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tv   MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson  MSNBC  February 23, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST

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senators will be eager to get to the bottom of. >> so, pete, what are some of the biggest outstanding questions, factual questions, that you think could potentially get answered today in front of this group? >> well, i'm not sure that the key questions will get answered today, frankly, because we're going to hear from these people with their own views of what happened. what the chief says is that he never had the kind of intelligence that we've been told that the fbi and nypd, for example, gave the capitol police about what to expect. in his prepared testimony the former capitol police chief says the intelligence community completely missed the idea of a group of well-armed violent protesters would attempt to get inside the capitol and try to stop the vote, the counting of the electoral votes. in addition to all these questions about the breakdown and how long it took to get the national guard, that is a fundamental question. what did the american
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intelligence community know about this and what did it tell the capitol police? the capitol police chief says in his prepared testimony he just wasn't expecting anything like this and they were prepared for something far less violent. so i'm not sure we're going to get the answer to that question today and it may be that the only way to get that answer is to have a 9/11-style commission that can get out there and interview everybody that was involved. but that is a key question. and of course a couple of other questions about what happened on that day still haven't been answered. who planted the bombs at the headquarters of the republican and democratic national committees which the chief says was a distraction. he says he thinks this was part of the planned siege on the capitol to basically have this diversion that would take law enforcement assets away from the capitol. and then the question of course who killed officer sicknick, that's turned out to be a very difficult question to answer. at this point it doesn't appear that there was any single -- one single thing, it may have been a
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buildup of a number of cumulative things. he was exposed apparently several times to bear spray, did that play a role? i'm not sure we're going to get a lot of answers to those fundamental questions about why didn't anybody know this was going to happen? >> we are looking now at some of the top -- three of the top four senators, actually, in the two committees that are holding these hearings, this is both the rules committee and the homeland security committee holding this joint hearing today. it looks like they are getting ready to begin. we're going to bring you in there when they gavel it in because as pete laid out there are a series of questions. katie, it's also happening a day after the attorney general nominee merrick garland told senators in a separate hearing that the capitol riot investigation will be his top priority. katie, what are you watching for over the next few hours here? >> we're going to watch for not only the things that pete discussed, what facts could be sussed out, we will be watching what happened between the summer when the entire national guard, the metropolitan police department and the army was on full alert and they were very,
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very conscious of terrorist threats, domestic terrorist threats of rioting. what we saw in january when it seemed like the posture had slack nd, loosened, people were no longer as alert and why that was. that's almost an attitudinal or cultural question that nobody can seem to answer and whether or not they can get to that in these hearings will be a big question. >> senator peters introducing the rest of his colleagues. officer jones, quickly to you. you spent your entire career protecting the capitol. what questions would you want to see answered today? >> i'd like to see why it took until january 4th before they got any intel. prior to january 4th i want to know how much intel did they receive and that there's a check and balance. >> officer butch jones, thank you. we're going to bring you in now to that hearing. senator peters making the introductions and then this will begin. let's watch. >> i'm grateful to our witnesses, colleagues, staff,
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capitol police, d.c. police and the national guard who continue to assist in protecting the capitol today and for all of the hard work that allows this very important discussion to begin. so i would like to once again thank chairwoman klobuchar for your partnership and for your leadership and look forward to your opening remarks. >> thank you very much, chairman peters. good morning. thank you to our witnesses for being here today for this first point hearing of the rules committee and the homeland security and government affairs committee as we work to conduct oversight into what happened in the lead up and during the horrific events of january 6. thank you to chairman peters. also ranking member portman as well as my good friend senator blunt who i look forward to continuing to work with on the rules committee in this congress. i think it's important to note that we planned this entire hearing on a bipartisan basis. that's because the stakes are so
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high and we want this -- and i say this to our witnesses as well who are all appearing here voluntarily, i think it's important for the members to know that, and we thank them for doing that. we want this to be as constructive as possible because in order to figure out the solutions so this doesn't happen again, we must have the facts, and the answers are in this room. when an angry violent mob staged an insurrection on january 6th and desecrated our capitol, the temple of our democracy, it was not just an attack on the building, it was an attack on our republic itself. we are here today to better understand what was known in advance, what steps were taken to secure the capitol and what occurred that day because we want to ensure that nothing like this happens again. each of our witnesses held a leadership role at the time of the attack, acting chief robert conte of the metropolitan police
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department of the district of columbia, mr. steven sund former chief of the u.s. capitol police who is here with us in person today, mr. michael stenger former senate sergeant-at-arms and mr. paul irving, former house sergeant-at-arms. the other witnesses are here as many of our witnesses do via video. to our witnesses, your testimony is vital and thank you again for coming. at the same time this is certainly not the last hearing that we will have regarding this attack. next week we will hear from witnesses from federal agencies including the fbi, the department of homeland security and the department of defense that are critical to our understanding. the insurrection at the capitol was more than an assault on democracy, it was an actual life or death situation for the many brave law enforcement officers who show up here to do their work every day and at the beginning of this testimony we will hear from one of them. we will never forget the
