The acting chief of the Capitol Police apologized on Tuesday for the force’s failure to prevent a mob of Trump supporters from breaching Congress on Jan. 6, as House investigators delve into a probe of the Capitol insurrection attempt.
“On January 6th, in the face of a terrorist attack by tens of thousands of insurrectionists determined to stop the certification of Electoral College votes, the Department failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours,” reads the statement from Acting Chief of Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman.
Pittman portrayed the Capitol police as caught off-guard by the scale of the insurrection attempt, saying that officers ran out of non-lethal ammo on Jan. 6 while trying to quell the insurrection.
She said that while officers had pepper spray “and other chemical munitions,” they lacked “impact weapons” to counter the armed crowd.
“Additional supplies should have been staged for easy access,” Pittman said. “Instead, the Department had to send in personnel to reload our officers.”
The statement comes as Pittman and other top Capitol security officials testify on Tuesday before the House Appropriations Committee, which is investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Separately, the Washington Post reported, the head of the D.C. National Guard plans on telling Congress that Pentagon officials laid extra restrictions on the D.C. National Guard’s ability to respond quickly before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
The Guard’s commander plans on telling lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee that the Pentagon demanded approval from higher-ups before the Guard could deploy a reserve force.
That decision came after the District’s national guard unit was embroiled in controversy over the use of the military to disperse peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in June. It also came as advisers to then-President Trump, including former General Michael Flynn, argued that Trump should declare martial law and use the military to “re-run” the 2020 election.
Pittman, the acting Capitol police commander, said that the force had intelligence from Jan. 4 — two days before the attack — about the scale of what was to come.
“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. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target,” Pittman said.
Capitol police activated all of its available officers, and was denied an early request for assistance from the D.C. National Guard. But Pittman suggested that it was the need for “an open campus in which lawful protestors could exercise their first amendment right to free speech” that doomed the force’s ability to defend the Capitol. There were too many entry points, Pittman said, for the force to adequately prepare for lawful protests “and at the same time prevented the attack on Capital grounds that day.”
She added that even with those additional forces activated, there weren’t enough officers available on Jan. 6 to protect the Capitol.
Beyond that, pipe bombs found at the RNC and DNC “diverted” Capitol police away from the main attack on Congress.
As the pro-Trump mob approached the Capitol, Pittman said, protocols began to break down.
She said that Capitol police ordered a “lockdown,” which would have sealed every entrance to the building from the outside, even if officers would be left outside. Pittman suggested that that order “may not have been consistently followed,” leaving more openings for the mob to enter.
She added that while the building was breached, police succeeded in preventing the injury or death of any member of Congress.
Police officers had to aid in the “extraction of Members from their offices” and later went to individual offices where staff members had barricaded themselves in.
“It was not until Members and staff were safely evacuated that the Department began clearing the Capitol of invaders floor by floor with the assistance of its law enforcement partners,” the statement reads.
She added that the Capitol was difficult to protect, but that the nature of the threat on Jan. 6 — and who instigated it — made the task all the more complicated.
“Even before September 11, 2001, security experts, including former USCP chiefs of police, argued that more needed to be done to protect the Capitol campus,” she wrote. “Although I doubt many would have thought it would be necessary to protect it against our own citizens.”
Read the statement here: