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Capitol Police, National Guard leaders address Capitol security breach

Rioters in support of former President Donald Trump breach the security perimeter and penetrate the U.S. Capitol to protest against the Electoral College vote count on January 6.  Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Rioters in support of former President Donald Trump breach the security perimeter and penetrate the U.S. Capitol to protest against the Electoral College vote count on January 6.  Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda D. Pittman apologized to Congress on Tuesday for security failures during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, acknowledging the agency knew there was a "strong potential for violence" that day.

Pittman, who took over as acting chief after the riot, told the House Appropriations Committee in prepared statements that the agency declined a request for National Guard troops to be on hand two days before.

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Meanwhile, D.C. National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William Walker told the Washington Post the Pentagon took power away from him to immediately respond to the incident, sparked by a protest rally of supporters of President Donald Trump.

Pittman said Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund requested the Capitol Police Board to declare a state of emergency days before Jan. 6, but was turned down. Instead, he was told to contact the National Guard.

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The Capitol Police did not contact Walker until 25 minutes before the Capitol was breached. Walker said he then had to wait for approval from former Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy and acting Defense Secretary Christopher C.Miller before dispatching troops, delaying their response for more than an hour.

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In comments prepared for delivery obtained by the Times, Pittman said the Capitol Police failed to meet its own standards.

"Although the department fulfilled its mission of protecting members and democracy ultimately prevailed, the insurrectionists' actions and the department's inability to immediately secure the U.S. Capitol emboldened the insurrectionists and horrified millions of Americans," she said.

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"We fully expect to answer to you and the American people for our failings on Jan. 6th. I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department."

She said the Capitol Police force of 1,200 on duty at the building was "no match" for the "tens of thousands of insurrectionists."

Sund, as well as the Senate sergeant-at-arms, resigned after the attack.

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Donald Trump supporters breach Capitol, riot over election results

Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on Wednesday in protest of Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

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