Officials said they expected the protests to be similar to two pro-Donald Trump events in late 2020, much less violent.
Washington: Flawed intelligence was to be blamed for the failure of Capitol Hill defenders to anticipate the violent mob that invaded the iconic building and interrupted the presidential election certification on Jan.6, security officials in their office said. first public testimony on the insurrection. .
Officials, including the former Capitol Hill police chief, on Tuesday blamed various federal agencies – and each other – for their inability to defend the building as supporters of then-President Donald Trump, overwhelmed security gates, smashed windows and doors, and sent lawmakers fleeing the House and Senate chambers.
Five people died from the riot, including a Capitol Hill police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to enter the House chamber with lawmakers still inside.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned under pressure after the attack, and other officials said they expected the protests to be similar to two late pro-Trump events. 2020 which were much less violent.
He said he had not seen an FBI field office report warning of potential violence citing online posts about a “ war. ” And he and a House official argued over each other’s versions of decisions that January day and ahead of time on the National Guard appeal.
Sund described a scene where the crowd arrived at the perimeter that was unlike anything he had seen in his 30 years of policing and argued that the insurgency was not the result of poor planning by the Capitol Police, but failures at all levels.
Trump had rallied the invaders to protest his electoral loss on Capitol Hill, and the House later indicted him for “ incitement to insurgency. ” But he noted that he had asked the crowd to protest “peacefully”, and the Senate acquitted him.
Sund insisted the invasion was not his or his agency’s fault.
“No civilian law enforcement agency – and certainly not the USCP – is trained and equipped to repel, without military assistance or other meaningful law enforcement, an insurgency of thousands of armed, violent and coordinated individuals. focused on breaking a building at any cost. “, Did he declare.
The joint hearing, which is part of an inquiry by two Senate committees, was the first time officials have testified publicly about the events of January 6. In addition to Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Robert Contee, Acting Police Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, testified.
Like Sund, Irving and Stenger quit under pressure after the deadly attack. They were Sund’s supervisors and were responsible for the security of the House and Senate.
“We need to have the facts, and the answers are in this room,” Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules of the Senate Committee, said at the start of the hearing. The Rules Committee is conducting the joint investigation with the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Much remains unknown about what happened before and during the assault. How aware were law enforcement officials of the plans for violence that day, many of which were public? How did the agencies share this information with each other? And how could the Capitol Police have been so ill-prepared for a violent organized insurgency online?
Sund told lawmakers he did not learn until after the attack that his officers had received a report from the FBI field office in Norfolk, Va., Which forecast, in detail, the chances the extremists could bring the “ war ” in Washington the next day.
The FBI Washington bureau chief said once he received the Jan. 5 warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through a task force. joint on terrorism.
Sund said on Tuesday that a task force officer received the note and forwarded it to a sergeant working on intelligence for the Capitol Police, but the information was not passed on to other supervisors .
“How could you not get this vital intelligence?” asked Fatherland Senate Speaker Gary Peters, who said the report’s failure to reach the leader was clearly a major problem.
“This information would have been useful,” admitted Sund.
Sund said he saw an intelligence report created within his own department warning Congress could be targeted on Jan.6. But he said the report assessed the likelihood of civil disobedience or arrests, based on the information they had, from “remote” to “unlikely” for groups supposed to protest.
Contee, the city’s acting police chief, also suggested that no one had reported the FBI information from Norfolk, Va., Which he said came in the form of an email. He said he would have expected that kind of information “to warrant a phone call or something.”
Two officials disagreed over when the National Guard was called and the guard’s requests in advance. Sund said he spoke to Stenger and Irving about the National Guard request in the days leading up to the riot, and Irving said he was concerned about “the optics” of having them present.
Irving denied this, saying Sund’s account was “categorically false.” Security, not optics, determined security posture, he said, and the main question was whether intelligence supported the decision.
Pentagon officials said it takes time to get troops into position and there is not enough contingency planning in advance. They said they offered help in advance but were refused.
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