Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says security at Capitol riots was a ‘failure operationally’

EXCLUSIVE: Democratic Caucus Chair Jeffries (D-NY) says Congress needs to hear from the Sergeant of Arms after deadly mob attack

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Stepped-up security measures are in place on Capitol Hill, the day after a deadly attack on the United States Legislative Branch.

New York Congressman and Democratic Caucus Chair, Hakeem Jeffries, drove into work this morning eying a National Guard presence and noticed police were not only checking for ID’s but were also actively checking cars for bombs.

Read More: Biden win confirmed after pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol

Around D.C. federal buildings that is a usual occurrence but today’s efforts are enhanced.

In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Jeffries said yesterday’s attack was “a failure operationally.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

“We are going to have to hear from the Sergeant at Arms and the Chief of [U.S. Capitol] Police,” said Rep. Jeffries. Additionally, the congressman called out President Donald Trump for his part in inspiring the “seditious insurrection.”

With a bit of a history lesson, the Founding Fathers put three branches of government in place for the purpose of checks and balances, not to have one branch attack the other. That is what happened yesterday and it turned out to be deadly.

Read More: 4 dead, 52 arrested after violent mob storm Capitol, DC police say

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, a tactical team with ATF gathers in the Rotunda to provide security for the continuation of the joint session of the House and Senate to count the Electoral College votes cast in November’s election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Congressional leaders clad in business attire for the day’s work had to barricade themselves in rooms or were whisked away to an undisclosed location seeking safety after President Trump directed his followers to attack the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

There was vandalism, aggression, intimidation and death. At issue, law enforcement and federal lawmakers saw it coming. So why did this security breach take them by surprise leaving the Capitol Hill police looking like the Keystone Cops?

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters told theGrio’s April Ryan on Tuesday that she warned about the expected security threat. 

“I brought it up in our Democratic Caucus meeting about the need for security,” Waters said, “because as I explained to them even as I was talking to them several days ago the Proud Boys were in town and the Oath Keepers were on their way along with other right-wing white supremacist groups, they had the chief of [Capitol] police call me to try to describe to me how they were going to provide security and how they [were] keenly aware of the potential for problems.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. Waters called for investigation into Trump administration ties to Russia. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

In that very telling phone interview, Waters shared a letter she and other members of Congress and staff received on Tuesday from the Sergeant at Arms. The letter read as follows:

As a result of the January 6 Joint session of congress members and their staff should expect demonstration activity and street closures to impact access to the U.S. Capitol complex.  The following information is being provided to assist your office in planning accordingly. Members and staff are strongly encouraged to arrive as early as possible on January 6th.  The Joint session will begin at 1 pm with demonstrations expected to occur early morning.  Therefore we recommend members and staff plan to arrive by 9 am.  The Rayburn, cannon and east house garages will be open for use.  Whenever possible members and staff who are authorized to park in the garages are encouraged to do so. All capitol plaza and drive permit holders are permitted to park in the Rayburn garage and will have access to the ground levels.  When moving to and from the house office buildings and the Capitol the Sergeant at Arms and the United States Capitol Police continue to encourage members and staff to use the underground access points and the Cannon and Rayburn tunnels in lieu of walking outside or driving to the Capitol. 

Congressman Jeffries affirmed that Congresswoman Waters addressed the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at one of the most recent caucus meetings. Jeffries said it was before members and staff received the letter.

Jeffries said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the concern “seriously” as Waters was the “first person to raise the matter publicly.” However, at that time “the Speaker did not have clarity from the Sergeant at Arms.” The Capitol Hill police report to the Sergeant at Arms.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks about the late Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., during a news conference Wednesday Dec. 30, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Letlow died Tuesday after battling COVID-19. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

As members of the 117th Congress and their staff are back to work, concerns loom around issues of Hill security. Congressman Jefferies says he’s now thinking of the next major event and the issue of security, which is Inauguration Day when Joe Biden is officially sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.  

“How [do we] proceed with the inauguration but do it in a safe way?” said Jeffries.

As Trump loyalists terrorized the Capitol on Wednesday, they could be seen in their rampage jumping on the inauguration staging that is still under construction — an emblematic sign of the potential security risk on Jan. 20.

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