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Judicial Watch: U.S. Capitol Police Federal Court Filing Reveals Officials Were Aware of the Potential for a Significant Disturbance on January 6

‘McCarthy Congress’ Wants to Hide All Jan 6 Videos and Emails as Security Information and Non-Public Records, Asserts Sovereign Immunity from ‘Right to Know’ Court Challenge

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it received the court-ordered declaration of James W. Joyce, senior counsel in the Office of the General Counsel for the Capitol Police, in which he describes emails among senior officials of the United States Capitol Police (USCP) in January 2021 that show warnings of possible January 6 protests that could lead to serious disruptions at the U.S. Capitol.

The declaration comes in a lawsuit Judicial Watch brought under the common law right of access to public records (Judicial Watch v. United States Capitol Police (No. 1:21-cv-00401)). The suit requests:

Email communications between the U.S. Capitol Police Executive Team and the Capitol Police Board concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021.

Email communications of the Capitol Police Board with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021through January 10, 2021.

All video footage from within the Capitol between 12 pm and 9 pm on January 6, 2021.

After an August 15, 2023, hearing, in which U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes ordered the Capitol Police to provide Judicial Watch more detailed descriptions of certain emails that had been withheld, the U.S. Capitol Police filed a seven-page “second declaration,” which describes email discussions of evacuations and relocations of people from certain buildings, arrests, and other security matters.

The U.S. Capitol Police describe “situational security update” emails at issue as follows:

a. A January 3, 2021 email, with attachment, from the USCP Deputy Chief to a Board member and others at USCP and in Congress providing a detailed “special event assessment” of anticipated protest activity in advance of the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress. The attached document is marked on each page “For Official Use Only/Law Enforcement Sensitive.”

b. A January 5, 2021 email, with map attachment, from the USCP Chief to two Board members detailing a proposed “bike rack” security perimeter for January 6, 2021, and proposing further discussion.

c. A January 5, 2021 email, with map attachment, from the USCP Chief to two Board members detailing a proposed security perimeter for January 6, 2021.

d. A January 5, 2021 email, with social media post and map attachments, from the USCP Deputy Chief to a Board member and others at USCP and in Congress reporting “a significant uptick in new visitors” to a “historical website” containing information on Capitol system tunnels. The Deputy Chief describes proposed attempts by unauthorized individuals to block members of Congress from entering the Capitol building, through tunnels or otherwise.

e. A January 5, 2021 email from the USCP Deputy Chief to a Board member and others at USCP and in Congress alerting them to an online website soliciting information on high-level government officials and their expected whereabouts on January 6, 2021, and linking to the website’s article entitled Why the Second American Revolution Starts Jan 6.

f. A January 6, 2021 email from the USCP Chief to Board members and others at USCP and in Congress relaying that the President had completed a speech at the Ellipse and that a large group was preparing to approach the Capitol.

g. A January 6, 2021 email thread between the USCP Chief, two Board members, and congressional staffers responding to questions on the status of evacuations and relocations of certain buildings on the Capitol Grounds on January 6, 2021, and relaying information on crowds gathering near the Washington Monument and on Capitol Grounds on January 6, 2021.

h. A series of four January 6, 2021 emails from the USCP Deputy Chief to a Board member and others at the USCP and in Congress providing four updates throughout the course of January 6, 2021. These updates contain intelligence assessments, information on arrests, coordination with other law enforcement agencies, crowd estimates, scheduling of high-level government officials, threat and incident reports, medical responses, and officer deployment status.

i. A January 7, 2021 email, with photo attachment, from the USCP Deputy Chief to Board member and others in Congress providing an update on the arrest and subsequent charging of an armed individual found in a “suspicious vehicle” on January 6, 2021.

The U.S. Capitol Police describe “updates on police personnel issues” emails at issue as follows:

a. A January 7, 2021 email from the USCP Chief to all Board members and others at the USCP and in Congress providing an update on the medical condition of a USCP officer following the events of January 6, 2021.

b. A January 7, 2021 email from the USCP Chief to all Board members and others at USCP and in Congress providing an update on the medical condition of a USCP officer following the events of January 6, 2021.

c. A January 7, 2021 email from the USCP Chief to all Board members and others at USCP and in Congress providing an update on the death of a USCP officer following the events of January 6, 2021.

d. A January 8, 2021 email from the USCP Chief to a Board member and others at USCP and in Congress concerning the lowering of flags to half-staff in recognition of a USCP officer who died in the line of duty on January 6, 2021.

e. A January 9, 2021 email from the USCP Acting Chief to all Board members providing an update on when autopsy results could be expected for a deceased USCP officer following the events of January 6, 2021.

Another email is described under the category of “updates about news media reports:”

A January 7, 2021 email, with attachment, from the USCP Chief to all Board members and others at USCP and in Congress providing an anticipated statement by the USCP on the events that transpired at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

On September 29, 2023, the Capitol Police filed a motion to dismiss Judicial Watch’s common law right of access lawsuit that asks for over 14,000 hours of video footage, arguing that the USCP has a sovereign immunity exemption from lawsuits asserting a common law right of access to public information. The latest filing goes further than prior Pelosi Congress secrecy arguments in this litigation by newly asserting even if a lawsuit were allowed to go forward, all January 6 videos and emails would be exempt from disclosure as “security information.”

Judicial Watch also received the January 7, 2021, resignation letter of Steven A. Sund, chief of the Capitol Police on January 6, who left the position at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It is urgent that the January 6 videos and related U.S. Capitol Police emails be released to the American public. I would hope the next House speaker takes a different approach than Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy and affirms the public’s lawful ‘right to know’ – and stops working with the Biden Justice Department to hide this January 6 evidence,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

Judicial Watch is extensively investigating the events of January 6.

Last month it received records from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, a component of the Department of Justice, in a FOIA lawsuit that detail the extensive apparatus the Biden Justice Department set up to investigate and prosecute January 6 protestors.

A previous review of records from that lawsuit highlighted the prosecution declination memorandum justifying the decision not to prosecute U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd for the shooting death of Babbitt.

In January 2023, documents from the Department of the Air Force, Joint Base Andrews, MD, showed U.S. Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd was housed at taxpayer expense at Joint Base Andrews after he shot and killed U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In November 2021, Judicial Watch released multiple audiovisual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about the shooting death of Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building. The records included a cell phone video of the shooting and an audio of a brief police interview of the shooter, Byrd.

In October 2021, United States Park Police records related to the January 6, 2021, demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol showed that on the day before the January 6 rally featuring President Trump, U.S. Park Police expected a “large portion” of the attendees to march to the U.S. Capitol and that the FBI was monitoring the January 6 demonstrations, including travel to the events by “subjects of interest.”

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