Internal text messages from the Federal Protective Service obtained by CREW give a never before seen look at how senior government law enforcement officials prepared for and responded to the insurrection on January 6th.

Much like the FBI and Secret Service, FPS, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, had advance warning that there could be a disturbance at the Capitol. On January 3rd, then-Principal Deputy Director and current Director of FPS Kris Cline received a text notifying him that “[t]here will also be marches to the Capitol that will likely use the mall as their route.”  As pro-Trump protestors swarmed downtown DC the night of January 5th, Tex Alles, Deputy Under Secretary for Management at DHS, texted Cline and Chris Tomney, the Director of the Office of Homeland Security Situational Awareness, that he was “glad DC has strict gun control.” Tomney responded with one word: “yikes.” 

At 1:36 pm on January 6th, Tomney expressed concern about the armed mob: “With so many weapons found so far, you wonder how many are unknown. Could be sporty after dark.” Throughout the day, officials found an individual with a pistol and another apparently with pepper spray, a long gun with a magazine and a rifle with a scope. Officials were also notified of intelligence “suggesting that the Proud Boys will storm the FBI Building at 1400 hour.” Other officials were obviously overwhelmed by the crowd. At 9:33 am, one individual asked for an estimate of the crowd size and received “A LOT” in response. By 1:43 pm an individual texted that there were “1000s of people in the streets.” They were then told “do your best.” At 3 pm, once the Capitol was under attack, an officer asked about deployment. They were told “You are not engaging at this time [redacted]. Get as close as you can,” mirroring instructions Park Police officers received as they responded to the mob. 

Throughout the day, officials exchanged candid messages. “You watching this shit” one person asked. “Shit crazy” was the reply. Two individuals joked about a “guy with a lasso and cowboy garb on.” In a 5:33 pm text, an official wrote “Don’t think I’m going to leave here any time soon,” apparently referring to the Capitol, to which another individual replied “Lol!!! Make that money!!” apparently in reference to earning overtime pay. 

Other text messages from DHS on January 6th and the days surrounding it, including those of then-acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are notoriously missing. The Secret Service—another DHS office—apparently violated federal criminal law by destroying text messages from January 5th and 6th after receiving a request for records related to the attack on the Capitol. As part of ongoing litigation brought by CREW, officials from the Secret Service, DHS, Department of Defense and the Army claimed, under penalty of perjury, that certain January 6th text messages were deleted and are now unrecoverable.

In-text illustrations by Miru Osuga/CREW

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