Capitol Hill Bomb Threat Suggests Jan. 6 Siege Was a Beta Test

By Adele M. Stan

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger addresses reporters after the capture of a North Carolina man who threatened to blow up the U.S. Capitol complex. (Screen shot from C-SPAN)

Commentary

Although it didn’t succeed in shutting down the certification of the Electoral College votes in the free and fair 2020 presidential election, the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol was, in its own way, a success nonetheless in its likely inspiration for events such as today’s threatened bombing of the Capitol complex.

The sort of incitement conducted by the planners of numerous so-called Stop the Steal rallies conducted in Washington, D.C., and state capitals across the country in the lead-up to the insurrection amount to what scholars call “stochastic terrorism.” It’s the kind that takes place when a person of influence in a particular community either calls for violence or suggests that a grievance worthy of a violent response has taken place—like, say, the false claim that a presidential election was stolen from the rightful winner—in the hope that the more unhinged or gullible of their followers may read such rhetoric as a prompt to conduct violence.

So it is hardly surprising that the North Carolina man brought into custody today for threatening to blow up the Capitol complex with a bomb he claimed to have in the truck he parked in front of the Library of Congress, appears to have taken part in several so-called Stop the Steal rallies, according to Jared Holt of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Those were the rallies of Trump supporters who were convinced by the former president’s lie that the result of the 2020 election was somehow illegitimate.

“The revolution is on, it’s here, it’s today,” the suspect said in a Facebook livestream this morning, demanding that Joe Biden resign the presidency.

After the would-be bomber began livestreaming his threat-making as he ranted from his truck, Facebook shut down his account, but not before Holt had a look at his social media, where the suspect posted about his participation in the rallies organized by far-right operative Ali Alexander and promoted by former White House aide Steve Bannon on the latter’s “War Room” podcast.

As we’ve been saying for a while at Right Wing Watch, Jan. 6 looked like a beta test for future violence to be directed at institutions of the U.S. government. Since then, we learned from the House select committee studying the insurrection, the insurrectionists of Jan. 6 came quite close to bagging their desired quarry, namely then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Lofgren: Capitol Police official being investigated for directions to pursue only ‘anti-Trump’ protesters Jan. 6

An investigation found an official’s radio transmission to “all outside units’ attention” that they should not be “looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd,” according to Lofgren. A Capitol Police official denies her account.

An American flag flies beyond barbed wire near Union Station on January 19.

Many Democratic lawmakers expressed alarm after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that some of the Capitol Police officers appeared to either wave the crowd through or pose for selfies with them. | Nathan Howard/Getty Images

By KYLE CHENEY

A Capitol Police official radioed units outside of the building on the morning of Jan. 6 and told them only to scout for anti-Trump troublemakers — not pro-Trump protesters, according to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who described what she said were details of an internal investigation conducted in the aftermath of the mob attack.

Lofgren (D-Calif.) revealed the finding while she questioned Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton, who appeared before the House Administration Committee Wednesday to testify about security failures that precipitated the Jan. 6 attack. Lofgren, who chairs the panel, described the findings as she asked him whether he had read the internal investigation reports.

Lofgren said the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility was reviewing information that a radio transmission to “all outside units’ attention” that they should not be “looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd,” according to Lofgren. She added they were “only looking for any anti-Trump.”

Bolton said he had yet to review the reports of internal investigations into the conduct of about three dozen officers on Jan. 6, many of which are ongoing in the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR.

A committee aide declined to disclose additional details from the investigation but emphasized that Lofgren’s panel “is recently in receipt of new documents and emails related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, including materials which brought to light these issues the Chair asked the (inspector general) about today. The committee is continuing to review those documents and emails and intends to review the relevant recorded audio when it is available.”

A Capitol Police official told POLITICO that the radio communication Lofgren described involved “a Capitol Police command official who told officers simply to be on the lookout for counterprotesters because that is often where we have clashes between both sides.”

“This is not, and was never, under investigation by OPR,” the official said, adding that the radio message was delivered at 8 a.m. “well before there were any issues with anybody in the Capitol.”

Although the details are still disputed, Lofgren’s comments are the first insight into specific concerns about the conduct of Capitol Police on the day of the insurrection. Neither Lofgren nor the department identified the official. The Capitol Police have acknowledged ongoing investigations — including the fact that six officers were suspended for their particular actions — but have provided no updates since they began months ago.

Many Democratic lawmakers expressed alarm after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that some of the Capitol Police officers appeared to either wave the crowd through or pose for selfies with them. The reality has been more complex. About 138 Capitol Police and DC police officers were assaulted on Jan. 6, some receiving severe injuries. One died hours later of apparent strokes and two took their own lives in the days and weeks after the attack.

Footage from the riot shows at times savage hand-to-hand combat in which outnumbered police were attacked and beaten, pepper sprayed and bludgeoned with poles, batons and even a hockey stick and a skateboard. Inside the building, rioters often confronted police, and in other cases police were reduced to bystanders as the crowd patrolled Capitol hallways. Outside the House and Senate chambers, however, it was a different story, as police beat back fierce crowds attempting to breach the rooms where lawmakers were being evacuated.

[Source]

Capitol Police IG Says There’s No Oversight Over the Force’s Board (+2 more)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 13: Fencing topped with barbed wire surrounds the Capitol Building (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Kate Riga

While disparate congressional committees have chipped away at what exactly allowed a pro-Trump mob to muscle into the Capitol building on January 6, one thing has become clear: the opacity cloaking the inner workings of the Capitol police.

Much of that scrutiny has become focused on the Capitol Police Board, the overseeing body of the force comprised of the architect of the Capitol, House and Senate sergeants at arms and the chief of police in a non-voting role.

The board has authority over almost all of the security decisions made at the Capitol, but received little attention until the January 6 disaster. Calls for its reform have become a bipartisan unifier as lawmakers look to improve Capitol security. 

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Many GOPers Plan To Skip Biden’s First Speech To Congress If Invited

WILMINGTON, DE - JULY 28:  Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center, on July 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden addressed the fourth component of his “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan for working families, how his plan will address systemic racism and advance racial economic equity in the United States.  (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William Hicks Anderson Community Center on July 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

By Cristina Cabrera

A lot of Republicans reportedly won’t attend President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress next week if invited.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office has not yet decided how many tickets for the event will be allotted to Democratic and GOP lawmakers in both chambers, but Republican leaders told Punchbowl that there’s little desire among rank-and-file members of their caucuses to go regardless.

“I don’t think I’ll probably attend,” Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair Joni Earnst (R-IA) said, according to Punchbowl.

It’s unclear why so many GOP lawmakers wouldn’t show up if they get invited, though some of them cited logistics as a reason for their absence.

However, a handful of Republicans said they do want to attend Biden’s speech, including Trump loyalists like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

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Watchdog Finds Trump Admin Created Obstacles That Delayed Relief Aid To Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Trump is in Puerto Rico to survey hurricane damage. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Zoë Richards

The Trump administration lined up unprecedented bureaucratic obstacles that delayed approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico, according to an inspector general report that could be released publicly as soon as Thursday.

In a 46-page document first reported by the Washington Post early Thursday, the inspector general said it found procedural hurdles created by the White House budget office that stalled recovery aid even as watchdogs were met with efforts by Trump administration officials to obstruct their investigation into the delay by the request of Congress in 2019.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria had left Puerto Rico residents without power and clean water for months after ravaging the U.S. territory in 2017.

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PETITION: Make January 6th “American Democracy Day”

January 6, 2021 was a horrible day in America.

Donald Trump tried to overthrow the democratic process, using fringe citizens, militias, and other rioters.

The day was partially an attempt to take the spotlight away from the then President-Elect, Joseph Biden, and his VP pick, Kamala Harris.

An official day to celebrate democracy, electoral voting, candidate choice, and presidential verification would remind us that January 6th is not to be remembered as a day of riots, insurrection, and lawlessness.

Instead, January 6th will annually be a day of celebrating democracy and the process for which we pick our laws and leaders.

Petition · Kamala Harris: Make January 6th “American Democracy Day” · Change.org