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Congress hears of Trump supporters riot on Capitol Hill

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Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifies before a joint Senate hearing on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration in Capitol Hill, Washington, DC on February 23, 2021, for examine the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

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Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief to Tell Congress He Called on Senate and House Sergeants-at-Arms Jan.4 to request National Guard presence at joint session of Congress two days later for protection.

But the two officials effectively rejected that request by then-leader Steven Sund, which came two days before the Jan.6 Capitol riot by a crowd of supporters of then-President Donald Trump, according to a copy of the testimony Sund is expected to give at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Then-Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving “said he was concerned about the ‘optics’ of the National Guard presence and did not believe the intelligence was backing him,” Sund said in his report. prepared testimony.

“He referred me to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms [Michael Stenger] … to get his opinion on the request, ”Sund wrote.

“I then spoke to Mr. Stenger and asked the National Guard again. Instead of approving the use of the National Guard, however, Mr. Stenger suggested asking them how quickly we could get support. if necessary and to ‘lean forward’ in case we had to ask for help on January 6th. “

Sund resigned in mid-January in the wake of the riot, which left five dead, including Capitol Hill cop Brian Sicknick, and for hours disrupted the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential electoral college .

Stenger does not respond directly to Sund’s claim in his own prepared testimony, which does not address in detail the events leading up to the riot.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger walks the halls of the U.S. Capitol outside the Senate Chamber during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Stenger resigned on Jan. 7, after Sen. Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., who is now majority leader, said he would fire him as soon as Democrats take majority control of the Senate.

But Irving, in his own prepared testimony, says he and other Capitol Security officials expected the January 6 march and demonstration in Washington and Capitol to be a “First Amendment” event. .

“Intelligence reported that some groups encouraged protesters to come armed, that violence was a possibility, as it had been in November and December, and that Congress would be the center of concern,” Irving said. , who also resigned shortly after the riot.

But, he added, “The intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on Capitol Hill, nor was it considered in any of the interagency discussions I attended in the days leading up to the ‘attack.”

Irving said on Jan. 4, he spoke with Sund and Stenger about an offer from the National Guard to incorporate 125 unarmed soldiers “into the security plan to work the traffic service near Capitol Hill, with the hope that these troops would free police officers from the Capitol to be at the Capitol. “

Irving also said that “some media reports have stated that ‘the optics’ determined my judgment on the use of these National Guard troops. This is categorically wrong.

“The optics as portrayed in the media did not determine our security posture; security has always been paramount in the security assessment for Jan. 6,” Irving said.

“We discussed whether the intelligence justified having troops on Capitol Hill, and our collective judgment at the time was not that the intelligence did not warrant it. The intelligence justified the plan that had been prepared. by Chief Sund. “

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, right, and House Administrative Director Phil Kiko, testify at the House Legislative Appropriations Subcommittee hearing titled “Agents Budget of Room FY2021, in the Capitol on Tuesday March 3, 2020.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images

Irving said during his Jan. 4 meeting with the other two security chiefs, “we have agreed that Chief Sund will ask the National Guard to keep the 125 troops in reserve.”

“If I had thought for a moment that the intelligence required the presence of 125 unarmed National Guard soldiers to traffic … I would not have hesitated to do whatever is necessary to ensure their presence,” he said. Irving said.

Further, Chief Sund, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Stenger or one of the law enforcement officials involved in the planning concluded that intelligence called the National Guard or other resource on January 6 (or that the security plan had not been respected whatsoever), I would not have hesitated to ensure the presence of the National Guard or to make any other changes necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Capitol. “

He added: “Our ultimate need for a national guard was radically different from that of unarmed troops for trafficking.”

Irving also said that on January 5, Sund gave a briefing, where the then chief of police “pointed out that there would be ‘everyone on the bridge’ and described law enforcement and contingent National Guard assets that would be on call. “

“Like Chief Sund, based on intelligence and the extensive deployment of law enforcement, I mistakenly believed we were prepared,” Irving said.

“As we now know, the security plan was not sufficient for the unprecedented attack that took place on January 6.”

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