May 10, 2021
House Committee Hearing on January 6 Capitol Attack Transcript May 10
The House Administration Committee held a hearing on the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack on May 10, 2021. Read the transcript of the full hearing here.
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The Committee on House Administration will come to order. I’d like to welcome our members. We have a quorum present. The ranking member. Mr. Rascon, Mr. Style, Mr. Aguilar, Ms. Scanlan and Ms. Fernandez. And so we have a quorum and I’d like to welcome everyone. As we begin, I want to note that we’re holding this hearing in compliance with the regulations for remote committee proceedings, pursuant to House resolution eight. We ask committee members and witnesses to keep their microphones muted when not speaking to limit background noise, and members will need to unmute themselves when seeking recognition or when recognized for their question, period. Witnesses will also need to unmute themselves when recognize when answering questions. We ask members of witnesses to keep cameras on at all times as the rule provides, even if you need to step away for a moment, and I’d like to remind members that the rules prohibit participation more than one committee proceeding at the same time.
At this time, I asked unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and have any written statements to be made part of the record, and hearing no objections, that is ordered. Today’s hearing continues the oversight of this committee and the House of Representatives of issues related to January 6th, 2021, the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol. Specifically, the scope of today’s hearing is the latest flash report by the inspector general for the US Capitol police, which was provided to congressional oversight committees and the department on April 30th. We appreciate the continued work of Inspector General Michael Bolton and his team, and we’re grateful to welcome him back. This new flash report focuses on two particular issues, threat assessment and counter surveillance. But before we get to that, I want to take a moment to clarify what I think appeared to be some confusion the last time Mr. Bolton appeared before us.
I asked a question that apparently some misinterpreted as a statement, but I was merely quoting from an officer who was part of an office of professional responsibility review. It was not a review of the radio transmission. It was a quote from an officer who was interviewed, and I’d like to quote this officer directly.
“I was originally drafted for CDU at 1000 hours on January 6, 2021. I then swapped my starting time with another officer who starting time was 0800 hours. I enjoyed being part of the CDU. Few minutes after our roll call, my squad was directed to help the east front security posture at the Capitol division. As I was crossing the street at traffic six, a radio broadcast was sent out to all outside unit: ‘Attention. All unit on the field, we’re not looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd. We’re only looking for anti pro-Trump, who wants to start a fight.’ At that point, I started thinking about my initial intelligence that was disseminated. The entire crowd was a threat based on the intelligence. The pro-Trump were the threat because they’re coming to stop the count.
“However, I convinced myself that perhaps the mission has changed. The CDU that was scheduled at 1000 hours was initially supposed to be part of our rotation. However, they were sent to parole garages around the House division. At that point, I was convinced that the mission has changed and the threat was not a high level threat because of the radio call and the decisions that were made to send the other group to patrol garages. I was on at the east front with officers, a small group, perhaps prior or still in the military, approach one officer and ask him if he wants to talk, because what is happening at the lower west front terrace, what happened at the east front as well, and nothing will stop that. I automatically realized that there was a disconnect or a miscommunication about the event that is occurring today.”
And that’s the point. We need to make sure the threat assessments and the planning and the preparation were adequate for the event that was to present this huge challenge to our country, and specifically to the officers who protected us. As inspector general Bolton reported, he and his team have concluded to date that the department’s threat assessment and counter surveillance programs had a number of deficiencies, including: operating under outdated or vague guidance; failure to adequately report, stop, or contact activities; lack of a dedicated counter-surveillance entity; and insufficient resources for supporting both threat assessment and counter surveillance activities among other shortcomings.
We’ll hear more about these issues and the inspector General’s recommendations for addressing these problems today. I continue to believe Congress must establish a commission focused specifically on the January 6th insurrection. Such a review is necessary, even though I agreed with Senator Mitch McConnell, former speaker John Boehner, and representative Cheney that former president Donald Trump bears ultimate responsibility for inciting the dangerous and deadly insurrection. In the meantime, that will not deter the committee from continuing its work. To date, that work has included among other things, coordinating with the security task force led by Lieutenant general Russell on array and its distinguished team of experts, reviewing the task force’s recommendations for improving security for Congress, and working with various inspector generals who are reviewing issues within their jurisdictions. Our committee’s work with inspector general has included the only public hearing of any congressional committee to date with Capitol police inspector general Michael Bolton. On Wednesday, we will be pleased to hear directly from the inspector general for the architect of the Capitol bout, about his first flash report on issues related to that agency. Furthermore, I plan to call a hearing to review overarching issues about the department’s mission organization and oversight, including its relationship to the Capitol police board, and I intend to invite current members of the Capitol police board to testify at that hearing.
As we begin this hearing, I know that this is a start of national police week. In years past, this annual commemoration of law enforcement from agencies and jurisdictions has included a large gathering on the west front of the Capitol to remember officers who’ve fallen in the line of duty and to thank all men and women who serve our nation and our communities and law enforcement. It’s a perverse irony that this year, this important gathering will not be held in person because of the pandemic, which has killed more police officers in the past year than any other line of duty cause of death combined. Instead, the largest multi-jurisdictional gathering of law enforcement at the Capitol so far this year, may well be that which occurred January 6th, when officers from multiple departments responded to the insurrectionist attack. It was not just the Capitol police who were under attack that day. It was also the men and women who answered their call for aid from the Washington DC metropolitan police department, the Alexandria Virginia police department, the Virginia state police, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Secret Service, the US Marshals, and the US Park Police. These officers, as well as citizen soldiers of the national guard, all answered the call to protect the Capitol.
At our last hearing, I recounted some of the horrific injuries suffered that day by the responding officers. I noted that one officer was dragged into the crowd on the Capitol steps, viciously beaten, had his own taser taken from him and used repeatedly against him to the point that he had a heart attack. Last week, that officer, officer Michael [Vernon 00:12:54], who serves in the Washington DC metropolitan police department, said a powerful open letter about his experiences address to all elected members of the United States government. That includes us. He details what happened to him that day, including how he was, “Pulled into the crowd away from my fellow officers, beaten with FIS metal objects, stripped of my issued badge, radio, and ammunition magazine, and electrocuted numerous times with a taser.” In his letter, officer Vernon writes, “I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event, but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day, and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgement.”
