Lofgren Opening Statement at Hearing, “Oversight of the January 6th Attack: United States Capitol Police Containment Emergency Response Team and First Responders Unit”
Washington, D.C. – Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) made the following remarks at the outset of today’s hearing, Oversight of the January 6th Attack: United States Capitol Police Containment Emergency Response Team and First Responders Unit:
“Today’s hearing continues the oversight of this Committee, and the House of Representatives, of issues related to the January 6, 2021, insurrectionist attack on the Capitol. Specifically, the scope of today’s hearing is the latest flash report by the Inspector General for the U.S. Capitol Police, which was provided to congressional oversight committees and the Department on June 2nd. This new flash report focuses on two issues: the Department’s Containment Emergency Response Team and its First Responders Unit.
Inspector General Bolton’s latest flash report, like his three previous flash reports, found a number of deficiencies in the programs he reviewed, including significant failings that impacted the ability of the Capitol Police to respond to the January 6 attack, and could have put officers at greater risk – as well as the Members and staff they sought to protect. His report also makes more than 20 recommendations for addressing these shortcomings.
The units he reviewed should have played a key role in stemming the attack and defending the Capitol. But the IG found, among other things, that they lacked sufficient operational planning and a defined mission, while they also suffered from inadequate training and inadequate and ineffective tactical command. We will hear more about these findings in detail today.
Plus, the Inspector General found some information that was so troubling he determined it was appropriate to alert the Department immediately, rather than wait a week for the completion of the flash report. Those findings, relating to the Department’s use of a private security company for training, raise a number of disturbing questions about institutional decision-making within the Department.
The IG’s findings, like his prior reports, also raise larger questions about accountability within the Department. The IG actually made recommendations to improve the CERT team several years ago, but they were not followed. Similarly, when GAO made recommendations with respect to the Department and the Capitol Police Board, they were not followed, either. Simply put, many of the shortcomings we will hear about today could – and should – have been remedied before January 6.
Since January 6, the day of the insurrection, I have said that Congress should investigate and should form a bipartisan commission to do so. I continue to believe that doing so would provide an important way to give not just Congress, but the American people, the unvarnished truth about what happened not just that day, but leading up to the attack.
The day of our last hearing on the events of January 6, the House voted to form just such a commission, and several dozen Republicans voted for that measure. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans then blocked the legislation. One Republican said that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell personally lobbied Republican Senators, asking them to oppose forming a bipartisan commission to get to the truth of the attack as a quote, “personal favor,” unquote, to him. Subsequently, nearly 90 percent of Senate Republicans did not vote to form the commission. That is both very disappointing and, unfortunately, unsurprising.
But since our last hearing, we have continued to learn more about the attack – including the actions of those who carried it out and their goals, as well as the preparation and response of government entities to the insurrection.
The criminal investigation and prosecutions related to the attack are already what is being called “the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” according to senior Department officials and court filings. Officials have said that scores more are likely to be charged, and at a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray indicated that even more serious charges may be coming.
That indictment alleges that from at least November 2020, some of the attackers were planning travel to Washington, D.C., and discussing violence specifically to assist former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Their communications were tied closely in time and responded to the former President’s call for his supporters to travel to Washington on January 6 for a “big protest” that would be “wild.” Their communications specifically included discussions of bringing weapons to Washington.
Yet at the same time we learn more about the attack, former President Trump and his allies continue to spread misinformation about the 2020 election and downplay the attack or simply deny it occurred.
Last month, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.” But three days later, the former president, Mr. Trump, himself said, quote, “the Presidential Election of 2020 will go down as the CRIME OF THE CENTURY!” and that it was, quote, “by far, the greatest Election Fraud in the history of our Country.”
Now, there is even a bizarre emerging myth that the former President will be “reinstated” in August. One poll this week found that 3 in 10 Republicans believe that conspiracy theory – even though it’s a fictious, non-existent process.
In Arizona, more than seven months after the election, others continue to challenge the results. In Arizona, where a partisan so-called “audit” is under way, even though Republican state election officials have criticized it. Moreover, Republicans officials from other states are now conducting field trips to Arizona to see how they might do the same thing at home.
On Sunday, Senator Ron Johnson said that attackers, quote, “weren’t rioting.” He said that, “It doesn’t look like when an armed insurrection when you have people that breach the Capitol … but they’re staying within the roped lines in the Rotunda. That’s not what armed insurrection would look like.”
These “alternative facts” about both the election and the January 6 are really unmoored from reality. They are not just delusional. They are dangerous.
We must not lose sight of the fact that whatever the institutional shortcomings of the Department, the Capitol Police did not incite the insurrectionist attack of January 6. More than 150 Police officers were seriously injured that day, many grievously. And some law enforcement officers lost their lives. Even today, 10 officers still have not been able to return to duty because of their injuries. I note that yesterday, for example, proceedings continued in the prosecution of one attacker who stabbed an officer in the face, badly wounding them. We think of the sacrifices these officers made every day.
These officers were not attacked and maimed by “tourists” who stayed within “roped off areas.” They were attacked by insurrectionists who brought violence to the Capitol for the purpose of obstructing the peaceful and lawful operation of our government.
Most Americans know and understand that the 2020 election was not stolen and that it was the most secure in our nation’s history. But in the face of months of gaslighting on a massive, historic scale, is it any wonder that a significant number of people believe – wrongly – that the election was “stolen?” Or that some also believe truly mind-boggling conspiracies like those that of the QAnon movement?
That’s why it’s imperative to have an objective, clear-eyed review of what led to the January 6 insurrection. Despite the decision by Senate Republicans to block the formation of a bipartisan commission to review the January 6 attack, this Committee has been, and remains, committed to thorough oversight of the issues within our jurisdiction.
Finally, as we begin this hearing, I think it is essential to repeat a point I have made in our previous hearings. Our important and necessary review of the Department’s performance as an institution and its leadership does not diminish the courage and valor of the men and women who so bravely fought to defend the Capitol on January 6, or of those from other jurisdictions who responded and sought to hold the line along their brothers and sisters in uniform.
And to all officers and civilian employees of the Capitol Police – also, to all legislative branch staff, and Members – counseling and other assistance is available to you, and you are encouraged to use these resources at any time.
I would like to note that, while we’re focusing on the January 6th insurrection, yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the attack of our colleagues who were practicing for the baseball [game]. We want to thank our Capitol Police not only for saving our lives on January 6th, but for helping to save the lives of our colleagues including the Ranking Member, Mr. Davis, at that very traumatic event. We thank the Capitol Police for their bravery, for their commitment, and at this point, I would like to yield to the Ranking Member for any comments he may wish to make.”