WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he was shocked by some of the findings of a congressional committee regarding the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was an attack on democracy itself,” Portman said.
On Tuesday, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which Portman is the ranking member, issued a report on the Jan. 6 attack he said sought to disrupt the election process. The report follows several meetings held by the committee to investigate what went wrong that day.
“We had two hearings, over 30 members involved, we had thousands of documents we reviewed, dozens of interviews,” Portman said.
He added the bipartisan report followed the mandate of looking at the lack of preparation and lack of response by Capitol police and the National Guard.
“We uncovered some shocking things,” Portman said.
One of those was that the police was poorly prepared.
“We know now that police officers were not given the equipment they needed to defend themselves and had not been given the training to deal with this kind of a gathering,” Portman said.
“Therefore they were put in an impossible situation,” he added.
The report states there are 1,840 sworn officers in the U.S. Capitol Police force, but “only approximately 160 are trained in advanced civil disturbances tactics and use of ‘hard’ protective equipment.”
Portman said the majority of officers on scene were in ordinary uniforms and not protective gear.
He also said there was a failure of providing intelligence to the appropriate officials to make decisions.
“There was intelligence out there but it did not get into the right hands at the right time to be able to defend the Capitol,” Portman said. “We believe if that had happened, if the intelligence had been provided in an appropriate way, the Capitol police would’ve been prepared, would’ve had National Guard there.”
He added there were online reports of possible violence as far back as December.
He added the report made about 20 recommendations, including giving the D.C. police chief the ability to directly request National Guard aid, ensuring training occurs and equipment is available, and requiring intelligence agencies to issue bulletins when information is gathered through social media as happened here.
“We also had a real issue with response time,” Portman said. “This was a shock too, that it took the National Guard so long to get there.”
Portman said he was amazed most at the failure of the intelligence committee. He said there was credible information available but the Capitol Police Department disregarded it.
However, the report also stated neither the FBI nor Department of Homeland Security deemed the online information as credible and both failed to issue alert bulletins.
“Despite online messaging that was very clear about violence, and about coming to the Capitol,” Portman said.
As far as an independent commission to further study what happened, Portman said he remains in favor of that happening, as long as it is done in a bipartisan manner. However, in the meantime, Portman said the recommendations of this report should be enacted immediately.
Three officers and four other individuals died as a result of the attack, according to the report.