The former chief of the Capitol Police on Tuesday blamed a breakdown in intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
“I think in exigent circumstances there needs to be a streamlined process for the Capitol police chief, for Capitol Police, to have authority,” former Chief Steven Sund told senators during a hearing about the incident.
Sund, who resigned from his post several days after the Capitol breach, remarked that the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms on Jan. 4 allegedly did not respond to a request for assistance. He also requested assistance from the National Guard but was rebuffed.
“Your testimony makes clear that the current structure of the Capitol Police Board resulted in delays in bringing in assistance from the National Guard,” Senate Rules Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told Sund during the hearing.
Acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee defended the response, saying officials were not alerted about the potential for violence despite federal officials’ claims.
“MPD’s police officers were engaged in a literal battle for hours. Many were forced into hand-to-hand combat to prevent more rioters from gaining entry into the Capitol. This was not a peaceful protest. This was not a crowd trying to express their First Amendment rights—rights which we are proud to protect regardless of belief,” Contee said, referring to the Metropolitan Police Department. “At the end of the day, this was an assault on our democracy, and MPD officers held the line.”
Former Acting Department of Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf earlier this month said there are still questions as to why Capitol Police officers weren’t properly prepared.
Capitol Police had “the same intelligence that we did” at the Department of Homeland Security, Wolf said. He said that intelligence was shared with the U.S. Capitol Police as well as the Metropolitan Police Department.
Former President Donald Trump was impeached in January for a speech he gave on Jan. 6, with Democrats and some Republicans blaming the riots on his remarks and rhetoric. Trump, via lawyers, denied that he incited violence. During his speech, he called on demonstrators to “peacefully and patriotically make [their] voices heard.”