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Sen. Amy Klobuchar chairs the rules committee that released Tuesday’s bipartisan Senate report on the security failures surrounding the Capitol insurrection in a joint effort with a Homeland Security committee. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss some of the findings of the report.
We appreciate it.
And we hear now from a Democratic Senator. She is Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She chairs the Rules Committee, which released today's report, in a joint effort with the Homeland Security Committee. And she joins us now from Capitol Hill.
Senator Klobuchar, welcome back to the…
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN):
Thank you for being here.
So, what would you say were the main failures outlined in this report?
Sen. Amy Klobuchar:
Well, the first was really echoed in the words, the haunting words of one of the officers, who said over the radio: "Does anybody have a plan?"
There was just no preparation for this kind of an event, despite the fact that you had reports on social media of people posting pictures of the underground tunnels and the maps to the underground tunnels.
So, the number one thing, no preparation, no really plan for where the officers were stationed. This was not the fault in any way of the front-line officers. They valiantly defended and did their jobs. This was the leadership of the Capitol Police.
You start with the fact that you have the officers, 75 percent of them were in their plainclothes. One of the platoons were not able to access their equipment because it was locked in a bus, so they could only look at it through the window.
You have got situations where only 10 percent of them had civil disturbance training. And then you have three different intelligence units within the Capitol Police. And, of course, that should be combined.
On the outside, FBI, the reports that were coming in didn't get enough information to the high-level people in the Capitol Police. And, as you — as was noted, the Department of Defense, it took quite a while for them to get the National Guard over.
So, all in all, we made 20 recommendations. We have to act on them immediately. And it was really our job to investigate, yes, but to come up with some recommendations. And it was important that this be bipartisan, so we can get them done.
How confident are you, Senator, that the fixes that need to be made will be made?
The ones out of this report, I feel good about that.
We need a new police chief. I was listening to Lisa's excellent reporting, where I — much more in-depth than some of the other reports that I have heard, because she gets the fact that some of these changes just haven't been made.
You have got understaffed department. You need a new police chief. This board has to make a decision about that police chief. And we hope that's very soon. Two new sergeant at arms have been installed in the House and Senate with vast experience, the other ones replaced. That is a good beginning.
And then we have to get the equipment and resources to the line officers. And one thing I will note about the Capitol Police Board, a good first step we suggest immediately, which is to give the police chief the authority to be able to call up the National Guard without calling three people and desperately trying to reach them in the middle of an insurrection.
That is one of the most absurd of many things that happened that should never have occurred.
So, Lisa's — part of Lisa's reporting there, Senator, was that the concern is, right now, that if there were another attack on the Capitol of this magnitude, you might not be ready, the Capitol security system might not be ready.
Is that your take as well?
I think you saw, by the way, the State of the Union, excellent security there. I think what we have seen is heightened involvement of other agencies and different approaches.
There's been some — a new hire made who's handled these kinds of events before. But there's more that needs to be done. We know that. And our focus was on that security to convince our fellow senators and work with the House to get this done through the appropriations process for the funding and also make some legal changes as well.
And there could be other changes to that Capitol Police Board, as Lisa has pointed out. I think the number one goal is the get the new chief in place first.
And, finally, Senator, on this subject, you have been in favor of a commission created, an independent, outside commission to look at what happened on January 6.
Do you still think that's necessary after this report?
Of course. I think it's more necessary.
Our goal was singularly focused on the security and the failures of intelligence. But there's so much more that must be uncovered, systematic issues, rise of white supremacism, what got us to where we are.
And that is why I strongly support that commission, even more than before we entered in and presented this report.
Senator, another major issue that you are involved in, of course, is voting rights.
We saw the announcement over the weekend by your fellow Democratic Senator Joe Manchin that he will oppose the big voting rights bill that's in the Senate now, so-called S.1. Without his support, the conventional wisdom is, that's dead. How do you see it?
Well, I have been talking with Senator Manchin both before his announcement, during and afterwards — well, not during it.
And it's been my impression that he has said he's going to give me a list of things, give one to Senator Schumer of things that he wants to see in a bill. He has voiced his support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which, of course, is very important to pass as well.
But my argument is this. We have seen over 300 bills introduced all across the country to limit people's right to vote, to take away their freedom to vote, and they're not going to stop. They have passed major bills in Georgia and Florida and in other states. And so that is the argument that we are making right now.
And there are many changes that I made to the For the People Act that would have moderated the bill, in response to some of the issues raised by Senator Manchin and the West Virginia secretary of state. That amendment, the manager's amendment, was a major amendment, making it easier for rural areas, had the support of Mark Warner and Angus King.
And, unfortunately, the Republicans voted it down. But it is still there, along with other changes we can make. So, Senator Manchin is going to have to put forth his ideas, because this was a — is a good bill. And I'm not going to give up the right.
But without significant changes in that bill, paring it down significantly, getting Senator Manchin on board, you're looking at either — the expectation is, there's not going to be an end of the filibuster rule, and you're not going to get 10 Republican senators sign on to have 60 votes.
So, I mean, the question is, how do you get this done?
Well, Senator Manchin has in the past indicated he would look at a standing filibuster. And I guess, if you even look at his piece that he wrote this weekend, you could say that would, in his words, I suppose, strengthen the filibuster.
And so my argument is that these guys, if we're not going to abolish the filibuster, which, by the way, I favor, because I want to get stuff done, and I'm sick and tired of this, and people manipulating the process and using archaic procedures to do that — well, then at least make them stand and argue that we shouldn't be giving water to voters in line or that we shouldn't make it easier for people to vote in the safe way that they want to vote, whether it's voting early or voting by mail.
Make them stand and do it. So, he has still not precluded that, and I think that would be one way to go, along with working with him on listening to his concerns and making changes to the bill.
And like I said, there were significant changes made in the manager's amendment, supported by all of the senators on the committee, including moderate senators and the independent Angus King. But the Republicans voted that down. So, that's a good place to start.
But are you saying you are — you believe right now that there's a real chance this can be revived, that you can get Senator Manchin to agree to something that's a different-looking bill?
Of course I do, or I wouldn't be standing here saying it to you.
I believe so strongly in voting rights. And people stood in line in Milwaukee in garbage bags with homemade masks just to exercise their right to vote. People in Texas had to deal with one ballot box drop-off place in Harris County, Texas, with five million people.
These are outrageous stories that went on around the country. And yet eight million more people voted than — we have seen — you have seen Joe Biden win by that many votes. You have seen people — record turnout in the middle of a pandemic because they cared about voting.
And instead of simply chaining their policies and reaching out in different ways, the Republican Party has said, you know what, we're just going to make it harder for people to vote.
And I think Reverend Warnock said it best in his maiden speech, when he said, some people don't want some people to vote. That is exactly what's going on here and why I will not give up this fight for freedom to vote and putting things in place to make — get the dark money out of our politics and finally get something done on ethics reform.
Democrats and Republicans across the country support the provisions in this bill by overwhelming arguments, including in West Virginia. And that is the case that we will be making. This is a bipartisan bill, because Democrats and Republicans both want to see it happen.
Senator Amy Klobuchar.
And, just finally, condolences on the loss of your father, a longtime journalist in the state of Minnesota.
Oh, thank you, Judy.
Thank you for joining us.
Thank you so much.
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