House Republicans Demand Answers From Pelosi on Jan. 6 Security Failures

February 15, 2021 Updated: February 15, 2021

Ranking Republicans on four key House committees concerned with security at the Capitol complex are demanding answers from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about her actions before, during, and after the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol building.

“It has been widely reported and confirmed by multiple sources that when [then-Capitol Hill Police] Chief [Steven] Sund requested the National Guard be activated ahead of the January 6th Joint Session of Congress, the response from the Sergeant-At-Arms (SAA), acting on your behalf, was that the ‘optics’ of having the National Guard on-site were not good and the intelligence didn’t support the move. The request was not approved,” the four GOP representatives told Pelosi in a lengthy letter made public on Feb. 15.

“Furthermore, on January 6th, in the middle of the on-going attack of the Capitol, Chief Sund again notified the SAA of his request for approval to authorize the National Guard. It took over an hour for his request to be approved because the SAA had to run the request up the chain of command, which undoubtedly included you and your designees.”

The four signers of the letter are Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Administration, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the senior Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

The signers demanded answers from Pelosi on the following questions:

  • When Police Chief Sund made a request for National Guard support on Jan. 4, why was that request denied?
  • Did sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving get permission or instruction from your staff on Jan. 4 prior to denying Sund’s request for the National Guard?
  • What conversations and what guidance did you and your staff give the sergeant-at-arms leading up to Jan. 6, specific to the security posture of the campus?
  • What conversations with the SAA and Capitol Police did you have during the attack on the Capitol, and what response did you give security officials on Jan. 6 when Sund requested National Guard support that required your approval?
  • Why are your House officers refusing to comply with preservation and production requests to turn over materials relevant to the events surrounding the 6th?

A spokesman for Pelosi didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Later in the day, Pelosi announced in a letter sent only to House Democrats that she has asked Gen. Russel Honoré to head an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

The letter writers questioned the commission’s independence, saying: “While there is wide-spread support to conduct an independent security review of the campus, General Russel Honoré was appointed solely by you, without consultation of the minority.

“To the General’s credit he has reached out to several Republicans to brief on his work to date. We are hopeful his review will result in beneficial recommendations that are not influenced by political motivations. However, it is easy to understand why we and our Senate counterparts remain skeptical that any of his final recommendations will be independent and without influence from you.”

The questions were addressed to Pelosi because as House speaker, she has a decisive role in ensuring the safety and security of all members of Congress, congressional staff and employees, people visiting the Capitol complex on business, and the thousands of tourists who routinely flood the historic grounds.

“Five weeks have passed since the January 6th attack on the Capitol building, and many important questions about your responsibility for the security of the Capitol remain unanswered,” the letter states.

“As you are aware, the Speaker of the House is not only the leader of the majority party, but also has enormous institutional responsibilities. The Speaker is responsible for all operational decisions made within the House. We have observed for two years this very heavy-handed and tightly controlled approach to House operations that has been exerted by yourself, your staff, and an army of appointed House officials.”

The Jan. 6 event occurred when hundreds of protesters, ostensibly seeking to disrupt congressional certification of electoral votes in the November 2020 presidential election, overwhelmed Capitol Hill Police officers and ultimately penetrated both the Senate and House chambers, as well as other historic areas of the Capitol building.

Five people, including Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died as a result of actions during the breach. A 14-year Air Force veteran, Ashley Babbitt (also spelt Ashli), was shot and killed by another officer during the violence.

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