Single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘highly effective’ in preventing severe COVID-19


The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, including newer variants, according to documents released by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The news on Wednesday came as the US regulator was set to convene an independent panel Friday that will likely vote to authorise the vaccine, making it the third available in the country hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

In large clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease was 85.9 per cent in the United States, 81.7 per cent in South Africa, and 87.6 per cent in Brazil.

Overall, among 39,321 participants across all regions, the efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 85.4 per cent, but it fell to 66.1 per cent when including moderate forms of the disease.

Crucially, analyses of different demographic groups revealed no marked differences across age, race, or people with underlying conditions.

The vaccine was generally well-tolerated, with no reports of severe allergic reactions which have been seen in rare cases for the Pfizer and Moderna shots. 

Mild to moderate reactions, like injection-site pain, headache, fatigue and muscle pains were more likely to occur in younger participants than older.

There were no reported deaths in the vaccine group, but five in the placebo group.

“The analysis supported a favourable safety profile with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA (emergency use authorisation),” the FDA wrote.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that if authorised, the federal government would seek to distribute three to four million doses next week. 

“Johnson and Johnson has announced it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March,” he continued, adding the government was trying to speed up the delivery of the contracted 100 million doses, which the company has promised by the end of June.

One dose, fridge storage

A third vaccine is seen as a vital means to ramp up the immunisation rate in the United States, where more than 500,000 people have lost their lives to the coronavirus. 

Some 65 million people in America have so far received at least one shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines – but unlike those, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one dose, and is stored at fridge temperatures.

The trade-off is slightly less protection against mild or moderate forms of COVID-19.

Motorists arrive for their COVID-19 vaccinations administered by members of the National Guard at a new mass vaccination site in Los Angeles on 16 February.

AFP via Getty Images

“The vaccine was effective in preventing COVID-19 using a less restrictive definition of the disease and for more severe disease, including COVID-19 requiring medical intervention, considering all cases starting 14 days after vaccination,” the FDA wrote in its briefing document.

“Although a lower efficacy overall was observed in South Africa, where there was a predominance of B.1.3.5 lineage during the time period of this study, vaccine efficacy against severe/critical COVID-19 was similarly high across the United States, South Africa, and Brazil,” it added.

There was a hint, based on preliminary data, that the vaccine might be effective against asymptomatic infection.

But “this finding needs to be further investigated with additional data,” wrote the company in a separate document made available by the FDA.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a common-cold causing adenovirus, which has been modified so that it can’t replicate, to carry the DNA for a key protein of the coronavirus into human cells. 

This makes those cells produce that protein, which in turn trains the human immune system should it encounter the real virus.

Other adenovirus vector vaccines against COVID-19 include those made by AstraZeneca-Oxford and Russia’s Sputnik V.

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War crimes inquiry and Defence clash over sackings of whistleblower soldiers


As the Defence Force continues to deal with the fallout of the Inspector-General’s report, delegates of the Chief of the Army Rick Burr have moved to sack at least three whistleblowers from the Special Air Service Regiment and commandos.

Asked about this process, a Defence spokesperson said: “The fact that some individuals assisted the inquiry is not disputed and regardless of any recommendation the inquiry made, it is ultimately a matter for Defence as to what if any administrative action is taken.”

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr in November.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The spokesperson also said that while termination notices had been issued, the responses from soldiers threatened with sacking would be considered before any final decisions were made.

Defence sources in Canberra, who were not authorised to speak publicly, confirmed that the office of the Inspector-General had been forced to issue “support” letters to help a small number of soldiers who were issued termination notices.

Multiple Defence sources aware of behind-the-scenes efforts to protect whistleblowers said at least two of the soldiers who were issued termination notices allegedly engaged in war crimes on the orders of more senior soldiers, and in both cases, these alleged crimes would never have been discovered without the disclosures, the sources said.

Some soldiers suspected of repeatedly lying about their own involvement in war crimes have also been issued termination notices, but were given no support from the Inspector-General. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have confirmed this by speaking to more than a dozen serving and former special forces insiders.

In November, General Burr and Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell both publicly praised the role of special forces soldiers who disclosed alleged war crimes to Justice Brereton, who led the Inspector-General’s inquiry.

