Secret Service under scrutiny ahead January 6 committee’s final report

Editor’s Notes: The NewsHour reached out to the FBI and the Secret Service for comment on this report. Late today, the FBI responded: "Since January 2021, the FBI has responded to Congressional requests for documents, information, and testimony regarding January 6th. This includes multiple briefings by and interviews of senior FBI officials to the House Select Committee."

The Secret Service said that they provided more than one million pages of documents and transmissions and that the committee determines what to make public.

“What occurred at the Capitol on that day was a travest[y]. We have pledged our unwavering cooperation to all oversight efforts because ensuring an insurrection like that never takes place again speaks to the very reason why the Secret Service was created,” Anthony Guglielmi, Chief of Communications for the Secret Service, said. “It is the committee’s decision which testimony to make public but we went when asked and provided everything that was asked of us with an unparalleled level of cooperation.”

The House panel investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is preparing to release its final report. Questions remain over how much the committee will focus on the federal law enforcement response to the insurrection and if they could have done anything to prevent it. Laura Barrón-López reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The House panel investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is preparing to release its final report next week.

    Questions remain over how much the committee will focus on the federal law enforcement agencies and their response to the insurrection and if they could have done anything to prevent it.

    Laura Barrón-López reports.

    Donald Trump, Former President of the United States: We're going to walk down to the Capitol!


  • Laura Barrón-López:

    The FBI and Secret Service were warned.

  • Protester:

    We're coming for you!

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    But when hundreds stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan Police were ill-prepared and under. siege.

  • Rioters:

    Stop the steal! Stop the steal!

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    As the House's January 6 Select Committee prepares to issue its final report, questions remain about the threats of violence that went overlooked and communication breakdowns among nation's top law enforcement.

  • Protester:

    USA! USA!

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Senior officials from the FBI, Secret Service and other top intelligence agencies never testified publicly before the committee across its nine hearings.

  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):

    In this report received on December 26, the Secret Service field office relayed a tip that had been received by the FBI.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Former FBI Agent Tracy Walder said no public accounting with senior officials was a mistake.

  • Tracy Walder, Former FBI Agent:

    I think, in the final report. What I would really like to see is accountability. I think that's the bottom line, whether it's the Secret Service or the FBI or local police, for not taking some of these threats seriously.

    And they need — either need to have new training in place, in terms of how to understand some of these threats, or we need to look at creating a federal domestic terrorism statute.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Speaking before a Senate committee in 2021, FBI Director Christopher Wray defended the FBI's actions, but admitted the outcome was impermissible.

  • Christopher Wray, FBI Director:

    I do not consider what happened on January 6 to be an acceptable result. And that's why we're looking so hard at figuring out, how can the process be improved?

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    The committee's report, compiled after months of public and private testimony, is expected to heavily focus on former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election…

  • Donald Trump:

    We will never concede.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    … and potentially refer criminal charges to the Justice Department.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY):

    President Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march on the United States Capitol.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Former Secret Service agent Evy Poumpouras said, if bad communication decisions were made, people should be replaced.

  • Evy Poumpouras, Former U.S. Secret Service Agent:

    You should see this information was passed to this person of this rank, and then what did that person do with that information? You really do need to see names and ranks.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Committee members blasted Secret Service for thousands of missing text messages from the day of the attack, including from members of the former president's security detail.

    Secret Service said the texts were erased as part of a — quote — "device replacement program." The deletion of those messages, the committee warned, could have violated federal records-keeping law.

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    The Secret Service had advance information more than 10 days beforehand regarding the Proud Boys' planning for January 6. We know now, of course, that the Proud Boys and others did lead the assault on our Capitol Building.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Poumpouras said, it's not the Secret Service's job to handle threats like these.

  • Evy Poumpouras:

    Capitol Police are responsible for the Capitol.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Still, the Secret Service were prominently featured in the testimony by one of the committee's blockbuster witnesses, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified that the president wanted agents to remove security measures at the Ellipse rally.

    Cassidy Hutchinson, Former Aide to Mark Meadows: I overheard the president say something to the effect of: "I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in."

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Ultimately, Poumpouras and Walder agreed, an independent commission like the one established after 9/11 would have achieved more oversight.

  • Tracy Walder:

    What happened on 1/6 was, for the most part, one of the most violent incidences since really 9/11 on American soil. With 9/11, we did call members of the CIA to testify. We did call folks that were sort of higher up at the administration levels of these organizations.

    But, for some reason, we are very, very hesitant to do that now.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Lawmakers initially proposed creating such a commission to investigate the causes of the January 6 attack, but Republicans blocked that plan.

    Now House Republicans have vowed investigative revenge on Democrats once they take control next month, and some have called for pardoning insurrectionists.

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA):

    There are some January 6 defendants begging to go to Gitmo because of the D.C. jail. It's awful.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Walder argued that explicit designations for the far right extremist groups involved in the insurrection, like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, is necessary.

  • Tracy Walder:

    When we correctly label them as domestic terrorists, which is really what their actions are, that puts them into a different box and takes really away from them their ability to sort of create this rallying cry around the word patriot.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    Still, she and others fear answers and accountability for the nation's top law enforcement agencies may never come.

  • Tracy Walder:

    And the reality is, is, it's unfortunately going to take another attack for something to be done, because that's what's going to continue to happen if there's no accountability.

  • Laura Barrón-López:

    The Select Committee is set to release the findings of its investigation into the deadly attack on the Capitol on Monday.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Laura Barron-Lopez.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Late today, an FBI spokesperson said the agency had provided private briefings and interviews to the Select House Committee.

    And the Secret Service said that they provided — quote — "unwavering cooperation" to all oversight efforts, adding that the committee determines what to make public.

    For live coverage of the January 6 Committee's public meeting on Monday, join us beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern right here on PBS and online.

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