7:43 AM PT -- Law enforcement sources tell TMZ, arrests are expected as early as today.
The FBI is honing in on 10 to 15 members of the Capitol Police, investigating whether they facilitated the insurrection by assisting in the planning of the riot and/or clearing the path for the rioters to overtake the Capitol.
Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ, the FBI has made "considerable headway" in its investigation of the officers in question, and -- as it was put to us -- the conduct of the cops in question "ranges from getting out of the way of the rioters to something much more nefarious."
As for what's "more nefarious," as TMZ reported, the FBI believes some of the officers and other staffers in the building may have facilitated the takeover by helping the rioters navigate the building. The FBI believes certain moves were extremely suspicious, like almost instantly finding Nancy Pelosi's office even though a member of the public would probably have to search for an hour or more to find it. Something else suspicious ... how did rioters beeline for Rep. Jim Clyburn's office when the door does not even have a nameplate?
Our sources say the FBI looked at all the video and honed in on cops who were not blocking the path of the rioters. That isn't in itself a criminal offense, but the FBI believes people who didn't block the rioters may have more involvement. Two officers have already been suspended by the Department, but the FBI's conducting a criminal investigation.
To be fair to the officers ... as one source put it, some of them who stepped back from the riot may have done so because members of Congress had already been moved to a secure location, and the cops felt they would have gotten killed if they tried protecting property.
Our sources say the FBI investigation is far along, and they're not just looking at Capitol cops. They're looking at other staffers in the building as well.
Originally Published -- 1:00 AM PT
Uncle Sam is looking far and wide for some of the best muscle money can buy to help guard the nation's capital through Joe Biden's inauguration -- and it looks the feds found some ... in the Aloha State.
TMZ has obtained federal procurement docs that show the Dept. of Homeland Security recently awarded a private security company called Hana Industries Inc. a $1.6 million contract for protective services, effective now until the very end of the month.
According to the paperwork ... Hana's protective security officers will be standing watch in the capital and surrounding areas. The move to hire this force came directly on the heels of the failed Capitol coup -- the contract was awarded 2 days after last week's siege.
Now, as for what Hana's all about and why the feds sought out their services -- they tout themselves as providing armed security guards for base security operations and entry point management. Specifically, they've protected Naval bases and shipyards around Hawaii.
Appropriately, Hana's been recruiting to get more boots on the ground, as they say, in the D.C. area -- especially anyone with 2 to 5 years of military or law enforcement experience ... and prior certification from the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Getting immediate support for National Guard and police forces in Washington, D.C. was crucial -- as the FBI's now warning domestic terrorists are planning to take action in DC and all 50 states between Jan. 16 through Inauguration Day.
The NFL coaching legend made the announcement Monday evening ... saying he was initially "flattered" to be offered the award -- but decided to ultimately turn it down after pro-Trump protesters ransacked D.C. last week.
"Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients," Belichick said.
"Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award."
Belichick continued, "Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation's values, freedom and democracy."
FYI -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor ... with the White House explaining the award is given to those "who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Belichick and Trump have had an outstanding relationship over the years ... in fact, in 2018, Trump appointed the New England legend to his Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.
Of course, Belichick also famously wrote Trump a congratulatory letter -- which Donald read onstage at a major event -- right before the 2016 election.
In his statement rejecting the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday, Belichick added, "I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions."
"Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award."
Two Capitol Police officers are being temporarily relieved of duty after they were caught getting super chummy with rioters who stormed the building.
Rep. Tim Ryan made the announcement Monday, saying at least 2 cops who were on duty last Wednesday have been suspended for actions documented during the siege. Of the 2 -- who have yet to be identified -- one was apparently wearing a MAGA hat and directing insurrectionists on Capitol grounds ... the other took selfies with these folks.
.@RepTimRyan said at least two Capitol Police officers have been suspended for actions during Wednesday's Capitol attack.— Taylor Popielarz (@TaylorPopielarz) January 11, 2021 @TaylorPopielarz
One officer had taken selfies with some rioters; another put a #MAGA hat on and started directing rioters.
“The Capitol Police are looking at everybody..."
The latter appears to have been captured on video ... a viral clip from that day has surfaced, and it shows a Capitol officer in a yellow vest and a black cap pausing to pose for a photo with one of the insurrectionists.
