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Lawmakers urge Capitol Police release IG report on riot

Lawmakers urge Capitol Police release IG report on riot
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Lawmakers on Monday urged the Capitol Police to start holding regular press conferences to update the public on threats to the Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection as part of efforts to increase the force's transparency.

Reps. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Tim Ryan touts labor support in Senate bid Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay MORE (D-Ohio), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, and Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Uninvited Trump is specter at GOP retreat McCarthy defends Trump response to deadly Jan. 6 riot MORE (Wash.), the panel's top Republican, jointly called for security officials to be more forthcoming to regain public trust following the deadly attack on the Capitol.

In a letter to members of the Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the Architect of the Capitol, along with the head of Capitol Police who serves as an ex-officio member, Ryan and Herrera Beutler specifically asked for the public release of a forthcoming Capitol Police inspector general report that's expected to provide recommendations to avoid a repeat of Jan. 6, as well as regular press conferences to keep the public updated on the Capitol security posture.

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Neither the Capitol Police nor any other members of the Capitol Police Board have held any press conferences since Jan. 6.

"[W]e write today to express frustration with your unwillingness to release information to the public or answer media questions regarding the events of January 6th, the current security posture of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) and plans to secure the Capitol Complex in the mid and long-term future," Ryan and Herrera Beutler wrote.

The lawmakers asked that members of the Capitol Police Board hold press conferences to provide updates on any threats to Congress and progress on efforts to protect the Capitol complex and the people who work and visit there. They added a caveat that they would "fully anticipate that sensitive details would remain confidential but expect USCP to share as much information as possible."

"In the wake of the January 6th attack that shook the confidence of so many Americans, taking a more open and transparent approach isn’t just the right thing to do, it will be the most effective as we seek to restore citizens’ confidence that the heart of America’s government is secure," Ryan and Herrera Beutler wrote.

The Capitol Police said in a response to the lawmakers' letter that it does not have the authority to release any inspector general reports because the Capitol Police's office of inspector general operates independently from the force.

The Capitol Police also declined to commit to press conferences. But the Capitol Police noted it has issued nearly three dozen news releases, shared updates on social media and "provided an immense amount of records and documents to Congressional oversight committees and individual Member offices."

"Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman is committed to improving communication, while striking the balance between transparency, accountability, and protecting law enforcement sensitive information," the Capitol Police said in a statement to The Hill. 

Two members of the Capitol Police Board are still serving in acting roles after their predecessors resigned in the days after the violent mob of former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE's supporters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.

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Yogananda Pittman is still serving as the Capitol Police's acting chief, while Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules MORE (D-Calif.) announced Friday that she is appointing Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the current chief of the Washington, D.C., National Guard, to serve as the new House sergeant-at-arms.

Capitol security officials last week finished removing the outer perimeter fence that had stretched blocks away from the Capitol and encompassed the House and Senate office buildings. An inner perimeter fence still remains as the Architect of the Capitol makes security repairs to the building.

Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett said in a memo to lawmakers and staff before the outer fence came down that security officials determined "there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing."

Capitol security officials had publicly identified at least two potential threats in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the Capitol Police revealed that it had intelligence indicating a possible plot by members of a militia group to breach the Capitol on March 4. Some believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory had falsely identified that date as the "true Inauguration Day" when Trump would be sworn into office for a second time.

That prompted House leadership to recess a day earlier than originally scheduled so that lawmakers wouldn't have to remain in Washington at the time.

Pittman also testified in late February before the House Appropriations subcommittee led by Ryan that there was intelligence indicating militia groups expressed desires to "blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible" whenever President BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE delivers a joint address to Congress.