Watchdog finds Architect of the Capitol was sidelined from security planning ahead of Jan. 6
Lawmakers on Wednesday expressed alarm over the sidelining of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) in the security planning leading up to the Jan. 6 attack despite its role on the Capitol Police Board.
In a hearing before the House Committee on Administration, AOC Inspector General Christopher Failla said his latest review offered changes that “could have hampered or prevented a breach from happening.”
“We found that the Architect, although a member of the Capitol Police Board, which is responsible for the safety and security of the members of Congress in the Capitol campus, is largely left out of the decision making when it comes to security issues. We also found that warnings and suggestions provided to the Capitol police by the AOC’s chief security officer are often unwanted or ignored,” he told lawmakers.
The Architect is just one member of the board, alongside the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, responsible for overseeing the U.S. Capitol Police. But the report paints a picture of an entity often excluded by the other two members of the board.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said the report aligned with emails his office has reviewed, which showed the office was ordered by one of the sergeants-at-arms to remove a bike rack ahead of the Jan. 6 protests despite their concerns it would remove a defensive area for police.
“Despite the AOC being responsible for the physical security of the Capitol Complex, the other members of the Capitol Police Board generally permit the AOC little to no role in developing the security plan for major events at the Capitol. Even worse, those other Capitol Police Board members generally meet privately — outside of the Board structure — to approve any security plan without the AOC,” Davis said. “The lack of coordination between members of the board in developing and executing a security plan is incredibly concerning.”
The full Capitol Police Board is now slated to appear before the committee next week.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) expressed frustration that the AOC had yet to update its emergency preparedness plan.
“The single biggest predictor of a successful coup against the government is a recently failed coup, where the people who tried to attack the government can scope out the weaknesses of the government and identify what the problems are, and I just want to make sure that we’re going to be prepared next time and that we’re taking this as seriously as the people who attacked us,” Raskin said.