WASHINGTON – A new bipartisan report on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack details disorganization, intelligence failures and lack of preparation by federal agencies and law enforcement tasked with protecting the building and people inside.
The report, led in part by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, paints a picture of missed clues, lack of preparedness and communication issues in the run-up to the Capitol riot, with severe repercussions during the actual attack by rioters trying to overturn President Donald Trump’s election defeat.
“It’s our duty to have immediate responses to what happened, get some immediate change and to do it on a bipartisan basis,” Klobuchar said in a briefing call with reporters.
The investigation found a patchwork approach in the lead-up to the insurrection that showed varying degrees of intelligence over the prospects of violence on the day lawmakers met to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. Once it was clear that the Capitol was under siege, the report found an array of bureaucratic and logistical problems that hindered efforts to control and repel the rioters.
The report recommends major reforms. But in what was described as a limited scope, it did not delve into Trump’s role in the attack. It did, however, include a complete transcript of the speech the former Republican president gave to supporters ahead of the attack “for context,” Senate committee aides said. The report also does not label the attackers as insurrectionists or call the attack an insurrection, outside of quotes and citations.
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Tuesday’s release is a product of bipartisan work between Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, fellow Democrat and Senate Homeland Security chair Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and the ranking GOP members of those two committees.
It comes as the events of Jan. 6 have led to fierce partisanship and fraught emotions within Congress as some figures in the GOP downplay the violent attack.
Among other changes, the Rules and Administration Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recommend that the U.S. Capitol police chief be able to ask for D.C. National Guard support directly in an emergency, rather than waiting for a board to approve the request. The Department of Defense deployment protocol, which caused a three-hour delay between a call for help and the actual arrival of troops at the Capitol, must be streamlined, the committees said.
“Let’s be honest, Capitol Hill police were put in an impossible situation without adequate intelligence, training and equipment, they didn’t have the tools they needed to protect the Capitol,” said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the ranking Republican member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
In his joint committee interview, former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller denied Trump’s involvement in slowing the deployment. Senate committee aides pointed out that “the report indicates that Secretary Miller said he had all the authority he needed to activate and deploy the D.C. National Guard and that President Trump had concurred.”
The report also calls for all Capitol Police officers to be trained each year in how to respond to civil disturbances. Every officer should be issued “ballistic helmets, gloves and gas masks” the report said. A large number of Capitol Police “officers who fought to defend the Capitol were left to do so in their daily uniforms,” the investigation found.
Intelligence agencies were also called on to rethink how they handle threats of violence discovered on social media, the report said, after finding that “neither the FBI nor DHS deemed online posts calling for violence at the Capitol as credible.”
Even within the Capitol Police, the report found their “intelligence components failed to convey the full scope of threat information they possessed.” The day of violence left around 140 law enforcement officers injured after attacks that ranged from the use of chemical irritants to physical objects that included flagpoles and fence pieces, according to the report.
The report’s release comes shortly after most Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6. Last month, the House passed the bill on a bipartisan vote with 35 Republicans joining Democrats, including Minnesota’s four Democratic members, in voting yes. Minnesota’s four GOP lawmakers opposed the legislation. Two of them, Rep. Jim Hagedorn and Rep. Michelle Fischbach, objected to certifying Biden’s win after the insurrection.
Even with six GOP defections in the Senate to start debate on the bill, and the support of Klobuchar and fellow Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, the legislation failed to clear the chamber’s filibuster threshold of 60 votes to move forward. The House also narrowly passed a spending bill last month to improve Capitol security. Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar joined Minnesota’s Republicans in voting against that measure, and its future in the Senate is bleak given the GOP opposition so far.
While the commission legislation is blocked in the Senate, Democrats have other Congressional options to delve further into the events of Jan. 6, even after the release of Klobuchar’s report with her fellow senators. In a statement last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “Democrats will proceed to find the truth.”
Klobuchar said in an interview her job now is to implement the report and emphasized oversight efforts. But work related to the Jan. 6 attack is far from over for the Minnesota Democrat.
“We continue to push for some type of a commission,” she said. “But for now, my job is to get the security ramped up.”
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