Steven Sund claimed 6 January breach did not happen due to "poor planning" from his agency
The US Senate is holding a hearing Tuesday on what Homeland Security Committee Chairman Gary Peters characterised as "colossal breakdowns in the intelligence gathering and security preparations" ahead of the 6 January attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
Among the witnesses are former House sergeant-at-arms Paul D Irving and former Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael C Stenger, neither of whom had spoken publicly about their decision-making before and during the riot, reports the Washington Post.
Also appearing are former Capitol Police chief Steven A Sund and acting DC police chief Robert J Contee III.
Irving, Stenger and Sund resigned their posts after the assault. Contee's officers engaged in some of the most brutal clashes with rioters at the Capitol's doors.
Sund pushed back on the suggestion that USCP was not prepared for the events of 6 January.
"A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police," Sund said Tuesday during the hearing.
Top Capitol security officials said White supremacists were involved in the insurrection.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, asked the officials, "Would you agree that this attack involved white supremacists and extremist groups?"
All the officials who were testifying answered "yes."
In recent weeks, some right-wing figures have downplayed or denied the role of racist groups in the attack. For instance, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show Monday night, "There is no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6. That's a lie."
Former and current law enforcement officials will face questions surrounding the events of 6 January, including why rioters were able to breach the building.
At least 250 men and women have been charged in connection to the attack that left five people dead.
01:10 am: Committee chair outlines what today's hearing on the Capitol attack revealed
The Senate hearing on the Capitol riot has wrapped. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules Committee, outlined several things she said were made "very clear" to her as a result of today's hearing.
These are the points she highlighted:
- On the nature of the attack: "There is clear agreement that this was a planned insurrection," Klobuchar said. "This was planned. We now know this was a planned insurrection. It involved White supremacists. It involved extremist groups, and it certainly could have been so much worse except for the bravery of the officer."
- On problems with intelligence: "We learned about the intelligence break down. So many of the members of both committees asked about that, particularly the Jan. 5th, the FBI report, that had some very significant warnings from social media about people who were come to go Washington who wanted to wage war. The fact that did not get to key leaders, sergeant of arms or the Capitol Police chief, is of course very disturbing," she said.
- On the approval of the National Guard: "The delays in approving a request for National Guard assistance, both from the Capitol Police board and the Department of Defense — the fact that the sergeant at arms were focused on keeping the members safe in both chambers while the chief was trying to get some emergency approval, to me you can point fingers, but you could also look at this as a process that is not prepared for a crisis," she said. "And I think out of that, there's some general agreement just based on talking to a number of members that there should be changes to the Capitol Police board, the approval process and the like, and it's clear that that action must be taken not only to protect our capitol, but also to protect the brave officers charged with protecting the citadel of democracy."
Klobuchar called today's hearing "very constructive" and said the Senate plans to have additional hearings next week to dig deeper on the events of Jan 6, reports CNN.
01:00 am: Ex-Capitol Police chief learned about key FBI warning "yesterday"
The former US Capitol Police Chief says he only learned this week about a bombshell FBI memo that was sent one day before the insurrection with an explicit warning about potential violence.
The much-discussed "Norfolk memo," named for the FBI office where it originated, has been a key point of contention at a Senate hearing Tuesday with the top officials who were responsible for security at the Capitol that day.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said the Norfolk memo reached his department before the attack but he and other leaders did not see it.
Interestingly, Sund said Tuesday that he only learned about it this week, telling lawmakers, "this is a report that I am just learning about within the last, they informed me yesterday of the report. "
The FBI memo was first made public by the Washington Post on Jan. 12. The story received national attention because it was the first indication of clear warnings of an attack on the Capitol. It is unclear why it took six weeks for Sund to learn about that memo, even after the press coverage.
12:57 am: Politicians weren't involved in National Guard delay, former Capitol security official says
A top Capitol security official on Tuesday debunked claims by some Republicans that Democratic lawmakers delayed the deployment of the National Guard during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund previously said it took one hour for then-House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving to approve his request for National Guard troops. Sund claimed Irving told him he needed to "run it up the chain of command," which would include elected congressional leaders from both parties, reports CNN.
On Tuesday, Irving disputed this timeline and claimed there was no delay.
Sund's previous comments led some top House Republicans to accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, of slowing down the National Guard response during the attack.
They sent a letter to Pelosi last week, asking her to explain any involvement and accusing her office of "obstruction," reports CNN.
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who promoted former President Trump's lies about voter fraud, brought up this angle at the Senate hearing Tuesday. He asked Irving if any politicians delayed in the desperate requests for national guard troops while the Capitol was being stormed on Jan. 6.
"You weren't waiting any point from congressional leadership? … You weren't waiting for them at any point, there was no delay in getting national guard requests?" Hawley asked.
"No, absolutely not," Irving said.
This debunks comments from Rep. Jim Jordan, a top Republican from Ohio, who wrote the letter to Pelosi. Last week, he tweeted about the slow deployment of troops, saying, "During the attack, Capitol Police made the request again. It took over an hour to get approval from Pelosi's team!"
