Nat'l Security Officials to Testify 03/03 06:09
Federal national security officials are set to testify in the second Senate
hearing about what went wrong on Jan. 6, facing questions about missed
intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that
day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal national security officials are set to testify in
the second Senate hearing about what went wrong on Jan. 6, facing questions
about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard
troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.
Senators are eager Wednesday to grill the officials from the Pentagon, the
National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their
preparations as supporters of then-President Donald Trump talked online, in
some cases openly, about gathering in Washington and interrupting the electoral
At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the
Capitol blamed each other as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack
of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily
breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol itself.
Five people died as a result of the rioting.
So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts
to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists' planning before
Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call
National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last
week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting
accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for
the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was "stunned" over the
delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy
National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated.
Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic
senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview
Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision
was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by
"Any minute that we lost, I need to know why," Klobuchar said.
The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling
the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching
investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on
security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump's
supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for
lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has,
for now, abandoned any examination of Trump's role in the attack after the
Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters
that morning to "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat.
As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief
Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into
how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she
conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement
failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from
Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard,
who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters
first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the
call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops.
"While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public
perception --- the factors cited by the staff on the call --- these issues
become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a
mob, being physically assaulted," Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed
his own officers and he was "shocked" that the National Guard "could not --- or
would not --- do the same."
Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but
"did not like the optics of boots on the ground" at the Capitol.
Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert
Salesses of the Defense Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of
Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee
aspects of intelligence and security operations.
Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence
ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia
that warned of online posts foreshadowing a "war" in Washington. Capitol Police
leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the
FBI had forwarded it to the department.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director
Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI's joint
terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on
an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies.
Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in
nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that "the smartest
thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who
needed to get it."
"We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol
Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three
different ways," Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued
was "not an acceptable result," the FBI was looking into what it could have
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