U.S. Capitol security official apologizes for 'failings' during Jan. 6 riot

Top U.S. Capitol security officials apologized on Tuesday for "failings" during the deadly attack on the building by followers of then president Donald Trump in a bid to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election victory.

Statement says the police department failed to meet its own high standards

Supporters of Donald Trump are seen on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol near the entrance to the Senate after breaching security defences in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. Capitol police officials apologized Tuesday for 'failings' during the riots. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

The interim chief of the U.S. Capitol Police apologized Tuesday for failing to prepare for what became a violent insurrection despite having warnings that white supremacists and far-right groups would target Congress.

Yogananda Pittman, in prepared testimony before Congress, said that the Capitol Police "failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours." She listed several missteps, including not having enough manpower or supplies on hand, not following through with a lockdown order she issued during the siege and not having a sufficient communications plan for a crisis.

"We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending," Pittman wrote. "We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target."

Pittman said many of the officers who were there are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after the Jan. 6 assault in which five people died, including one Capitol police officer. Pittman said the death of a second officer was indirectly linked.

She and Timothy Blodgett, the acting U.S. House of Representatives' sergeant at arms, said security officials were working to do more to boost protection of the U.S. Capitol, the seat of government.

Security will remain high in Washington until at least March following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Conflicting accounts on Capitol Police planning

Pro-Trump supporters stormed the building following a rally near the White House where Trump urged the crowd to go to the Capitol.

Trump was subsequently impeached by the House on a charge of incitement of insurrection, and the trial in the Senate is scheduled for February.

The day after the riot, then-Capitol police chief Steven Sund said that his force "had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities." Sund has since resigned, as have the sergeants-at-arms for the House and Senate.

There are conflicting accounts of why the Capitol Police did not have more backup.

In her testimony, Pittman said Sund asked the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the department, to declare a state of emergency and allow him to request National Guard support, but the board declined.

The Defence Department has said it asked the Capitol Police if it needed the Guard, but the request was denied.

In the weeks since the attack, security has been heightened around the Capitol and in Washington in general, with 2.4-metre-high fencing surrounding the perimeter and National Guard troops brought in for Joe Biden's presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

Some 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington through mid-March.

With files from Reuters