Congress owes the American people “a full accounting” of the critical delay in evacuating lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said.
Reacting to an investigation by The Epoch Times that showed a Capitol Police lieutenant was never answered when he repeatedly asked the No. 2 commander for authorization to evacuate the U.S. Senate, Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said it’s another example of Jan. 6 questions needing answers.
“I’ve sent numerous oversight letters to Capitol Police regarding the security failures on January 6th,” Johnson told The Epoch Times in a statement. “While I have received some information in response to my inquiries, many people responsible for security on that day have repeatedly failed to cooperate.”
Former USCP Lt. Tarik K. Johnson said he got no response when asking for authorization to begin evacuating lawmakers and staff on Jan. 6. The top commander that Johnson said was responsible—former Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman—was missing in action when he pleaded for direction.
“I begged for help all day on Jan. 6, 2021, and I feel I was largely ignored,” Tarik Johnson told The Epoch Times. “I beg again on Jan. 6, 2023—exactly two years later—for the proper investigative entities to uncover what really occurred on J6, and I pray that the country hears my cry.”
Johnson said the crucial delay in the evacuations should never have happened.
“There was no response from anybody at the Command Center,” Tarik Johnson said. “I say even before I initiated evacuation, I say specifically, ‘We’ve got to start thinking about getting the people out before we don’t have a chance to.’
“I heard no response. Then I asked for permission to evacuate. I heard no response.”
Johnson said that if Pittman had reacted when he first asked for authorization, protester Ashli Babbitt might not have been shot and killed outside the House Speaker’s Lobby. Pittman has not replied to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.
Recordings of USCP radio traffic from Jan. 6 obtained exclusively by The Epoch Times corroborates Johnson’s description of repeatedly asking for command authorization but getting no reply.
Sen. Johnson, a member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said U.S. Capitol Police has a spotty record of transparency.
“It is highly concerning to hear that former Lt. Tarik K. Johnson received no response from the Command Center that day,” Sen. Johnson said. “We owe it to the American people to get a full accounting of these security failures.”
In a letter to Pittman on March 1, 2021, Sen. Johnson advised the agency to preserve all of its records of communications between USCP and the sergeants at arms and other Senate and House leadership between Jan. 3 and Jan. 7, 2021.
Former USCP Chief Steven A. Sund, who was forced to resign immediately after Jan. 6, said he had to push in order to be heard by the joint Senate committee investigation on January 6.
“A lot of people don’t realize that they didn’t want me to testify in the Senate combined hearing. They actually had made a stipulation that no one that was no longer in their position will be called to testify,” Sund said in an interview with The Epoch Times.
“But I actually went to the Rules Committee and said, ‘I want to testify.’ And they’re like, ‘he really does,’” Sund recalled. “‘I want to testify, and I will be there in person.’ I went, and I testified for four and a half hours. It took some push on my side.”
Sund acknowledged the command failures on Jan. 6 but noted that the crowds that surrounded the Capitol that day were unprecedented in size and composition. Sund said the protesters who began the rioting at about 12:50 p.m. were unlike any protesters he has seen in Washington D.C.
Sund said he was not aware of Tarik Johnson’s problems getting authorization from Pittman in the Command Center. In retrospect, he said, the evacuation of Congress should have been done sooner.
“I think we waited too long,” Sund said in an interview promoting his new Jan. 6 book, “Courage Under Fire.”
“I do think the Command Center, we’re in the position, my two assistant chiefs myself, to see that from a higher level, and we should have pulled the trigger on that a lot earlier,” he said.
A December 2022 report on Jan. 6 from GOP members of the House faulted the USCP intelligence division for not sharing data on possible violent provocateurs with the full USCP command and line officers. Pittman was in charge of agency intelligence at the time.
Jan. 6 will assuredly be the subject of more investigations in the 118th Congress. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) both pledged to release to the public the more than 14,000 hours of video held by the USCP. Most of that video has been under court seal since Jan. 6.
Security video from some 1,700 Capitol Police cameras is certain to answer many questions about crowds, violence, and the presence of organized provocateur groups on Jan. 6. Many of the more than 950 criminal-case defendants are also eager to determine if the video contains previously undisclosed exculpatory information.
While Sen. Johnson readily shared his thoughts on the delayed Jan. 6 evacuations, his U.S. House GOP colleagues don’t appear to share his curiosity about why Lt. Johnson did not get more help from the USCP Command Center. The Epoch Times contacted a dozen GOP House lawmakers. Only one replied, but declined to comment.
Tarik Johnson told The Epoch Times that his former employer is denying him the Congressional Medal of Honor given USCP employees for Jan. 6.
“They said only people who retired will get one, and since I left via transfer to another federal agency, I don’t qualify,” Johnson said. “My wife does qualify since she retired even though she wasn’t there on the 6th. I was telling this to another officer, and he said he is giving me his.”
In an email to Tarik Johnson, the USCP said he did not qualify for the medal.
“The department determined, under appropriations law, that it could give medals to anyone here on the 6th who was either still here or who had retired since the 6th,” the email said. “Since you left as a transfer, not a retiree, the department cannot, unfortunately, provide you with a medal.
“However, you can purchase once [sic] from the U.S. Mint,” the email said.
Tarik Johnson said although he was denied a medal, two officers have offered to give theirs to him.