His letter is a stark reminder of the plain facts of the events of that day. His attackers were not foreign terrorists, they were as fellow Americans incited to insurrection and violence by the then president of the United States. I ask unanimous consent that officer Vernon’s May 5th, 2021 letter be entered into the record, and without objection, that is ordered. I want to say to all the officers of the Capitol police and every jurisdiction who responded on January 6th and to those who stand watch today, we remember and we honor your service. I’d also like to repeat something else I said at our last hearing. To all officers, Ledge Brand staff and members, counseling and other assistance is available to you, and you are encouraged to use those resources at any time. And now I’d like to recognize our ranking member, Mr. Davis from Illinois for his opening statement. Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis: (14:49)
Thank you, chairperson [Loftman 00:14:51], and thank you to our witness, Mr. Bolton for being here again. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss your latest flash report, which is focused on counter surveillance and threat assessment capabilities within the United States Capitol police, and highlighted the need for improvements. As I noted at the last hearing you testified at, I really appreciate your recommendations, and I agree with many of them. Specifically, I agree with the need to increase the bandwidth in the department to adequately handle the threat cases toward members of Congress that continues to increase year after year. I continue to be extremely concerned about the USCP’s limited intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities. If we have the intelligence about an attack or threat against a member of Congress or against the Capitol complex, but do not have the correct policies or people in place to properly gather, interpret and operationalize that Intel, then what’s the point?
Mr. Davis: (15:48)
Specifically, Mr. Bolton’s latest report mentions USCP did not have detailed or up to date guidance in place for its counter surveillance and threat assessment operations. I’ve raised this issue before and it’s been recommended by Mr. Bolton and general [Honoray 00:16:06], it’s the need to transform the USCP into a protective force and less of a traditional police department. Mr. Bolton’s latest report raises concerns about the number of threats against members and recommends greater resources be dedicated to the threat assessment section or TAS. As someone who’s received numerous threats, one of which resulted in a successful prosecution and conviction, I would absolutely agree with that, but looking at the numbers provided in Mr. Bolton’s report, I’m extremely concerned that while the threats reported against members have increased significantly, the number of arrests have stayed relatively the same, as have the number of indictments.
Mr. Davis: (16:50)
That seems to indicate to me that there may be another issue at hand that cannot be solved by simply increasing resources and will require a better partnership with the department of justice and other executive branch law enforcement partners, as well as state and local police and prosecutors. I hope to get into this more during my Q&A, but I’m very troubled by these disproportionate numbers. Related to issues with the TAS, I’d like to ask permission to enter into the record a recent statement by the United States Capitol Police addressing Mr. Bolton’s third flash report.
With no objection, so ordered.
Mr. Davis: (17:29)
Thank you, Madam Chair. In the statement released this past Friday USCP notes 107% increase in threats against members, and agrees with the recommendations by Mr. Bolton and are working to implement many of them, but the department notes that some of the most important recommendations by Mr. Bolton require, in addition to more resources, authorization or approval from congressional stakeholders. And to me, that means the Capitol police board.
Mr. Davis: (17:56)
This is a point I’ve continued to make throughout these hearings. While I’m happy to chat with Mr. Bolton again, I’m disappointed the committee has not yet publicly heard from Chief Pitman or anyone else who are responsible for implementing these recommendations. Also brings me to my next point, and that’s the need for this committee to hear from the full Capitol police board. As I’ve mentioned several times before, the board has a ton of power over the USCP. Therefore I think it’s imperative, and it looks like it’s going to happen, that this committee is going to hear from the entire board. Just so everybody’s aware, according to the congressional research service, the entire board hasn’t appeared before congressional oversight in the House since 1945. That’s 76 years.
Mr. Davis: (18:38)
As Mr. Bolton also noted in a previous hearing, there’s little to no oversight of the board, which makes the majority of security decisions on Capitol hill. I believe the oversight and accountability is desperately needed, and I think this committee could work together to provide it. I know the Chair mentioned that she intends to call a hearing of the Capitol police board, but I’d like the chair to engage in a quick colloquy if she would so do so.
Be happy to hear from the ranking member.
Mr. Davis: (19:07)
Madam Chair, thank you again for showing the bipartisanship and entering the request that many of us have had to [inaudible 00:19:15] from the Capitol police board. Could the Chairperson let the rest of the committee know [inaudible 00:19:23] when you think that might happen.
I don’t have a date selected, but we will certainly work with minority in the scheduling.
Mr. Davis: (19:30)
Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the opportunity and the time, and your willingness to work with us on this, and I’m hopeful we can continue this dialogue and work together to schedule future hearings regarding the security this campus. Protecting the capital should not be a partisan issue, and I believe working together as the Senate is doing, will ensure the reforms are actually made, and made this Congress. With that, I look forward to discussing these issues with Mr. Bolton, and I yield back.
Gentlemen yields back and without objection, other members opening statements will be made a part of the record.
… other members’ opening statements will be made a part of the record. I want to welcome our witness back. Inspector General Bolton, you’re no stranger to this committee, and we’re grateful for your long career of public service both with the United States Secret Service, and now with the Capitol Police. As a reminder, your entire written statement will be made part of the record, and will remain open for at least five additional days for material to be submitted. And now, we are pleased to hear from you for about five minutes.
General Bolton: (20:37)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Good afternoon, and thank you for this opportunity to appear before you, the Committee of House Administration, to discuss our third flash report reviewing counter-surveillance and threat assessment. I’d like to extend my appreciation to the committee for holding these additional hearings and for the continued support of my office’s review. I feel that is at the utmost importance to continue exploring and reviewing the causes and failures that led to the horrific events when the Capitol was violently attacked. My goal is to provide each of you with a better understanding of how these events occurred in relation to the preparation and response of the department. Other factors were involved. Other entities are reviewing those aspects outside of the Capitol Police, and I will discuss the non-law enforcement-sensitive findings detailed in my third flash report. I will be happy to answer any law enforcement-sensitive questions in a closed-door setting.
