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Chief: Capitol assault much bigger than intel suggested

In this Feb. 2 photo, acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman pays respects to U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. (AP photo)

WASHINGTON — The acting U.S. Capitol Police chief was pressed to explain Thursday why the agency hadn’t been prepared to fend off a violent mob of insurrectionists, including white supremacists, who were trying to halt the certification of the presidential election last month, even though officials had compelling advance intelligence.

Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the Jan. 6 insurrection. Three days before the riot, Capitol Police distributed an internal document warning that armed extremists were poised for violence and could attack Congress because they saw it as the last chance to try to overturn the election results, Pittman said.

But the assault was much bigger than they expected, she said.

“There was no such intelligence. Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol, nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat.”

Later, under questioning by the House subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Tim Ryan, Pittman said that while there may have been thousands of people heading to the Capitol from a pro-Trump rally, about 800 people actually made their way into the building.

Pittman conceded that the agency’s incident command protocols were “not adhered to,” and that there was a “multi-tiered failure.” Officers were left without proper communication or strong guidance from their supervisors as the insurrectionist mob stormed into the building.

The panel’s top Republican, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, said the top Capitol Police officials “either failed to take seriously the intelligence received or the intelligence failed to reach the right people.”

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