Capitol Breach
Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs & Senate Rules and Administration joint hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to examine the January 6th attack on the Capitol. (Erin Scott/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
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Capitol defenders blame bad intelligence for deadly breach

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By MARY CLARE JALONICK, MICHAEL BALSAMO and LISA MASCARO

Faulty intelligence was to blame for the outmanned Capitol defenders' failure to anticipate the violent mob that invaded the iconic building and halted certification of the presidential election on Jan 6, the officials who were in charge of security declared Tuesday in their first public testimony on the insurrection.

The officials, including the former chief of the Capitol Police, pointed their fingers at various federal agencies — and each other — for their failure to defend the building as supporters of then-President Donald Trump overwhelmed security barriers, broke windows and doors and sent lawmakers fleeing from the House and Senate chambers. Five people died as a result of the riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to enter the House chamber with lawmakers still inside.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned under pressure after the attack, and the other officials said they had expected the protests to be similar to two pro-Trump events in late 2020 that were far less violent.

He said he hadn’t seen an FBI field office report that warned of potential violence citing online posts about a “war.” And he and a House official disputed each other's versions of decisions that January day and in advance about calling for the National Guard.

Sund described a scene as the mob arrived at the perimeter that was “like nothing” he had seen in his 30 years of policing and argued that the insurrection was not the result of poor planning by Capitol Police but of failures across the board.

The hearing was the first of many examinations of what happened that day, coming almost seven weeks after the attack and over a week after the Senate voted to acquit Trump of inciting the insurrection by telling his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat. Fencing and National Guard troops still surround the Capitol in a wide perimeter, cutting off streets and sidewalks that are normally full of cars, pedestrians and tourists.

Sund insisted the invasion was not his or his agency's fault.

“No single civilian law enforcement agency – and certainly not the USCP – is trained and equipped to repel, without significant military or other law enforcement assistance, an insurrection of thousands of armed, violent, and coordinated individuals focused on breaching a building at all costs,” he testified.

The joint hearing, part of an investigation by two Senate committees, was the first time the officials testified publicly about the events of Jan. 6. In addition to Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, testified.

Like Sund, Irving and Stenger resigned under pressure after the deadly attack. They were Sund’s supervisors and in charge of security for the House and Senate.

“We must have the facts, and the answers are in this room," Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar said at the beginning of the hearing. The Rules panel is conducting the joint probe with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Much remains unknown about what happened before and during the assault. How much did law enforcement agencies know about plans for violence that day, many of which were public? How did the agencies share that information with each other? And how could the Capitol Police have been so ill-prepared for a violent insurrection that was organized online?

Sund told the lawmakers that he learned only after the attack that his officers had received a report from the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, that forecast, in detail, the chances that extremists could bring “war” to Washington the following day. The head of the FBI’s office in Washington has said that once he received the Jan. 5 warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through a joint terrorism task force.

Sund said Tuesday that an officer on the task force had received that memo and forwarded it to a sergeant working on intelligence for the Capitol Police but that the information was not sent on to other supervisors.

“How could you not get that vital intelligence?” asked Senate Homeland Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., who said the failure of the report to reach the chief was clearly a major problem.

“That information would have been helpful,” Sund acknowledged.

Even without the intelligence, there were clear signs that violence was a possibility on Jan. 6. Far-right social media users openly hinted for weeks that chaos would erupt at the U.S. Capitol while Congress convened to certify the election results.

Sund said he did see an intelligence report created within his own department warning that Congress could be targeted on Jan. 6. But he said that report assessed the probability of civil disobedience or arrests, based on the information they had, as “remote” to “improbable” for the groups expected to demonstrate.

Contee, the acting city police chief, also suggested that no one had flagged the FBI information from Norfolk, Virginia, which he said came in the form of an email. He said he would have expected that kind of intelligence “would warrant a phone call or something. ”

Two officials disagreed on when the National Guard was called and on requests for the guard beforehand. Sund said he spoke to both Stenger and Irving about requesting the National Guard in the days before the riot, and that Irving said he was concerned about the “optics” of having them present.

Irving denied that, saying Sund's account was “categorically false.” Safety, not optics, determined the security posture, he said, and the top question was whether intelligence supported the decision.

“We all agreed the intelligence did not support the troops and collectively decided to let it go,” Stenger said. He added that they were satisfied at the time that there was a "robust" plan to protect Congress.

After smashing through the barriers at the perimeter, the invaders engaged in hand-to-hand combat with police officers, injuring dozens of them, and broke into the building.

