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The Guardian

U.S. Capitol rioters ‘prepared for war’, Senate testimony

The first Congressional hearing on the attack comes the day after Merrick Garland said he would expand the probe into the January 6 assault on US politics – updates live Steven Sund, former police chief du Capitole, during a Senate hearing on February 23. Photograph: REX / Shutterstock Testifying at the first Congressional hearing on the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, the Capitol Police Chief who resigned following the riot said the pro-Trump mob that took to assault the building “had prepared for war”. Joe Biden’s candidate for attorney general Merrick Garland seems to agree. In a confirmation hearing on Monday that set the stage for Tuesday’s joint hearing organized by the Senate Homeland Security and Rules Committees, he said he would expand the criminal investigation into the assault on the January 6, claiming that Congressional domestic terrorism is a greater threat to American democracy than it has been decades ago. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Garland described the insurgency by Trump supporters and white supremacists as “a heinous act that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy.” He said his first act, if confirmed as the leading U.S. prosecutor, would be to focus on inner terror. Calling the events of January 6 “not necessarily one-off,” Garland, currently a federal judge, pledged to use the full powers of the Department of Justice to prevent another attack. “I intend to look more broadly at where this is coming from, what other groups might raise the same issue in the future,” he said. Merrick Garland speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 22. Photograph: Xinhua / REX / Shutterstock On Tuesday, the two senior officials responsible for securing the Capitol on the day of the deadly assault were called to testify before Congress. Paul Irving, the former House Sergeant-at-Arms, and Michael Stenger, his Senate counterpart, both of whom resigned after the breach, appeared before a joint hearing of two Senate committees. It marked the start of a congressional investigation into the giant security loopholes behind the insurgency. Stenger said: “This was a violent and coordinated attack where the loss of life could have been much worse.” Irving said: “Based on the intelligence, we all thought the plan met the threat and we were ready. We now know we had the wrong plan. Two other officials, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and Acting Police Chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, Robert Contee, also testified. Sund also resigned following the disaster. “These criminals came prepared for war,” Sund told senators. Capitol Police captain Carneysha Mendoza described January 6 as “by far the worst of the worst” of all the days she worked. “We could have had 10 times as many people working with us, and I still believe the battle would have been just as devastating,” Mendoza said. Capitol Police Capt Carneysha Mendoza testifies at a Senate hearing on February 23. Photograph: REX / Shutterstock The riot was born out of a rally to “save America” ​​and “stop theft”, inspired by Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. The event was widely publicized on social media. Trump made headlines at the initial rally, delivering an inflammatory speech he had billed weeks earlier with a tweet saying, “Big protest in Washington on January 6. Be there, will be wild! The riot that followed left five people dead. A woman who was trying to break into the Chamber’s room was shot and killed by police. Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick has died after being hit with a fire extinguisher. In the Senate on Tuesday, Rob Portman of Ohio, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security committee, noted that two other officers have committed suicide since the insurgency. “We will never forget the service and sacrifice” of these officers, said Portman in his opening remarks. He was one of 43 Republican senators to vote to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial that resulted from the riot, the former president accused of inciting an insurgency. The aggressive approach to investigating the January 6 riot, coupled with Garland’s testimony, signals a dramatic change of course under Democratic leadership in Washington. Garland’s focus on white supremacy and his clear labeling of domestic terrorism marks a departure from the leadership of Trump and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, who tended to downplay the danger or, in the case of the former president, actively. refuse to condemn far-right and racist groups. Garland’s judicial committee hearing saw him questioned about his definition of domestic terror by one of the Republican senators accused of pushing sedition. Joshua Hawley of Missouri was pictured with a closed fist in a show of solidarity with the “stop flying” crowd outside the Capitol, shortly before violence erupted. At Monday’s hearing, Hawley asked Garland if he thought violence against federal property during racial justice protests was a form of domestic terrorism. Not to mention Hawley’s actions on January 6, Garland made a strong response that disrupting democratic processes, such as during the Capitol uprising, fits the definition. “Attacking a courthouse at night” did not. Garland is a credible voice on the issue of domestic terrorism. He served as senior prosecutor for the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995. In his testimony, he drew a line of the Capitol Uprising in Oklahoma City, where 168 people were killed, and from that to the “Battles of the City”. Original Ministry of Justice against the Ku Klux Klan ”. Tuesday’s testimony from former Capitol Security chiefs was hosted by Democrats Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Gary Peters of Michigan. Senators were to aggressively question witnesses about the preparations they made before the attack and why they appeared to be caught off guard despite numerous public warnings. The joint hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Rules Committees was just the start of an expected series of inquiries. Although Trump was acquitted by the Senate of his impeachment charge of “inciting insurgency,” Democratic leaders remain committed to reviewing the actions and mistakes that led to the assault. An independent bipartite commission can also be convened. “This is certainly not the last hearing we will have on this attack,” Klobuchar said at the start of Tuesday’s hearing.


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