Amid heightened scrutiny of the U.S. Secret Service over missing text messages related to the January 6, 2021 attack, an independent watchdog revealed Wednesday that the agency waited until after the insurrection to notify Capitol Police of a threat against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
That revelation comes from a batch of documents obtained by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
At roughly noon on the day of the attack, then-President Donald Trump began a speech in Washington, D.C. that included his "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats, according to an NPR timeline published earlier this year.
About an hour later, Pelosi, D-Calif., kicked off a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results. Right-wing rioters breached the Capitol around 2:00 pm. Over the next half-hour, then-Vice President Mike Pence and Pelosi were ushered to more secure locations and the building went into lockdown.
The CREW documents reveal that the Secret Service—which came across the threat against Pelosi on January 4, 2021—didn't send an email notifying Capitol Police of online threats against Pelosi until two days later, at 5:55 pm, around when police had started to clear rioters from the building.
CREW's Jordan Libowitz and Sara Wiatrak highlighted in a blog post Wednesday that "while the Secret Service downplayed threats posed by right-wing extremist groups and Trump's supporters leading up to January 6, the newly obtained documents reveal just how grave and explicit the threats had actually been."
In a separate blog post focusing specifically on the Pelosi discovery, Libowitz and Lauren White pointed out that "in the past month, we've learned that the Secret Service failed to prepare for violence on January 6 despite receiving explicit warnings, then deleted key evidence from the day, likely breaking the law."
"The delay in notifying Capitol Police about the threat to the speaker of the House only adds to the impression that the agency failed to do its job, and leads to more questions," they wrote. "Why did the agency wait two days, until after the Capitol had been breached and congressional leaders were in hiding, to pass it along?"
Sharing the second blog post in a tweet Wednesday, Joyce Vance, a University of Alabama law professor and MSNBC legal commentator, said that "this is deeply disturbing and requires a full investigation."
As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, confirmed that the email was authentic. He noted that Pelosi, D-San Francisco, is not a protectee of the Secret Service, which oversees security for the president. The messages were sent to Capitol Police out of "an abundance of caution" even though they did not contain "a specific threat of violence to her on that evening," he said.
The Secret Service flagged the account because it had posted a specific threat of harm to Biden. U.S. Capitol Police conduct their own surveillance of similar threats against members of Congress and were likely following the same information the Secret Service had, Guglielmi said.
The newspaper noted that "staffers in Pelosi's office also did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment."