Crow leads call for Government Accountability Office investigation into Capitol riot, security failures

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DENVER – Rep. Jason Crow and more than 100 other members of Congress are calling for a government investigation into what led supporters of President Trump to storm the U.S. Capitol and why police and security failed to keep the building secure.

Crow led a letter to the Government Accountability Office Thursday signed by 107 other lawmakers that calls the supporters who overran the Capitol building, damaging property throughout and forcing members and staff to shelter in secure locations, “terrorists.”

“In the aftermath of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, we are forced to reconcile with difficult truths about failures of leadership and preparation. The failures of security are far more easily corrected than the failure to lead and the abuse of the public trust,” the letter reads. “Now we must seek the facts and follow them to their clear conclusion, regardless of how difficult that end may be. Your comprehensive and independent investigation into these matters is essential to ensuring that the events of yesterday will never again be allowed to occur in America.”

Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Rep. Diana DeGette were the other two House members from Colorado to sign the letter.

“Yesterday was a catastrophic security failure. Within minutes, a terrorist mob overran our nation’s Capitol building and compromised our national security at the highest levels,” Crow said in a tweet. “There will be accountability.”

Crow was among the House members praised by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the House floor Wednesday night for his actions during the takeover of the Capitol by protesters. He and several others were trapped inside the House chambers and helped security inside the building and to keep his fellow members calm.

“It was an incredibly surreal experience. It was one that I wouldn’t have expected to be in in a million years,” Crow said in an interview Thursday. “I have not felt that way in over 15 years, not since I was an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, where I felt like my life was in danger and there was a riot, a mob coming after us, which is what was happening.”

In the interview, Crow blasted Trump for inciting the riot, as well as the overall security response. He called for the House sergeant at arms and Capitol Police Chief to resign – both of which had done so by Thursday evening.

“You know, I look at this from a military lens,” Crow said. “And if this were a military operation that I were a part of, instantly, the chain of command would have already been relieved given the catastrophic failure and complete failure of those responsible for our security.”

Metropolitan and Capitol police said Thursday they had arrested 83 people combined on Wednesday. Officials said more than 50 officers total were injured – some of whom were hit with metal pipes and other items, some in the head. Police also found multiple incendiary devices around the area of the Capitol. There has been criticism that many of the people who broke into the Capitol were allowed to leave without punishment. Capitol Police said it arrested 14 people, most for unlawful entry.

Crow said Thursday that the House wanted to investigate whether or not President Trump was hesitant to call in the National Guard and that Vice President Mike Pence had to do so instead.

Reports have said that police turned down an offer of help from the Department of Justice, and some have accused police of being unprepared for riots that had been expected for days as the president and others pushed Trump’s supporters to come to Washington to protest the certification of the Electoral College votes that confirmed Joe Biden as the winner of the election.

The letter from Crow and the lawmakers to the GAO says that those comments leading up to and on the day of the protest “created the tinder box of conditions for uncontrollable confrontation, added accelerant with his rhetoric, and lit the match.”

The letter asks the GAO to look into several matters in its investigation:

· How prepared Capitol Police, the FBI, Secret Service and Department of Defense were for Wednesday’s riot
· The extent of the coordination between the federal and local law enforcement
· The impact of “rhetoric by government and elected officials” that led to the riot
· The effectiveness of the federal response and coordination with local authorities
· Any inappropriate conduct by law enforcement, such as taking pictures with the people who broke into the Capitol
· The difference in the planning, coordination and response to this protest versus others over the past four years in Washington D.C.
· Any efforts to limit preparation or response, especially regarding arrests and use of force by officers
· The impact on national security operations

The lawmakers asked the GAO to the give “thorough support” to commissions or other bodies Congress establishes to investigate Wednesday’s events.

Crow did give praise Thursday to the officers in the House chamber, who he said displayed “extreme courage and dedication to duty.” But he added that he had seen videos online that “support reports of folks that may not have done what they were supposed to do.”

“We are going to do that investigation review and see who stepped up and did their job,” Crow said. “And for those who didn’t then they will be held accountable. But in my experience, the people that work shoulder-to-shoulder with me deserve a lot of credit and acted with incredible bravery yesterday.”

Crow and several other Colorado members of Congress are now calling for Trump to be impeached.