General Bolton: (21:35)
Once again, I would like to stress, we did not design or tend our reports to cast blame on any one individual or group. The Office of Inspector General tends these reports to be an independent, objective review of the department’s programs and operation to better protect the Capitol complex members, staff, visitors, as well as the rank and file officers who have shown their commitment and bravery each and every day. As our work continues, my office sees continuing areas in our findings that Capitol Police need addressing. Those areas are intelligence, training, operational planning, and cultural change. Our third flash report reflects the continuing need for the department to focus on those four areas of intelligence, training, planning, and cultural change. Based on our ongoing work, this flash report is designed to communicate any deficiencies with the department’s counter-surveillance and threat assessment operations. Deficiencies included outdated or vague guidance, failure to adequately report stop or contact activities, a lack of dedicated counter-surveillance entity, insufficient resources for supporting counter-surveillance operations, and inadequate resources for supporting this threat assessment section.
General Bolton: (22:55)
The department did not adequately provide detail and up-to-date guidance in place for its counter-surveillance and threat assessment operations, which could have led to unclear guidance and accountability. Additionally, a lack of clear and detailed communication procedures could have increased inefficiencies with processes as well as led to critical counter-surveillance information not being appropriately communicated throughout the department. Furthermore, the department did not adequately document, collect, analyze with their PD-76 Stop or Contact Reports, which may have impeded its ability to identify trends or patterns that warrant further investigation or dissemination. A standalone entity with a defined mission dedicated to counter-surveillance activities, in support of protecting the congressional community, would improve the department’s ability to identify and disrupt individuals or groups intent on engaging in illegal activity directed at the congressional community or its legislative process.
General Bolton: (23:58)
The entities should be sufficiently staffed to accomplish its mission, and have adequate resources, including dedicated analyst support and a central desk to exploit, investigative, disseminate, and triage information in real time. Although the department has increased the number of full-time employees within threat assessment section, the section continues to experience manpower issues. In a previous report, the IG found threat assessment section caseloads steadily increased from the beginning of calendar year 2017 through the end of 2019. Department officials and TSA agents stated that increased case loads as well as staffing levels were some of the greatest challenges for the threat assessment section. Threat assessment section did not have investigative analysts, and agents perform tasks such as database checks that investigative analysts performed at other agencies. We found allowing investigative analysts to assume some responsibility from agents would help the agents maintain a manageable caseload for its staff. This is a third in a series of flash reports the IG will produce as part of an ongoing review of the events surrounding the takeover of the United States Capitol.
General Bolton: (25:13)
Therefore, we may still perform additional in-depth work related to those areas during our review. We anticipate that our next flash report will focus on the department’s Containment Emergency Response Team and first responders unit. In conclusion, the department is comprised of extraordinary men and women who are dedicated to protecting our democracy, putting their lives in harm’s way in order for Congress to exercise their constitutional duties in a safe and open manner. It is our duty to honor those officers who have given their lives, but also ensuring the safety of all those working and visiting the Capitol complex by making hard changes within the department. As we move forward, the department is taking steps and addressing our from our previous two flash reports, and I look forward to monitoring their further progress.
General Bolton: (26:03)
One additional thing. Based on information developed from our previous flash reports, including additional concerns, we have changed the order in which we will be conducting our review of the department. Our June report will focus on command and control to include radio traffic. We anticipate that this flash report will take 60 days, as opposed to our normal 30 days to complete this, based on the complexity and the amount of materials to review as well as numerous interviews we plan on conducting. We also will be addressing and reviewing the department’s timeline for its accuracy. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I’ll be very happy to answer any questions the committee may have at this time.
Thank you, Mr. Bolton. I appreciate your report and your service to our country. Now is the time when members may ask Mr. Bolton questions for five minutes. I’ll turn now to the ranking member, Mr. Davis, for his questions.
Mr. Davis: (27:11)
Sorry, Madam Chair. Mr. Bolton, again, I want to turn to the Capitol Police’s threat assessment, intelligence gathering, and analysis capabilities. Prior to January 6th, were you aware of the Capitol Police’s deficiencies in counter-surveillance and threat assessment operations?
General Bolton: (27:31)
In regards to the threat assessment section, we did, and we had issued a report earlier recommending that they increased their amount of analysts and bringing some of their policy and procedures up to date. We had not looked at counter-surveillance. Since that was not a standalone entity, that would not have come under our radar.
Mr. Davis: (27:55)
Okay. Can you speak to the department’s current intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities? Are those executed at a sufficient level that you would have recommended in your previous reports yet?
General Bolton: (28:06)
When we conducted our previous report, as I stated, their case load was very high, but since that report, their caseload has basically exploded to even larger numbers. So again, we’re recommending that they increase their level of analysts and agents to work those cases because of the number of threat cases that have been generated on additional resources. Now, we also made a recommendation to utilize the FBI’s behavioral analyst unit more frequently than they did when we spoke to them. They indicate that they could take on much more cases than what we were previously providing them.
Mr. Davis: (28:49)
Great. Thank you for your responses there, Mr. Bolton. 10 years ago in Tucson, our former colleague Gabby Giffords and 18 others were shot by a gunman in an official event. Tragically, Representative Giffords was severely wounded, and six people were killed. Since then, there’s been an exponential increase in the number of threats made against members of Congress. However, there has been no corresponding increase in the number of arrests or indictments. Can you explain why? Is this a resources issue for the department?
General Bolton: (29:18)
It may not be so much a resource issue for the department. It may be more of a resource issue for Department of Justice. Now, we haven’t looked at the reasonings for the declination rate or the reasons for why the US attorneys aren’t taking the cases. So we haven’t done any work in that field, so I wouldn’t be able to give you a definitive answer, but there could be many factors as to why the subsequent rise in threat cases isn’t coinciding with the conviction rate.
Mr. Davis: (29:49)
Well, speaking of some of those issues you just mentioned, I know the department relies on federal and state partners to protect members of outside of DC. Have you made any recommendations about how the department can better coordinate with partner agencies to provide better security?
