tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC February 23, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
on this network, at that level of play, minute he wakes up, people want things from him. that will never go away. and starting tonight, a new wave of public interest now begins. it will be about the recovery of tiger woods. we will all watch and be members of the gallery for this one. all of us having learned never bet against tiger woods. we join his family and friends in wishing for a strong recovery. that's our broadcast for tuesday night with our thanks for being with us. on behalf of all my colleagues at networks of nbc news, good night. a lot to get to this hour after what has been a really busy day in washington. lots of movement on president biden's cabinet nominees, on the covid relief effort. one of those days where it seems like you're trying to watch a dozen different story lines at once. the major event of the day at the u.s. capitol, still under
lockdown, surrounded by national guard troops in the wake of the january 6th attack on the capitol, today was the first investigation. the first congressional hearing into what happened that day. what went wrong at the capitol on january 6th that allowed the pro trump violent mob to storm the capitol building, interrupt the certification of the election, and come within just steps of the lawmakers in the building that day, whose blood the mob was crowing for. today, two senate committees took testimony from the officials in charge of the capitol security that day. i shuld tell you, we're going to speak to the chairs of both of those committees this hour. the witnesses at today's hearing were the acting chief of the d.c. metropolitan police who took over that job just four days before the january 6th attack. as well as three officials who resigned in the immediate aftermath of the attack. the former head of the capitol police, the former senate
sergeant at arms, the former house sergeant at arms. it was interesting, and it was kind of a surprise the way it unfolded. before they started questioning the announced witnesses, the chair of the rules committee, senator of minnesota amy klobuchar who will join us in a moment, she announced what was in fact a surprise guest. senator klobuchar said the committees thought it was important to hear from someone who was on the front lines. on the violent front lines defending the capitol on january 6th. she introduced captain mendoza, a member of the u.s. capitol police for 19 years. prior to that she was an active duty soldier in the u.s. army. captain mendoza gave a riveting and terrifying account of her day at work on january 6th. >> it was approximately 1:30 in the afternoon. i was home eating with my 10-year-old, spending time with him before what i knew would be
a long day. a fellow captain contacted me and said things were bad and i needed to respond. 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 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 hallway to keep rioters from 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 wall. 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 different 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. they 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 face that have not healed to this day. i witnessed officers being knocked to the ground and hit
with various objects 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 unclear how long they could physically hold the door closed with the crowd continually banging on the outside of the door attempting to gain reentry. eventually officers were able to secure the door with furniture and other objects. 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 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 years in the department, this was by far the worst of the worst. >> this was by far the worst of the worst. u.s. capitol police captain. speaking today again, as i mentioned, this was an unannounced guest. a surprise witness at today's hearing. captain carneysha mendoza, a 19-year veteran of the capitol police. that is how today's hearing kicked off. searing testimony from that officer on the scene on january 6, talking about, spending time with the family of an officer killed in the attack. talking about her officers coming to her as a commander on the scene seeking relief as they physically tried to hold broken doors shut to keep the crowd at bay. that testimony formed the set, the back drop for today's hearing. remember how bad this thing was. worst of the worst.
and then with that understanding fresh in our minds, let us try to get to the bottom of how it happened. here's one theory of what happened that day. you might think the attack on the capitol was carried out by supporters of former president trump. you might think that because they carried giant flags that said trump and because they chanted things like fight for trump as they stormed the capitol after a rally in which they were incited to do so by president trump. you might think that white supremacists and other extremist groups were responsible for some of the violence that day because members of those groups have been arrested and charges since the ensuing attack and because all the witnesses at today's hearing, one after another, all uniformly confirmed that white supremacist and extremist groups were among those that attacked the capitol. but republican senator ron johnson of wisconsin had a a wildly different take. he used his few minutes of question time today to muse aloud and read a right wing blog
post into the senate record about how the whole capitol attack on january 6th was actually carried out by anti-trump protesters. you see, all the people who committed all the violence that day, they were faking being trump supporters when they really weren't. it was secretly anti-trump people who dressed up as pro trump people. like an elaborate holiday pageant. yes. everything was all very festive, as senator johnson described it, until these anti-trump provocateurs in costume started a riot. this is not like a guy heckling. ron johnson was the chairman of the homeland security committee. when republicans ran the senate, they made him chairman. homeland security. gee, gosh, i don't know, have you considered that maybe this whole thing was a clever costumed stunt by president trump's opponents? have you considered that? i read a blog about it once on
the tweeter. the democrats now are on the running the senate. amy klobuchar runs the rules committee. she was one of those running the hearing today. she said this later after the close of the hearing. pointedly. she said, quote, as our hearing concludes, i want to make one thing clear. provocateurs did not storm the capitol. they were not fake trump protesters. the mood on january 6th was not festive. that is disinformation. disinformation that was spread by senator ron johnson of wisconsin at this hearing. and while he used his time on spread that disinformation, his democratic successor who is the new chair of homeland security, michigan senator gary peters will also join us tonight. he spent his day today trying to run, you can, an actual hearing with questions and useful information that advances our understanding of what happened on the 6th. >> what did you see that leads
you to believe that this was a coordinated attack? >> one, these people came specifically with equipment you bring climbing gear to a demonstration, you bring explosives, you bring chemicals such as what captain mendoza talked about. coming prepared. the fact the group that attacked our west front 20 minutes, approximately 20 minutes before the event at the ellipse ended, which means they were planning on our agency not being at full strength. watching other events. okay, that event is ending. get on post. going to be marching our way, knowing we may not be at full strength at that time. also the fact, and we were dealing with two pipe bombs that were specifically set right off the edge of our perimeter to what i suspect draw resources away. i think there was a significant coordination with this attack. >> clearly here we have a coordinated attack. all of you saw this immediately. i can imagine the conversations with the national guard. and chief, you were stunned by the tepid response.
