A text from Mitt Romney to Mitch McConnell in the hours leading up to the January 6 siege of Congress by a violent mob of Donald Trump’s supporters ended up predicting accurately both the attack itself and the threat posed by DC’s National Guard contingent reporting to the man accused of dispatching the mob itself.
It was revealed in an excerpt of Atlantic reporter McCay Coppins’s new book on the departing US senator, slated for upcoming release. Romney: A Reckoning, is set to be a biography of the Republican centrist and the most revealing look yet into his experiences within a Trump-controlled Republican Party.
The text message, spurred by a warning from fellow senator Angus King, is an eerie look at just how accurately federal law enforcement agencies were in their predictions and intelligence-gathering in the leadup to January 6 — and in the end, how little it mattered.
“In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King, who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the 6th,” Romney’s text read, according to Coppins. “There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch; to smuggle guns into DC, and to storm the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator—the President—is the one who commands the reinforcements the DC and Capitol police might require.”
His prediction was dead on the money. For hours during the attack on the Capitol, a severely outnumbered force of Capitol Police officers faced off against thousands of violent rioters and saw themselves pushed back into the halls of the congressional complex itself. At one point, a woman was shot while attempting to breach a barricade protecting the floor of the House where lawmakers were huddled in fear for their lives.
DC National Guardsmen showed up three hours after the attack began, after dozens of police officers had been injured — some severely. One officer suffered two strokes and died eight hours after being sprayed with a chemical irritant during the attack, and four officers died by suicide in the months following.
While Pentagon officials have testified that reinforcements were not deliberately held back by Department of Defense officials during the attack, the fact remains clear that Mr Trump himself (whom the DC Guard contingent reports to) did not issue a directive to send them as the attack began and held off for hours himself before issuing a recorded statement asking the attackers, his supporters, to leave peacefully.
Mr Trump now faces criminal charges, the first case of a US president to do so, for his efforts to alter the results of the 2020 election and block Joe Biden from taking office after his challenges all failed in court. A handful were brought by the Department of Justice, and another set have been filed by prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia.
A first-term senator, Mr Romney announced on Wednesday that he would decline to seek reelection for a second term in 2024. Since taking office, he has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of Donald Trump within the GOP, and supported both pushes for Mr Trump’s impeachment in 2020 and 2021.