‘You watching this s—‘: Watchdog group releases Homeland Security’s Jan. 6 riots texts


Violent rioters supporting President Donald Trump storm the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. A former Republican legislative candidate who traveled to Washington for former President Donald Trump's “Stop the Steal” rally was arrested Friday, July 21, 2023, and charged with federal crimes for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot, officials said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Violent rioters supporting President Donald Trump storm the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A government watchdog group has obtained hundreds of pages of text messages from federal Homeland Security authorities reacting to the masses of Donald Trump supporters converging on the U.S. Capitol in the hours leading up to and during the insurrection on Jan. 6.

The heavily redacted texts were released after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit over allegedly deleted texts between government agency workers. The watchdog group sought records from Dec. 1, 2020, to Jan. 6, 2021, about plans for demonstrations, gatherings, disruptions, threats, attacks, or riots in Washington that day.

The group reported about the texts on its website on Wednesday.

At 9:33 that morning, someone tried to get a crowd estimate, the watchdog group reported.

“A LOT,” someone texted at 9:33 a.m.

At 1:36 p.m., Chris Tomney, the Director of the Office of Homeland Security Situational Awareness, indicated he knew that members of the mob were armed.

“With so many weapons found so far, you wonder how many are unknown,” he wrote in a text, according to CREW. “Could be sporty after dark.”

By 1:43 that afternoon, someone texted there were “1000s of people in the streets.”

“Do your best,” was the reply, according to the records.

By 3, after rioters breached the Capitol, an officer asked about deployment and was told, “You are not engaging at this time [redacted]. Get as close as you can.”

The officials reacted to the chaos.

At one point, one said, “You watching this s—”

“S— crazy,” another said.

In a text exchange at around 5:30 p.m., one official wrote “Don’t think I’m going to leave here any time soon,” the CREW report said.

“Lol!!! Make that money!!” was the reply — an apparent reference to earning overtime pay.

The news comes after CREW filed a lawsuit in 2022 alleging that multiple federal agencies illegally deleted Jan. 6-related texts, information that had been requested as part of investigations into the attack.

The group maintains the missing records may contain critical evidence about the “unprecedented assault on American democracy.” In the lawsuit, CREW says the records could shed light on the reasons for the government’s lack of preparedness and the actions or inaction of Trump administration officials. The information could also contain evidence of criminal misconduct or other wrongdoing.

“It is now clear that the problem of deleted text messages and other records is not limited to the Secret Service and DHS,” said CREW General Counsel Adam Rappaport in a news release. “The failures of a widening group of federal agencies leaves us with gaping holes of knowledge, and the Department of Justice should take immediate and thorough action to determine the extent of the problem, hold accountable those responsible for destroying critical records, and determine whether these records can be recovered.”

A DHS media representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Law&Crime.


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