Back on December 26, Secret Service officials shared warnings from a tipster about extremist groups coming to the Capitol with murderous plots. “They think they will have a group large enough to invade DC armed and will outnumber the police so they cannot be stopped,” the tip read.
“Her plan is to literally kill people,” the tipster wrote. “Please, please take this tip seriously and investigate further.”
Evidence presented at the hearing adds the Secret Service to a long list of national security agencies that have received prescient warnings about the Jan. 6 attack protesters planned but have not responded with urgency or cohesion to prevent the riot.
Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), committee member on Jan. 6, said the new details — retrieved in internal emails from a trove of more than 1 million records the Secret Service made available to the House panel — raising questions about how the agency shared its information with the Secret Service and whether officials have been open about their knowledge of the warnings.
“As we have seen, the Secret Service and other agencies were aware of the prospect of violence long before the president’s speech at the Ellipse,” Schiff said during the hearing. “Nevertheless, certain White House and Secret Service witnesses previously testified that they had received no information about violence that may have threatened any of their protectees on January 6, including the vice president. Evidence strongly suggests that this statement is not credible.”
In a statement, Deputy Intelligence Director Faron K. Paramore noted that the agency was not a “member of the intelligence community” and said it had shared its information extensively with others.
“In the weeks leading up to January 6, the Secret Service was in constant communication and sharing information with our law enforcement partners in the Washington, DC area about available shelter information and open source information about potential violence,” Paramore said.
Much of the information cited in Thursday’s hearing was alarming in its specificity. An intelligence unit, Schiff said, reported a social media account on a pro-Trump website threatening to bring a sniper rifle to Washington.
“Information about this risk was readily available to US Secret Service and others in the White House prior to the speech, prior to the march to the Capitol,” Schiff said.
In a Dec. 30 email, an Intelligence agent warned of the online threats from Trump supporters, noting that the US Marshals Service “saw a lot of violent rhetoric towards government officials, organizations and organizations in addition to our protected individuals.” The protected person who is most attacked: the vice president.
On the morning of the rally, Schiff noted, the Secret Service knew that many of the protesters in the crowd on the Ellipse had guns, but it’s unclear what action the agency took as a result. It is a felony to carry a firearm on federal property. Trump was due to speak shortly after noon.
Intelligence units this morning gave police reports that they saw protesters with firearms, including a Glock, a pistol and a rifle. They knew that DC police had reportedly arrested a person who was carrying an assault rifle.
At the same time, they received reports of death threats against Pence, who had just entered the US Capitol that morning to fulfill his role in confirming the election.
“Alert at 1022 that VP is a dead man if he’s not doing the right thing,” a 10:39 a.m. Secret Service email warned
At 12:36 p.m., as Trump took the stage, one Secret Service employee emailed another about the barely concealed threat around them.
“With so many weapons found so far, one wonders how many are unknown,” one intelligence official wrote to a colleague. “Might be sporty after dark,” he wrote, referring to the chance of firefights.
“No doubt,” his colleague wrote back. “People at the Ellipse said they’re moving to the Capitol after the POTUS speech.”