Justice Brereton ultimately found that Australian special forces soldiers allegedly committed up to 39 murders and recommended that up to 19 current or former soldiers should face criminal investigation, possible prosecution and be stripped of their medals.

Justice Brereton warned in his November report that “too often … have the careers of whistle-blowers been adversely affected”. He urged the Defence Force to promote “cleanskin” whistleblowers – those who had observed or disclosed alleged war crimes but not participated in any alleged summary executions. Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell is yet to act on that recommendation.

Justice Brereton also urged General Campbell and General Burr to consider special treatment for those “whose conduct is such that they cannot be rewarded by promotion, but who, having made disclosures to the Inquiry in protected circumstances when they reasonably believed they would not be used against them, and whose evidence was ultimately of considerable assistance to the Inquiry, ought not fairly be the subject of adverse administrative action”.

“Again, it will be an important signal that they have not been disadvantaged for having ultimately assisted to uncover misconduct, even though implicating themselves.”

General Angus Campbell.

General Angus Campbell.Credit:Getty Images

When he announced Justice Brereton’s findings in November, General Campbell described being “deeply appreciative of people who came forward to speak with concern of what they had seen, in some cases of what they had participated in”.

“It was a very brave thing for them to do, because in the climate and the culture I have described, they would have been very concerned for doing so,” he said in comments which suggested General Campbell was aware that key whistleblowers had also disclosed their own wrongdoing.

But since then, senior officers working under General Burr’s ultimate command have, in at least three cases, disregarded the advice from the Inspector-General and issued termination notices that inform a soldier they will be sacked unless they provide mitigating circumstances.

The question of how to deal with special forces veterans who have admitted to egregious acts is not simple. Even considering their assistance to the inquiry, their alleged conduct may be so serious that it warrants dismissal. However, that is the same workplace penalty suffered by SAS and commando soldiers who have been found to have repeatedly lied about their own role in war crimes only to have it disclosed by others.

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The tension comes amid confusion about how the federal police and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions will work with the new Office of the Special Investigator, which was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November to help prosecute those accused of war crimes. The Office of the Special Investigator (OSI), led by former Victorian judge Mark Weinberg, is analysing what information from the Brereton inquiry can be used in criminal prosecutions and what must be withheld because it was obtained under a special power that gives immunity to those who confess to wrongdoing.

However, the OSI is at risk of replicating steps already taken by the Australian Federal Police, which was referred war crimes allegations by Justice Brereton in 2018. Federal police agents have spent almost three years investigating former special forces soldier and Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, who is accused of multiple war crimes, and are also investigating serious allegations against another soldier known as “Soldier C”.

Shifting these investigations to a newly created bureaucracy is potentially fraught if it causes delays, as witnesses’ memories fade or suspects find opportunities to collude. It may also leave some already traumatised witnesses dealing with new investigators with whom they have no prior relationship or who have no corporate investigation knowledge.

Former SAS soldiers said federal police agents had taken statements and built rapport with key witnesses in 2018 and 2019. Official sources in Canberra said it was unclear how many federal agents would be seconded to the new office, although it would involve at least some of the AFP taskforces set up in 2018 to probe war crimes.

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Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend Holly Madison reveals grim sex truth behind Playboy


It was sold as a world of glitz and glamour filled with beautiful women, but according to one of Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriends it quickly turned into an ugly nightmare.

When Holly Madison went to live rent-free at the Playboy Mansion, she naively didn’t realise there was going to be another price to pay: sex with Hugh Hefner.

Now 41, the aspiring model‘s early-20s dream of glamour quickly turned into an ugly nightmare – where she claims she was cut off from the outside world and strictly controlled.

Madison, who was with Hefner between 2001 and 2008, published an explosive memoir about her time with him and Playboy called Down the Rabbit Hole in 2015.

Now a TV adaptation of the book is in the works with Home And Away star Samara Weaving signed on to play Madison.

The series will dramatise what Madison saw going on behind the gates of the Playboy Mansion – where young women were given drugs and encouraged to take part in twice-weekly orgies with Hefner.

RELATED: Playboy Mansion now derelict

“They knew it was kind of a quote-unquote requirement for living there, and expected,” Madison told Buzzfeed News.

“And it had kind of a chore vibe, I felt.”

