The failed MAGA riot of January 6 was a surprise even to the most pessimistic observer, but there’s one reason it got out of hand: According to a new 104-page report, Capitol police were told to hold back when it came to the incoming MAGA protesters — despite knowing that potential for violence was high.
This comes from The New York Times, who reviewed the large document, prepared by internal investigators and to be presented before the House Administration Committee on Thursday. What the inspector general, whose name is Michael A. Bolton, found is pretty scathing:
Mr. Bolton found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also found that the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools — like stun grenades — to put down the onslaught.
They had every reason to be prepared. The report states that Capitol Police intelligence were warned three days before the events that supporters of then-president Donald Trump — riled up by false claims about a stolen election, including by Trump himself — were likely to turn violent. Says Bolton’s report:
“Unlike previous postelection protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counterprotesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th … Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”
And yet despite this, the plan laid out the day before asserted that “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.”
It’s not clear if Bolton’s report lays the blame at the feet of any one party or parties, but it did find, at the very least, rampant dysfunction. As per NYT:
Some of the shields that officers were equipped with during the riot “shattered upon impact” because they had been improperly stored in a trailer that was not climate-controlled, Mr. Bolton found. Others could not be used by the police in desperate need of protection because they were locked on a bus in the middle of the siege.
But there’s more:
The agency did not train its recent recruits with the required 40 hours of civil disturbance training, citing concerns about the coronavirus, and failed to ensure its officers completed their 16 to 24 hours of annual training over “the past few years.”
Munitions stocked in the police armory were beyond their expiration date, and the agency repeatedly failed to adequately complete required quarterly audits of the unit, the inspector general said.
Moreover, within the agency, the Civil Disturbance Unit “has a reputation as an undesired assignment” and that fostered a “culture” that decreased “operational readiness,” the inspector general found.
One curious note: Officers were ordered not to use “heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades. Bolton’s report also offers damning critiques for those managing Capitol police that day, nearly 140 of whom were injured and one, Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died as a result of injuries perpetrated by Trump supporters. Meanwhile, conservative media — chief among them Tucker Carlson, on the most watched program on Fox News — have been spinning the failed MAGA coup as not that bad.