Ex-Capitol police chief claims Pelosi chose ‘optics’ Jan. 6

Capitol Riots

(NewsNation) — Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund had a number of criticisms about outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the committee investigating the Jan.6 Capitol Riots, and former President Donald Trump in an interview with NewsNation’s Leland Vittert.

Sund spoke to Vittert about his recently published book, “Courage Under Fire: Under Siege and Outnumbered 58 to 1 on January 6.”

Scenes described in the book support the theory put out by Republicans and dismissed by numerous fact-checkers that Nancy Pelosi and her staff chose political optics over protecting the Capitol.

To see the full interview, you can watch “On Balance With Leland Vittert” at 7 p.m. Eastern time tonight.

“When I went to ask for the National Guard on Sunday, Jan, 3, it was her former Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving that denied the initial request, citing a concern for optics,” he said. “I think there was a well-known concern that she had referred to federal agents and the National Guard on city streets during the 2020 protests as “stormtroopers.” So, I think that was some of his concern associated with that, and then you also have to look at the oversight structure that they had in place for the Capitol Police.”

As the Capitol police chief, Sund said he often dealt with a lot of oversight other agencies don’t have to, which can prevent the chief from calling in federal resources before an event, and while facing an emergency.

“And also, you think of the oversight put in place for the Capitol Police — it’s political oversight that reports to political parties within Congress, no matter how you cut it,” Sund said. “When your oversight of a police department is reporting to a political party, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

FILE – Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. An Ohio man charged with stealing a coat rack from the U.S. Capitol doesn’t deny that he joined the mob that stormed the building last year. But a lawyer for Capitol riot defendant Dustin Thompson vows to show that former President Donald Trump abused his power to authorize the attack on Jan. 6.

While Sund said he did request the National Guard on Jan. 3, he didn’t have intelligence that showed there would be a coordinated attack on the Capitol.

“Now, if I had the intelligence that we now know was available and was floating around the intelligence community, that would have given me everything I needed to ask for … and we probably wouldn’t be here talking today,” Sund told Vittert.

A number of fact-checkers have rated accusations about Pelosi, such as the ones Sund made, false.

The Washington Post gave it four Pinocchios. It previously gave the same rating to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who made the same accusation against Pelosi without proof.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, previously told the publication there had not been any 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,” he said. “We expect security professionals to make security decisions.”

Vittert also questioned Sund about what he said about Pelosi, asking a couple of times for proof. In response, Sund said that it would be found in statements or testimony that have currently not been released.

“Whether it’s the FBI, the (Department of Homeland Security), or my own intelligence unit, it seemed that intelligence on that day was treated differently, with no assessments, no joint intelligence bulletins being put together,” Sund added.

Meanwhile, Sund also took aim at the Jan. 6 Committee, saying it wasn’t looking at the situation from a security angle, but rather, a political one. When it comes to their final report, it isn’t “focusing on security” like it needs to be, he said.

“No matter how you look at it, whether it’s the Senate report, you look at it from the House (of Representatives) report, you have the House Republicans … (the) Jan. 6 committee, they all have their political slant, rather than looking at it purely from a security standpoint,” Sund said. “There’s probably a lot more people that … could have been, should have been interviewed.”

Trump is another person Sund is upset with, he said.

“When I look at it, the big concern I have is he brought a group to Washington, D.C., fired them up, and sent them off to the Capitol and didn’t do anything to de-escalate the situation,” Sund said. “Seeing how agitated the group was, and during the rally and again, seeing the images that I was watching on TV of my men and women being beaten … it would have been great to have him step in and give my men and women a little bit of assistance.”

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