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The Capitol Riot Investigation: What to Watch For Today


WASHINGTON — A series of bipartisan investigative hearings will begin Tuesday in the Senate to scrutinize the security breakdowns that failed to prevent the deadly Capitol riot, the most violent attack in more than 200 years on the building where Congress meets.

At a joint meeting of two Senate committees, lawmakers will have a chance to question the officials who were in charge of securing the Capitol during the attack on Jan. 6, when Capitol Police officers and members of the city’s Metropolitan Police Department called in as a mob overran reinforcements while the vice president and members of the House and Senate were gathered inside.

It will be the first time the public will hear from the top two security officials at the Capitol that day, both of whom resigned after the breach. Paul D. Irving, the former House sergeant-at-arms, and Michael C. Stenger, the former Senate sergeant-at-arms, have come under scrutiny amid reports that they did not act swiftly enough in calling for the National Guard. The committees will also hear from Steven A. Sund, the former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, who also resigned after the attack, and Robert J. Contee III, the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.

What we’re expecting to see: The hearing on Tuesday will be the first in a series of oversight hearings organized by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairwoman of the administration panel, and Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. They will be accompanied by the top Republicans on the panels, Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio.

When we’re likely to see it: The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Senators will make opening statements and swear in witnesses, who will deliver their own remarks and take questions from lawmakers, with Democrats and Republicans taking turns. A joint hearing means nearly twice the number of senators asking questions, which is likely to mean a long day.

How to follow along: The New York Times congressional team will be following all of the developments on Capitol Hill. Visit nytimes.com throughout the day for live coverage.

Senators in both parties have said they want to get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6. Despite ample intelligence indicating that right-wing militias and extremist groups that supported President Donald J. Trump were planning violence — and even that they were targeting Congress — law enforcement officers were outmanned and underequipped during the riot.

Lawmakers are expected to extensively question the witnesses about what threats they knew of and how they prepared, what they did when it became clear that the situation was spiraling out of control, and why they failed to securely fortify the Capitol against the pro-Trump mob.

There are also likely to be questions about why the National Guard was not called more quickly to help quell the violence and who was responsible for the chaotic decision-making and communication breakdowns that contributed to a nearly two-hour lag between when Mr. Sund made the request for troops and when it was approved.

Even as the hearing was being planned, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was proposing the formation of an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding commission modeled after the one that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The idea has generated interest from both parties but already led to some partisan rifts.

Republicans are resisting Ms. Pelosi’s blueprint for the commission — which would allow each of the top four congressional leaders to nominate two members and President Biden to name three, including the commission chair — because it would skew the board toward Democrats.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, said in a statement that the commission should be evenly split between both parties.

The 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which was the product of an intense round of negotiating on Capitol Hill, had five members named by Republicans and five by Democrats.


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