General Bolton: (30:10)
In a previous report, we did make a recommendation to regionalize the department, in other words, having regional agents assigned to sections of the country. That way, they could form more partnerships with our local and state partners and with the United States Attorney’s Office within that district. So we have made the previous recommendation, and I believe that department has acted on that. They’re opening up two regional offices, one in San Francisco, and I believe one in Miami. So they are taking our recommendation that they will be regionalizing, and trying to get their folks out into the field, and that way form better partnerships and relationships to which could help us in getting our prosecution numbers up.
Mr. Davis: (30:57)
Well, I really appreciate that, but coming from the Midwest, that doesn’t necessarily look like a regional approach to me, being in San Francisco and Miami. Because as you know, my colleagues and I were attacked on a baseball field only a few years ago. Even more recently, a man was charged and prosecuted and convicted for threatening to kill me. So I know firsthand that these threats are real, and that the people making these threats intend to act on them. I do believe that a truly more aggressive enforcement stance, more arrests, and more prosecutions of those who make violent threats and intend to carry them out would be a very strong deterrent. What can the department do to encourage federal, state, and local law enforcement prosecutors to take a more aggressive stance? Do you need to widen this regional net? Because clearly, I don’t know anybody’s going to be satisfied with a regional approach of offices going to San Francisco and Miami.
General Bolton: (31:52)
Let me clarify one thing I failed to mention, is that this is the first of… I think the department was thinking at least five field offices initially, so this is the first of those. So there’ll be additional field offices. There was discussion of Chicago, I believe in Texas some. So there are additional field offices. These are just the first two they were putting out. I know the department was in discussion in having additional field offices out there, so they would be able to cover the Midwest and those areas. A lot of times, in my experience when I was with the service, is when you actually get out and meet the United States Attorney’s Office, the AUSA, and you form a friendship and a bond, and you have a much better chance of getting your… It’s that interaction. So by the department getting out more and meeting and greeting the United States Attorney’s Office and their folks, I think we’ll have better success in getting our cases prosecuted, along with strengthening our current ties with the FBI and other federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Davis: (33:05)
I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Bolton. My time is up, and I certainly hope that the leaders of the Capitol Police and the leaders in Congress realize the regional approach means a regional approach. I look forward to working with you on it, sir. I yield back.
Gentleman yields back. The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin, is recognized.
Rep. Raskin: (33:25)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, for calling this crucial hearing. Mr. Bolton, there’s a 30:1 officer to analyst ratio within the threat assessment section, and that’s actually not just a ratio. Those are the actual numbers, if I’m reading it correctly, 30 officers to 1 analyst. How does that ratio compare to other federal law enforcement agencies? Do we need more analysts? And tell us why the work of analysts is important.
General Bolton: (33:58)
Thank you, sir. It’s not even close to your other federal agencies, the 30:1 ratio. Our experience, not only mine with the Secret Service, but also a counterpart with the FBI, generally it’s like either 5:2, 5:1 ratio is more the optimal. The analysts can take a lot of the burden off of your investigator agents, officers, in conducting a lot of the checks, background checks, and doing a lot of the leg work initially to form up a package to provide to the special agents to review and to continue on whether or not it needs additional steps. So they can carry a lot of the burden initially and get a lot of the work quicker done, within hours as opposed to days. So those analysts are very important, as long as they’re well-trained, with the knowledge and the ability and have the skills. They can take a lot of that burden, and they can turn these cases over quicker and more efficiently, and making sure we don’t miss any steps or we don’t miss any particular information that’s very important.
Rep. Raskin: (35:06)
Your report says that the intelligence operations section, which is responsible for counter-surveillance, had only 13 officers deployed on January 6th to provide actual-time intelligence to the department. Does the department have more than 13 counter-surveillance officers, or is that it? And if there were more, why weren’t they deployed on the 6th? How many are there?
General Bolton: (35:32)
I believe that number is correct, sir. The problem we saw with counter-surveillance is it’s not a standalone entity. So when we had the pipe bombs, three of the teams went to those pipe bombs, and because they’re doing double duty, they started conducting an investigation that left one team to cover the Capitol complex. So in other words, if those pipe bombs were intended to be a diversion, plainly speaking, it worked. Yes, sir.
Rep. Raskin: (36:00)
But how many officers were diverted to the pipe bombs at the DNC and the RNC?
General Bolton: (36:06)
Six. It would have been six, so it would be three teams. The teams usually run with two.
Rep. Raskin: (36:10)
So there were only seven officers left for the rest of the siege of the Capitol, basically.
General Bolton: (36:16)
Well, two. So there were four teams initially, so it would’ve been just two there, and the other six, so eight would have been total.
Rep. Raskin: (36:25)
General Bolton: (36:25)
Now, like I said, they do double duty as well as-
Rep. Raskin: (36:31)
Yeah. Let me ask you this. How much were our people in threat assessment caught unaware just by the sheer magnitude and ferocity of the violent attack on the Capitol? I know that the Department of Homeland Security had identified domestic violent extremism, violent White supremacy, as the number one terror threat in the country, but were they just overwhelmed and stunned at the complexity and magnitude of the attack?
General Bolton: (37:07)
Thank you, sir. I would venture to say yes. And that was the problem, because what we pointed out, by a lack of having adequate policies and procedures and truly defined roles, all this information that was coming in to the department, it didn’t go anywhere. They weren’t able to triage it. That’s why we’ve mentioned a duty desk that would receive and then disseminate that information, vet it out, and get it out to either the commanders in the field or even down to the frontline officers.
Rep. Raskin: (37:39)
So you’re saying the information was flowing in, but because there was only one analyst, there was no way really to synthesize it, interpret it, and then parlay it into an effective response.
General Bolton: (37:51)
That would be a correct assessment. Yes, sir.
Rep. Raskin: (37:54)
Okay. Let’s see. Do you think that the threat assessment section today can produce standardized intelligence reports that can actually be implemented and used by the force?
General Bolton: (38:14)
Well, I know that the department is working on that as we speak. In fact, they have responded to my first written response. The department provided my office on April 30th a written response for the first series of recommendations from the flash report. They are currently working on putting together their policies and procedures, and defining the roles and responsibilities for those folks. So they are moving forward, that they have requested closure on two of the recommendations in the first report. We’re analyzing that, and requesting additional documents to see if we can able to close those recommendations. The department is moving forward, and [inaudible 00:38:57] the process is ongoing.
