Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was expecting a mass protest on January 6, but he missed a potentially crucial intel memo that warned the event could turn into a much more chaotic scene.
“I actually just in the last 24 hours, was informed by the department that they actually had received that report,” Sund told lawmakers during a hearing on the deadly Capitol riot. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is a task force with the FBI—they received it the evening of the 5th, reviewed it and then forwarded it over to an official at the intelligence division over at U.S. Capitol Police headquarters.”
“I’m not sure why that didn’t get pushed up higher,” Sund added.
On that day, thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump left a rally near the White House and stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to interrupt the certification of then-President elect Joe Biden‘s win. Five people died in the insurrection, which required then-Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders to be whisked to safety. Evidence presented during Trump’s second impeachment trial showed several lawmakers narrowly evaded the rioters.
Sund testified alongside former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving and Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger. All resigned shortly after the siege.
Robert J. Contee III, acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, also took part in the hearing, which is Congress‘ first public, in-person evaluation of the security failures.
The law enforcement leaders’ testimonies clashed at several points Tuesday. But nearly all agreed that there was a gap in intelligence that left them ill-prepared for the riot.
Contee said the FBI warning on the eve of the attack was sent “in the form of an email.”
“Looking at the information for the first time yesterday, it is strictly raw data, it’s raw intelligence information that has come in, seen on a social media post,” Sund explained. “Without the intelligence to properly prepare, the USCP was significantly outnumbered and left to defend the Capitol against an extremely violent mob.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the Rules Committee, told reporters during a break in the hearing that she plans to hold a hearing next week with Pentagon officials to try to sort out an apparent delay in National Guard troops being deployed to the Capitol during the riot.
“There were clearly intelligence issues with information that was out there that didn’t get to the right people, actions that weren’t taken and mostly that the National Guard, where there was a combination of the Defense Department and when the request was made weren’t called in in a major way,” Klobuchar said.
Sund gave a detailed account of his attempts to get approval for the National Guard for several hours. He maintained he called Irving to begin the process of requesting the National Guard at 1:09 p.m. that day, but Irving said he didn’t recall the two speaking about it before 2 p.m.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters as the hearing was taking place that the Biden administration will help address any gaps in intelligence or Capitol security efforts going forward.