As congressional investigators increasingly scrutinize the performance of the U.S. Capitol Police surrounding the Jan. 6 attacks, a whistleblower says he worries the department is getting off too easy.
The whistleblower told POLITICO that he participated in a 90-minute interview with committee investigators last week, and that more Capitol Police personnel are scheduled to speak with the panel next week. He was at the department’s command center during the attack, POLITICO has confirmed independently, and he has since left the force.
The investigators questioning the whistleblower, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, were a part of the Jan. 6 select committee focused on law enforcement and referred to as the “Blue Team.” The panel’s tactics both before and during the interview had him worried the committee was too close with the Capitol Police Department to conduct an open and honest review, he said.
A committee staffer asked the whistleblower if a lawyer from the police department could be present for his interview, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO. The whistleblower said he found the suggestion troubling, as he did not know how the department learned he was slated to be interviewed. He said he told the staffer he would not participate in any meeting where department lawyers were present. No one from the department ultimately attended his interview, he said.
“They’re not going to do a real review of the Capitol Police,” the whistleblower said in an interview. “I think it’s a chilling effect that they’re in bed with the general counsel.”
He said he tried to steer the conversation with investigators to how the department handled intelligence, how its processes changed before Jan. 6, and how those changes related to the attack on the Capitol. The investigators seemed uninterested, he said.
The whistleblower added that department lawyers are scheduled to attend future interviews the committee holds with department personnel.
“It’s obvious that they [USCP] want to intimidate people and no one’s going to say anything bad about the department or anything that went on with the lawyers sitting in the room,” the whistleblower said.
“It seems like the committee is carrying water for Capitol Police management,” he added.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment on the closed-door questioning.
“The Select Committee doesn’t comment on conversations with witnesses, but we have the utmost respect for police officers who defended our democracy on Jan. 6 and other first responders, and we welcome any facts and insight they can provide,” the spokesperson said.
And a spokesperson for the Capitol Police said the department’s role in the attack was “exhaustedly examined by multiple reviews.”
“Due to the hard work of our dedicated employees, and support from our Congressional stakeholders, the Department has already implemented more than 50 positive changes, including improving the way analysts gather and distribute intelligence, expanding the training programs, and streamlining our major event planning,” the USCP spokesperson said.
The whistleblower said he had more substantive interviews last week with other committees. Additionally, he sent a scathing letter to congressional leadership in September describing the department’s response to the attack on the Capitol as a failure by senior leaders.
The House select committee is taking a broad look at the lead-up to the attack on the Capitol, as well as the day’s events and their fallout. It has issued more than two dozen subpoenas, targeting former President Donald Trump’s White House staff and organizers of the massive rally that preceded the riot. The panel faces significant time pressure, since Republicans could take control of the House after the midterm elections and shutter the probe.
The panel has shown it’s ready to use hardball tactics. Last month, it urged the Justice Department to prosecute former White House aide Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress. DOJ obliged, charging him with two misdemeanor counts on Friday.