Days before the end of the 2020 presidential race, a team of F.B.I. analysts tried to game out the worst potential outcomes of a disputed election.
But of all the scenarios they envisioned, the one they never thought of was the one that came to pass: a violent mob mobilizing in support of former President Donald J. Trump.
The team’s work, which has never been reported, is just the latest example of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to predict — or prevent — the chaos that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Apparently blinded by a narrow focus on “lone wolf” offenders and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right, the analysis and other new documents suggest, officials at the bureau did not anticipate or adequately prepare for the attack.
The story of the F.B.I.’s missteps in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 was touched upon, but not fully explored, by the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 and may involve a mix of legal hurdles, institutional biases and simple human error….
The analysis conducted by the F.B.I., an exercise often known as a “red cell,” was included in the select committee’s investigation examining structural failures at the bureau and the Homeland Security Department. The committee did not publish a report on those findings, but The New York Times reviewed a draft document containing preliminary conclusions.
There was no single failure. Agents ignored warning signs flashing in the open on social media and relied on confidential sources who either knew little or failed to sound the alarm. Still, even recently, bureau officials have played down not preventing the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.