The director of the US Secret Service is set to testify in front of House lawmakers Thursday, the first time the agency is appearing in an open hearing since the January 6 riot, during which agents swiftly moved then-Vice President Mike Pence to an unknown location.
Video played during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump earlier this year showed the moments that Pence, his family, his security detail and military aides ran down a flight of stairs. Impeachment managers noted insurrectionists stormed the Capitol hallways, coming within 100 feet of where Pence was sheltering with his family. Military officials overseeing the authorization process to launch nuclear weapons were unaware on January 6 that Pence’s military aide carrying the “nuclear football” was potentially in danger as rioters got close, a defense official told CNN in February.
Secret Service Director James Murray’s prepared remarks for the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee make only brief mention of the events of January 6, but he does note that the agency has made some operational adjustments because of civil unrest and the rise in domestic violent extremism.
“The Secret Service has reviewed its operational security posture over the past 10 months due to the increase in civil unrest and domestic violent extremism, as well as our open source intelligence capabilities given the proliferation of social media platforms,” Murray wrote.
The director says the agency is developing a Civil Disturbance Unit for its Uniformed Division.
His testimony notes the Secret Service weathered the Covid-19 pandemic while protecting a historically high number of people during a presidential election year beset by civil unrest.
“While all campaign years present inherent challenges due to the unpredictable nature of candidate travel and trends in the electorate, the 2020 campaign was a particular challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted protectee patterns of life,” Murray wrote.