Just moments before the joint session of Congress convened at 1 p.m. to discuss the outcome of the 2020 Electoral College vote, a woman on her way to the laundromat noticed a suspicious object in an alley near the RNC building, American Greatness reporter Julie Kelly noted in a column this week.
Acting quickly, Karlin Younger alerted security guards, who promptly contacted the police. Law enforcement officers conducted a thorough search of the vicinity and discovered another device positioned outside the DNC building, she added.
Lawmakers -- especially Democrats -- quickly engaged in some performative art and mocked panic.
“I just had to evacuate my office because of a pipe bomb reported outside,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) tweeted at 1:46 p.m. “I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans.”
“I’m sheltering in place in my office,” Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) tweeted around the same time. “The building next door has been evacuated. I can’t believe I have to write this.”
The media swiftly speculated that the explosives might have been placed by a supporter of the president, with some suggesting a connection to the events of the previous day when Trump's followers breached the U.S. Capitol. The New York Times, in its initial report, highlighted the 'bombs' were found “just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, which Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed on Wednesday afternoon.”
Federal authorities promised a full-throated investigation. During a press conference on January 12, 2021, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin and Washington FBI Field Office chief Steven D’Antuono emphasized the seriousness of the pipe bomb threat. “They were real devices. They had explosive ignitors,” Sherwin told reporters. D’Antuono announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identity and arrest of the perpetrator. The FBI, D’Antuono warned, was “looking at all angles, every tool, every rock is being unturned” in pursuit of the bomber.
A few months later, D’Antuono made another desperate plea for the public’s help in his investigation and doubled the reward.
“We know it can be a difficult decision to report information about family, friends, or coworkers but this is about protecting human life. We need your help to identify the individual responsible for placing these pipe bombs to ensure that they will not harm themselves or anyone else," he said.
However, despite having access to advanced surveillance techniques such as geofence warrants, which the FBI still employs in its ongoing search for January 6 protesters, the investigation into the pipe bomb threats reached a dead end. The national news media also lost interest in the story, and the January 6 Select Committee largely overlooked the pipe bomb incidents, relegating them to two brief mentions tucked away in the appendix of their final report, Kelly noted.
"D’Antuono’s bluster notwithstanding, his office conducted a halfhearted inquiry at best. And now the public knows why. During an interview with the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month, D’Antuono disputed claims the bombs were planted to divert law enforcement presence away from the Capitol just before protesters assembled outside the building, a view commonly shared at the time," she wrote.
"Not only did the FBI fail to identify the individual, D’Antuono admitted the FBI does not even know the “gender” of the bomber. He also backtracked on numerous public statements insisting the devices were viable, indeed, deadly," she said.
In a particularly concerning revelation during D'Antuono's testimony, it was disclosed that the FBI lacks comprehensive records of cell phone activity in the area on January 5, which could have facilitated the identification of the perpetrator. This lack of data, described by Darren Beattie of Revolver News as "the dog ate the geofencing data" excuse, was attributed by D'Antuono to corrupted and unusable data from one provider, she said.
Why hasn't the FBI done more to catch whoever is responsible? The answer seems obvious: They don't want to.