Facebook failed to prevent far-right groups from planning the US Capitol siege, according to an internal report

US Capitol
US Capitol riots.

  • Facebook failed to stop far-right groups from planning to storm the Capitol, an internal report said.
  • It showed that insurrection plans continued even after the “Stop the Steal” group was banned.
  • “Hindsight is 20/20, at the time,” the report said, adding the company will “do better next time.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook failed to prevent far-right groups from planning the US Capitol riots on its platform, according to an internal report.

In January, pro-Donald Trump extremists broke into the House and Senate chambers to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. The riots led to five deaths and dozens of arrests.

An internal report seen by BuzzFeed News showed that numerous groups who gathered on Facebook continued to plan the insurrection even after the far-right “Stop the Steal” group was banned.

Stop the Steal became the most popular Facebook group, accumulating more than 365,000 members in less than two days before the social media site removed it for making “worrying calls for violence.”

The report, which was shared with Facebook employees in March, said Facebook users in the Stop the Steal group and other pro-Trump groups contributed to the attack on the Capitol.

According to the report, Facebook’s attempt to dig out fake accounts and “inauthentic behavior” hindered the company from taking action against real people on the platform who were directly involved in the planning of the riots.

“Hindsight is 20/20, at the time,” the report said, per Buzzfeed. “It was very difficult to know whether what we were seeing was a coordinated effort to delegitimize the election, or whether it was free expression by users who were afraid and confused and deserved our empathy.”

Read more: Security experts slam Facebook for downplaying a massive data leak as old news

Facebook was only able to take down groups and pages when they exceeded a violation threshold. This was because the company was looking at each case individually, according to the report.

“After the Capitol Insurrection and a wave of Storm the Capitol events across the country, we realized that the individual delegitimizing Groups, Pages and slogans did constitute a cohesive movement,” the report said.

Delegitimization of elections was a “new territory” and “few policies or knowledge existed” prior to election night, Facebook’s report said.

“We learned a lot from these cases,” the report added. “We’re building tools and protocols and having policy discussions to help us do better next time.”

A Facebook spokesperson told Insider in a statement that the company tried to reduce the amount of claims of a fraudulent election by suspending Trump’s account, removing the Stop the Steal group, and labeling candidates’ post with vote-counting information.

“As we’ve said previously, we still saw problematic content on our platform during this period and we know that we didn’t catch everything,” the spokesperson said. The report is not a “definitive post-mortem report,” they added.

A week after the riots, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said the event wasn’t primarily organized on the platform but admitted the company’s moderation “is never perfect.”

In March, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the role tech its site plays in the spread of misinformation and extremism online.

Zuckerberg said the company worked with law enforcement before January 6 to identify and address threats, and remove violent posts about the attacks.

“We didn’t catch everything, but we made our services inhospitable to those who might do harm,” he added.

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The Capitol Police officer who died after Capitol attack was honored with a police procession

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This image provided by the U.S. Capitol Police shows U.S. Capitol Police officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.

  • Video shows officers a police procession honoring the officer who died at the Capitol attack on Friday.
  • USCP officer William Evans died of his injuries after a car rammed into an outside barrier at the Capitol.
  • Flags at the Capitol, White House, and other federal buildings were flown at half-staff to honor the fallen officer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Capitol Police officer who died after a car rammed into a barrier outside the Capitol was honored with a police procession on Friday.

Video footage of the procession shows officers from both the Capitol Police force and Metropolitan Police Department, as well as members of the Secret Service, standing at attention for a motorcade carrying the body of fallen officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the USCP.

Earlier Friday, the Capitol went on lockdown after a vehicle rammed into an outside barricade and injured two officers. Evans later died from his injuries sustained during the incident, and the other officer remains hospitalized but in stable condition.

The suspect was shot dead by one of the officers after the driver exited the car brandishing a weapon.

The USCP identified the fallen officer as Evans in a statement following the attack outside the Capitol.

“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant,” Yogananda Pittman, acting USCP Chief Officer, said in a statement.

“Evans had been a member of the United States Capitol Police for 18 years,” Pittman continued in the statement. “He began his USCP service on March 7, 2003, and was a member of the Capitol Division’s First Responder’s Unit. Please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Flags at the Capitol and the White House were ordered to be flown at half-staff by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden respectively to honor the fallen police officer.

Less than three months ago, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people – including two Capitol Police officers.

“We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss,” Biden said in a statement following the incident. “We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it.”

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Biden says he is ‘heartbroken’ and orders flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff in response to Capitol Police officer death

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President Joe Biden.

