When asked by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) about whether firearms were recovered or if any suspect was charged with firearms offenses, FBI counterterrorism official Jill Sanborn responded: “To my knowledge, none.” She qualified her remark by saying that she did not want to speak for Capitol Police first.
But in the hearing, Sanborn also said that before the Jan. 6 incident, “We knew they would be armed, we had intelligence that they would be coming to DC, but we did not have intelligence that they would be breaching the Capitol.”
“I believe that the only shots that were fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the lady,” Sanborn also testified, referring to the officer-involved shooting of Ashli Babbit.
Later, Sanborn said officials found a firearm in search of a vehicle that also had Molotov cocktails
Johnson previously told news outlets that the term “armed insurrection” used by some Democratic officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and mainstream news outlets is incorrect as no guns were recovered.
Videos posted online appeared to show some alleged rioters in melee battles with Capitol Police officers. In one instance, a man was seen hitting an officer with an American flag. Officer Brian Sicknick died either during or after the melee, but officials have not released his cause of death—while his mother told the Daily Mail last week that she believes he died of a stroke and wasn’t beaten to death by a fire extinguisher, as some reports suggested.
The Department of Justice has charged three people on firearms charges in connection to the Jan. 6 riot.
“I would say, if it’s properly termed an ‘armed insurrection,’ it was a pretty ragtag one,” Johnson remarked in his interview with the New York Times last week. “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?” he also said.
Johnson added: “If that was a planned armed insurrection, you really have a bunch of idiots.”
The senator’s comments drew a rebuke from media pundits and congressional Democrats, who attempted to characterize him as someone who is sympathetic to the rioters.
Separately on Wednesday, the U.S. Capitol Police said Wednesday it has obtained intelligence pointing to a possible plot by a militia group to breach the building on Thursday.
The statement did not name the organization but called it “an identified militia group.” Thursday marks the date when some have claimed that Trump, defeated by Biden in the Nov. 3 election, will be sworn in for a second term in office.
A day before that, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the Jan. 6 incident is being classified by the agency as “domestic terrorism.”
The U.S. Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with taking part in the Capitol breach. Among those arrested were members of right-wing groups such as the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and Proud Boys. The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are armed militia groups.
There was no indication that the Senate or House would alter their legislative activities on Thursday. The House is aiming to debate and pass a policing reform bill on Thursday. The Senate could be in the midst of a potentially long debate and votes on a COVID-19 aid bill.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include the Department of Justice having charged three suspects in connection with the riot with firearms offenses and Sanborn later saying in the hearing that a firearm was found in a vehicle that also had Molotov cocktails.