WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are planning a “minute by minute” investigation into law enforcement failures during the attempted coup at the Capitol Building Wednesday, Rep. Tim Ryan, the chair of the subcommittee that funds the Capitol Police, said Thursday.
“I’m livid about the whole thing because I had conversations with the Sergeant of Arms and the Chief of the Capitol Police [and got] assurances that every precaution was being taken and we had enough manpower, that we were going to keep people completely away from the Capitol,” Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, said during a press call.
“We were told no one was going to be anywhere close to the Capitol in the protests and next thing you know you turn on the TV and they’re swinging from the Capitol with flags and putting a lot of people’s lives in danger.”
Ryan said he has been in contact with Appropriations Committee chair Rosa DeLauro as well as Senate Legislative Appropriations subcommittee chair Chris Murphy and that the three are planning an investigation and analysis of what unfolded Wednesday.
Ryan said he does not yet have answers to many of the questions he plans to investigate, including why some officers were mingling and taking photos with the mob of Trump supporters, whether law enforcement had intel on the social media planning of the coup attempt, and — his highest priority, he said — why there it took so long to get back up from the National Guard and other agencies.
More than 50 Capitol Police and DC police officers were injured during the riots, according to a Capitol Police spokesperson, and Ryan said that 15 are in the hospital as of Thursday afternoon, with one in critical condition. One woman was shot and killed by Capitol Police while attempting to climb through a window into the building, and three others reportedly died due to “medical emergencies.”
Ryan said the House Sergeant of Arms, who enforces Capitol rules and protocols, told him ahead of Wednesday’s Trump rally-turned-riot that the threat assessment for the assessment was low.
“Initially, [the threat assessment] was that there wasn’t going to be any kind of violence anticipated, you know, First Amendment protests, pretty vanilla,” Ryan said. “Maybe some desktops, maybe issues around people trying to get guns in the District of Columbia where they have very strict gun laws, but absolutely nothing like this.”
Ryan said he was also concerned about making sure that there was enough backup protection if needed, but on Wednesday the Defense Department denied DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for National Guard back-up. It wasn’t until after rioters breached the Capitol and lawmakers were forced to evacuate that the Trump administration activated the National Guard, who came to back up law enforcement.
“That’s another question around the intelligence piece, and around the threat assessment, so as we dig deeper in here that’s going to be a key component of it,” Ryan said.
DeLauro confirmed in a statement Thursday afternoon that the committee planned to begin the review, saying in a joint release with Ryan, “We recognize the bravery of the Capitol Police and law enforcement officers who protected Members and essential workers in the Capitol Complex yesterday. At the same time, it is obvious that there was a severe systemic failure in securing the building’s perimeter and in the response once the building was breached.”
The lawmaker also said he was frustrated by the way Capitol Police handled the mob of Trump supporters compared to how they dealt with Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.
“Just being candid, you know, if there were Black people out there I think there would have been a much different response in what they did,” he said, “and so that to me is very, very frustrating.”
Ryan said he and other members are continuing to speak to law enforcement and military officials “to figure out exactly what happened minute by minute by minute.”
“What I want to know is why there weren’t proper reinforcement as we were told there would be, because I was concerned about this from the very beginning and we get assurances that things are supposed to go a certain way and they don’t, it’s very frustrating to us,” he said.