House Committees Open Investigation Into Jan. 6 Capitol Breach

January 16, 2021 Updated: January 16, 2021

Four House committees on Saturday formally opened a joint investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Mass.), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) sent a letter (pdf) on Saturday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Counterterrorism Center Acting Director Steve Vanech, Department of Homeland Security senior official Joseph Maher, and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe demanding information related to the Jan. 6 breach and the security of coming inauguration.

“As the first step, and as described in the annex to this letter, the Committees ask that your organizations produce relevant documents, and schedule briefings, regarding specific intelligence matters associated with the insurrection and threats to the U.S. presidential inaugurations,” the committee leaders, all Democrats, wrote in the letter.

The Democrats requested the agencies to provide related documents no later than 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 15.

They also required the agencies to come before the House Committees for a series of briefings starting from the week of Jan. 22-26.

Some protesters and left-wing activists stormed the Capitol when Congress was counting the electoral votes on Jan. 6 as hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters rallied for election integrity in the District of Columbia.

Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter, was shot dead by a U.S. Capitol Police officer as she tried to climb into the House speaker’s lobby through a window.

A USCP officer, Brian Sicknick, died one day after he was injured while engaging with protesters. The direct causes of Sicknick’s injuries remain unknown, his family said in a Jan. 8 statement.

Three other people died after medical emergencies during the event.

The composition of the individuals who broke in is still being determined while various court filings show those being charged have been identified and associated with both right and left-wing groups.

Experts said that military hand signals and crowd control tactics appear to have been employed during the breach to agitate the protesters.

Steven D’Antuono, head of the FBI Washington field office, told reporters that the agency had “received a lot of intelligence” leading up to the Jan. 6 protest and had shared the information with law enforcement partners through its shared systems, The Epoch Times reported.

Democrats Lay Priorities of Investigation

The top House Democrats outlined serval priority areas in the investigation including whether the agencies received any advance warning about the breach, if there was foreign influence or misinformation efforts, whether any current or former government official or security clearance holder participated in the breach, and details of the response of the agencies.

The four committee leaders also want to know if there’s any plan to “prevent the travel of those who committed crimes, including any Domestic Violent Extremists.”

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to conduct a “rigorous investigation” of the breach.

“The new Democratic Senate will also conduct a rigorous investigation of the events that led to the tragedy of January 6, including the role of white supremacy, disinformation, and the gross disparity in force between the Trump administration’s response to the Capitol rioters and the administration’s response to the racial justice protesters last summer,” the incoming Senate majority leader said.

The Democratic Party maintains a majority in the House may hold a thin majority in the Senate after the two newly-elected Democratic Senators from Georgia swear in.

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