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January 6 committee probes security failures as GOP counter-investigation looms

The House select committee’s so-called “blue team” is focused on understanding the threats leading up to attack, how intelligence was shared among law enforcement and their preparations. In addition to depositions, the team has thousands of documents from more than a dozen agencies that other security reviews didn’t have, two committee aides tell CNN.

“We really need to bear down on those things that we think need to be done from strengthening the windows, so they’re unbreakable, all the way up to potential reforms of the electoral count act and protection of the right to vote,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee. “We need to spend some real time talking about the policy recommendations and dimension of this.”

At the same time, Republicans have launched their own investigation into security lapses on January 6, 2021, and plan to release recommendations. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP lawmakers involved in the effort have made clear they will focus, at least in part, on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s role.

“The reports that come out of the select committee are based upon anything that’s anti-President Trump,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican who has used his position as the ranking member on the House Administration Committee to look into security issues.

The competing investigations underscore that January 6 remains a polarizing issue — turning even typically nonpartisan issues like security into partisan flash points — and that questions remain about how breakdowns happened and what improvements can be made to ensure such an attack never happens again.

Security lapses scrutinized

Over the past year, several reviews have examined various aspects of law enforcement failures, but some ran into challenges collecting information and none has been able to fully assess the federal, local and congressional response as a whole.

For example, congressional aides who worked on a Senate report released in June said that federal law enforcement agencies didn’t provide all of the information investigators requested. And the Capitol Police inspector general produced several reports but noted investigators spoke to about 35 officers, despite efforts to interview dozens more.

The inspectors general from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security also plan to produce reports on their findings.

The House select committee’s blue team review is much broader than previous ones, aides say.

“There’s a tremendous amount of more information that we have, that the Senate report did not have or any of the IG reports do not have in terms of the amount of interviews we’ve conducted,” one of the aides told CNN.

The committee’s sweeping probe includes several investigative teams, each with their own color designation. The green team, for example, is tasked with tracking money, including the funding behind the pro-Trump rallies that preceded the attack. In all, they have interviewed more than 750 people and subpoenaed thousands of records.

In contrast to the work of other teams, some of whom have had to confront recalcitrant witnesses and lawsuits seeking to block their subpoenas, the aide said witnesses for the blue team have been cooperative — and largely content to stay out of the public eye.

“I don’t have folks storming out of my (depositions) and then going to the press,” the aide said.

“It’s just it’s people who are genuinely concerned about what happened and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Aides say the witnesses have included current and former law enforcement officials, from first responders to high-ranking officers, and from the Secret Service, which has publicly revealed little about their operations that day.

The team expects to propose legislative fixes as well as administrative changes related to law enforcement and physical security at the Capitol.

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, a member of the committee, told CNN those proposals could address streamlining the process by which the Capitol Police chief gets approval to call on the National Guard, which led to issues on January 6, and how intelligence-gathering and information-sharing happens across various agencies. As chair of the House Administration Committee, which oversees Capitol Police, Lofgren has already spearheaded efforts to improve Capitol security.

“Along with the entire investigation, we want to know everything that led up to and on the day of the 6th,” Lofgren said. “Now, part of that obviously is the law enforcement preparation for January 6, how they responded to the riot as it was happening, the shortcomings, and what recommendations we want to improve the situation in the future.”

GOP investigation

On the other side of the aisle, McCarthy pledged last year that Republicans would pursue their own “investigation of the facts” after Pelosi rejected his picks to sit on the House Select Committee. Since then, two of the three Republicans vetoed by Pelosi have quietly undertaken the task.

Davis and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana have teamed up to informally investigate security failures. No Republican member can subpoena witness testimony or documents without the help of Democrats, so any information they have collected has been through voluntary cooperation.

Davis declined to specify who he and his fellow Republicans have interviewed or what documents they’ve collected but noted several whistleblowers have come forward through a website his committee launched in the months following the riot. Davis said he doesn’t have faith the House select committee will dig deeply enough.

“I don’t think enough focus is going to be placed upon the failures of the security apparatus pre-January 6 that needs to be investigated,” Davis said, recalling that he got a security briefing from Capitol Police on January 5 in his office. “There was nothing in that briefing that would have led me to believe that I would have witnessed what I saw on January 6.”

Two sources close to the GOP investigation say they have interviewed dozens of witnesses, including rank-and-file law enforcement and top brass. Their report may be timed to coincide with the House Select Committee’s public hearings, the sources said — illustrating that they see their investigative effort as a counterweight to the committee’s work.

Davis recently wrote to Pelosi to say his team had reviewed Capitol Hill security footage in the lead-up to January 6, 2021, and found no evidence of Republican lawmakers organizing “reconnaissance” tours as has been previously suggested by certain Democratic members.

Lofgren said Republicans are politicizing the issue of Capitol Hill security and discredited the GOP notion that Pelosi is somehow responsible for any breakdowns.

“It’s obviously B.S., and it’s totally motivated by their effort to turn everything into a political game,” Lofgren said.

CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.

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