American Oversight Obtains Additional Records of Top DOJ Officials’ Communications on Jan. 6

On Thursday, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection will hold its eighth public hearing, which will zero in on the actions that former President Donald Trump took that day, including during the multiple hours that his supporters were storming the U.S. Capitol.

Last month, American Oversight compiled a comprehensive, minute-by-minute timeline of the events that took place on Jan. 6, based on public reporting and records we obtained from key federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, as well as the Secret Service, National Guard, and National Park Service. On Wednesday, we updated the timeline to include additional records from the Department of Justice containing emails about and invitations for several interagency calls. 

On the afternoon of Jan. 6, despite requests for assistance from the Capitol Police and Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, mobilization of the National Guard did not occur until hours after the violence began. The long delay, as rioters overwhelmed police and broke into the building, led to significant questions about the delay in troops’ authorization and deployment.

Among the records recently obtained by American Oversight was one email, sent at 4:01 p.m. on Jan. 6, that stated that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy “has not released the [D.C. National Guard] to assist” and that the troops were “all parked” at a redacted location. The email, sent by an official in the DOJ’s National Security Division to Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, advised them to “call Secretary McCarthy.”

The National Guard did not receive authorization to deploy troops until 4:32 p.m., according to the Pentagon’s timeline. Records previously obtained by American Oversight and cited in our timeline include a handwritten log indicating that the National Guard was advised to send 150 guardsmen to establish a perimeter near the Capitol. However, Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commander of the D.C. National Guard, testified that he was not informed of the authorization until 5:08 p.m. The first National Guard members arrived at the Capitol at 5:40 p.m.

Other DOJ Communications

At 10:19 a.m. on Jan. 6, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin sent Donoghue arrest data from D.C. from the previous night. Additional communications between Sherwin and Rosen from that day were also added to the timeline.

The records also show that at 2:48 p.m., just after rioters began entering the Senate chamber, an assistant in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General emailed Rosen and Donoghue that the Department of Defense wanted them “to join a conversation currently happening with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and head of the army regarding current news.” Rosen also later asked Donoghue and Bowdich to join him on a call with federal partners at 6 p.m.

American Oversight’s investigation of the government’s response to the insurrection has already resulted in the release of a number of documents detailing top officials’ actions that day. We uncovered the phone logs of Rosen, Donoghue, and other DOJ officials, which reveal a flurry of calls with the White House the afternoon and evening of the attack, as well as the call logs of National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson. Timelines from the Secret Service provide information about agency activities that day, including those of agents who were part of Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail.

The committee’s seven previous hearings focused extensively on the actions that Trump and his allies took in the days and weeks leading up to the violence on Jan. 6. Through testimony and recorded depositions of more than 40 witnesses, the committee has shown that, following the 2020 election, Trump’s advisers repeatedly told him he had lost and that his claims of large-scale voter fraud were false. During the hearing on June 28, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump knew the mob was armed and dangerous, and that he intended to head to the Capitol with them after his rally near the White House.

Thursday’s hearing is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT. American Oversight will continue to update our Jan. 6 timeline as more information comes to light.

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