The first Capitol riot hearing raised only other questions about January 6

Nearly seven weeks after the deadly insurgency on the U.S. Capitol, those tasked with protecting the building on January 6 first witnessed the failures that allowed a pro-Trump mob to invade the seat of government in disruption unprecedented democracy.

But almost all the answers they gave about what happened that day only raise more questions.

For four hours, the former U.S. Capitol Police chief and former House and Senate security chiefs largely pointed the finger at each other – or blamed others not present at the hearing – and , above all, have played down their own failures.

Senators, meanwhile, struggled to seize a golden opportunity for fact-finding, arriving late to key issues and leaving others untouched, while many – including those who amplified the allegations of electoral fraud that brought rioters to Capitol Hill initially – have the centuries-old tradition of the rostrum in committee rooms. One, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), used most of his time to read a January 6 account from a right-wing conspirator who raised the discredited theory that Trump supporters were not not responsible for the violence.

At the end of the hearing, Democrats who ran the show proclaimed it was a “constructive” exercise that “sheds new light” on what happened on January 6.

Some genuinely new information has surfaced: for example, Steven Sund, the former Capitol Police chief, said he had just learned that on January 5, the force received an FBI report warning against the violence around Trump’s rally – but that the “not to do” report to his office. When asked how authorities missed other signs of brewing violence, authorities simply said the intelligence community had not warned them enough about it.

If nothing else, the first marquee hearing probing the attack on Capitol Hill made it clear that getting a full picture of how and why January 6 played out in this way will be a difficult task. But the futility of questioning this particular set of witnesses – all seeking to protect their reputations and deflect blame – became clear at the start of Tuesday’s hearing, as Senators sought to establish a timeline for who had asked. for help and when Jan. 6.

As the crowd began to move around the perimeter of the Capitol, Sund said he called Paul Irving, then House Sergeant-at-Arms, at 1:09 p.m. to ask them to call the National Guard. He alleged that Irving told him he was concerned about the “optics” of the Guard’s presence and pushed him away.

Irving responded by saying he didn’t recall Sund calling him at the time, saying he was upstairs in the House overseeing the Electoral College certification process. He added that it was “categorically false” for him to mention optical problems in determining the security protocol on Capitol Hill.

Under oath, the two men stayed true to their stories. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) tried to fix the problem, but concluded: “What happened here does not seem to me to be in line with various time frames.” Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) then requested that they both return their call tapes for investigation.

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