The FBI is warning of possible armed protests at capitols in all 50 states in the days leading to Inauguration Day as cities around the country brace for violence in the wake of last week’s deadly riots at the US Capitol.
An FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News on Monday raised alarm about a group calling for the ‘storming’ of state, local, and federal government administrative buildings and courthouses should President Donald Trump be removed from office prior to Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
The bulletin came to light just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced articles of impeachment accusing Trump of incitement to insurrection, five days after the mob of the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol grounds in a futile bid to block Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory.
As they worried about another possible wave of violence, officials said they wouldn’t be caught flat-footed this time: More than 6,000 members of the National Guard were deployed to Washington, DC, over with weekend, with dozens of them standing guard over the Capitol during Monday’s proceedings.
The National Park Service said Monday it would close the Washington Monument and other area facilities beginning today and lasting through January 24.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly considering sending as many as 13,000 guardsmen to secure the area on Inauguration Day. Prior to last week’s breach, officials had planned to deploy roughly 7,000 guardsmen.
With Joe Biden’s inauguration fast approaching in nine days, Washington, DC, and cities around the US are bracing for violent protests similar to that which left five people dead at the Capitol last week. Pictured: Members of the New York National Guard line up on the East Front of the Capitol on Monday morning
More than 6,000 members of the National Guard have already been deployed to DC in the days after a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol grounds
An FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News on Monday raised alarm about a group which is calling for the ‘storming’ of state, local, and federal government administrative buildings and courthouses should President Donald Trump be removed from office prior to Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Pictured: US National Guard members walk among the columns of the crypt beneath the Capitol rotunda on Monday morning
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced articles of impeachment accusing Trump of incitement to insurrection on Monday, five days after a mob of the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol grounds last Wednesday in a futile bid to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. Pictured: Security officials survey the Capitol on Monday
The flash of a police munition lights up the steps of the Capitol during the invasion by a Trump-incited mob on Wednesday
The hardened-up security plans come after the Department of Defense said it was aware of ‘further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day’, Congressman Jason Crow (D – Colorado) said in a statement Sunday after speaking with Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy about security preparations.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with the Defense Department, local DC authorities and inauguration officials to sharpen the law enforcement response in the coming days, including by erecting non-scalable fencing and security checkpoints around Capitol Hill.
‘Now that it happened people will take it much more seriously,’ a senior DHS official told CNN in reference to last week’s violence. ‘Now, the planners, they are all going to take it much more seriously.’
Federal and local authorities have faced fierce criticism for their perceived failure to crack down on Wednesday’s insurrection despite evidence that they knew it was coming.
Hundreds of people might now face federal charges in the wake of last week’s Capitol breach, DC’s acting US attorney said in an interview with NPR over the weekend, saying a massive, 24-hour-a-day hunt was on to identify suspects and bring charges against them.
In the meantime, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said she is ‘extremely concerned’ about security on Inauguration Day in a letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf over the weekend. She wrote that the event ‘will require a very different approach to previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury and death experienced at the US Capitol during the insurrection’.
On Monday the National Park Service announced that the National Mall and Memorial Parks will be shuttered until January 24 ‘in response to credible threats’ after last week’s riots.
The Pentagon is now considering sending as many as 13,000 guardsmen to secure the nation’s capital on Inauguration Day, January 20. Prior to the Capitol breach, officials had planned to deploy roughly 7,000 guardsmen
The Department of Homeland Security is working with the DoD, local DC authorities and inauguration officials to sharpen the law enforcement response in the coming days, including by erecting non-scalable fencing (pictured on Sunday) and security checkpoints around Capitol Hill
A protective fence is seen outside the US Supreme Court on Sunday as officials prepare for violence around Inauguration Day
Images of Trump supporters clambering up the walls of the Capitol – supposedly one of the most secure buildings in the United States – and smashing their way in with little resistance shocked the world on Wednesday
Monday’s FBI bulletin said the bureau is aware of plans for armed protests in every single state between January 16 and 20 – with one major demonstration slated to take place in Washington, DC, on January 17.
It said an ‘identified armed group’, which was not named directly, intends to travel to the nation’s capital ahead of the protest on January 16. ‘They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,’ the bulletin stated, according to ABC News correspondent Aaron Katersky.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are set to be sworn in on the west front of the US Capitol on January 20 before participating in a Pass in Review on the east front and then receiving a traditional escort to the White House by representatives from every branch of the military.
