Former Capitol sergeants at arms, police, testify in Senate hearing into Jan. 6 breach

Three of the four witnesses scheduled to testify Tuesday resigned their posts in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol melee.
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Protests on Capitol Hill. Jan. 6, 2021
(Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Senate will query former top congressional security officials on Tuesday during a hearing at which some are expected to make their first in-depth public comments about failures leading up to the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol.

The joint oversight hearing will include testimony from former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Doorkeeper Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, and Robert Contee, acting chief of Washington, D.C.'s  Metropolitan Police Department.

Three of the witnesses — Stenger, Irving, and Sund — resigned their posts in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol melee. All four will appear before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules committees, beginning at 10 a.m.

In the wake of the Capitol siege, blame has been cast on various agencies and officials for failing to prepare for, prevent, and repel the siege. The Feb. 23 hearing will aim to uncover how and why such failures occurred. 

Sund, who is listed second in the lineup to testify, previously said that his pleas for backup were rebuffed by House and Senate security officials and by a Pentagon commander.

"If we would have had the National Guard, we could have held them at bay longer, until more officers from our partner agencies could arrive," Sund told the Washington Post. 

The Defense Department has said, though, that Sund's agency twice confirmed that it did not need help from the National Guard — an assertion the Pentagon memorialized last month in a "timeline of events" surrounding the siege.

On Jan. 3, "DoD confirms with U.S. Capitol Police that there is no request for support," the timeline notes. On Jan. 4, Capitol Police "confirms there is no requirement for DoD support in a phone call with [Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy]."

Sund's agency called for help on Jan. 6, some 33 minutes after the Capitol was evacuated, according to the Pentagon timeline. At 1:59 p.m., the timeline notes, "Chief Sund communicates request for immediate assistance."

Sund and the two former sergeants at arms — Irving and Stenger — likely will come under the heaviest scrutiny from senators, one longtime Capitol Hill insider told Just the News. 

"This may be a rough ride," the insider said. "It won't be an easy day."

The four witnesses will appear before the Senate beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. First on the schedule is acting Chief Contee from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police.