The breach of the Capitol during the Jan. 6 siege could serve as inspiration for terrorists, a group of national security officials testifying Wednesday before the Senate agreed.
The assessment came initially from Melissa Smislova, a top Homeland Security Department official.
“We do assess that the breach on the Capitol could inspire others to act,” Smislova told the Senate.
“I agree. Any time an adversary is successful, others pay attention and so we’re worried that this would be an inspiration,” FBI Assistant Director Jill Sanborn said immediately afterward.
Smislova and Sanborn, along with Maj. Gen. William Walker and Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Salesses, all testified at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing on missteps that occurred preparing for and responding to the Capitol riot.
Asked for their assessments, Walker and Salesses both stated that they “agreed” with what Smislova and Sanborn had said.
Lawmakers are in the midst of weeks of hearings into the Capitol siege.
Last week, Congress heard from the acting Capitol Police chief and the acting House sergeant-at-arms, as well as their predecessors who resigned in the wake of the riot.
During the acting officials’ testimony, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman revealed that intelligence agencies have uncovered threats from far-right extremists to “blow up” the US Capitol when President Biden delivers his first joint address to both houses of Congress.
“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union,” Pittman said, noting that the date for the address had not yet been set.
On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray, one of the most high-profile Trump-era officials to be asked to stay under Biden, admitted he did not read an FBI report that cited the threat of an attack on Congress until “days” after the fact.
Wray revealed in testimony that he didn’t see the warning — reportedly describing preparation for “war” with “glass breaking, doors being kicked in” — until after the violence that disrupted certification of Biden’s victory.
“Well, Senator, I think the intelligence or the information you’re asking about is the much-discussed Norfolk SIR or situational information report,” Wray said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I didn’t see that report, which was unverified intelligence, until some number of days after the 6th.”