Here‘s what Madison went through as the number one girlfriend in Hefner’s harem.

GROUP SEX AND ‘THIGH OPENER’ PILLS

What started as a party soon became like prison for Madison.

She was just 20 and still at university when she met a friend of Hefner‘s while working as a waitress at Hooters.

The friend invited her to a party at the Playboy Mansion – she thought it would be a one-time thing, but soon found herself going to its Sunday pool parties every week.

After a year, she decided to try and become one of Hefner‘s girlfriends in order to continue living in Los Angeles.

She thought none of them actually had sex with the ageing porn mogul, who was then in his mid-70s.

But she quickly lost any illusions during her first “Club Night” out with Hefner and the other girlfriends when he offered her a Quaalude, telling her: ”in the ‘70s they used to call these pills ’thigh openers.’”

RELATED: Hugh Hefner dead at 91

She refused the drugs – but couldn‘t refuse later at the mansion when she was told it was time to go to Hefner’s bedroom.

There, the women were expected to perform for him, and one of the other girlfriends pushed Madison towards Hefner.

“There was zero intimacy involved. No kissing, nothing,” Madison wrote.

“It was so brief that I can‘t even recall what it felt like beyond having a heavy body on top of mine.”

Madison soon realised the orgies happened like clockwork after the Club Nights, every Wednesday and Friday.

PUSHED TO THE BRINK

It wasn‘t just sex that was regulated – Madison soon found she was being controlled in other ways too.

She had to abide by a strict 9pm curfew and she was made to give up her waitressing job, cutting her off from the outside world.

Hefner would also make cruel comments about her appearance and he refused to let her see a therapist when she became depressed.

Madison says the situation became so desperate she considered ending her life.

“Drowning myself seemed like a logical way to escape the ridiculous life I was leading,” she wrote.

“I just couldn‘t take my misery anymore.”

The situation began to improve in 2005 when, along with Hefner‘s other girlfriends Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson, Madison starred in a reality series called The Girls Next Door.

She says they didn‘t receive a penny for the first series, but eventually it allowed her to make her own money and ultimately offered her a way to leave Hefner, which she did for good in 2009.

After Madison left him, Hefner married a model 60 years his junior, Crystal Harris, in 2012.

He died five years later aged 91.

STRING OF SORDID STORIES

When Madison published her book, co-star Kendra Wilkinson poured scorn on its account of life at the mansion.

Wilkinson, who defended Hefner as an “amazing human being”, claimed Madison wasn‘t being truthful about her experience – or her motivation for publishing a tell-all memoir.

“Holly, you can tell, had this ulterior motive every minute being at the Mansion, and that motive was – it was clear as day – she wanted Hef’s kids, she wanted a piece of Playboy and she wanted to marry Hef for, obviously, his will,” Wilkinson told People.

“That didn’t happen. So what do you think’s going to happen? Revenge. So we’re witnessing some revenge here.”

Madison, for her own part, dismissed Wilkinson‘s objections – and Madison’s bleak picture of the Playboy Mansion is just one of many similar stories to come out in recent years.

Wilkinson herself wrote about the chore-like sexual obligations of being one of Hefner‘s girlfriends, saying she first had intercourse with him when she was 18 and he was 78.

“I had to be very drunk or smoke lots of weed to survive those nights – there was no way around it,” Wilkinson wrote in her book.

“At about the minute mark, I pulled away and it was done. It was like a job. Clock in, clock out. It’s not like I enjoyed having sex with him.”

HOLLY’S HEARTBREAK

After leaving the mansion, Madison found fame in her own right.

In 2009 she competed in the US version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars, finishing in 11th place.

And she starred in her own reality show, Holly‘s World, about her new life and career in Las Vegas.

In 2013, she started married music business boss Pasquale Rotella in a lavish ceremony in Disneyland.

Her former Girls Next Door castmate Bridget Marquardt was a bridesmaid.

But after having two kids together, Madison and Rotella ended their five-year marriage in 2019.

She reportedly began dating Ghost Adventures paranormal investigator Zak Bagans the same year.

Madison is now looking forward to seeing her story played by Ready Or Not star Samara Weaving.

“I couldn‘t be more thrilled with this casting,” Madison told her million Instagram followers yesterday.

