Justice Dept. watchdog opens probe of response to riot at US Capitol
The Justice Department's internal watchdog said Friday that it will investigate how the department and its law enforcement agencies prepared for and responded to last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol.
The investigation by the inspector general's office will examine whether information was shared by the Justice Department to other agencies, including the Capitol Police, about the potential for violence.
The inspector general said it “also will assess whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”
The review is one of multiple ones launched by inspectors general, including at the departments of homeland security and defense and at the Interior Department, which oversees the Park Police.
The initiation of the review signals early concern within the watchdog community that the preparations for, and response to, the breach of the Capitol by loyalists of President Donald Trump was lacking.
The Capitol Police said that it had prepared for only First Amendment activity at the Capitol on the day that lawmakers had assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Trump, even though Trump himself had encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell.”
The review is likely to also include an assessment of intelligence that the Justice Department - and particularly the FBI - had collected before and after the riot. It comes days after the FBI conceded that one of its field offices compiled an internal bulletin that warned of potential violence aimed at Congress.
The Washington Post, which first reported the existence of the Jan. 5 report from the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, said the bulletin detailed threats from extremists to commit a “war.” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said that once he received the Jan. 5 warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, D.C.