can you clarify that and tell us how the conversations went? >> there was a phone call that was convened between several officials. chief sund was on the call, literally pleading. there were several army officials on the call. i don't know them all by name. several officials from district government were on the stage. chief simons was pleading for the deployment. national guard. in response to that, there was not an immediate yes, the national guard is responding, yes, the national guard is on the way, yes, the national guard are being restaged from traffic posts to respond. the response was more asking about the plan, what was the plan for the national guard. the response was more focused on, in addition to the plan, the optics, about how this looks with boots on the ground on the capitol. and my response to that was simply, i was just stunned.
i have officers out there literally fighting for their lives. we're kind of going through what seems like an exercise to check the boxes and it was not an immediate response. >> one of the things still unclear, all these weeks after the capitol attack, why there was this apparent lack of urgency at the pentagon that day. why the pentagon seemed to not get what they were being asked to do and why. why didn't they immediately respond when they got these urgent calls about the need for the national guard to come supplant the defense of the capitol while the attack was under way, while the violence was in fact heading toward its apex. this is a call taking place at the 2:00 hour as the capitol is being overrun. they're being begged to send in the national guard. the response as the chief just said, was not an immediate yes. yes, the national guard is responding. yes, the national guard is on the way. one thing that did not come up in today's hearing but has still
not been explained about that desperate phone call the d.c. police described, that the pentagon initially lied about one of the military officers who was on that call. the "washington post" reporting last month that after trump's disgraced national security adviser mike flynn told president trump he should use military force and martial law to seize power despite the election results, mike flynn's brother was at the pentagon and on that call. the call where the pentagon allegedly slow walked approving deploying the national guard. mike flynn's brother, lieutenant general charles flynn, has denied that his relationship with his brother was any sort of factor in the response to the capitol attack. but the army has not explained why they repeatedly lied when they insisted multiple times that general flynn's brother had nothing to do with that decision, not in on the meeting,
that he was not on the call when in fact he was. so to have one of the central figures in the president's election conspiracy, the qanon conspiracy, one of the central figures promoting the disaster that was january 6th, to have his brother involved in the inexplicable pentagon decision on january 6th to not send the national guard to help the overrun capitol police, that seems like something we should learn more about. we need to learn a lot more about the pentagon's lack of a response when they were being begged to respond in real-time. at the end of today's hearing, senator klobuchar, chair of the rules committee, summed up a number of things that we learned from today's hearing. there should be changes to requests from capitol police, how changes are approved when they need resources, better intelligence sharing between agencies, some security changes are needed at the capitol building, the use of the national guard needs to be examined, how approval is made once troops are requested. she summed up what happened at
this hearing, which was very helpful after this dense hearing, especially because it is the first one that looks at what happened january 6th. as soon as the hearing was over, senator klobuchar announced there will be another hearing next week. a second one. that will include pentagon officials to get to the bottom of among other things, what happened. when the call came in for the national guard and the answer was basically, no, it was de facto no for hours. so today's hearing was finally something and it was something. it was also just the beginning. joining us now is senator amy klobuchar, the chair of the rules committee in the united states senate. one of the two committees that oversaw today's hearing. it's been a really long day. thank you for being here tonight. >> thanks for including captain mendoza's testimony at the beginning. that was so important. >> i can't hear her. >> okay. hold on. >> now i'm lost in space and nobody can hear me at all. all right. this is one of those moments
