A Senate hearing Tuesday on the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol opened with ex-security and law enforcement officials saying the intelligence assessments they receive before the breech did not include warnings of an overwhelming, violent assault.
The much anticipated joint oversight hearing includes testimony from former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Doorkeeper Michael Stenger; former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving; former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund; and the acting chief of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, Robert Contee.
“The breach of the United States Capitol was not the result of poor planning or failure to contain a demonstration gone wrong,” Sund told senators. Based on intelligence, law enforcement officials expected protests similar to other events at the Capitol and Supreme Court, and prepared accordingly.
“The USCP implemented a number of enhancements to our planning for January 6, 2021, based on the intelligence that we had,” he said.
The former chief described officers’ shock at encountering a violent confrontation.
“This mob was like nothing I have seen in my law enforcement career,” Sund said. “The group consisted of thousands of well-coordinated, well-equipped violent criminals. They had weapons, chemical munitions, protective equipment, explosives, and climbing gear.”
Stenger echoed the comments about intelligence assessments.
“We all believed the plan met the threat,” Stenger said. “We all know we had the wrong plan.”
Irving, the former House Sergeant-at-Arms, is expected to concur with statements about intelligence warnings.
“Like Chief Sund, based on the intelligence and the extensive deployment of law enforcement resources, I erroneously believed that we were prepared,” Irving is expected to say, based on prepared testimony.
Irving also will address reports of his own actions leading up to that day.
“Certain media reports have stated that ‘optics’ determined my judgement about using those National Guard troops,” Irving is expected to say in prepared testimony. “That is categorically false. ‘Optics’ as portrayed in the media did not determine our security posture; safety was always paramount when evaluating security for January 6. We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no—the intelligence did not warrant that.”
The hearing opened with Senator Amy Klobuchar chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, describing the events of Jan. 6 as not just an attack on the building, but an attack on the democracy itself.
The hearing is the first of others that will bring witnesses from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense, Klobuchar said.