12:50 am: Former Capitol Police chief grilled on why officers weren't wearing enough protection during attack
Former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund cited "extensive costs," "extensive training," and the lack of need up until the insurrection when asked why more officers weren't outfitted with riot gear that would have given officers more protection and greater ability to fight back insurrectionists.
Sund gave the answer in response to questioning from Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, reports CNN.
"It requires extensive costs, extensive training to keep and maintain that level for us. A number of our officers are posted in interior posts, screening posts, things like that, where that gear wouldn't do them — you know, wouldn't provide them any support," Sund said.
"I would just say, obviously those officers who you say had interior posts needed it that day. So it's not accurate to say that they didn't need it," Portman responded.
Sund told senators that the number of civil disturbance units in the US Capitol Police force – four groups of about 40 officers with full riot gear and another three groups of about 40 with lighter gear – had sufficed up until Jan. 6.
"I don't know why you would have a civil disturbance unit platoon that didn't have riot gear," Portman said. "But you've just testified that that is true. That only four of them had it, is that correct?"
"That is correct," Sund said.
By contrast, every DC Metropolitan Police Department officer is assigned a baton, a helmet, gloves and a gas mask and officers coming out of the training academy have some basic civil disturbance training, said Richard Contee, acting chief of police for the DC Metropolitan Police Department, reports CNN.
Not every US Capitol Police officer has that gear.
Sund noted that he ordered helmets for his officers in September, though Covid-related manufacturing delays prevented them from arriving in time. The department distributed some helmets a couple days before the insurrection.
12:32 am: Senate plans to hear from Pentagon officials next week
Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar told reporters today that the Senate Rules and Homeland Security Committees would hold another joint hearing next week with Pentagon officials testifying.
"Yes, they're coming next week. We're having another hearing," Klobuchar said.
Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told the committees today that he was "stunned" at the Army's hesitation to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6 as the attack was unfolding. Today's hearing is the first of what Klobuchar said would be a series of hearings examining the security failures on Jan. 6, reports CNN.
"There were clearly intelligence issues — with information that was out there that didn't get to the right people, actions that weren't taken, and mostly that the National Guard, where there was a combination of the Defense Department and when the request was made weren't called in in a major way," Klobuchar told reporters outside the hearing room.
Klobuchar also said there was a clear structural problem with Capitol Police, where the chief had to go to the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms for approval, suggesting changes needed to be made, reports CNN.
"To have that structure where in a crisis he's trying to go to them, while they're trying to protect the members, it doesn't really make any sense at all," Klobuchar said. "So the structure has to be changed. It doesn't mean have the board, you want someone to supervise, but not those day-to-day decisions, the emergency decisions."
11:56 pm: Klobuchar on Capitol security: "It's not going to be just like it used to be"
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Rules committee, weighed in on when the fencing could come down around the US Capitol complex, saying it's going to be up to leadership and based on security recommendations, reports CNN.
She told reporters:
"Well, that is going to be a discussion on the leadership level, and it's going to be based on recommendations of security experts… I think people will have to realize that it's not going to be just like it used to be, but we have to make the building accessible, and so that's a big decision as well as the use of the National Guard going forward."
The Minnesota Democrat added: "After 9/11, the National Guard was here for a number of years."
11:00 pm: Capitol rioters 'came prepared for war': Security officials
Former chief of the US Capitol Police Steven Sund called the rioters "criminals" and said they "came prepared for war" during the 6 January attack.
In his prepared opening statement during a Senate hearing on the Capitol riots, Sund said that the events of 6 January were "the worst attack on law enforcement" that he has seen during his nearly 30 year career.
"I have been in policing for almost 30 years, and in that time I have been involved in a number of critical incidents, and responded to a number of horrific scenes. The events on January 6, 2021, constituted the worst attack on law enforcement that I have seen in my entire career. This was an attack that we are learning was pre-planned, and involved participants from a number of states who came well equipped, coordinated, and prepared to carry out a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol," he said in prepared remarks.
Sund said that he witnessed the rioters beating officers with "fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades, and flag poles."
"These criminals came prepared for war," he said. "They came with their own radio system to coordinate the attack, as well as climbing gear and other equipment to defeat the Capitol's security features," he continued.
"I'm sickened by what I witnessed that day," Sund said in his opening testimony.
Top Capitol security officials said White supremacists were involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Steven Sund testified that he could not ask for help from the National Guard as rioters stormed the Capitol without a emergency declaration from the Capitol Police Board — something that also stops him from being able to "give my men and women cold water on an excessively hot day."
When Sen. Gary Peters asked the witnesses to explain why they believe that the 6 January attack was coordinated, Steven Sund said that he believed there was "significant coordination" by the rioters to carry out the attack.
"One, these people came specifically with equipment. You're bringing climbing gear to a demonstration. You're bringing explosives. You're bringing chemical spray, such as what Captain Mendoza had talked about. You're coming prepared."