All four security officials responsible for the response to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 testified that they believed the attack was premeditated, but two blamed not receiving intelligence for delayed and unorganized responses.
Acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee, former House of Representatives sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, and former Senate sergeant-at-arms and doorkeeper Michael Stenger all told Senate Rules Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar that they believed the attack was planned and coordinated before Jan. 6.
The head of Washington's police department defended the law enforcement response to the U.S. Capitol riots, saying District of Columbia officials were not warned about the potential for violence despite federal officials' claims that local officials could have been better prepared.
"The District did not have intelligence pointing to a coordinated assault on the Capitol," Contee wrote in a statement submitted ahead of a joint hearing before the Senate Rules Committee and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Contee said the department planned for the "possibility of violence" based on previous large gatherings by the same pro-Trump groups in Washington in November and December. Officers had been deployed on 12-hour shifts in the days leading up to the riot, which took place as Congress attempted to certify election results and deem Joe Biden the president.
"The intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on the Capitol, nor was that contemplated in any of the interagency discussions that I attended in the days before the attack," Irving said.
Sund requested help from MPD at 12:58 p.m., and by 1:50 p.m., MPD officers declared a riot at the Capitol, according to Contee's statement.
"The violent mob overran protective measures at the Capitol in an attempted insurrection, prior to the arrival of MPD officers at the west front," Contee recounted.
MPD officers who arrived at the scene focused on first stopping rioters from entering the building and removing people already inside, securing a perimeter so that Congress could reconvene before police made arrests. Removing rioters took 3 1/2 hours, and Congress resumed its work 90 minutes after the final trespasser was escorted out.
"MPD's police officers were engaged in a literal battle for hours. Many were forced into hand-to-hand combat to prevent more rioters from gaining entry into the Capitol. This was not a peaceful protest. This was not a crowd trying to express their First Amendment rights — rights which we are proud to protect regardless of belief," Contee said. "At the end of the day, this was an assault on our democracy, and MPD officers held the line."
Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told the Washington Examiner in an interview in late January that the Capitol police failed to implement emergency security plans before the Jan. 6 riots despite receiving the same intelligence briefings as law enforcement agencies that did prepare adequately, according to a top government official. Wolf said that the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Interior, along with the MPD in Washington and Capitol Police, spoke daily in the days leading up to President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally and shared internal information with one another about what was expected.
"Leading up to the sixth, now, we're on daily calls, not only at my level, but then at the staff level as well, with DOJ, with the DOD, with MPD, with others here in the National Capitol complex leading up to the sixth," Wolf said, adding that the senior-level calls included the White House, attorney general, and defense secretary. "You had a large group of individuals that were going to be on the Ellipse, likely on the Mall, all the way down to the Capitol. That was widely known, and any law enforcement agency needs to make sure that — you've got 25,000 to 35,000 people coming — violence likely going to be."
"If Capitol Police had a plan, it was not executed," said Wolf, who criticized the 3-foot-tall pedestrian fence that was set up on Capitol property sidewalks ahead of the rally. "There's no impedance and denial there. You know, that's not going to help do anything to anyone. So, I think there's some questionable decisions made on their part that they're going to have to have to talk about. ... We can provide them information. We can provide them intelligence. We can share, and, of course, if they ask for assets, we give them assets."