  • Biden said he was “heartbroken” after a Capitol attack left one Capitol Police officer dead.
  • A car rammed into a barricade at the Capitol, injuring two officers – one of whom is hospitalized.
  • Biden ordered the flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff to honor the officer.
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President Joe Biden ordered flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff in response to the death of a Capitol Police officer after a car rammed into a barricade outside the Capitol on Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, the Capitol went on lockdown after a vehicle rammed into an outside barricade and injured two officers. One of the officers, identified by the Capitol Police as Officer William Evans, later died from his injuries.

“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the US Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the US Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life,” Biden said in a statement. “We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss. We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it.”

The suspect was shot and killed by one of the officers after exiting “the car with a knife in hand” and “lunging” at the officers, Yogananda Pittman, the acting Capitol Police chief, said at a press conference. The National Guard was deployed to the Capitol shortly after the incident to assist Capitol Police officers who were lining the perimeter of the building.

“I want to express the nation’s gratitude to the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and others who quickly responded to this attack,” the president said in the statement. “As we mourn the loss of yet another courageous Capitol Police officer, I have ordered that the White House flags be lowered to half-mast.”

Biden’s move followed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi making a similar order to lower the flags at the Capitol to half-staff.

The lockdown at the Capitol was lifted about 3 p.m. local time.

Less than three months ago, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people – including two Capitol Police officers.

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Police officer killed and suspect shot dead after vehicle attack at US Capitol

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Capitol Police officers near a car that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill on April 2.

  • The United States Capitol locked down on Friday afternoon after a car rammed into a barricade.
  • Capitol Police confirmed that the car hit two officers in front of the barricade.
  • One officer died and the other has been hospitalized. The suspect was shot and killed.
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A Capitol Police officer died and another was injured after someone rammed a car into a barricade outside the US Capitol on Friday, Yogananda Pittman, the acting Capitol Police chief, said at a press conference.

After hitting the barricade, the driver “exited the car with a knife in hand” and “lunged” at the officers before one of them opened fire, killing the driver, she added. Multiple news outlets, including NBC News, CNN, and The New York Times, identified the suspect as Noah Green, 25, of Indiana.

Capitol Police also identified the fallen officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the department.

“It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” Pittman said. “I just ask that the public keep the U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers.”

The Capitol went into lockdown earlier on Friday after Capitol Police sent out an alert telling people in the complex to stay indoors because of an “external security threat.” Congress was in recess, and neither the House nor the Senate was in session.

Videos posted to social media by reporters in the building showed a heavy police presence outside the Capitol. At one point, a helicopter was seen landing on the premises, and the National Guard was also deployed after the incident.

Witnesses reported that a car crashed into the barricade outside the Capitol shortly after 1 p.m. ET.

A pair of stretchers was also seen by a reporter as first responders arrived on the scene.

For hours, members of the National Guard and armed Capitol Police officers lined a perimeter blocking everyone, including reporters, from getting closer.

US Capitol

A Capitol Police officer told Insider he was moved from a hard squad to help with the lockdown. He said officers were armed with M4 rifles, in addition to their Glocks. The officer said the lockdown was lengthier than expected as authorities sought more information about the incident.

US Capitol

The lockdown was lifted just after 3 p.m. ET. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff said she ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in light of the events.

Friday’s incident comes less than three months after hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to interrupt a joint session of Congress that was underway to finalize President Joe Biden’s win. At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the violent insurrection.

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2 police officers and a suspect hospitalized after incident at US Capitol

Capitol car crash
U.S. Capitol Police officers stand near a car that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 2, 2021

  • The United States Capitol went under lockdown on Friday afternoon.
  • Capitol Police cited an “external security threat.”
  • A police alert told those in the complex to avoid any windows or doors, and to stay inside.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two police officers and a suspect have been hospitalized after a car appeared to ram a barricaded checkpoint outside the US Capitol.

On Twitter, Capitol Police confirmed a suspect is in custody, and that the driver of a car along with two officers were taken to the hospital.

Capitol Police sent out an alert Friday afternoon notifying those in the complex that they should remain indoors because of an “external security threat.”

Early videos showed a heavy police response outside of the Capitol, including a helicopter landing on the premises.

Witnesses reported a car crashed into a barrier outside of the Capitol shortly after 1 p.m. local time.

A pair of stretchers were also seen by a reporter as first responders arrived on the scene.

Neither the House nor Senate were in session on Friday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Photos show intense security around the US Capitol ahead of a QAnon insurrection that nobody showed up for

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National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

  • There was enhanced security presence in Washington DC on March 4, only weeks after the Capitol riot. 
  • Intelligence reports had indicated far-right extremists were plotting violence and protests. 
  • QAnon conspiracy theorists believed that Donald Trump would be inaugurated on Thursday. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Thousands of National Guard and Capitol Police patrolled the streets of Washington DC Thursday ahead of an anticipated insurrection by far-right supporters of Donald Trump that never materialized.

Earlier in the week, US law enforcment and security agencies warned they had received intelligence that a far-right group planned to breach the Capitol. The Capitol Police announced that it was taking steps to “enhance our security posture” on days including March 4. 

