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Capitol Police acting chief: Extremists threatened Biden speech before Congress

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said extremists threatened to blow up the Capitol building when President Joe Biden addresses Congress. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said extremists threatened to blow up the Capitol building when President Joe Biden addresses Congress. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Militia members involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol have allegedly threatened to blow up the building when President Joe Biden makes an address before a joint session of Congress, the Capitol Police's acting chief, Yogananda Pittman, told a congressional panel Thursday.

She said the police plan to maintain the current levels of enhanced security because of the threat.

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"We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union, which we know that date has not been identified," Pittman said.

"We know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren't only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers. They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as to who is in charge of that legislative process."

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Pittman made the comments Thursday during a House appropriations subcommittee hearing on the insurrection that left five dead and dozens injured. The FBI has arrested more than 200 people in connection with the attack in which former President Donald Trump's supporters sought to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Presidents don't typically give a State of the Union address in the first months of their term, but Biden has said he plans to give a speech in the coming weeks. Since there's no date set for such a speech, the enhanced security efforts will be indefinite.

"We have no intention of keeping the National Guard or that fencing any longer than what is actually needed," Pittman said. "We're actively working with a scaled-down approach so that we can make sure that we address three primary variables.

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"One is the known threat to the environment, two is the infrastructure vulnerabilities and then that third variable being the limitations the U.S. Capitol's police knows that it has as it relates to human capital and technology resources."

Pittman told the lawmakers that though the Capitol Police knew of threats to the Capitol on Jan. 6, there was no indication there was a credible threat of the scale that ended up happening.

"The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the 6th," she said.

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"There was no such intelligence. Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol, nor did the intelligence received from the FBI, or any other law enforcement partner, indicate such a threat."

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