The FBI warned that extremists were preparing to come to Washington, attack Congress and be ready to engage in “war,” a day before the deadly riot at the Capitol, according to a report Tuesday in The Washington Post.
The report said the warning was issued internally by the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia.
The warning directly contradicted statements from the Justice Department and FBI officials that they had no intelligence to suggest a storming of the Capitol.
The Post said the memo described how people had been sharing maps of the Capitol’s tunnels and discussing rallying points to meet up to travel to Washington. The newspaper reported that the document detailed posts calling for violence, including that “Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Antifa slave soldiers being spilled.”
It also said to “Go there ready for war. We get our President, or we die.”
It wasn’t clear if other law enforcement agencies were aware of the report, but an unnamed FBI official was quoted saying that officials at the bureau’s Washington field office were briefed on it.
The report itself said the information wasn’t “finally evaluated intelligence” and urged any officials that come across it “not to take action based on this raw reporting without prior coordination with the FBI.”
It also said that while those named in the document were “participating in activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution,” it warned “the protected activity could invite a violent reaction towards the subject individual or others in retaliation or with the goal of stopping the protected activity from occurring in the first instance.”
US law enforcement has come under intense scrutiny in the days following the storming of the Capitol, with many calling for an investigation into why police and other security forces were so ill-prepared for events that had been telegraphed long in advance.
The rampage through the halls of Congress sent lawmakers of both parties and Trump’s own vice president into hiding, as crowds called for Mike Pence’s lynching for his role overseeing the vote count. The scene also undermined the hallmark of the republic — the peaceful transition of power. At least five people died, including one Capitol Police officer.
Meanwhile, the number of National Guard members deploying to Washington from other states is growing, amid escalating fears of more violent protests.
A total of 15,000 National Guard members have now been activated and will deploy to Washington, DC, to help provide security in the run-up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, was given the authority to tap up to 15,000 Guard, but he has said that requests for assistance from the Secret Service, the US Park Police and the Capitol Police have been increasing this week.
The Army also said Tuesday that officials are working with the Secret Service to determine which Guard members may need additional background screening. Democratic Representative Jason Crow of Colorado had asked Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to have the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command screen Guard members coming in to ensure they were not “sympathetic to domestic terrorists.”
The Army said CID will not be reviewing all the Guard, but some members may be subject to additional background screening. Traditionally, those who get within close proximity to the president — or in this case the president-elect — are checked more closely.
So far, officials said they have not yet identified any Guard members who participated in the protests, but investigations are ongoing.
In a statement, the Army said the DC National Guard is also giving troops additional training as they arrive in the city, so they know to identify and report any extremist behavior to their commanders.
The Army also said it is working with the FBI to identify people who participated in the Capitol attack, adding, “any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law.”