Security chiefs testify Tuesday before two Senate committees
Two Senate committees investigating security gaps in the run-up to the Capitol assault by supporters of former President Donald Trump are hearing testimony Tuesday from various security chiefs responsible for planning and responding.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sande and former House and Senate bailiffs Paul Irving and Michael Stenger are testifying at the hearing. All three resigned after the Jan. 6 riots that left five people dead.
Also speaking to lawmakers is Robert Conti, acting police chief in Washington, whose forces helped Capitol Police get the crowd under control and clear the Capitol building so lawmakers could return and continue the session that confirmed President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Members of the Homeland Security and Procedural Affairs Committees want to find out where the failures in planning and response occurred that led to violence in the citadel of American democracy.
In a media interview, Sande criticized former parliamentary bailiffs for not granting his request for the National Guard to secure the Capitol in the run-up to the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. He said it took several hours to get permission to bring in additional forces after the riots began.
Irving said during the hearing that the available intelligence information did not warrant additional forces.
Irving said he discussed the possible involvement of National Guard forces with Sand and Stenger on Jan. 4.
“Our position on security was not determined by how it would look from the outside … We discussed whether intelligence justified a military presence at the Capitol, and at that point our collective answer was no: the available evidence did not warrant it,” he said.
This contradicts Sand, who says Irving was worried about how the National Guard’s presence at the Capitol would be viewed.
Sande also claims that intelligence agencies did not transmit any information in advance about the threat of a planned attack on the Capitol.
According to the Washington Post, the Capitol Police’s own intelligence unit warned on Jan. 3 that Congress could be attacked by Trump supporters.
The FBI also says it warned law enforcement agencies on Jan. 5 about the threat of violence from extremist groups, though the warning was based largely on unsubstantiated intelligence, such as social media posts.
Some Department of Homeland Security officials were also concerned about the social media posts, but an official familiar with the intelligence reports said that Trump-appointed agency officials blocked attempts to spread the information.
Dozens of police officers were attacked in the riots. More than 140 Capitol Police officers and about 65 Metropolitan Police officers were injured.