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haunting shrieks of the police officer pinned in between the doors at the hands of the rioters, pleading for help. we will never forget officer harry dunn who fought against the violent mob for hours and after it was over broke down in tears telling fellow officers he had been called the "n" word 15 times that day. he asked, is this america? or officer eugene goodman who after saving senator romney from walking who is here with us today -- thank you, senator romney -- from walking directly into the mob, ran by himself to take on a group of rioters and then eugene goodman diverted that mob away from the senate chim ber allowing us to safely depart. tragedy the attack on the capitol also cost the lives of three brave officers including officer brian sicknick who died from injuries sustained while engaging with protesters. two other officers died by suicide following the event of january 6, d.c. metropolitan
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police officer jeffrey smith and u.s. capitol police officer howard liebengood. officer liebengood or howie to those who knew him worked the delaware avenue door of the russell senate office building, someone who i have seen at that doorway, you know, always greeted me and everyone with a warm smile. it has been reported that 140 u.s. capitol police officers sustained injuries from defending the capitol. the courage of these officers will be remembered forever, but there are still many voices that we haven't heard in the stories of january 6, including the many staff who make sure we have food in our cafeteria and water and heat in our building. one janitorial worker hid during the attack in a closet, another custodial staff member reflected on how terrible he felt when he had to clean up feces and that had been speared on the way saying i felt bad, i felt degraded. these dedicated workers were
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here when the capitol was attacked as were many dedicated journalists who report on our work to the american people. to make this place safe going forward we must answer key questions. first and foremost what took so long to deploy the national guard that day, both because of decisions made in the capitol complex, but also by others in the federal government. we must find out what was known about the potential for violence before the attack and how that intelligence was shared with law enforcement partners including the officials responsible for protecting the capitol. there are also important questions to be asked about how information concerning those threats was communicated to rank and file officers. and it's vital that we explore necessary reforms to the structure of the capitol police board which i know we will hear more about today. we owe it to the 140 capitol police officers injured and to all those at the capitol who continue to suffer the repercussions. we owe it to the officer beaten by the violent rioters because
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he literally placed his body in the doorway to protect us. we owe it to the officers who lost their lives. we owe it to the american people to figure out how the united states capitol, the preeminent symbol of democracy around the world could be overtaken by an angry violent mob. and we owe it to ourselves, colleagues, to believe enough in our democracy and in the u.s. senate that despite our political differences, we will be constructive in this hearing today, not just here to make political hay, but be constructive today to figure out what went wrong and what changes we can make to ensure that the capitol is safe for us and the public going forward. chairman peters, ranking member blunt, ranking member portman and colleagues, for me the bottom line is that we must get the answers and those answers are what will give us the solutions. thank you very much. >> thank you, madam chair.
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it's been just over six weeks since our nation watched with horror as our capitol building was breached by domestic terrorists who sought to use violence and intimidation to overturn the results of a free and fair election. this was a shocking assault on our democracy and it marked one of our nation's darkest days. the united states has stood as a beacon for the world, showing how democracy can thrive. on january 6th we saw just how fragile many of our most valued democratic principles, including the peaceful transfer of power is. it's hard to express how deeply grateful we are for the actions our capitol police, our sergeants-at-arms and other law enforcement agencies do to keep us safe every single day and especially on that day.
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too many of our officers were gravely injured or tragically killed as they bravely fought back the attackers. chief conte, we are also indebted to the d.c. metropolitan police department for their valeant efforts to thwart the attack. d.c. police often provide support to help secure the capitol, but the officers under your command did not hesitate to come to our aid. we are thankful for the heroic actions of so many who ensured this direct attack on our democracy failed. but there's no question that there were colossal breakdowns in the intelligence gathering and security preparations leading up to the events of january 6, as well as during the coordination and response efforts once the attack got under way. our goal today is to begin to understand where those breakdowns and failures occurred and to determine if there are policy and structural changes
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congress must make to prevent a future attack of this nature. in my role on the homeland security committee i've worked to draw attention to the rising threat of domestic terrorism, including the rise of insidious ideologies of white supremacy, anti-government militias and now qanon conspiracies. these ideologies are intertwined in numerous ways and on january 6 we saw just how quickly they can shift from online communities to committing organized violent attacks in the real world. but the warning signs were there, just a few months earlier in my home state of michigan law enforcement successfully stopped a plot by anti-government militias to kidnap our state's governor. we've seen an increase in violent crimes over the last decade that are driven by hateful ideologies. we saw the deadly and tragic
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consequences on january 6 when the domestic terrorist threat was not taken as seriously as it should have been. this is a systemic and leadership failure on the part of our security officials from the fbi and department of homeland security to the security leadership on the ground and capitol and it must be addressed. domestic terrorism is not a new threat, but it is an urgent threat. it will require serious focus to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the safety and security of all americans. i'd like to take a moment to remind my colleagues that every senator here today took an oath to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. as the committee is charged with oversight, strengthening homeland security and maintaining capitol operations, we have a solemn duty to thoroughly examine the security breakdowns and make needed reforms. i'm hopeful we will be able to work together and carry out this
