D.C. mayor calls for congressional inquiry into security failures that enabled insurrection


District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during a news conference on D.C. statehood in the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Caroline Brehman | CQ-Roll Call | Getty Images

The mayor of Washington, D.C., called on Congress to establish a panel to investigate the security lapses that enabled a mob to penetrate the U.S. Capitol Complex and threaten lawmakers.

The call came Thursday, as the U.S. Capitol Police faces scrutiny for allowing supporters of President Donald Trump to swarm the Capitol while hundreds of elected leaders — including the first, second and third in line of presidential succession — were inside.

“Congress must create a nonpartisan commission to understand the catastrophic security failures that happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, both to hold people accountable and to ensure that it never happens again,” Bowser, a Democrat, said in an address billed as a situational update.

“We must also understand why the federal law enforcement response was much stronger at the protests over the summer than during yesterday’s attack on Congress,” Bowser said, referring to the overwhelming response to those protesting police violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

The U.S. Capitol Police defended its actions on Wednesday as criticism mounted. Steven Sund, chief of police, said in a statement that his officers “responded valiantly.”

“These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Police Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers,” Sund said in a statement. “They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage.”

A protester screams “Freedom” inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

At least 50 officers were injured in the attack, including several who have been hospitalized with serious injuries, Sund said on Thursday. Four people died in the riots, including one woman who was shot by a Capitol Police officer and three who died of unspecified “medical emergencies.”

The Capitol Police has a sworn force of about 2,000 officers and an additional 350 civilian personnel, according to its website. Its mission is to “Protect the Congress — its Members, employees, visitors, and facilities — so it can fulfill its constitutional and legislative responsibilities in a safe, secure and open environment.”

The Capitol Police have arrested 14 people in connection with the riots, according to a press release posted online. At the situational update, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said that officers had arrested 68 individuals, 41 of whom were arrested on U.S. Capitol grounds.

“When U.S. Capitol Police called for assistance, MPD answered the call,” Contee said.

The protests had long been expected, prompting criticism from some lawmakers, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

“This was out on social media. President Trump was literally inciting them. They were communicating about what they were going to do, and we needed major presence,” Klobuchar said on ABC’s “The View” on Thursday. “There was not adequate planning for this, and it must be, every detail of this, investigated.”

Bowser also called for Congress to transfer control of the D.C. National Guard from the president to her office.

About 1,100 troops from the D.C. National Guard were mobilized on Wednesday in response to the riots after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Bowser requested their assistance, but Trump had to be persuaded to send them, NBC News reported.

Bowser, who has had a hostile relationship with the president for years, to varying degrees, also called for Trump to be “held accountable for this unprecedented attack on our democracy.”

“What happened yesterday was what he wanted to happen and we must not underestimate the damage he can do to our nation and our democracy over the next two weeks,” Bowser said.

“And it’s not just the president who must be held accountable. So too must the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol and threatened members of Congress,” she added.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said that federal charges for those responsible for the attack are forthcoming.

“Our criminal prosecutors have been working throughout the evening with special agents and investigators from the U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, ATF, Metropolitan Police Department and the public to gather the evidence, identify perpetrators, and charge federal crimes where warranted,” Rosen said in a statement.

“Some participants in yesterday’s violence will be charged today, and we will continue to methodically assess evidence, charge crimes and make arrests in the coming days and weeks to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law,” he said.

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