The Secret Service knew about the Capitol threat more than a week before January 6th

The Secret Service had earlier than previously known warnings that supporters of President Donald Trump were is planning an armed attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to records revealed in a congressional hearing Thursday.

Secret Service agents tasked with assessing the risks surrounding the protests had been monitoring online chats on pro-Trump websites and noted that rally participants were vowing to bring firearms, target the Capitol for a siege and even kill Vice President Mike Pence.

As early as Dec. 26, Secret Service officials shared a tipster’s warnings about extremist groups coming to the Capitol with murderous plans. “They think they’ll have a large enough group to march into DC armed and will outnumber the police so they can’t be stopped,” the tip read.

“Their plan is to literally kill people,” the tipster wrote. “Please take this tip seriously and investigate further.”

The evidence presented at the hearing adds the Secret Service to a long list of national security agencies that received advance warnings about the attack protesters planned for January 6, yet failed to act with urgency or coherence to prevent the uprising.

Committee member Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the new details — gleaned in internal emails from a collection of more than 1 million records the Secret Service provided to the committee on Jan. 6 — raise questions about how the agency shared its intelligence and whether officials have been forthcoming about their knowledge of the warnings.

As we have seen, the Secret Service and other agencies knew about the prospect of violence well before the president’s speech at the Ellipse,” Schiff said at the hearing. “Despite this, certain White House and Secret Service witnesses have previously testified that they had received no intelligence of violence that could have potentially threatened any of their proteges on January 6, including the Vice President. Evidence suggests strongly that this testimony is not credible.”

In a statement, Secret Service Deputy Director Faron K. Paramore noted that the agency is not a “member of the intelligence community” and said it had shared its information widely with others.

“In the weeks leading up to January 6, the Secret Service was in constant communication and sharing information with our law enforcement partners in the Washington, DC area regarding available protective intelligence and open source information about potential violence,” Paramore said.

Much of the intelligence cited in Thursday’s hearing was alarming in its specificity. A Secret Service unit, Schiff said, flagged a social media account on a pro-Trump website that threatened to bring a sniper rifle to Washington.

“Intelligence about this risk was directly available to the US Secret Service and others in the White House prior to the speech, prior to the march to the Capitol,” Schiff said.

In a Dec. 30 email, a Secret Service agent warned about Trump supporters’ online threats, noting that the US Marshals Service is “seeing a lot of violent rhetoric directed at government people, entities, in addition to our protected individuals.” The protected person most vulnerable to attack: the vice president.

On the morning of the meeting, Schiff noted, the Secret Service knew many of the protesters in the crowd at the Ellipse had weapons, but it’s unclear what steps the agency took as a result. It is a crime to carry a firearm on federal property. Trump was scheduled to speak shortly after dinner.

Secret Service units shared reports from police that morning that they had seen rally-goers with firearms, including a Glock, a pistol and a rifle. They knew that the DC police had allegedly detained a person who was carrying an assault rifle.

At the same time, they received reports of death threats against Pence, who had just entered the US capital that morning to perform his role in certifying the election.

“Alert at 1022 that the VP is a dead man walking if he doesn’t do the right thing,” a Secret Service email warned at 10:39

At 12:36 p.m., as Trump took the stage, one Secret Service employee emailed another about the almost hidden threat around them.

“With so many weapons found so far, you wonder how many are unaccounted for,” a Secret Service employee wrote to a colleague. “Could be sporty after dark,” he wrote, referring to the chance of gunfights.

“Without a doubt,” his colleague wrote back. “People at the Ellipse said they’re moving to the Capitol after the POTUS speech.”

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