tv Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief House Sergeant at Arms Testify on... CSPAN February 25, 2021 11:21am-12:01pm EST
2:15 for the equality act. thank you. >> the house gaveling back in at noon eastern for legislative work. we'll have live coverage. up next, though, the acting u.s. capitol police chief and acting house sergeant at arms are answering questions about security failures at the capitol during the january 6 attack. they're testifying at a house appropriations subcommittee investigating what happened that day that led to five deaths and 140 capitol police officers injured. >> yes, ma'am. if i could follow up with some additional on that norfolk document, that document was sent
the evening of january 5. we know that it was received by task force agents with u.s. capitol police, but i think that to put it in its proper context, that f.b.i. document also stated that this is an information, not evaluated intelligence. it was being shared for informational purposes and has not been fully evaluated, integrated, interpreted or analyzed. receiving agencies are requested not to take action based on this raw reporting. so i think i would consider that additional document that would feed into the assessment that was consistent what capitol police already knew. we knew the white supremist groups and militias were coming and we did anticipate those groups being violent. ms. clark: in fact, you said
there was a significant likelihood and you would already loop that into the fact this was going to be different and targeted at congress and at interrupting the electoral college process. so now we have some disagreement about whether chief sun actually asked for a declaration for a state of emergency. mr. blodgett said his understanding from the former sergeant at arms irving that he said this never happened. boy, does this look like we have a violent situation brewing. and you sent counterintelligent officers to the rally that day. you must have seen the crowds that were gathering. you must have been gathering that intelligence back, that's in your testimony. yet, still we come down to this failure to be ready. that there is, you know, 140
helmets that are ordered. maybe 126 national guard might be able to come help. when we are at a significant likelihood of attacks. and however we tier that f.b.i. report, it fed into right into what you knew already. i see my time is done. we have white supremacy feeling the violence, that fueled the big lie about our elections. do you believe that institutional racism, the culture of white supremacy -- and i am not saying any specific person or one action -- do you believe that played a role in the discrepancy between the intelligence received, the assessment of the likelihood of violence and the preparation that left our officers really at
the mercy of the mob? chief pittman: so as the first black and female chief of this department, i take any allegation of any equitable policing extremely seriously. i can assure you that under my command, the uscp will continue to police equitably. with that said, i have no evidence whatsoever that suggests that there was any discrepancy based on our security posture and as it relates to making enhancements or not based upon race. ms. clark: do you believe that part of us moving forward on this -- there are many things we
have to do, technical and otherwise, but how are you going to plan in this new position with the morale being so low and especially for those people of color in, you know, our capitol community on your force who see all of this through a very different lens and life experience, how are you going to address this and get to addressing institutional racism that exists in every institution we have here at the capitol police to ensure that this does not play a role in the decisions that we make? chief pittman: absolutely. as the granddaughter of civil rights activists, a proud graduate of an hbcu university, and the mother of two
african-american sons, i know all too well about the differences as it relates to policing and institutional racism. after the black lives matter movement, during the summer, i spearheaded town hall meetings for the first time at the u.s. capitol police where i provided a platform for officers to express their concerns with law enforcement as it relates to race. we brought in speakers from all over the country and we provided an opportunity for officers to speak freely so that we could address some of those morale issues that occurred after the black lives matter movement. i am proud to say that from those town halls we were able to identify themes, working with our training services division, as well as the employment assistance program to ensure that our officers have the tools
and resources that they need to address things like institutional racism. we will be going forward with the executive team to continue to ensure our officers remain trained up on things such as implicit bias. we will provide new platforms to address those things that were identified in october, 2020, last year, as it relates to policing and institutional racism. >> thank you, chief pittman. thank you, ms. clark. >> hey, mr. chairman. thanks. i want to start with tim blodgett. tim, are you there? mr. blodgett: yes, i am here, sir. >> before we go into what -- people are paying attention. i get that and appreciate that. in the background of your shot,
you have a buffalo bills helmet. and i'm just -- i am not giving you political advice. i'm just saying quite frankly the committee chairman is from the state of ohio and i don't think they play there. if you need something, try this book that the chairman wrote. it's not a page turner. but the chairman did write it. so as we go forward, just a thought. mr. amodei: now, let's go to the topic at hand, huh? hey, i want to concentrate on where we're heading as a result of lessons learned from this. and the first thing i'd like to do is -- i hope as we're looking about security examinations and going forward that we're taking a holistic look. i want your response to this which is -- listen, i know equipment is part of it, i know procedures are part of it. chief, this applies to your folks, too. i know training's part of it. i know communication's part of it. i know standard operating procedures are part of it.
