Acting House Sergeant-at-arms, Capitol Police chief to testify before Congress today

Acting House Sergeant-at-arms, Capitol Police chief to testify before Congress today

February 25, 2021

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Two of the top acting Capitol security officials will largely place blame for their lack of preparedness during the Jan. 6 riot on a lack of adequate intelligence from other agencies when they testify before Congress Thursday.

Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett and acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will appear Thursday at 10 a.m. EST before the House Appropriations Committee as part of Congress’ broader probe into the siege.

“At the end of the day, the USCP succeeded in its mission. It protected Congressional leadership. It protected members,” Pittman’s testimony reads, “And it protected the Democratic process. At the end of a battle that lasted for hours, democracy prevailed.”

While Pittman, who was assistant chief of police for the department’s protective and intelligence operations at the time of the riot, plans to defend the Capitol Police, she will also concede that the force had “internal challenges” after becoming “overwhelmed by thousands of insurrectionists.”

In her capacity as assistant chief of police, she says in her testimony that she reviewed a final report warning about a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 3.

The report concluded that militia members did plan to participate in the day’s events — with some being armed — and to target the certifying of the Electoral College results.

“The threat of disruptive actions or violence cannot be ruled out,” she plans to say the report stated.

Still, Pittman says, Capitol Police could not have predicted what was to come.

Blodgett, meanwhile, will blame assessments from the FBI and other intelligence agencies as “muddled or contradictory.”

“Intelligence requires finding the needles in a haystack. On Jan. 6, there was a failure to either gather, synthesize, or disseminate intelligence and there were indications that intelligence was muddled or contradictory,” a transcript of Blodgett’s prepared remarks reads.

The hearings come one day after Blodgett and Pittman’s predecessors testified on their handling of the lead up to the deadly attack, which led to both of their resignations.

Pittman is almost certain to face questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about the investigations into the 35 Capitol Police officers under investigation related to the riot.

Lawmakers are currently in the midst of weeks of hearings into the siege.

Also on Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing with expert witnesses on the financing of extremism.

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