U.S. Capitol Police plan to maintain their high-security posture around the Capitol because intelligence suggests that members of militia groups are plotting to attack during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
“We know that members of militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union, which we know that date has not been identified,” acting Chief of Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman said during testimony to a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday, Feb. 25.
“So based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she added.
Pittman denied accusations that her department had ignored intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale that materialized on Jan. 6. “Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol, nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat,” she added.
Pittman, who replaced Chief Steven Sund after he resigned following the Capitol riot, said her department had prepared an intelligence assessment on Jan. 3 that outlined what was expected to happen on Jan. 6. She said the evaluation was “shared widely” among Capitol Police. It was emailed to all officers above the rank of sergeant and the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms.
Pittman said that police did receive “information” that there would be a “war” on Jan. 6, but it was not final intelligence. When asked by subcommittee Chair Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), she said she agreed with Sund that police needed National Guard backup as the violence developed.
House Republicans have demanded answers from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on security decisions made in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach and her office involvement.
The Republicans noted that Sund approached Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving on Jan. 4 to request National Guard support, but his request was rejected.
“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?” Republicans wrote in a letter to Pelosi, according to Fox News.
Pelosi’s office said that Irving did not bring a National Guard request to them before the day of the breach.
In their letter, Republicans also pointed to Pelosi’s comments made on Jan. 7 during a press conference, in which she explained her reasoning for demanding Sund’s resignation, saying that he “hasn’t called us since this happened.” Pelosi’s claims were refuted by Sund, whose letter to the speaker detailed his calls.
The Republicans also expressed unease with Pelosi’s unilateral decision to appoint retired four-star Army Gen. Russel Honoré, following Irving and Sund’s firings to complete a security review.
“It is easy to understand why we and our Senate counterparts remain skeptical that any of his final recommendations will be independent and without influence from you,” they said.
About 5,000 troops will remain in D.C. until March after 26,000 National Guard have deployed ahead of President Biden’s inauguration at the cost of $500 million.