The statement makes it clear that the events of Jan. 6 took a huge toll on the Capitol police. “We have one officer who lost his life as a direct result of the insurrection. Another officer tragically took his own life. Between USCP and our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department, we have almost 140 officers injured. I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer with two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.” (On Wednesday, a member of the Metro D.C. Police who fought against insurgents on Jan. 6 also took his own life.)
Understandably, the fury of the union is directed mainly at their own leadership, including former Chief Steven Sund, acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, and Assistant Chief Chad Thomas all of whom it says were aware by Jan. 4 that Trump’s invitation for a “wild” event two days later was likely to result in mass violence. Even so, only 170 police were issued with riot gear and police were not given the chemical weapons or flash bangs that were used against peaceful protesters during Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.
Despite Pittman’s lengthy closed-door testimony on Wednesday, there continues to be confusion about events leading up to the insurgency in which police were overwhelmed by thousands of violent Trump supporters who forced their way into the Capitol. Sund had previously claimed, and Pittman testified, that police leadership requested permission from the police board to alert the National Guard. However, the only member of that board who has not resigned, Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, issued his own statement on Wednesday indicating that he was unaware of any such request and that there was no meeting of the police board on the date Pittman indicated.
There are still dozens of unanswered questions about exactly why police failed to prepare for an event they knew was going to bring thousands of violent, armed extremists to Washington D.C. That’s not just true of actions by the Capitol Police. There are still no answers from Pentagon officials who both restricted the authority of the local guard commander and dithered for hours even as insurgents were hunting hostages in the halls of Congress.
And there’s the biggest question of all: Why was any of this necessary? Why did it take pleas from Washington’s mayor, from the police, and from National Guard leadership to get things moving? Why did the reports of the National Guard being authorized, when they finally came, include only the word that they had been supported by Mike Pence?
The biggest unanswered question of Jan. 6 is what did Donald Trump do? The House has already impeached Trump for his actions in inciting the seditionists who marched on the Capitol, murdered a police officer, smashed their way into the building, and waged a war on democracy that included deploying pipe bombs and chemical spray. But why, when the images of this insurgency were being broadcast to the White House, did Trump not immediately order the military to provide support to the besieged police?
Yes, police actions appear to have been confused. Yes, Pentagon officials appear to have weighed the “optics” of sending in forces in a way that’s completely inappropriate. Yes, the complex mess of D.C.’s unique status generated additional steps that made everything move more slowly. None of that should have mattered. Because the moment insurgents broke through the first police line, Donald Trump should have been on the phone to order more support for the badly outnumbered officers at the Capitol.
He didn’t. He didn’t because, by all accounts, Trump was busy watching in approval. Trump took the time to step out of the White House and tell the people beating down police with thin blue line flags, “We love you, you’re very special.” He did not take the time to provide support to the police.
And that’s the man that the Republican Party didn’t just crown as its leader, it’s the man they are still defending. Still following. Still supporting. The party of law and order is now the party that is willing to “move on” from cop killers and seditionists. To move on from the greatest crime ever committed by any American official. Benghazi was worth no less than 33 hearings, even though none of those hearings ever surfaced a crime. Now, despite the seriousness of the event, Republicans just want to … let it go.
Not because they don’t realize the scale of that crime. But because they still worship that criminal.
There’s one thing that can both help ensure that protecting the nation’s capital isn’t hampered by shifting rules, and break the logjam in the Senate: Sign up to support D. C. statehood.