WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered opening remarks at a joint oversight hearing to examine the security failures that led to a breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Current and former officials responsible for securing the area surrounding the U.S. Capitol on the preparations and response efforts on January 6, 2021, when a criminal mob was able to breach the Capitol complex, testified at today’s hearing. Portman made clear that the following key questions need to be answered by the witnesses: Was there credible intelligence about potential violence; when was it known; and who knew it? Did the U.S. Capitol Police request approval to seek National Guard assistance prior to January 6, and if so, why that request was denied? Were Capitol Police officers properly trained and equipped to respond to an attack on the Capitol, and if not, why not?
A transcript of his opening remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“Thank you, Chairman Peters, Chairwoman Klobuchar, and Ranking Member Blunt for the constructive comments this morning. In this business you often finish like you start, and I appreciate the fact that we’re starting this review by taking the politics out of it so we can get to the bottom of what happened. I want to start by expressing my gratitude on behalf of everybody for the men and women of law enforcement; U.S. Capitol Police, Secret Service, National Guard, Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI, and all the law enforcement agencies who put their safety on the line to safeguard democracy on January 6.
“As I said on the Senate floor that night, it was thanks to them that Vice President Pence, Members of Congress, staff, and the Capitol complex workforce were protected, and we were able to complete our Constitutional duty of certifying the election. It was important, in my view, that we sent a clear message that night to our constituents and to the world that we would not be intimidated. That the mob would not rule here. But that message could not have been delivered without law enforcement securing us and our respective chambers.
“Seven individuals lost their lives as a result of the Capitol attack, including two Capitol Police officers and a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer. We will never forget the service and sacrifice of Officers Brian Sicknick, Jeffrey Smith, and Howard Liebengood. I knew Officer Liebengood. I saw Howie most days at his post at the Russell Office Building. His colleagues will tell you, no officer was more dedicated to the mission of the Capitol Hill Police Department, the mission and duty to serve and protect, and I am proud to have called him a friend.
“We will never forget Officer Eugene Goodman and the hundreds of other officers who were heroes on the frontlines that afternoon, that evening, many of whom sustained injuries. To honor that kind of sacrifice and avoid future attacks, we have got to take a really hard look at what happened on January 6 -- the decision-making that led up to that day, and the decision-making that allowed the Capitol to be breached and overrun. As the bipartisan media advisory announcing this joint hearing stated, the purpose today is to examine the security failures that led to a breach of the Capitol on January 6, specifically the preparation and response efforts.
“There are key questions that have to be answered. First, some witnesses have suggested that there was an intelligence failure. We need to know: was there credible intelligence about potential violence; when was it known; and who knew it?
“Second, our witnesses have differing accounts about requests for National Guard assistance. We need to know: did the U.S. Capitol Police request approval to seek National Guard assistance prior to January 6, and if so, why was that request denied? We need to know: why was the request for National Guard assistance on January 6 delayed, and why, if that is true? And we need to know why it took so long for the National Guard to arrive after their support was requested.
“Third, the Capitol was overtaken in a matter of hours. We need to know whether Capitol Police officers were properly trained and equipped to respond to an attack on the Capitol, and if not, why not? And we need to know why the Capitol complex itself was so vulnerable and insecure that it could be so easily overrun.
“My hope is that today we get clear answers to these questions from our witnesses. We need to know what happened and how to ensure that this never happens again. It’s that simple. I will be listening carefully, as I know my colleagues will, to the testimony of the witnesses before us.
“These events on January 6 showed that while our democracy is resilient, our democracy at times will be challenged. We’ve got to be up to that challenge. That certainly includes securing this Capitol, the citadel of democracy. That’s something that we can all agree on. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”