Democratic lawmakers warned U.S. Capitol Police one week before the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that thousands of fervent Trump supporters could storm the complex and try to “kill half of Congress” to stop them from certifying Joe BidenJoe BidenCotton: Senate lacks authority to hold impeachment trial once Trump leaves officeMarjorie Taylor Greene says she will introduce impeachment articles against BidenICE acting director resigns weeks after assuming postMORE’s election victory.
One of them also warned that Vice President Pence’s life was in danger.
On Dec. 30, Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonMcMorris Rodgers floats vacating Speaker’s chair over Democrat’s in-person vote after COVID diagnosisFive House Democrats who could join Biden CabinetLobbying worldMORE (D-Fla.) spoke with a police captain, informing the officer that — based on past death threats made against her by Trump supporters and the violent language she saw used in online forums — people might attack the Capitol and physically harm lawmakers counting the Electoral College votes.
Wilson spoke to The Hill about the warning and provided notes of the hourlong phone call with the Capitol Police captain.
She warned police that those web-connected Trump devotees are influenced by the “underground chatter that the election was rigged and Mr. Trump should be the president,” and that Democrats are “stealing the election and the only way they can stop us from stealing the election is to kill off half of Congress.”
“These are not ordinary demonstrators. These are not ordinary people voicing their First Amendment rights,” Wilson told the police captain. “These are crazy people.”
Trump had reportedly urged Pence to block the formalization of Biden’s victory, which Pence refused to do, noting that he simply didn’t have the authority. And Wilson, whose office monitors online threats to better ensure her safety, told the police captain that Pence had planned extensive travel after the Jan. 6 certification process because he is “afraid” for his life.
“They’re going to kill him if he announces that Joseph Biden is President of the United States,” she told the captain.
A Capitol Police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Wilson was not the only lawmaker to raise concerns about security heading into Jan. 6. Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters in impeachment speech says Trump ‘capable of starting a civil war’Brown puts housing, eviction protections at top of Banking panel agendaQuestions and answers about the Electoral College challengesMORE (D-Calif.), one of Trump’s most outspoken critics, said she had a lengthy conversation with Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund on Dec. 31, warning him that “white supremacists were in town” and questioning if the security measures were up to the task of defending the complex.
“He assured me that not only did they have it under control, they were working in cooperation with the Metropolitan police of D.C.,” Waters told Los Angeles Magazine on Jan. 6.
“All of that has turned out to be untrue,” she added.
Wilson also quizzed the captain about what type of a perimeter police planned to set up around the Capitol and how many officers would be on duty that day.
The captain responded that there would be low bicycle-rack-style fencing around the Capitol’s perimeter. “Extra patrols” would be stationed both inside and outside the building, the officer added. Also, platoons known as “civil-disturbance units” would be on the Capitol grounds, while others would be nearby and ready to be deployed if necessary.
The captain acknowledged that there was no way to predict the precise number of people who would participate in the protest, according to the notes of the conversation. But she added that department leaders “always plan for many more” than expected.
“No one should be able to get on the Capitol Square … unless you’re a staffer or a member of Congress,” the captain said. Still, she also acknowledged that “these people are coming and there’s no way to make … all of them stay back.”
Wilson was left unconvinced, warning the captain that the plan sounded extremely insufficient and to take her concerns back to Sund. He resigned on Jan. 8, two days after the attack that left one officer and four rioters dead.
When she arrived in Washington to be sworn in that week, Wilson said she personally reviewed the low barriers around the Capitol and personally told a police sergeant that the Trump protesters would easily breach them. After the assault, police fortified the area by erecting 8-foot-high fencing around both the Capitol and Supreme Court; the National Guard has also deployed thousands of troops to help shore up the Capitol.
Sund told The Washington Post after the attack that he had not been made aware of an FBI bulletin warning that extremists were planning for violence and “war” at the Capitol that day.
“I did not have that information, nor was that information taken into consideration in our security planning,” Sund told the paper.
But Wilson’s and Waters’s accounts of their warnings to Sund and other top brass on the force appear to contradict that claim.
The Democratic lawmakers had good reason to sound the alarm before Jan. 6. The pair of prominent female Black Caucus members who’ve been highly critical of Trump have themselves been threatened with violence by Trump supporters.
Waters received death threats in 2018 after she called for protesters to confront and harass Trump administration officials in public over its “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
Wilson faced death threats after she criticized Trump’s 2017 call to a widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger. Trump tweeted that Wilson was “wacky” and accused her of eavesdropping on the call.
“I have intuition and I have experience with Mr. Trump,” Wilson said in a phone interview on Thursday. “It’s like a cult almost and they don’t care about anything else except for him; it’s like Jim Jones,” the cult leader responsible for the Jonestown massacre.
“That’s how these people behave. They were willing to kill themselves that day; they drank the poison,” she said.