Hearing on January 6 Attack Reveals New Evidence of the Trump Administration’s Failure to Anticipate and Respond to Insurrection
Washington, D.C. (June 16, 2021)—Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to examine the events of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to count the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election.
“The attack was an insurrection,” Chairwoman Maloney said in her opening statement. “It wasn’t a peaceful protest or a normal tourist visit. It was an insurrection. You don’t have to take my word for it. The top Republicans in Congress, Senate Minority Leader McConnell and Republican Leader McCarthy, have both acknowledged that the events of January 6th were, quote, an ‘insurrection.’”
In advance of the hearing, the Committee released new documents revealing President Trump’s repeated efforts to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election in the days before to the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
The Committee also released evidence that the Defense Department received at least 12 urgent requests for assistance on January 6, but the National Guard did not reach the Capitol until more than four hours after the Capitol perimeter was breached.
The Committee heard testimony from FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Charles A. Flynn, and U.S. Army Director of Army Staff Walter E. Piatt.
Members of both parties pressed FBI Director Wray on the FBI’s failure to anticipate the January 6th attack despite the FBI possessing intelligence on the potential for violence.
- In response to questioning from Chairwoman Maloney, Director Wray admitted that he was unaware of more than 50 tips from right-wing social media site Parler warning of violence prior to January 6th, including one that stated, “don’t be surprised if we take the #Capital building.” Director Wray had previously asserted he was “not aware that we had any intelligence indicating that hundreds of individuals were going to storm the Capitol itself.”
- Under questioning from Chairwoman Maloney, Director Wray committed to providing the Committee with an analysis of the FBI’s failures leading up to the January 6th attack, including “the changes that we are making, the improvements and enhancements we are making to ensure that this does not happen again.”
- In response to questioning from Rep. Khanna, Director Wray agreed that the FBI needs to improve its intelligence gathering capabilities.
- Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs stated that between the chatter on social media and the Norfolk Report, January 6 was “it's just like an unbelievable intelligence failure. It seems like. It’s inconceivable to me that there wasn’t briefings with leadership here in the Congress and law enforcement. And as Director of the FBI you should be examining that breakdown so that never happens again.”
The hearing uncovered serious failures at the Defense Department, with witnesses acknowledging numerous planning deficiencies prior to January 6th, the failure to quickly deploy the National Guard, and “discrepancies” in DOD’s own documents about who gave key orders and when they gave them.
- General Flynn described serious planning failures, identifying multiple steps that should have been taken before January 6th, including having a “lead federal agency designated,” having “an integrated security plan,” and increasing “information and intelligence sharing on criminal activities.”
- General Flynn also acknowledged that DOD should have “pre-federalized certain National Guard forces so that they could have been immediately moved to the capitol and had those authorities in place before this happened.”
- When asked by Rep. Welch whether the above steps identified by General Flynn would have been helpful on January 6, Lieutenant General Piatt stated, they “would have been extremely helpful. That is what we did, sadly, after 6th January in the lead up for the security plan for the Inauguration.”
- In response to Rep. Herrell, Lieutenant General Piatt explained how these planning failures contributed to DOD’s failure to respond quickly on January 6: “[W]e should have been prepared. We should have had an integrated security plan. We should have had a lead federal agency. Those requests did not come in time to respond to a crisis, sadly, when it was occurring. We just couldn’t get there in time. We just were not in position.”
- In response to questioning from Rep. Raskin about who gave the order to relieve the Capitol and when that order was given, Lieutenant General Piatt stated that “there are discrepancies in the log and all the timelines as we merged all the reports.” General Flynn confirmed these discrepancies, stating: “I cannot explain those discrepancies in the timelines. I think as various timelines got merged, there’s minutes off.”
- In response to questioning by Rep. Quigley, Lieutenant General Piatt acknowledged that despite numerous urgent requests for assistance from the D.C. National Guard on January 6, his recommendation was that the National Guard should not be used as a “clearing force” to defend the Capitol.