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The Senate held the first bipartisan joint monitoring hearing on the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. All four men who testified said they agreed the attack was largely premeditated.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hour after hour, in sometimes dense testimony, senators and witnesses discussed everything from the protective equipment of officers to communications between law enforcement and what can be done to prevent future attacks.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And we’re going to talk about all of this with NPR Congressional correspondent Susan Davis.

Hi, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hi.

KELLY: So this was the Senate’s first hearing on the January 6th attack. What have we really learned that is new?

DAVIS: Well, I think there were a few takeaways that the four men who testified today agreed. First, they all agreed that it was largely a premeditated attack, that it was not a spontaneous explosion that occurred that day. And they all agreed that white supremacist groups were key players in the attack. All four pointed to intelligence failures as perhaps the main reason why the Capitol Police were so ill-prepared that day, and they said they had no information from the intelligence community. that the Capitol itself could be attacked. Former police chief Steven Sund said they were holding meetings with intelligence agencies until the day before the attack.

(SOUND PRESENTATION OF THE ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVEN SUND: No entity, including the FBI, provided new information regarding January 6.

DAVIS: Now, as you noted, it was later revealed, after the January 6 attack, that an FBI office in Norfolk the night before had emailed a report suggesting there might be have violence targeting lawmakers in the building. But none of the top law enforcement officials tasked with protecting the Capitol has ever seen him.

KELLY: Now there was a significant gap that emerged among the police officers who testified today. Explain their disagreement.

DAVIS: So Sund and former Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving – and, again, these two men resigned after the attack – they disagree on a critical point in the timeline of this delay for the troops of the National Guard sent to help. Sund has testified several times – and remember everyone was under oath today …

KELLY: Yeah.

DAVIS: … that he called Irving at 1:09 p.m., a very specific time that day, to ask him to call the National Guard. He said Irving told him he would have to pull the chain up, and the request wasn’t finally sent out until an hour later. Irving counter-attested that he had never received such a call and that he had the phone records to back it up. Now, several senators have indicated that they want to clarify this point. They asked the two men to turn over their telephone tapes to the committee. However, they did agree on something – that later that day, on that 2 p.m. phone call, there was the military. The army hesitated to send the guard. And Robert Contee is the acting chief of police for Washington, DC. He was on call when Sund made the request to the military, which was not immediately cleared.

(SOUND PRESENTATION OF THE ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT CONTEE: I was just amazed that, you know, I have officers who were literally fighting for their lives. And, you know, we’re kind of going through, you know, what seemed like an exercise to really tick the boxes, and it wasn’t an immediate response.

DAVIS: Now the request was finally approved, but remember the guard troops did not arrive at the scene until several hours after the Capitol breach.

KELLY: Okay. Are senators already starting to explain what they are planning in terms of reforms to prevent something like this from happening again?

DAVIS: Yeah. I mean, we talk about a lot of things. Obviously, intelligence sharing and setbacks is something that will be looked at in depth. Rules Committee chair Amy Klobuchar said Congress really needs to look at this role of the Capitol Police Council. These safety decisions are made by the board of directors. It’s a four-member board, and there’s a general feeling that it needs to be changed and kind of the chain of command and who has to decide what.

She also said there will likely be changes, physical changes to the security of the Capitol. Much of it will be classified. We probably won’t know what it will be. But several people involved recommended installing more secure fences around the building. This is something that has been suggested and resisted for years, especially after the September 11 attack. Lawmakers really don’t like how it looks or the message it sends. They want the building to be accessible to the public.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Gary Peters also highlighted what he sees as a bigger structural problem – the fact that the US intelligence apparatus is actually only geared towards this post-11 mindset. September, focused on foreign threats. And he said this attitude needed to be completely reworked to examine national threats, especially white supremacist extremism, and said that as the new chair of this committee he was going to make it a specific focus. .

KELLY: I was just going to say it’s so familiar to those of us …

DAVIS: Yeah.

KELLY: … Who covered 9/11 and its aftermath – this intelligence-sharing debate and how to do it. Really quick, Sue, more hearings – are there any plans for more going on?

DAVIS: There will be. Klobuchar has already announced that this joint committee effort will hold its second hearing next week. They’re going to hear from officials from the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. Obviously, they want their side on it – the intelligence failures and exactly why the National Guard was delayed.

KELLY: Thanks, Sue.

DAVIS: You’re welcome.

DAVIS: Sue Davis of NPR.

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NPR transcripts are created on a deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of NPR’s programming is the audio recording.

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