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responsibility in a serious and a nonpartisan way. and finally while today's hearing is our first on january 6th attack, it will not be our last. we will continue to seek testimony and information from a range of agencies and officials who are involved in preparing for and responding to the events of the day for the u.s. capitol and for the entire region. the attack on january 6th was an extraordinary event that requires exhaustive consideration. the american people deserve answers on why their capitol was breached and i look forward to having a productive discussion with our witnesses in order to provide the american people with those answers. thank you, madam chair. >> senator blunt. >> thank you, chairwoman klobuchar. it's great to work with you and chairman peters and senator portman as we move forward on this hearing on what happened on january the 6th and i think that
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will obviously also require discussion of what happened in the days immediately leading up to january the 6th. this hearing as senator peters and you have both said really the beginning of a series of efforts that hopefully we can approach in a bipartisan way that looks for solutions and ensures that the deadly, outrageous, destructive attack that marked such a sad day in our history never happens again. certainly the offers -- officers who defended the capitol that day deserve to be recognized and praised for their valeant efforts and their willingness every day to stand ready to do what needs to be done to defend the capitol and those who work there. i'm certainly grateful to them. i'm particularly grateful in this instance to the metropolitan police department and their really admirable response to be here quickly, to be here with significant numbers
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of people in the very short term and within an hour to have an incredible impact on what was going on here at the capitol in a positive way. the failures of the day, unfortunately, were of the most serious kind. senator klobuchar has already mentioned the three officers whose lives were lost and other officers who have really had to deal with this in a significant way. you also have to remember that this was an event where the families of our officers were watching in realtime on television in an attack where they're seeing people that mean the entire world to them in this fight for their lives and fight for our lives and the capitol. three of today's witnesses, former house sergeant-at-arms erving, former senate sergeant-at-arms stenger and
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former chief of the united states capitol police sund were all charged with protection of the capitol on january 6th. we need to hear from them whether it was a failure of imagination of what could go wrong, a failure of intelligence gathering and dissemination, a failure of preparation which ultimately led to this problem or maybe a structural failure that just is not designed in a way that it allows us to respond to an immediate crisis and obviously we need to get that done. i want to hear from chief conte of the metropolitan police department to learn about the department's role and frankly to learn how their decision making process appeared to be so much quicker than the decision-making process we could go through here. i believe it's important for everyone to note that the attacks on january the 6th did not prevent congress from fulfilling its responsibilities, both chambers reconvened that
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evening and finished the certification of the results of the electoral college, i think senator klobuchar and the vice president and i left the building about 4:00 a.m. on friday morning, but we did get our work done where the american people and people all over the world would have expected it to get done. and then on the 20th we held an inauguration on the same platform that had been stormed three weeks earlier and -- two weeks earlier and carried out one of our most important aspects of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power. i want to thank my colleagues from both the homeland security and rules committee for today's hearing and the staff work that's gone into getting ready for today. >> ranking member portman? >> thank you, chairman peters. chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member blunt for the constructive comments this
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morning. in this business you often finish like you start and i appreciate the fact that we're starting this review by taking the politics out of it so we can get to the bottom of what happened. i want to start by expressing my gratitude on behalf of everybody for the men and women of law enforcement. u.s. capitol police, secret service, national guard, metropolitan police department, the fbi and all the law enforcement agencies who put their safety on the line to safeguard democracy on january 6. as i said on the senate floor that night, it was thanks to them that vice president pence, members of congress, staff, and the capitol complex workforce were protected. and we were able to complete our constitutional duty of certifying the election. it was important am n. my view that we sent a clear view that night to our constituents that we will not be intimidated, that the rule will not mob here b you that message could not have been delivered without law enforcement securing us and our
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respective chambers. seven individuals lost their lives as a result of the capitol attack slug two capitol police officers and a d.c. metropolitan police department officer. we will never forget the service and sacrifice of officers brian sicknick, jeffrey smith, howard liebengood. i knew officer leanen good, i saw howie most days at his post at the russell office building. his colleagues will tell you no officer was more dedicated to the mission of the capitol hill police department, a mission and duty to serve and protect and i'm proud to have called him a friend. we will never forget officer eugene goodman and the hundreds of other officers who were heroes on the front lines that afternoon, that evening, many of whom sustained injuries. to honor that kind of sacrifice and avoid future attacks we have got to take a hard look at what happened on january 6th. the decision-making that led up to that day and the decision-making that allowed the capitol to be breached and
