Senate holds first public hearing on Capitol riot

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 3:06 PM ET, Tue February 23, 2021
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2:34 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Klobuchar on Capitol security: "It's not going to be just like it used to be"

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Erin Scott/The New York Times via AP
Erin Scott/The New York Times via AP

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Rules committee, weighed in on when the fencing could come down around the US Capitol complex, saying it’s going to be up to leadership and based on security recommendations.

She told reporters:

“Well, that is going to be a discussion on the leadership level, and it’s going to be based on recommendations of security experts… I think people will have to realize that it’s not going to be just like it used to be, but we have to make the building accessible, and so that’s a big decision as well as the use of the National Guard going forward.”

The Minnesota Democrat added: “After 9/11, the National Guard was here for a number of years.”

1:05 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Go There: CNN answers your questions on the Capitol riot

The Senate is holding its first public hearing today on the Capitol Hill attack.

CNN’s Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz has the latest from DC.

Watch more:

12:34 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

The hearing is back after a short break

The Senate hearing just returned from a five-minute break. Senators will continue to question law enforcement officials about what occurred on Jan. 6, the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

The witnesses are:

12:09 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

FBI gave Capitol Police "troubling" information on the eve of Jan. 6 — but it was not delivered to leadership

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Jeremy Herb

Sen. Gary Peters revealed Tuesday that an FBI report containing “troubling” information was given to US Capitol Police headquarters on the eve of Jan. 6 but never made it to the department’s leadership, a breakdown the Michigan Democrat said is “clearly a major problem." 

“How can you not get that vital intelligence on the eve of what’s going to be a major event?,” Peters asked.

Former US Capitol Police chief Steven Sund responded that it was “coming in as raw data,” though he acknowledged the information would have been helpful. 

“I agree that’s something we need to look at. What’s the process and how do we streamline?” he said.

Peters also pressed Sund to explain why more actions weren't taken in light of a Jan. 3 internal Capitol Police intelligence report that stated the Capitol was the target of the January 6 protests.

Sund responded that the report prompted Capitol Police to discuss its plans with Metropolitan Police and expand its perimeter for the event, though he also said that the expansion was already underway.

11:38 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Witnesses explain how the Jan. 6 attack was coordinated

Sen. Gary Peters asks the witnesses a question during the hearing.
Sen. Gary Peters asks the witnesses a question during the hearing. Pool

Sen. Gary Peters asked the witnesses to explain why they believe that the Jan. 6 attack was coordinated.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said that he believed there was "significant coordination" by the rioters to carry out the attack.

"One, these people came specifically with equipment. You're bringing climbing gear to a demonstration. You're bringing explosives. You're bringing chemical spray, such as what Captain Mendoza had talked about. You're coming prepared."

He said that he believes the insurrectionists planted bombs nearby to draw police resources away from the Capitol.

"The fact that the group that attacked our west front, attacked our west front... approximately 20 minute before the event over at the Ellipse ended, which means they were planning on our agency not being at what they call full strength...And then also the fact that we're dealing with two pipe bombs that were specifically, you know, set off the edge of our perimeter to, what I suspect, draw resources away. I think there was a significant coordination with this attack." 

Robert Contee, acting chief of the DC Metropolitan Police, echoed Sund's opinion that the attack was coordinated.

"My view is from the day of the incident. I think there were hand signals that were being used by several of the insurrectionists," he said. "There were radio communication by several individuals that were involved ... I certainly believe it was coordinated."

11:27 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Former Capitol Police chief on delay in asking National Guard for help: "It's just a process that is in place"

Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP
Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP

Former US Capitol Police chief Steven Sund testified that he could not ask for help from the National Guard as rioters stormed the Capitol without a emergency declaration from the Capitol Police Board — something that also stops him from being able to "give my men and women cold water on an excessively hot day."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that written Sund's testimony described how he could not ask for help from the National Guard without the declaration.

"Mr. Sund, your written testimony states that you had no authority to request the assistance of the National Guard without an emergency declaration of the Capitol Police Board. On what rule, regulation or authority did you base that view?" she asked.

Here's how he responded:

"I'd have to go back and look at the specific rule, but it's a standard — it's a standing rule that we have. I cannot request the National Guard without a declaration of emergency from the Capitol Police Board. It's kind of interesting because it's very similar to the fact that I can't even give my men and women cold water on an excessively hot day without declaration of emergency. 

"It's just a process that is in place," he added.

11:23 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

White supremacists were involved in Capitol attack, officials testify 

From CNN's Marshall Cohen 

Top Capitol security officials said White supremacists were involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, asked the officials, “Would you agree that this attack involved white supremacists and extremist groups?”

All the officials who were testifying answered “yes.”

The officials are former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, and DC Metropolitan Police Acting Chief Robert Contee.

CNN has previously reported on the presence of far-right extremists, anti-government militants, and white nationalist groups among the mob of pro-Trump rioters that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. One of the rioters went viral for his “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt that referenced the Nazi-era concentration camp. 

In recent weeks, some right-wing figures have downplayed or denied the role of racist groups in the attack. For instance, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show Monday night, “There is no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6. That’s a lie.”

12:13 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Former Capitol Police Chief says Jan. 6 breach did not happen due to "poor planning" from his agency

Former US Capitol police chief Steven Sund testifies on Tuesday.
Former US Capitol police chief Steven Sund testifies on Tuesday. Erin Scott/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Former US Capitol police chief Steven Sund pushed back on the suggestion that USCP was not prepared for the events of January 6.

"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," Sund said today during a Senate hearing on the Capitol attack.

He continued: "Based on the intelligence that we received, we planned for increased level of violence at the Capitol and that some participants may be armed, but none of the intelligence that we received predicted what actually occurred."

"We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence, what we got was a military-style coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol building," Sund said.

Sund noted that because of a lack of intelligence, the police were "outnumbered" by the mob. He thanked and praised the work of his colleagues on that day.

"I want to again recognize the heroic efforts of the Capitol police officers who on January 6th outnumbered and against the odds successfully carried out their mission to protect the members of Congress and the legislative process. I couldn't have been more proud to be part of their team," Sund said.


11:17 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Former Capitol Police Chief says Jan. 6 rioters "came prepared for war"

Steven Sund is sworn in on Tuesday.
Steven Sund is sworn in on Tuesday. Pool

Former chief of the US Capitol Police, Steven Sund, called the rioters "criminals" and said they "came prepared for war" during the Jan. 6 attack.

In his prepared opening statement during a Senate hearing on the Capitol riots, Sund said that the events of Jan. 6 were "the worst attack on law enforcement" that he has seen during his nearly 30 year career.

"I have been in policing for almost 30 years, and in that time I have been involved in a number of critical incidents, and responded to a number of horrific scenes. The events on January 6, 2021, constituted the worst attack on law enforcement that I have seen in my entire career. This was an attack that we are learning was pre-planned, and involved participants from a number of states who came well equipped, coordinated, and prepared to carry out a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol," he said in prepared remarks.

Sund said that he witnessed the rioters beating officers with "fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades, and flag poles."

"These criminals came prepared for war," he said. "They came with their own radio system to coordinate the attack, as well as climbing gear and other equipment to defeat the Capitol’s security features," he continued.

"I'm sickened by what I witnessed that day," Sund said in his opening testimony.