Rep. Lofgren lambastes Capitol Police for security lapses

Chief says department is conducting an internal security review and preparing to request more funds

House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren wrote a letter to Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren wrote a letter to Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted November 2, 2022 at 5:46pm

A top House Democrat is questioning the U.S. Capitol Police’s efforts to protect lawmakers after the attack last week on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their San Francisco home.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairperson of the House Administration Committee, wrote that the attack on Paul Pelosi and other similar circumstances “raise significant questions” about security protections for members of Congress in a letter Tuesday to U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Paul Pelosi, whose skull was fractured by a hammer-wielding attacker, is expected to make a full recovery. The speaker, who was the intended target of the attack, was not home at the time.

Lofgren asked if the Capitol Police department has a plan to extend security coverage to the spouses and family members of congressional leaders in the presidential line of succession: the speaker and the Senate president pro tempore, a position currently held by Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy.

Lofgren wrote that the FBI had offered to have Capitol Police officers detailed to San Francisco and Tampa, Fla., field offices assigned as task force officers to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which investigates threats to members of Congress. However, the Capitol Police declined that offer, a decision Lofgren questioned in the letter.

The Capitol Police, in a statement Wednesday, said it has begun an internal security review following the attack.

“Now we will fast-track the work we have already been doing to enhance the protection of Members outside of Washington, D.C., while also providing new protective options that will address concerns following Friday’s targeted attack,” the Capitol Police said.

Threats against members of Congress are rising, with approximately 9,625 received by the Capitol Police in 2021, Lofgren wrote.

Lofgren questioned the police department’s response to the attack from its San Francisco field office and the relationship between the U.S. Capitol Police and the San Francisco Police Department in regard to security at Pelosis’ house.

Lofgren asked if the Capitol Police had developed a strategic plan, policy directives and standard operating procedures for its regional field offices, and if those had been followed in the attack on Pelosi.

The Capitol Police Command Center actively monitors cameras outside of Pelosi’s San Francisco home around the clock when she is there, the department said Wednesday. But they were not being watched at the time of the break-in.

“While the Speaker was with her security detail in Washington, D.C., the San Francisco cameras were not actively monitored as they are when the Speaker is at the residence,” the department said in its statement.

Lofgren asked if the Capitol Police has a "memorandum of understanding" with the San Francisco Police Department about security at the speaker’s home, if a San Francisco Police Department vehicle was supposed to be stationed outside of the Pelosi's house on Oct. 28, and if one was there.

Manger said in a Tuesday statement that the Capitol Police needs more funding to protect lawmakers and is working on a formal request.

“We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for members of Congress,” Manger said. “This plan would include an emphasis on adding redundancies to the measures that are already in place for congressional leadership.”