when i'm going to call an audible. we are going to ask senator klobuchar to stand by. these are our technical difficulties, i believe. not hers. we'll take a quick break and we'll be right back with senator klobuchar and senator peters, the two senators who chaired this hearing today on the attack on january 6th. we'll be right back. instantly clear every day congestion with vicks sinex saline nasal mist. for drug free relief that works fast. vicks sinex. instantly clear everday congestion. >> woman: what's my safelite story? >> vo: my car is more than four wheels. it's my after-work decompression zone. so when my windshield broke... >> woman: what?! >> vo: ...i searched for someone who really knew my car. i found the experts at safelite autoglass. with their exclusive technology, they fixed my windshield... then recalibrated the camera attached to my glass so my safety systems still work. who knew that was a thing?! >> woman: safelite has service i can trust. >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace. ♪
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gremlins and that will mean i may be able to hear senator amy klobuchar, the chair of the senate rules committee when we bring her on. if not, i'm out of here. forget it. thank you for your patience. i appreciate it. >> no problem at all. very good. i was just saying earlier, i was so glad -- >> yeah. >> captain mendoza's testimony, which is so important to the story, all the front line officers, you know, your point is what i really wanted to stress is that we need solutions here. you can just throw popcorn at the screen all you want at these hearings. if we don't get solutions out of it, we haven't accomplished anything. despite ron johnson's craziness and despite his literally refusal to believe what everyone knows, that there was an armed insurrection at the capitol, most of the senators treated the
witnesses with respect. they asked the questions. and gary peters, who i know you'll hear from today and i both decided we want this to be a bipartisan constructive hearing and it was. >> senator, one of the things that i found, not baffling but sort of increasingly frustrating, was the ongoing discussions and in some cases, contentious discussions, about who had what intelligence in advance of january 6th, and to what degree there were specific warning that's this could potentially be a violent event. i know there is a lot to sort out but i thought you bottom lined it very well by saying, listen, whatever exactly happened here between different agencies, and between different intelligence silos here and things falling between groups and people not finding out what they're supposed to find out, the bottom line is that this is not a system set up to anticipate and handle a crisis. i do feel like we're splitting hairs in terms of how violent
everybody knew things would be. looking at public source intelligence, a lot of people paying any amount of attention thought there was a good chance of any violence. are not we getting too bogged down in terms of who got what report when? >> i think we want to get the facts so we can improve the process. the two main things, january 3rd, they had an internal report with the capitol police that they should have listened to that reported thousands of people were descending on washington. the big one was january 5th, the night before, fbi emails from the norfolk office, they e-mailed a report that there's evidence that there are people showing up who want to go to war. who want to invade the capitol. and we just find out today that the chief only found out about it in the last few days, that the sergeant at arms had not seen it. you can't just press send at night. they also on their end had to have a way to see these reports
so that's concerning. here are the things we talked about. one, better process on the intelligence. obviously. two, as you point out, why did the national guard take so long, will be our number one question at the department of defense at our hearing next week. the third thing is that this police chief reports to what is called a capitol police board which is three people, two of whom are the sergeant at arms. so i want you to picture, they're there guarding their members, trying to get them to secure locations. the police chief calls them because of the process in place to see if he can call in the national guard. i think anyone that heard that, republican, democrat, anyone watching knows we have to change that process. so there are some concrete things we can do in addition to figuring out how we use the national guard going forward. they were at the capitol for years after 9/11 in a smart way, how we change the security while still preserving the nature of
the public nature of the capitol. when we are through this pandemic, we want student groups to come and we want veterans groups and people to visit the capitol so we can't lose the public nature of the capitol. it won't be business as usual when it come to the security. >> i know that decision making process at the pent begun, the call with request for help from the national guard, and the muddled and slow response is going to be the subject of the next hearing that you are going to convene on this right away next week. and i'm really glad to hear that. i have to ask, in terms of the investigation that you all have done thus far, what you've learned including at today's hearing, is there any indication, any reason to worry that there may have been essentially influence on the pentagon side in terms of showing down the response? in terms of not allowing national guard troops to come in and back stop the police who are getting so overrun?
