(CNN) – A new Senate report reveals hitherto unknown details about the surprising security flaws that preceded the January 6 attack on the US Capitol., including the conclusion that the main intelligence unit of the US Capitol Police “was aware of the potential for violence” in advance.
The report adds an authoritative emphasis to previous evidence that there were massive intelligence failures, critical communication errors, and ignored warnings, ultimately leading to the chaotic response that day.
Among the failures is the inability of intelligence officials to relate a whirlwind of troubling internet conversations that led to the riots and the reliance placed on Trump’s use of earlier, non-violent rallies in security planning.
There are also several glaring omissions in The report, including any examination of the role of Donald trump in the riots, raising questions about whether lawmakers, in their quest for bipartisanship, exposed the limits of a Congress divided and unable to agree on certain truths, particularly those related to the former president’s actions.
Sources told CNN that for this report, prepared by the Senate Rules and National Security Commissions, to have the support of both parties, the language had to be carefully formulated, and that included excluding the word “insurrection.” which notably does not appear outside of the witness quotes and footnotes.
«Did we examine Trump’s role in the attack? The answer is no, “a Senate committee adviser told reporters.
“The report did not attempt to examine the origins and development of the groups or individuals who participated in the attack on the Capitol,” said the adviser.
Yet it is the most comprehensive government report on the security breaches that led to the Capitol uprising. Congressional investigators examined “thousands of documents,” received written statements from 50 police officers who defended the Capitol, and obtained testimony from a wide range of current and former officials who played a role in the security preparations and response.
New details on the scope of communication between agitators
Trump supporters posted many violent threats and dangerous claims on the internet in the run-up to January 6. The report says these were found on “message boards, social media, memes or hashtags.” But intelligence officials had difficulty interpreting the warnings on those posts and differentiating between protected political discourse and actual threats.
Advisers said the Senate investigation uncovered new information about the extent of prior communication between the agitators, including an increase in traffic to a website about the Washington tunnels.
The advisers were pressed as to why, despite mounting evidence that there were plans to attack the Capitol, law enforcement appeared to be building on previous MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) marches, which remained largely non-violent. Aides said law enforcement intelligence focused on inter-group clashes rather than violence towards a building.
The report also concluded that the main intelligence unit of the Capitol Police (USCP) “was aware of the potential for violence in the days and weeks leading up to January 6.” But not all were aware. The investigation found that the USCP’s “decentralized” intelligence operation meant that some people saw these warnings while other policemen were left out.
In a statement, the Capitol Police said that the intelligence reflected a “large demonstration that attracted various groups, including some that encouraged violence.”
However, the agency added: ‘What I did not know, as Acting Chief Pittman has pointed out, was that the large-scale demonstration would turn into a full-scale attack on the Capitol building, as there was no intelligence information. specific and credible about the attack, “referring to the acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman.
“Neither the USCP, nor the FBI, nor the United States Secret Service, nor the Metropolitan Police, nor our other collaborators in law enforcement were aware that thousands of rioters planned to attack the United States Capitol,” the agency added. “Known intelligence simply did not support that conclusion.”
Senate aides said the information in the report was drawn from a variety of sources: public hearings, private communications and five transcribed interviews, including that of former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and Pittman.
But there was clear frustration among the commissions that not all fully cooperated with their requests for information. The report relied heavily on information obtained from the Capitol Police.
“We got some information regarding DHS and the FBI. Not that DHS and the FBI have withheld information. It is that their response so far has been very partial and frankly unsatisfactory, “said a Senate adviser.
In addition, the Senate investigators ran into institutional obstacles, including that of the House of Representatives Chief of Security and Protocol, who did not provide information to the expert groups because “the House of Representatives is responsible for its own affairs, and the Senate is responsible for its own, ”said an adviser.
Pittman provided important testimony, both in an interview and in open hearings. However, the report notes apparent variations in their responses, something the advisers acknowledged but did not want to explain further.
“Throughout the report you can see significant quotes from Acting Chief Pittman and we point out where some inconsistencies have been noted, including with regard to intelligence data,” said the adviser.
Limits of a bipartisan investigation in Congress
The narrow scope of the report highlights the limits of a bipartisan investigation in Congress. Although the evidence and interviews gathered for months with bipartisan staff and members of two commissions, the information referred almost exclusively to the security and intelligence deficiencies that led to that day, without focusing on the reasons why the individuals would have come. to the Capitol first and in the role of Trump.
Senate Democratic investigators took careful steps not to alienate their Republican counterparts in the investigation process, which meant not taking a closer look at Trump’s role in promoting the January 6 rally and the attempt to months of lobbying local officials, legislators in Congress, and then-Vice President Mike Pence, to subvert the will of the electorate.
The advisers also shied away from language that might upset some Republicans, including not referring to the attack as an “insurrection.”
“The language that was chosen was purposely – and represents the consensus of the four members and their respective teams,” said an adviser to the Senate Committee. “We did everything possible to stick to the facts as we understood them and leave the characterizations in quotation marks where they corresponded.”
In a clear example of this, the report’s appendix includes Trump’s entire speech to the crowd on January 6, but does not delve into the interpretation of how he influenced the agitators on Capitol Hill. A Senate aide said that decision was made to avoid inserting “our editorial judgment” into the speech.
Although the report nodded to some of Trump’s statements and tweets that led to the events on Capitol Hill, the report did not fully explore the root causes of what led to an insurrection on Capitol Hill, nor did it directly blame the former president for promoting a lie that the elections were stolen, which mobilized supporters to rally on Capitol Hill on January 6.
The conclusion of the congressional investigation comes weeks after the Senate rejected a House bill that would have established a bipartisan commission to study the insurrection. That body would have been made up of people outside Congress and the administration. That investigation would have been far-reaching and would have been in charge of exploring some of the events that could have been responsible for triggering the events of the insurrection. However, the bill failed to prevail in the Senate, where only a handful of Republicans joined Democrats in backing it.
Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and senior member of the Homeland Security Commission, author of the Congressional report, voted in favor of the legislation that would have established the commission. However, Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and the GOP’s top member of the Standards Committee, did not.
Blunt argued that the congressional report was comprehensive enough and provided the framework for making arrangements for Capitol security, which could be delayed if a commission were established.
“I think a commission would delay the things we have to do,” Blunt said last month. “Frankly, I don’t think there are so many gaps to fill about what happened on January 6 when it comes to the security of the building.”
It’s unclear what the bipartisan Senate report will mean for Democratic House leaders, who could decide in the coming days and weeks to launch their own investigation, either through a new Select Committee or already established committees. who have been working for months investigating the incidents surrounding January 6.
Now that the report is out, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could argue that he is falling short and force another vote to create a commission. However, there would still not be the Republican votes to approve it. Without 60 votes or a united Democratic caucus willing to bust the filibuster, a commission could not be established.
–Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.