US Capitol Police observed roughly 200 members of the extremist Proud Boys group moving toward the Senate around 11 a.m. on January 6, hours before the building was breached by a pro-Trump mob, a House committee chairman said Monday.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, revealed new details about the January 6 insurrection and failures to focus on threats emerging that morning. The new details emerged Monday during a House Administration Committee hearing examining the Capitol Police inspector general’s most recent report into the department’s countersurveillance and threat assessment deficiencies.
Lofgren said the Proud Boys were only mentioned once in a Capitol Police timeline of the day, but instead, Capitol Police seemed to monitor three to four counterdemonstrators who showed up around 11:30 a.m. that day.
Asked why Capitol Police didn’t focus on the Proud Boys, Inspector General Michael Bolton said a later report would likely address that. In a statement early Monday evening, US Capitol Police said countersurveillance teams were, in fact, monitoring the Proud Boys on the day of the riot and that it properly distributed the information.
“The Department was on the lookout for any and all potential threats on January 6,” Capitol Police said, though it did not provide additional information about its response.
At one point during the hearing, Bolton said the Capitol Police deployed 13 countersurveillance officers in small teams, but had no plan for January 6.
“There was no actual plan for the countersurveillance unit for what they were going to do,” Bolton said.
Bolton has recommended building a specialized counter-surveillance unit within the Capitol Police — something that may have been helpful on the day of the riot, when at least six countersurveillance officers were redirected and began investigating two pipe bombs found nearby.
“If the pipe bombs were intended to be a diversion, frankly speaking, it worked,” Bolton said. Capitol Police, however, said the decision to respond to the pipe bombs “likely saved lives.”
Moving forward, Bolton said addressing the dramatic number in threats must be a central focus for the department.
When pressed by Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican, about efforts to expand Capitol Police’s efforts throughout the nation to better protect members, Bolton said the department is planning to open up to five field offices.
“I’m extremely concerned that while the threats reported against members have increased significantly, the number of arrests have stayed relatively the same, as have the number of indictments,” Davis said, calling for more coordination with the Justice Department and state and local police.
Friday, the Capitol Police said in a statement the agency has been managing a 107% increase in threats against members in the last year. The department added that it supports the idea of a more robust threat assessment approach, but needs more funding.
Top House Democrats are preparing to move a $2 billion supplemental funding bill to address US Capitol security to the floor later this month, despite some outstanding questions — and reservations — among Republicans and even some Senate Democrats about the spending.