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overrun. as the bipartisan media advisory announcing this joint hearing stated the purpose today is to examine the security failures that led to a breach of the capitol on january 6th, specifically the preparation and response efforts. there are key questions that have to be answered. first, some witnesses have suggested there was an intelligence failure. we need to know was there credible intelligence about potential violence, when was it known and who knew it? second, our witnesses have differing accounts about request for national guard assistance. we need to know, did the u.s. capitol police request approval to seek national guard assistance prior to january 6 and if so why was that request denied? we need to know was the request for national guard assistance on january 6 delayed and why, if that is true. and we need to know why it took so long for the national guard to arrive after their support was requested. third, the capitol was overtaken in a matter of hours. we need to know whether capitol
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police officers were properly trained and equipped to respond to an attack on the capitol and if not, why not? and we need to know why the capitol complex itself was so vulnerable and insecure that it could be so easily overrun. my hope is that today we get clear answers to these questions from our witnesses. we need to know what happened and how to ensure this never happens again. it's that simple. i will be listening carefully as i know my colleagues will to the testimony of the witnesses before us. these events on january 6 showed that while our democracy is resilient, our democracy at times will be challenged. we've got to be up to that challenge. that certainly includes securing this capitol. the citadel of democracy. that's something we can all agree on. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator portman. before i introduce the panel it's important that we hear from someone we all believed it was important that we hear from
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someone who was on the front lines that day and i'd like to recognize captain mendoza of the u.s. capitol police. captain mendoza has been a member of the capitol police for almost 19 years with 13 years of leadership experience. she currently serves as a field commander in the special operations division where her duties include acting as a field commander for significant security incidents. she has served in various divisions within the department including the command center, house division and senate division. before she joined the capitol police she served as an active duty soldier in the united states army and she has received various awards for her work, including her work on recovery efforts during the pentagon attack on 9/11. born and raised in missouri, senator blunt, captain mendoza graduated from park university with a bachelor of science in criminal justice administration, she has two children. on january 6 she rushed to the
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capitol when she heard that her fellow officers needed immediate help and assumed command in the rotunda as she and her colleagues fought to push pack the rioters and ultimately drive them out of the building. captain, thank you for sharing your story today. >> thank you. good morning. thank you for the opportunity to speak before the committee today and thank you all for your service to our country. my name is captain carneysha mend dpla and i've served with the capitol police for 19 years. i take a lot of pride in my job. prior to serving with the capitol police i served as an active duty soldier with the united states army. my last duty station was split between the pentagon and washington area criminal investigations division. i received various awards from the army and the capitol police to include an award for recovery efforts during the pentagon attack. unfortunately i didn't save any
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lives, but there are certain lessons that always stuck with me after 9/11. one of those lessons is knowing the unthinkable is always possible so be ready. so i always take my job very seriously as 9/11 is always in the back of my mind. with the capitol police i have served in various operational, administrative and collateral assignments, i'm currently serving as the captain in the special operations division where i have various responsibilities to include serving as a field commander and a field force commander for the civil servants unit. throughout my career i have responded to and managed various critical incidents and events from congressional and member security-related issues to shootings and armed carjackings. i have served as a cdu field force commander for multiple events including the november 14th million maga march. in my career i've been activated to work demonstrations with various controversial groups and i've been called some of the worst names so many times that
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i'm pretty numb to it now. as an agency we have trained for and handled numerous demonstrations. it's something we do on a regular basis and it's something i have always felt we have excelled at. during the million maga march multiple white supremacist groups to include the proud boys and others converged on the supreme court along with counter groups. the civil disturbance unit fought hard that day. physically breaking up fights and separating various groups. i literally woke up the next day unable to move due to the pain. on january 6th we anticipated an event similar to the million maga march that took place on november 14th where we would likely face groups fighting among one another. additional civil disturbance units were activated that day. i was working the evening shift and had planned to report in at 3:00 p.m. i was prepared to work a 16-hour shift and assume field force commander should the event continue into the evening and
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overnight shifts. it was approximately 1:30 in the afternoon i was home eating with my ten-year-old, spending time with him before what i knew would be a long day when a fellow captain contacted me and told me things were bad and that i needed to respond in. i literally dropped everything to respond to work that day early. i arrived within 15 minutes and i contacted dispatch to ask her what active scenes we had. i was advised things were pretty bad. i asked where assistance was needed and was advised of six active scenes. there was an explosive device at the democratic national committee building, a second explosive device at the republican national committee building and large hostile groups at different locations outside the capitol building. i advised the dispatcher i would respond to the dnc since that building was closest to where i was at the time. en route i heard officers at the capitol building calling for immediate assistance so i proceeded past the dnc to the
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capitol. as i arrived to the east front plaza of the capitol i heard an officer yell there was a breach at the rotunda door door and i heard various officers calling for assistance at multiple locations throughout the building. many of the doors to the building were not accessible due to the size of the crowd, i was able to enter a lower level door with the assistance of a capitol division officer. once inside the memorial door i immediately noticed a large crowd of possibly 200 rioters yelling in front of me. since i was alone i turned to go back so i could enter another door but within the few seconds it took me to walk back to the door i entered there were already countless rioters outside the building banging on the door. i had no choice but to proceed through the violent crowd in the building. i made my way through the crowd by yelling and pushing people out of my way until i saw capitol police civil disturbance units in riot gear in the hallway. they were holding the who will wai to keep rioters from
