More than a week before the January 6th attack on the Capitol, the Secret Service was tracking the Million MAGA March that Donald Trump was promoting online, aware that thousands of protesters were preparing to attend a rally thrown by a group that had been reported for violent activity in the months prior, according to documents obtained by CREW.
The Secret Service knew that nearly 3,300 demonstrators associated with approximately 50 identified groups were planning to attend the protest. Emails show that Million MAGA March organized two previous demonstrations in the months leading up to January 6th that drew “large groups of some minor reports of violent activity,” which could be a reference to the November 15, 2020 march that triggered hours of violence between Trump’s supporters and counterprotesters. It was reported that the January 6th attack would “look similar to November’s Million MAGA March.”
Even with this information and the large attendance, the Secret Service labeled the protest “No CD” in their briefs: No civil disobedience.
The same Secret Service records listed groups such as the Proud Boys coming to the protest in support of Trump, and noted that other, smaller demonstrations at the White House and National Mall on January 6th were anticipated. On December 22, 2020, Secret Service Special Agent Matt Miller emailed several others in the agency about the growing number of demonstrations on the 6th with a photo of Trump’s tweet calling for the protest. Beneath the photo, Miller added, “Thank you, and sorry…”
According to other documents CREW obtained, the Secret Service monitored Trump’s name in connection with martial law. A briefing from December 20, 2020 flagged Trump’s “big protest” tweet and the significant social media attention it received, then noted that “Social media users discussed President Trump invoking martial law in an attempt to stay in office.”
Briefings from the following days also appear to monitor social media about Trump calling for the January 6th protest. It’s unclear whether the majority of these social media users were posting in support of Trump, contributing to the press coverage of the news, or merely discussing the potential of martial law being put into effect—but it appears the government was aware of the significant online attention and potential support toward Trump possibly invoking martial law to stay in office.