WASHINGTON — As House leaders haggle over the formation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a bipartisan group of senators is pressing ahead with a series of investigative hearings to scrutinize the security breakdowns that failed to prevent the deadly pro-Trump rampage.
The inquiry begins on Tuesday with a joint hearing of two Senate committees to question the officials who were in charge of securing the Capitol during the attack, when Capitol Police officers and members of the District of Columbia police force called in as reinforcements were overrun as the vice president and members of the House and the Senate were gathered inside.
The meeting of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Rules and Administration Committee will be the first time the public has heard from the top two security officials at the Capitol on the day of the assault, both of whom have resigned in the wake of the historic breach.
Paul D. Irving, the former House sergeant-at-arms, and Michael C. Stenger, the former Senate sergeant-at-arms, have come under scrutiny amid reports that they did not act swiftly enough to call for the National Guard. The committees will also hear from Steven A. Sund, the former chief of the Capitol Police, who has also resigned, and Robert J. Contee, the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.
“I support the commission,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairwoman of the administration panel, which oversees Capitol security. “But it’s important to get the information out under oath as soon as possible. While the 9/11-type commission may be going on, decisions have to be made about the Capitol, sooner rather than later.”
“They are all attending voluntarily,” Ms. Klobuchar said of the witnesses.
The attack left nearly 140 police officers injured and several people dead. Mr. Sund previously said in a letter to Congress that the sergeants-at-arms turned down his request for the National Guard ahead of Jan. 6 and did not respond quickly that day when he urgently called for troops to help his officers.
The hearing will be the first in a series of oversight hearings organized by Ms. Klobuchar and Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, along with the top Republicans on both panels, Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio.
But already, the move to investigate the Capitol riot — the deadliest attack on the building where Congress convenes in 200 years — has turned political. Republicans are resisting a proposal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, to form an independent, bipartisan commission modeled after the one that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, arguing that her blueprint would skew the commission toward Democrats.
Under Ms. Pelosi’s outline for the commission, according to two Democrats familiar with it, each of the top four congressional leaders would nominate two members and President Biden would name three, including the commission chair.
“It is our responsibility to understand the security and intelligence breakdowns that led to the riots on Jan. 6 so that we can better protect this institution and the men and women working inside it,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said in a statement invoking the chairmen of the 9/11 Commission. “A commission should follow the guidance of Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton to be ‘both independent and bipartisan,’ and to preserve that integrity it must be evenly split between both parties.”
The 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which was the product of an intense round of negotiating on Capitol Hill, was evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
In the Senate, the next investigative hearing, whose date has not yet been scheduled, will focus on the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the threat of domestic extremism, according to the senators and their aides.
“Decisions have to be made about how we can improve the coordination of security information,” Ms. Klobuchar said. “Decisions have to be made about the new people who will take these jobs. You have to see the whole landscape here about what went wrong and how we can do better.”
Capitol Riot Fallout
From Riot to Impeachment
The riot inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, followed a rally at which President Trump made an inflammatory speech to his supporters, questioning the results of the election. Here’s a look at what happened and the ongoing fallout:
- As this video shows, poor planning and a restive crowd encouraged by President Trump set the stage for the riot.
- A two hour period was crucial to turning the rally into the riot.
- Several Trump administration officials, including cabinet members Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao, announced that they were stepping down as a result of the riot.
- Federal prosecutors have charged more than 70 people, including some who appeared in viral photos and videos of the riot. Officials expect to eventually charge hundreds of others.
- The House voted to impeach the president on charges of “inciting an insurrection” that led to the rampage by his supporters.
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