During a presser Monday, Rep. Ryan reportedly said Capitol Police are looking at everybody at this point ... including men and women in their own ranks.
As we first reported, the FBI believes there are signs of an inside job, and is investigating whether Capitol PD officers or civilian employees in the Capitol aided the rioters in any way.
TMZ also broke the story ... there could've been 4 times as many cops on hand Wednesday, and there probably should've been, considering the looming threats of violence ahead of the siege.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned as a result of the backlash he and his department have faced for a poor show of force and for letting things get out of hand.
The State Department appears to be cutting short President Trump's time in office -- its official site briefly said he's out as POTUS starting Monday night.
On Trump's official page, the U.S. DOS had the following listed under his bio in bold, "Donald J. Trump's term ended on 2021-01-11 19:40:41." Some folks have said the time stamp changed by at least 15 minutes -- but it's less about the time and more about that date.
The message which appeared to be breaking some huge news ... vanished early in the afternoon Monday. It's unclear how long it was there before someone, presumable at the State Dept., removed it.
The bizarre message extended to Mike Pence as well ... his State Dept. page also said his term ended on Monday night, and also has since been removed -- but there's been no official word from the White House either confirming or denying this is true.
There are reports this was all a prank pulled off by a disgruntled State Dept. staffer. Still, it's drawing a lot of attention, especially because there's reportedly a lot of helicopter activity over Pence's residence.
If it's just a federal employee gone rogue ... it speaks to the temperature in D.C. right now. Think about it, for someone to risk their job (and perhaps worse) to make this statement ... might indicate they felt they could get away with it because Trump's lost so many allies in the nation's capital.
We've reached to the White House and State Dept. about the curious bio pages ... so far, no word back.
Capitol PD's outgoing Chief is calling out House and Senate security officials ... claiming they turned a deaf ear to his requests for backup in the days before the attempted coup.
Steven Sund -- who was severely criticized, and resigned after the Capitol riot -- is naming names on his way out the door. He told the Washington Post he was concerned about President Trump's planned rally on January 6, and voiced those concerns to the Sergeants at Arms for the Senate and for the House of Representatives.
Sund says he asked them to approve putting National Guard troops on standby in the days leading up to the Trump protest -- but says he was rejected each time. The reason? Sund claims the Sergeants told him it would be bad "optics" to fortify the Capitol that way ahead of the election verification vote.
Worth noting, both Sgts at Arms have since resigned their posts, just as Sund did after Congressional leaders -- including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- criticized the police response to the insurrectionists.
Despite being told the National Guard was off the table -- soldiers were finally called in late Wednesday -- Sund still did not have all hands on deck from his own force. Capitol PD sources told TMZ ... only 500 officers, out of 2,200, were on duty Wednesday.
Larry Rendell Brock -- the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who's one of the Capitol insurrectionists last week -- can thank his ex-wife for his arrest.
As we reported -- Brock was the guy photographed holding zip ties inside the Senate chamber and was pretty easy to ID as he was decked out in body armor, a military helmet and a tag with a Punisher skull ... but his former spouse provided further intel to law enforcement.
According to a federal affidavit ... Brock's ex-wife of 18 years called the FBI National Threat Operations Center (NTOC) on Friday to turn him in.
The woman told the feds she recognized him from his military getup, adding ... "I just know that when I saw this was happening I was afraid he would be there. I think you already know he was there. It is such a good picture of him and I recognize his patch."
The affidavit says a second witness also reported Brock to the FBI the same day, telling the authorities ... "It looks like him and he has pilot wings on his chest in this picture. He was an A-10 pilot. Worked at L3, and he still has contacts that work with L3 that knew he was flying to Washington DC."
Brock was arrested shortly afterward and is facing one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
As for why he did what he did, he says it's because "The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important."
He has denied any nefarious intentions with the zip ties though, claiming he found them inside the Capitol and planned to return them to police.
Of course, another man was seen with zip ties, and coupled with explosives being found near the area of the attempted coup ... it sure seems like the riots could have been much worse.
The FBI is still working on tracking down all involved and making arrests ... but they're off to a pretty good start.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman has tested positive for COVID-19, and she's squarely blaming fellow lawmakers who refused to wear masks while they were sheltering in place during the Capitol attack.
