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Michael Stenger, Ousted Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, Dies at 71

Michael Stenger, who resigned as the Sergeant-at-arms of the Senate after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which revealed a lack of security planning, he died on Monday. He was 71.

His family announced his death but did not give a cause or say where he died.

Mr. Stenger resigned under pressure from Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, a day after the uprising by crowds supporting President Donald J. Trump. New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer, the incoming majority leader, vowed to fire Mr. Stenger if he was still in office on January 20, 2021.

As a sergeant-at-arm, Mr. Stenger served as the Senate’s chief law enforcement officer, a role that also includes enforcing rules and coordinating official events and visits. The uprising presented him with an unprecedented challenge.

He was at the center of a breach of orders that prevented the National Guard’s deployment to the Capitol ahead of the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to count the presidential votes.

Based on intelligence that day warning of possible violence, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund asked for permission from Mr. Stenger and his House counterpart, Paul Irving, to bring in the National Guard.

“Had we had the National Guard,” Chief Sund told The Washington Post five days after the riots, “we could have kept them at bay longer, until more agents from our partner agencies could arrive.”

Chief Sund testified before Senate Rules and Homeland Security Committees on Feb. 23, 2021 that Mr. Irving had rejected the National Guard’s request for help in part because he was “concerned about the perception of the National Guard’s presence.” Mr Irving denied saying that optics were a concern.

Mr. Stenger also did not make the request, but ordered Chief Sund to “sit over” and ask the National Guard how quickly they could help. Mr. Stenger and Mr. Irving have stated that they did not view Chief Sund’s call for help as a formal request to the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the department. Mr. Stenger and Mr. Irving were two of the three members of the board.

It wasn’t until 2:10 p.m. on Jan. 6, after protesters broke through the Capitol, that Mr. Stenger and Mr. Irving issued an emergency statement to allow Chief Sund to formally request the National Guard, according to a report by the Senate Rules and Homeland Security Committees. . The guard started arriving after 5pm

The report said members of the Capitol Police Board, including Mr. Stenger, “did not appear to be fully aware of the legal and regulatory requirements for requesting National Guard support, contributing to the delay in deploying the National Guard.” National Guard at the Capitol.”

In prepared comments to the committees before testifying in February 2021, Mr Stenger said that “when preparing for a major event, you should always consider the possibility of some sort of civil disobedience at these demonstrations and plan accordingly. The events of January 6 went beyond disobedience. This was a violent, coordinated attack where the loss of life could have been much worse.”

While the “ultimate blame” for Jan. 6 “is with the unhinged criminals” who stormed the Capitol, Senator McConnell said the following day, “this fact prevents and will not prevent us from addressing the shocking flaws in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.” . .”

Michael Conrad Stenger was born on July 11, 1950. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, he served in the Marine Corps and then joined the Secret Service, where he rose to the rank of deputy for over 35 years. -director.

He was hired as an assistant sergeant-at-arms for the Senate in 2011; became the deputy sergeant-at-arms in 2014; chief of staff in 2015; and the sergeant-at-arms in 2018.

Mr. Stenger leaves behind his wife, Janet (Oechsner) Stenger; his daughter, Nicole Densmore; his son, Brian; two grandchildren, and his sisters, Kathy Anthony and Anne Froede.

A year before the January 6 uprising, Mr. Stenger was playing a ceremonial role at another major Capitol event: reading a proclamation to start the first impeachment trial against Mr. Trump in the Senate.

“Hear, hear, hear,” he said, “everyone is ordered to remain silent under penalty of imprisonment while the United States House of Representatives submits articles of impeachment to the United States Senate against Donald John Trump, President of the United States.”

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