Capitol Police IG opens investigation into Jan. 6 riot

Review could look at intelligence failures and leadership

Capitol Police officers stand guard over rioters on the East Front before some broke into the Capitol to disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Capitol Police officers stand guard over rioters on the East Front before some broke into the Capitol to disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 13, 2021 at 1:43pm, Updated at 5:51pm

The U.S. Capitol Police Office of Inspector General is opening an investigation into the department that will examine the events surrounding the Jan. 6 pro-Trump insurrection at the Capitol that resulted in five deaths, a House aide with knowledge of the inquiry told CQ Roll Call. 

Michael A. Bolton, the force’s inspector general, will suspend all other projects pending the completion of the review. The inspector general review is not limited to officer conduct and could be much broader to include intelligence failures, planning failures, leadership and management shortcomings surrounding last week’s takeover of the Capitol complex, the aide said.

The inspector general inquiry is separate from work being done by the Capitol Police’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which has begun eight investigations into 17 Capitol Police officers for their conduct related to the riot. Social media activity of Capitol Police officers is also being looked at.

The IG’s office is committing its entire staff to the review of events on Jan. 6.

The office is enlisting outside, trusted expert inspectors to assist with manpower, according to a second congressional aide.

“It’s absolutely vital that we have a clear understanding of the U.S. Capitol security breach,” said Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, the top Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Capitol Police. “I’m glad that the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Capitol Police is moving quickly to conduct a comprehensive investigation. I will continue to monitor this investigation and look forward to hearing its findings at each stage.”

Three officers are currently suspended with pay.

Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for Capitol Police, did not respond to a request for comment.

Bolton began his tenure leading the department's inspector general office on Jan. 20, 2019. Before that, Bolton was acting inspector general since March 2018, and was assistant inspector general for investigations since August 2006. Bolton served four years as the Special Agent-in-Charge for the Office of Investigations at the U.S. Department of the Treasury; prior to that, he worked 21 years at the Secret Service.

The Office of Professional Responsibility oversees administrative investigations into the department's employees and inspections of its organizational aspects, according to the Capitol Police website. The office records and investigates allegations of misconduct by Capitol Police internally or from outside the force.

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Among some of the behavior that has set off alarms: A Capitol Police officer was seen taking a selfie with members of the violent mob and some lawmakers in Congress have questioned the conduct of some officers during the riot.

The strain on the force has become evident in recent days. On Tuesday evening, as lawmakers for the first time had to walk through magnetometers to access the House floor, Capitol Police officers bore some of the brunt of criticism and griping from members unaccustomed to being subject to security protocols.

One officer, Brian Sicknick, died of injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 attack. On Jan. 9 Officer Howard Liebengood took his own life. According to Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, two other officers have attempted suicide.

“And you know we had a Capitol Police officer commit suicide. We had two more Capitol Police officers attempt suicide. And I want to make sure that not just our staff but the Capitol Police and others who have gone through a lot here, get the help and support they need. And so we’ve been working on that and talking to House Administration and other folks to make sure that's happening,” Stivers said on Wednesday.

Jim Saksa contributed to this report.