Military leaders followed the January 6 attack through tweets and reports by journalists

  • Insider obtained 48 pages of internal Department of Defense emails.
  • The emails detail how the Pentagon monitored the Jan. 6 attack.
  • Initially, the military relied on tweets and reports from journalists.

As an armed crowd rushed to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, an aide sent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley an urgent update on the evacuations of congressional office buildings and “the ‘escalation of protests’.

The sources of this information: journalists’ tweets.

“Sir, for awareness… CNN’s Jake Tapper is reporting that the Cannon and Madison congressional office buildings are being evacuated due to suspicious packages. Below are tweets from Dispatch’s Jake Tapper and Andrew Egger about the escalating the situation on Capitol Hill, read the email sent at 1:50 p.m. Eastern Time, which also referenced CNN reporters Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly.

The message is among 48 pages of emails released this month by the Department of Defense as part of Insider’s ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the agency seeking records governments linked to January 6.

Together, this first release of emails provides a dramatic, if incomplete, overview of the Trump administration’s activities in the hours immediately leading up to, during, and after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol. American on January 6.

An email includes a highly redacted exchange – subject: ‘fencing’ – between Kash Patel, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s chief of staff, and Anthony Ornato, Trump’s deputy White House chief of staff for operations , who gained national attention earlier this month after Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Jan. 6 about him.

Hutchinson testified that Ornato told him that Trump “rushed” a Secret Service agent in an unsuccessful attempt to personally reach his supporters at the riots in the United States Capitol. She also said Ornato told her that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his presidential vehicle as his details drove him back to the White House from the National Mall, where he had just urged thousands of supporters to beat like hell”, minutes before they attack the Capitol.

Patel was one of the Trump loyalists ensconced in the Pentagon after the president fired his defense secretary in the days following Biden’s victory, an unprecedented move in the lame duck era that added to fears that Trump can resist the peaceful transfer of power, which he has refused to commit to as a candidate.

Trump himself is at the center of the House Select Committee investigation on Jan. 6. Committee members accused the president of refusing to quash the attackers, some of whom say they tried to block Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election at Trump’s request.

Underscoring the chaotic nature of the Capitol attack, many recently released emails contain a snap mix of direct government intelligence, debunked rumors and “open source” reports from media and social networks.

Combined with what is already known from text messages sent to Trump’s chief of staff and a senior Homeland Security official who visited the Capitol in person, the new revelations highlight a lack of preparation to secure the counting of electoral votes and a disorganized organization, ad hoc response to the violent attempt to disrupt this process.

The emails also include situation reports from military operations cells on the Pentagon’s slow response to support battered and overrun law enforcement on Capitol Hill.

Attack on the US Capitol on January 6 by a pro-Trump mob

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images


“A civilian gunshot…”

The intelligence emails from the morning of Jan. 6 take on a cautious but not alarmist tone as Trump supporters began gathering on the National Mall for a “Stop the Steal” rally that Trump headlined.

The U.S. Park Police “believe they can handle the POTUS event at the ellipsis and the National Mall,” an update read.

The US Secret Service “estimates the crowd in and around the Ellipse at 1000 hours over 20K. There are no reported incidents at this time,” read another.

With at least one law enforcement agency apparently believing the mob could be managed, a list of Trump’s most prominent supporters — among them former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of Caroline North, conservative attorney John Eastman, Trump’s sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., began speaking to the gathered crowd. Trump himself spoke last.

“We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’ll have no more country,” Trump said at one point while urging them to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the US Capitol. east of the National Mall. end.

Trump supporters did just that. As they did, reports of problems surfaced quickly, according to recently released emails.

“Vehicle with gun in rear seat in plain sight under police control while attempting to contact owner,” read a 1:30 p.m. update attributed to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center.

“…a drone was detected east of the Washington Monument; [US Secret Service] took possession of the drone, unable to locate the operator.”

Soon the dispatches – often labeled “civil unrest update” – turned even gloomier.

2:00 p.m.: “Crowds continue to gather at the Capitol…The United States Capitol is reportedly locked down due to multiple attempts to break through police barriers and police injuries.”

2:23 p.m.: “VPOTUS [Mike Pence] was introduced from the United States Capitol as protesters enter the Capitol building. Other open source reports indicate that the US Senate is in recess due to a warning of an external threat.”

2:35 p.m.: “Mayor Muriel Bowser (Mayor, DC) has ordered a citywide curfew for the District of Columbia…In addition, the Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS has authorized federal law enforcement to immediately help the Capitol Police.

3:00 PM: “…civilian shot in the chest inside the United States Capitol – UNCONFIRMED. DC Fire is performing CPR. DHS is working on confirmation.”

3:52 p.m .: “The United States Capitol is evacuated; members of Congress and senators are evacuated…”

4:00 p.m.: “The House Minority Leader confirms that shots were fired inside the United States Capitol building…Six people hospitalized, including an LE officer, in connection with protests at the Capitol…Explosive device discovered at RNC HQ in DC safely detonated…DNC HQ evacuated after explosive device discovered at RNC HQ.”

The emails, which contained redactions, also provided real-time fact-checking on rumors, such as when the FBI reported that a “threat to fly a plane into the Capitol building during the inauguration was judged not to be credible…”

A dispatch concluded that a report by the Proud Boys “threatening to shut down the water system in the city center” was “not a credible threat”.

Emails exchanged between Patel and Ornato on the evening of January 6 include the subject line ‘fencing’ – although it is unclear from the heavily redacted email whether it is a fencing reference for the White House, US Capitol, Pentagon or some other location.

The emails show that Army situation planners were closely monitoring the movements of the pro-Trump crowd that day. Two days prior, Trump’s acting defense secretary had imposed new restrictions on the deployment of the DC National Guard, the closest force to support Capitol police, ordering that they could not be equipped or interact with the protesters. without his approval.

The then-Capitol Police Chief requested Defense Department forces at 1:49 p.m. after rioters broke through the perimeter, but the Acting Secretary of Defense did not approve the request until 3:49 p.m. hours, which delays their response time; the first National Guardsmen at the Capitol arrived around 5:40 p.m.

DC’s National Guard commander at the time said his forces were ready to respond much sooner, and a senior DC Guardsman accused the military of covering up its response, says the U.S. military repeatedly denied.

After the January 6 insurrection, fences surrounded the United States Capitol complex for months, with members of the National Guard also defending it.

Ornato first emailed Patel at 11:36 p.m. stating that Deputy Deputy Director of the Secret Service Mark Habersaat “can assist the seller. Let me know if you need anything else. Thanks, Tony.” Most of the other content of the message has been redacted.

“Rgr, thank you very much,” Patel replied five minutes later.

Patel, who has since written a Trump-themed children’s book titled ‘The Plot Against the King,’ is among hundreds of people the US House of Representatives Select Committee interviewed on January 6 in the part of its ongoing investigation into the attack on the US Capitol and the attack on Trump. role in it.

More discs promised

Shortly after the January 6 attack, an Insider reporter asked the Department of Defense to release various documents, including communications between members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, and the executive office of the president.

Months later, when the Department of Defense had yet to provide the documents requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act, Insider sued the agency in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where the case is still pending.

In a July 7 letter to Insider, Defense Department Deputy General Counsel Stuart Sparker wrote that the agency plans to release more documents to the public.

“Additional productions will be made as we continue to coordinate the review of the remaining responsive documents that the DoD has in its possession,” Sparker wrote.

A Department of Defense spokesperson acknowledged, but did not respond to, several questions Insider sent about the emails.

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