(CNN)In the wake of the attack on Capitol Hill last week, and myriad questions about how rioters breached the building and what is happening in response, federal law enforcement agencies have yet to brief the public directly.
The US Capitol Police, FBI, Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security have yet to hold a press conference since Wednesday’s incursion into one of America’s most iconic buildings, prompting calls from lawmakers to call briefings for the public and Congress.
Most public appearances and updates have been left up to Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who urged Americans to avoid the city during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week during a news conference on Monday.
“It has been five days since the most significant attack on a branch of the United States government since British forces set fire to the U.S. Capitol in 1814, and yet the American public has not heard from federal law enforcement authorities,” Democratic Reps. Joe Neguse of California and Veronica Escobar of Texas said in a letter Monday.
The two House Judiciary Committee members urged federal law enforcement authorities — including the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security — to immediately hold a briefing for the public, as well as schedule a briefing for members of Congress, to discuss last Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol.
Generally, after such an attack, it is common practice for the DOJ, the FBI and DHS to hold a media briefing to provide an official account of the incident to the American people, the lawmakers said.
In the days since the armed insurrection, the media and public have relied on first-hand accounts from Members of Congress, reporters on the scene, Capitol Hill staff, and Capitol Police officers, as well as pictures and videos on social media “to attempt to piece the events of the day together,” they added.
“Given that it’s 2021, what happened at the Capitol in terms of a communications plan was unacceptable,” Julie Parker, a law enforcement communications consultant and former spokesperson for multiple police departments, told CNN. “There is no reason that a police department with a half billion dollar budget that has a police PIO (public information officer) on staff, should not have put out anything that day.”
Parker said the same type of public communications response would “not be tolerated” at the country or local level.
“On one of the worst days in our country’s history, anyone who wanted to hear about what was happening and hear from the police department with the facts of the case, they were stymied,” she said.
A spokesperson for US Capitol Police did not respond to a request for comment.
DHS did not respond to questions on whether the department plans to hold a news conference in the coming days and why it hasn’t done so already.