Fascinating questioning a few minutes ago by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10) of the acting Chief of Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman.
- Rep. Wexton asked Pittman if she considered the death of Officer Howard Liebengood, who was a constituent of Rep. Wexton’s, to be a “line-of-duty death.” Pittman responded, “I can’t speak to that at this time…because it’s still under active investigation.”
- Rep. Wexton mentioned a “vote of no confidence” in Pittman, accused her of “not standing by your officers” and said that’s “very concerning to me.” (Pittman responded that she DOES stand by her officers)
- Rep. Wexton then asked a series of questions regarding the number of officers on an average Sunday when Congress is not in session (“less than 700”), on an average day when Congress is in session (“past 1,000”), during a special event like the State of the Union (“over 1,800 officers”), and on 1/6/21 (“we had 1,200 officers at approximately 12 pm on that day, and then by [4 pm] we had 1,400 officers on the campus on January 6”). Rep. Wexton responded, incredulously: “But even before you got that intelligence, you knew that you were going to have the first, second and third officials in line for the presidency all in the same place at the same time…So you would think that you would make it more…along the lines of a State of the Union than an average day, and it sounds like, even with the threat assessment, it was kind of still treated like an average day.”)
- The penultimate exchange between Rep. Wexton and Pittman was also intense. Rep. Wexton asked: “United States Capitol Police is notoriously opaque. You guys have had zero public press conferences in your department in the nearly two months since the attack. Now having this kind of a news vacuum creates a community where conspiracy theories and misinformation can spread easily….Why haven’t you had any public briefings?” Pittman responded that they were focused on their employees’ “health” and “well being” and supplying information to the oversight committees. Rep. Wexton responded, “It’s been almost two months, will you commit to having public press briefings…going forward?” Pittman responded: “No, ma’am, not at this time.” Rep. Wexton concluded, “So you’ll answer our questions, but not those of the press, is that what I’m getting from you?” Pittman: “No ma’am, I’m not saying that I would not answer questions of the press, but leaning forward…my priorities still would remain with the workforce and to the committees that provide oversight as well as our appropriators.”