D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert Contee plans to testify that the National Guard did not want to send troops to the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 because they “did not like the optics of boots on the ground at the Capitol,” according to his prepared remarks.
Contee said at 2:22 p.m., after rioters had already started storming the building and two pipe bombs were found, he had a call with leadership of the Capitol Police, the D.C. National Guard and the Department of the Army.
“I was stunned at the response from Department of the Army, which was reluctant to send the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol,” Contee says in his prepared remarks.
Contee said he asked whether they were refusing to deploy guardsmen and said he was told by Army staff that “they were not refusing to send them, but wanted to know the plan and did not like the optics of boots on the ground at the Capitol.”
— Christal Hayes
Top law enforcement officials dispute details of National Guard deployment to the Capitol during riot
Top law enforcement officials disputed details about the delay in the National Guard’s deployment to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot in their prepared remarks, creating inconsistencies in their accounts.
Former Capitol Police Chief Stephen Sund has previously said his requests for the National Guard to be placed on standby in the days before the riot were denied by the House and Senate sergeants at arms, the top law enforcement officers for the House and Senate.
According to Sund, former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, the House’s top law enforcement officer, had been concerned about the “optics” of having uniformed troops at the Capitol. Irving disputed Sund’s account, saying in his prepared remarks Sund’s allegation was “categorically false” and that safety was his chief concern.
Sund also plans to say in his opening remarks that as the riot escalated and grew violent on Jan. 6, he asked for the sergeants at arms to declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard, but was advised by Irving that the request needed to be relayed up the chain of command. Irving counters that he has “no memory” of a call from Sund at that time, nor did he receive any text messages.
The timing of the National Guard deployment to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot and the communications failures among top Capitol law enforcement officials is likely to be a focus of today’s hearing. Officials have disagreed on this previously but the hearing is the first time the officials will be questioned in public.
— Nicholas Wu
5 experts to testify at Garland confirmation hearing
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear Tuesday from a panel of five experts as the confirmation hearing continued Tuesday for Merrick Garland’s nomination to become attorney general.
Garland, a longtime federal judge and former federal prosecutor, testified Monday that his top priorities are investigating domestic terrorism such as the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and combatting foreign terrorism in the 20th anniversary year of the attacks Sept. 11, 2001. He discussed the need for racial equity in law enforcement. And he expects a moratorium would be declared on the federal executions.
More:Merrick Garland says he has ‘great’ concern about federal use of the death penalty, which surged under Trump
Democratic witnesses Tuesday are: Wade Henderson, interim CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Andrea Tucker, a parent of students at J.O. Wilson Elementary School; and Donna Bucella, former director of the executive officer for U.S. attorneys and a former U.S. attorney in Florida.
Henderson submitted testimony calling for a change in course for the Justice Department, which he said was “deeply tarnished” during the Trump administration. Henderson criticized the department for supporting discriminatory voting laws and defending the spread of misinformation.
Henderson called on Garland, who noted the department was created to fight the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, to vigorously enforce civil rights laws. Henderson said Garland should enforce laws for voting access, deal with the COVID-19 crisis in prisons and suspend the use of the death penalty.
“The need for robust federal civil rights enforcement has never been more important for the country,” Henderson said. “We need an attorney general who will reinstate DOJ’s historic commitment to integrity, independence and vigorous civil rights enforcement.”
Tucker will talk about how Garland has tutored students at a D.C. elementary school for decades.
Bucella worked with Garland after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, an investigation he headed.
Two Republican witnesses are: Josh Blackman, a law professor at South Texas College of Law, and Ken Starr, a retired judge and former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton.
Blackman has blogged about the lack of significant opinions among Garland’s decades on the bench.
Starr was among prominent former Justice Department officials who signed letters encouraging the Senate to quickly confirm Garland.
Several conservative Republicans on the panel supported his nomination Monday, so his confirmation is expected. The panel will vote March 1 and the full Senate is expected to vote next week, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the panel’s chairman.
— Bart Jansen
At Capitol riot hearing, ex-Senate security official calls for Intelligence review
The Senate’s former chief law enforcement officer Tuesday provided little insight into the initial preparations for the Jan. 6 Capitol demonstration, and instead called for a review of how intelligence is analyzed in advance of such events, according to his prepared opening statement.
“We have to be careful of returning to a time when possibility rather than probability drives security planning,” said former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger in remarks prepared for delivery later Tuesday at a Senate hearing. “Though the events of January 6th certainly reveal that a review of intelligence-led policing should be done, returning to the concept of possibility driving security operations may result in the poor use of resources.”
Stenger resigned shortly after the riots that left five dead, including a U.S. Capitol police officer.
“There is an opportunity to learn lessons from the events of January 6th,” he said. “Investigations should be considered as to funding and travel of what appears to be professional agitators.”
— Kevin Johnson
Police officials to testify about Capitol riot at Senate hearing
WASHINGTON – The current and former leaders of four law enforcement agencies tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol face questioning from senators Tuesday in their first public testimony about the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
The hearing before two Senate committees comes as lawmakers investigate the buildup to the riots and the subsequent response by law enforcement. Thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump marched to the Capitol Jan. 6, overpowered police officers, broke inside and then ransacked the building in a riot that resulted in five deaths.
The four officials to field questions from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee are acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving.
More:Capitol Police investigating 35 officers for Jan. 6 riot as union denounces ‘witch hunt’
Lawmakers are expected to ask about preparation failures. Officers were overwhelmed by rioters despite intelligence suggesting protests could turn violent. The Capitol Police Union has faulted leadership for insufficient preparation and equipment for officers.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told reporters Monday he was hoping to learn more from the officials about intelligence leading up to the attack, why law enforcement was not prepared, and details on the National Guard deployment.
“Why were they not really fully prepared to deal with what was a very large violent attack on the Capitol?” Peters said.
Sund, Stenger, and Irving all resigned in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack. The Capitol Police have launched an investigation into their own officers as well, recently saying 35 of their officers were under investigation in relation to the riot, with six suspended without pay, a move their union denounced as a “witch hunt.”
Merrick Garland:Merrick Garland calls Capitol riot probe ‘first priority’ in confirmation hearing; promises no political interference
The group might also seek answers on the delay of the National Guard deployment at the Capitol, which some law enforcement officials have suggested could have helped with their response. Sund has previously said his requests for the National Guard to be placed on standby in the days before the riot were denied. And Contee said in a closed-door briefing with lawmakers Army staff “did not like the optics of boots on the ground at the Capitol.”