Officials in charge of the security of the U.S. Capitol are resigning after Wednesday’s riot as lawmakers push for accountability after the disaster.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police said on Thursday that Chief Steven Sund was on his way out, according to NBC News. The departure comes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called publicly for his resignation, calling the incident a “failure of leadership at the top.” Sund will serve through Jan. 16, leaving just days before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in to office as President of the United States.
The Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, and the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House, Paul Irving, have also resigned after pressure from top lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to The Associated Press.
A series of oversights, errors and poor choices exacerbated Wednesday’s riot. As The Daily Wire reports:
Ahead of the protest, federal authorities reportedly wanted to maintain a “minimally visible presence” to “avoid inflaming tensions,” after months of violent protests and riots in cities across America.
Despite advanced knowledge of the impending protest, United States Capitol Police — the federal law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the complex — declined to request additional support ahead of time from the Department of Homeland Security, according to one senior official.
As a result, Capitol Police Officers, most without riot gear or other protective equipment, were left largely alone for over an hour.
While it remains unclear how many were on duty Wednesday, the entire Capitol Police force is comprised of just 1,900 officers, leaving those tasked with defending the grounds vastly outnumbered as rioters approached.
The Capitol Police reportedly failed to address weak points in its security around the Capitol and were caught off guard and overwhelmed by the rioters, according to former Capitol Police Chief Terry Gainer.
“We lost control of the steps and the areas around the exterior of the Capitol where the skin of the Capitol can be a bit more vulnerable because we don’t anticipate that vigilantes and riotous people are up there that close,” Gainer told NPR.
President Trump, who has come under intense criticism for his actions prior to and during the riot, released a video statement on Thursday acknowledging his election defeat and vowing to prosecute those who broke into the Capitol.
“We have just been through an intense election, and emotions are high,” Trump said. “But now, tempers must be cooled and calm restored. We must get on with the business of America. My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote. In so doing, I was fighting to defend American democracy. I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters and to ensure faith and confidence in all future elections. Now, Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20; my focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”