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Politics & Government

Rep. Davis On Committee Hearing Testimony About IG's Report On Capitol Riot

NOEL KING, HOST:

I want to bring in Congressman Rodney Davis. He's the top Republican on the House Administration Committee. That is the committee that will hear Michael Bolton's testimony later today. Good morning to you, sir.

RODNEY DAVIS: Hey, good morning. Thanks for having me on.

KING: We appreciate you being here. Based on what you've read of this report, what do you want to know most during today's hearing? What's at the top of your mind?

DAVIS: Well, it's what's not in the report. The Capitol Police is actually governed by the Capitol Police Board, which is a board that's made up of two political appointees, the two sergeant-at-arms that are appointed by the speaker of the House and also the majority leader in the Senate, and then also the architect of the Capitol, who's, you know, less of a political person. Decisions were not made or able to be made by the Capitol Police chief leading up to January 6 and before that that, I think, should be made by law enforcement officials rather than political appointees that are more worried about optics or other issues.

KING: And what questions do you have for Michael Bolton? It sounds like you've identified the problem. He's also, though, identified a lot of problems. What do you want to know from him?

DAVIS: Well, I had the chance to get briefed by Mr. Bolton last week also, so I agree with many of his assessments. But IG Bolton is actually appointed by the Capitol Police Board, so I don't think the Capitol Police Board is an issue that he put in his report. But I want to get his opinion on how its - how the leadership structure and how security decisions can or cannot be made, what changes might be recommended there also. I do agree with the changes that he has recommended when it comes to, you know, the type of protected model that the police force may be needing to follow in the future - better training, better purchasing, better logistics, better equipment standards, et cetera.

KING: Talk about the distinction there. So the report said, as you noted, the Capitol Police should be turned into a protective agency rather than just reacting like a traditional police department. Why do you think that's necessary?

DAVIS: Because the mission of the Capitol Police on Capitol Hill is different than what we would consider a traditional maybe D.C. Metro police force or, you know, your local police force. The Capitol police officers, they don't spend most of their day going around doing traffic tickets. They don't spend most of their days looking as more of a reactionary force to criminal activity. That's part of their job but clearly not the No. 1 objective. I think we need to look ahead and maybe look at something like the Secret Service, where you have a uniformed division, you also have a division that is more diplomatic or, you know, executive protection type details. I think we need to bring in folks who have training in other departments and other agencies rather than just immediately putting somebody into the lowest seniority trainee program and training program for whatever area they're hired upon. I want to see better intelligence analysis. Clearly, as IG Bolton has identified, that was a major failure leading up to January 6.

KING: Why did no one bring this up before? You make a good point, right? The Capitol Police Department does - is not out writing traffic tickets. The agency has been around for a long time. Why was it acting like a traditional police department and not a protective agency? Is it just that January 6 was so monumental that things have to change from this point on?

DAVIS: Well, January 6 was monumental, but I'm also one who has a history of having his life saved by Capitol Police officers when a crazed gunman came to a baseball field to try and kill me and my friends. And I saw the bravery of a well-trained - two well-trained Capitol Police officers who ran toward gunfire rather than away from it. But I think what happened leading up to January 6 and on January 6 was just a complete failure of many different areas within the Capitol Police and within the security protection around the Capitol that all came together at the worst time and in one of the worst times in our nation's history.

So with that being the case, it's great to be able to take a step back now, reassess this, Monday morning quarterback it and make sure - I mean, I think it's our goal to make sure that it never happens again. But there are certain decisions that IG Bolton laid out that need to be changed and certain decision-making authorities and powers that need to be changed so that we don't blow ourselves into thinking that everything's OK, like I was told the day before when I was briefed by Capitol Police.

KING: The Capitol is surrounded by fencing now, and people have different feelings about that. One of the questions that keeps coming up is, are we running the risk of turning the Capitol into a permanently locked down fortress and sending some kind of message that makes people uncomfortable? What do you think about this?

DAVIS: Well, I have my own personal opinions on the fence. General Honore and his team, made up of some very capable individuals, they recommended a permanent financing but one that could be moved up and down, much more aesthetically pleasing than the fencing that's up now. I would argue that the fencing that we had - that we have up right now is - could have led to somewhat of a softening of security and allowing the individuals who have - you know, allowing the individual who unfortunately killed Officer Evans last week to be able to have an opportunity to do that.

KING: OK.

DAVIS: I think it sometimes has a false sense of security.

KING: Congressman Rodney Davis, thank you so much for your time.

DAVIS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.