(Feb. 9) To inspire greater confidence in its investigation, the House select committee on the U.S. Capitol riot should do far more publicly to investigate the security breakdown at the Capitol and Congress’s own responsibility for it.

Soon after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, allies of former President Donald Trump began suggesting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself had rejected the request, made days earlier by Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, for a National Guard deployment on the day of Congress’s electoral vote count. They continue, wrongly, to do so. As multiple fact checks agree, this narrative is false. The House speaker has neither a direct nor a significant, indirect role in managing Capitol security.

Still, the fact remains that Sund did ask in advance for a Guard presence and was turned down. And although Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser secured a small contingent of Guard troops for the day, she had said they were needed mainly for traffic control, had asked for them not to be well-armed, and, quoting the New York Times, “had sent a letter to top federal law enforcement officials [on Jan. 5] warning against excessive deployments.”

Meanwhile, powerhouse conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch is suing the Capitol Police for videos and emails relating to security for Jan. 6, but the request has been blocked. The police argue that the videos are not “public records” and that Congress enjoys “sovereign immunity” from such suits. The legal standards governing these matters are complicated, and there are at least semi-good reasons for both claims.

Still, why should the Capitol Police resist? On a matter of such public importance, anything other than full transparency just looks bad.

The committee itself has been remarkably silent on this, despite being as public as possible about its requests for information from, subpoenas of, interviews with, and legal contempt actions taken against rioters and Trump staff and allies. It should not be so…. [The full column is at this link.]


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