Once the violence had begun, Sund and Irving also disagreed on when the National Guard was requested — Sund said he requested it at 1:09 p.m., but Irving said he didn’t receive a request until after 2 p.m., right as rioters breached the Capitol's West side.

Contee said he was “stunned” over the delayed response. He said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Police officers “were out there literally fighting for their lives” but the officials on the call appeared to be going through a ”check the boxes” exercise, he said.

Pentagon officials, who will have a chance to testify before the committee at a second hearing next week, have said it took time to put the troops in position, and there was not enough contingency planning in advance. They said they offered the assistance beforehand but were turned down.

Klobuchar said after the hearing that the next police chief should have greater ability to make decisions both leading up to and during a crisis, and the Rules panel could consider such legislation once the investigation is completed. The current structure “clearly needs some reform,” she said.

Congress is also considering a bipartisan, independent commission, and multiple congressional committees have said they will look at different aspects of the siege. Federal law enforcement has arrested more than 230 people who were accused of being involved in the attack, and President Joe Biden's nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, said in his confirmation hearing Monday that investigating the riot would be a priority.

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35 Comments

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What was known before the Trump mob attacked the capitol in their attempt to steal the election for their Trump must be made public.

Trump and his Republicans undermined the bits of trust many Americans had in intelligence agencies. Trump supporters came to trust reports from the Kremlin and Qanon instead of intelligence agencies. Trump was the most UNpopular president in US history for many reasons. Yet the Republicans still back him.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

If the findings show Trump and his bureaucrats are still in fact hiding truths to protect Trump, and Trump and his bureaucrats did actually have roles in allowing the Trump mobs to get as far as they did, it’s still doubtful Trump’s faithful will believe those facts. 

Trump and his Republicans continue to pit their minority of anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian backers against the majority of Americans who want to see the republic remain intact, not splinter so a leader can more easily push it to become another Russia or China.

The Republican Party is aware it cannot win the White House without allowing Qanon, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and the dozens of other far right, white nationalist groups (i.e. the people who did attack the capitol for Trump) into its ‘tent’.

Expect to see Trump Republicans dismiss facts showing Trump’s involvement in the capitol attack. Expect Trump Republicans to deflect responsibility away.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Bad intelligence and one very, very bad president.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

We could just blame the rioters for rioting and leave it at that.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

We could just blame the rioters for rioting and leave it at that.

You could, no doubt. For those with a reasonable level of intelligence and sense of accountability, let’s not leave it at that.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

All the lies and push by Republicans for public sector control over regulation leads to a dysfunctional USA, as too many cooks, and rather idiotic one's, are in the kitchen arguing disinformation and self interest when intelligent and logical regulated action should be taking place.

This is a result of an America that is now becoming associated with ridiculous politics of a lying wing, where what seemed impossible, things such as belief in QAnon and racism as a rule, prove how wrong the Trump followers are. There is absolutely no question by critical thinkers, that floaters of false information like a Tucker Carlson, are undermining democracy in America.

Ultimately, the allowance of lies in the guise of free speech leads to blurring of lines and moving goalposts to the point blame goes around in circles, with no one taking responsibility for preventing and responding to the insurrection led by Trump and his horrid minions.

These type of poor response to emergencies are going to continue and get worse, like the problems in Texas, where private sector rich businesses without any regulated control, were not capable of providing electricity, water and food, because the rich right don't care about anything but their own profits and selfish agenda's. Quite obviously shown by Cruz avoiding the GOP mess by flying to Cancun. What a tool.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

More than 200 Trump thugs arrested and charged, including people from QAnon, Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.  Far-right anti-government, militia organization composed of current and former military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police take in order to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

An Oath Keepers leader, Jessica Watkins, committed a "crime of terrorism" when she "gleefully" participated in a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said Tuesday as they argued that she should be detained as she awaits trial. Watkins became the third Capitol rioter accused by prosecutors of a crime of terrorism, following two Proud Boys members, Dominic Pezzola and Ethan Nordean.

35 Capitol police are also being investigated. Six have been suspended with pay.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

We could just blame the rioters for rioting and leave it at that.

Not if you believe in law, order, and taking responsibility for your actions.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

No need to jump to conclusions.

I was keeping the focus on the rioters- the actual cause of the rioting.

It’s a Senate hearing to examine the evidence and find who is responsible for the lack of security on January 6th.

There were hundreds of police officers there. They called for reinforcements and none showed up for hours. Just go up the chain of command. The leaders of the capitol police have already resigned. We know who is responsible- they have admitted their culpability. Shouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what is already known.