March 4 was when some QAnon conspiracy theory supporters believed that Donald Trump would be inaugurated for a second term and his “deep state” enemies vanquished.

The anticipated threat placed Capitol security services on high alert, with the atmosphere still tense in the wake of the Capitol’s breach by Trump supporters on January 6. 

In the wake of the riot, the Capitol has been encircled with a razor-wire fence. On Thursday National Guard deployed in DC patrolled its perimeter to deter further violence. 

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National Guard walk near the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

On Constitution Avenue, the main thoroughfare leading pat the Capitol, the National Guard set up checkpoints. 

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Members of the National Guard walk on the empty Constitution Avenue near the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 2021.

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National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The usually bustling Capitol Hill was quiet, with lawmakers and their staff advised to stay away from the area for the day.

With paranoia rife in far-right forums ahead of March 4 and claims that the planned protests were a ruse by security services spreading, extremists and Trump supporters also decided to stay away. A masked man was questioned by the Secret Service near the White House. 

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A man wearing a “Guy Fawkes” mask is confronted by members of the US Secret Service, near the White House in Washington, DC, on March 4, 2021.

National Guard patrolled the Capitol building itself. On steps of the Capitol, Rep. Al Green of Texas took a break as the heavily armed troops patrolled nearby. 

DC security
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, is seen on the House steps of the Capitol as members of the National Guard walk by on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

In Congress’s halls, National Guard was stationed to ensure no breaches of the Capitol complex from any source. 

DC Security
Members of the National Guard look at a model of Capitol Hill in the Capitol Building’s crypt on March 4, 2021, in Washington, DC.

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Michigan National Guard troops conduct a promotion ceremony on the East Front of the Capitol on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

The day passed without major incident. But with swaths of America’s far-right refusing to accept Biden as legitimate president and a hardcore of extremists determined to provoke a violent insurrection, it’s a threat security officials believe is unlikely to recede any time soon. 

DC security
The U.S. Capitol Building, which saw boosted security, Thursday, after officials warned of an attack plot by extremists on March 4, 2021

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An ex-girlfriend tipped off the FBI about an alleged US Capitol rioter after he called her a ‘moron’

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A pro-Trump rioters breaks into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

  • Richard Michetti has been charged with entering restricted grounds at the US Capitol.
  • The Pennsylvania man was turned in by his ex-girlfriend after he called her a ‘moron’.
  • She provided text messages and videos to the FBI.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A Pennsylvania man was outed by his ex-girlfriend after trying to stop Congress from recognizing President Joe Biden’s election victory, according to court documents.

The woman may have decided to tip off law enforcement after being insulted.

“If you can’t see the election was stolen, you’re a moron,” Richard Michetti texted his ex-girlfriend, according to the criminal complaint. “This is our country do you think we live like kings because no one sacrificed anything?”

“[T]he vote was fraud and trump won but they won’t audit the votes,” he added.

Michetti’s former partner provided the FBI with text messages and videos a day after the January 6 insurrection. She also identified him in other images that appear to show him inside the US Capitol.

The FBI also obtained a receipt showing that he checked into a DC hotel on January 5 and checked out a day later.

Michetti charged with entering a restricted building, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and obstructing the work of Congress.

He was arraigned Tuesday at the US District Court in Philadelphia and released on bail, according to The Morning Call.

Numerous investigations, including those led by elected Republicans, found no evidence that there was any significant fraud in the 2020 election. Nonetheless, former President Donald Trump enflamed his supporters – and threatened state election officials – culminating in the breach of the US Capitol that delayed certification of Biden’s win in the Electoral College.

More than 265 people have now been arrested and charged with taking part in the Capitol riot.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Ex-NYPD officer charged with using a flagpole to assault a cop during the US Capitol riot

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A pro-Trump mob clashes with police on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

  • Thomas Webster appeared in court Tuesday over charges he assaulted a police officer.
  • Webster is a former member of the New York Police Department.
  • Prosecutors accuse him of using a flagpole to attack an officer at the January 6 US Capitol riot.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A former member of the New York Police Department appeared in court Tuesday to face charges that he assaulted a police officer with a dangerous weapon during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

According to a criminal complaint, Thomas Webster, who was arrested Monday, was carrying a metal flagpole with a US Marine Corps flag on it when he began verbally harassing a member of the Metropolitan Police Department, declaring him a “commie” and a “piece of shit.”

Then, prosecutors say, Webster shoved a metal gate into the man and then lunged at him, “striking at the officer with the flagpole numerous times.”

He is at least the second man to be charged with using a flagpole to attack a police officer during the insurrection.