Rep. Raskin: (39:00)
Thank you. I yield back, Madam Chair.
Thank you. The gentleman’s time has expired. Mr. Steil is now recognized.
Rep. Steil: (39:06)
Thank you, Madam Chair. And Inspector General Bolton, thank you for being with us once again. Both your flash reports and the honorary report recommended the Capitol Police shift from being a police force to a protective force. Can you provide an example of protective forces that you have in mind?
General Bolton: (39:27)
It would be something similar along the lines of, let’s say, the Secret Service, where they have the uniform division. They have the ability to reach out for training, intelligence, where it’s a full-fledged counter-surveillance. All the other elements are within that.
Rep. Steil: (39:47)
And so then building on that, do you think that type of change is possible with the Capitol Police? And how should the Capitol Police begin to make this shift?
General Bolton: (39:56)
I certainly believe the Capitol Police is more than capable of making that shift. Part of that would be having the infrastructure-
General Bolton: (40:03)
Part of that would be having the infrastructure. And I spoke on this in previous hearings. Even if we hire 1000 officers, we were magically able to produce them, if we don’t have the infrastructure training, if we’re not training the officers, not just the initial training, the basic, but the continuous educational training and gear our training towards a protective model as opposed to a police department, then we’re not going to accomplish our goals. We need to be thinking longterm in how to best provide the infrastructure for these officers to be properly trained and continuously trained, and not only that, but develop new or having the ability to see new and developing threats and tactics that they would need to employ.
Rep. Steil: (40:54)
And then to build on the training aspect, it’s my understanding that only about 12 out of 28 Capitol Police instructors are certified, is that correct?
General Bolton: (41:05)
That is correct, sir, as far as I know.
Rep. Steil: (41:08)
And then do you believe that the best training structure would be to centralize this training? Or how else do you believe that this would work?
General Bolton: (41:16)
The only way I believe, and this is speaking from being at the Office of Training with the Secret Service, as well as Assistant Inspector General for Investigations who did a stint in Raleigh Training Center, if it’s not centralized, it’s doomed to fail. It has to be centralized at the Office of Training Service. It has to be there conducting all training from the highest level down to the lowest.
Rep. Steil: (41:40)
And how do you think that this type of a shift would be received by the men and women that are in service currently at the Capitol Police?
General Bolton: (41:48)
From the other previous hearings that I’ve attended, and I’ve heard certainly the union has been a voice of needing, wanting more training, so I would imagine that the rank and file would welcome this.
Rep. Steil: (42:00)
And to build on this, if we move forward with that recommendation that Capitol Police begins to make this shift, what measurements of success should we be tracking and looking at?
General Bolton: (42:15)
That’s hard and difficult. The measure of success is going to be how our officers respond to incidents. That would be how we would measure.
Rep. Steil: (42:25)
Okay. And so to build on this conversation then, with the Capitol Police, if we were to begin this change today, which changes do you think would require board approval, or which could just begin to be implemented under the current structure?
General Bolton: (42:39)
I think it’s going to be more of a question of funds, having the available funds to start making that change. I don’t believe that they would need Capitol Police Board approval to ramp up and start conducting with the training out in Cheltenham, doing what would be needed to enhance our training and to make it centralized. It would certainly just be more question of funds.
Rep. Steil: (43:06)
So as you look at police reform generally, not just inside the Capitol Police, do you believe that generally it’s a funding issue or are there other aspects such as cultural shifts or board adjustments as well that would be needed?
General Bolton: (43:24)
Well, I can only speak on it as far as with the Capitol Police, their programs and operations. It’s going to be a fundamental shift and a cultural change, as I spoke before, and additional funds. And when I speak of cultural change, it’s where you are changing the way we conduct our own training and the thought process there.
Rep. Steil: (43:45)
Okay. One of the recent flash ports included information regarding the Capitol Police is a lack of consistency in reviewing its standard operating procedures and internal policies, and we talked about this last time. Is the Inspector General, have you been experiencing additional difficulties on obtaining information regarding internal policies?
General Bolton: (44:08)
We have not had any difficulty in obtaining the policies or any materials or documents that we’ve requested from the department. They’ve been very helpful and timely in producing any documents we’ve requested.
Rep. Steil: (44:21)
Okay. So how receptive do you believe that Capitol Police have been to your past recommendations?
General Bolton: (44:28)
For the most part, I would say they’ve been very receptive to our recommendations.
Rep. Steil: (44:33)
Okay. I appreciate your time today. I’m sensitive of the clock here. And with that, Madame Chair, I’ll yield back.
The gentleman yields back. Mr. Aguilar is now recognized.
Pete Aguilar: (44:46)
Thank you, Madame Chair. And Inspector General Bolton, thanks for being here. If I could just pull at the thread that Mr. Steil ended his questions with, because during the 2019 Capitol Police Oversight Hearing before this committee you testified that one of the top management challenges facing the department was a lack of strong integrated internal control systems. In other words, a lack of clear, updated, and standardized policies and procedures. You said at the time that over the years the department had tended to resolve individual issues rather than strengthening the underlying systemically weak controls causing the issues. One of your primary findings in this report is that the department still has vague outdated policies.
Pete Aguilar: (45:32)
So I understand that they’re forthcoming to give you these policies, but how did the policy deficiencies themselves adversely affect the department’s threat assessment section and intelligence operations section prior to and on January 6th?
General Bolton: (45:51)
Thank you, sir. The problem when you have either outdated policies or vague policies, it doesn’t provide the direction that the officers or what are their assignment is and what’s expected of them, how are you going to hold them accountable? In other words, if you’re not telling them that they need to produce, I’ll just give you an example, a weekly report and provide it to their commanding officer, if it doesn’t specify what is supposed to be in the report, if you’re just sending an email, a one line email, well, that’s going to satisfy that particular policy, but is it useful? Is it going to be something that they can actually act upon the information? So you really need to be specifying what information that either the task force agents or the threat assessment section and what report and what should be in that report. If you’re not specifying that, then what’s the point if you’re just sending a one sentence that says, “Yeah, I worked eight hours everyday last week”? There’s no value in that kind of report.
