HARTFORD,CT—U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called Monday for streamlining the military defense of the nation’s Capitol building as he worried what the “lunatics” behind last week’s attack on the Congress were planning next.
Murphy appeared outside the Connecticut State Capitol, which has been encircled by metal barriers since before last week’s state legislative swearing-in ceremony. Murphy, who was evacuated from the U.S. Capitol Building last week as rioters overwhelmed the capitol’s police force, called the four hours it took National Guard forces to arrive on the scene “unconscionable.”
“Wednesday is a before and after moment. We need to take a look at radical reform in the way the Capitol is protected, in part because I don’t think this insurgency is over. Obviously there are big questions about what these lunatics are planning for this weekend and next week,” he said.
Murphy said he would be sending a letter to the Defense Department calling for a full review of the protocols for military defense of the building. He called the current process for calling in the National Guard “cumbersome” and “laborious.”
City, military and police officials had been planning for nearly a week ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally, which preceded the attack. The U.S. Capitol’s police force declined multiple offers of assistance from the military in the days leading up to the event, according to a ProPublica report.
Murphy said it was 2:30 p.m. before the capitol police force had formally requested military assistance. By 2:30 p.m. Murphy said he was evacuating the Capitol and heading for a safe room.
“It may be that the protocols and the structures that we have in place right now to defend the Capitol and the White House are wholly insufficient for this new moment that we exist in today, when there is some kind of organized insurgency to the federal government,” he said.
Standing in the cold, hands thrust in his pockets, Murphy worried about threats to the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden. He said security forces lacked “clear, unified command structure.” In the event of an attack during the ceremony, an effective security response would require approval from several officials, he said. Efforts to streamline that process were being hindered by disarray and indifference from the Trump administration, Murphy said.
“It’s hard to do that when the president doesn’t give a crap about the security of the inauguration,” he said.
Murphy’s comments came as Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced one article of impeachment against Trump accusing him of “incitement of insurrection.” Connecticut’s Democratic Congressional delegation has expressed support for removing Trump from office ahead of the Jan. 20 expiration of his term, either by impeachment or through the 25th amendment.
“Impeachment may be necessary because the president is leading a revolt against the United States government. I mean, it’s unbelievable I’m even saying those words out loud,” Murphy said.
During a Monday press briefing, Paul Mounds, the governor’s chief of staff, said the Connecticut National Guard was standing ready to support security efforts for the presidential inauguration if necessary.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Connecticut police officials were monitoring social media for credible threats of violence. He said he believed the State Capitol, which is controlled by the Capitol Police under Legislative Management, would remain safe. Mounds said the Emergency Services and Public Protection Department has been receiving daily updates from federal law enforcement officials.
“We’ll be ready but I have a high degree of confidence Connecticut’s going to stay peaceful,” Lamont said.