Two Senate committees looking into security gaps ahead of the storming of the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump are hearing testimony from various security leaders responsible for planning and response on Tuesday.
Speakers at the hearing are former Capitol Police Chief Stephen Sand and former House and Senate bailiffs Paul Irving and Michael Stenger. All three have resigned following the January 6 riots that killed five people.
Also speaking to legislators is Robert Conti, the acting chief of police in Washington, DC, whose forces helped Capitol police take control of the crowd and clear the Capitol building so that lawmakers can return and resume the meeting that confirmed President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Members of the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Procedural Affairs want to find out where the planning and response disruptions that led to the violence in the stronghold of American democracy occurred.
In an interview with the media, Sand criticized the former parliamentary bailiffs for not approving his request to involve the National Guard in securing the Capitol ahead of the January 6 joint session of Congress. According to him, after the start of the riots, it took several hours to get permission to attract additional forces.
Irving said during the hearing that the available intelligence information did not give grounds for attracting additional forces.
On January 4, Irving said he discussed the possible involvement of National Guard forces with Sand and Stenger.
“Our position on security was not determined by how it would look from the outside … We discussed whether the intelligence justified the presence of the military at the Capitol, and at that time our collective response was negative: the available data did not give grounds for this,” he said.
This contradicts Sand, who claims Irving was worried about how the National Guard’s presence at the Capitol would be viewed.
Sand also claims that the intelligence services did not provide any advance information about the threat of a planned attack on the Capitol.
On January 3, the Capitol Police’s own intelligence unit warned that Congress could be attacked by Trump supporters, according to the Washington Post.
The FBI also says it alerted law enforcement on January 5 of the threat of violence from extremist groups, although the warning was based largely on unconfirmed intelligence, such as social media posts.
Some Department of Homeland Security officials were also concerned about the posting on social media, but an official familiar with the intelligence reports said Trump-appointed department officials had blocked attempts to spread the information.
During the riots, dozens of police officers were attacked. More than 140 Capitol police officers and about 65 metropolitan police officers were injured.