Biden’s team has remained adamant that the inaugural events, which were paired down prior to the MAGA riots to avoid drawing large crowds rife for transmission of coronavirus, should go forward despite last Wednesday’s events.
‘We are confident in our security partners who have spent months planning and preparing for the inauguration, and we are continuing to work with them to ensure the utmost safety and security of the president-elect,’ a senior Biden inauguration official said last week.
‘This will mark a new day for the American people focused on healing our nation, bringing our country together and building it back better.’
Trump on Saturday said he would not attend the inauguration, becoming the first president since 1869 to skip his successor’s swearing in. Vice President Mike Pence is still expected to be there.
The inaugural committee has been making last-minute changes to security plans in light of what occurred last week.
The event will undoubtedly look far different from previous years, when hundreds of thousands of people – and in some cases, millions of people – took to the streets to celebrate the start of a new administration.
A police officer passes signs of support for Biden and Harris near the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Sunday
A protester carries a sign calling for Congress to impeach President Donald Trump near the Capitol on Sunday
A Capitol Police officer stands alongside members of the New York National Guard on Monday morning
The National Guard deployed in force on Monday as House Democrats are expected to introduce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump
In a letter sent Sunday, Mayor Bowser asked the Trump administration to issue an emergency declaration for DC, citing intelligence suggesting that more violence is likely in the lead-up to the inauguration.
In another letter to acting DHS Secretary Wolf on Saturday, Bowser called for the ‘National Special Security Event’ period – a designation which allows for greater law enforcement resources and cooperation – to be extended from January 11 to 24. The period was originally slated for January 19 to 21.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (pictured) said she is ‘extremely concerned’ about security on Inauguration Day in a letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf over the weekend
Bowser also asked Wolf for the DHS to cooperate with other federal entities – including the Defense Department, Congress, the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice – to form a security perimeter fortified by troops around federal property.
She said doing so would allow DC’s Metropolitan Police Department to focus on its normal civic duties.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, echoed Bowser’s concerns in a statement following his conversation with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Saturday.
‘The threat of violent extremist groups remains high and the next few weeks are critical in our democratic process with the upcoming inauguration at the U.S. Capitol to swear in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,’ said Schumer, a New York Democrat.
‘Given that the same incendiary, dangerous rhetoric online that occurred before Jan. 6, which proved to be a warning of the insurrectionist attack, has only escalated since, I impressed upon Director Wray the vitalness of the FBI to work with other federal and state agencies to remain highly proactive and extremely vigilant to defend our democracy.’
Adam Schiff, chairman of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, on Monday said he expected law enforcement to ensure a safe event.
‘I think that there certainly may be violence, but I have to imagine, hope and pray, that this time the Capitol Police, the National Guard, will be prepared, will understand the risks,’ Schiff, a California Democrat, told CBS This Morning.
Schiff said the threat of more violence in the last nine days of Trump’s term was a reason to swiftly remove the incumbent, who fired up thousands of loyalists in a speech before Wednesday’s rampage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced articles of impeachment on Monday morning.
‘There’s certainly a danger that the president will continue to incite his followers to further violent activity, aimed at stopping the peaceful transition of power,’ Schiff said.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf is shown in full above
Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli on Thursday insisted that the previous day’s Capitol breach would be a ‘one time event’ and assured that Inauguration Day will be kept under control. Pictured: National Guardsmen gather on Monday
Members of the New York National Guard organize on the East Front of the US Capitol on Monday morning
The National Guardsmen added masks to their usual uniforms in light of the coronavirus pandemic
Cops promise hundreds more MAGA riot arrests in ‘unprecedented’ manhunt – but only 80 have been caught so far
Fewer than 100 people are believed to have been arrested in connection with Wednesday’s MAGA riot and police are now scrambling to catch up with the many who got away thanks to the outnumbered Capitol Police let them all walk free from the scene.
Some 85 people have been arrested and 55 have been charged in total across different jurisdictions but many of the indictments have not been made public. There are ongoing investigations by the Capitol Police, FBI, DC Metropolitan Police and the Department of Justice is assisting them all. The Secretary of the Army also revealed on Sunday that 25 domestic terrorism cases have been opened.
Because of the scale of the operation, hundreds of agents and cops are being deployed to track down the rioters who got away.
It is being described as an ‘unprecedented’ effort that was hindered from the start because the vast majority of the rioters were able to leave Washington DC last week without being arrested and have now scattered back to their various home states across the country.
On Friday, the Department of Justice released information on 13 of the people they had charged to date.
