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June 20, 2021

News West

West Coast News Network

Trump officials face grilling on Jan. 6 response, extremism

Two former Trump administration officials are expected to face grilling Wednesday at a congressional hearing on their roles in the sharply criticized response to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

The hearing is the latest in Congress’ continued attempts to grapple with the Jan. 6 riots that sent then-Vice President Mike Pence and hundreds of lawmakers into safe rooms for hours as a pro-President Trump mob smashed windows, destroyed art and furniture, beat police officers and ransacked the Senate chamber in an attempt to stop the constitutionally-mandated counting of the electoral college votes to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) was set to open the hearing by saying Congress has a duty to get to the root of what went wrong that day.

“The federal government was unprepared for this insurrection, even though it was planned in plain sight on social media for the world to see. And despite all the military and law enforcement resources our government can call upon in a crisis, security collapsed in the face of the mob, and reinforcements were delayed for hours as the Capitol was overrun,” Maloney plans to say, according to her prepared testimony.

Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and Trump’s former deputy Atty. Gen. Jeffrey Rosen are expected to defend their actions before Maloney’s panel. It is the first time Miller and Rosen have spoken publicly about their planning and response to the Jan. 6 attack.

In his prepared remarks, Miller said he was concerned about the optics of sending uniformed troops to the Capitol and pushed back against criticism from some in Congress that it took more than four hours after the first rioters entered the building for federal troops to arrive and begin regaining control of the nation’s Capitol.

Rosen is expected to testify that the Justice Department took “took appropriate precautions” ahead of the riot, including having tactical and special units on standby in the area, according to his prepared remarks. They will be joined by D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who has criticized what he has described as the military’s lackadaisical response to the riots.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hear about the Biden administration’s efforts to crack down on violent domestic extremism from Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. They will likely be pressed about their departments’ efforts to combat a rise in hate crimes and what FBI Director Christopher Wray has described as the “metastasizing” threat posed by domestic terrorism. The FBI has about 2,000 ongoing domestic terror probes, up from about 1,400 at the end of 2019.

Lawmakers are likely to ask Mayorkas about an internal review he launched to assess the dangers of domestic extremism in his own agency. Lawmakers are also keen to learn more about the status of the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 riots.

The Justice Department has brought more than 400 cases against Capitol rioters since Jan. 6 on charges including disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and conspiracy. But lawmakers have questioned what more law enforcement could have done to prevent the riot, which left hundreds injured and five dead —including a police officer.