Donald Trump, supporters, storm, Capitol
Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, 2021. Photo credit: Blink O'fanaye / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Newly obtained internal communication shows that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was concerned about a “significant possibility of violence” on January 6, 2021.

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An internal email sent on January 5, 2021, and obtained by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) shows that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was concerned about a “significant possibility of violence” on January 6.

That warning, however, went unheeded as law enforcement was unprepared to deal with an onslaught of supporters of then-President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election of Joe Biden.

The email in question is one of more than 100 communications that CREW obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FBI’s assessment that Trump’s January 6 rally in Washington, DC, could turn violent stands in sharp contrast with the Secret Service’s belief that the event posed “no indication of civil disobedience.”

Of course, any threat arising from the rally would not have been aimed at Trump. However, the mob did threaten the life of another Secret Service protectee, Vice President Mike Pence.

Two days prior, the FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO) had warned that “the 6th is beginning to get a lot of attention.”

Trump’s rally was chosen to coincide with the official counting of the electoral votes. The former president’s supporters had held out hope that something would happen on that day that would allow him to stay in office.

Trump himself stoked that speculation.

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval,” he tweeted on the morning of January 6. “All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

None of this was true, but it inspired thousands of Trump’s supporters to march on the Capitol as though they had the power to do anything to reverse the president’s Election Day defeat.

The emails also show confusion within the FBI over what to do with the intelligence it had obtained. In the end, a decision was made that the DC field office would “not be releasing anything outside of WFO EM [Executive Management] regard[ing] January 6th.”

According to CREW’s assessment of the emails, the “FBI did not appear to have a clear playbook on how to handle sharing information with other agencies and struggled with the lack of a central process, even as some suspected the protests on the 6th would be dangerous and different from others.”


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