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penetrating deeper into the building. i immediately jumped in line with them to assist withholding the crowd of rioters. at some point my right arm got wedged between rioters and the railing along the way. a sergeant pulled my right arm free, had he not i'm certain it would have been broken. shortly after that an officer was pushed and fell to the floor, i assisted the officer to a safer location and got back in line. at some point the crowd breached the line officers worked so hard to maintain. civil disturbance units began to redeploy to keep rioters from accessing other areas of the building. i proceeded to the rotunda where i noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what i believed to be military-grade cs gas, a familiar smell. it was mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by rioters. the rioters continued to deploy cs into the rotunda. officers received a lot of gas exposure which is worse inside the building than outside because there's nowhere for it to go. i received chemical burns to my
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face that still have not healed to this day. i witnessed officers being knocked to the ground and hit with various objects that were thrown by rioters. i was unable to determine exactly what those objects were. i immediately assumed command in the rotunda and called for additional assets. officers began to push the crowd out the door after a couple hours officers cleared the rotunda, but had to physically hold the door closed because it had been broken by the rioters. officers begged me for relief as they were unsure how long they could physically hold the door closed with the crowd continuingly banging on the outside of the door attempt to go gain re-entry. eventually officers were able to secure the door with furniture and other objects. i'm proud of the officers i worked with on january 6th. they fought extremely hard. i know some said the battle lasted three hours but according to my fit bit i was in the exercise zone for four hours and nine minutes and many officers were in the fight even before i
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arrived. i'm extremely proud of the united states capitol police. i'm especially proud of the officers who were the backbone of this agency and carry out day-to-day operations. i know with teamwork we can move forward. the night of january 7th into the very early morning hours of my birthday, january 8th, i spent at the hospital comforting the family of our fallen officer and met with the medical examiner's office prior to working with fellow officers to facilitate a motorcade to transport officer sicknick from the hospital. of the multitude of events i've worked in my nearly 19-year career in the department this was by far the worst of the worst. we could have had ten times the amount of people working with us and i still believe the battle would have been just as devastating. as an american and as an army veteran it's sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens. i'm sad to see the unnecessary loss of life.
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i'm sad to see the impact this has had on capitol police officers and i'm sad to see the impact this has had on our agency and on our country. although things are still raw and moving forward will be a difficult process, i look forward to moving forward together as an agency and as a country. in closing, i want to honor chief sund's leadership. i served under his command as a watch commander for three years and was able to personally see his hard work and dedication. he was fully dedicated to united states capitol police and he cared about every employee on the department. i often hear employees on the department praise his leadership and his ability to inspire others. he has made a significant impact on our agency. thank you, chief. thank you. >> thank you very much, captain mendoza, for that beautiful statement and for your work on behalf of our country. i'm going to give you the bios
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on the other witnesses and then senator peters will swear them in. our first witness today is robert j. conte, acting chief of the metropolitan police department of the district of columbia, acting chief conte was sworn in as acting chief of the mpd on january 2nd of this year. he first joined the department in 1989 as a cadet after being sworn in he became a patrol officer before being promoted to lieutenant and leading the force's intelligence branch. in 2004 he was promoted to captain and put in charge of the violent crimes branch. after being promoted to second district commander he joined the special operations division. for the next decade acting chief conte served in multiple leadership roles with the mpd including as patrol chief of patrol services south where he oversaw several police digits. he was appointed as assistant chief of the investigative services bureau in march of 2018, acting chief conte is a graduate of d.c. schools and
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holds a bachelor degree in professional studies from the george washington university. acting chief conte grew up in the carver terrace community in northeast washington, d.c. our second witness today will be mr. steven a. sund. mr. sund served as chief of the u.s. capitol police from june of 2019 to january 16th of this year. mr. sund joined the capitol police in 2017 as assistant chief and chief of operations. prior to joining the uscp he spent nearly 25 years with the metropolitan police department where he started out as a patrol officer in 1990. from 1999 to 2006 he served as mpd's special operations division and helped plan several major events including the 2001 and 2005 presidential inaugurations. after joining the mpd's homeland security division he rose through the ranks to become
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commander of the special operations division in 2011. as commander of the special operations division he served as lead planner for both the 2009 and 2013 presidential inaugurations and many other national security special events. he received his bachelor and master of science degrees from johns hopkins and his master of arts in homeland security from the naval postgraduate school. our third witness will be mr. michael stenger, former senate sergeant-at-arms who served in that capacity from april of 2018 through january 7th of this year. he joined the senate in 2011 as assistant sergeant-at-arms for the office of protective services and continuity. he has also served as chief of staff of the sergeant-at-arms and as deputy sergeant-at-arms. prior to joining the sergeant-at-arms office he was a 35-year veteran of the united states secret service where he served in many roles including as the special agent in charge of the washington field office.