was there any effort to try to let this riot run its course in a way that is going to be not just a tragedy but a scandal? >> i don't know the answer to that question. i hope that would not be true. we do know, i think it was mitch mcconnell who called president trump's actions that day disgraceful and a dereliction of duty. we know that he wasn't making those calls to bring the national guard in. it was vice president pence, it was the leaders of congress on both sides of the aisle. so we have no idea what actually went into that delay. one thing i would add is if you want to get the national guard deployed, some of this should have also occurred the night before, the day before that, and that also was messed up on many sides. so there are so many things that we can do and we all saw the horror as pointed out by jamie raskin and the house managers. that was a big part of the
historical record, that impeachment hearing. now it's on us to improve the security at the capitol, and to figure out exactly what went wrong. and i was actually pleased that we got these witnesses, three of whom have resigned from their positions in the wake of what happened to come voluntarily and answer questions in a respectful manner. i don't think anyone thought we would pull it off but we believe that the public needed to know what happened, and the only way this is helpful for people is if we go forward with solutions. that's the next step. >> on that chain of command question, the decision making question, do you anticipate that you'll ask vice president pence or his staff to come in and testify about their role at any point? >> right now we're focused on the fbi, homeland security and the defense department. because they have not come in and testified about this yet. this was the first hearing in the senate after the impeachment trial so that's what we're focused on.
i think part of what, and i spent that evening with vice president pence because as senator blunt pointed out at the hearing today, at 4:00 in the morning, it was just vice president pence and senator blunt and myself walking with those two young women with the mahogany box, with the ballots, over to the house where speaker pelosi was waiting so we could finish our jobs. and i've talked to him about this directly but haven't asked him that. i think we have to look at these in a lot of different tracks. our job now is to look at the domestic terrorism and figure out solutions. the judiciary committee will be going at it in a big way and christopher wray will be testifying next week before the judiciary committee. then finally, major investigations going on in the justice department. already, people charged and i think you heard merrick garland
heartfully about speak about how important this is for him and all of this by the way is going on while we must do our other work. get the people confirmed and also, for joe biden's cabinet, and also, see that light at the end of the tunnel getting through this pandemic. and we have a very solemn ceremony today for the 500,000 americans that have lost their lives. i'm so proud this new administration, it was just announced, up 70% from when joe biden came in with the number of the vaccines that they've sent out to the states. there is a lot going on here as you point out every night. we still have to make sure that this temple of democracy is safe. >> senator amy klobuchar, the chair of the rules committee that convened the first hearing today on the events of 1/6 at the capitol. thank you for your time, thank you for your forbearance with our gremlins there. i really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> all right. much more ahead. as i mentioned, the head of the committee of homeland security gary peters
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hearing, i actually asked the chief of police, the metro d.c.a police, he was on that call and he said he was shocked by the tepid response by the department of the army when they were pleading for help to have the national guard.or he said the response coming back from the army official is, well, what are your plans? when it should be, we will be there. we will send folks to you right away. that didn't happen. it shocked the chief of police of the metro d.c. police force that that was the response that they were getting, we're going to ask those questions. we're going to have someone froe the department of defense at our hearing next week. but we're also going to need tot look at the broader issue, al something i have been focussed on over the last couple of years and plan to focus intently on now as the chair of the homeland security committee. this is the rise of domestic terrorism, of white
supremacists, of antigovernment groups. we saw it firsthand in michigan unfortunately with a group that was plotting to kidnap our governor and s perhaps kill her. we saw folks descend on our capitol and the state of michigan heavily armed.ar this is a very concerning development. it is getting worse.t. we have to treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. we know that we need to get more intelligence on what these groups are up to and make sure that we disrupt any type of re plots they may have to attack government buildings and m officials, innocent folks, nt whatever it may be, we need to be better prepared to deal with domestic terrorism, and that will be a big part of what we er talk about next week. certainly we saw evidence of that on the capitol grounds where groups came. in fact, we heard in testimony today that there were folks that were engaged in military type operations on that ground trying to create even more chaos and perhaps capturing members of congress to kidnap them. this is serious business.
we have to treat it seriously. it was not treated seriously by the previous administration. in fact, you could argue it was encouraged. that's got to stop. we're going to take those steps going forward. >> senator gary peters of michigan, chair of the homeland security committee with a ch mission statement there that is frankly good to hear, sir. thank you very much, god speed. thanks. we'll be right back. stay with us.uc
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that's going to do it for us tonight. we're expecting another busy news day tomorrow. we will find out if democrats are going to be able to move an advance, a rise in the minimum wage through a process that means they will only need 50 votes in the senate, which might mean it would pass as opposed to needing republicans to side with them. we're also expecting to see the man who donald trump put in charge of the post office for the purpose of breaking it. we will see him tomorrow for a house oversight committee. should be lots of fireworks. that starts tomorrow morning.
it will be a busy day tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> and the control room reliably informs me you have been struggling with audio hours throughout the hour that you have brilliantly masked and not let the audience know about. but i know about it. therefore, rachel, the only things you are going to hear so if you did not get all of your questions answered today in the senate hearing about the insurrection on january 6th, then our first guest tonight is your next best hope because our first guest tonight will be chairing the next hearing on t this in the house of representatives.