Lawmakers and Staff Told to Avoid Capitol Ahead of Saturday’s Pro-Trump Rally

Capitol security officials have advised lawmakers and their staff to avoid the United States Capitol ahead of Saturday’s pro-Trump rally to avoid a repeat of January 6, the day a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building in a bid to overturn the results of the 2020 general election.

“Unless required to be onsite, Members and staff are strongly encouraged to avoid the U.S. Capitol Complex on September 18th,” House Sergeant at Arms William Walker wrote in a memo.

The memo states that in the event someone must go to the Capitol, should park in underground garages and access parts of the building using the underground tunnel system.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects about 700 people to attend the “Justice for J6” rally, which is expected to promote more falsehoods about the integrity of the election process. “DHS has been tracking publicly available information on protesters, U.S. Park Police permit applications for large gatherings and hotel reservations across the U.S.” to get an idea of how many people will be at the event, according to Melissa Smislova, deputy undersecretary for intelligence enterprise readiness.

“What we realized after Jan. 6 is that we had gotten a little bit lax in some of the aggressive conversations,” Smislova said, referring to biweekly calls and outreach to state and local law enforcement about threats in the area. “Some of it was a lack of discipline, complacency maybe, even. … The information was still out there, but you had to actually seek it out as opposed to having it brought to you.”

Smislova acknowledged the “failure” of communication efforts between DHS and other agencies, saying it had become more proactive in sharing information in the wake of January 6.