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Joint Senate Committee going through January sixth specializing in intelligence errors

The opening agreements alone showed how clumsy the existing structure is when it comes to … really everything. Sund stated that he had to go through the Capitol Police Board – which also included Stenger and Irving – to even get a glass of water for his officers on a hot day. In a later testimony, Contee made it clear that Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser does not have the authority of a governor when it comes to drafting the National Guard.

When questioned, an image built up from a lack of intelligence – not always from a lack of communication, but from a lack of basic information. In particular, Sund repeatedly pointed out that the FBI and other agencies did not appear to take domestic terrorists seriously.

The two biggest problems that emerged were intelligence – especially when Sund repeatedly said that intelligence agencies had failed to cast "a sufficiently wide net" when it came to accommodating the plans of white supremacist domestic terrorist groups – and the clumsiness to allocate more armed forces to the Capitol because of the shared, tiered control of the armed forces in and around Washington.

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar opened by asking everyone to agree that this was a planned and coordinated attack involving white supremacists and extremist groups who posed a real threat to the Capitol. All past and present police leaders agreed.

Klobuchar then questioned Sund about the Capitol Police's response to an intelligence report received January 5 from the FBI warning of possible violence and that Trump supporters would be "prepared for war". Sund asserted on various occasions that it was not checked until the evening of January 5th, that he had never seen the report and that it was not sent to the DC police or NCOs. This report and the lack of response to the extremely violent language it presented were addressed in many later questions.

Sund repeatedly defended the idea that he had taken an "all hands on deck" approach that was "appropriate" based on all past events. However, he also pointed out that he had to get everything by the Capitol Police Board (specifically in this case only Stenger and Irving). Sund claimed he could not call in the National Guard without a declaration of emergency from the Capitol Police Board.

When asked about the delay in the National Guard's response, Sund admitted he was frustrated. "I don't know what the problems were at the Pentagon, but I was definitely surprised at the delay."

Sund said in conclusion: “Jan. 6 was a change in the threat we face. “While Stenger noted that the US has expanded intelligence significantly since September 11th, it does not seem efficient to gather information about internal threats.

Senator Gary Peters

Peters noted that an FBI report containing a series of explicitly violent threats by the Proud Boys and other groups reached the Capitol Police on January 5 but was not given operational command. Sund pushed the report off as "raw data" based on "social media posts" that needed to be investigated, which was impossible given the few hours between the report and the January 6th events.

Sund insisted that the CP "expand" and "coordinate" our perimeter based on a January 3 report. Based on Sund's claims of "military coordination", Peters asked what the leaders were seeing. Sund noted that insurgents "brought climbing equipment, explosives and chemical agents". Sund also pointed out that marching to the Capitol 20 minutes before Trump's speech appeared to be a coordinated move.

Contee noted that the insurgents used hand signals, radios, the coordinated use of chemical ammunition, and the placement of pipe bombs. Both Irving and Stenger agreed that it was a coordinated attack.

Contee also noted that he was "stunned" by the National Guard's "lukewarm response" when the coordinated nature of the attack was clear. He said that Sund “begged” for the National Guard when he called the Pentagon, but there was no immediate “yes”. Instead, there were concerns about the "look" and an "exercise to check the boxes".

In closing remarks, Peters noted that intelligence agencies were eight months late in providing a requested report on the domestic terrorism threat.

Senator Roy Blunt:

Blunt asked Sund on January 6 about attempts to secure the National Guard. Sund said he called at 1:09 p.m. asking for this help, but Irving and Stenger didn't approve it until 2:10 p.m. This timing became the focus of the survey much later.

Irving first said, "I didn't take a call from Sund as an inquiry." Then he made it clear that he meant the earlier January 4th call. According to Irving, Sund said he had received an "offer" for the National Guard forces and Irving had "discussed" it with Sund and Stenger, who "agreed." Secret service not supported "with National Guard. Irving says they've all decided to "let go of it".

Stenger was asked what was meant by the fact that the National Guard was "on standby". It appears that neither he nor Sund did anything to keep the guard informed.

Sund claimed he asked Irving for the guard's help at 1:09 pm. Irving said he was on the floor at the time (which it appears to be) and doesn't remember getting a request until 2:10 p.m. "I don't have a phone record of a call from Chief Sund." He then says he spoke to Sund at 1:28 p.m., but Sund did not make a request at that point.

Sen. Rob Portman

Portman asked that they have Sund and Irving's phone recordings to help resolve the problem.

Sund admits that the Capitol Police were not prepared for a major riot or "infiltration" of the Capitol. Portman had both Stenger and Irving admit that the Secret Service had a plan for similar attacks on the White House, and he wondered why the Capitol Police didn't.

