Pelosi calls on Capitol Police chief to resign after riot
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called for the resignation of the head of Capitol Police and announced that another security official would step down following the rioting at the Capitol the previous day.
Pelosi said during a news conference that she has yet to hear from Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund since Wednesday’s events, when a pro-Trump mob overwhelmed officers and swarmed the building as Congress began to formally ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“I think we have to have a full review,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
“What was underestimated? That the president of the United States would not be as inciteful? Perhaps somebody thought for a moment that he would be patriotic before he leaves office for just this once,” she said.
The Speaker said the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, would step down. He has served in the role since January 2012. Sund, meanwhile, assumed his role as Capitol Police chief last June.
At least one person, a 35-year-old woman who was among the rioters, died after being shot by a Capitol Police officer outside the House chamber. Sund said in a statement on Thursday that the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave and is under investigation.
Sund also said that more than 50 Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers were injured during Wednesday’s attacks, with several hospitalized with serious injuries. Rioters — most of whom did not wear masks despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic — hit police officers with metal pipes and used chemical irritants.
The Capitol Police had made plans earlier this week to have more personnel on duty in anticipation of protests. But they were ultimately overwhelmed by the violent crowd and required reinforcements from the D.C., Virginia and Maryland National Guard and state troopers. Even so, it took more than four hours to clear the Capitol complex, after rioters vandalized the premises and pounded on doors to offices where staff and lawmakers hid in terror.
Wednesday’s events during the joint session of Congress to certify Biden’s Electoral College win also raise questions about security for the inauguration on Jan. 20.
Presidential inaugurations are typically high-security events with hundreds of members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, incoming administration officials and thousands of members of the public gathering together on the Capitol’s West Front steps.
The pro-Trump rioters stormed over the inaugural platform already in place on the West Front to break into the Capitol on Wednesday.
Before Wednesday’s events, the inauguration was already set to be scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, Pelosi and other officials are indicating they may limit it further out of concerns that Trump could incite his supporters to try to storm the inauguration to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.
“We have 13 days more of Donald Trump to deal with, who is a danger to our country. So when we talk about the inauguration, that is a national security event. And that rises to a different level of security protection,” Pelosi said.
“If there’s anything learned about [Wednesday’s violence], is that we have to be very, very careful. Because these people and their leader, Donald Trump, do not care about the security of people, they don’t care about our democracy, they don’t care about the peaceful transfer of power,” she said.
Pelosi also said Thursday that she supports invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment — in which the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet would have to agree to remove the president from office immediately — and if that does not happen she backs another round of impeachment against Trump.
“This is an urgency of the highest magnitude,” Pelosi said. “While there are only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America.”