Minor omission from Jan.6 report: law enforcement knew it was coming and failed to stop it

Minor omission from Jan.6 report: law enforcement knew it was coming and failed to stop it
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy, who was the chief investigator for the House January 6th investigative committee we all knew was a biased show trial, shared with NBC News his own conclusions about the events that led up to the riot.

It was easily preventable. The FBI and Capitol Police knew it was coming and didn’t try to stop it.

The House Jan. 6 committee concluded that the FBI and other federal security agencies could have prevented a violent mob from overrunning the Capitol had they acted on the large volume of intelligence collected beforehand, the chief investigator told NBC News in an exclusive interview — a judgment the committee left out of its televised hearings and final report.

Former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy, the committee’s chief investigative counsel, said that while he endorses the panel’s main finding that then-President Donald Trump sparked the riot by urging protesters to go to the Capitol, his probe documented how federal law enforcement failures contributed to the debacle.

You would think that would be an important part of the story, especially since we know that the Capitol Police requested assistance from the National Guard to defend the Capitol, but the House Sergeant at Arms declined to approve it. In testimony to the January 6th Committee that was not shared with the public at the time, the former Chief of the Capitol Police testified:

“I first went over, went to Paul Irving’s (House Sergeant-at-Arms) office at 9:24 in the morning, and asked him specifically, ‘I would like to request National Guard for Jan. 6.’ So he, he immediately responded ‘(I) don’t don’t like the optics.’ I responded, you know, I’d like him to help support the perimeter. And he goes, ‘The intelligence.’ The response was the intelligence doesn’t support that.”

Well, the intelligence did support it, and the Sergeant at Arms, who was appointed by Nancy Pelosi, declined to approve the deployment of the National Guard because of the “optics.”

Trump “was the proximate cause. But for his words, and deeds, it wouldn’t have happened,” said Heaphy, who led many of the key witness interviews conducted by the committee. “That said, what happened at the Capitol was also affected by law enforcement failures to operationalize the ample intelligence that was present before Jan. 6, about the threats of violence.”

He added, “Law enforcement had a very direct role in contributing to the security failures that led to the violence.”

The January 6th Committee decided not to release this part of the report, although Heaphy and his staff had prepared it. Why? You know why: the Sergeant at Arms is the Speaker’s appointment, and the committee didn’t want to point fingers at anybody but President Trump.

Committee investigators found that the Capitol was inadequately defended on Jan. 6 not because of an intelligence failure, Heaphy said, but because of a failure to act on intelligence showing that extremists intended to come to Washington and use violence to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.

“There was a lot of advance intelligence about law enforcement, about carrying weapons, about the vulnerability of the Capitol,” he said. “The intel in advance was pretty specific, and it was enough, in our view, for law enforcement to have done a better job.”

My own feelings about the January 6th affair and its aftermath are a bit mixed. The riot itself was a travesty, although hardly an insurrection. Given how armed the president’s supporters are, if they wanted to perform a coup they would have brought more than a Viking helmet to do it. Not that it would have mattered. A few thousand people in an angry mob aren’t much of a threat to the continuation of the US government.

Still, the riot was awful. Left-wingers riot, conservatives are supposed to be better than that. All riots do is destroy things, not build anything worthwhile.

The Democrats and MSM’s narrative that some great threat was barely overcome, though, makes me ill. It is such a profound distortion of reality that it makes a mockery of everything. And the treatment of the rioters has been shameful, as has been turning a police officer who shot an unarmed woman in the back into a hero.

The whole affair disgusts me. Everybody behaved badly. If the January 6th committee had been fair the focus would have been on the failure of law enforcement to prevent it and on new procedures to prevent reoccurrence.

But no, it had to become a witch hunt, and the people who trespassed on the capitol are the biggest victims. People should be prosecuted if they committed violence, no matter their politics, but roaming through the capitol should not be a capital offense.

Word is that the staff of the January 6th committee was disgruntled by the decision to withhold the most important part of the report: the failures of law enforcement. Heaphy’s sit down with NBC News proves that is true.

Regarding Heaphy’s assertion that Trump’s words were the proximate cause of the riot, I generally agree. I don’t think he incited them in the traditional sense at all–he clearly didn’t–but he certainly whipped them up into a frenzy. Legally he was not responsible, but had a Democrat done the same thing I would have called them responsible for the riot morally.

I think that is where most Americans are on the matter. The whole “threat to democracy” narrative is hyperbole, but Trump has a way of generating excessive emotions on both sides of the aisle. Knowing that he shouldn’t have whipped people up so much.

Living in the Age of Trump is exhausting. His opponents are clinically insane, obsessed as Inspector Javert with getting Trump. They lie about him, invent fantasies about his being a Russian asset, and promote ridiculous conspiracy theories about him.

On the other hand, Trump revels in being hated, and stokes the fires burning in both his supporters and opponents. He trolls his opponents, which would be funny if he were an internet personality. But as a president, he does have to actually get support from independents if he wants to lead and win. That just isn’t in his personality.

One of the reasons so many Republicans who think Trump was overall a good president hope he doesn’t run again is this sense of exhaustion. We want to fight over issues and win the battles, not fight over Trump’s personality. Yet we are always dragged into those battles whether we want to or not.

Who wants to spend time arguing about an Access Hollywood tape? Or any of the countless other similar controversies?

Bottom line: the people most directly responsible for things going so far on January 6th was the officials who knew it was coming but did too little to prevent it.

The rioters bear the blame, the officials failed in their duty, and Trump should have done what he is constitutionally incapable of doing: STFU.


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