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DOJ, FBI deployed secret commandos with shoot-to-kill authority during Jan. 6 Capitol breach: Report

A crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Image from FBI affidavit/TNS)
July 14, 2022

The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) deployed secret commandos with shoot-to-kill authority in Washington, D.C. during the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach, according to a Newsweek exclusive report. The deployment was planned days ahead.

The secret operation was directed by then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and was conducted “mostly” without the knowledge of Congress or the U.S. Capitol Police, the report said.  

Acting independently in anticipation of the worst, the force was “pre-deployed” on Jan. 2-3, 2021, staging out of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, roughly 30 miles south of the Capitol.

“I believe that DOJ [Department of Justice] reasonably prepared for contingencies ahead of January 6, understanding that there was considerable uncertainty as to how many people would arrive, who those people would be, and precisely what purposes they would pursue,” Rosen later told Congress, adding that his department did not have a “frontline role with respect to crowd control” and that his team was focused on “high-risk” operations.

Rosen’s “national” forces included the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, the FBI’s national “Render Safe” team, an FBI SWAT team from the Baltimore Field Office, Special Response Teams from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group.

The units were prepared to address a wide range of incidents, including those involving weapons of mass destruction, terrorist attacks, and attacks on then-President Trump or then-Vice President Mike Pence.

The teams were operating under plans approved by Trump, and allowed responders to “take initiative and spare no resources, including shoot-to-kill authority,” according to Newsweek.

Early on Jan. 6, 2021, the units set up closer to downtown Washington, D.C., and were on alert after intelligence revealed a possible threat to the FBI headquarters and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

FBI tactical teams, SWAT teams and snipers were deployed on the morning of Jan. 6 to secure congressional office buildings, and other FBI agents supported security efforts around the Capitol complex.

The Hostage Rescue Team entered the Capitol shortly after protesters breached the building, and one team helped U.S. Capitol Police and Secret Service protect Pence, who was moved underground during the demonstration.

Newsweek reported that the operation was highly classified, and while it is unclear what role the U.S. military played in the effort, an FBI source told the outlet that military operators were present at the time.

On Thursday, Trump once again questioned why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently refused to deploy the National Guard on January 6, despite intelligence clearly indicating the demonstrations could turn ugly.

“When is the never ending Unselect Committee going to discuss the fact that Crazy Nancy Pelosi turned down 10,000-20,000 soldiers (or National Guard) 3 days before January 6th? When are they going to discuss the MASSIVE ELECTION FRAUD that singularly led to the big turnout of people in D.C. The Kangaroo Court, and the Fake News Media, want to stay as far away from these two topics as possible,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “WITCH HUNT!”