The Department of Justice is warning that the pro-Trump protesters that entered the Capitol on Wednesday may have stolen important national security secrets from offices in the building.
Thousands of protesters gathered at barricades outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Capitol police were extremely outnumbered, so as protesters slipped by police, many officers were forced to stay outside to prevent more from entering. This left the interior of the Capitol largely ungaurded.
Pictures flooded social media showing protesters entering the offices and sitting at the desks of high-profile members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The protesters had access to classified documents, computers, and phones.
“Items, electronic items were stolen from senators’ offices, documents and … we have to identify what was done to mitigate that,” said Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
“The prosecutor said an investigation could take ‘several days to flesh out exactly what happened, what was stolen, what wasn’t,’” he continued.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), said that at least one laptop had been stolen from his office. One protester was pictured flaunting Nancy Pelosi’s mail outside the Capitol.
The Senate Parliamentarian’s office was also broken into. The floor was flooded with documents and other papers taken from drawers and cabinets.
On Thursday evening, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned after facing public pressure from Speaker Pelosi and incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger. Stenger and Paul Irving, the Sergeant at Arms of the House, have both resigned.
“There was a failure of leadership at the top,” Pelosi said.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, said the breach of the Capitol “raises grave security concerns.” She said her committee will work with other House and Senate lawmakers to evaluate the U.S. Capitol Police response and its preparedness for such an event.
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a former Orlando police chief who was on the shortlist to become President-elect Joe Biden’s running mate, said it was “painfully obvious” that Capitol Police “were not prepared for today.”
“I certainly thought that we would have had a stronger show of force, that there would have been steps taken in the very beginning to make sure that there was a designated area for the protesters in a safe distance from the Capitol,” she said in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday. Demings added that the Capitol Police “did not seem” as if they had “a clear operational plan to really deal with” the mass of protesters.
Demings said there were “a lot of unanswered questions and I’m damn determined to get answers to those questions about what went wrong today.″
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) said, “I think it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon because this is an embarrassment both on behalf of the mob, and the president, and the insurrection, and the attempted coup, but also the lack of professional planning and dealing with what we knew was going to occur.”