Ron Johnson demands answers from Capitol Police about officers who appeared to let protesters in

Sen. Ron Johnson has sent a letter to acting Capitol Police Chief Yolanda Pittman demanding answers to several questions including why in video footage of the Jan. 6 riot some of her officers appear to be waving demonstrators into the building.

Footage of the riot shows that more than 300 people gained access to the building through a single doorway into the Capitol, and the Wisconsin Republican wants to know more about the actions of police officers who were nearby at the time.

“Over the span of a 14-minute period, approximately 309 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol on January 6 through the upper west terrace doors,” Johnson, the ranking Republican on the powerful Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, wrote.

He went on to describe the actions of one individual who was seen on video who was “attempting to open one of the upper west terrace doors to exit the building.” Continuing, Johnson wrote that the lone person “walked through a narrow hallway to the double doors and attempted to exit through the left door by pushing the door’s crash bar.”

When the door wouldn’t open, “the individual turned around and walked back through the hallway and away from the doors,” Johnson said, adding that seven minutes later, “five unauthorized individuals” were seen “walking down the same hallway, past a police officer.”

“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,” Johnson wrote.

Later, near the same entrance according to the video, about five officers who were not wearing any riot gear appeared to form a thin line with the objective of keeping more demonstrators from entering.

“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,” Johnson wrote, adding that eventually officers regained control of the entranceway and appeared to be having a peaceful conversation with some of the demonstrators.

Around the time unarmed protestor Ashli Babbitt was shot, Johnson noted, the five officers slowly retreated and eventually abandoned their position, allowing more people to come into the Capitol.

Eventually, “a surge” of officers regained control of the doorway, but by then, Johnson said, more than 300 people — or nearly 40 percent of the roughly 800 people who gained access to the building during the riot — passed through that one entrance.

After describing the incident, Johnson asked Pittman a series of questions, beginning with whether or not she agreed with his version of the events as laid out in the letter.

“In order to fully understand what happened at the upper west terrace doorway, it is important to hear from the officers that were present at that location,” Johnson wrote.

“Have these officers filed detailed reports of this incident? Has USCP conducted transcribed interviews with them? If so, I request copies of these reports and transcribed interviews. If not, I respectfully ask for the opportunity to interview these officers,” he added.

“Does USCP know why at approximately 2:26 p.m. an individual could not open the left door at the upper west terrace entrance, but seven minutes later, at 2:33 p.m., another individual could open that same door?” Johnson pressed. “Does USCP have any indication that this door was locked at 2:26 p.m. and then unlocked by 2:33 p.m.?”

He also asked for security footage inside and outside the Capitol Building during the incident.

One America News Network’s Christina Bobb posted video to Twitter two days after the riot showing Capitol Police officers appearing to stand aside as demonstrators flowed into the building.

“Why do you scream at people for walking across the street three blocks away from the Capitol? Why are you known as ‘badasses’ around the Capitol but then Trump supporters come in and you open the f—ing doors for them? You open the doors for them and let them breach the People’s House! What is wrong with you?” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough shrieked in response to the video.

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Jon Dougherty

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