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New Jan. 6 Report Describes Intel Failures And The Warnings Police Got In December

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A bipartisan group of senators is out with new details on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Two committees discovered that Capitol Police and other agencies were in possession of alarming clues about the attack, clues that were ultimately ignored. But the probe also faced limits that Democrats say bolster their case for a 9/11-style commission to look into the siege. Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: The joint report by the Homeland Security and Rules Committees has strengthened the argument for an independent commission on January the 6.

CHANG: Last month, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to launch a bipartisan commission to investigate further. Joining us now is NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales.

Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So what are these new details? What did these committees find?

GRISALES: They found the lead intelligence unit for Capitol Police issued a seven-page analysis report on December 21 - so more than two weeks earlier - highlighting a blog site for supporters of former President Trump showing a series of comments on how to attack the Capitol, sharing a map of the complex, how to block off entrances and exits to buildings, encouraging rioters to confront members with weapons, to be prepared to drag down police and act as a militia to certify the electors for Trump and, quote, "bring guns - it's now or never."

In another case, a Capitol Police official received a tip from the FBI on the eve of the siege that there was a significant uptick in traffic to a website called washingtontunnels.com. But at the same time, the agency's intelligence units also issued reports contradicting the severity of what we could see that day. And we should note Capitol Police issued a statement responding to the report acknowledging improvements must be made but highlighting the fact that the FBI nor Homeland Security issued a threat analysis report elevating these concerns.

CHANG: Wow. Well, some agencies did cooperate with the probe, but senators have been noting that they didn't get all the information that they asked for during their investigation. Why didn't they get all that information?

GRISALES: Yes, these federal agencies, such as the Justice Department and Homeland Security, only shared partial answers to all of the committees' inquiries. And the committees' leaders, such as Senator Gary Peters, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, expressed disappointment. And also, the House sergeant at arms was reluctant to participate. And this was tied to the fact that this was a Senate probe, and the chambers are essentially working on separate tracks. So it's a reminder of the shortfalls of these congressional probes, even to this day, to gather information. And Democrats say it's an argument for the need for this 9/11-style commission, or a committee, that can subpoena witnesses.

Now, the majority leader for the Senate, Chuck Schumer, is pushing for another vote on this commission. But that said, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Commission, Bennie Thompson, said he agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that if no progress is made, the House should act on its own and do its own bipartisan investigation. That could be a select committee or additional House probes.

CHANG: OK. Well, going forward, what are the committees' recommendations at this point?

GRISALES: These committees laid out 20 recommendations of their own, including one that would require a legislative fix to allow the Capitol Police chief to unilaterally call for emergency backup. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar and the ranking Republican, Roy Blunt, plan to introduce that bill. Also, this report is expected to provide the foundation for a Senate proposal on a supplemental security funding bill. The House passed their own version of that - a $1.9 billion plan. But the Senate has yet to counter that proposal with their own, so this will likely trigger negotiations between the chambers on what to do next.

CHANG: That is NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales.

Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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