Lawmakers toasted former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger, all of whom resigned after the ‘attack. Michael Contee, the acting local police chief in Washington DC also testified.
Here are five takeaways from the Senate hearing.
The much-discussed “Norfolk Memo,” named after the FBI office in Virginia he hails from, was a key point of contention during Tuesday’s Senate hearing as Sund revealed the report had arrived to his department before the attack but that he and other leaders had not. to see him.
The revelation underscored a constant theme of the hearing: Communication failures put the Capitol – and people’s lives – in danger.
“How not to get this vital intelligence on the eve of what is going to be a major event?” Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters asked Sund.
Sund responded that the information “came in the form of raw data”, while acknowledging that the information would have been useful.
The still unclear facts about the National Guard delay
Seven weeks after the attack, the dizzying chronology of events is still not fully settled.
Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, asked former officials about a request Sund claims to have made for National Guard troops in the days leading up to the riot.
Sund testified that he asked Irving and Stenger to make a declaration of emergency, which he believed he had to call in troops. Irving replied that he did not actually view Sund’s investigation as a formal request for troops, but rather saw it as a conversation where Sund said the National Guard offered to deliver 125 troops to help the crowd control.
Irving said the three men decided that information about the demonstration scheduled for Jan. 6 did not warrant a military response.
Blunt also insisted on conflicting deadlines regarding when custody was requested after the security situation on Capitol Hill deteriorated. Sund claimed he made the request at 1:09 p.m. ET, but Irving insisted he didn’t remember a conversation at the time, claiming instead that the two spoke around 1 p.m. 30 and that the request for troops had been made to him after 2 hours. pm
Spotlight on the role of white supremacists
Witnesses and lawmakers have pointed to the role of white supremacists in the pro-Trump crowd, which has undermined some recent attempts by prominent Republicans to downplay their involvement.
Videos of the attack and court documents in the rioter cases made it clear that some people with white supremacist views attended the pro-Trump rally and raped the Capitol. Tuesday’s hearing gave senior security officials the opportunity to affirm those findings.
Conspiracy theories are still rampant
Lawmakers on both sides have asked legitimate and factual questions that will help understand what happened on January 6 and what needs to be done to avoid a repeat in the future.
But every now and then right-wing conspiracy theories have crept into the proceedings, some emanating from the same Republicans who peddled false allegations of voter fraud that got us into this mess.
Senator Ron Johnson, the Republican from Wisconsin who has repeatedly spread misinformation about the 2020 election, used his time to read an article in a Conservative publication suggesting leftist agitators and “false” supporters of Trump were responsible for the attack, and that Trump voters would not attack the police. These claims have been largely denied.
Former security officials were also asked whether Hill’s leadership delayed the deployment of the National Guard – an allegation that some Republicans used the pillory of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These questions were asked by Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri who had previously promoted numerous 2020 election plots that inspired the insurgency itself.
Irving responded that the Congressional leaders who oversee the Capitol Police had “absolutely” played no role in the delays, debunking an increasingly common GOP talking point.
There are other personal stories of police officers that have yet to be heard
Captain Mendoza provided compelling testimony on his insurgency response experience, including describing injuries from exposure to tear gas.
“I made it to the Rotunda where I noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what I believed to be military grade CS gas – a familiar scent,” Mendoza said, mentioning that she had served in the army. “It was mixed with a fire extinguisher spray deployed by the rioters. The rioters continued to deploy CS inside the Rotunda.”
CS is a reference to tear gas, which is often used by police as a riot agent. Footage from the Capitol attack shows officers and rioters using chemical sprays against each other during the hour-long melee.
“The officers were exposed to a lot of gas, which is much worse inside the building than outside because there is nowhere to go,” Mendoza said. “I received chemical burns on my face which have not yet been healed.”
She also described the terrifying times when she and other officers argued with hundreds of rioters.
“At one point my right arm got stuck between the rioters and the railing along the wall,” she said. “A sergeant (from the Capitol Police) freed my arm and if he hadn’t, I’m sure it would have been broken.”