Saying "peacefully" once in a speech after months of riling people up with lies isn't exactly "pleading".

Democrats and Republicans are all on camera riling up people with violent talk such as “fight”, “get in their face”, “pushback”, “enemy”, etc. The Dems egged on months and months of violence last year. There is a legal standard for incitement and Trump did nothing of the sort. Nothing different from Senator Schumer denouncing two Supreme Court justices by name before a crowd rushed the court building and began banging on the doors looking to get at them.

Bottom line is anyone caught rioting is culpable - whether it’s at a federal courthouse in Portland or the US Capitol. Unless you are telling them to storm the buildings you are exercising free speech. Using different standards for people you don’t like allowed Democrats to justify slavery and Jim Crow laws for hundreds of years of American history. Government by law is better than government by mob against those you dislike.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Just go up the chain of command.

And where does that stop?

Hint; Biden wasn’t president yet.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

The Dems egged on months and months of violence last year.

No, they didn't.

There is a legal standard for incitement and Trump did nothing of the sort. 

Yes he did. Even Mitch McConnell clearly stated it.

You spend too much time on fox news.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

He said he hadn’t seen an FBI field office report that warned of potential violence citing online posts about a “war.”

When a politician admits to incompetence, you can always be sure they are guilty of the more serious offense of deliberate endangerment.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

More than 200 Trump thugs arrested and charged, including people from QAnon, Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. 

Don’t forget the BLM leaders and supporters caught in the Capitol melee: John Sullivan and Jonathan Gennaro Mellis.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Democrats and Republicans are all on camera riling up people with violent talk such as “fight”, “get in their face”, “pushback”, “enemy”, etc. The Dems egged on months and months of violence last year. 

Again, this article is not about that.

And according to you they were ‘exercising free speech’ so it’s odd you would mention that as an example to bolster your already confused argument.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

And where does that stop?

The Executive branch doesn’t have authority over the Legislative branch. Up the chain leads not to Trump - but to Pelosi and McConnell.

Yes he did. Even Mitch McConnell clearly stated it.

McConnell was avoiding his and Pelosi’s culpability.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

I was keeping the focus on the rioters- the actual cause of the rioting.

What caused the insurrectionists to riot? Best not focus on that or youMll have to stare some ugly truths in the face.

There were hundreds of police officers there. They called for reinforcements and none showed up for hours. Just go up the chain of command. 

Where does the chain of command stop?

The Dems egged on months and months of violence last year. 

Demonstrably false.

Government by law is better than government by mob against those you dislike.

Too bad you didn’t say this before your buddies followed Trump’s advice and fight like hell to disrupt the certification of the EC.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

The Executive branch doesn’t have authority over the Legislative branch. Up the chain leads not to Trump - but to Pelosi and McConnell.

You're conflating making the laws (Congress) with enforcing the laws (the president).

John Sullivan 

A journalist covering the Trump mob storming the Capitol.

Jonathan Gennaro Mellis

Not a BLM activist or supporter:

Mellis, whom two tipsters told the FBI had been posting on Facebook with increasing frequency about the 2020 election and media coverage about it, also posted about his anger that Antifa and Black Lives Matter were being blamed for the attack, the complaint said.

“Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM,” the post said. “We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dailypress.com/news/crime/vp-nw-jonathan-mellis-arrested-20210217-pzq3gttfnjea7jgavmam4xlunm-story.html%3foutputType=amp

2 ( +7 / -5 )

There is a legal standard for incitement and Trump did nothing of the sort.

When you tell a crowd of people that they've had an election stolen at the local, state, and federal level, that the courts won't help them, and that the VP has abandoned them for selfish reasons (all lies, by the way), and tell them to march to the Capitol, because this is their last chance to take back their country using strength, what do you think is going to happen?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Wolfpack

More than 200 Trump thugs arrested and charged, including people from QAnon, Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. 

Don’t forget the BLM leaders and supporters caught in the Capitol melee: John Sullivan and Jonathan Gennaro Mellis.

100% incorrect statement. Jonathan Gennaro Mellis, is not a member of Antifa or the BLM.

"He was angry about Antifa and Black Lives Matter being blamed for the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. He wrote on social media, “Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM. We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle.” (a)"

Jonathan Gennaro Mellis biography: 10 things about US Capitol rioter from Williamsburg, Virginia.

https://conandaily.com/2021/02/18/jonathan-gennaro-mellis-biography-10-things-about-us-capitol-rioter-from-williamsburg-virginia/

John Sullivan is not a member of Atifa or the BLM.

https://www.deseret.com/utah/2021/2/17/22287763/activist-capitol-riot-video-sold-nbc-cnn-35k-each-john-sullivan-federal-charges

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Right wingers stormed the Capitol over a lie told by Trump and a large portion of the GOP.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

There is a legal standard for incitement and Trump did nothing of the sort.

