FBI Had Multiple Informants in Jan. 6 Crowd: Former Official

Attorneys for Jan. 6 defendants have said that there were more than 50 confidential sources on Jan. 6 working for the FBI and other agencies.
FBI Had Multiple Informants in Jan. 6 Crowd: Former Official
Steven D'Antuono, head of the FBI Washington field office, speaks during a news conference in Washington on Jan. 12, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)
Zachary Stieber

Multiple confidential FBI informants were in the crowd at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a former bureau official.

Steven D'Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office until he retired in November 2022, told members of Congress in recent testimony that he learned after Jan. 6 of the confidential human sources (CHS).

"My understanding now is there were CHSs on-site. So back then, I didn't know that there were going to be CHSs on-site. I didn't," Mr. D'Antuono said in the testimony, which was made public (pdf) on Sept. 20.

The Washington field office (WFO) didn't send informants into the crowd, but at least one informant for the Washington office also may have participated without telling the FBI, according to Mr. D'Antuono.

"People have a citizen's right to go and protest. We're not going to stop them from doing that," he said.

"So if a CHS was there and then we found out afterward, that doesn't necessarily mean that there was malicious, nefarious action by the FBI to put that person there, right? They might have just been there and then told us after the fact that they went. That happens all the time. We don't have that much control over CHSs."

Through the course of the investigation, the issue became a focus.

"I think at one point we were like, 'We need to know how many CHSs were here, because that's going to be a question,'" Mr. D'Antuono said. "I think we asked headquarters to do a poll or put out something to people saying, 'Was any CHSs involved?' And I think that's when we started getting responses back."

The former FBI official pointed to one informant, who testified in a case that he was told he could break the law if he needed to do so to make the crowd leave him alone. That informant went to Washington from Kansas City, Missouri.

"The one in particular I'm remembering was the Kansas City CHS that I believe the case agent knew he was coming because I think he told them," Mr. D'Antuono said. That person was reporting back to his FBI handler while they were in the crowd.

The poll of other field offices showed that there were multiple informants in the crowd.

"I think it was a handful, but I'm not honestly sure," Mr. D'Antuono said. He added later, "my recollection is maybe a handful of people, but I can't say for sure."

He also said that the number includes informants who did tell their handlers they were going and informants who didn't.

Field offices are supposed to inform colleagues in other offices if a source is entering their territory, but that doesn't always happen, according to Mr. D'Antuono.

"Even in Baltimore coming—which is right next door—coming into WFO, technically, they're supposed to tell us when they're coming into WFO's territory. Realistically, does it always happen? No. And that's what causes some consternation, like, why are you doing an operation in our city?" he said. "And the reason for that is because if there's a shooting or something happens, you need to know, right. If all of a sudden FBI agents get into a shooting and I'm getting called by the deputy director saying your people are—my people aren't deployed. What [is] going on? Then, that's a bad day. That's a problem, right. So that's normally what happens."

The FBI spends some $42 million annually on its CHS program, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. The FBI repeatedly failed to adhere to guidelines in handling the informants, the watchdog found (pdf).

Mr. D'Antuono was testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Attorneys for the Jan. 6 defendants have said that there were more than 50 confidential sources on Jan. 6 working for the FBI and other agencies. Other defendants have tried to identify suspected informants. According to Steven Sund, the former U.S. Capitol Police chief, there were informants and undercover agents in the crowd. Mr. D'Antuono said that as far as he knows, the FBI didn't have any agents there.

New Letter

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House committee, said that Mr. D'Antuono's testimony "reinforces ... existing concerns about the FBI’s selection, vetting, and use of CHSs."

Mr. Jordan informed FBI Director Christopher Wray that the testimony indicates that the FBI can't adequately monitor confidential sources.

"This new information is extremely concerning. It suggests that the FBI cannot adequately track the activities and operations of its informants, and that it lost control of its CHSs present at the Capitol on January 6," Mr. Jordan said.

He asked the FBI to provide a briefing on how confidential sources were used on Jan. 6 and whether they received any specific guidelines.

Mr. Jordan also asked for all documents detailing reporting from the sources.

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