This story first appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission

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Daniel Prude: US police who pinned and spit-hooded black man won’t face criminal charges over his death



Police officers who put a hood over the head of a mentally distraught black man, then pressed his body against the pavement until he stopped breathing will not face criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict them.

Daniel Prude, 41, died last March, several days after his arrest by police in Rochester, New York. Police initially described his death as a drug overdose.

The 23 March video of the fatal encounter was initially withheld by police in part because of concerns it would inflame street demonstrations occurring nationwide over George Floyd’s death.

Ultimately released 4 September, it showed officers placing a mesh bag over Mr Prude’s head to stop him from spitting after they detained him for running naked through the streets. Mr Prude had been evaluated at a hospital for odd behaviour a day earlier, but he wasn’t admitted.

One officer pushed Mr Prude’s face against the ground, while another officer pressed a knee to his back. The officers held him down for about two minutes until he fell unconscious. He was taken off life support a week later.

Attorney General Letitia James, whose office took over the investigation, said her office had “presented the strongest case possible” to the grand jury, but couldn’t persuade it that the officers had committed a crime.

“I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community and communities across the country will rightfully be disappointed by this outcome,” Ms James said.

She said she was bound to respect the grand jury’s decision, but she also condemned a system that she said had “frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of African Americans.”

“What binds these cases is a tragic loss of life in circumstances in which the death could have been avoided,” said Ms James, who, like the mayor of Rochester and the city’s current and former police chiefs, is black.

“One recognises the influences of race, from the slave codes to Jim Crow, to lynching, to the war on crime, to the over-incarceration of people of colour: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. And now Daniel Prude,” she said.

Lawyers for the seven police officers suspended over Mr Prude’s death have said the officers were strictly following their training that night, employing a restraining technique known as “segmenting.” They claimed Mr Prude’s use of PCP, which caused irrational behaviour, was “the root cause” of his death.

The US Justice Department planned to review the attorney general’s findings, according to a joint statement from its Civil Rights Division, the US attorney in western New York and the FBI.

Ms James also issued a report recommending, among other things, that officers be trained to recognise the symptoms of excited delirium syndrome, which can make people vulnerable to cardiac arrest.

The attorney general also called for communities to minimise or eliminate police responses to mental health calls and to find alternatives to the type of “spit sock” officers placed over Mr Prude’s head. She said the mesh hood clearly added to Mr Prude’s stress and agitation.

The county medical examiner listed the manner of death as a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” and cited PCP as a contributing factor.

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Victoria’s new kinder rating scheme delivers a tick to some, a kick to others


Victorian Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt said the initiative would make it easier for parents to find a good quality kindergarten program.

“Victorian families can simply look for the kinder tick to find a teacher-led kindergarten program that supports their child’s learning and development and suits their needs,” Ms Stitt said.

An estimated 2600 childcare centres will receive the tick, including sessional kindergartens and long day care centres that offer 25 hours of integrated kindergarten.

The tick is unrelated to the established national quality standard for childcare and early learning services, which is run by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority.

Early Learning and Care Council of Australia chief executive Elizabeth Death said a tick system for Victoria would provide clarity on which childcare centres also offer kindergarten programs with a tertiary-qualified teacher.

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“It cuts through some of the myths that currently exist, that you need to move your child from a quality early learning centre into a stand-alone kinder to gain access to a kinder program,” Ms Death said.

Ms Death said centres that fell short of the state government’s new standards risked losing enrolments if they didn’t improve the quality of their kindergarten service.

“They need to lift their game,” she said.

Merri Community Child Care Centre director Helen Evdokimou said the centre, which offers all-day childcare with an integrated kinder program, would display the tick to give its families added confidence.

“We do OK with enrolments, we have been a centre of choice for many families, so I think it will probably reinforce it for some,” Ms Evdokimou said.

“Ultimately, the tick is a great thing to promote kinder.”

But some centres will be not get the tick of approval, despite meeting or even exceeding national quality standards, because they do not qualify for the government’s free kinder program.

Brookville Kindergarten is a not-for-profit, community-run kindergarten in Toorak, which exceeds the national quality standard for childcare but also charges annual fees of more than $2122 per child, making it ineligible for the free kinder program.