When questioned, Sund admits that not all Capitol Police are equipped with “hard equipment” (helmet, shields, etc.). "By January 6th, those (seven platoons of officials with" civil unrest ") were enough" for any previous incident. Only four of these trains had hard equipment. Sund said he ordered combat gear but it was delayed "because of COVID".

Contee stated that in addition to seven trains with full riot gear, all Metro DC police officers have helmets, protective gloves, gas masks, batons, etc., and all officers have basic civilian disruption training and almost all receive additional training. Sund said such training is "a process carried out by the Capitol Police."

Portman stressed that the officers were not properly trained and did not have the necessary equipment. "I appreciate the sacrifice and bravery of that day, but we owe it to the officers" to meet those needs.

Senator Patrick Leahy

Leahy acted to cut off claims that the House or Senate were a bottleneck. He asked all law enforcement officers whether "the Budget Committee has honored your request for salaries and operating expenses each fiscal year". Irving: "Yes." Stenger: "Yes."

"I happen to think that what we have is not a lack of inadequate resources," Leahy said, "but a mistake in providing the resources we have."

Leahy points out that when the police were warned of armed extremists, they cannot claim that there was no warning of violence. The repeated claims that things would be no worse than previous events were not supported by the information received.

Senator Ron Johnson

Johnson left out asking questions to read instead a lengthy statement from an anti-Muslim hate group accusing "false Trump protesters" and "agent provocateurs" for Jan. 6. According to Johnson, all "real" Trump supporters were "happy" "and" in high spirits. Johnson's report ended with the claim that the Capitol Police incited the crowd by firing tear gas after the police overreacted to "an argument".

So it was all Antifa's and the police's fault. All but the Trump supporters, who all marched “happily” on the Capitol.

Johnson spent the rest of his time complaining about not getting answers to his conspiracy theories. In the end, he made a feint to get Sund to agree that Trump protesters were "pro-police," but Sund noted that there were Trump people claiming to be police despite pushing their way through police lines . In terms of insane highlights, that was all.

Sen. Jacky roses

Rosen asked Contee about the FBI's January 5 report, which also emailed the Metro DC police late that evening. Contee's first answer was similar to Sund's: it was raw data with no suggested answer. However, he noted that as early as January 6th, Metro police were prepared for widespread violence. She just wasn't responsible for the Capitol.

Contee also noted that the previous two MAGA rallies in November and December included guns salvaged by several people. "These were the only rallies where we saw people come armed," said Contee.

Rosen noted that there appeared to be a "breakdown" between the FBI and the Capitol Police. But Sund insisted it wasn't just the FBI, and it wasn't just the way the message was delivered. "We have to look at the entire intelligence community and their view of domestic extremists," said Sund.

Senator Mark Warner

Warner expressed concern that "the previous administration's hurdles" were slowing down, limiting themselves to Washington's support and limiting its ability to prepare. He brought up Washington, DC, as a solution to streamlining some of these difficulties.

Warner noted that he spoke directly to the FBI leadership on Jan. 4th and 5th. "I felt the FBI felt they were in better shape about information," Warner said.

Sund said the relationship between the Capitol Police and the FBI was "excellent". He noted that following the events, the FBI was very effective in investigating those who had invaded the Capitol. And Sund reiterated that the failure was more about the information gathered than the disclosure.

Contee said he wanted a "holistic intelligence approach" and noted that the FBI was a "great partner" for the Metro police.

Warner agreed, noting that January 6th attracted the same type of anti-government extremists who were on the streets of Charlottesville, but that these groups were not receiving "the level of serious scrutiny" that other threats were. He also noted that these groups have links with extremist groups overseas, particularly in Europe.

Sen. James Lankford

Lankford seemed to be the first to be more interested in how the information could be twisted to support a narrative worthy of Fox News. First, he asked Sund to talk in detail about a letter from Sund to Nancy Pelosi. Sund said that Pelosi called for his resignation "without a full understanding of what we went through and prepared".

Lankford then asked how the pipe bomb was found in the Republican National Committee (RNC). When told that an RNC agent had located and called the pipe bomb, Lankford seemed to take this as evidence that the pipe bombs were not actually "coordinated" with the rest of the attack at the time due to the discovery of those bombs random. (But was that it? This certainly seems like a good thing to investigate.)

Lankford also spent some time dismissing the idea that the National Guard was slow to respond. He insisted that it normally takes "several days" to approve the National Guard and insisted that the delays in their approval on January 6th were "typical", saying that the National Guard was not "the riot police" or "a SWAT team". "Lankford tried to get Sund to agree that he knew the National Guard was being forced to be unarmed, with no drones and no helicopters. Sund denied that these restrictions were in place. Lankford then claimed these "restrictions were imposed on them by the City of Washington, D.C." without evidence and without asking Contee about this point.

