Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is pressuring Capitol law enforcement officials to answer questions about Jan. 6 and why Capitol Police were not prepared to stop people from entering the building.
In a letter to Acting Chief of U.S. Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman, Johnson explained that his team’s review of the video footage from the Capitol riot raised some questions about how law enforcement chose to handle the situation.
First, Johnson explained that more than 300 people appeared to enter the building through the upper west terrace door after it was left ajar by a group exiting the building under the supervision of a Capitol Police officer. Just one minute later, Johnson said the footage shows that the officer, “who was in the vicinity of this door one minute earlier, walked into another hallway away from this door and out of the view of the security camera” while people poured in.
“At 2:35 p.m., five police officers who were not wearing riot gear or carrying any protective equipment, such as shields, arrived at this doorway,” Johnson said, noting that these officers were “blocking people from continuing to enter the building at this location.” “About a minute later, four unauthorized individuals, including two people wearing helmets, pushed past the officers’ line and a surge of people entered the building walking past the officers. These police officers did not appear to take any further action to stop or block people entering the building until a few minutes later.”
Minutes later, the officers formed another line and then engaged in discussion with the group near the door. This conversation was not recorded because the security system did not pick up audio, but Johnson said no one in the group appeared “aggressive or violent.” The officers, however, eventually began to “slowly retreat from the doorway, allowing a surge of people to, once again, enter the building.”
“Security footage then showed an increase of law enforcement officers outside of the building directly in front of this doorway. At 2:47 p.m., law enforcement closed these doors. Over the span of this 14-minute period, it appeared that approximately 309 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol through the upper west terrace doors. USCP estimated at least 800 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol on January 6. If that estimate is accurate, it appears this doorway was the entry point for as much as 38 percent of that total,” Johnson wrote.
Not only did Johnson ask if Pittman believes her office’s assessment of the events at those particular doors is correct, but he demanded that Capitol Police answer questions about their actions during the short time period.
“In order to fully understand what happened at the upper west terrace doorway, it is important to hear from the officers that were present at that location. Have these officers filed detailed reports of this incident? Has USCP conducted transcribed interviews with them? If so, I request copies of these reports and transcribed interviews. If not, I respectfully ask for the opportunity to interview these officers,” Johnson said.
He also asked if Capitol police know why the left door to the entrance didn’t appear to be working at first but eventually opened later. “Does USCP know why at approximately 2:26 p.m. an individual could not open the left door at the upper west terrace entrance, but seven minutes later, at 2:33 p.m., another individual could open that same door?” Johnson asked. “Does USCP have any indication that this door was locked at 2:26 p.m. and then unlocked by 2:33 p.m.?”
Lastly, Johnson requested the “security footage of the interior and exterior cameras located near the upper west terrace doors from 2:20 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.” to better assess the situation.
“The American people deserve an accurate and complete understanding of what happened on January 6. To provide that historical record, it is important that all aspects of that day — from the peaceful protests on the Ellipse to the acts of violence in and around the Capitol — are fully and fairly examined,” Johnson explained.