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Head of Capitol security review says all 10,000 congressional staffers need background checks

Head of Capitol security review says all 15,000 congressional staffers need background checks just three days after latest attack that killed a police officer

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought in Honore to conduct security review after Jan. 6th riot
  • Security was at the forefront again after Friday’s events
  • Capitol Police officer William Evans died after being rammed at barricade 
  • Another officer was injured 
  •  Honore said all Capitol staff should undergo background checks

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who headed a Capitol security review at the request of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is calling for all Capitol staffers to undergo background checks following the shooting there Friday. 

Honore called attention to the security recommendation after a man rammed through a Capitol barricade, killing officer William Evans and injuring another Capitol Police officer. 

‘We made recommendations that everyone coming into the Capitol give background checks. The entire congressional staff – all of them – need to get background checks is what we recommended,’ Honore told CNN Monday morning. 

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore says the entire congressional staff needs to go through background checks, following incident Friday where a man overran a Capitol barricade and killed a Capitol Police officer

He denied having any knowledge about Republican lawmakers allegedly leading tours the night before the Jan. 6th MAGA riot, as some Democratic lawmakers reported, but underlined the need to look at Hill staffers for any security threats.  

‘I know nothing about the incident, for which you speak. But we do think that everyone going into the Capitol that worked there should have complete background checks and we need to improve the ability to process people with vestibules outside of the Capitol proper so that people can come in be quickly screened and go through using the best of technology … and process them in the Capitol safely,’ he said.

Members of federal agencies undergo routine backgrounds checks, as do White House staff and even reporters who are granted certain passes to cover the White House.

His comments come after he told CNBC Friday in the aftermath of the attack, where police shot and killed the alleged attacker, who Capitol Police said lunged toward officers while wielding a knife. 

Authorities clean scene after a man rammed a car into two officers at the barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 2, 2021

Authorities clean scene after a man rammed a car into two officers at the barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 2, 2021

There are more than 15,000 congressional staff

There are more than 15,000 congressional staff

‘Any time of the day, 24/7, the Capitol could be attacked, and it could be domestic, it could be foreign,’ he said. 

Some House Republicans have been arguing to take down physical fences around the Capitol and remove National Guard forces brought in after the riot, and some have gone after Honore for his comments saying there were ‘complicit actions’ by Capitol Police during the Jan. 6th riot.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee on Sunday argued against permanent fencing that would ring the entire Capitol complex, which sits in a neighborhood and busy part of Washington.   

Capitol Police officer William Evans was killed Friday at a security barricade

Capitol Police officer William Evans was killed Friday at a security barricade

‘I think it would be a mistake for fencing to be a permanent part of the Capitol,’ he said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday. He said barriers had been ‘right there when the car drove through.’ 

Honore was elevating a recommendation of his security review. It concluded: ‘Requiring background checks for identification card holders and employing card readers more widely throughout the complex would decrease insider threat risks and enhance the safety of all Members, staff, and legislative employees,’ he said.

The idea was likely to draw pushback from some Republicans.

Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, took a swipe at the idea, telling CNN following the security review: They still have not relayed to me what an internal threat is within the Capitol. And I think it’s taking precious resources away from our brave Capitol Police officers who need a break. They need to be able to go to their families,’ Davis (R-Ill.) said last month. 

According to Congressional Research Service reports, there were 9,420 House staffers as of 2016, and there were 5,723 Senate staffers as of 2020. Not all the aides work in Washington.

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