i want your response to -- as we decide what role barriers play -- and in case anybody's missing it, it's temporary prison sentences with razor wire, that we can mold all this stuff together and say in a holistic way, ok, so barriers play a part of it but we don't want the maximum barrier. like, we're not doing other stuff. let's take a look at what our posture is in how we operate, how we train, how we talk to the national guard, how we, whatever, and so i would like, if it's possible, to have you put something on the record that as we talk about what the holistic way to go is as we evaluate all these tools in a lessons learned sense and not go back to we want to do the maximum everything and the first thing, it's like working in a minimum security prison right now. i'm not trying to be judgmental on anybody. i'm just saying, quite frankly,
fences and razor wire are -- and by the way, the architect of the capitol should be involved. in terms of placement and effectiveness as opposed to stark visual sadness. so holistic approach, what do you think, mr. sergeant at always? mr. blodgett: i agree there has to be a holistic approach, sir. in the general honerie study as well as what the bureau is doing and what the architect may do at some point may take into account the security hardening that has to come around the campus. look to a future state -- and by future state, i don't mean necessarily looking at barriers. but what new technology can we do at the capitol. the chief has a plan for drawing
down the wire, the fencing. it won't be as fast as some people want. it will be longer than other people want. we will be working with the committee and leadership on that. as well as any structural things that has to be done. especially the big ticket structure items. your committee's going to be fully engaged. mr. amodei: and i appreciate that. so expect that to be a continuing line of questioning in terms of transitioning away from the penal institution look for the national campus. i am not putting that at anybody's doorstep. as we get farther away, we should be able to transition to something that once again is nonpenal. chief, a couple of things for you. first of all, i am going to ask you this question and i don't expect you to have the answer at the top.
i suggest you return to us and to members of the committee. i was listening to your testimony and you said tens of thousands. i am looking at the documents available to me. i know there were approximately 30,000 at the rally. and that d.o.j. has estimated approximately 800 people entered the people. i just like to know what the source for the data -- unless i misunderstood you -- the statement there were tens of thousands of people. and obviously i'm talking about the capitol. and so maybe i'm wrong, but i was unaware of the fact when you say tens of thousands of people, that means 20,000 or more, to me, that were basically outside the capitol, north, south, east, or west. and so i'd just like to get back to us and give us the authority of that statement. along those same lines, when you said you had all of your surveillance people deployed, i want to know what that number was. and so that's fine for online.
for purposes of my limited time today, there are some pedestrian issues that are current. i'll give you an example of the one at -- i think it's c street and behind cannon, right there behind the madison building where the fencing has been deployed in a way where pedestrian people that are -- that are entering that after being screened, they basically put the fence all over the sidewalk so you either have to go through a flower bed or kind of see how you can shimmy through on that. i appreciate if you or someone in your office can talk about fencing placement and just walk the perimeter so if something were to be relocated so sidewalk can be conducive for pedestrian traffic that that can actually take place. mr. blodgett: so i believe we have opened up some pedestrian accesses as of this morning. based on some feedback we heard
yesterday. so if it hasn't been opened, please, look into it. mr. amodei: it's open. you just have to walk through a flower bed to use the access point. by the way, that's the metro access, which has always been open. it's unacceptable that you have people queueing up to get to a gate for pedestrian access, rendered pedestrian access difficult, to be generous. mr. blodgett: we'll take a look at that. mr. amodei: that's not the chief -- but the chief and you -- but finally, i would like to get a briefing a little later on what the coordination is between both of your offices and the a.o. -- in terms -- a.o.c. in terms of fence design, designing what those barriers are going forward. look, i'm not suggesting an answer. i just want to know that issue is being worked as oi posed to, yeah, yeah -- as opposed to,
yeah, yeah, we'll get to that later on. and off-line, who has operational control of the national guard? for example, if there is an incident at that area i told you the gate where the sidewalk is -- so if something happens there and we got an incident, stuff's going, who's in charge? how do they handle that, at least in the first 30 minutes? i'm hoping it's a communication issue we've been hearing about are not communication issues in terms of using those resources in quite frankly a coordinated chain of command if something pops up. i'll take all those off-line later on. i'm mindful of your time, mr. chairman. thank you and i yield back. mr. sarbanes: thank you, mr. amodei. i'd follow up and ask chief pittman if she can answer the question about the tens of thousands of insurrectionists, what that exact number was, people on the capitol complex that were pushing through to get
