The Latest: House to wrap early amid threat of violence

Politics

In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman pays respects to U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on congressional testimony about the Capitol insurrection (all times local):

5 p.m.

The U.S. House is abruptly finishing its work for the week given the threat of violence at the Capitol by a militia group seeking to storm the building, as happened in a deadly siege Jan. 6.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change.

The decision was made given the threats on the Capitol, according to a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

The House had been scheduled to be in session Thursday, but moved up consideration of its remaining legislative item, the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, to Wednesday night.

Capitol Police said earlier Wednesday they have uncovered intelligence of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The news comes nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

— Lisa Mascaro

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS’ TESTIMONY ON THE CAPITOL INSURRECTION:

National security officials testify in the second Senate hearing about what went wrong on the day of the Capitol insurrection, facing questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

1 p.m.

The Senate has named a veteran intelligence official as the new sergeant at arms, a crucial position after the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol and the ouster of the previous official.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that retired Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson will take charge of the chamber’s administration and security. She’ll head the first all-female leadership team at the Office of the Sergeant at Arms in its 223-year history.

Gibson comes to the Senate from a 33-year military career, including as a senior intelligence officer in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, supporting troops in the Middle East, Schumer said.

Schumer called her the “perfect person” for the job. She has been involved in the weeks-long review of the Jan. 6 siege and is prepared to take immediate action to improve Capitol security.

Gibson will take over from Jennifer Hemingway, who temporarily filled the position after the resignation of Michael Stenger after the riot. A mob loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol trying to overturn the presidential election. Five people, including a police officer, died.

Longtime Schumer aide Kelly Fado will become deputy sergeant at arms, and Hemingway will serve as the office’s chief of staff.

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11:35 a.m.

The head of the National Guard for Washington, D.C., says Pentagon concerns about “optics” delayed the sending of troops to protect the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack.

Maj. Gen. William Walker also noted under Senate questioning Wednesday there were no such concerns expressed when the D.C. National Guard was called out in response to the civil justice demonstrations in the spring and summer of 2020.

Walker testified there was an “unusual” Pentagon memo on Jan. 5 that required him to seek advance authorization from the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense for specific measures during the gathering of thousands of Trump supporters seeking to force Congress to overturn the November presidential election.

The memo required Walker to seek personal authorization from the secretary of defense for equipment including weapons and body armor. Walker says the secretary of the Army separately authorized the use of protective equipment for the troops.

Walker says D.C. officials pleaded with the Army officials to quickly send the National Guard to help police guard the Capitol. But Walker says senior Army leaders opposed sending uniformed troops to the Capitol. He says, “The Army senior leaders did not think that it looked good.”

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11 a.m.

The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says there has been a more than 93% increase in the number of threats received by members of Congress in the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year.

Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman testified Wednesday before a House subcommittee. Pittman says there has also been more than a 118% increase in total threats from 2017 to 2020. Pittman says the majority of the suspects behind those threats lived outside Washington, D.C.

Pittman’s testimony comes nearly two months after thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the violence.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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