Three former top Capitol security officials dodged responsibility at a Senate hearing on Tuesday for security failures that contributed to the Jan. 6 riot, blaming other agencies, each other and at one point even a subordinate for the breakdowns that allowed hundreds of Trump supporters to assault the Capitol, reports the New York Times. The testimony of former Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund, former House sergeant-at-arms Paul D. Irving and his Senate counterpart, Michael C. Stenger, suggested that officials were reluctant to accept responsibility for the politically charged issue of calling in National Guard troops even as the violence escalated. The officials testified that the FBI and the intelligence community failed to provide adequate warnings that rioters planned to seize the Capitol and that the Pentagon was too slow after the attack began to authorize Guard troops to help overwhelmed police. Irving said he rejected Sund’s account that he had turned down Guard support because of “optics,” calling the claim “categorically false.” Irving also disputed Sund’s timeline, which indicated the former sergeant-at-arms had waited about a half-hour to contact political leaders about calling for the Guard.
The deployment of Guard troops is a point of contention, though the Pentagon did ultimately approve the request around 3 p.m. Officials have pointed out that even by the time the military received the request, it was too late for the Guard to prevent the rioting. Some Republicans have sought to play down the severity of the attack, including Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who falsely blamed “provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters” for the violence. The witnesses refuted those claims, repeatedly saying that the siege was planned, that rioters coordinated with one another, and white supremacists were involved. The bipartisan group of senators is moving ahead with oversight hearings as the House negotiates the formation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the mob attack.