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immediately before joining the senate he served as assistant director of office of government and public affairs for the secret service. he graduated from fairleigh dickinson university, is also a veteran having attained the rank of captain in the u.s. marine corps. our final witness is mr. paul irving. mr. irving served as the agent at arms at the u.s. house of representatives from january of 2012 through january 7th of this year. he joined the united states secret service in 1983 after briefly served with the fbi. he served as head legal instructor for constitutional law and criminal procedure at the secret service training academy before joining the presidential protective division during the george h.w. bush and clinton administrations. following his white house service he served as the assistant director for congressional affairs, assistant director for government affairs, assistant director for homeland security and assistant director for administration for the secret service. he retired from the secret
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service in 2008 as assistant director and worked as a private security consultant until his appointment as house sergeant-at-arms in 2012. he is a graduate at the american university and wittier law school. i want to thank our witnesses for appearing voluntarily today and i look forward to your testimony. >> it is the practice of the homeland security and governmental affairs committee to swear in witnesses, so if the witnesses would stand, including those joining us virtually and raise your right hand. do you swear that the testimony you will give before this committee shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> i do. >> i do. >> thank you. you may all be seated. >> do you want to begin, then, chief conte?
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>> sure. good morning. chairman peters, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking members portman and blunt and members of the committee. i am robert j. conte iii the acting chief of police of the metropolitan police department. the primary police force in the district of columbia. i appreciate this opportunity to brief you on the events of january 6, 2021, a dark day for our country. i would like to begin by highlighting a few key facts to ensure the committee and the audience understand the very different roles of mayor muriel bowser and the district of columbia, including mpd and those of congressional and federal authorities. first, mpd is prohibited by federal law from entering the capitol or its grounds to patrol, make arrests or serve warrants without the consent or request of the capitol police board. second, the president of the united states not the mayor of the district of columbia
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controls the d.c. national guard. the scope of the request by the mayor must be limited to supporting the district's local jurisdiction and authority which excludes entities -- which excludes federal entities and property. third, since mayor bowser declared a public health emergency last march, the district has not issued permits for any large gatherings. although the district and mpd take pride in facilitating the exercise of first amendment rights by all groups regardless of their believes, none of the public gatherings on january 5th and 6th were issued permits by the city. on the morning of january 6th mpd was prepared to support our federal partners with a first amendment assembly that was held primarily on federal land while continuing to patrol and respond to calls for service throughout d.c. based on our experience with prior demonstrations after the election, we recognize that there was a possibility of
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violence, especially after dark and smaller groups of protesters gather wd malicious intent on our city streets. to be clear, available intelligence pointed to a large presence of some of the same groups that had contributed to violence in the city after demonstrations in november and december. the district had intelligence indicating the potential for violent actions in the streets of the district of columbia. in preparation for the anticipated demonstrations and the possibility of violence on city streets, mpd was fully deployed on 12-hour shifts the week of january 4th with days off and leave canceled. at mayor bowser's request several area police departments were on stand by in d.c. and more than 300 members of the national guard were deployed on district streets providing traffic control and other services. however, these resources were
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barely enough to counter an event that had never happened in the history of the united states. a mob of thousands of american citizens launching a violent assault on the u.s. capitol. the seat of our government. in an attempt to halt the counting of the electoral ballots, an essential step in the peaceful transfer of power in our nation. the mob sustained assault on the capitol precipitated an equally unprecedented response with then capitol police chief steve sund issuing an urgent request for mpd to come assist in defending the capitol. needless to say, when we received the call for help, mpd responded immediately. within minutes our members arrived at a chaotic scene, the violent mob had overran protective measures at the capitol in an attempted insurrection prior to the arrival of mpd officers at the west front. our objectives were to, one, stop the rioters from entering the capitol building and remove
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those that were already inside. two, secure a perimeter so that the capitol could be cleared for lawmakers. three, enable congress to resume their sessions to demonstrate to our country and to the world that our democracy was still intact. and lastly, once the third objective had been accomplished, begin making arrests of anyone violating the law. at 2:22 p.m. a call was convened with, among others, myself, leadership of the u.s. capitol police, the national guard and the department of the army. i was surprised at the reluctance to immediately send the national guard to the capitol grounds. in the meantime, by 2:30 p.m., the district had requested additional officers from as far away as new jersey and issued notice of an emergency citywide curfew beginning at 6:00 p.m. from that point it took another three and a half hours until all