Eventually, Lankford spent some time comparing the attack on the Capitol to the "attack on a federal court in Portland," implying that the same forces were involved in both.

Senator Tom Carper

Carper initially pointed out that the National Guard is and is being called frequently to respond quickly to emergencies. But "the DC National Guard works differently." Carper also noted that this is one of the reasons he worked for Washington, DC for years.

Carper gave Contee one more opportunity to make it clear that Bowser is not authorized to authorize the National Guard's deployment – that it has to go through a chain of requests and approvals. This includes both the Capitol Police Board and Pentagon officials.

Carper then asked Contee if an easier way to call the National Guard – similar to what happens in any state – would help protect city and federal facilities. Contee's answer was an enthusiastic "yes" and an agreement that this must be investigated as part of the January 6th response.

Carper asked Sund why the threat of a "really devastating attack" was so greatly underestimated. Sund turned back to the FBI and other intelligence agencies for failing to warn that a coordinated attack was being prepared in many states. Sund stated that it was not so much a "failure of communication" as a failure to investigate and focus on domestic extremists.

Senator Jeff Merkley

Merkley pointed to the level of violence called for in the FBI's statement, which included white supremacists calling directly to disrupt voting “or die” certification. This report is the same as emailed to both the Capitol Police and Metro D.C. Police was sent, but not until the late evening of January 5th, and without warning or flag to make its importance obvious.

Merkley spent a lot of time studying certain Capitol security incidents. This included how the police handled what Sund repeatedly referred to as an "extended perimeter" without additional forces to secure that perimeter.

Stenger noted that there is an exercise "once a year" that performs a test to seal and protect chambers of congress, which failed on January 6th. He couldn't tell when the last such exercise took place.

Senator Rick Scott

Scott focused on one extremely strange point throughout his time at bat: Why was the National Guard still in Washington? No matter what he was told or how futile his questions became, Scott would not stray from the subject.

"Nobody has a reason we have the National Guard here," said Scott. (Ignored that little riot.) Scott continued pounding on this point, even as each of the witnesses made it clear that they were not involved in keeping the watch or information about why they were there.

When told to ask the current Capitol Police Department and the sergeant, he seemed genuinely confused. Still, he couldn't leave this pointless question alone. "I'm amazed that there is no public information as to why we have all of these National Guards here," said Scott. Sund and others tried to suggest that there had been a riot. Scott never seemed to understand.

Senator Maggie Hassen

Hassen asked Contee to describe the coordination between the Metro Police and the National Park Service in approving permits. Contee agreed that this system needs to be reviewed, especially when assessing risks. While the parks department was still issuing permits in previous appearances despite signs of violence from the same groups, the Washington government had suspended the rally since March in order to respect the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hassen extended the discussion about intelligence beyond the FBI and asked for a notice from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Sund and Contee agreed that no one on the DHS attempted to issue a national security incident or contact the Capitol Police with concerns about January 6th.

Senator Josh Hawley

The very idea that Hawley would interview law enforcement officers is itself an indictment against the government. Hawley, however, thanked Captain Mendoza and other police officers extensively for their work in "fending off these violent criminal rioters".

Hawley remained reasonable on most of his questions. He asked Sund about the activation of the National Guard. Back on the 1:09 pm call question, Sund said Irving had told him he had to do a "chain of command" watch. Hawley wondered who this "chain of command" might be.

Irving said again that he did not remember the call and that his phone records do not show any call at this point. Irving claimed that if he had received such a request, he would have "approved" it immediately. Instead, Irving says Sund called him half an hour later and didn't ask a query until 2:10 p.m.

Sund insisted that he make a request at 1:09 pm. And that his call at 1:22 pm was to "track the status of this request."

Irving said he never consulted or waited for "congressional leadership" for approval. Irving denies seeking permission from Pelosi or McConnell, which likely invalidates a theory by Hawley that Pelosi refused permission from the guard.

Sund reiterated that Irving was concerned about the "optics" of bringing in the National Guard on January 4th. Irving denied this, saying his "problem was whether the secret service justified it" to call the guard. He said again that his understanding was that Sund had "an offer" from troops, but that he, Stenger and Sund discussed it and agreed to refuse it. Hawley asked what the concern was about the use of guards. Irving says he only cared about intelligence.

Eventually Hawley asked Klobuchar for an extra minute. When this was granted, Hawley used the time to attack Pelosi to appoint the retired general. Russel Honoré will conduct an investigation into the events on January 6th.

Senator Alex Padilla

Padilla first asked all witnesses whether the video of the events during Trump's impeachment was correct. Everyone agreed it was.

