Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer told CNBC he expects someone to be held accountable after the law enforcement agency failed to secure the premises, allowing armed rioters to breach the building on Wednesday to disrupt certification of the presidential election.
“If I was up there, I deserve to be fired for letting that happen,” he said. “I was so embarrassed and ashamed to see what was going on the House and Senate floor.”
Gainer, however, softened his tone after CNBC anchor Shepard Smith asked if the current chief should be fired, acknowledging he doesn’t have the full information about what happened today.
“I don’t have all the information of what they may have had, what intel they had or what they wanted to do and leadership wouldn’t let them. I think that’s a question to be asked.”
The current chief of police is Steven Sund, who joined the USCP 2017 and took over as the agency’s 10th head in mid 2019 after serving more than two decades with the Metropolitan Police Department.
Gainer, a military veteran, retired from the force in 2006 after serving almost four years during President George W. Bush’s administration, then served as U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms between 2007 and 2014.
The USCP’s main objective is to protect the members of Congress and staff, which officers were able to achieve, Gainer added. But he expects someone to be held accountable for not defending the buildings.
“We need to figure out what went wrong. I saw before this began, the Capitol Police were on the east and west front. They got pushed back to the steps, then they lost the steps which got the people too close to the skin,” he explained. “That’s something we feared, we have proposals on how to prevent that, but at this time something went wrong.”
Lawmakers were meeting in the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to certify the Electoral College vote that will officially Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election. After Trump held a rally in Washington to harangue about false claims that the election was stolen from him via widespread voter fraud, a mob descended on the buildings, breaking into both the House and Senate chambers and congressional offices.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pointedly criticized the agency for not having the Capitol under control.
“Everybody knew that there would be a disturbance,” he said on CNBC.
Gainer said it will take 24 hours to sweep the entire Capitol to ensure that it is safe.
The Senate, including Vice President Mike Pence, reconvened in the Senate after 8 p.m. to continue the certification process of Electoral votes.
Biden is set to be sworn into office at the Capitol on Jan. 20.