The US Secret Service tracked groups planning to hold events at the US Capitol or the White House to support then-President Trump on January 6 but concluded there was no indication of possible civil disobedience, according to newly released documents obtained by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The documents provide a window into how the Secret Service distilled intelligence ahead of the January 6 insurrection – and another example of how law enforcement underestimated the potential threats that day. The Secret Service gave the go-ahead for then-Vice President Mike Pence to preside over counting the Electoral College votes at the Capitol that day. Pence later was quickly escorted out by security after the building was breached by the mob.
The Secret Service had intelligence on a number of groups planning to hold pro-Trump events that promoted the lie that the election had been stolen, including social media discussions about “occupying” the Capitol, the documents obtained by the watchdog group show.
The records include two intelligence documents issued December 31 and January 4 for internal dissemination at the Secret Service about the “March for Trump.” They described the groups planning to support Trump’s claims, such as Stop the Steal, Women for America and Million MAGA March, which either organized or promoted the main event, a mass effort to overturn the election through demonstrations in Washington. For a number of smaller events that day, such as caravans to Washington, the document states: “There is no indication of civil disobedience.”
In a statement, the Secret Service said, “While the Secret Service does not comment on our protective means and methods we consistently collaborate with our law enforcement partners for situational awareness in support of our protective mission.”
The document also listed the Proud Boys among the groups promoting January 6 events. The Secret Service described them as “a right-wing” group that had been on the agency’s radar since 2017. The agency said that “no civil disobedience or arrests have been recorded” in connection with Proud Boys demonstrations in that time.
However, the document does point out that media had reported stabbings “when Proud Boys clashed with counter-protestors” outside a Washington hotel where Proud Boys members frequently stayed and that the hotel planned to close between January 4 and January 6 for safety purposes.
Several alleged members of the Proud Boys face conspiracy charges for their alleged roles in the insurrection.
The Secret Service tracked the projected size of the crowd as well as the possibility of counterprotesters ahead of January 6. The intelligence brief obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington notes that the agency tracked less chatter from counterprotesters compared with past events. The Secret Service concluded the January 6 event would resemble past protests, with the potential for some violence but most likely from clashes with counterdemonstrators.