2 federal law enforcement agencies found credible threats in the lead up to Jan. 6: Watchdog

The FBI and U.S. Capitol Police failed to turn over intelligence.

February 28, 2023, 9:17 PM

Two federal law enforcement agencies found credible threats in the lead up to the events of Jan. 6 and also that the FBI and DHS did not follow procedures in the lead up to the day's events, the Government Accountability Office found.

The FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police assessed there would be credible threats on Jan. 6 to Congress, according to the GAO report.

“FBI personnel did not follow policies for processing some tips, resulting in them not being developed into reports that could have been shared with partners,” according to the report. “Specifically, the FBI did not process all relevant information related to potential violence on Jan. 6.”

The U.S. Capitol Police said everyone in the D.C. region must ensure an attack like what happened on Jan. 6 never happens again, and that Capitol Police has made "dozens of changes" including improving "intelligence, planning, communication, training, and equipment, among other reforms."

PHOTO: Pro-Trump supporters storm the Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump, Jan. 6, 2021.
Pro-Trump supporters storm the Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump, Jan. 6, 2021.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

"The Department expected and planned for violence from some protesters with ties to domestic terrorist organizations, but nobody in the law enforcement or intelligence communities imagined, on top of that threat, Americans who were not affiliated with those groups would cause the mayhem to metastasize to a volume uncontrollable for any single law enforcement agency," a Capitol Police spokesperson told ABC News.

"Even with the assistance of multiple law enforcement agencies and the National Guard, which more than doubled the size of the Department’s sworn workforce, it took several hours to secure the Capitol. The world should never forget our officers fought like hell on Jan. 6 and at the end of the day nobody they were charged with protecting was hurt and the legislative process continued.”

The FBI and DHS did not respond to request for comment.

In the GAO report, the FBI did say they are looking at what occurred on Jan. 6, and are working to make sure it doesn't happen again.

In one instance, the San Antonio field office did not properly process and alert tips from Parler, a right wing social media platform, or properly document them.

"FBI Counterterrorism Division officials noted that they obtained tips from the FBI San Antonio Field Office from Facebook and Parler, but they did not develop related reports on information from Parler as required. Specifically, Counterterrorism Division personnel noted that they reviewed 73 potential domestic terrorism related referrals from Facebook from October 1, 2020 through January 5, 2021, and obtained a referral on January 4, 2021, related to potential violence in Washington, D.C. at January 6 events," the GAO report read.

FBI headquarters didn’t properly follow policy, according to the report.

“The FBI did not ensure personnel consistently followed its policies and procedures for processing information related to potential violence on January 6 it obtained from Parler. If the FBI does not process tips or information according to policy and procedures, information can get lost or may not be developed into threat products that the FBI can share with partners,” the report said.

John Cohen, the former acting undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security said threats on Jan. 6 were known.

"The GAO report like others before it tells us that the threat to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was knowable and actionable yet federal officials still failed to put adequate protective measures in place to protect against this violent assault on our democratic processes," Cohen, now an ABC News Contributor said. "What we don’t know is whether as a nation we have learned from the past and whether we will be able to prevent similar attacks in the future."

Cohen was not the head of I&A before or during Jan. 6.

The FBI shared only 35 tips with Capitol Police through their email system and the Department of Homeland Security didn’t properly share information with Capitol Police, according to the report.

“DHS I&A officials said they were hesitant to report on Jan. 6 threats due to the scrutiny of reporting of other events in 2020."

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