Since then, some of the more prolific culprits – like QAnon Shaman Jake Angeli, who stormed the Capitol wearing a horned furry hat – and stay-at-home father Adam Johnson, 36, who stole Nancy Pelosi’s lectern – have also been taken into custody.
Multiple others have been named as persons of interest but they haven’t yet been tracked down, including one man who is reportedly in hiding after being linked to the riots. At least two cops are also under suspicion of having some role in the riots, including an NYPD officer. It’s almost an impossibility that the many thousands who stormed the Capitol will all be caught.
Those who have been arrested and charged face will be prosecuted for an array of offences including unlawful entry, firearms possession, assault and making threats.
No one has been charged with murder. Four rioters died in the chaos, as did one cop who collapsed after allegedly being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher. A second cop killed himself days later.
See a list of those who have already been arrested here.
Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli on Thursday insisted that the previous day’s Capitol breach would be a ‘one-time event’ and assured that Inauguration Day will be kept under control.
‘You’re going to see immediate improvement, fully aggressive posture by the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice as well, because we accept violence from no one,’ Cuccinelli told Fox News.
The DHS has faced criticism for failing to step in when Capitol Police requested back-up during last week’s insurrection.
Cuccinelli suggested the agency didn’t get enough notice, saying that by the time the request came in, ‘it was just too close to when everything began to heat up’.
But a former top DHS official dismissed that assertion, arguing that authorities were aware of the possibility of violence well in advance.
‘Law enforcement was ill-prepared for an event the entire country knew was coming, and one that POTUS had been signaling for weeks,’ Brian Harrell, former DHS assistant secretary for infrastructure protection, told CNN, referencing the president.
‘The normal “layers of security”, with each inner layer being tougher to breach, was nearly non-existent. It’s shocking, that in a post 9/11 world, we witnessed the “people’s house” be breached and ransacked with ease’, Harrell said.
Harrell said he expects much more substantial security will be implemented prior to the inauguration. He said the biggest threats to the event will be an active shooter scenario, vehicle ramming and the deliberate targeting of critical infrastructure.
Images of Trump supporters clambering up the walls of the Capitol – supposedly one of the most secure buildings in the United States – and smashing their way in with little resistance shocked the world on Wednesday.
Five people, including one Capitol Police officer and four protesters, died as a result of the chaos. A Capitol Police officer also reportedly killed himself three days after the melee. More than 80 insurgents have already been arrested and at least 25 are facing domestic terrorism charges as the FBI continues searching for others.
DC Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in the Sunday interview with NPR that potentially ‘thousands’ of people could have information on alleged crimes committed during the Capitol break-in.
‘I don’t think there’s any similar case in DOJ history that compares to that’, he said.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and the Sergeants-at-Arms of both the House and Senate, announced their resignations on Thursday, at the request of congressional leaders.
Meanwhile, as Inauguration Day approaches, fears are mounting that the attack may have emboldened extremists to continue their campaign to block Biden’s path to the White House, despite the fact that he won the election.
In the days since the Capitol riots, calls for future armed protests have only grown among far-right circles, according to Twitter, which has monitored the chatter on its service.
A former DHS official warned that the Capitol siege could serve as a ‘rallying cry’ for Trump supporters.
‘We could start to see a lot of lives lost because of the moment that occurred on Wednesday, so very, very concerned about the cascading effects,’ the official told CNN. ‘It’s a very concerning moment.’
Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, expressed similar concerns, saying that far-right extremists and white supremacists were emboldened by their perceived success last week.
‘We fully expect that this violence could actually get worse before it gets better,’ Greenblatt said.
Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a bid to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory
The protesters used flag poles and other objects to break doors and windows around the Capitol building
Members of Congress are seen running for cover as protesters attempted to enter the House Chamber
Shortly before 2pm, the rioters descended on Capitol Hill while lawmakers were inside certifying the vote. Over the next two hours, the violence escalated. Some broke into politicians’ offices, tauntingly sat at their desks and left threatening notes. One of the protesters was shot dead by cops (bottom right)
Wednesday’s unrest reverberated around the US as smaller protests were staged outside several state capitols. Local officials across the US fear that Inauguration Day could bring further violence to their communities as well.
Washington State Gov Jay Inslee on Friday announced that he was mobilizing up to 750 National Guardsmen to secure the state’s capitol in Olympia at the start of the new legislative session on Monday.
‘The actions we saw in both Washington, DC, and Olympia earlier this week were completely unacceptable and will not be repeated in our state again,’ Inslee, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to the dozens of people who occupied the state Capitol and breached the grounds of the governor’s mansion last Wednesday.
