Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is weighing in on the blame intelligence officials are placing on each other and other agencies for failed communication leading up to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Merkley during his appearance on “New Day” on Wednesday why Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund did not know about a memo from the FBI warning about potential violence one day before the insurrection until now.
“It really is an enormous failure and when I pressed him on that question, he said, ‘Well it came in at a lower level and it wasn’t a polished report. It was just raw intelligence data,'” Merkley said.
He continued, “I don’t think we should just say, ‘Well somebody didn’t pass it up.’ I mean the head of the chief of police has a responsibility to establish the channels of communication.”
Watch his comments below:
“It really is an enormous failure,” Sen. Jeff Merkley says after US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund told lawmakers that he only learned this week about an FBI memo sent one day before the insurrection with an explicit warning about potential violence.https://t.co/as2XvITW5d pic.twitter.com/WZQmjzrNNt
— New Day (@NewDay) February 24, 2021
Merkley pointed out there is an intelligence chief within the Capitol police and questioned how his division did not forward the information.
“This seems like a huge blame game.”
“There was a lot of not taking responsibility and not getting to the core of the type of drills that should’ve and exercises and planning and rules of engagement that should’ve occurred to defend the Capitol,” Merkley continued.
Camerota asked Merkley who he blames specifically for the lapse in intelligence.
“I think there were multiple failures along the way. My overall impression is that while there was significant evidence that this was something different, the leaders at the top couldn’t really comprehend that it was really a possibility that the Capitol would be assaulted,” Merkley explained.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sund defended the Capitol police.
“A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event, and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police,” Sund said.
He added, “Based on the intelligence that we received, we planned for an increased level of violence at the Capitol and that some participants may be armed. But none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.”
“I certainly do regret resigning. I love this agency, I love the women and men of this agency, and I regret the day I left,” Sund said.
Washington’s acting police chief, Robert Contee, suggested the FBI could have taken an extra step to warn his agency of the potential danger.
“I would certainly think that something as violent as the insurrection of the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” Contee said.
According to an FBI spokeswoman, the agency “followed our normal process” and “collected and shared available intelligence prior to the events of Jan. 6.” The agency shared its report on Jan. 5 via email.
Contee also said, “Chief Sund was pleading for the deployment of the National Guard and in response to that, there was not an immediate ‘Yes, the National Guard is responding.'”
Sund also recognized his staff never trained for such an event and lacked the protective equipment.
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