Capitol riot: US agencies failed to stop attack despite Donald Trump supporters planning it online, report finds

ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy has the damning details of the report

There were clear warnings that Donald Trump's supporters were planning to storm the US Capitol building with weapons, but that information was not passed on to bosses, a Senate investigation found.

Multiple authorities did not predict the attack even though pro-Trump supporters were planning it openly online.

The investigation found there were also police and military failures that meant the violent attack was not stopped.

Police officers fending off rioters suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and broken bones, among other injuries, the Senate report released on Tuesday detailed.

Officers told investigators they were left with no leadership or direction when command systems broke down. Pro-Trump supporters quickly overwhelmed officers and broke into the Capitol building.

Supporters of then president Donald Trump, including Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, are confronted by US Capitol Police officers Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The police intelligence unit “knew about social media posts calling for violence at the Capitol on January 6, including a plot to breach the Capitol, the online sharing of maps of the Capitol Complex’s tunnel systems, and other specific threats of violence,“ the report says. But this information was not properly passed on to leaders.

The report cites one example where someone emailed a public Capitol Police account on December 28 and warned about “countless tweets from Trump supporters saying they will be armed on January 6th” and “tweets from people organising to ‘storm the Capitol’”.

The National Guard was delayed for hours on January 6 as officials took bureaucratic steps to release the troops, the report found. There were hours of calls between officials in the Capitol and the Pentagon and as the Capitol Police chief Steven Sund begged for help.

The report said the Pentagon spent hours “mission planning” and seeking multiple layers of approvals as Capitol Police were overwhelmed and brutally beaten by the rioters.

ITV News cameras followed the insurrectionists into the Capitol building and through the hallowed halls. Credit: ITV News

It said the Defence Department’s hesitant response was influenced by criticism of its heavy-handed response to protests in the summer of 2020 after the death of George Floyd.

The police's incident command system “broke down during the attack,” leaving officers on the front lines without orders. In addition, some senior officers were fighting instead of giving orders.

Capitol Police “leadership never took control of the radio system to communicate orders to front-line officers,” the investigation found.

“I was horrified that NO deputy chief or above was on the radio or helping us,” one officer told the committee in an anonymous statement.

“For hours the screams on the radio were horrific(,) the sights were unimaginable and there was a complete loss of control. ... For hours NO Chief or above took command and control. Officers were begging and pleading for help for medical triage.”

Pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6. Credit: AP

The committee’s interviews with police officers detail abuse from Trump’s supporters as they broke into the building. The officers described hearing racial slurs and seeing Nazi salutes.

One officer trying to evacuate the Senate said he had stopped several men in full tactical gear, one of whom said “You better get out of our way, boy, or we’ll go through you to get (the senators).’”

The insurrectionists told police officers they would kill them, then members of Congress.

The Senate report recommends immediate changes to give the Capitol Police chief more authority, to provide better planning and equipment for policing and to streamline intelligence gathering.

Michigan Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee which conducted the probe along with the Senate Rules Committee, said: “This report is important in the fact that it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here in the Capitol.

“But it does not answer some of the bigger questions that we need to face, quite frankly, as a country and as a democracy.”

The riots at the US Capitol left five people dead Credit: AP

The bipartisan review did not look into former president Trump’s role in the riots as he called for his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested the findings show even greater need for a bipartisan commission to investigate Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, said he is confident the ongoing reviews by lawmakers and law enforcement will be enough.

The top Republican on the rules panel, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, opposed the commission, arguing that investigation would take too long.

He said the recommendations made in the Senate can be implemented faster, such as legislation that would give the chief of Capitol Police more authority to request assistance from the National Guard.