The January 6th riot at the United States Capitol was planned and coordinated — and not a spur-of-the-moment attack — law enforcement officials in charge of the response told Congress Tuesday.
Several officials testified Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing dissecting the events leading up to the January 6th riot as well as the law enforcement response in an effort to outline how dozens of protesters were able to break through the Capitol’s front doors and get within inches of working lawmakers.
Democrats have been working with the theory that President Donald Trump, who appeared at a “Stop the Steal” rally the morning of January 6th, “incited” the crowd to march to the U.S. Capitol and disrupt a planned vote to certify the results of the Electoral College, making Joe Biden the official winner of the November presidential election.
Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and Metropolitan Police Department acting chief Robert Contee all testified that they witnessed incidents on January 6th that made it clear the attack was “planned” and “coordinated” days if not weeks ahead of January 6th.
Sund even suggested that rioters had studied Capitol Police strategy and knew the building’s weak points.
“These people came specifically with equipment. You’re bringing climbing gear to a demonstration, explosives, chemical spray – you’re coming prepared,” Sund said. “The fact that the group attacked our West Front 20 minutes before the event at the Ellipse ended – they were planning on our agency not being at full strength at that time.”
“I think there was a significant coordination with this attack,” he added.
Contee, Fox News adds, “also said rioters used ‘hand signals and radio communication,’ as well as a ‘coordinated use’ of chemicals.”
“I certainly believe it was coordinated,” Contee said. “As they continue to scrub social media, we are learning more and more and more that this is clearly a coordinated effort.”
“Based on the information provided by Contee and Sund, I would agree,” Irving agreed. “The evidence would indicate a coordinated attack.”
Sund noted that, because the attackers were so well-prepared, it would have been difficult for any security force to put a stop to the breach.
“No single civilian law enforcement agency – and certainly not the USCP – is trained and equipped to repel, without significant military or other law enforcement assistance, an insurrection of thousands of armed, violent, and coordinated individuals focused on breaching a building at all costs,” Sund said.
Contee went on to suggest that a pair of pipe bombs, one outside of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters and one outside of the Republican National Committee’s headquarters, were designed to serve as distractions while rioters breached the Capitol doors. The FBI is still on the hunt for the bomber, nearly two months after the attack.
The FBI is still investigating the attacks and, on Tuesday, the agency announced that two rioters were arrested in Kentucky. They also noted, last week, in a memo obtained by the Washington Post, that there was significant evidence that “right-wing extremist” groups were plotting to attack the United States Capitol for weeks ahead of the “Stop the Steal” rally, and had coordinated on strategy.
Although the officials who testified Tuesday agreed on the characteristics of the attack, they disagreed on which security force should take the blame for failing to protect federal lawmakers, including former Vice President Mike Pence.
“The officials, including the former chief of the Capitol Police, pointed their fingers at various federal agencies — and each other — for their failure to defend the building as supporters of then-President Donald Trump overwhelmed security barriers, broke windows and doors, and sent lawmakers fleeing from the House and Senate chambers. Five people died as a result of the riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to enter the House chamber with lawmakers still inside,” The Associated Press reported.