Bipartisan Group Of Senators Release U.S. Capitol Attack Report
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A bipartisan group of senators is releasing a report today about the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a call with reporters last night, Republican Senator Rob Portman explained the focus.
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ROB PORTMAN: Throughout this investigation, we've managed to put the politics aside and focus on what actually happened. What were the facts? And the goal is to let the American people know, know what the security and intelligence failures were in the days leading up to January 6 and also on January 6 and what we can do to make sure it never happens again.
MARTIN: So what did they find? We're joined by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. She chairs the Senate Rules Committee and helped lead the probe. Senator, thanks for being here.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, thanks so much, Rachel.
MARTIN: What does this report reveal about the January 6 insurrection that we did not know before?
KLOBUCHAR: Our goal was to get some immediate recommendations so this never happened again. So what we focused on is the security breach. This is not, of course, a substitute for a 9/11-style commission, but we felt that things went horribly wrong - the leadership of the Capitol Police, the sharing of intelligence from agencies from Homeland Security to the FBI to the reaction of the Department of Defense that day. New thing - the fact that officers were literally looking at their equipment locked in a bus, their riot gear, and they couldn't get in to see it. The fact that we had only 10% of them trained in - be - sworn officers trained in advanced civil disturbance tactics, the fact that there was no plan for where they should be stationed. This was a failure not of the frontline officers who were valiantly defending us that day, but a failure of the leadership.
And I - most significantly, something that Senator Blunt and I are immediately going to introduce legislation on - the police chief, who's no longer the chief, but after failing to call in the National Guard to begin with, did try that day to desperately reach the sergeant-at-arms of both the House and Senate who were at the moment trying to fend off the insurrectionists to protect their members. He couldn't reach them, and that delayed getting in the National Guard. Our legislation will simply allow a new chief to be able to call in the Guard in an emergency situation. That is how messed up things were.
MARTIN: So as you worked on this, what kind of access did you have to people, to that leadership that you've just outlined where a lot of the problems were, to documents from former Trump officials in particular?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, the four of us - and this would be Senator Blunt and myself and Senator Peters and Senator Portman - worked together from the beginning to end. We felt it was so important that this be bipartisan. We had two highly public hearings. They were on TV from beginning to end where all members asked questions of our committee. We looked at thousands of documents, interviewed dozens of more people, statements from more than 50 Capitol Police officers and put this together. And so those were our questions. Now, we're not done. This is why I want the 9/11-style commission. Of course, this doesn't look at the underlying causes of the insurrection, the rise of white supremacism, all of the things that need to get done. But our focus was on what happened that day and in the weeks leading up to it and how we can make sure it never happens again.
MARTIN: You say that you didn't look into the underlying causes. I mean, why couldn't you? Why couldn't you evaluate, for example, President Trump's role in inciting the attack?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, he is mentioned in the report, I think, over 40 times. And we do very - in some detail paint the picture of the lead-up to that day. But our job was the actual breach of the Capitol security because the Rules Committee has jurisdiction over that and the Homeland Security Committee, of course, on our homeland security. We're not done. We're going to have additional hearings. But to just hold this information while my - sadly, a number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have stopped a 9/11-type commission from going forward, we felt that was a disservice to the American people, that we had to get the report out so that these changes are made. The appropriations process is moving. We need funding for some of these changes. You just can't have this citadel of democracy, the - literally the democracy of the American people attacked like this and then we do nothing in response. We have to make some major changes to the structure of the Capitol Police.
MARTIN: Just briefly, can you - you identified a couple earlier. But can you tell me what the most significant changes will be as a result of this?
KLOBUCHAR: Significant changes is we can't have three different intelligence units in the Capitol Police. We have to have one. They rely on the FBI and Secret Service, and they must be giving them information. The Department of Defense have to have contingency plans in place so that you don't see a riot break out on national TV and then you have to wait five, six hours to have a response to have people in the building. So there's plenty of failures across the board. And I'd say what's most significant is we looked at it as a whole, not just with one agency.
MARTIN: Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, we appreciate you taking the time this morning. Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.