Pete Aguilar: (46:50)
Who within the department is responsible to update those?
General Bolton: (46:56)
It’s really incumbent upon whoever is overall in charge of, let’s say for protect services people, that would be the Deputy Chief’s responsibility to make sure all the policies and procedures are at least up to date. They should be doing a review and making sure that their policies … We found policies referencing Blackberries. We haven’t used Blackberries in years. So whenever there’s a change, you have to update your policies.
Pete Aguilar: (47:25)
How frequently should the department update these policies and procedures?
General Bolton: (47:30)
I wouldn’t be able to give them a specific timeline or timeframe, but they should. Again, that would be a policy and procedure they should have in place of periodically reviewing their particular policies and procedures. In other words, the Deputy Chief should have a tickler system. “Every two years, I’m going to assign somebody to review our policies to make sure they’re up-to-date.” So they need to actually take it upon themselves to provide a repeatable business practice.
Pete Aguilar: (48:01)
If I could list you some specific Investigations Division policies and procedures with you and ask these questions, prior to January 6th, when was the Investigations Division Protective Intelligence Team’s responsibilities and standard operating procedures updated?
General Bolton: (48:20)
You’re talking about DPD of a policy and procedures? [inaudible 00:48:25]?
Pete Aguilar: (48:26)
General Bolton: (48:27)
I have to stop and think. I know we did recently a report, a review of the entire Protective Division. I believe that was about maybe a year ago, two years ago.
Pete Aguilar: (48:43)
We show a March of 2009 date as potentially that last update. What about the Protective Intelligence Team assignments as well?
General Bolton: (48:56)
We did recently one for the task force and have them update their policies and procedures for the task force agents. That was pretty recent, I believe. Probably a little over a year ago.
Pete Aguilar: (49:09)
What about something like the Suspicious Activity Trend Analysis?
General Bolton: (49:14)
We have not done any work in that field.
Pete Aguilar: (49:17)
Okay. So there’s still plenty of work to do, I guess is my main point, when it comes to updating these policies and procedures. One last question, you’ve talked a little bit about funding in answer to a prior question. The House Committee On Appropriations is considering a security supplemental. Looking at the issues that you raised in these flash reports, what would be your top line recommendations to the Committee for funding priorities?
General Bolton: (49:48)
Well, that’s a dangerous question, sir. I would say the number one priority would be training. Again, like I spoke, if you don’t have the infrastructure, you’re not going to get the results you want. So training would be the number one priority.
Pete Aguilar: (50:06)
Thank you, Mr. Bolton. I yield back, Madame Chair.
The gentleman yields back. The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Butterfield, is now recognized.
G.K. Butterfield: (50:14)
Thank you very much, Madame Chair, for accommodating my schedule. It’s been a very hectic day, but thank you, and thank you to your staff or for working through my technical problems. Mr. Bolton, thank you again for testimony today. You’ve been very cooperative with the Committee and we thank you very much. Mr. Bolton, prior to January 6th, this committee expressed to your office great concern about the growing number of threats to members of Congress. As a result, in September of 2020, at the request of the Committee, you issued a report entitled Assessment of the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section. I think you may recognize that. My question is, did the September 2020 report reveal specific deficiencies with threat assessments?
General Bolton: (51:05)
Most notably what we discovered was the manpower issue with the analysts. Basically, what came out of that report was that because of the rise in threats that they didn’t have enough manpower, which they started addressing back then. But due to the fact that threats have exponentially increased even beyond what it was back in September of 2020, again, we’re recommending additional analysts to be able to handle that case load.
G.K. Butterfield: (51:38)
But aside from analysts, did you make any other recommendations?
General Bolton: (51:42)
Yes, sir. We did make several other recommendations. Previous ones, we recommended that they ensure documentation for their training and staff, which they have done. They have started [inaudible 00:52:01] it because we did see that some of their training records were either incomplete or missing. We did recommend also that back then was the regional approach for managing threats against, which they have now gotten, like I said, to two field offices looking [inaudible 00:52:19]. So, that was one of the recommendations.
G.K. Butterfield: (52:26)
Are you satisfied with the progress they’re making on these recommendations?
General Bolton: (52:31)
As of date, yes, sir, I am. Well, as I say, we are evaluating the response by the department to our first flash report. So we are evaluating that, but I am encouraged by their movement into getting these recommendations completed.
G.K. Butterfield: (52:52)
All right. When you discussed threat assessment section statistics within your report, you make a distinction between threat cases and direction of interest cases. The department defines the direction of interest as “information received by the USCP from any source where a subject expresses an unusual interest in any personal property under the police’s jurisdiction.” So my question is, this is an extremely vague and broad definition. What was the department able to provide? Was the department able to provide additional detail [inaudible 00:53:38]?
General Bolton: (53:43)
Well, sir, the last part of question, it was broken up, but I think what you’re asking for is how they classify a direction of interest or an actual threat case. Well, that goes into their process. An individual could be just showing an unusual or an interest in a particular member of Congress that doesn’t quite rise to an actual threat. In other words, the individual’s not actually expressing a viable threat against a member of Congress or to the Capitol Complex, but they’re showing an unusual interest. Now, that individual could be certainly put into the system to keep an eye on or what have you. They do keep those definitions, and that’s nothing new. Certainly, a lot of the other protective agencies, they use similar language to that. They keep it broad. That way they have an understanding that an individual can move from one, from a direction of interest, to an actual threat case.
G.K. Butterfield: (54:50)
All right, well, thank you, Madame Chair. I yield back.
