Rep. Tim Ryan: Epic Fails By Capitol Police Brass Led To Breach Of Capitol

U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. [J. Scott Applewhite / AP]

The congressional investigation into how a mob was able to breach defenses at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday is only just beginning to take shape two days later, said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees and funds the Capitol Police.

More flexibility and resources may be needed for the day-to-day operations of the Capitol Police for the future, he said, calling Wednesday’s events a series of epic failures.

“There was an absolute epic fail on preparation, there was an epic fail on intelligence and there was an epic fail on — even though you were getting certain intelligence, you should have been prepared for the worst case scenario in this environment,” Ryan said Friday in a Zoom call with reporters from his home in Northeast Ohio.

Ryan mostly commended the rank-and-file members of the Capitol Police, saying they “put up a hell of an effort,” while acknowledging that the force was inconsistent as protesters overwhelemed them, with some officers letting protesters through barriers, others drawing weapons without firing and still others firing shots during the melee.

“The problem we’re having here is with the upper echelon,” Ryan said, saying Capitol Police commanders are to blame for the failure to properly plan.

“They should have been prepared for the absolute worst and we were told that they were and obviously they weren’t,” he said.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said Thursday he will resign. Capitol Police union leaders have also called for the resignations of his assistant chiefs, Chad Thomas and Yogananda Pittman, a move Ryan said Friday he supported.

“The rank-and-file members of Capitol Police have lost all trust in their leaders. And the most essential thing for law enforcement and military is to have deep, unwavering trust in your leadership and it seems to me that the issues the police union raised with the previous and current chief – at least for the next few days – were largely ignored,” Ryan said. “If the rank and file doesn’t have confidence, then I don’t have confidence.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of Brian Sicknick, the 42-year-old Capitol Police officer who died following Wednesday's attack on the building as members of Congress were preparing to certify the Electoral College’s votes. Sicknick was one of 50 to 60 officers injured in the fray, Ryan said Friday. Fifteen of them were hospitalized.

Ryan said his and other congressional leaders’ main goals as of Friday are two-fold: seeing to prosecutions of the insurrectionists and establishing the proper level of protection for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden.

While he did not offer details, Ryan said some prosecutions are already moving forward and many more from across the county are expected as federal officials continue to investigate and locate those involved in the siege on the Capitol.

“I don’t want to give you any bad information that hasn’t been confirmed,” Ryan said. “We want to make sure that everyone is prosecuted and that they are prosecuted in a timely manner. That will reduce the threat level for the inauguration. But the main focus has got to be that the inauguration is conducted safely.”

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