Capitol security officials resign under pressure from Congressional leadership over breach
Three top officials responsible for protecting the U.S. Capitol and congressional chambers all resigned on Thursday, amid calls for heads to roll after the building was stormed by a mob of angry Trump supporters the day before.
What are the details?
First to go was House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving, whose resignation was announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at her weekly news conference. The speaker also called for Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to resign, criticizing the top cop for a “failure of leadership.”
According to The New York Times, Pelosi said of Sund, “He hasn’t even called us since this happened.” The Associated Press reported that the head of the Capitol Police union also called for Sund to step down.
Chief Sund announced his resignation that evening, writing in a short memorandum that he would remain in his active leadership post on Jan. 17, but then transition into “sick leave status” to use up the 440 hours remaining on his balance of paid sick time off.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then released a statement confirming that he had “requested and received the resignation of Michael Stenger, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, effective immediately.”
Congressional leaders echoed the public dismay over how easily the Capitol building and its chambers were breached.
The AP also reported that three days prior to the protest, U.S. Capitol police turned down an offer from the Pentagon to send National Guard troops to assist in keeping the Capitol grounds secure. The department also turned down the Justice Department’s initial offer to send FBI agents on Wednesday as the building was being swarmed.
Capitol police also faced heavy criticism Wednesday when video circulating online showed officers appearing to allow outside barrier gates to open for protesters demanding to enter the premises. TheBlaze made repeated requests seeking comment on the footage Wednesday evening, but never received a response.
Another video published by TheBlaze showed officers using great effort to keep barriers in place, but they were overcome by the mob who forced their way past law enforcement.
In a separate statement Wednesday, McConnell praised the Capitol police officers “who stood bravely in harm’s way during yesterday’s failed insurrection,” before saying that the events of the day “represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government.”
The Senate majority leader called for thorough investigations and “significant changes” before concluding:
“The ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement, and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them. But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”