House Republicans Grill Pelosi for Answers Regarding January 6 Capitol Riot

Wearing a face mask to reduce the risk posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center January 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. When asked about what she means when she said Congress has an …
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Top House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Monday, demanding answers on key security decisions made in the days leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot.

The February 15 letter, signed by House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH), House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL), and House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY), addresses Pelosi directly, asserting that the American people “deserve answers to a few straightforward questions regarding the security of the Capitol on January 6th.”

Those questions, as listed in the letter, are as follows:

  • When then-Chief Sund made a request for national guard support on January 4th, why was that request denied?
  • Did Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving get permission or instruction from your staff on January 4th prior to denying Chief Sund’s request for the national guard?
  • What conversations and what guidance did you and your staff give the Sergeant at Arms leading up to January 6th specific to the security posture of the campus?
  • What conversations did you have during the attack on the Capitol and what response did you give security officials on January 6th when Chief Sund requested National Guard support that required your approval?
  • Why are your House Officers refusing to comply with preservation and production requests to turn over request materials relevant to the events of January 6th?

The lawmakers reminded Pelosi of her “institutional responsibilities,” which include operational decisions.

“We have observed for two years this very heavy-handed and tightly controlled approach to House operations that has been exerted by yourself, your staff, and an army of appointed House officials,” they wrote, noting the mounting calls from members for a “full bipartisan and bicameral review” following the January 6 riot.

They continued, bringing up former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund’s request for the National Guard, which he made prior to January 6.

It has been widely reported and confirmed by multiple sources that when Chief Sund requested the National Guard be activated ahead of the January 6th Joint Session of Congress, the response from the SAA, acting on your behalf, was that the ‘optics’ of having the National Guard on-site were not good and the intelligence didn’t support the move. The request was not approved. Furthermore, on January 6 in the middle of the on-going attack of the Capitol, Chief Sund again notified the SAA of his request for approval to authorize the National Guard. It took over an hour for his request to be approved because the SAA had to run the request up the chain of command, which undoubtedly included you and your designees.

GOP lawmakers also questioned the circumstances surrounding Sund’s resignation, pointing to remarks Pelosi made during a January 7 press conference in which she claimed Sund “hasn’t called us since this happened.”

“That claim is refuted by Chief Sund who in a letter to you, dated February 1st, 2021, detailed two occasions that he briefed you on the situation on the Capitol campus—the first occurring at 5:36 p.m. and the second at 6:25 p.m., both on January 6th,” they wrote.

“While there is wide-spread support to conduct an independent security review of the campus, General Russel Honoré was appointed solely by you, without consultation of the minority,” they added, crediting Honoré for reaching out to “several Republicans to brief on his work to date.”

Lawmakers concluded the letter with a final criticism of Pelosi’s “hyperbolic focus on fabricated internal security concerns,” contending that it has “taken critical resources away from the real threat, which is from outside the U.S. Capitol”:

Your decision to install magnetometers around the House Chamber is yet another example of this misdirection and misappropriation of House resources, which could be better used to protect members, staff, and official visitors from real, confirmed threats.

“Tellingly, Madam Speaker, you have failed to comply with this requirement yourself,” the GOP lawmakers said, calling on the 80-year-old Speaker to “end this political charade, and work with us to protect the Capitol and those who work here every day.”

The letter comes two days after the Senate acquitted former President Trump of charges of inciting insurrection in relation to the January 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol.

Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill objected to the GOP lawmaker’s inquiries, dismissing the letter as a “transparently partisan attempt to lay blame on the Speaker, who was a target of assassination during the insurrection fueled by the lies of House Republicans.”

“We look forward to these Ranking Members asking these same questions of former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,” Hammill said, according to Fox News, repeating the assertion that Pelosi was the “target of an assassination attempt.”

“As the target of an assassination attempt, the Speaker knows all too well the importance of security at the Capitol and is focused on getting to the bottom of all issues facing the Capitol Complex and the events that led up to the insurrection,” Hammill added.

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