‘In light of the most recent insurrection activity, the state cannot tolerate any actions that could result in harm, mayhem or interruption of function of democratic institutions,’ he said.
In New Jersey, state homeland security officials are monitoring plans for protests on January 12 and 20, an official with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
‘Some of the online rhetoric has called for protests at all 50 capitals plus DC,’ the official said. ‘FBI in particular has been continuing to put our threat assessments and we are at the state level as well.’
REVEALED: Capitol cops didn’t bring in reinforcements and were overrun by the MAGA mob despite multiple warnings
Capitol Police failed to bring in reinforcements the day the US Capitol was overrun by MAGA mob rioters despite the FBI warning of potential violence, federal agents visiting right-wing extremists and a slew of social media posts planning the anarchy.
Missed warnings and details of botched security efforts continue to emerge in the aftermath of last week’s chaos at the Capitol that left five dead in what law enforcement officials have already slammed as a catastrophic failure to prepare.
Local and federal law enforcement officials have spent the last few days shifting the blame after the riots were described as one of the gravest security lapses in recent US history.
Evidence has also emerged of glaring warnings from some hardline Trump supporters who vowed on social media to inflict violence and storm the Capitol.
Capitol Police have faced the brunt of the scrutiny for misjudging the security threat given they are in charge of defending the federal building that was overrun. The agency had only prepared for a free speech demonstration and no contingency plans were prepared in case the situation escalated.
It has since emerged that the FBI had warned Capitol Police of potential violence in the days prior and federal agents even visited some extremists to tell them not to travel to Washington DC for Trump’s rally.
Yet in the aftermath, federal officials publicly said there was no intelligence that suggested Trump supporters were preparing to attack the Capitol. It has prompted questions as to whether the FBI and others actually took the threats seriously and why they didn’t step in until after the Capitol was already under attack.
Capitol Police (pictured above) have faced the brunt of the scrutiny for misjudging the security threat given they are in charge of defending the federal building that was overrun. Law enforcement officials have spent the last few days shifting the blame after the chaotic Capitol scenes were described as one of the gravest security lapses in recent US history
Capitol Police under fire for not bolstering number of officers, misjudging security threats and declining offers for federal help
Outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned a day after the siege, has since claimed his request to have the National Guard on standby was declined two days before the ordeal by House and Senate security officials.
It contradicts earlier statements from senior defense officials who claim Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help prior to the riots and also on the day it unfolded.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned a day after the siege, has claimed his request to have the National Guard on standby was declined two days before the ordeal by House and Senate security officials. It contradicts earlier statements from senior defense officials who claim Capitol Police rejected offers of federal
Sources have previously said the Pentagon asked Capitol Police three days before the riots if it needed National Guard manpower. As the mob descended on the Capitol, Justice Department leaders also reached out to offer up FBI agents. The officials say the police turned down help from the federal agencies on both occasions.
Sund told the Washington Post that his supervisors were reluctant to take steps to put the Guard on call, saying that House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the ‘optics’ of formally declaring an emergency before the rally.
Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger reportedly suggested Sund informally seek out Guard contacts and ask them to ‘lean forward’ and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help, without officially calling upon them ahead of time.
Sund claims he tried five more times to request help but was rejected or delayed. He said he ended up calling Major General William J Walker, the head of the 1,000-member DC National Guard, to ask for help. He said he spoke to DC Police Chief Robert J. Contee III who also offered to help if trouble stirred.
Despite Sund’s recent statements, Capitol Police have come under fire for not bolstering the number of officers on the day of the protest and making no preparations for the possibility that it could escalate into violent riots.
The department had the same number of officers in place as on a routine day. While some of those officers were outfitted with equipment for a protest, they were not staffed or equipped for a riot.
Capitol Police have come under fire for not bolstering the number of officers on the day of the protest and making no preparations for the possibility that it could escalate into violent riots. The department had the same number of officers in place as on a routine day
It also emerged that once the mob began to move on the Capitol, a police lieutenant issued an order not to use deadly force, which explains why officers outside the building did not draw their weapons as the crowd closed in. Officers are sometimes ordered against escalating a situation by drawing their weapons if superiors believe doing so could lead to a stampede or a shootout. In this instance, it also left officers with little ability to resist the mob.
Sund still maintains that he had no evidence that a large mob was planning to seize the Capitol.
