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Douglas Andrews / Feb. 24, 2021

The Capitol Riot Hearing That No One Heard

There was plenty of finger-pointing at yesterday’s Senate hearing, which was mostly a preview of a coming attraction.

The memo was the topic of much discussion at yesterday’s Senate hearings on the January 6 riot. It came from the FBI’s Norfolk office on January 5, and it provided a stark warning. It also painted a picture of unequivocal premeditation by a relative handful of zealots — not a picture of thousands of garden-variety Trump supporters who’d heard the president speak just moments before and decided to head up Pennsylvania Avenue to start a riot at the Capitol building.

And the memo was reported on by The Washington Post just six days after the riot, so the incessant “incitement” claim made by House Democrats in their impeachment of President Trump was already a dubious one. But we knew that.

The FBI’s memo spoke of “individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.”

“As of 5 January 2021,” the document says, “FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C. An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa [sic] slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

“These people came specifically with equipment,” said former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund during a rare joint hearing with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Rules Committee. “You’re bringing climbing gear to a demonstration, explosives, chemical spray — you’re coming prepared. The fact that the group attacked our West Front 20 minutes before the event at the Ellipse ended — they were planning on our agency not being at full strength at that time.”

So the riot kicked off a full 20 minutes before President Trump had finished speaking? If nothing else, this sheds some light on the Democrats’ phony claim of same-day riot incitement by Trump. Remember what their impeachment article said: “Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. There, he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.’ He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.’ Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed [sic] law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”

Based on the facts, it’s hard to imagine a weaker, less serious article of impeachment than this. But what are we to expect from House Democrats?

Perhaps the most maddening thing to come out of yesterday’s hearing, though, was former Chief Sund’s claim that he never got the aforementioned memo. As Axios reported, “Sund testified that he just learned in the past 24 hours that his department had received the report from the FBI on the evening of Jan. 5. Sund said a member of the intelligence division at USCP did review the memo — but that ‘it didn’t go any further than that’ and that Sund himself had not seen it.”

That sounds like a pretty catastrophic failure to communicate. And it makes us wonder just what we’re paying “the intelligence division at USCP” to do.

The hearing involved plenty of finger-pointing, with Sund and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger painting “a picture of poor intelligence, structural communication issues, and a lackluster response from Pentagon officials as driving reasons behind the botched response.”

Oops.

All this, though, is just a prelude. A preview of a coming attraction. The main event, the real bit of theater, will take place when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi establishes her “9/11-type” commission to examine the attack.

That’s when she and her fellow Democrats will cry “White Supremacy!” and call for all manner of encroachments on our freedom, rather than getting to the bottom of what really happened and who was responsible for the security failures.

That’s when she’ll conduct her one-sided investigation and get her predetermined outcome that says supporters of former President Donald Trump are entirely to blame. And that’s why she’s chosen the hopelessly and ridiculously partisan Russel Honoré to lead that investigation.

That’s when we’ll see our tax dollars hard at work.

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