Trump hasn’t been tried in a court of law for incitement, so we don’t know whether he’s guilty of incitement.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I was keeping the focus on the rioters- the actual cause of the rioting.

What do Trump supporters want to keep hidden? But I know even if facts come out of a bi-partisan panel showing a direct line of responsibility back to Trump, his family and his bureaucrats Trump's klans would still deny it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Ron Johnson is particularly craven in gaslighting and spreading the Big Lie.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

We could just blame the rioters for rioting and leave it at that.

Yes indeed - that's the Trump defense....

"I didn't do anything to incite these far-right, violent terrorists....who are all carrying "Trump 2020" flags, wearing red MAGA hats, and shouting "hang Mike Pence"....

Of course, most of the mob interviewed so far have admitted, and openly boasted that they were "following Trump's orders". Wonder how they feel when Trump does what he always does, and throws them under the bus?

And didn't he say he "loved" them?

Guess they learned the hard way - just like Kim Jong Un did...

8 ( +9 / -1 )

"Intelligence" is a rare commodity in the Washington's "jurassic swamp" where gaslighting sharks and conning crocodiles swim around at the top of the food chain thriving on the gullibility of small fry following the slime trail of their leader MIA. Merrick Garland will have his work cut out for him just to catch a few of these slippery critters, but he can forget about draining it: administrations come and go, but the swamp stays.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Seems someone told the police and national guard to stand back and stand down...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

We could just blame the rioters for rioting and leave it at that.

Some of the rioters received guided tours of the Capital by members of the House of Representatives on 5 January 2021, this at a time when the Capital was not open to the public, so no we are not going to leave it at that. There are members of Congress who showed the insurrectionists where the offices of key Democratic members of Congress were located and otherwise informed the insurrectionists of the layout of the Capital building to facilitate their invasion the next day. These members must be named and prosecuted.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

You know, a week before the insurrection anyone who was paying attention had a bad feeling that events on the 6th had a very strong potential to turn violent. I know I had said so here on several occasions. I am not an oracle. I have no inside knowledge or access to law enforcement intelligence. Anyone paying any attention to the talk leading up to the 6th ought to have anticipated the likelihood of violence that day at the nation's Capital.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Seems someone told the police and national guard to stand back and stand down...

Who has the authority to summon the National Guard in Washington DC?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@PTownsend and others...

Have you actually listened to the hole Trump speech uncut?

Have you actually checked the times the speech finished and the chaos unfolded in the building?

Have you seen the impossible logistics of any actual people present at the speech to be part of the Capitol storming?

Are you honest enough to accept how clear as water is that the words Trump used are no different and in many ways less incendiary than those of dozens of democrat politicians and even personalities, some of actually, expressly asked for some kind of violence against Republicans or Trump's supporters, or even Trump? (video compilation was shown in the impeachment trial and several ones abound online)

Are you honest enough to accept that his claims of a stolen election, although unyielding as it was, was countered by his clear-cut answers that he would concede and allow a peaceful transition of power. Amidst his claims he always said it would all be done through the legal channels and if it didn't work, then he would concede.

Considering the above can you deal with the fact that there's no logic nor motive to actually incite a riot or anything else. It serves him nor anything he stood for during his presidency (the Constitution, the Police, the Democracy) to have that kind of attack happen. If anything it is counterproducing. It is logic and obvious. It is that simple. If anything it has been a TOOL to further put him down in public and smear him. Not a very smart political move. So there is NO pretense whatsoever to begin to think it was his "reponsibility".

It light of all of it, there's one more thing to consider, citing an example from speaker Pelosi as a D. Senator several years ago(sorry for not remembering the date), the video is also online so check it, so Democrat politician had said some incendiary words that actually asked for violence against republicans, and lo and behold a crazy left guy shot dead a republican and even cited the politicians word in court. Pelosi ferociously defended the politician saying something of the like "the shooting and the speech are two separate things. One person cannot be guilty of a shooting perpetrated by another free thinking individual. Those were not orders but figures of speech. People select which words to listen."