“You can see him ripping the officer’s protective gear off, the gas mask or the helmet that he was wearing at the time, which … caused the police officer to choke. It cut off his air at least for a short period of time,” Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Gianforti said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

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A man is seen attempting to rip a face mask off a police officer outside the US Capitol

The actions were caught on body camera footage. Prosecutors say Webster can also been seen on a YouTube video in restricted grounds at the US Capitol. “Send more patriots,” the man in the video states. “We need some help.”

Webster, who runs a landscaping company, was identified with screenshots from the video by an administrator at his children’s high school, according to the complaint.

If convicted, he could face more than a decade behind bars.

Webster is currently being held without bail until his next court appearance on March 3, with US Magistrate Judge Andrew E. Krause calling the video footage he reviewed “disturbing” and “well beyond First Amendment speech.”

His lawyer, James Monroe, said he intends to plead not guilty.

More than 250 people have now been charged in connection with the violence on January 6.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Florida man arrested after Facebook posts appear to show him entering the US Capitol, including a photo of broken furniture with a ‘US SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS’ sticker

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In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. In dozens of cases on social media, Trump supporters downright flaunted their activity on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos, and comments and sent them to the FBI.

  • Adam Honeycutt was arrested Thursday at his girlfriend’s house in Florida.
  • The government alleges he unlawfully entered the US Capitol on January 6.
  • Honeycutt boasted of his involvement on Facebook, according to a criminal complaint.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A Florida man who posted videos on social media that appear to show him entering the US Capitol was arrested by federal agents on Thursday over his alleged role in the January 6 insurrection

Adam Honeycutt was arrested after two people tipped off the FBI. Both alerted the bureau to the man’s Facebook page, which one of the tipsters said showed “multiple videos and photos apparently taken by [him] at the US Capitol,” according to a criminal complaint.

One tipster said they were “not friends with him” on Facebook but said, according to the complaint, that there was sufficient enough evidence on his public feed, “Including a picture of him holding a broken piece of a desk from within the Capitol.”

That photo is included in the government’s complaint, the broken furniture having a prominent sticker that reveals its owner: “US SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS.”

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Photo from criminal complaint.

Days after the riot, Honeycutt appeared to grasp that there could be legal consequences. In one private post, provided to the FBI by a confidential informant, he insisted that he had not been inside the US Capitol at all.

“Hell, I was at the food truck when the shit hit the fan,” he wrote on January 10, asserting that he would have said so sooner but he did not have reception. “Then got put in [Facebook] jail so I couldn’t let yall know that I wasn’t with the rioters.”

He also changed his profile photo from one of him outside the Capitol to another featuring him and a small child.

Videos posted the day of the riot, reviewed by the FBI, however, suggest otherwise, according to the criminal complaint.

In one, he appears to be outside the Capitol as rioters clash with police, the complaint alleges. “It’s about to go down!” he yells, according to the court documents. In another, the complaint alleges, he appears on camera and states, “Well, made it in.”

His still-active Facebook page shows him to be a fan of Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. On January 28 he updated his profile photo again to a meme that depicts President Joe Biden as a character from “The Avengers,” Thanos, snapping his fingers and eliminating oil industry jobs, a reference to the canceling of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Adam Honeycutt’s most recent profile photo on Facebook.

Honeycutt is charged with entering restricted grounds, violent entry, and disorderly conduct. He was arrested at his girlfriend’s house in Orange Park, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville, according to local NBC News affiliate News4Jax. He faces up to six months in prison.

His lawyer, Lee Lockett, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. However, he told News4Jax that his client is cooperating with authorities.

Prosecutors are seeking to prevent Honeycutt from being released on bail, alleging that they found marijuana and improperly secured guns when they arrested him.

Honeycutt is himself a bail bondsman, the complaint says, a LinkedIn page stating that he has worked as one since August 2018.

A hearing, at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville, is set for Tuesday morning.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Sen. Tom Cotton denies asking staffer to bring him a gun during US Capitol siege

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) questions President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee at the US Capitol on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Sen. Tom Cotton denies asking an aide to bring him a gun during the Capitol Siege on January 6.
  • A spokesperson challenged a CNN report that he’d asked for a firearm.
  • Cotton declined to challenge the final result of the 2020 election, breaking with other Republicans.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

US Sen. Tom Cotton’s office is denying the Arkansas Republican asked one of his staffers to bring him a gun during the January 6 siege on the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

CNN’s Jamie Gangel made the claim on-air Wednesday evening, saying Cotton told her he was prepared to shoot rioters.

But a spokesperson for the senator, Caroline Tabler, denied that report.

“Senator Cotton did not have or request a gun that day,” Tabler told Insider, “nor does he need one to defend himself and others under any circumstances.”

Though a reliable conservative vote in the Senate, Cotton had angered Trump supporters by refusing to join Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in challenging the outcome of the 2020 election.

“I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on January 6,” he said in a statement issued 72 hours before the insurrection.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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