“Our costs are higher because we run longer day programs, hire high-quality staff and have healthy child-to-teacher ratios,” Brookville president Shona Brady said.

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The kindergarten is surveying its parents about whether they are prepared to make a donation to cover the gap between their fees and the government’s cap for accessing free kinder.

If all parents agree, Brookville will sign up to the free kinder program, saving parents about $2000 in fees and enabling it to use the tick.

The government has capped the kinder subsidy at $2122 per child, and stipulated that any centre that charges higher fees will not be able to charge parents a gap fee to cover the difference.

This leaves up to 9 per cent of sessional kindergartens ineligible to access free kindergarten, the Department of Education and Training has estimated.

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Former Labor MP Emma Husar criticises ALP’s ‘sanctimonious’ behaviour over Parliament’s toxic culture problem


So often, the trauma of what happens after an horrific episode of assault, abuse or harassment can be as devastating as the original episode itself.

And while much of the focus lately has been on the allegations raised by Brittany Higgins, another woman in politics who understands this is Emma Husar, the former Labor MP who in her own words was “slut shamed” in 2018 with contested sordid allegations of her behaviour.

A salacious article published by Buzzfeed claimed she had bragged about her sexual relations, sexually harassed an employee and exposed herself to a colleague.

Ms Husar sued for defamation and the matter was later settled out of court.

On Wednesday, she wrote an open letter to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, turning the attention to Labor’s problems with women and criticising the party’s “deadly” silence following the allegations that were levelled at her.

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“I have been galled watching my former colleagues speak out, yet were silent bystanders when I endured such horrendous treatment,” Ms Husar wrote in her letter.

“The Labor Party cannot pretend that poor treatment of women exists on only one side of the political divide.”

7.30 reached out to Mr Albanese for a response but did not receive a reply.

A problem on both sides

“The Labor Party have ridden their sanctimonious high horses like it’s not happening on the Labor side — but were absolutely complicit with their silence in 2018,” Ms Husar told 7.30.

Emma Husar
Emma Husar was the member for Lindsay.(ABC News: Shaun Kingma)

The experiences of both Ms Higgins and Ms Husar are reflective of the employment structures used in federal politics, including the Member of Parliament (Staff) Act, which leaves staff under the control of their masters and at risk of being immediately sacked without a reason being given.

Ms Husar also said she was devastated by the lack of support from her party.

Emma Husar sitting in the House of Representatives with a neutral expression.
On Wednesday, Emma Husar published an open letter to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, turning the attention to Labor’s problems with women.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

“In terms of their duty of care, there was none, and no support was offered,” Ms Husar told 7.30.

“They were all complicit. They all sat there, they all knew that it was wrong.

“They didn’t want me speaking out and they did everything that they could to shut me up.

“Mostly they were the media unit attached to the Leader of the Opposition’s office … predominantly doing their job on behalf of their MPs, in a way of politically protecting the leader, which again, goes to the point that we’ve talked about the last two weeks.

“Issues against women of mistreatment, sexual harassment, sexual assault are treated as a political issue.”

The aftermath

While Ms Husar is no longer in Canberra, she continues to feel the fallout from the events of 2018.

“Coming forward and speaking out about this, it’s not easy,” Ms Husar said.

“It’s something that … there will be ramifications for.

“You google my name, and there are over 2,000 related articles about that time in 2018.

“That’s the other way that women are forced to stay silent.”

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Mother of Ahmaud Arbery files lawsuit, one year after he was killed while jogging in the US


The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man shot dead while jogging, filed a lawsuit Tuesday on the anniversary of his killing as President Joe Biden pledged to help make the United States safer for people of colour.

Wanda Cooper seeks $1 million in damages in the suit that names the three white men charged with killing her 25-year-old son, who was unarmed and out for a run when he was gunned down on 23 February, 2020 in the southern US state of Georgia. 

“A black man should be able to go for a jog without fearing for his life,” Mr Biden said. “Today, we remember Ahmaud Arbery’s life and we dedicate ourselves to making this country safer for people of colour.”

Wanda Cooper, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, stands with a painting of her son during a candlelight vigil in his honour on 23 February, 2021.

