At least tacit support

Trump may have had high-level help from federal officials who blocked the normal procedures for a potentially violent DC protest.

The supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday to stop the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory were attempting a violent coup that multiple European security officials said appeared to have at least tacit support from aspects of the US federal agencies responsible for securing the Capitol complex.

Insider spoke with three officials on Thursday morning: a French police official responsible for public security in a key section of central Paris, and two intelligence officials from NATO countries who directly work in counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations involving the US, terrorism, and Russia.

People who know what they’re talking about, in short. Business Insider underlines that they didn’t present any evidence, but argued from their experience of what is normally done in parallel situations that was not done in this one.

The French police official said they believed that an investigation would find that someone interfered with the deployment of additional federal law-enforcement officials on the perimeter of the Capitol complex; the official has direct knowledge of the proper procedures for security of the facility.

The security of Congress is entrusted to the US Capitol Police, a federal agency that answers to Congress.

It is routine for the Capitol Police to coordinate with the federal Secret Service and the Park Police and local police in Washington, DC, before large demonstrations. The National Guard, commanded by the Department of Defence, is often on standby too.

And we know Trump’s people love violence, and we know Trump loves their violence, and we know Trump’s people know that, so we can surely assume that the Capitol Police and Park police and local police and National Guard all know that. It’s not as if it’s a secret. But the coordination seems not to have happened. (If it did happen they must have done it wrong.)

“You cannot tell me I don’t know what they should have done. I can fly to Washington tomorrow and do that job, just as any police official in Washington can fly to Paris and do mine,” the official said. The official directs public security in a central Paris police district filled with government buildings and tourist sites.

“These are not subtle principles” for managing demonstrations, “and they transfer to every situation,” the official said. “This is why we train alongside the US federal law enforcement to handle these very matters, and it’s obvious that large parts of any successful plan were just ignored.”

The National Guard, which was deployed heavily to quell the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, did not show up to assist the police until two hours after the action started on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

I guess I was thinking it was incompetence as opposed to…systematic collaboration.

The French police official detailed multiple lapses they believe were systematic:

Large crowds of protesters needed to be managed far earlier by the police, who instead controlled a scene at the first demonstration Trump addressed, then ignored the crowd as it streamed toward the Capitol.

“It should have been surrounded, managed, and directed immediately, and that pressure never released.”

Because the crowd was not managed and directed, the official said, the protesters were able to congregate unimpeded around the Capitol, where the next major failure took place.

“It is unthinkable there was not a strong police cordon on the outskirts of the complex. Fences and barricades are useless without strong police enforcement. This is when you start making arrests, targeting key people that appear violent, anyone who attacks an officer, anyone who breaches the barricade. You have to show that crossing the line will fail and end in arrest.”

“I cannot believe the failure to establish a proper cordon was a mistake. These are very skilled police officials, but they are federal, and that means they ultimately report to the president. This needs to be investigated.”

“When the crowd reached the steps of the building, the situation was over. The police are there to protect the building from terrorist attacks and crime, not a battalion of infantry. That had to be managed from hundreds of meters away unless the police were willing to completely open fire, and I can respect why they were not.”

The third official, who works in counterintelligence for a NATO member, agreed that the situation could only be seen as a coup attempt, no matter how poorly considered and likely to fail, and said its implications might be too huge to immediately fathom.

“The broader damage around the world will be extensive in terms of reputation, and that’s why Putin doesn’t mind at all that Trump lost. He’s got to be happy to take his chips and count his winnings, which from the Trump era will be a shockingly quick decline in American prestige and moral high ground.

That’s a done deal.

H/t Holms

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