Intelligence pointing to possible violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was ignored, according to a bipartisan Senate committee report released Tuesday.
The report was an effort between the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is the chairman and ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee.
They were investigating certain aspects of the insurrection on Jan. 6 that resulted in more than 140 officers being injured and the death of five people.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Portman called the riot “an attack, in my view, on democracy itself” and discussed the findings in the report.
The 128-page report was the result of inspection of thousands of documents, two hearings and dozens of interviews.
“It was an opportunity for us to really work on a bipartisan (way) to dig into two issues, one is the security issues and second is the intelligence issues,” Portman said. “That was our mandate ... It was the lack of preparation and lack of response.”
In working on the report, he said they uncovered shocking details.
One of these details is the police weren’t prepared.
“We now know that police officers were not given the equipment they needed to defend themselves; They did not have the training to deal with this kind of a gathering,” Portman said, later adding: “That makes me very upset because these officers did their best to try to protect us and protect the vice president, protect the media, protect other employees in the Capitol Complex. Yet, they didn’t have the equipment or the training. They were put in an impossible situation. That, to me, was the biggest disappointment.”
Many of them only had their regular uniforms with no protective gear or helmets.
Another shocking detail is that intelligence had failed.
“There was intelligence out there but it did not get into the right hands at the right time in order to defend the Capitol,” Portman said. “We believe if that had happened, if the intelligence had been provided in an appropriate way, the Capitol police would have been prepared, would have had National Guard there.”
Portman said the committees came up with 20 recommendations to prevent another such incident from happening again.
One is giving the police chief the ability to directly request National Guard troops while also ensuring officers have proper equipment and training.
“On the intelligence side, (the report recommends) requiring intelligence agencies to issue these intelligence bulletins when something like this happens as it relates to social media, in particular,” he said.
Later in the call, the committees found out there was information as far back as December that had credible evidence of potential violence on that day but the Capitol police were not concerned.
In addition, the intelligence agencies, such as the FBI, Capitol Hill Police and Department of Homeland Security, didn’t cooperate.
One FBI report, Portman said, did make it to Capitol police. That report should have resulted in police putting up necessary security measures, but it didn’t.
“They didn’t take it seriously,” he said. “It was never disseminated to decision makers. It went to a couple of individuals at a relatively lower level and that was the problem. It was a lack of taking seriously real hard intelligence the FBI had provided and disseminating that to the right individuals.”
When asked by a reporter, Portman said the next step is to “digest” this report with the immediate task being to legislate ways to make a difference.
Beyond that, he said he was supportive of the idea of an independent commission to look at the motivations of the insurrectionists, as long as it was fair and non-partisan.
“I do think it’s important to lay out what happened that day because a lot of people don’t know and there’s a lot of confusion out there about what happened that day,” he said. “I do think that’s important ... My hope is that there will be a way forward on this.”