Thank you very much. The Gentle Lady from Pennsylvania is recognized.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (55:01)
Thank you, Madame Chair. Well, as detailed in this and our previous flash reports, USCP appears to lack the proper procedures and intelligence protocols to proactively and effectively deal with threats to the Capitol. And those deficiencies were on full display January 6th when it appears that USCP’s counter surveillance measures failed to identify and properly warn of the variety of threats within and around the complex. You’ve made a number of recommendations with regard to counter surveillance, but many of them seem very focused on in-person, old-fashioned investigative leg work referencing agents who are working in person, on foot, on bicycle, or in vehicles. But the origins of January 6th, were digital or virtual. They began really with a Twitter invitation from the former President for his supporters to come “for a big protest in DC, January 6th. Be there. It will be wild.” And so many of us saw the activity, the organization that resulted from that invitation. So do any of your recommendations address what the USCP should do to address whether individuals, domestic terrorists, extremists who organize online?
General Bolton: (56:38)
Not in this particular report in our previous reports, when we were talking about intelligence, we’re basically telling them they need to become a bureau level that would be able to get down more into the weeds, so to speak, for that digital thing. Now, this report dealt with the counter surveillance, which basically is your folks on the ground that give you real time information.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (57:02)
Okay. So with respect to those counter surveillance officers, your report noted that they didn’t have a formalized process to pass on information they collected nor a formalized policy on how that information makes its way to decision-makers. How did that deficiency hampered the department’s efforts to obtain real time intelligence on January 6th?
General Bolton: (57:23)
Well, that goes to the very thing. If the officers and agents are out there on the ground providing this real time intelligence, real time information, and it’s getting back to the folks in threat assessment, but if it goes no further, if it’s not analyzed or acted upon, then it’s worthless information. It’s like, why do you even have that information if it’s not acted upon? That’s going to inhibit real time. Think of it as, as the game is going on and you’re getting that real time information and down to the team to be able to move pieces around, that’s where it’s going to be critical that you have that real time information.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (58:07)
Did the intelligence operation section have a plan of action for deployment of their officers on January 6th. And if so, was it provided to your office?
General Bolton: (58:16)
No, ma’am. Really, the only plan of action that we’ve ever come across was that initial in our first flash report, the CDU operational plan, which they did mention that there would be a counter surveillance, but there was no actual plan for the counter surveillance units and what they were going to do.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (58:33)
One of the key findings in your flash report is that department officers failed to adequately report stop or contact activities using the stop or contact report, which I guess that’s a PD76 report in the department. Under what circumstances should a stop or contact report be produced?
General Bolton: (58:55)
Anytime if you notice an individual that’s not acting in accordance with the normal day to day or what they should be, you need to be reporting any suspicious activity so that they could either analyze it, get the person on camera, what have you, do more investigative work. Why is this individual acting the way they are? Those reports are vital and important to get it to the command staff, get it to the folks here to analyze it, investigate it. So that information is either passed down as a lookout, ” Watch out for this individual,” so the others, for your foot soldiers, your basic rank and file officers who are standing at posts, they get that information to be on a lookout for this particular individual or group that may pose a danger, and that then you can connect accordingly whether realignment of your forces or what have you.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (59:51)
Can you tell us, am I correct that only four stop and contact reports were completed on January 6th and how many should have been?
General Bolton: (01:00:00)
That I’m not sure about how many, but you’re correct. There are four.
General Bolton: (01:00:03)
That I’m not sure about how many, but you’re correct. There were four. I found, what, it was 2:18 AM, and the other … I thought it was three. I thought it was just the three. And they were like 6:00 … Yeah, like 6:19, 6:20.
General Bolton: (01:00:15)
Maybe I’ll tell you that a little more because our June flash report is going to cover radio traffic. And just by the little bit that we have already reviewed, there should’ve been many more. I can’t give you a number right now, but hopefully after our June report I’ll be able to tell you a little bit better how many there should have been.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:00:36)
Thank you. I see my time has expired, so I yield back.
The gentlelady from New Mexico is recognized.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:00:44)
Thank you, Madam Chairman. And thank you, Inspector General Bolton, for coming again to share your office’s … your finding and recommendations.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:00:55)
Just at the outset, Inspector General, I’m going to be asking questions about morale as well as capacity. And I am very disturbed by the violence that Officer Fanone has described in his open letter to Congress and the concern that some in Congress continue to downplay the significance of the insurrection, which was based on a lie about who won the election. That letter, Fanone’s letter, indicates that those that seek to ignore the role of President Trump and his allies, that the role they played in the insurrection does impact the morale of the US Capitol Police and those that came to their and our aid on January 6th.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:01:40)
What we’re doing today is, the way I see it is focusing on the aspects that can be controlled by the department and the role that those of us in Congress can play to strengthen the department’s capabilities, to protect the Capitol, and to protect themselves. We have a saying here in New Mexico is, and everywhere, I want our officers to know they’re part of an organization that’s effective and that supports them. In other words, the officers need to know that we have their backs, that we’re going to support them.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:02:12)
I want to talk about your specific recommendation to create an independent entity for counter-surveillance. So, in your thoughts, what must the department do to attract and retain talent in the counter-surveillance section? You mentioned a bit about the importance of additional training in response to Representative Aguilar’s questions, but can you elaborate? Is it increased wages? Better training? Is it a better overall structure? And in your opinion, how will all of this affect the morale of the Department?
General Bolton: (01:02:44)
Thank you, ma’am. I doubt that they would need any kind of incentives for counter-surveillance. That alone is probably be a very desirable assignment, as opposed to right now your civil disturbance unit, which quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of people are going to line up for, to volunteer for that. That in alone, if you make that a separate entity, you’re going to have folks, I believe, volunteering left and right. Your problem’s going to be getting them out of the counter-surveillance because they’ll want to stay there probably for a very long time.
General Bolton: (01:03:20)
Just by making it a standalone entity is going to provide the officers a sense of understanding what their duties are. There’s nothing worse than when you’re standing post, and I can speak from experience, when you do not know what your assignment is or what you can and cannot do. That’s demoralizing. When you know exactly what your roles are, what your responsibility is, you’re going to take pride in that, and you’re going to execute those roles and responsibilities. When you’re left on your own, you feel down, you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, and it’s going to affect your morale.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:04:00)
This answers a bit of my second question. I wanted to follow up to determine whether you thought it’d be best to hire within the department and train for that, or whether we’d be looking for external candidates. And do you have some thoughts on that? Your answer to that indicated that there would be a lot of hiring from within.