Sund said again that they had no information on the scope of what was to come. No idea that "we would face an armed uprising involving thousands of people".

Padilla asked if the previous MAGA incidents in November and December might have been "trial runs" during which the same groups involved on January 6 could gather information about the limits of police response. Sund agreed that this was possible. Padilla made it clear that Donald Trump was in control of those intelligence agencies that did not focus on domestic terrorism by white supremacist extremist groups.

Padilla inquired about the difference between the January 6 preparations and the summer protests and noted hundreds of arrests. However, Sund claimed there were only six arrests during the BLM protests, and said the January 6 preparation was far greater. Of course, Sund is limited to the Capitol, not anywhere else in the city. But the preparations on January 6th were clearly nothing more than the masses of troops encountering peaceful protests.

Senator Bill Hagerty

Hagerty was not interested in what the Witnesses had to say, but like Johnson, he had much himself to say. He initially claimed that the Guard's presence in the summer of 2020 was "necessary after some of the worst civil unrest in decades".

Hagerty then attempted to blame the guard's failure to show "backlash" on January 6 against the guard's use of the guard to "restore order" that summer. So … the uprising was BLM's fault.

Sund refused to agree, and again insisted that he was surprised at how reluctant the Pentagon to cooperate. Thwarted, Hagerty then went straight to attack Pelosi and Honoré. And that was it. Hagerty couldn't even imagine how to fill his time because he had no real questions.

Sen. Angus King

King again focused on the failure of the secret service, but returned – contrary to what Sund had said – repeatedly to "a failure of communication". King then turned to Sund's question of how to secure the Capitol without turning it into a fortress.

Sund insisted that there was a process in place to get credible information where it needs to be, and again said the flaw was in the collection of information. He said the Capitol Police were well prepared for issues like lone armed men etc. but insisted that much of it should be discussed in a closed, secret session.

King asked Sund to widen the loopholes. Sund said even the director of the FBI field office gave no indication that a coordinated attack was planned despite a direct call on Jan. 5. The late Jan 5th email may have been in alarming language, but there was no indication that it was part of a large, tiered plan.

King inquired about the process, asking for help, calling the guard, etc. Sund agreed that the process needs to be streamlined.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Sinema asked about the meetings until January 6 and about the agencies involved. Contee outlined a series of meetings that both Metro DC and Capitol police attended.

Contee discussed what he considered to be the main flaws. He said the problem of information sharing and how it was shared was worrying. The FBI sent the most terrifying information to e-mail inboxes at 7 p.m. the night before the event. No concerns were raised in previous calls and Contee or Sund were not contacted to raise concerns.

Sund reiterated that the report – which he only found out about after his resignation – was viewed as raw data that was not developed further. He reported on the process of moving information from the FBI, but reiterated that the letter was sent as raw data on the evening of January 5th with no analysis or recommendations. Not a great deal of attention was given to him.

Contee confirms that Metro DC police were aware of the importance of January 6th and that Bowser has called up additional units, drafted forces from the outskirts and urged guards to release additional police force.

Senator Ted Cruz

Irony, part two.

Cruz described January 6 as a "terrorist attack" on the Capitol. Then he went back to Sund's inquiries and said that Irving was "worried about the optics". Sund was asked to describe the conversations in detail. Sund said he met with Irving in his office and said again that Irving had told him, "I didn't like the optics," and Sund told to speak to Stenger. Stenger asked Sund to call the National Guard commander, General William J. Walker, to prepare. Walker told Sund that the 125 troops sent to Washington could be armed and quickly dispatched to the Capitol. This answer seemed to satisfy Irving and Stenger.

Irving said the January 4th meeting was a phone call. (Sund said it was a face-to-face meeting.) Irving said it was an "offer" to send Guard in. (Sund said it was an inquiry.) Irving said he couldn't remember using the term "optics". Irving and Stenger said they contacted Pelosi and McConnell on Jan. 6, but only to let them know that there was "possibly" a request for National Guard assistance.

Cruz and others asked for phone recordings. Cruz was surprisingly subdued and asked no "pitfalls".

Sen. Jon Ossoff

Again Ossoff and Sund discussed the training and preparation of the Capitol Police. Sund returned to saying that there was no training on how to deal with a mass riot. Sund said the Capitol Police called "Table exercises" prior to national security events such as the inauguration, but this was not done on January 6th.

Sund also said that communications and the chain of command "collapsed" on Jan. 6 as communication with those on the ground at the Capitol became difficult.

Ossoff asked if there were procedures in place for dealing with an emergency such as an attack on the Capitol without the approval of the Capitol Police Board. Short answer: no.

Sund stressed that the Capitol Police were a "consumer" of information and that the organization was not configured to collect or analyze information.

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