to the capitol, if you can get us that -- do you have that number handy, chief? chief pittman: yes, i do. so we base that number off the numbers that were screened down at the ellipse from the secret service. we know that they screened over 15,000, i believe that number was closer to 20,000, and there were 15,000, approximately, that were outside of the ellipse that were unscreened. we know that those groups left there from our camera footage and came to capitol hill. so that's where those numbers are primarily bated off of. -- based off of. we know what they were able to screen down at the ellipse. and then, as it relates -- a couple of follow-ups, if i may, sir. first and foremost, there was a question previously as it relates to evacuation routes. so i am willing to provide that. i know that some of that information is sensitive, if not
classified, if you will. so i'd like to provide a follow-up answer as it relates to why we evacuated some of the chambers in the manner that we did. as it relates to infrastructure, we are actively working, as i said, with the task force. and i know that i speak for everyone here in the leadership when it comes to the fencing that's surrounded the campus as well as the national guard. we have no intention of keeping the national guard soldiers or that fencing any longer than what is actually needed. we're actively working with a scaled down approach so we can make sure that we address three primary variables. one is the known threat to the environment. two is the infrastructure vulnerabilities. and then that third variable being the limitations that u.s. capitol police knows that it has as it relates to human capital
and technology resources. so we are actively addressing those. if i may just add one more point. with that said, we know that the insurrectionists that attacked the capitol weren't only interested in attacking members of congress and officers. they wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as to who was in charge of that legislative process. we know that members of the militia groups that were present on january 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the capitol and kill as many members as possible with the direct nexus to the state of the uni, which we know -- union, which we know that date has not been identified. so based on that information, we think that it's prudent that capitol police maintain its enhanced andro bust security -- and robust security posture as
we address those vulnerabilities going forward. sir, as it relates to the fencing and issues with the pedestrian access, i will reach out to your office today and make sure i lean forward by taking action working with the house sergeant at arms to ensure that pedestrian and staff that need to traverse the grounds are able to do so in a safe and efficient manner. and one more side note for the chairman. you said that you were from the great state of ohio. we gave mr. blodgett a hard time about his bills. i can tell you that my husband is from the great state of alabama. and we are avid roll tide, crimson tide, national champions and fans. so i just had to put that plug in that for my roll tide fans on the call. thank you, sir. mr. sarbanes: thank you. that will get you nowhere with me, i'll tell you right out of the gate. as an ohio state buckeye.
if you could, chief -- mr. case is next. let me slide this in because what i think mr. amodei's questions were important. what was the number outside the capitol? we know that it was 15,000, maybe plus at the ellipse. how many made their way down to the capitol at the bike fencing right after that? chief pittman: we don't have an exact number. we didn't implement screening that day but based on the estimates we saw from our tv camera, we could tell approximately who was coming from the ellipse to the capitol grounds. so we know there were excess of 10,000 demonstrators that traversed the campus on january 6. mr. sarbanes: so you think it was 10,000 that came to the capitol, left the ellipse, walked down to the dpol and then -- capitol and then forced their way in? chief pittman: i think we were
well in excess of 10,000 that traversed the grounds. but as far as the numbers that actually came into the building, we estimated that was approximately 800 demonstrators. mr. ryan: ok. that brings about a lot of questions around use of force and other things. mr. case. mr. case: thank you, mr. chair. mr. blodgett, chief pittman, i want to go back to a line of questioning that i pursued yesterday with the architect of the capitol. and the gist of that is how do we best figure out what happened, why it happened, and how to move forward? the observation that i have is that we need some independent, objective, outside review and advice. i think even the best of us, in circumstances such as this, are hard pressed to evaluate ourselves, to evaluate where we,
ourselves, made mistakes. chief pittman, you were there at the time, so you're not objective in that sense. and you may have done everything exactly right. but the issue is that you are part of it. so, therefore, the question is, how can we get to the right overall answers? so in that spirit, what i'd like to ask for clarification what investigations of any kind do you know are under way right now and aside from obviously the oversight function of congress itself, including this subcommittee? my understanding is that we basically have at least three that i know of. the first, of course, is the general honore study which is focused on the complex. the architect of the capitol which is focused on physical security. in which he -- at least has some outside input through the u.s. army corps of engineers in their
area of expertise. i also believe, chief pittman, you referred to an internal capitol police review. and so i'll just go with you, chief. is that correct, you have your own review under way? are either of you aware of any other more formal active reviews? chief pittman: yes, sir. so the capitol police does have what can he call the security -- what we call the security services bureau. it's primarily responsible for securing national security documents as well as our physical security implementation of equipment and/or procedures. so security services bureau is conducting an internal assessment. the office of the inspector general is also conducting an assessment. that would be considered external to capitol police. you already mentioned the task force that's been led by general
