The head of the U.S. Capitol Police will resign effective Jan. 16 following the breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Chief Steven Sund said Thursday that police had planned for a free speech demonstration and did not expect the violent attack. He said it was unlike anything he’d experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement.
He resigned Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to step down. His resignation was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The breach halted the effort by Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Protesters stormed the building and occupied for hours. The lawmakers eventually returned and finished their work.
Six days before a raucous rally of President Trump’s supporters in Washington, Representative Maxine Waters anxiously grilled the chief of the Capitol Police about his preparations for various scenarios: Were the rooftops secured? Would streets be blocked off? Did he know that violent groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers were vowing to stir up chaos?
Ms. Waters, a California Democrat, said each of her concerns was met with a similar response from Chief Steven Sund during their hourlong call: “He assured me that they have everything under control, that they were on top of everything.”
They weren’t. Instead an angry mob of pro-Trump extremists swarmed the barricades around the Capitol on Wednesday, spraying chemical irritants and wielding lead pipes, injuring more than 50 officers. They battered doors, broke windows and scaled the walls, rampaging through the building as congressional leaders made desperate calls for help.
The Capitol Police seemed to offer little resistance and arrested only 14 people, making it much more difficult to find and charge the rioters, according to a law enforcement official involved in coordinating the response.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer characterized the police response as “failure” and added that it “raises a lot of questions.”
“Clearly there’s failures,” he said. “There has to be a lot of questions asked and answers given. What is very clear is the police underestimated the violent crowd and the size of it, and they overestimated their ability to control it.”
Rioters were able to force their way into the Capitol on Wednesday in the first major breach since the war of 1812, when British soldiers burned the legislature. Trump had spoken to his supporters earlier in the day and encouraged them to head to the Capitol to protest Congress’ count of the Electoral College vote.
Authorities were eventually able to clear the building of the mob and allow lawmakers to return to what was previously considered a ceremonial process. Members of the House and Senate worked overnight to certify ballots from all 50 states, confirming Biden’s win.
The National Guard has been placed on a 30-day mobilization, which means the Guardsmen will be on the ground through Biden’s inauguration on January 20, two defense officials told NBC News
Doha Madani and Frank Thorp V I NBC