President Joe Biden Terminates Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton Amid Bipartisan Calls
President Joe Biden terminated Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton on Monday due to allegations of misuse of government resources and his absence from the Capitol grounds during the January 6 insurrection. Blanton was grilled by members of the House Committee on Administration during a hearing to review a federal watchdog report which accused him of ethics violations, abuse of government funds and wasting taxpayer money.
The federal watchdog report found Blanton had misrepresented himself as a law enforcement officer, repeatedly misused his government-issued vehicle, and led prohibited private Capitol tours during COVID-19 lockdown. According to the report, the misuse of the vehicle resulted in a cost of nearly $14,000 to taxpayers. Blanton also offered to provide tours to “patriots” weeks before the November 2020 election.
Blanton said in last week’s hearing that his vehicle served as the Architect of the Capitol’s “mobile command post” during Jan. 6, 2021, during the Capitol attack, and did not go to the Capitol because “there would have been next to no way to get onto this campus.” Blanton also stated that he was unable to drive to the Capitol since there were so many people on the grounds.
Biden terminated Blanton amid bipartisan calls for his firing or resignation, including from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. At the President's direction, the Architect of the Capitol was let go after a thorough review, a White House official stated.
The Capitol Police Board, a three-member entity, has Blanton as one of their votes. This board is responsible for decisions concerning the augmentation of security at the complex, as well as the supervision of the Capitol Hill police. Chair of the House Administration, Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), announced that the committee will begin to examine the reorganization of the board of the United States Capitol Police.
In an exchange with the committee chairman, Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) expressed her outrage at Blanton’s absence from the Capitol during the insurrection. She exclaimed in outrage, “How could you be in a comfortable place while the rest of us were worried about dying that day and how we would make it out alive? It was outrageous that you were not here!”
Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat, asked Blanton why he remained in the “mobile command center” during the attack.
0. “McCarthy calls on the Architect of the Capitol to resign after damaging IG report” Channel3000.com – WISC-TV3, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.channel3000.com/news/national-politics/mccarthy-calls-on-the-architect-of-the-capitol-to-resign-after-damaging-ig-report/article_31f2d4d8-8a1e-53aa-aa9f-d35009b60f78.html
1. “McCarthy calls for resignation of Architect of Capitol” Yahoo News, 13 Feb. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/mccarthy-calls-resignation-architect-capitol-191344767.html
2. “House Republicans call for Blanton's removal as Architect of the Capitol over alleged misdeeds” Roll Call , 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.rollcall.com/2023/02/10/house-republicans-call-for-blantons-removal-as-architect-of-the-capitol-over-alleged-misdeeds/
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4. “Biden fires Architect of the Capitol after calls for his resignation” WPSD Local 6, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/biden-fires-architect-of-the-capitol-after-calls-for-his-resignation/article_8d449aa8-abd7-11ed-b2d2-87b81c8a57da.html
5. “Capitol building's top manager prompts fury with admission he avoided Hill on Jan. 6” POLITICO, 9 Feb. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/09/lawmakers-capitol-hill-architect-misconduct-00081934