Former U.S. House security chief denies 'optics' dictated Jan. 6 decisions at Capitol


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U. S. House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving denied Tuesday authorities had rejected having the National Guard deployed at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 because it might look bad, saying the intelligence did not warrant the troops’ presence.

Irving made his comments in written testimony for two Senate committees investigating the security preparations and response to the attack on the Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump. The committees began a joint hearing at 10 a.m. EST.

Irving said that on Jan. 4, he had discussed the possible use of 125 National Guard troops with then- Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.

“’Optics’ as portrayed in the media did not determine our security posture ... We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no - the intelligence did not warrant that,” Irving said.

Irving’s testimony appeared to be in direct conflict with Sund’s account. Sund said he had requested National Guard troops but that Irving “stated he was concerned about the ‘optics’ of having National Guard present.”

Sund, Irving and Stenger all resigned in the wake of the Jan. 6 violence that left five people dead.

Also appearing Tuesday at the hearing was Robert Contee, the acting police chief in Washington, D. C.. His forces helped the Capitol Police control the mob and eventually clear the Capitol so that lawmakers could return to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Senators in the Homeland Security Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration want ... (Read more)

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