honore. they're conducting an assessment, primarily as it relates to infrastructure, as well as some of our policies and procedures. and then lastly, the g.a.o. is also conducting an assessment of the january 6 event. mr. case: ok. so let me go to those. when you rivera to the office of -- when you refer to the office of the inspector general. that's not the g.a.o. it is who? chief pittman: yes. so the office of inspect general is independent of capitol police. they provide oversight typically to the capitol police board and some of our appropriators as to the operations, if you build -- if you will, to capitol police. they not only do this for incidents like the january 6 event. this is an ongoing independent
review that's routinely analyzing capitol police's policies and procedures. and then, once they make those analyzations, they turn that over to the board and make recommendations that capitol police must adhere to to ensure we are adhering to the best practices for a federal agency. and i would just turn it over to mr. blodgett in case he has any additional as it relates to the o.i.g. mr. blodgett: thank you, chief. the inspector general is going through and investigating various points along the january 6 time frame, the different units, and we'll be coming out with a series of reports on that. other than what the chief has spoken of, i am unaware of independent reviews. i know there is an investigation
going on. mr. case: one by the f.b.i. that we have not made reference to but that's under way. so going back to the question of adequate, independent, objective review and advice, it strikes me that the physical infrastructure side of this, that's a very difficult question with a lot of difficult, you know, decisions to be made at the end of the day. but it is more about a physical structure to protect the capitol and its inhabitants. what we're really at in these hearings, i think, far more is the organizational structure of the capitol, whether that structure worked, which i think we have all concluded it didn't. whether the failures were failures of people under
difficult circumstances or failures of systems or exactly where those failures occurred and how can we correct for those to ensure those don't get repeated. so chief pittman -- and i would also observe, the architect of the capitol yesterday observed the possibility of engaging other parts of our federal government who have dealt with similar crisis management situations and have come up with their own best practices, for example, the architect mentioned the department of defense. also, the secret service. chief pittman, i got to ask you pretty straight, because i am concerned about your objectivity. not you personally, chief. but somebody in your situation who, again, was there has a responsibility and obligation -- as you said, friendship with many of your colleagues. i'm concerned about the ability in that context to develop that
kind of independent, objective review that any of us would want. it is comparable to asking a member of congress to investigate and conclude the ethics investigation of him or her. that just doesn't happen, right? so what do you think? do you think we have the right processes in place to get to the bottom of this and to make the correct judgments that we have to make going forward? do you see a need for any further review, structure, or what do you think about the possibilities of the d.o.d. and/or the secret service or some other structure, i think? i would add to that -- i would add to that that mr. amodei's line of questioning was resident in terms of looking at a more holistic view of this. meaning across the board view. my observation is, there is a lot of stovepiping going on.
that structure broke down. in that way, it's not all that dissimilar to some of the critical and tragic, in retrospect, mistakes in systems that occurred around 9/11. so how do we -- how do you crack through all of this, chief? what's your thought on it? chief pittman: yes. so i know there are the three independent after-action reviews, if you will, in addition to u.s. capitol police's internal assessment by the groups that i adent find -- identified. at the speaker's request, there will be a 9/11-style commission, if you will, similar to what occurred after the 9/11 -- september 11 attacks. so i believe that those groups of independent evaluators will come in and advise things that we can do in addition to what the external evaluators will
provide as well. so i think that's going to be key and prudent going forward. soliciting those from outside of even the organizations that we've named that would come in and provide that independent assessment and review to state how we would go forward, particularly in the long term. mr. case: thank you, chair. mr. ryan: thank you, mr. case. in newhouse. -- mr. newhouse. mr. newhouse: thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you both being here this morning. kind of along the same lines as mr. case's questions. both of you are members of the capitol police board where you weren't at the time of january 6. as the structure is -- your positions are. you received information from different agencies about threats to the capitol, etc. we have heard that process.
we learned earlier this week from testimony given in the designate that -- in the senate there the capitol police board did not receive an f.b.i. threat report warning that there were people traveling to washington to commit acts of violence. ms. pittman, you, on january 6, was the assistant chief of police at the department of protective and intelligence operations. i hope i have that title correct. and this morning, i believe i heard you say that the capitol police did in fact receive this said report on january 5. i guess, kind of like i said, along the lines of mr. case's questioning, tell me what should have happened or what you did to make sure the police board got that very important information?
