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Capitol Police intelligence official says she sounded alarm about potential violence days before January 6 riot

Capitol Police official behind key intelligence report speaks out
Capitol Police official says she warned of potential violence before riot 06:11

Three days before the January 6 riot, a top Capitol Police intelligence official sounded the alarm about potential violence at the U.S. Capitol. 

Julie Farnam, now the acting director of intelligence for the Capitol Police, had been with the department for 72 days when violent protestors attacked the Capitol on January 6th. In an interview with CBS News, she said her team didn't bear any responsibility for the insurrection, pointing to an intelligence report she gave to Capitol Police leadership on January 3rd. 

"I think we provided the information. I think we did an excellent job," Farnam said. "We knew there were going to be thousands of protesters. And we knew there were gonna be extremists there. And I knew things were not gonna be good that day." 

CBS News obtained her final intelligence assessment before the riot, dated January 3. 

"Bottom line," it read, "Protestors ... plan to be armed." 

Her team's "overall analysis" raised concerns about permits given to groups affiliated with "Stop the Steal," known to attract "white supremacists" and "militia members … who actively promote violence." 

The analysis warned that Trump supporters "see January 6 … as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election. … This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent," and "unlike previous post-election protests … Congress itself is the target of the 6th." 

Farnam said the Capitol Police was the only federal agency "that wrote a comprehensive assessment and report that outlined the violence that was expected that day." 

"In some regards, on January 6th our intelligence division was an island. And we bear some responsibility for that," she added.

Farnam said she passed the warning to her leadership. 

When Yogananda Pittman, who became acting chief after the insurrection, testified to Congress about the January 3 assessment last February, she said there was "no credible threat" that indicated thousands of protesters would attack the Capitol, but the agency did know there was "a likelihood for violence by extremists." 

Pittman is now back in the position she held on January 6, overseeing all intelligence operations for the Capitol Police, including Farnam's team. The department declined to make Pittman available for an interview. 

In a statement following our report, the Capitol Police said the January 3 assessment was also shared with other top officials in the department "for planning purposes and distribution to rank and file officers as appropriate."

But the department and the Capitol Police Inspector General acknowledge the intelligence was not widely disseminated. 

Current chief Tom Manger, who took over the force in July, said he couldn't speak to why the intelligence wasn't acted on because he wasn't there. 

"But I can tell you this, that the way intelligence was shared, the way it was disseminated needed vast improvement. And so today, that kind of intelligence, it would be acted on. We're in a posture now where we're not taking any chances," Manger said. "Overall, the department bears the majority of the responsibility. I mean, the organization let the men and women of this police department down." 

Congressman Tim Ryan, who chairs the House committee that oversees the Capitol Police, blamed the agency's leadership. 

"They had the intelligence, the intelligence was right, but the leadership, I think, failed the rank and file members and they failed Congress," he said. 

The agency has since made improvements but there is still more to be done, Ryan said. 

Over the last year, the department opened its first field offices, the intelligence unit has doubled in size and improved the training of its analysts in an effort to ensure something like the January 6 riot never happens again. 

Manger is set to testify to Congress on Wednesday about the steps he has taken to overhaul the department since he came on board. 

After warning her superiors, Farnam said it was difficult to watch her assessment come to fruition on January 6. 

"I was listening to the police radio when that was happening," she said. "And to hear the officers' screams and everything that happened that day. It's very difficult." 

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include an additional statement from the United States Capitol Police. 

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