The Congresswoman from New Jersey announced her diagnosis Monday ... linking the positive test to last week's events that forced her to take refuge with other lawmakers in the Capitol Building. She tweeted, "Following the events of Wednesday, including sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks, I decided to take a Covid test."
The 75-year-old lawmaker added, "I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time. While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents.”
The lawmaker is now isolating and awaiting the results of PCR testing. Interestingly, Coleman is among a score of lawmakers who have already received the first dose of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.
Remember, members of congress had to shelter together in an undisclosed location after President Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol in the failed coup. There's video showing several Republican members refusing to wear masks being passed around by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.
The news comes one day after the attending physician of the U.S. Congress said members and their staff may have been exposed as a result of the riots.
The doc had advised members to get tested. With so many lawmakers locked in one room for hours ... it's not far fetched to think congress may soon have an outbreak on its hands.
Speaker Pelosi appeared on "60 Minutes" Sunday to talk about the deadly insurrection last week, and got emotional -- appearing to hold back tears -- as she blamed President Trump for what she calls a "terrible violation" of the legislative branch of the U.S. government.
Pelosi also got worked up -- in a much different way -- when Lesley Stahl asked her about AOC complaining she and other Democratic honchos are excluding the younger generation of representatives from leadership roles.
Her response is telling ... and Stahl clearly noticed.
As we've reported ... it seems some of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol had far worse intentions than just walking around and putting their feet up on desks -- like Richard Barnett did in Pelosi's office -- so it's understandable why she's shaken up and wants Trump to pay for it. As AOC herself said, the insurrectionists may well have murdered half the members of Congress if they had their way.
Pelosi issued an ultimatum Sunday to Vice President Mike Pence, vowing to move forward with impeaching Trump if the VP doesn't invoke the 25th amendment to remove him from office STAT.
President-elect Joe Biden isn't the only one being ushered into the White House with pomp and circumstance ... his rescue dog, Major, is getting "indogurated."
Major, a German Shepherd, is getting honored by the Delaware shelter where the Bidens rescued him ... with a special inauguration of his own this Sunday on Zoom ... and the "indoguration" is raising money for other pups like Major.
The Bidens adopted Major from the Delaware Humane Association back in 2018, and now Major's set to become the first shelter dog in the White House ... hence the big virtual celebration.
Major's "indoguration" is being hosted by 'Today' show's Jill Martin, and folks can join the Zoom event with a $10 minimum donation, with all proceeds going to the DHA.
Sunday's event sounds like a fun time ... it's being hailed as "the world's largest virtual party for dogs."
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is about to welcome 2 pooches after 4 years of no pups ... the Bidens also have another German Shepherd, Champ.
First Lady Melania Trump's first public reaction to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is to call for peace and unity -- but her remarks might feel a tad ... too little, too late.
FLOTUS published a statement Monday on the White House's website titled, "Our Path Forward." She starts out by talking about COVID and eventually builds to the siege a few graphs in ... after sending condolences to people who died during the attempted coup -- including Ashli Babbit, Officer Brian Sicknick and others.
Finally, Melania says this ... "I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week." Rather than go straight into condemning the violence and illegal actions of the rioters, she first shames folks for "salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me."
After prefacing her comments and then saying the country must heal in a civil manner ... MT, at last, gets to these crucial words ... "Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable."
She goes on to explain she values the right of free speech, adding with that in mind ... folks should pause and look at things from all perspectives. Melania then says she implores for people to stop the violence and to come together as Americans.
Melania also uses her letter as a farewell, saying that it's been an honor to serve as First Lady -- and that she's grateful for those who supported her and Donald these past 4 years.
Our nation's capital will be swarming with National Guard forces ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ... after being absent for much of the failed coup.
The National Guard says it's increasing boots on the ground in D.C. to at least 10,000 troops by Saturday, drastically beefing up security 4 days before Biden moves into the White House.
National Guard troops made their presence known Monday, assembling in front of the Capitol ... 5 days after a mob overwhelmed the grossly under-deployed U.S. Capitol Police and stormed the building where Congress was voting to certify the election results.
Monday was a small show of force compared to what's to come by this weekend, and, additionally, protective fencing is going up all around the Capitol.
President Trump says a new administration will be inaugurated January 20 and he's focusing on a smooth and orderly transition of power after the Capitol riots ... and he's still in command of the National Guard until Biden's sworn in.
