Vittert: Sund book, testimony show 1/6 panel focused on politics

On Balance with Leland Vittert

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 01: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 01, 2022 in Washington, DC. During the news conference, Pelosi spoke on the House of Representatives’ recent passage of legislation to avert a railway strike. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — New audio tapes and a pre-release book obtained by “On Balance” offer further evidence of the House Jan. 6 Comittee’s anti-Trump’s motives rather than a good-faith effort to prevent another tragedy.

The committee would like us to believe former President Donald Trump is singularly responsible for calling the mob to Washington, inciting them, and then delaying a response to the attack.

For example, we all remember the video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer huddled in their secure room on the phone during the riot. But for Trump, the committee’s narrative goes, they would never have been in that situation, which may be true — but it may not be.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified before the committee for more than six hours and the committee never released a word of it. Sund’s narrative is far less helpful to the committee. For example, Sund testified he asked for the National Guard to help secure the capital on Jan. 3, 2021 but was rebuffed.

“To feel more comfortable, I wanted more personnel on my perimeter.

“I first went over, went to (House Sargent at Arms) Paul Irving’s office at 9:24 in the morning, and asked him specifically, I would like to request National Guard for Jan. 6. So, he immediately responded, ‘(I) don’t like the optics.’ I responded, ‘you know, I’d like them to help support the perimeter.’ And he goes, ‘The intelligence doesn’t support that.'”

Steven Sund’s testimony to the House Jan. 6 Committee in April 2021

Sund makes the case that Irving was doing Pelosi’s bidding, and that she didn’t like the optics.

Of course, Pelosi and/or Irving’s testimony before the committee could help clear these things up, but the committee won’t release it.

Think about that.

The committee won’t release anything except for their made-for-TV hearings. We paid for thousands of hours of testimony and investigation. We the taxpayer deserve all of the information, not just the information that’s helpful to the committee’s narrative.

Republicans claim that pressure from Pelosi, along with the Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, were responsible for a poorly prepared and defended Capitol.

In July 2021, Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy blamed Pelosi’s office for denying “the ability to bring the National Guard” to the Capitol.

“On Balance” obtained an advance copy of Sund’s book, “Courage Under Fire,” to be released on Jan. 3. It largely supports this narrative, or at the very least exposes serious issues before and during Jan. 6 for which “MAGA Republicans” are not responsible.

This is in no way an excuse or apology for the riots themselves. But it does shed light on the Jan. 6 committee’s singular focus on getting Trump rather than exhaustively and impartially reporting on the events before, during and after the Capitol riot, and, most importantly, helping us make sure it never happens again.

Sund claims Irving’s reference to “optics” were actually direct orders from Pelosi, or, at the very least, an expression by the House sergeant at arms (a political, not law enforcement, job) of Pelosi’s wishes.

But for Pelosi’s refusal, Sund argues, he would have prepositioned the D.C. National Guard and could have possibly prevented the rioters from breaking into the Capitol.

He quotes a lunch meeting in April of 2021 with Michael Stenger, who served as the Senate sergeant at arms, discussing Sund’s Jan. 3 request.

From the book: “(Stenger) said Irving had called him and told him I would be coming his way to request the Guard. According to Stenger, Irving told him, ‘Sund just came here requesting the National Guard. We have to come up with another idea. Pelosi is never going to go for that.'”

Stenger has since died, and Irving disputes that account.

Pelosi’s spokesperson told The Washington Post, “there had been no discussions between Irving and either Pelosi or her staff about National Guard deployment before Jan. 6. We are not involved in the day-to-day operations of that office at all. We expect security professionals to make security decisions.”

Lack of transparency remains one of the key criticisms against the Jan. 6 committee, which will likely deliver its final report before the end of this Congress (and before Republicans take over the House in January).

NBC reports the committee will release transcripts of its interviews that didn’t make prime time and other hearings, but it’s unclear if they will release everything or stick to their previous pattern of selectively leaking and then televising only that which is unhelpful to Trump.

Sund’s testimony corresponds with previously reported grievances about Jan. 6, including the delay in sending National Guardsman later in the afternoon.

Sund told the committee about the critical 90 minutes between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 6. Rioters had overwhelmed the Capitol Police, and he called Gen. Walter E. Piatt.

“‘I need the National Guard ASAP …’

“Gen. Piatt said, and I will never forget this, ‘Yeah, you know, I don’t know. I’m concerned about the optics of the National Guard standing in line with the Capitol in the background.’

“You know, here I am, my officers are getting beaten, and they’re worried about the optics of the National Guard. And he said, ‘My recommendation is to deny the request.’ I will not forget that. I was borderline getting pretty pissed off.”

Steven Sund’s testimony to the House Jan. 6 Committee in April 2021

Piatt is scheduled to retire from the Army after being passed over for promotion, allegedly because of his actions on Jan. 6.

Sund’s book clearly attempts to settle some long-standing grievances, especially with Pelosi. On Jan. 7, 2021, Pelosi said she was asking for Sund’s resignation and noted Sund did not call her during or after the attacks on Jan. 6. He says Pelosi is not telling the truth.

He lays out in his book three times that they spoke during the late afternoon on Jan. 6, including once with then-Vice President Mike Pence on the phone.

The back cover to Sund’s book promises explosive answers, including, “Why didn’t the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issue a joint intelligence bulletin regarding January sixth threats?”

Whether the book lives up to a convincing standard of proof on that issue and other promised bombshells is up to the reader after an in-depth comparison to the current record.

That said, the book and the tapes we have obtained highlight the very fact that so much of the record, including thousands of hours of sworn depositions, remains known to the Jan. 6 committee but hidden from the American people.

And, more importantly, the lessons to be learned from that material that could prevent another Jan. 6 remain hidden because the committee has chosen to focus on the partisan political fight.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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