15 Questions for the Secret Service About Its Conduct During the January 6 Insurrection
America deserves a thorough public Congressional inquiry into the actions of the Secret Service both before and during the January 6th, 2021 armed insurrection.
I have written at Proof before—see here and here—about the considerable evidence suggesting that the United States Secret Service played an outsized and scandalous role in the January 6th insurrection. These prior reports raise the following questions, which so urgently demand answers that only Congress can properly pursue them now:
(1) The Safety and Security of the President of the United States
When it was clear that the United States Capitol was under armed attack by domestic terrorists, why wasn’t then-President of the United States Donald Trump quickly moved to a secure location? Why was he allowed by those sworn to protect his life to sit in his private dining room and watch television for hours? Why—and when—did the Secret Service determine that these domestic terrorists were no threat to the White House or the president; who in the Secret Service made this determination; and how was this determination made?
(2) A Secret Service Security Assessment Rules the Capitol Unsafe
When did the Secret Service initiate and complete its security assessment (see this January 15th Reuters report for more) of the likely conditions at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th? Who requested the assessment, how was it conducted, and did it consider conditions both inside and outside the Capitol? Who communicated to the Secret Service the location(s) the President of the United States wanted to travel to on that date, whether inside or outside the Capitol? Did the Secret Service suggest alternatives to that plan, such as Trump exclusively going inside the Capitol rather than speaking outside of it at a Stop the Steal rally (the so-called Wild Protest) on the Capitol steps?
(3) The Welfare of the Vice President of the United States
If the Secret Service indeed, as Reuters reports, completed a security assessment for Capitol Hill well prior to January 6th, why did Vice President Mike Pence’s Secret Service detail allow him to travel to the Capitol on that day—given the finding in the Secret Service’s security assessment, per Reuters, that the Capitol would be unsafe on January 6th? Did the team that conducted a security assessment for the President of the United States communicate its findings to the Vice President and/or his security detail? If not, why not, and on whose order?
(4) Notice to Congress of Likely January 6 Conditions at the Capitol
Did the Secret Service communicate the findings of its security assessment to anyone outside the White House? Outside the executive branch? Was there any discussion of informing Congress of these findings? If not, why not, and on whose order? Why was a similar assessment not initiated on the Congressional side, in conjunction with the Secret Service? Why does there appear to have been no coordination between the executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial branch—given the January 6th protest outside the Supreme Court that featured Roger Stone and other Trump allies—given that it was known, by mid-December, that millions of angry political partisans were about to descend on an area in D.C. that included the White House, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court building?
(5) The Communication of Security Data to Unauthorized Persons
In view of multiple reports that this did indeed occur, did Secret Service agents meet with civilians—such as far-right conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones or since-arrested insurrectionist leader and Oath Keepers militia member Jessica Watkins—on or before January 6th, 2021 to discuss the security logistics of that day? If so, who ordered this extraordinary conferral to occur? And who was present when it happened? Who received a readout or a briefing on these interactions? Where did any such briefings occur? What is the complete list of unauthorized civilians who were given prior notice of, and discourse on, Trump’s anticipated January 6th movements?
(6) Strife Between the POTUS and His Presidential Protective Detail
Nothing could be a more serious threat to national security than a President of the United States in a running dispute with his presidential protective detail of the sort reported by Reuters—let alone a situation in which a president accepts the security assessment of his presidential protective detail and then suddenly announces, before a crowd of tens of thousands, that he is imminently going to abandon his protective plan to engage in a course of action his detail has told him could be deadly. What actions did the Secret Service take when Donald Trump announced, twice, during a 75-minute speech at the Ellipse on January 6th, that he was planning to imminently jettison the agreement he had previously made with his protective detail to avoid the U.S. Capitol on January 6th? If those announcements did not result in any imminent actions by the Secret Service, why not? Who inside the top echelon of the Secret Service knew that Trump was lying to tens of thousands of people about his January 6th schedule, and how did they communicate this throughout the Secret Service so that agents and their superiors did not erroneously believe that the President of the United States was shortly going to put himself in mortal danger at the Capitol (per a Secret Service assessment declaring that going to the Capitol would indeed be a mortal peril for the president)?
(7) Breaks in the Chain of Command Inside the Secret Service
Was former presidential detail head Anthony Ornato authorized to issue directives to Secret Service agents on or before January 6th? Was he considered to have remained within the chain of command at the Secret Service even after he became a member of then-President Donald Trump’s political team? If not, who instructed agents inside the Secret Service to coordinate with—at a minimum—key Stop the Steal co-organizer Alex Jones on January 6th, despite such political coordination being outside the brief of the Secret Service, an apolitical taxpayer-funded government institution subject to the federal Hatch Act?
