By Pamela Brown, Holmes Lybrand and Allison Gordon, CNN
Before the violent attack on her husband in late October, the security of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s California home had not been assessed by United States Capitol Police since 2018, Police Chief Thomas Manger told CNN’s Pamela Brown in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
Lawmakers have pressed for answers about security lapses on the night of October 28, when the alleged assailant broke into the couple’s San Francisco home and attacked Paul Pelosi with a hammer. According to court documents, he had been looking for the speaker, who was in Washington at the time.
In a November letter exclusively obtained by CNN, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the chair of the House Administration Committee, asked the USCP for detailed answers about the lack of security at the Pelosis’ home, including why the residence had not received an assessment in the previous four years.
It’s unclear what recommendations Capitol Police made in 2018 and which ones were approved by Congress to be implemented. But the USCP has assessed the Pelosis’ home since the attack and will perform the security assessments more frequently, Manger told CNN.
“Anytime there’s a change in leadership position, we will do an updated assessment,” Manger said, noting that members can also request the security assessments.
Pelosi communications director Henry Connelly told CNN her office would not discuss security matters in response to questions about whether she had previously requested those assessments.
In 2021, Pelosi was the subject of 632 threat cases opened by the USCP, according to Lofgren’s letter, more than 6% of all threat cases overseen by Capitol Police last year. At least 24 of those threats were presented to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, according to the letter.
“We had more folks focused on her safety than any other member of Congress because of the number of threats that she had,” Manger said of security for the California Democrat, who is heavily monitored both in and outside of Washington, DC. Democrats lost control of the House in last month’s midterm elections, and Pelosi did not seek reelection to caucus leadership.
Manger said the USCP needs to enhance the “security posture” for whomever the speaker of the House is or for any member who has received the number of threats Pelosi has.
“The level of violence in our country directed toward political officials, government officials, it’s really at a point where I think that it’s as dangerous as it’s ever been to be an elected official,” Manger said, noting the number of threats has only increased since his appointment in July 2021.
Threats and violence against members of Congress are not new. Democratic then-Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona was almost killed after being shot in the head in 2011 and Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot and wounded during practice for a congressional charity baseball game in 2017. But politicians from both parties, as well as election officials, have received a spate of recent and increasing threats.
When pressed whether Capitol Police would be providing more security for members and their immediate families, Manger said it was looking at ways to “beef up” security for lawmakers when they are in Washington and to protect their residences in their home districts, though he declined to offer specifics.
He acknowledged an ongoing concern is ensuring the safety of lawmakers when they’re out in their districts. “We’ve got to make sure that we do a better job at working with the state and local police to put things in place ahead of time, not wait for a crisis, not wait for a threat,” Manger said, adding that the USCP is building relationships with local law enforcement to communicate about the movements of lawmakers and any threats they may face.
The Capitol Police has worked to fill hundreds of job vacancies, hiring 280 officers this year, and has also contracted 40 to 50 unarmed guards who check security badges and credentials for individuals already inside the Capitol.
Despite their renewed efforts, however, Manger noted that threat levels aren’t something the Capitol Police can control.
“It’s just the sheer volume of what we’re dealing with now versus what we dealt with years ago,” Manger said. “I’m not so sure that the Capitol Police can do a lot to tamp that down. So our responsibility is we’ve just got to deal with the growing number.”
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