Jason Chaffetz to Speaker Pelosi: When will you answer these 13 security questions?

In the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and Trump impeachment 2.0, Republicans in and out of Congress are turning up the heat on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to answer questions about security decision-making for which she is ultimately responsible.

“If we’re serious about holding the people at the top accountable, Pelosi should also have to answer questions about her own leadership,” former Congressman Jason Chaffetz wrote in a Fox News op-ed that contained 13 security-related questions for the Speaker.

Similarly, four influential GOP lawmakers who are ranking members of their respective committees — Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, Rodney Davis, and James Comer — have sent a letter to Pelosi containing what they consider many important, unanswered questions for her about security precautions that were, or should have been, taken. Nunes has previously described Pelosi as “the mayor” of the Capitol.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving both resigned their positions apparently under pressure from Pelosi, which didn’t sit well with the quartet of GOP lawmakers, given the implication of potential scapegoating. “These decisions were made in a partisan manner without any consultation of House Republicans and therefore raise questions about the political motivations of your decisions,” they wrote.

The primary issue in this controversy, however, appears to be the timetable, if any, for calling for National Guard backup for cops and whether that was slow-walked. Chaffetz’s first question for Pelosi for example, is “What was your role in authorizing or denying National Guard support before and after Jan. 6?”

“When then-Chief Sund made a request for National Guard support on January 4th, why was that request denied?” the Republicans similarly wrote in their letter to Pelosi, Fox News reported. “Did Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving get permission or instruction from your staff on January 4th prior to denying Chief Sund’s request for the National Guard?”

The GOP lawmakers further claimed that the one-hour-plus delay in obtaining National Guard support on January 6 as it worked its way up the congressional bureaucracy “undoubtedly included” Pelosi and her inner circle.

They also disputed Pelosi’s claim that she demanded Chief Sund’s resignation because he failed to keep the lines of communication open with her office. Sund insists that he briefed Pelosi twice on January 6, however.

The GOP group also contends that Pelosi and her staff are obstructing access to documents related to the Capitol riot that are being shared with Democrats. The group, however, praised General Russell Honore, appointed by Pelosi (without consulting Republican leadership) to conduct a security review of the Capitol complex, for reaching out to a few Republicans on a bipartisan basis. Honore coordinated the military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

The lawmakers also chided Pelosi for bypassing metal detectors, the installation of which she authorized. “Lastly, your hyperbolic focus on fabricated internal security concerns has taken critical resources away from the real threat, which is from outside the U.S. Capitol…Tellingly, Madam Speaker, you have failed to comply with this requirement yourself. End this political charade, and work with us to protect the Capitol and those who work here every day.”

In his editorial, ex-U.S. Rep. Chaffetz, among other things, inquired if Pelosi will answer the various questions raised in the GOP letter. He also wants to find out what security changes were put into effect after separate gunmen shot former colleagues Gabby Giffords and Steve Scalise in 2011 and 2017, respectively. In addition, he chided Pelosi for preventing Claudia Tenney’s son from witnessing her swearing in.

Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and other elected officials have called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the universally condemned January 6 riot and the security lapses that may have been in play. In the meantime, reports have surfaced that Pelosi and the Democrats want National Guard troops to remain stationed in D.C. through the fall.

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Robert Jonathan

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