Lawmakers Will Hold 2nd Hearing Regarding Capitol Insurrection
NOEL KING, HOST:
How did the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol spin so wildly out of control? Yesterday, the officials whose job it was to guard the Capitol on that day answered questions from lawmakers about what happened. One of them was Steven Sund. He was the chief of the Capitol Police, and he resigned a day after the attack. Yesterday, he said authorities didn't get the intelligence they needed to protect members of Congress.
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STEVEN SUND: A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police. We rely on accurate information from our federal partners to help us develop effective security plans.
KING: Senator Amy Klobuchar is the chair of the Rules Committee, which co-sponsored this hearing. She's with us now. Good morning, Senator.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you so much. It's great to be on, Noel.
KING: Mr. Sund said he asked for help from the Pentagon, but, quote, "almost two hours later, we had still not received authorization from the Pentagon to activate the National Guard." Did you come out of this hearing with an understanding of why the Pentagon appeared to move so slowly?
KLOBUCHAR: That part - no.
KLOBUCHAR: And I'm looking forward to asking the Department of Defense about that next week. We're announcing today a second hearing next week with representatives from Homeland Security, FBI and Department of Defense. We had always planned to focus first on the agencies that were directly in charge the day of the attack. And then the second is - and hear what they have to tell us and then follow through with these other agencies.
KING: OK. Mr. Sund also blamed a lack of preparation. Let's listen to what he said.
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SUND: We probably planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence. What we got was a military-style coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol building.
KING: Gary Peters, senator of Michigan and your co-chair on the hearing, said yesterday, quote, "There's no question in my mind that there was a failure to take this threat more seriously, despite widespread social media content and public reporting that indicated violence was extremely likely." So he seems to be saying, forget intelligence reports; it was all right there on Twitter, on Facebook, on Parler. Is that fair?
KLOBUCHAR: First of all, I don't understand, with the Capitol Police, the sergeant at arms, two separate entities that work together in the Capitol, why they didn't think it was a problem when the president of the United States says, be there January 6. Another tweet - go wild. So I agree with that. But we also expect the intelligence agencies to contribute to the Capitol Police's knowledge. That's how it's always gone. So there's clearly issues on both ends.
But I think given everything we knew leading up to that - I know because I was in charge of the response to Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley when it came to them trying to undermine our democracy about the Electoral College, that they didn't see what was happening is very disturbing. But the purpose of the hearing - just to be very clear - yesterday was to get three people who had actually resigned - I think people were surprised they showed up. They showed up voluntarily, along with the current metropolitan police chief, who has jurisdiction over D.C., to get them in one place and answer our questions.
And I actually - my whole goal was to make it constructive, which I think it was, with a few exceptions from a few members that I expected. But it was to get the answers. Only then can we get the solutions - clear intelligence breakdown. We've got to hire a new police chief, the leaders do, for the Capitol. So that's going to contribute this information to who we hire. We've got to make decisions about security around the Capitol, the use of the National Guard, how they share intelligence, to make sure different procedures are put in place and, mostly, the Capitol Police Board that this chief reported to.
So one image for your listeners is that in the middle of this, when the insurrection had started, they're charging through the Capitol - he is calling the sergeant of arms, one of whom oversees the security of the senators, the other the House, those two are in those locations getting the people to safety, and he's calling them to get permission to call in the National Guard. That's because of this structure of the Capitol Police Board, and that has to change.
KING: OK, I hear you saying, instead of individuals - and I believe Mr. Sund has said that he regrets resigning because he doesn't think that he's to blame - instead of individuals, there are processes that need to be changed, including making it clear who is in charge of securing the Capitol if something like this happens in the future.
KLOBUCHAR: Let me make clear it's both. I mean, there was a reason the three of them resigned. I still am very grateful they came back to testify in a difficult circumstance. But we are going to get new people in these jobs. But the part about the process is real, and that's why we are having a second hearing with the Department of Defense and FBI and Homeland Security to figure out what went wrong on their end in terms of giving the chiefs at the Capitol the information. One glaring fact was there was an FBI report the night before that was just sent in an email, and the chief himself never - it never got to him...
KLOBUCHAR: ...Through their own processes.
KING: Let me ask you about specific changes that may need to be made at the Capitol. Do you think you need more security? Do you want the fencing to stay up permanently?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, no one wants the fencing up permanently, but we have to do things smartly. We still want school groups and veterans groups. That's going to happen when the pandemic ends. But we have to look at where the perimeter is. The use of the National Guard - they stayed for quite a while after 9/11 and helped out. It doesn't have to be at these numbers. And then, of course, the building itself and how some changes can be made. It is a public building. It will be a public building. But the security has to be much better around that building, as well as the people that run it.
KING: Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota. Thanks for joining us.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. It was great to be on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.