Chief: Capitol Assault Much Bigger Than Intel Suggested

Lawrence Kim
February 26, 2021

The rioters easily smashed through security barriers on the outside of the Capitol, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with police officers, injuring dozens of them, and broke through multiple windows and doors, sending lawmakers fleeing from the House and Senate chambers and interrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

There was a pro-Trump rally that day on the National Mall, at which the former president spoke.

A House subcommittee will examine damage to the Capitol on Wednesday and will hear testimony from current security officials, including Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, on Thursday.

"One is the known threat to the environment, two is the infrastructure vulnerabilities and then that third variable being the limitations the U.S. Capitol's police knows that it has as it relates to human capital and technology resources".

Pittman said in hindsight her agency would have replaced bicycle racks that were quickly overrun by pro-Trump rioters with a stronger fence.

"We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desire that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible, with a direct nexus to the State of the Union", Pittman said during her testimony to a House Appropriations subcommittee.

The Capitol police union, which took an overwhelming "no confidence" vote on Pittman a little over a month after her elevation, is adamantly opposed to the investigations, calling them "an attempt by USCP's upper management to divert the attention away from their significant leadership failures of January 6th".

In the Senate, Rules Committee ranking member Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also said Thursday that "there are ways to achieve the safety we need here without the fortresslike sense at the Capitol right now, and hopefully you get there sooner rather than later".

Five people died in the violence, including a Capitol Police officer.

"How could the security planning policies and procedures, apparently, be so lacking, and ill-prepared?"

Pittman says the details of that assessment were shared throughout the department, with sergeants and lieutenants told to spread the word to rank-and-file officers.

'Additionally, the Department recognized that its training largely focuses on keeping unauthorized persons out of buildings on the Capitol Complex and not scenarios in which a building has been breached, ' she wrote.

"There's evidence that some of those who stormed the Capitol were organized, but there's also evidence that a large number of everyday Americans who took on a mob mentality, because they were angry and desperate". She said that memo never reached her, but that it would not have changed the department's preparations anyway.

A day earlier, her predecessor as chief testified that police expected an enraged but more typical protest crowd of Donald Trump supporters. The discussions were held before a House panel overseeing the agency's funding.

Going forward, Pittman said officers would be receiving training on lockdown procedures.

A second Capitol security official also pointed a finger at the government intelligence agencies.

A plot uncovered by federal law enforcement to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was a major red flag, and numerous rioters went on social media to echo Trump's calls to "stop the steal" and speculate about violence. Federal law enforcement have arrested more than 230 people who were accused of being involved in the attack, and President Joe Biden's nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, said in his confirmation hearing Monday that investigating the riots would be a top priority. "Warnings should not be qualified or hidden".

Pittman, who previously served as an assistant chief, became the first woman and first Black person to head the Capitol Police, according to Morgan State University, the historically black school that Pittman graduated from in 1999. She responded that she only knew the request was denied, but was unsure of the reasons.

Mr. Blodgett said the delay was because the Capitol Police board needed to approve the request.

Thousands of National Guard troops still surround the Capitol in a wide perimeter, cutting off streets and sidewalks that are normally full of cars, pedestrians and tourists.

"It's like your appendix".

Pittman said before Congress on Thursday she had "no evidence whatsoever" that the Capitol Police changed its response based on race.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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