Senate holds 1st public hearing into Capitol assault security failures

Senate holds 1st public hearing into Capitol assault security failures
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BEATRICE PETERSON and LUKE BARR
·4 min read
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Barbed wire fencing and National Guard troops still in place on Capitol Hill on Tuesday are haunting reminders of the deadly assault on Jan. 6 that left 140 police officers injured and five people dead.

The fallout from the attack continues as the Senate holds the first public meeting about the incident during a joint hearing between the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Rules and Administration Committee.

Set to testify are top officials who were responsible for security at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Three of those officials, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper Michael Stenger and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving, resigned in the immediate wake of the attack.

Additionally, law enforcement officials will examine the various security failures that lead to the breach.

Lawmakers will also question Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert Contee on Tuesday. His agency provided backup for the Capitol security force that was overrun by the pro-Trump mob.

MORE:Capitol Police officer recounts Jan. 6 attack: Exclusive

Lawmakers will use this hearing to determine what security is needed in Washington moving forward. However, this will be the first of several hearings.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., said the next hearing will include representatives from the Department of Defense, FBI, Homeland Security, and other agencies. Lawmakers from both parties said they want to prevent incidents like the siege from ever happening again.

Earlier this month, ABC News obtained a copy of a letter sent by Sund, who said the intelligence leading up to the event didn’t indicate it would become as violent as it did.

"Perfect hindsight does not change the fact that nothing in our collective experience or our intelligence – including intelligence provided by FBI, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and D.C. Metropolitan Police (MPD) – indicated that a well-coordinated, armed assault on the Capitol might occur on Jan. 6," Sund wrote.

PHOTO: Supporters of President Donald Trump roam under the Capitol Rotunda after invading the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Supporters of President Donald Trump roam under the Capitol Rotunda after invading the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

MORE: DOJ has identified 400 suspects, charged 135 in Capitol riot

In his letter, he wrote intelligence officials indicated Jan. 6 would be similar to previous mostly peaceful post-election demonstrations in November and December.

Sund said he directed the Capitol Police to have every sworn officer working, and activated seven Civil Disturbance Unit platoons, which included approximately 250 officers. Four of those platoons were equipped with helmets, protective clothing and shields.

On Jan. 5, Sund hosted a virtual meeting focused on the Jan. 6 event as well as the Inauguration. "During the meeting, no entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists," Sund wrote.

MORE: Congress aims to avoid politics with independent Jan. 6 investigation

“There is no question that on Jan. 6, a breakdown of leadership, preparation and response allowed domestic terrorists — including white supremacist and anti-government groups — to breach the Capitol in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election," Sen. Peters told ABC News in a statement. "The American people deserve to know how it happened and what actions lawmakers will take to prevent hate groups and dangerous conspiracy theorists from further attacking our country.”

"The entire intelligence community seems to have missed this," he added.

PHOTO: Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)

The ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement to ABC News, “the attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attack on democracy itself.” He added that he is looking forward to hearing directly from officials who were responsible for securing the Capitol complex.

He added Tuesday’s hearing “will inform what reforms need to be made to ensure nothing like Jan. 6 ever happens again.”

PHOTO:Security forces respond with tear gas after the US President Donald Trump's supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO:Security forces respond with tear gas after the US President Donald Trump's supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE)

MORE: In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement 'let us in' to building

"The outrageous, deadly, and destructive attack marks a sad day in the history of our country," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told ABC News in a statement. "The officers who defended the Capitol that day deserve to be recognized and praised for their valiant efforts." He added, “our institutions are durable, but I hope they will never again be tested in this way."

Klobuchar told CNN on Monday that she wants to know what exactly happened with the National Guard and why there was a delay in deployment.

ABC News' Jack Date and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

Senate holds 1st public hearing into Capitol assault security failures originally appeared on abcnews.go.com