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rioters were removed from the capitol. 90 minutes later at 8:00 p.m. congress was able to resume its critical work and fulfill its constitutional duty. over the course of january the 6th and into the early morning of the 7th approximately 1,100 mpd members responded to the capitol. at least 65 mpd members sustained injuries. five people lost their lives on january the 6th. as we reflect on that dark day we offer our condolences to all of the grieving families. in closing, i appreciate the opportunity to highlight the heroism of mpd officers who put their lives on the line to protect the capitol, congress and our democracy, but to ensure the continued safety of the district and everyone in it we must be frank in looking at several critical issues. this assault on the capitol has exposed weaknesses in the
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security of the most secure city in the country. the federal police forces in d.c. will be reexamining their security protocols given the risk of both foreign and domestic terrorism. as the chief of the district's municipal police force i must think about our preparations not only for possible attacks, but the daily impact of the changing operations of our federal partners as they harden targets in the federal enclave other buildings in the city under mpd jurisdiction may become more likely targets. this concludes my testimony. i am happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much. mr. sund? >> good morning, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member blunt, chairman peters and ranking member portman. thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify before your two committees regarding
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the attack on the united states capitol that occurred january 6th. i have been in policing for almost 30 years. the events i witnessed on january 6th was the worst attack on law enforcement and our democracy that i have seen in my entire career. i witnessed insurgents beating police officers with fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades and flag poles. these criminals came prepared for war. they came with their own radio system to coordinate the attack and climbing gear and other equipment to defeat the capitol's security features. i am sickened by what i witnessed that day. our officers fought valiantly using batons, shields, chemical munitions and pepper ball guns to hold back the attackers. capitol police and responding law enforcement agencies showed tremendous restraint by not using their firearms which would have likely led to a more chaotic situation and possible mass casualty incident. no law enforcement agency to
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include the united states capitol police is trained or equipped to repel an insurrection of thousands of individuals focused on breaching a building at all costs. i am extremely proud and appreciative of the capitol police officers, the metropolitan police department and the other law enforcement agencies that came to our assistance. a clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event and not poor planning by the united states capitol police. we rely on accurate information from our federal partners to help us develop effective security plans. the intelligence that we based our planning on indicated that the january 6th protests were expected to be similar to the previous maga rallies in 2010 which drew tens of thousands of participants. the assessment indicated that members of the proud boys, white supremacist groups antifa and other extremist groups were expected to participate on january 6th and that they may be inclined to become violent. based on the intelligence that we received we planned for an
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increased level of violence at the capitol and that some participants may be armed. but none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred. extensive preparations were put into place for january 6th that included the full activation of the department, intelligence and information sharing with our federal and local partners and department officials. implementing a significant enhancement for member protection, extensive operational enhancements to include significant civil disobedience deployment and an expanded perimeter. we also distributed additional protective equipment for our officers and coordinated outside agency support. as recent as tuesday, january 5th 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 d.c., no entity including the fbi provided any new intelligence regarding january 6th. it should be also noted that the
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secretary of homeland security did not issue an elevated or eminent alert in reference to the events at the united states capitol on january 6th. we properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence. what we got was a military style coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the capitol building. i know that the images we saw of the officers battling for their lives and the vashls on national tv had a profound effect on the nation. the capitol police did everything we could based on the intelligence and resoars toss pre for this event. while my officers were fighting my post was in the command center coordinating resources from numerous agencies around the national capitol region to provide needed support. i was also briefing the two sergeants-at-arms and accountability for incoming resources. as capitol police and outside resources began to reestablish the security perimeter, i responded to the capitol building to personally evaluate the situation and brief the
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sergeant-at-arms and leadership. i acknowledge that under the pressure of an unprecedented attack a number of systems broke down. one of the reported issues described by officers was a lack of clear communications and directions directions from officials. it appears the established incident command nor the alcohol building was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation and as officials battled insurrections as opposed to directing the response. there have been reports that some officers may have felt confused or let down during the attack. as an official who cares as much about my colleagues nothing is more painful to me. these issues must be addressed in training, policies and procedures. our best efforts were not enough to stop this unprecedented assault on the capitol. casting blame on the capitol police leadership is not only misplaced but minimizes what occurred that day.
