Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that he’s “having a hell of a time getting information out of the Capitol Police leadership” in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The congressman chairs the House Appropriations legislative branch subcommittee, which funds and has oversight of the Capitol Police. He spoke Wednesday evening during a virtual news conference on the Capitol riot investigation and on the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump a second time.
“We are having a hell of a time getting information out of the Capitol Police leadership,” Ryan said, adding that he’s had “100 conversations with rank-and-file members, but we’re not getting the kind of information flow from the Capitol Police. It’s an issue we’ve been trying to deal with, and it hasn’t changed much in the last week.”
On the day a Trump-supporting mob stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win, the Capitol Police did not increase staffing despite ample warnings about potentially violent demonstrations on Jan. 6. The lackluster response by leadership left officers unprepared and overrun by violent rioters who assaulted police and rampaged through the Capitol ― putting journalists, members of Congress and staff at risk of being injured or killed.
Video evidence shows some officers trying to protect the building despite being outnumbered, while other photos showed some officers appearing to be complicit in the insurrection. One officer died while being attacked during the riot, and another died by suicide a few days later. Both the Capitol Police chief and the sergeants at arms of both the House and the Senate have resigned since the riot.
“The big problem was the communication from command-and-control down to the rank-and-file members … and lack of direction,” Ryan said. “That’s consistent with what we’re experiencing now.”
The congressman said that there are about 20 open cases related to the Capitol Police, with two officers suspended over accusations of complicity. But he added that it’s been tough trying to get leadership to be open with the subcommittee. Leaders of the Capitol Police have yet to hold a press briefing since the insurrection, despite Ryan telling the interim chief to do so in order to increase transparency and rebuild trust.
“We fund the Capitol Police,” he continued, referring to Congress. “We, I think, deserve to know what the hell is going on. It’s a black box over there.”
There has been some concern over whether it would be safe for the Capitol Police to help provide security during Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 given officers’ unpreparedness and alleged complicity during the riots. Ryan said that he has “even more confidence of Capitol Police going into inauguration because the rank-and-file will have the kind of leadership they need,” with the U.S. Secret Service leading security instead that day.