Updated Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers vow to investigate police after Capitol Hill breach

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

A mob of Trump supporters inside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Several lawmakers have vowed to investigate law enforcement's response to Wednesday's violent U.S. Capitol breach by a mob supporting President Trump.

Why it matters: The rally in D.C. was announced weeks ago and widely promoted, including by President Trump via social media in posts lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and his predecessors said inflamed the situation.

  • Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noted to CNBC, "Everybody knew that there would be a disturbance, everybody knew that there would be people who were interested in doing nothing but creating havoc in the Capitol, and very frankly it was the responsibility of the law enforcement and the Capitol Hill Police to secure the Capitol."

Driving the news: The U.S. Capitol Police who protect Congress asked other law enforcement to assist them after the mob swarmed the complex, resulting in the evacuation of lawmakers, staff and journalists.

  • Trump supporters as well as officers used chemical irritants in the hourslong occupation before they were cleared from the complex, AP notes.
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a citywide curfew in response to the riots. One woman died after being shot inside the Capitol. Law enforcement recovered several weapons and D.C. police arrested at least 47 people for violating curfew.

What they're saying: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who chairs the committee that controls the Capitol Police budget, told reporters strategic mistakes had been made and the rioting was "an embarrassment — both on behalf of the mob and the president, and the insurrection and the attempted coup, but also the lack of professional planning and dealing with what we knew was going to occur," per Politico.

  • "You can bet your ass that we're going to get to the bottom of it," he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in a statement Thursday: "I salute and applaud those front-line U.S. Capitol Police officers who stood bravely in harm’s way during yesterday’s failed insurrection."

  • "With that said, yesterday represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government. A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow."

House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in a statement Wednesday that the Capitol breach"raises grave security concerns."

  • She added she would have committee "work with the bipartisan House and Senate leadership to address these concerns and review the response."

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) tweeted, "We must investigate the security breach at the Capitol today. I warned our Caucus and had an hour long conversation with the Chief of Police 4 days ago. He assured me the terrorists would not be allowed on the plaza & Capitol secured. What the hell?"

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) told reporters there must be a "full investigation of the Capitol Police response."

  • "This building has been completely locked down since March," she said, per ABC. "Nobody has been in this building. How did so many rioters get into this building from so many directions?"

Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief, told MSNBC it "did not seem that they had a clear operational plan to really deal with."

Of note: Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said in a statement the agency was conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures that resulted in the injuries of over 50 officers from his agency and the Metropolitan Police Department. Some have been hospitalized with serious injuries, he said.

  • Sund noted Capitol Police were simultaneously responding to call-outs over pipe bombs in two different locations that had to be disabled and a suspicious vehicle as violent events were unfolding across the Capitol Complex.
  • He said the officers and law enforcement partners "responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building,"

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new statements from lawmakers and police.

Go deeper