they said they didn't. why didn't they? what happened? what broke down to where a critical piece of intelligence was not shared with the decisionmakers that may -- maybe could have allowed a better preparation prior to january 6? chief pittman: yes, sir. so that f.b.i. document that was shared on the evening of the 5th, it was shared with task force agents that are embedded from capitol police with the f.b.i. they, in turn, sent that email that they received to a lieutenant within the protective and intelligence operations side of the house. that information was not then forwarded any further up the chain. so that is a lesson learned for u.s. capitol police. and i've put in corrective measures to ensure that going forward, information is shared
in a timely fashion and it's shared appropriately going up the chain of command. with that said, we do not believe that based on the information in that document we would have changed our posture, per se, information that was shared was very similar to what u.s. capitol police already had in terms of the militia groups, the white supremists groups as well as the extremists that were going to participate in acts of violence and potentially be harm -- armed, i should say, on the campus. we put in corrective internal controls to ensure information is shared in a timely fashion. because we understand that that was a breakdown in communication. we own that and we have taken protective -- corrective measures to change that going forward. mr. newhouse: i understand even
if it moved up the chain you wouldn't have done anything differently. chief pittman: that is not correct, sir. we do not believe that document in and of itself would have changed our posture. we believe it was consistent with the information and intelligence that we already had, that those groups were is going to be violent and they were expected to participate in unlawful activity on the campus. the one thing that we were already leaning forward and asking for was additional resources as it relates to the requests for the national guard. that request at that time had already been denied. and we made that request repeatedly after january 5 to include several more denials before the national guard were actually on campus.
that was after the fact. mr. newhouse: mr. chair, would it be proper for the committee to ask firsthand copies of some of these reports that are being referred to? that would give us better information and context as to what they were seeing. mr. ryan: yeah, absolutely. mr. newhouse: one moore question. i appreciate your -- one more question. i appreciate your indulgence. as i was in the house while it was broken into, my staff was in my office in the cannon building. at the time there was a pipe bomb that was discovered near the cannon building. so we received -- let me just try to recount that day as accurately as i can. my staff received an emergency notification from the capitol police about an evacuation of the madison building.
i believe that was at 1:10 p.m. the next communication that they received from the capitol police were officers running down the hallway, banging on doors, and yelling to people to evacuate immediately. not identifying themselves. there was a little bit of vagueness as to who was actually telling people to come out of their offices. and then it wasn't until nearly 15 minutes later after they had evacuated that they received official notification about the evacuation of the cannon building. that was at 1:23. so i guess as an appropriations committee, my question has to do with -- despite substantial resources that we have appropriated to your department, that the requests obviously of your predecessors, the emergency notification system continues to
have issues. madam pittman, i'd like to ask, under your management now, what kind of changes are you looking at to rectify the notification system? chief pittman: sorry. i am having trouble with the mute button. yes, sir. so we made a number of changes going forward as it relates to communications. one primarily being those canned naejs that the department -- messages that the department refers to in our joint notification system. i believe mr. blodgett referred to it earlier as well. we understand those prepared messages, if you will, do not give the congressional community in times of critical incidents enough information to proceed accordingly on the campus. so we are working with our
command center staff to make sure they are not just pushing out those preprepared messages but actually providing more accurate, timely information to the community. we're also leaning forward working with our law enforcement partners as well as community partners, like d.c. fema to make sure our community notifications and improvements are coming from the u.s. capitol police's command center. we also implemented several daily calls as it relates to intelligence and the information that we're able to share in a timely fashion by embedding, not only our agents and some of the known law enforcement leaders as it relates to intelligence -- >> this hearing continues live at c-span.org. here on c-span, fulfilling our over 40-year commitment to live house coverage, they're gaveling in to debate a bill, add be lgbtq anti-discrimination protections to the civil rights
act. after they vote on that bill, members will start debate on expanding wilderness and scenic rivers protections in california, oregon, and washington state. the bill also bans energy exploration and mining on federal lands near the grand canyon. nearly 30 amendments will be considered for that bill. they dpekt to fin -- expect to finish it tomorrow. and now live to the house floor on c-span. today, o god, may the clashes we endure under roadblocks we encounter serve like a crews i believe for silver. you would rid us of ugliness, wrongful attitudes and hurtful ways. in the heat of our arguments and in the intensity of our discussions, reminus as a furnish ace does gold. remove from us our hard grifeances and unseemly behaviors, purify our thoughts of corrosivent