Even the most cynical analyst was surprised by the failed MAGA riot on January 6, but there’s one reason it got out of hand: according to a new 104-page study, Capitol police were ordered to hold back when it came to the incoming MAGA demonstrators — despite knowing the risk of violence was large.
This is according to The New York Times, which reviewed the large paper, which was prepared by internal investigators and will be submitted to the House Administration Committee on Thursday. The findings of the inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, are very damning:
Despite clear warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians, Mr. Bolton found that the agency’s leaders failed to properly plan, and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also discovered that the leaders instructed their Civil Disturbance Unit not to use the most effective crowd-control weapons, such as stun grenades, to quell the uprising.
They had every excuse to be on the lookout. According to the paper, Capitol Police intelligence was alerted three days before the events that supporters of then-president Donald Trump, enraged by false allegations about a rigged election, including Trump himself, would possibly turn violent. According to 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 department declined to provide the requisite 40 hours of civil disturbance training to its new hires, citing concerns about the coronavirus, and failed to ensure that its officers completed their 16 to 24 hours of annual training over the “last few years.”
The police armory’s munitions were past their expiration date, and the department routinely failed to complete mandatory quarterly audits of the unit, according to the inspector general.
Furthermore, the Civil Disturbance Unit “has a reputation as an undesirable assignment” within the department, according to the inspector general, which fostered a “culture” that harmed “operational readiness.”
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.