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GAO Faults FBI, Other Agencies For Probes Of Threats Before Jan. 6 Riot

Federal agencies responsible for securing the Capitol failed to share intelligence adequately about potential violence before Jan. 6, 2021, hindering the response to the pro-Trump mob that stormed the building and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power that day, says the Government Accountability Office, reports the Wall Street Journal. GAO found that the FBI and Capitol Police identified “credible threats” in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, and received tips, including one about plans by outsiders to confront Democratic lawmakers and block them from entering the building. A failure by multiple agencies to “fully process” and share information left law enforcement unprepared for the unprecedented attack on the Capitol to certify the results of the 2020 election. GAO documented specific leads agencies received ahead of the attack. On the eve of the attack, the Capitol police obtained plans to block Democratic lawmakers from entering the Capitol that day.


Some tips did get acted on. The Secret Service received a tip from its Denver field office about a Proud Boys member who had “obtained ballistic helmets, armored gloves, vests, and purchased weapons, including a sniper rifle and suppressors for the weapons.” In response, the agency interviewed the Proud Boys member and his son on arrival at the airport on Jan. 5, 2021, and took steps to determine whether they were armed. FBI officials told GAO that by the day of the riot, the bureau was tracking 18 domestic terrorism subjects as potential travelers to the Washington, D.C., area The GAO released its report as former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four other members of the group stand trial on seditious conspiracy charges stemming from the attack on the Capitol. Prosecutors have argued that the Proud Boys weaponized the pro-Trump mob and spearheaded the attack, in a bid to keep President Trump in power. GAO scrutinized 10 agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, along with the Capitol Police and U.S. Park Police. It gave a particularly harsh assessment of the FBI, saying the bureau didn’t consistently follow policies for processing some tips.

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