Capitol Police did not act on past intel recommendations from IG

Earlier reports were not public because department shielded from FOIA

A Capitol Police officer takes a moment to pet one of the K9s on the East Front of the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
A Capitol Police officer takes a moment to pet one of the K9s on the East Front of the Capitol in Washington on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Posted April 15, 2021 at 6:01pm

The U.S. Capitol Police Department failed to act on several intelligence recommendations from its inspector general in the years leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a House Administration Committee hearing revealed Thursday.

Capitol Police Inspector General Michael A. Bolton told lawmakers that changes suggested by his office were not implemented, some of which reemerged in the intervening time.

“So am I right to say that the department failed to maintain implementation of the OIG intelligence recommendations, even though they were made multiple times?” Rep. Bryan Steil, a Wisconsin Republican, asked Bolton.

“That would be correct, sir,” Bolton responded. “Yes.”

Intelligence failures were a key focus in two of Bolton’s flash reports that examined department shortcomings surrounding the Capitol attack. Top Capitol Police officials, including acting Chief Yogananda Pittman — who used to oversee intelligence at the department — were unaware of a Jan. 5 FBI warning of “war” at the Capitol the following day.

Bolton’s full report, undertaken after the Jan. 6 attack, illustrates a department unprepared for the insurrection, and beset by lack of training and operational planning deficiencies.

The lack of action in previous years on the inspector general’s intelligence recommendations takes on a new significance after the pro-Trump insurrection that resulted in five deaths and dozens of Capitol Police injuries.

Congress is not subject to FOIA, and the Capitol Police, as a component of the legislative branch, is also exempt from any FOIA request. This makes it impossible to access inspector general reports, unless the department or committees make them public.

A March 2016 report put forth six recommendations that would establish adequate internal controls and processes for the Intelligence Division. Bolton said his office undertook a “follow up” in 2019 on the “very same thing.”

“And we note there were some things reemerged, and there were some additional recommendations we made,” Bolton said. “That's pretty standard practice for us.”

Steil followed up, noting the department is mandated to update the intelligence priorities framework on an annual basis and review and evaluate it on a quarterly basis, a requirement that the department was not following.

“That's true,” Bolton said, adding that the issue was recurring and the department was not complying.

In 2019, Bolton’s office recommended that the department consider requiring new sworn recruits to obtain a security clearance, another recommendation the Capitol Police did not act on, Bolton said. Bolton included this recommendation again in his first flash report addressing the Capitol attack.

When Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki was asked if the department had a response to Bolton’s statements Thursday, an unsigned email from the department was sent in response that referred to an unsigned statement from Wednesday pledging to heed the report and improve department operations.