A bipartisan Senate report with a somewhat limited scope released on Tuesday has important revelations and conclusions about the “violent and unprecedented” Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building and how to prevent such catastrophic incidents from occurring in the future.
It casts a harsh light on the failures of government, military and law-enforcement agencies to prevent the attack — despite having some advance warning — as well as a lack of training and preparation for Capitol Police officers, which contributed to their suffering. The report, created by members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules Committee, concludes with 20 recommendations for preventing such an attack in the future — which is more likely to occur than not.
The report condemns the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for not warning Capitol Police adequately, though they were aware of a pro-Trump website that encouraged demonstrators to bring weapons and be prepared to subdue members of Congress and police, as well as other evidence.
“This is do or die. Bring your guns,” one commenter said.
“Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal,” said another.
Insurrectionists also discussed the tunnel system beneath the Capitol used by congressional members and staff and how it might be used during their attack.
The report recounts how the National Guard was delayed for hours after the attack began as officials in multiple agencies took bureaucratic steps to release them.
It includes harrowing new details about the front-line police officers who suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and broken bones as Trump supporters attacked them. One officer described the “absolutely brutal” abuse he received from the insurrectionists. Several described hearing racial slurs and seeing Nazi salutes.
Officers told the committee investigators that they felt abandoned, hung out to dry and “betrayed” by Capitol Police leadership during the attack itself.
That’s in sharp contrast to the “normal tourist visit” that Rep. Andrew Clyde claims to have observed that day.
Following the attack, several members of Capitol Police leadership, including the three-member Capitol Police Board, have been pushed out or resigned.
The report recommends immediate changes to give the Capitol Police chief more authority, to provide better planning and equipment for law enforcement, and to streamline intelligence gathering among federal agencies. And some senators say they’ll pass legislation to streamline the chain of command. That would be welcome.
But the report is as noteworthy for what it leaves out as for what it includes.
“This report is important in the fact that it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here in the Capitol,” Sen. Gary Peters, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “But it does not answer some of the bigger questions that we need to face, quite frankly, as a country and as a democracy.”
And we all know what those questions are.
The report studiously avoids calling the incident an “insurrection” — though the attack fits the dictionary definition — and avoids discussing former President Trump’s role, which several prominent Republicans — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and our own Sen. Richard Burr, among them — acknowledged immediately following the attack.
But the elephant’s memory is surprisingly short. Some of the same legislators who condemned the former president for instigating the attack have since sought his blessing at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Some are now seeking out his approval — and, no doubt, his donors’ contact information. Their refusal to hold him to account, to air every aspect of the insurrection thoroughly before the American people, guarantees that other such incidents will follow. The least the Senate can do is help Capitol Police be better prepared.