‘We knew it would be bigger. We looked at the intelligence. We knew we would have large crowds, the potential for some violent altercations,’ he told the Washington Post.
‘I had nothing indicating we would have a large mob seize the Capitol.’
FBI and NYPD warned Capitol Police of potential violence and federal agents visited some extremists in lead up to riots
The FBI and New York Police Department were among those agencies who warned Capitol Police of potential violence, law enforcement officials told NBC News.
Federal agents also reportedly visited more than a dozen extremists in the days prior and warned them not to travel to Washington DC.
‘Prior to this event, the FBI obtained credible and actionable information about individuals who were planning on traveling to the protests who expressed a desire to engage in violence,’ an FBI official told the outlet.
‘The FBI was able to discourage those individuals from traveling to DC.’
It is not clear exactly who, or how many people, the FBI visited prior to the riots. It also isn’t clear if any of those the FBI warned still attended the rally.
The source said the FBI and Capitol Police had shared intelligence ahead of the protests.
Justice officials, FBI and other agencies were monitoring flights and social media for weeks and were expecting massive crowds given Trump had been urging his supporters to come to DC.
He said in a December 20 tweet: ‘Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!’
Some hotels had been booked to 100 percent capacity – setting off alarm bells because tourism in Washington has cratered amid the pandemic.
Sources say the NYPD had also sent Capitol Police intelligence information of violent threats posted on social media in the weeks prior that were specifically related to the rally.
It contradicts public comments made by the head of the FBI’s Washington field office, Steven D’Antuono, who said last week there was no prior indication of the Capitol siege.
DC Police Chief Robert Contee had also said publicly there was no intelligence of a Capitol breach.
Despite officials saying they had no knowledge of attacks on the US Capitol, far-right social media users had been openly hinting for weeks that chaos would erupt and protests could descend into violence. One flyer that emerged on Facebook and Instagram last month was titled: ‘Operation Occupy the Capitol’
Some users openly discussed on Reddit the need to ‘overwhelm those barricades and cops’ in a bid to storm the Capitol
Some users posted images on Reddit of supposed underground entrances and exits to the Capitol building
‘Operation Occupy the Capitol’: Social media users had openly hinted for weeks that chaos would erupt at the Capitol
Despite officials saying they had no knowledge of attacks on the US Capitol, far-right social media users had been openly hinting for weeks that chaos would erupt and protests could descend into violence.
One flyer that emerged on Facebook and Instagram last month was titled: ‘Operation Occupy the Capitol’.
It directly referenced the January 6 protest that Trump had encouraged his supporters to attend.
Some users posted images on Reddit of supposed underground entrances and exits to the Capitol building, while others openly discussed the need to ‘overwhelm those barricades and cops’.
Many claimed that occupying the Capitol meant there would be no vote to certify Biden’s election win.
On the 8kun message board, users spoke for weeks about storming the Capitol. They even argued whether Trump supporters should target police.
‘You can go to Washington on Jan 6 and help storm the Capital. As many Patriots as can be. We will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount,’ one user said.
Others said: ‘Why kill cops and security guards? I was under the impression the enemies were the high government officials and the rest are uninformed masses?’
As the attack on the Capitol actually unfolded, social media users urged followers to ‘trust the plan’ and ‘hold the line.’
Just what the plan might have been is central to the investigation into the violent siege.
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the US Capitol. The FBI is now investigating whether some of the attackers intended to kidnap members of Congress and hold them hostage
The FBI is now investigating whether some of the attackers intended to kidnap members of Congress and hold them hostage.
Authorities are particularly focused on why some in the mob were seen carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs and had apparently accessed areas of the Capitol generally difficult for the public to locate.
Under battle flags bearing Trump’s name, the Capitol’s attackers pinned a bloodied police officer in a doorway, his twisted face and screams captured on video. They mortally wounded another officer with a blunt weapon and body-slammed a third over a railing into the crowd.
‘Hang Mike Pence!’ they chanted as they pressed inside, beating police with pipes. They demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts, too. They hunted any and all lawmakers: ‘Where are they?’ Outside, makeshift gallows stood, complete with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs had been stashed in the vicinity.
Only days later is the extent of the danger from one of the darkest episodes in American democracy coming into focus. The sinister nature of the assault has become evident, betraying the crowd as a force determined to occupy the inner sanctums of Congress and run down leaders – Trump´s vice president and the Democratic House speaker among them.
Pelosi said on Sunday ‘the evidence is that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people.’ She did not elaborate on that point in a 60 Minutes interview.