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the focus going forward needs to be on the effort to improve intelligence and coordination of security measures between all involved agencies. hopefully this will be part of the focus of an independent after action committee to look at all aspects of the january attack on our nation's capitol. in closing i want to recognize the heroic efforts of the capitol police officers who january 6th outnumbered and against the odds successfully carried out their mission to protect the members of congress and the legislative process. i couldn't have been more proud to be part of their team and the uscp mission. i'm available to answer any questions you may have. thank you. >> thank you, mr. sudden. mr. stenger. >> chairwoman klobuchar, chairman peters, ranking member blunt, ranking member portman. the national capital region is a unique environment for law
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enforcement. the u.s. capitol police in conjunction with the sergeant at arms worked to provide the security of the capitol complex and its population. but there is a shared responsibility with other law enforcement groups within the region. the sharing of information and resources is paramount for success. once assuming a position of the senate sergeant at arms, enhancement of the working relationship between my office and the u.s. capitol police had been a priority. i am a proponent of the concept of intelligence led policing. this methodology can be used in assessing threats to individual members as well as threats to the campus. as in all intelligence operations it's only as good as the analyst assessing it and that assessment is placed in the appropriate hands to mitigate any threats. we have to be careful of returning to a time when possibility rather than probability drives a security plan. though the events of january 4th reveal that a review of intelligence should be done,
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returning to the concept of possibility driving security operations may result in poor use of resources. this is the constant give and take of security planning. there is an opportunity to learn lessons from the events of january 4th. investigations should be considered as to the funding and travel and what appears to be professional agitators. first amendment rights should always be considered in conjunction with these investigations. the law enforcement coordination and the national capitol region should be reviewed to determine what can be done in a more efficient and productive manner. intelligence collection and dissemination, training and concepts on the use of force must be consistent. this integration should be accomplished without regard to self-interest and cost. in conclusion, whatever you prepare for a major event, you must always consider the possibility of some level of civil disobedience at these
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demonstrations and plan accordingly. the events of january 4th went beyond disobedience. it was a wild, coordinated attack with the loss of life that could have been much worse. this concludes my prepared remarks. >> thank you, mr. stenger. mr. irving. >> chairman peters, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member portman, ranking member blunt and distinguished members of the committees, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. there has been a lot of press reporting about me, not all of it accurate, and i appreciate the opportunity to address some of that today. my name is paul irving and i served as the sergeant at arms for the house of representatives for the past nine years. serving in that role was one of the great honors of my life and i counted it a privilege to work with speakers from both political parties, including speaker boehner, speaker ryan and speaker pelosi.
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i'm a law enforcement officer by training. my professional career started 40 years ago as an intern at the department of justice. i worked on two presidential details and rose to the rank of assistant director. like you, i am profoundly saddened by the events of january 4 isth. the world witnessed horrific acts of violence and destruction carried out by our own citizens against a global symbol of democracy, our seat of government. i am saddened by the loss of life which included three officers. my heart goes out to all the families that lost a loved one. we began planning for the protests of january 4th in 2020. the planning relied on what we understood to be intelligence provided by various state and federal agencies, including a special event assessment issued
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by the capitol police on january 3rd. the january 3rd assessment forecast that protests were, quote, expected to be similar to the previous million maga march rallies that had taken flas november and december 2020. lefr capitol police daily intelligence report between january 4 and 6, including on january 6th, forecast the chance of civil disobedience or arrests during the protests as remote to improbable. i relied on that intelligence when overseeing the security plan put forth by chief sunday. the chief's plan took on an all hands on deck approach where every available sworn capitol police employee was assigned to work on january 4th. that meant approximately 1200 capitol police officers were on-site including disturbance units and other tactical teams. i understood 125 national guard troops are on notice to be standing by for a quick
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response. the metropolitan police department was also on 12-hour shifts with no officers on day off or leave and staged officers north of the capitol to provide immediate assistance if required. the plan was briefed to multiple law enforcement partners. based on the intelligence we all believed that the plan met the threat and that we were prepared. we now know that we had the wrong plan. as one of the senior security leaders responsible for the event, i am accountable for that. i accept that responsibility and as you know, i have resigned my position. much has been said about whether optics affected my judgment in a january 4 telephone call with chief sudden and senate sergeant at arms stenger about a national guard offer to incorporate national guard troops into the security plan. the guards' purpose would have been to work traffic control near the capitol. my use of the word optics has
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been mischaracterized in the media. let me be clear, optics as portrayed in the media played no role whatsoever in my decisions about security and any suggestion to the contrary is false. safety was always paramount when making security plans for january 6th. we did discuss whether the intelligence warranted troops at the capitol. the judgment was no, the intelligence did not warrant that. if the chief or any other security leader expressed doubt about our readiness without the national guard, i would not have hesitated to request them. chief sund, the sergeant at arms and i were confident and i did whatever i could to ensure that the chief had the support needed to prepare and execute the plan. on january 6th when asked for authorization to request national guard assistance i
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approved it. there are important lessons to be learned from january 6th. i commend the committees for conducting the proactive review of the events leading up to and on january 6th. i want to help the staff and members make changes and improvements and ensure the tragedies of january 6th never occur again and look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you very much. we'll now begin questioning. i want to start out just to clear up one thing by just asking all of our witnesses, yes/no question. based on what we know now, including the recent department of justice indictment, do you agree that there is now clear evidence that supports the conclusion that january 6th insurrection was planned and was a coordinated attack on the u.s. capitol? everyone agree? >> yes. >> okay. would you agree that this attack involved white supremacists and
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extremist groups? >> yes. >> yes. >> would you agree that this was a highly dangerous situation which was horrific but could have been worse without the courage of the officers that you commanded? >> yes. >> okay. so now let's look at what we knew leading up to it or what you knew leading up to it or people that worked for you knew leading up to it. we knew leading up to it, leading up to january 6th, president trump sent nationwide tweets telling people to come to washington on january 6th and saying, be there, it will be wild. according to public reporting by "the washington post" the fbi's norfolk field office issued a threat report on january 5th that detailed specific calls for violence online in connection with january 6th, including that protesters, quote, be ready to fight, end quote, and quote, go there ready for war,


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