A MARTINEZ, HOST:
The U.S. Capitol will face a large-scale security test tomorrow. It's the first since the January 6 attack by supporters of former President Trump. A far-right rally is planned in Washington, D.C. That rally is in support of people charged over the insurrection. The deadly siege in January was a security failure on a number of levels, but a lot has changed since then. NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales is reporting on this. The Capitol Police have been in turmoil over what happened in January, Claudia. What are we hearing from them and members of Congress heading into this weekend?
CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: We're hearing confidence. The new Capitol Police chief, Tom Manger, briefed congressional leaders and promised more transparency and intelligence sharing. Here's Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talking to reporters earlier this week.
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MITCH MCCONNELL: I believe that they're well equipped to handle what may or may not occur.
GRISALES: So this is part of an overall theme. Let's take a listen to others I heard from in recent days, starting with West Virginia GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO: Well, I think - you know, the sergeant-at-arms, the Capitol Police, are in charge of security. I think they've learned a lot of lessons. We've heard a lot of testimony. And I'm sure they have everything under control. I have full faith in them.
GRISALES: Capito sits on the Senate Rules Committee that oversees Capitol Police, and she's among several members of Congress professing newfound confidence in the agency and new security efforts.
PETE AGUILAR: We are in a better security posture today than we have been.
GRISALES: That's California Democrat Pete Aguilar talking about improvements for Capitol Police.
AGUILAR: We trust that they are very mindful that the public is going to be paying attention and ensure that we protect the Capitol.
GRISALES: And while a top FBI official has said there is no evidence that violence is expected tomorrow and Congress is not in session, Capitol Police now have fencing in place, and they say the National Guard will be on standby. It's those kind of details that have members like Aguilar at ease.
AGUILAR: You know, a higher degree of dialogue and more detailed, you know, specifics on what we are prepared for and what our plan is.
GRISALES: Aguilar sits on the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack and has a special interest in tomorrow's event. The rally is being led by Look Ahead America, which calls those charged in the deadly siege political prisoners. Members say preparations by law enforcement are key even if it is not needed on Saturday.
ADAM KINZINGER: I typically think that if you overreact upfront, you prevent bad things from happening.
GRISALES: That's Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger, another member of the Select Committee investigating the riot. He says Saturday is a reminder that the committee has an important mission ahead to ultimately share a comprehensive report of what led to the January 6 attack.
KINZINGER: They have a right to be out there so long as it stays peaceful. But we really need to begin to push back against this kind of - I call it fetishizing of overthrowing the government.
GRISALES: Kinzinger is a military veteran, and he does not understand why some have been excited by the idea of an attempt to overthrow the government.
KINZINGER: Unless it's just people that have never seen combat themselves and like playing dress up and think somehow this will alleviate their boredom, it's really dangerous.
MARTINEZ: And we have NPR's Claudia Grisales with us now. So Kinzinger is raising some pretty serious alarms there. What's the dynamic among the broader House GOP caucus?
GRISALES: A split remains there. Kinzinger and Wyoming's Liz Cheney, they're the only Republicans on this House select panel, and much of their caucus is boycotting their efforts. Kinzinger says over the last eight months, there's been this concerted effort to downplay January 6. So he says it just reinvigorates their mission. But we should note that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently told Politico that no GOP members are expected at the event tomorrow.
MARTINEZ: So do you think what happens tomorrow to impact the congressional investigation on January 6?
GRISALES: Well, both Aguilar and Kinzinger said it raises the importance of what this panel is doing and how it needs to get it right. For example, Kinzinger said no matter how many people show up tomorrow, it still represents a fraction of the people who still believe that January 6 was justified and even a peaceful event. And Aguilar emphasized that their work will show that January 6 is not a day to be celebrated, which we may see some off tomorrow, but rather to draw lessons from so that it never happens again.
MARTINEZ: NPR's Claudia Grisales, thanks a lot.
GRISALES: Thanks for having me.
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