(8) Accountability at the Secret Service for January 6th Lapses
What internal reviews occurred at the Secret Service after January 6th, but before January 20th? On whose order did these reviews occur, and who received a readout or briefing on the result of the review(s)? If Anthony Ornato was deemed a potential administrative or security risk of some kind in 2020, such that on December 31st, 2020, per Reuters, a decision was made to move him outside the White House, how did the events of Insurrection Day (January 6th) and those leading up to Inauguration Day (January 20th) augment this sense of risk—and perhaps even expand its scope—such that the dramatic action taken by the Biden Transition Team became only the first of many such actions to be taken inside the Secret Service?
(9) Accountability at DHS for January 6th and Subsequent Lapses
What internal reviews occurred at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the Secret Service, after January 6th, but before January 20th? On whose order did these reviews occur, and who received a readout or briefing on the result of the review(s)? If the acting secretary of the department on January 6th, Chad Wolf, was subsequently deemed to have posed a potential administrative or security risk to the government based upon his actions with respect to—and license given to—the Secret Service in the lead-up to an armed insurrection against the United States, how did the events of Insurrection Day (January 6th) and those leading up to Inauguration Day (January 20th) augment this sense of risk—and perhaps even expand its scope—such that an internal review at DHS was conducted to determine if any career public servants, rather than merely political appointees, had aided and abetted any suspect actions by Acting Secretary Wolf?
(10) Biden Administration Review of the Secret Service and DHS
Once Biden formally assumed the powers of the presidency on January 20th, what internal or external reviews occurred at the Secret Service or the Department of Homeland Security? On whose order were such reviews conducted, and who received a readout or briefing on the result of the reviews? Was Congress notified of potential extremists lodged within the Secret Service or the Department of Homeland Security?
(11) Remedial Action Taken Against Agents of the Secret Service
Besides Anthony Ornato, whose reassignment was announced by Biden’s political team not only before Inauguration Day but before Insurrection Day, have any Secret Service agents been removed from their details because of their involvement in the events of January 6 or the planning for the events of that day? Have any agents been demoted, reassigned, fired, referred for criminal prosecution, interrogated, debriefed, referred for an investigation by the DHS Inspector General? Was any Secret Service or DHS official found to have been reckless or negligent in their duties in permitting coordination between the Secret Service and/or DHS and (a) the Trump campaign, or (b) civilians acting in coordination with the Trump campaign, such as Alex Jones?
(12) A Longstanding Plot in the Department of Homeland Security
What role did the Department of Homeland Security under Chad Wolf have in first permitting Anthony Ornato to temporarily move from the Secret Service to Trump’s political team, a move the Guardian and other major-media outlets have correctly deemed (upon speaking to sources in the United States government) “unprecedented”? What role, if any, did the department have in authorizing Ornato (if indeed he was so authorized) to remain in the chain of command at the Secret Service—with authority to issue directives to Secret Service agents—even after his transition to the Trump political team?
(13) A Secret Service and DHS Plot That May Have Begun in 2019
As detailed in books like Proof of Corruption (link), concerted efforts by the 2020 Trump campaign to plan for the theft of the 2020 presidential election—by Trump and his allies—began in April 2019, the very month that Trump suddenly announced that was replacing the heads of the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security. Were Trump’s firings of then-Secret Service head Randolph Alles or then-Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019 connected to Trump’s plan to use his political agents, including Rudy Giuliani and others, to attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election?
(14) The Claims Made By Insurrectionist Leader Jessica Watkins
Now incarcerated and facing federal conspiracy charges, Oath Keepers member Jessica Watkins implies that when she arrived at the “VIP” area at Trump’s Ellipse speech on January 6th, 2021 she was both armed and armored—despite the fact that she was trying to enter an area where she might come into contact with the President of the United States. Which Secret Service agents interrogated her when she arrived at the VIP area? What did she tell those agents about the provenance of her VIP-area pass? Which agents, or their superiors, decided that it was appropriate to admit a member of a militia to a VIP area on or near the White House grounds? Who had the authority, on January 6th, to make the determination that an armed and armored civilian could enter that area, with or without any special provisions such as relieving themselves of their weapons and armor first?
(15) Why No One Treats These Issues As National Security Threats
When Proof reported on a single Brazilian Congressman, Rep. Eduardo Bolsonaro of São Paulo, having an unannounced meeting at the White House on January 5th, 2021, and possibly another meeting at Trump International Hotel on that date that involved planning for the overturning of a democratic election in the United States, the Brazilian Senate immediately launched a formal inquiry, crediting the reporting here at Proof. In addition to being reported on in nearly every major Brazilian media outlet, this ongoing inquiry received international coverage. Meanwhile, an even bigger scandal by far looms in the United States—involving many more people, who were far closer to the U.S. president, and some of whom may still be working inside the White House—and the U.S. Congress does absolutely nothing but hold hearings in which it questions its own sergeants-at-arms, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the D.C. Metropolitan Police. When will Congress exercise its oversight function to determine whether the Trumpist plot to overturn a democratic election was aided and abetted by a taxpayer-funded organization with the sacred duty of protecting the life of the American president?