Peters to convene hearing on security breakdown that led to Jan. 6 attack

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
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Washington — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters announced Tuesday that his committee will convene an oversight hearing next week with former Capitol security and police officials to examine the security failures during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Invited to testify at the Feb. 23 hearing are former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police Steven Sund; former House sergeant at arms Paul D. Irving; former Senate sergeant at arms Michael Stenger; and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee.

Sund, Irving and Stenger were the three top Capitol security officials at the time of the insurrection. All three resigned under pressure in the wake of the riot, in which five people died, including a Capitol police officer.

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington.

Dozens of police officers were injured in the battle with insurgents who breached the building, ransacked offices and forced lawmakers into hiding for hours. Two police officers died by suicide in the days after the attack.

Lawmakers praised the response of rank-and-file officers in their response to the emergency, but have vowed to investigate how those in charge of Capitol security failed to prepare for the threat, especially when intelligence suggested that extremists planned violent acts that day. 

Last week, the union representing Capitol police officers took a vote of no confidence in the department's top leadership, including 92% of officers who voted they had no confidence in Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, according to news reports. 

Peters, a Bloomfield Township Democrat, chairs the Senate Homeland Security committee, which is planning the hearing in conjunction with the Senate Rules committee, which oversees Capitol operations. 

Peters previously said he intends to hold hearings to probe the security and intelligence failures behind the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, particularly the response by Capitol police. 

U.S. Senator Gary Peters answers questions from the media during the press conference at Goodison Cider Mill in Rochester, November 5, 2020.

The committees' joint investigation is separate from the 9/11 Commission-style panel that others have called for to complete an independent report on what led to the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that the House would take steps to appoint such a commission. The 9/11 commission took 15 months to probe the 2001 terror attack, issuing a report that was nearly 600 pages long. 

Pelosi previously tapped Retired Army Gen. Russel Honoré to study security improvements needed at the Capitol complex in light of the attack last month. 

More than 200 people have been arrested and charged in connection with the attack; the most serious charges included conspiracy.  

The U.S. Senate on Saturday voted 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump for his role in fomenting the angry mob.

After voting to acquit him, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested in a speech that Trump could still be held accountable within the criminal justice system. 

McConnell, who concluded the Senate could not impeach a former president, also said the rioters had been "fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth. Because he was angry he'd lost an election."

"Former President Trump's actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty," McConnell said. "Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day."

mburke@detroitnews.com

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