Senate sergeant-at-arms in charge of security during Jan 6 riot dies

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Michael Stenger, who served as the Sergeant at Arms for the United States Senate during January 6 riot at the US Capitol last year, has died, Fox News’s Chad Pergram reported.

Mr Stenger’s death comes amid the House of Representatives’s attempt to investigate the riot at the US Capitol last year wherein supporters of former president Donald Trump raided the complex in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Mr Stenger assumed the role in 2018 after he served as chief of staff to his predecessor Frank Larkin, Roll Call reported at the time. He previously served in the United States Marine Corps and for 35 years in the US Secret Service.

In the days and weeks following the attack, Mr Stenger received the brunt of the blame. Then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged he would fire Mr Stenger if he was not out of office by the time Democrats assumed the majority on 20 January of last year.

Mitch McConnell, then Senate Majority Leader, “requested and received the resignation” of Mr Stenger the day after the riot.

“The ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement, and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them”, Mr McConnell said at the time. “But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”

In a report released later that year by the Senate Rules Committee that outlined the security failures leading up the deadly riot, noting how the United States Capitol Police did not have unilateral authority to request aid from the National Guard. The report faulted both former chief of US Capitol Police Steven Sund and Mr Stenger.

“Steven Sund never submitted a formal request to the Capitol Police Board for National Guard support in advance of January 6”, the report said. “Instead, Steven Sund had informal conversations with the House Sergeant at Arms, Paul Irving, and the Senate Sergeant at Arms, Michael Stenger, regarding the potential need for National Guard support. No one ever discussed the possibility of National Guard support with the Architect of the Capitol, the third voting member of the Capitol Police Board.”

In an opening statement last year during the investigation, Mr Stenger laid out what he thought were the lessons to be learned from the riot.

“There is an opportunity to learn lessons from the events of January 6th. Investigations should be considered as to funding and travel of what appears to be professional agitators”, he said at the time. “First Amendment rights should always be considered in conjunction with professional investigations.”