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Social media posts and other online evidence point to advance planning for the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, but federal investigators failed to act on those threats ahead of time or cite them in their prosecutions.
FBI officials have repeatedly said they turned up no credible intelligence before the insurrection to show Donald Trump's extremist supporters planned to storm the Capitol to stop the election certification, and the Justice Department hasn't presented evidence that riot suspects plotted the attack -- but numerous internet postings suggest otherwise, reported NBC News.
"This information, sitting in plain sight on the internet before Jan. 6, paints a clear picture of a planned and coordinated violent attack," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in a statement. "It's important to understand how much of this the FBI and DOJ knew, when they knew it, and how they decided which pieces of information warranted action."
A new report from a private research group and an independent review by NBC News found hundreds of social media posts discussing plans to stampede the Capitol, overwhelm Capitol police and block lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden's election win."You know there will be riot police preventing us from getting in the capitol building," wrote one anonymous poster in December. "What if we created a stampede/crush situation? Start pushing from the back. Surely they will have to get out of the way or get crushed. They're not going to start shooting people."
Another post from now-defunct TheDonald.win forum outlined plans to "occupy" the Capitol, "OVERWHELM THE BARRICADE AND COPS" and stop the certification vote.
"There are thousands of posts — with tens of thousands of comments — detailing plans to travel to Washington and engage in violence against the U.S. Capitol," said Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and Senate investigator who is now president of Advance Democracy, which gathered the material. "The ultimate end goal of this violence was, on behalf of Trump, to disrupt the Congress and overturn the presidential election."
FBI counterterrorism officials have said they considered any intelligence ahead of the attacks to be "raw" and "unvetted," but some of the postings at TheDonald.win and elsewhere contained highly specific details about Capitol tunnels and other areas where lawmakers could escape if the building was breached.
"Bring handcuffs and zipties to DC," reads one post from a user named CommunismSucks. "No more tolerating 'elected' officials who hate our country. January 6th is the chance to restore this country. Barging into the Capitol through multiple entryways is the surest way to have our bases covered and apprehend these traitors."
Users posted photos of their weapons and instructions for building a gallows -- which was erected by Trump supporters -- to lynch public officials, some of whom were threatened by name by forum participants.
"Congress has a choice to make tomorrow," reads a post by the user Doejohnblowjoe. "Certify Trump [or] Get Lynched by Patriots."
Via CBS News' Ed O'Keefe, Major League Baseball this week reported that record numbers of fans are streaming games through its MLB.TV web platform.
"With close games, exciting star performances & 2 no-hitters to begin the season, MLB.TV registered the most-watched 18-day period in its 20-season history, including the 7 most-watched days ever," the league announced in a tweet. "Fans have already watched over 1.34 billion minutes of live games."
Trump and other Republicans called for a boycott of MLB after the league moved the annual All-Star Game out of Atlanta this summer to protest the state's new voter suppression bill aimed at reducing opportunities for residents to vote by mail.
Similar calls to boycott companies such as Delta and Coca Cola have been similarly unsuccessful so far, as both companies' share prices have continued on an upward trajectory from where they were one year ago.
On Tuesday, CNN profiled how Donald Trump Jr. has taken on a more prominent role in steering the direction of the Trump wing of the GOP — including the political commentary of his father — in the wake of the 2020 election loss.
"His role extends far beyond operational guidance," reported Gabby Orr. "In the months since Trump left Washington, Trump Jr. — who never worked in the White House and is undeniably the most conservative member of the Trump family — has been steadily influencing his father's political instincts. Aides describe their relationship as notably more affable than Trump's ever was with Kushner, who has taken a break from politics."
One of the key ways Trump Jr. has influenced his father is in the GOP's hard right culture war turn, including a panic against transgender rights that has led to a wave of state legislation excluding transgender athletes from their identified gender division.
According to the report, when Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill outlawing gender-affirming care for children, "A person familiar with the episode said Trump was 'cursing at the television,' and became increasingly frustrated by Hutchinson's rebuttals. Two days later, the ex-President released a statement through his Save America leadership PAC accusing Hutchinson of supporting the 'chemical castration of children.'"
Reportedly, Trump Jr. was the influence behind all this, as "For years, Trump Jr. had made base-pumping statements about various expansions of transgender rights to his right-wing followers on Twitter and Instagram." (Arkansas legislators ultimately overrode Hutchinson's veto.)
"Don has the pulse of the base and knows where the energy of the party is, so he's sort of the go-to person now on a lot of political things," said one aide. Another said, "He was always fighting for the cause big-picture wise, but now Don is taking more of a leading role in shaping the political direction of Trump's post-presidency."
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