The Augusta Chronicle via AAP

The lawsuit also targets local police and prosecutors whom Ms Cooper accuses of trying to cover up the killing, which became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement in a tumultuous year of mass protests demanding racial justice.

For two months after Mr Arbery’s killing, the police made no arrests and it was only when a video of the shooting went viral on social media that the investigation was taken out of their hands and an inquiry began into what had happened.

Gregory McMichael, a former investigator who had worked with the local prosecutor’s office, was arrested together with his son Travis, who could both be seen on the video clip. The man who shot the footage, William Bryan, was himself arrested two weeks later. 

They were charged with murder and aggravated assault and are in custody awaiting trial.

Ms Cooper’s suit alleges the men “hunted Ahmaud down. Based on a ‘gut feeling’ that Ahmaud was responsible for prior thefts in the neighbourhood, these defendants shot Ahmaud at close range with their shotgun and killed him”. 

“For nearly three months, …police officers, the chief of police, and two prosecutors conspired to hide the circumstances surrounding Ahmaud’s death and protect the men who murdered him,” the suit alleged.

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Capitol riot risk warning never reached top security officials, they say


“None of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred,” Sund said, referring to scenes in which Trump supporters assaulted police, smashed windows and charged through the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

“We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence,” Sund said. “What we got was a military-style coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol Building.”

The January 6 riot at Capitol Hill has increased urgency to tackle the domestic terror threat in the US.Credit:Parler via ProPublica

The attack was an attempt to stop Congress, with former Vice President Pence present, from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Republican Trump, who falsely claimed the election had been marred by widespread fraud.

The former sergeants-at-arms of the House of Representatives and Senate, Paul Irving and Michael Stenger, also testified on Tuesday, saying they did not see the FBI warning.

All three resigned in the wake of the violence, which shook the world, threatened a peaceful transition of power and endangered the lives of lawmakers and Pence, prompting former president Trump’s second impeachment trial.

DC Police Chief Robert Contee.Credit:AP

The Capitol building, which hosts the 535 members of Congress, has long been open to visitors and guests in a way that the White House has not been in decades. Passersby could walk almost to the building’s steps and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it was still open to tourists, who had to enter through a special visitors’ entrance.

Sund said he had requested National Guard troops be deployed at the Capitol in a conversation with Irving and Stenger two days before the riot, but that Irving had expressed concern about “optics” of using the troops.

Irving, however, said he did not remember the discussion as a request, and flatly denied he had been concerned about appearances.

“We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol. The collective judgment at that time was no – the intelligence did not warrant that,” Irving told the committees.

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Sund and Irving also gave conflicting accounts of their communication on the chaotic day of the attack. Sund said he had called Irving at 1.09pm to ask for National Guard troops as members of the mob were fighting with Capitol Police at the steel crowd control barriers outside the building. Irving said he had no record of a call then.

“There seems to be some confusion about the basic facts and who asked for what, when,” observed Republican Senator Josh Hawley. Senators asked for phone records.

Washington, DC, metropolitan police rushed to the scene after Sund requested their help at 12.58pm, the city’s acting police chief Robert Contee told senators.

His forces helped the Capitol Police control the mob and eventually clear the Capitol so that lawmakers could return to certify Biden’s victory.

But Contee said he was shocked by an inter-agency call about 2.22pm, when he heard Sund pleading with Pentagon officials for National Guard to be deployed.

The January 6 riot at Capitol Hill has increased urgency to tackle the domestic terror threat in the US.Credit:Parler via ProPublica

Army officials were reluctant, expressing concerns about how it would look, Contee said, adding, “I was stunned at that response.”

The first members of the National Guard did not appear on the Capitol grounds until 5.40pm, Sund said.

US media reports said that congressional leaders and security officials had not wanted to see the same militarised presence around the Capitol that was stationed about the White House during summer anti-racism protests.

Scores of police were assaulted in the melee, with over 140 Capitol Police and some 65 metropolitan police injured.

More than 200 people have been charged so far for their roles in the riot, including some with ties to far-right fringe groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Senators next week plan to call witnesses from the FBI, the Department of Defence and the Department of Homeland Security.

Democratic Senator Gary Peters said the incident revealed clear gaps in intelligence around domestic extremists: “The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously, to ensure they don’t cross into real-world violence.”

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