Washington (CNN)The US Secret Service director, testifying for the first time in public since the January 6 insurrection, told members of Congress on Thursday that putting his agency in charge of security preparations prior to the attack would have helped to better protect the Capitol.
But agency director James Murray also acknowledged additional precautions could have been taken regardless of who was in charge.
Federal officials have faced widespread criticism and scrutiny over their lack of preparedness prior to the attack and evidence they missed warning signs that appeared on social media sites in the days leading up to the riot.
Although US Capitol Police is primarily responsible for security at the Capitol Building, the presence of Vice President Mike Pence at the January 6 certification of the Electoral College vote involved the Secret Service in security preparations. Had the count been declared a National Special Security Event, a designation used by the Department of Homeland Security for events such as the President’s State of the Union address, the Secret Service would have been in charge of security.
“Obviously, what happened on January 6 was abhorrent, it was an attack on our democracy, and we in law enforcement don’t want to see it happen again,” Murray told House Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee members. “I welcome those conversations and I imagine those are, those are forthcoming.”
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Democrat, asked Murray how the January 6 riot has impacted the agency’s operations, posture, and if it has prompted the agency to reevaluate if certain events, such as certification of the Electoral College votes, should be considered a NSSE.
Murray said designating the January 6 vote count an NSSE would have put the Secret Service firmly in charge of security and more security measures would have been seen around the Capitol, though he acknowledged that such a designation is not necessarily needed to increase security.
Murray said the largest benefit of a NSSE designation — which allows for enhanced cooperation of local, state and federal partners in establishing security for a specific event — is that it provides for a significant amount of time for planning. However, he noted that law enforcement agencies held several meetings about the rally.
“I’m aware that in mid-to-late December, a lot of the agencies here — to include US Capi
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