'We had the wrong plan' -Former House security chief

Paul Irving, the House's former sergeant-at-arms instead said that intelligence had not warranted having troops at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when supporters of the then-president attacked the building, leaving five dead.

Irving said that two days before the event he had discussed the possible use of 125 National Guard troops with then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.

"'Optics' as portrayed in the media played no role in my decisions about security," Irving told two Senate panels opening a probe into security failures before and during the riot. "We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol. The collective judgment at that time was no - the intelligence did not warrant that."

Sund said that rioters coordinated the unprecedented attack. “These criminals came prepared for war,” he said, adding that no police are trained for such an insurgent assault.

Senators in the Homeland Security Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration want to find out where the breakdowns in planning and response occurred that allowed the violence to unfold in and around the citadel of American democracy.

The riots shook the world, threatened a peaceful transition of power and endangered the lives of U.S. lawmakers and Trump's vice president, Mike Pence.

The Capitol building, which hosts the 535 members of Congress, has long been open to visitors and guests in a way that the White House has not been. Passersby could walk almost to the building's steps and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it was still open to tourists, who had to enter through a special visitors' entrance.

U.S. media reports said that congressional leaders and security officials ahead of the Jan. 6 rally in support of Trump's false claim that his election defeat was the result of widespread fraud had not wanted to see the same militarized presence around the Capitol that was stationed about the White House during summer anti-racism protests.

Video Transcript

STEVEN SUND: I've been in policing for almost 30 years. The events I witnessed on January 6 was the worst attack on law enforcement and our democracy that I've seen in my entire career. Eyewitness insurgents beating police officers with fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades and flagpoles. These criminals came prepared for war. They came with their own radio system to coordinate the attack, and climbing gear and other equipment to defeat the capital's security features.

I am sickened by what I witnessed that day. Our officers fought valiantly using batons, shields, chemical munitions and pepper ball guns to hold back the attackers. Capitol Police and responding law enforcement agencies showed tremendous restraint by not using their firearms, which would have likely led to a more chaotic situation and a possible mass casualty incident. No civilian law enforcement agency, to include the United States Capitol Police, is trained or equipped to repel an insurrection of thousands of individuals focused on breaching a building at all costs.

I'm extremely proud and appreciative of the Capitol Police officers, the Metropolitan Police department, and the other law enforcement agencies that came to our assistance. A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police.

PAUL IRVING: Every Capitol Police daily intelligence report between January 4 and January 6, including on January 6, forecast the chance of civil disobedience or arrests during the protests as remote to improbable. Based on the intelligence, we all believed that the plan met the threat and that we were prepared. We now know we had the wrong plan.

As one of the senior security leaders responsible for the event, I am accountable for that. I accept that responsibility and as you know, I have resigned my position. Much has been said about whether optics affected my judgment in a January 4 telephone call with Chief Sund and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Stanger about a National Guard offer to incorporate 125 unarmed National Guard troops into the security plan. The Guard's purpose would have been to work traffic control near the Capitol.

My use of the word, optics, has been mischaracterized in the media. Let me be clear. Optics as portrayed in the media played no role whatsoever in my decisions about security. And any suggestion to the contrary is false. Safety was always paramount when making security plans for January 6.