Another big loss for Donald Trump ... the PGA says it's now pulling a major golf event from one of the president's courses, explaining playing there "would be detrimental" to the brand.
The golf org. made the announcement Sunday -- formally shredding its plans to play the 2022 PGA Championship at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey in the wake of the riots at the U.S. Capitol.
"It has become clear that conducting the PGA. Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the P.G.A. of America brand," PGA president Jim Richerson said in a video statement, "and would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver our many programs, and sustain the longevity of our mission."
Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA, further explained the decision to pull the event Sunday night ... telling the Associated Press it's all related to Trump's role in the unrest at the Capitol.
"Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster," Waugh said. "The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.”
For Trump's part, POTUS' org. said in a statement it's "incredibly disappointed" with the PGA's decision ... adding, "This is a breach of a binding contract, and they have no right to terminate the agreement.”
FYI, the PGA Championship is one of golf's four biggest events every year. It was held at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco this year and won by Collin Morikawa.
It's unclear what course will now host the '22 event.
By the way, this is not the first time the PGA has pulled an event from a Trump course ... back in 2015, it terminated the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Trump National in L.A. over disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants made by Donald.
Pelosi sent a letter Sunday to her fellow Dems, and she says that on Monday ... the Majority Leader in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer, will ask for unanimous consent on a resolution demanding Pence assemble the other cabinet members, and invoke the 25th Amendment on Trump ... which would remove him from his post, and have Pence in as acting Prez.
If they meet any roadblocks in getting that unanimous consent, Speaker Pelosi says they'll bring it to a floor vote on Tuesday. She also says this, "We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours."
So, yeah ... clock's ticking for the Veep -- who has reportedly not ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment if Trump continues to incite violence and act erratically in these final weeks.
There's more from Pelosi too ... in her letter, she says if Pence stonewalls on invoking the 25th Amendment, the House will begin impeachment proceedings later this week. She says, "In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both."
She adds this ... "As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action."
One of the most notorious insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol with zip ties in his hand has now been arrested ... he's also been ID'd, and hails from Tennessee.
The FBI arrested 30-year-old Eric Munchel Sunday in Nashville -- this after confirming his identity on social media and elsewhere as the man who infiltrated the Senate chamber with a handful of plastic zip ties, wearing tactical gear. Charges have yet to be announced.
Social media sleuths tracked him down fast and pointed out he worked at a bar in Nashville. He's also apparently a big supporter of the Back the Blue cause ... there are several photos of him with a black and blue American flag on his now-deactivated Facebook page.
Oh, and he's also a big gun nut too ... there are photos of him with shotguns, handguns and semi-automatics. It also appears he's participated in local demonstrations in Nashville, decrying the COVID shutdowns at different points in 2020, and wearing bulletproof vests.
Speaking of weapons, the FBI reportedly recovered several weapons from Munchel during his arrest -- no word yet on whether any of the zip ties in question were recovered. Munchel was booked at Metro Nashville jail Sunday afternoon and is now being processed.
He was one of the rioters that the feds really wanted -- as there are operating theories he and others had plans to take U.S. lawmakers hostage (or worse) if given the opportunity. AOC made it clear Sunday ... the goal of these rioters may have been to kill members of Congress.
Munchel is the latest in a string of arrests this weekend -- and something tells us he won't be the last.
The moment the Trump mob was strong-arming its way into the Capitol can now be seen from a new, frightening view -- where a fallen police officer getting pummeled on the ground.
Check out this gruesome clip of insurrectionists breaking into an opening on a side entrance to the building, which was being guarded by a line of cops in tactical gear ... one of whom ended up laid out on the ground, face first ... right at the feet of rioters.
The crowd showed him no mercy ... immediately trampling him, bludgeoning him with objects and projectiles, dragging him down the steps they were storming -- pretty much having their way with his limp body as his colleagues tried pulling him away.
There's even an overhead shot of the scene, and it's absolutely surreal. You hear someone off-camera yell, "Get that motherf***** out of there! Take him out!"
Now, there've been rumors this officer might've been the one who was killed -- Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries he sustained during the siege -- but that has NOT been confirmed. Some social media users say this officer is actually with Metro D.C., not Capitol Police, but again ... we haven't been able to confirm.
In any case, it's a clear indicator the mob wasn't taking any prisoners ... and were out for blood.