The head of the United States Capitol Police union Gus Papathanasiou on Wednesday urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to allow more officers to testify to the select committee investigating the events of January 6th, arguing the problems that day were actually “years” in the making — which could reflect poorly on her leadership as House speaker.
“Poor morale, inequitable pay and conditions, and a leadership that refuses to engage – these are contributing factors to the events of January 6th and they remain factors still, today,” he said in a statement. “The Union asks that the Committee listen to the active-duty police officers who have been chosen by the rank and file to represent them.”
However, according to Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN), Papathansiou’s and other officers’ voices are being shut out because it does not advance Pelosi’s narrative of a violent insurrection overwhelming heroic police. Banks said in a statement on Wednesday:
At yesterday’s January 6th Select Committee hearing, we only heard Pelosi’s cherry-picked version of events because she shut out any voices that didn’t further her partisan narrative.
One of the voices Democrats rejected was the head of the Capitol Police union, Gus Papathanasiou, who is elected by rank-and-file officers to represent their views. Around 90% of USCP officers belong to the union.
Banks told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview last week that he asked the committee’s Chairman Bennie Thompson if Papathanasiou could testify, but his request was ignored.
The committee is composed of seven Democrats and two Never Trump Republicans, all hand-picked by Pelosi. Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had selected Banks and five other Republicans to sit on the committee but pulled them after Pelosi rejected Banks and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (OH). Republicans are planning to conduct their own investigation.
In the committee’s first hearing on Tuesday, four police officers — two Capitol Police officers and two Metropolitan Police Department officers — delivered emotional testimony on working at the Capitol on January 6th. All blamed Republicans or former President Donald Trump for the violence and accused Republicans of downplaying it.
Papathanasiou called their testimony a “crucial start” to understanding the effects of that day on Capitol Police officers but said the union “stands ready” to provide the committee with fuller context of what went wrong — which could potentially include scrutiny of her leadership of the House since 2018.
“The police response to January 6th represents a disastrous collapse of leadership that was not simply an aberration confined to that one day. It was months and years in the making,” he said in a statement.
“To fully understand why our officers felt so abandoned, requires an understanding of how they came to be left uninformed and lacking in defenses when it mattered most – when an attack on the U.S. Capitol was being fully realized,” he said, adding:
Most importantly, we arrived at that position of vulnerability because the voices of the rank-and-file-officers had been ignored for years. There was no collaboration from Capitol Police leaders with the frontline officers, instead it was a top-down approach that left a void of information and planning. As an officer working that day, I can attest, there was NO plan, and certainly no contingency plans by the Chiefs.
That lack of leadership had tragic consequences. The riots led to the deaths of officers, and injuries to an estimated 140 Capitol Police and MPD officers, some of whom will never return to service.
Republicans on Tuesday argued that Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for not protecting the Capitol on January 6th.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6th.”:
Rep. Elise Stefanik: “Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6th.” pic.twitter.com/3DPjub9ltV
— The Hill (@thehill) July 27, 2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also questioned why the Capitol was left vulnerable in a tweet:
What you won’t hear from Pelosi’s sham committee:
Why was the Capitol left so vulnerable that day?
Why wasn't the National Guard here?
Why didn’t we have a better security posture?
What changes are needed to make sure it never happens again? https://t.co/OSGF6PQx3s
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) July 27, 2021
“Why was the Capitol left so vulnerable that day? Why wasn’t the National Guard here? Why didn’t we have a better security posture? What changes are needed to make sure it never happens again?” he asked.
“On January 6, these brave officers were put into a vulnerable and impossible position because the leadership at the top has failed,” he said at a press conference before the hearing, which featured only lawmakers hand-picked by Pelosi.
Papathansiou said the Capitol would remain vulnerable unless the committee hears from the “broader rank-and-file.”
“As individual officers testified today, they did their best and succeeded in their mission to protect all members of Congress and their staff that day,” he said.
“The Committee needs all the facts to understand why the U.S. Capitol was so vulnerable, and why it will remain vulnerable if the broader rank-and-file officers are not heard,” he said.