Justice Dept. watchdog opens probe of response to riots and breach of Capitol

Capitol Riots

The Dome of the Capitol Building is visible through razor wire installed on top of fencing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Justice Department’s internal watchdog will investigate how the department and its law enforcement agencies prepared for and responded to last week’s riots and breach of the U.S. Capitol.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Friday, his office will examine whether information about the potential for violence was shared by the DOJ to other agencies, including the Capitol Police.

The probe will be coordinated with other federal agencies whose law enforcement arms were also involved in responding to the riots.

Horowitz said it “also will assess whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”

The review is one of several launched by inspectors general, including the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Park Police.

The initiation of the review signals early concern within the watchdog community that the preparations for, and response to, the siege of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the election were insufficient.

The Capitol Police said that it had prepared for only First Amendment activity at the Capitol on the day that lawmakers had assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

The review is likely to also include an assessment of intelligence that the DOJ — and particularly the FBI — had collected before and after the riot. It comes days after the FBI conceded that one of its field offices compiled an internal bulletin that warned of potential violence aimed at Congress.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story: reporting by AP’s Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker; Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch.

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