Trump supporters want to ‘blow up’ Capitol, police chief warns

Elias Hubbard
February 26, 2021

In prepared remarks before two Senate committees Tuesday, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund will describe a scene that was "like nothing" he had seen in his 30 years of policing.

As recent as Tuesday, January 5, during a meeting I hosted with my executive team, the Capitol Police Board, and a dozen of the top law enforcement and military officials from DC, no entity, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, provided any new intelligence regarding January 6.

Leahy acknowledged Robert J. Contee III, chief of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, for his response to the attacks and maintaining the "delicate balance" between the district's forces and federal law enforcement agencies.

Much remains unknown about what happened before and during the assault, and lawmakers are expected to aggressively question the former officials about what went wrong. Sund testified that his agency on January 5 received a report from the FBI's Norfolk, Va., office warning that Trump supporters were calling for violence.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of OH told acting Chief Yogananda Pittman on Thursday, "You took the intelligence and I feel like you didn't put it all together and synthesize it in a way to go, 'Holy cow, something really bad can happen here'".

"I think the bottom line here is that, unfortunately, our officers were not given the proper training with regard to infiltration of the building or the complex with regard to dealing with civil disturbance, and they didn't have the equipment necessary to push back and most importantly, to protect themselves", said Portman.

Pittman also said the department faced "internal challenges" as it responded to the riot.

Authorities have yet to arrest people responsible for planting pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic Party and Republican Party, which Sund said was likely an attempt to draw police attention away from Capitol.

More than 200 people have been charged so far for their roles in the riot, including some with ties to far-right fringe groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Portman noted that many Capitol Police officers didn't have riot gear during the disturbance, while the Washington, D.C. police had helmets, shields, gloves and gas masks.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler on Thursday laid out a series of leadership failures at the U.S. Capitol Police as thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol while Congress was meeting to vote to certify Joe Biden's presidential win over Donald Trump.

Sund said he did see an intelligence report created within his own department warning that Congress could be targeted.

"As they continue to scrub social media, we are learning more and more and more that this is clearly a coordinated effort", Contee said.

No civilian law enforcement agency is trained or equipped to repel thousands of rioters, Sund said.

Members of both parties said they were anxious for things to return to normal and for the National Guard to be sent home.

Speaking at the House hearing, Pittman was asked by Rep. Mark Amodel (R-NV) about the fencing around the building, who's in charge of the National Guard troops at the Capitol complex and if she is aware of the exact number of insurrectionists on January 6.

Irving said he met with Sund and former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger to discuss whether the National Guard should be deployed.

Sund and Irving disagreed earlier this week on when the chief asked for the Guard.

"I got called a [N-word] a couple dozen times today protecting this building", said Dunn. "Knowing that we may not be at full strength at that time".

Testimony from the security officials conflicted on some details of the events.

Sund resigned the day after the attack, and Irving and Stenger followed shortly after. Senators asked for phone records.

Tuesday's hearing is the first of several steps Congress is taking to review the January 6 incident and adopt reforms.

She was appointed last month after the former head resigned in the fallout from the agency's inadequate response to pro-Trump rioters who staged an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

All three resigned in the wake of the violence, which shook the world, threatened a peaceful transition of power and endangered the lives of lawmakers and Pence, prompting former president Trump's second impeachment trial.

"We must have the facts, and the answers are in this room", Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar said at the beginning of the hearing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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