Political News

Acting Capitol Police chief tells Congress the department 'failed' during riot

Posted January 26, 2021 12:15 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2021 12:47 p.m. EST

— The acting head of the US Capitol Police told congressional members during a closed-door briefing Tuesday that the "department failed to meet its own high standards" on January 6 when a crowd of pro-Trump rioters overran the Capitol building.

Acting US Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman called the insurrection a "terrorist attack" and offered her "sincerest apologies on behalf of the department," according to her prepared remarks during a briefing for lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee with a number of agencies that had a role in security on January 6.

Pittman said the department was aware of a "strong potential for violence" targeting Congress and did not take the appropriate steps to prevent it.

Pittman's admission comes as US Capitol Police officers are debating whether to hold a no-confidence vote targeting department leaders who were working on the day of insurrection, including Pittman. One source told CNN that Pittman was the operational chief the day of the siege at the Capitol and "never took control of the radio or commanded officers what to do in any way, shape or form."

Officers have told CNN that they felt abandoned and betrayed by the department's leadership.

"Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared for this attack," Pittman said Tuesday. "By January 4th, the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event."

Acting Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett issued a blunt assessment Tuesday of the security failures that occurred, both in preparing for a protest of this nature and reacting to events as they unfolded, according to his prepared statement obtained by CNN.

"It is clear there was a failure of preparation. Whether it was insufficient or conflicting intelligence, lacking ability to translate that intelligence into action, insufficient preparation or an inadequate ability to mobilize partner agencies for immediate assistance, a series of events, once thought unfathomable, unfolded allowing our most sacred halls to be breached. And, sadly, several lives were lost, including Officer Brian Sicknick and Officer Howard Liebengood," Blodgett said in his remarks.

This story has been updated.

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