So there you have it. That logic fits perfectly well the Capitol attack. Given the facts that: Trump did say as well to peacefully show their support in that same speech, that the people present there DID not participate in the attack as the time and location made it impossible, and finally since the attack itself serves him not his beliefs and policies any purpose, the speech and the attack are 2 completely unrelated things.

Right wing extremist did participate, perhaps very well organized and lead it. Also other groups also participated and perhaps had their own agendas. Be it in less percentage as it may. Still, it DOES NOT in any way represent the BULK of those who support Trump.

Those who support them understand the facts outlined above and denounce the attack and want to see all those who perpetrated it and organized tried and convicted. But all the while understanding very well it has nothing to with Trump.

Therefore in light of all of the above, if you are honest critical thinkers, you can see the attack and its perpetrators right, left and in-between, and the speech and Mr. Trump are 2 separate, clearly unrelated events and situations. Enough.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Still, it DOES NOT in any way represent the BULK of those who support Trump.

It does. 75% of Republicans wrongly think the election was stolen, and nearly 50% of Republicans think the attempted fascist coup was justified.

Trump wanted the riots to happen. That's why when Kevin McCarthy told him to call them off, Trump said, "well, I guess they care more about the election than you".

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Are you honest enough to accept that his claims of a stolen election, although unyielding as it was, was countered by his clear-cut answers that he would concede and allow a peaceful transition of power. Amidst his claims he always said it would all be done through the legal channels and if it didn't work, then he would concede.

Are you honest enough to accept that even today, when all the legal channels have been gone through and didn't work, Trump is still claiming he won by a landslide and the election was stolen ? When did he concede?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

@Lazarus Knows

First, you know I meant the attackers do not represent the BULK of Trump supporters. You would specially if you had ever even had the decency of attending one just you know, to be fair.

So your reply is out of point. But still believing the election was stolen is not per se a wrong thing. In my country elections are stolen all the time, it does happen, YOU KNOW. Hillary, although she conceded, certainly still claims her election was stolen, even Biden used to call Trump illegitimate president. So your point it moot.

Besides, have you seen your senile leader recently? really seen him? did 80M people actually vote for that gaffe machine that in all his campaigning not once even advocate for any of his accomplishments as a 40 year politician? Why? because there a none relevant! Talk about delusions.

And then you just go full falsehood. "Attempted coup" Come on, man. Nobody can seriously believe that, except maybe some delusional extremist taking part on the attack that day. But there is no way that was an attempted coup, there was never any real possibility of seizing governmental powers, specially since there was no military involved.

And please re-read my original post. The attack serves and served Trump no service or purpose and contradicts everything he stands for as individual and/or stood for as President.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

First, you know I meant the attackers do not represent the BULK of Trump supporters. You would specially if you had ever even had the decency of attending one just you know, to be fair.

Attending what? An assault on the Capitol? No, thank you.

But still believing the election was stolen is not per se a wrong thing.

It is. There is no evidence that the election was stolen.

Besides, have you seen your senile leader recently? really seen him? 

The USA doesn't have a senile leader. Not any more, anyway.

And then you just go full falsehood. "Attempted coup" Come on, man. Nobody can seriously believe that, except maybe some delusional extremist taking part on the attack that day. But there is no way that was an attempted coup, there was never any real possibility of seizing governmental powers, specially since there was no military involved.

The crowd intended to usurp the official counting of the electoral votes in order to have Trump, who lost the election, installed as President. Many came with the intention of assassinating elected members of Congress.

They were lead into the delusion that Trump had actually won, and that his victory was stolen, and that they could only "stop the steal" through violence by Trump himself.

And please re-read my original post. The attack serves and served Trump no service or purpose and contradicts everything he stands for as individual and/or stood for as President.

You are 100% wrong. It represents his disdain for democracy, his self-interest, his dishonesty, and his mistaken belief that he should be given something just because he wants it.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@cleo

When he left the oval office.

Perhaps I understand the word wrongly, but I see no contradiction in conceding that you lost, while still believing it was not a fair win for the other side, but you concede for several reasons, impossibility to continue attempts to change the result, preferring to do something else instead with your life or simple for peace. In this sense conceding means "you stop making attempts to have the result overturned". That doesn't eliminate the doubt in your mind that the result was not honest.

Like I said in response to Lazarus, in my country elections have been stolen several times. It DOES happen.

Just like Hillary, she conceded, but she still believes her election was stolen. Or do you think she thinks Trump beat her fair and square after all the times she claimed it was stolen??

Also look at what you have now instead in the WH, really? Give me a break. Good luck with all the criminals an ilegals going from my fellow countries in to yours soon. Make them feel at home, okay?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

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