Capitol police face staffing challenges ahead of January 6 anniversary
Congressional correspondent Aishah Hasnie has the latest from Capitol Hill on ‘Special Report’
It’s been one year since a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an apparent effort to thwart the certification of President Biden’s presidential win.
One of the rioters was fatally shot by Capitol Police during the attack and more than 700 were charged with crimes.
Capitol Police say they’re prepared for what is expected to be an emotional day, with multiple vigils, commemorations and demonstrations planned in the nation’s capital.
Jan. 6, 2021
On Jan. 6, 2021, after weeks of then-President Trump claiming the 2020 election had been stolen from him, thousands of his supporters broke off from his rally at Freedom Plaza near the White House and headed toward the Capitol Complex.
Lawmakers were forced to evacuate the complex and temporarily suspend the certification of the Electoral College results as rioters plowed through police perimeters, breached the building and occupied it for several hours.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Trump scale the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer while attempting to force her way into the House chamber. Another person died during the riot after suffering a drug overdose, and two others died naturally from medical emergencies.
Brian Sicknick, a 42-year-Capitol Police officer, was pepper-sprayed during the chaos and died the next day after suffering from two thromboembolic strokes. Four other officers who responded to the riot committed suicide in the months following.
The counting of the electoral votes resumed hours after the riot, and then-Vice President Mike Pence declared Biden the winner.
Trump, who still claims the election was stolen from him, was impeached by the House one week after the riot for “incitement of insurrection,” with 10 Republicans voting in favor, the most pro-impeachment votes ever from a president’s party. Trump left office on Jan. 20 and was acquitted by the Senate more than three weeks later.
The Jan. 6 riot is still being investigated by a House select committee, which recently invited House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Scott Perry, R-Pa., to give voluntary interviews. All three have so far declined.
McCarthy, who spoke to Trump on Jan. 6, told local CBS affiliate KBAK that he didn’t “have anything to add” regarding the House committee’s investigation and maintained that he has been very public about that day and has nothing to hide.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia charged more than 700 people across the country for their alleged participation in the riot, including at least 81 current or former service members, CBS News reported Monday.
About 275 Capitol riot defendants have been charged with a felony offense of attempting to “corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede” the Electoral College certification, the report said.
More than 150 of the defendants have pleaded guilty, and 71 have been sentenced as of Jan. 1, according to a Politico analysis released Monday.
Most of those sentenced so far were convicted of misdemeanors, such as illegally entering the Capitol building, and fewer than half of those sentenced have received prison time. The median prison sentence for the Capitol rioters to date is 45 days, Politico reported.
The stiffest sentence to date was handed to Robert Palmer, who was sentenced last month to more than five years in prison after he admitted he was the man photographed throwing a wooden plank at police outside the Capitol and spraying a fire extinguisher at officers, then throwing the empty device at the line of police.
Palmer’s prison sentence is more than a year and a half longer than any other defendant, Politico reported.
More than 530 defendants have yet to stand trial, but a handful of trials are tentatively scheduled to begin in April, CBS News reported.
Robert Palmer, 54, of Largo, Florida, seen wearing an American flag jacket, was sentenced to 63 months behind bars Dec. 17, 2021, for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
(Department of Justice)
Nearly a year after the Capitol attack, more than 130 Capitol Police officers have left the department. The Capitol Police, at this point, is nearly 400 officers short of its authorized level.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, who took over the force in July, told the Senate Rules Committee in written testimony on Wednesday that of the 103 recommendations issued by the Capitol Police Inspector General to strengthen security at the Capitol, “we have implemented and/or addressed over 90 of them.”
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger testifies during a Senate Rules and Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Washington.
(Tom Williams/Pool via AP)
But Manger told “Fox News Sunday” days earlier that the staffing shortage at the agency remains a “critical” issue.
“The one thing that we have not been able to fix, so to speak, are the staffing issues, and we’ve lost over 130 officers that have left through either retirements or resignations after January 6,” he said.
Asked during a Tuesday news conference if he believed the Capitol was more secure today than it was on the day of the riot last year, Manger expressed confidence in the improvements already made and expressed little concern about planned demonstrations today in the nation’s capital.
“We’re aware of several events that are planned for Thursday, most of them aren’t of much concern to us,” he said. “There’s no intelligence that indicates that there would be any problems.”
The police chief did, however, point to one event that authorities are keeping their eye on, a planned demonstration by Look Ahead America, a conservative group demanding justice for those still jailed after last year’s riot.
“There’s one event that is occurring, I think down at the D.C. jail that we’re paying attention to, but again, really nothing that is of great concern to us at this point,” Manger said.
House Republicans have warned the Capitol is no more secure today than it was at the time of the riot, slamming House Democrats for failing to implement proposed security reforms and instead focusing on their “partisan” investigation into the origin of the incident.
The top Republican on the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Rodney Davis, penned a memo to GOP colleagues Monday titled: “One Year Later, Little Has Changed.”
Davis wrote that there are “important facts that cannot be ignored about what occurred before, during, and after that day,” saying that Democrats on the Jan. 6 Committee are “no closer to finding out what led to the catastrophic security failure,” and instead are hellbent to “attack President Trump and punish anyone associated with him.”
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
((AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File))
Davis also penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday demanding House offices under her control stop obstructing a GOP investigation into the Capitol building’s security vulnerabilities.
“The events of January 6, 2021 exposed serious security vulnerabilities at the Capitol Complex,” Davis wrote. “Unfortunately, over the past twelve months, House Democrats have been more interested in exploiting the events of January 6th for political purposes than in conducting basic oversight of the security vulnerabilities exposed that day.”
Multiple events will be held today in the nation’s capital to commemorate one year since the attack, starting with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris delivering remarks from the U.S. Capitol at 9 a.m. EST.
During his speech, Biden is expected to call out Trump as holding the “singular responsibility” for the “chaos and carnage” on Jan. 6, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
Pelosi will deliver remarks and hold a moment of silence on the House floor at noon today, followed by a “moderated conversation” in the Cannon Caucus Room aimed to “establish and preserve the narrative of January 6th,” which will feature Pelosi, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham at 1 p.m., according to a press memo sent by Pelosi’s office on Tuesday.
At 2:30 p.m., lawmakers will begin sharing testimonials of the attack in a session led by Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., which will then be capped off with a bicameral prayer vigil on the Capitol Center Steps at 5:30 p.m.
According to a press advisory sent by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s office, the Georgia Republican and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., will hold a “Republican response to expose the truth about the January 6, 2021 protests” in the Cannon House Office Building at 2:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, a coalition of more than 130 liberal organizations will hold a candlelight vigil at the National Mall starting at 4:45 p.m., and the right-wing Look Ahead America will hold a vigil outside the D.C. jail.
Trump announced Tuesday that he was canceling his Jan. 6 press conference at Mar-a-Lago and will instead express his thoughts on the “total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee” at an Arizona rally on Jan. 15.
Fox News’ Michael Lee, Jon Brown, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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