DOJ Considered Statement, Briefing With Lawmakers Day Before Capitol Attack

DOJ Considered Statement, Briefing With Lawmakers Day Before Capitol Attack DOJ Considered Statement, Briefing With Lawmakers Day Before Capitol Attack (Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 09 November 2021 02:29 PM

A day before the violent protest at the Capitol earlier this year, the Department of Justice in the Trump administration considered the possibility of holding a briefing with Congress on Jan. 5 and also releasing a public statement about potential "unrest" the next day but ended up doing neither, according to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, The Hill reported on Tuesday.

The DOJ has been one of the agencies questioned for not taking more action ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The documents were released as part of continuing litigation concerning public records on the issue and are heavily redacted.

However, a Jan. 5 email from a Department of Homeland Security legislative affairs liaison to DOJ personnel clearly inquired about the briefing.

"Director for DHS Ops just mentioned to me on a call the potential for an interagency briefing to Congress TODAY in advance of the DC unrest expected this week," wrote the senior adviser in DHS’s Office of Legislative Affairs Sharon Eshelman. "Are you all working on something like this? If so, would you mind looping us in, as DHS Ops would want to participate on behalf of our Department given their coordination capacity."

Emails the day before, on Jan. 4, confirm that the DOJ was thinking about holding such a meeting, with the department's Office of Legislative Affairs lead proposing three potential scenarios for a briefing.

The possibility of a statement from the DOJ on the issue of potential unrest in Washington D.C., was also indicated in a response to Eshelman, with other correspondences on emails showing then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue in contact with the DOJ’s press shop, ultimately editing the text of a statement sent for him to consider.

The statement was fully redacted in the released documents.

Another email says that Donoghue will provide talking points to aid the press shop in preparing for any follow-up inquiries.