McConnell ousts Senate sergeant-at-arms after Capitol riots

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) forced out Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger one day after rioters breached the Capitol, the GOP leader announced Thursday night.

“Today I requested and received the resignation of Michael Stenger, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, effective immediately,” McConnell said in a statement.

Deputy sergeant-at-arms Jennifer Hemingway will become the acting SAA. The Senate sergeant-at-ams office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

“I thank Jennifer in advance for her service as we begin to examine the serious failures that transpired yesterday and continue and strengthen our preparations for a safe and successful inauguration on January 20th,” McConnell added. 

McConnell’s announcement is the latest sign of housecleaning among top officials after a massive security failure at the Capitol on Wednesday when rioters were able to breach the perimeter and force their way into the building, eventually making it to both the House and Senate chambers.

The mob resulted in lawmakers being whisked out of both chambers and taken to secure locations and the joint session meant to count the Electoral College vote being suspended for hours Capitol Police worked to contain crowds of rioters. 

In addition to Stenger, Capitol Police chief Steven Sund is resigning later this month, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced earlier Thursday that the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, had also tendered his resignation. 

McConnell in a statement earlier Thursday thanked frontline police officers but pledged a “painstaking investigation and thorough review” of the incident.

“The ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement, and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them,” he said in a statement earlier Thursday. “But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”

Even if McConnell hadn’t asked for Stenger’s resignation, his days in his position were numbered after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to fire him if hadn’t resigned by the time Democrats take control of the majority on Jan. 20. 

And calls for his ousting had bipartisan support with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) telling reporters during a press conference that he backed Schumer’s decision. 

“Anyone in charge of defending the Capitol failed,” Graham said. “The first thing that has to happen is to hold those accountable for failing to defend the nation’s Capitol while the Congress was in session.”  

Tags Capitol police Capitol Riots Capitol security Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Chuck Schumer Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Senate Republicans Senate Sergeant at Arms Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate

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