Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, has been conducting a review of security footage recorded on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol building. Footage that showed over 300 unauthorized individuals entering the Capitol building through the upper west terrace doorway, while five U.S. Capitol Police officers stood nearby, caught the senator’s eye.
Alarmed by what he discovered, Johnson sent a letter to the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, on Thursday demanding some answers. He detailed the periods leading up to and directly after this surge of people gained access to the building.
He wrote, “At approximately 2:26 p.m. on January 6, a security camera showed a male inside the Capitol attempting to open one of the upper west terrace doors to exit the building.”
“This unauthorized individual, who was by himself at the time, walked through a narrow hallway to the double doors and attempted to exit through the left door by pushing the door’s crash bar. The door did not open and the individual turned around and walked back through the hallway and away from the doors.”
Approximately seven minutes later, at 2:33 p.m., security footage showed five unauthorized individuals walking down the same hallway, past a police officer,” Johnson wrote.
“The security footage, which did not include audio, appeared to show the police officer gesturing toward the doors as these individuals walked past him. Once at the double doors, one of the five individuals pushed the left door’s crash bar and this time, it opened. All five individuals exited the building at approximately 2:33 p.m.”
“As the fifth individual exited through this left door of the upper west terrace doorway, it remained ajar for a moment allowing people from the outside of the building to gain entry into the Capitol,” the senator continued.
“At 2:34 p.m., as people began to enter through this door, the police officer who was in the vicinity of this door one minute earlier, walked into another hallway away from this door and out of the view of the security camera.”
“At 2:35 p.m., five police officers who were not wearing riot gear or carrying any protective equipment, such as shields, arrived at this doorway. As soon as these officers approached the doorway, they appeared to form a thin line across the narrow hallway, blocking people from continuing to enter the building at this location,” Johnson wrote.
“About a minute later, four unauthorized individuals, including two people wearing helmets, pushed past the officers’ line and a surge of people entered the building walking past the officers. These police officers did not appear to take any further action to stop or block people entering the building until a few minutes later.” “At 2:40 p.m., the same five police officers once again approached the same upper west terrace doorway and formed a line stopping the surge of people. For the next several minutes, it appeared that the officers and the people gathered in the doorway exchanged words,” the senator stated. “Without any audio, it is unclear what was said, but it did not appear that either the police officers or the individuals closest to the doorway were aggressive or violent.”
“At 2:42 p.m., it appeared that at least one individual in the crowd outside of the doorway began to push people toward the doorway causing the individuals closest to the doors to move toward the officers. The officers took a step back, but still maintained the integrity of their line for another two minutes.”
“At 2:44 p.m., around the time that Ashli Babbitt was shot, security footage showed one of the five police officers at this upper west terrace doorway looking over his shoulder toward the interior of the Capitol building,” Johnson continued.
“At that point, this officer appeared to say something to another officer standing in front of him. Both officers, followed by their three other colleagues, appeared to slowly retreat from the doorway, allowing a surge of people to, once again, enter the building.”
“Security footage then showed an increase of law enforcement officers outside of the building directly in front of this doorway.
At 2:47 p.m., law enforcement closed these doors. Over the span of this 14-minute period, it appeared that approximately 309 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol through the upper west terrace doors.”
The senator had several questions for Pittman and indicated he expected her response by June 24. He first wanted to know if she agreed with his assessment of events.
Also, the senator noted that, according to the U.S. Capitol Police, approximately 800 unauthorized people had entered the building on Jan. 6. Johnson wrote, “If that estimate is not correct, what is the current estimate and why has it been revised?”
He asked Pittman if the five officers seen in the footage had “filed detailed reports of this incident.” If so, he asked for copies of the reports and if not, he requested the opportunity to interview the officers involved.