Security officials tasked with guarding the U.S. Capitol during the Jan.6 riot said they had not seen an FBI note warning of potential domestic extremism before the deadly attack.
Former security officials cited a failure in intelligence sharing between law enforcement officials when testifying at the first public hearing into the storming of the city. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, which has left five dead and led to numerous criminal charges.
Witnesses at the hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Rules and Administration Committees included Steven Sund, former Capitol Hill Police Chief; Paul Irving, former House Sergeant-at-Arms; Michael Stenger, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms; and Robert Contee, the acting chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police. Carneysha Mendoza, Field Commander of the Capitol Police Special Operations Division, also testified.
The three former officials and Contee confirmed that they had not seen a note released by the FBI that described the extremists’ plans to descend on Washington before January 6.
Contee said the FBI alert reached Metropolitan Police Headquarters via email at 7 p.m. the day before the riots. “I would definitely think the violent insurgency on Capitol Hill would warrant a phone call or something,” Contee said.
Sund also confirmed that when the Capitol was violated he was “unaware of this memo,” although he said he had since learned he had reached the Capitol police headquarters.
A previous Washington Post report described the FBI note, which had been compiled at a field office in Norfolk, Virginia, claiming it detailed violent threats to violate the Capitol made online.
However, Sund stressed that the information was “unsubstantiated” and “raw” and “not fully verified”. He added that police were prepared for wider violence in the city that day, as thousands of Donald Trump supporters flocked to Washington to support his failed attempt to invalidate the presidential election results. . Some of those involved in the riot were armed or linked to extremist groups or views.
Sund, Irving and Stenger all resigned after the January riot.
In Tuesday’s congressional hearing, Sund and Irving also clashed precisely when National Guard support was requested during the hour-long assault. Sund said he made a request to Irving around 1 p.m., but Irving insisted he only received the request an hour later.
The inability to secure the Capitol has infuriated lawmakers, many of whom have said they fear for their lives. The hearing is part of a planned investigation into how the violation happened.
The United States Capitol Police have come under special pressure to find out if any of its officers played a role in helping the violent mob to storm the compound.
The Capitol Inspector General of Police, a watchdog who reports directly to the force’s board of directors, has suspended all other work to focus solely on carrying out a comprehensive force review. At least six officers were suspended since the riot.