WASHINGTON | Missed 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 that day said 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 immediately 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.
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, 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.
Sund told the lawmakers that he didn’t know then 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.
“That information would have been helpful,” Sund said.