General Bolton: (01:04:21)
For counter-surveillance? Oh, yes. There definitely would be hiring from within. I believe the officers … We have the talent here. We just need to give them the right direction, and they’re going to exceed. That’s all we have to do, is provide them the training, the right equipment and focus, and they are going to exceed our expectations.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:04:42)
Great. And with regards to what authority is now, can the department [inaudible 01:04:48] hire qualified individuals for this role now, or do we need to provide additional legislative authority?
General Bolton: (01:04:56)
As far as the counter-surveillance entity, would not require a legislative fix. Certainly, if it required a change in the org chart, if you’re going to designate it [inaudible 01:05:08] that, my understanding, would require congressional approval.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:05:12)
Okay. And so we’ll look at that. And then going to the idea of the importance of more investigative analysts within the threat assessment section. So what are some of the best practices that you think the department should follow with regards to augmenting the threat assessment section with the investigative analysts?
General Bolton: (01:05:35)
Well, certainly, trying to get down to five to two would be a huge undertaking. I think as they look to other agencies and how they go about hiring the necessary skills and abilities for those analysts and keeping them trained. So again, it goes back to training. If we’re not continuously training for new, different developing threats, then we’re missing out. So there’s always something that is new and emerging that they have to be staying on top of.
General Bolton: (01:06:11)
So it really goes back to training, but there’s plenty of folks out there we can pluck off the street to get a start into that thing, because basically they’re civilian staff. It’s a lot easier to hire civilian than it is for law enforcement and having to send them down to FLETC, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, in Cheltenham.
Mary Gay Scanlon: (01:06:31)
Thank you, Mr. Bolton. My time has expired. And it sounds like training [inaudible 01:06:34] are key. I yield back.
Gentlelady yields back. I have some concerns about the threat assessment that your reports have only made more acute. I mean, no one doubts the officers went on the line to protect us, and they went without adequate equipment or instructions. And from the testimony we got from one OPR responded anyhow, it was confusing what they were looking for, according to what this officer at least recalled, according to his sworn testimony.
Sometimes you only can assimilate what you see when you have an open mind. And if it was believed that really what was facing us was a fight between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators, and other information coming in maybe didn’t get the kind of serious attention that it needed.
I was looking at the timeline that the department provided you, the timeline of events preceding January 6th and on that day, which you included in the report. Now, according to the department’s timeline, at 10:59 AM, and this is a quote, “approximately 200 Proud Boys gathered near Garfield Circle and moved toward Senate A,” end quote. Now, in addition to being a far-right extremist organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a hate group, the Proud Boys are the group that former President Trump told to, quote, “stand back and stand by,” end quote, during a nationally televised presidential debate. Now, did the department assign counter-surveillance teams to monitor the 200 Proud Boys near Garfield Circle that were moving towards the Senate A? Because there’s no other references to the Proud Boys in the department’s timeline. And according to the department’s timeline, less than a half an hour later at 11:24 AM, quote, “USCP personnel monitors three to four counter-demonstrators setting up props on 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Southeast.”
Now, why did the department decide to monitor the three to four counter-demonstrators, but apparently, according to this timeline, not to monitor the Proud Boys? There’s no other reference to the Proud Boys in the department’s timeline. What happened to these 200 Proud Boys over the course of the day on January 6th? And who was responsible for deploying department personnel to monitor the three or four counter-demonstrators, but apparently not the 200 Proud Boys?
General Bolton: (01:09:50)
Thank you, ma’am. That was part of the reasoning why, the very questions that you’ve just raised, why we moved our command and control and radio traffic to June, as opposed to we were planning on doing that later in the summer. As we were doing our previous things, and we were also looking at the timeline, we’re calling into question the accuracy, first, of the timeline. We had a lot of questions ourselves, hence why we had moved our command and control review to June.
General Bolton: (01:10:26)
We anticipate, like I previously stated, 60 days to complete that. I’m hoping that we will be able to provide you exact answers after that report. But certainly, we had the same kind of concerns, hence why we moved command and control up.
Okay. Okay. As Mr. Aguilar mentioned, we had a hearing with the Capitol Police sometime ago. And in 2018, I asked then-Chief Verderosa a question that never really got answered, which was a concern about a scenario where a diversion is used to drain law enforcement from their primary mission, and I asked about the protocols that were in place to address that scenario. And there were instances where that occurred subsequent to that hearing where I privately have asked the police chief and subsequent chiefs about this issue and never really got an adequate answer. We all know that there was pipe bombs planted at both the Republican and Democratic headquarters, and troops were diverted, officers were diverted to deal with that, leaving the Capitol less protected. How, if at all, would the department’s actions with respect to pipe bombs or other diversions be different if the department were a protective agency as opposed to a more traditional law enforcement agency?
General Bolton: (01:12:08)
Thank you, ma’am. I think it goes to a mindset where … Invariably, when there’s an incident, police officers swarm. When you’re in a protective mode, you have an area of responsibility. You have defined areas where you can and cannot go and respond. That scenario then, it would’ve been set up a perimeter and call in MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, and the FBI to handle the investigative work.
General Bolton: (01:12:35)
We go back to a protective mode, so only thing we’d be doing is cordoning off, keeping civilians away from the area, but not diverting our forces to that area. We call in Metropolitan. Once they arrive, and the FBI, they secure the scene, we go back to our other duties. So we don’t conduct that investigative work there, allow them to do it.
I thank you [inaudible 01:12:59] answer. And I think that we’ve learned a lot today from hearing from you, Inspector General, and we’re looking forward to the next report, which I think will be very enlightening. And we’ll have additional questions for you at that time.
As I mentioned earlier, members may have additional questions for you. And if so, we will send them to you in writing and request that you respond to them. And the hearing record will be open for a bit for those responses. I want to thank you again for being here. We’ll see you again, I guess, next month. And I want to remind the members of the Committee that we’ll hear from the Inspector General of the Architect of the Capitol a day after tomorrow, so I look forward to seeing all of you then. And without objection, the Committee on House Administration will now be adjourned.