Local police in Washington warned their law enforcement partner agencies a day before the January 6 pro-Trump rally that there were social media reports urging attendees to “come armed” but said there was no credible threat for the event, according to an email obtained by a government watchdog group and shared exclusively with CNN.
The email obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was sent from the FBI’s field office in DC to the US Secret Service and provides a short summary of a Metropolitan Police Department briefing on January 5. The email notes that eight firearms were recovered and five arrests were made at a pro-Trump event in November 2020 and points out that no firearms were recovered related to a similar pro-Trump rally the following month.
But, it says, “Social media reporting is urging individuals attending the events on January 6 to come armed. No threats have been identified.”
More than nine months after the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, which left more than 140 law enforcement officers injured and resulted in the death of US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, the newly obtained email provides additional evidence that law enforcement dramatically misread the situation in the critical days before the riot.
Further, the document shows how local law enforcement knew DC-area hotels were sold out, indicating that a large crowd would be in the city around that time.
The extremist Proud Boys group is also highlighted in the document, although it says “the number expected” to attend the rally was “unknown.” Several members of the far-right group are facing conspiracy charges for their roles in the insurrection.
CNN has reached out to the Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI for comment. The Secret Service declined CNN’s request for comment.
While it’s impossible to know precisely how many firearms were taken to the Capitol on January 6, it’s already clear from court documents that at least some of the people present were carrying guns that day. And as the police officers who testified before Congress this summer made clear, rioters also used numerous other objects as weapons, such as knives and bats.
The document comes as both criminal and political investigations into the insurrection continue, with federal prosecutors having made more than 600 riot-related arrests and secured 100 guilty pleas.
The document could prove useful to a House committee investigating the riot. The bipartisan panel has ratcheted up its probe in recent days, issuing a flurry of subpoenas, some of which are already being defied by allies of former President Donald Trump.