about the need for the Capitol police to take serious protective measures.
Why didn’t the Capitol police follow the Justice Department’s advice and protect the Capitol? Why didn’t the FBI make sure the Capitol was protected?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I understand why some suspect that the FBI wanted a portion of the Trump supporters in D.C. on January 6 (a very small portion, as it turned out) to invade the Capitol. Just as the FBI apparently wanted extremist idiots to proceed along the path of a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.