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House panel shows video of sweeps that missed Jan. 6 pipe bomb

A Secret Service agent and a bomb-sniffing dog were close to the pipe bomb that morning, Rep. Barry Loudermilk said

Video of the police response to the pipe bomb at the Democratic National Committee headquarters is played Tuesday during a House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight hearing.
Video of the police response to the pipe bomb at the Democratic National Committee headquarters is played Tuesday during a House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of a House Administration subcommittee questioned Tuesday why Secret Service sweeps did not discover a pipe bomb left under a bench near the Democratic National Committee headquarters ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol building.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., showed videos of a Secret Service agent and a bomb-sniffing dog sweeping an area close to the pipe bomb that morning, which Capitol Police eventually discovered around 1:07 p.m. on Jan. 6.

There were two Secret Service K-9 sweeps done prior to a visit to the DNC by then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who came within feet of the device that could have caused serious bodily harm if detonated, Loudermilk said at the Oversight Subcommittee hearing.

“I mean, the Secret Service did two sweeps of the perimeter out there. Never identified the bomb that was left to be seen,” Loudermilk said after the hearing.

The subcommittee held the hearing to examine the law enforcement response to the pipe bombs found that day at the DNC and Republican National Committee headquarters. On Monday, the panel released a report critical of the now-disbanded House select committee to examine the Jan. 6 attack.

After the videos were played, Rep. Norma Torres of California, the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said the majority was “refusing to be honest and upfront with the minority” and that they did not share all the footage with them.

Rep. Joseph D. Morelle of New York, the top Democrat on the full House Administration Committee, said he was “perplexed” as to why the panel was meeting in public to discuss an “active and ongoing federal criminal investigation.”

The FBI has told members of the subcommittee “that discussing an ongoing investigation would undermine its integrity and make it more difficult to catch the perpetrator,” Morelle said.

Loudermilk said the hearing wasn’t about the FBI investigation into the person who planted the pipe bombs. He and his GOP colleagues stressed they were not looking to point fingers, but to understand what exactly happened and how to improve shortcomings.

The FBI said there are no suspects at this time and have offered a $500,000 reward for information about the pipe bomber.

The suspect placed pipe bombs near the RNC and DNC in a Capitol Hill neighborhood south of the Capitol building between approximately 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021, the FBI said.

Capitol Police Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher testified on ways the department could improve and noted that they have considered 2,000 pages of reviews and made substantial improvements across the board.

On the day of the Capitol riot, a security guard at the RNC informed the department of a pipe bomb at the RNC around 12:44 p.m. and Capitol Police established a command post minutes later, Gallagher testified.

Then, at 1:07 p.m., a Capitol Police countersurveillance agent found the pipe bomb at the DNC, Gallagher said. The Cannon House Office Building was evacuated at 1:11 p.m., and at 1:30 p.m. those in the DNC and Fairchild building were told to shelter in place.

“It is my understanding that both of these devices were fully functional and viable pipe bombs,” Gallagher said.

The RNC scene was cleared by around 3 p.m., and the DNC scene was cleared at 4:36 p.m., Gallagher said.

Republican members of the panel were critical of the lack of a perimeter near the RNC pipe bomb where pedestrians were walking through.

Gallagher told the panel that “there should have been a perimeter officer at that location,” and he noted that day was extremely challenging with masses of people breaching both sides of the Capitol.

And Gallagher, who was promoted to assistant chief for uniformed operations since the Capitol attack, acknowledged where the department has faltered.

But Gallagher told the committee he has not shied away from the failures of that day. “All aspects of the department needed improvement,” he said.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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