Pres. Biden fires Architect of the Capitol over alleged abuses
The firing comes as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he’d lost confidence in Blanton’s ability to do the job.LEARN MORE
Before Congress, Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton defended his behavior, including the use of official vehicles for personal business.
Under oath, Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton publicly addressed for the first time stunning claims of misconduct in his role overseeing the buildings and grounds of the Capitol, Library of Congress and Supreme Court.
"I wholeheartedly reject any [assertion] that I engaged in unethical behavior doing service to my country," Blanton said.
Those assertions of unethical behavior were detailed in an explosive inspector general’s report released this past fall. It said Blanton and his family used government vehicles, outfitted with emergency equipment, for personal use — even to go on vacation, paying for gas with tax dollars.
Blanton defended his use of the vehicles, saying as a member of the board overseeing Capitol Police, he needs to be able to get to the Capitol complex in an emergency, 24-7.
"Being able to respond to Congress and the Supreme Court requires me to be in a state that i could get back to Congress any time," Blanton said.
But we learned in the hearing that Blanton did not rush back to Congress on January 6th.
Blanton — in charge of physical security of the Capitol — says he was monitoring developments remotely during the insurrection. His exact whereabouts that day remain a mystery.
The inspector general’s report also said Blanton allowed his family to drive the law enforcement-equipped vehicles that were intended for his home to work use only. “Free gas” is how one of Blanton’s daughter allegedly described use of the cars.
Scripps News learns why a top official at the U.S. Capitol has been able to keep his job despite multiple claims of misconduct.LEARN MORE
Blanton told lawmakers he didn’t know if his wife and daughter ever drove the cars without him.
Blanton also disputed a claim that he impersonated law enforcement, another allegation in the IG report, when he pursued a driver after a hit and run incident.
Lawmakers also had questions about how often Blanton actually shows up to work. He was not in the office when Scripps News tried to find him last week, a day Congress was in session.
Following the hearing, Blanton declined to say if he intends to stay in his role.
The top Democrat on the committee called on Blanton to resign, saying he had provided “no meaningful or credible defense.”
As a Scripps News investigation has uncovered, the law is unclear on exactly who has the power to remove Blanton, who was appointed to a 10 year term by then president Donald Trump.
Congressman Bryan Steil chaired the committee hearing.
SCRIPPS NEWS' PATRICK TERPSTRA: Do you want [Blanton] to continue to serve as Architect of the Capitol?
CONGRESSMAN BRYAN STEIL: The decision of whether or not he serves as Architect of the Capitol is ultimately a decision for [the] president.
In a new statement to Scripps News, the White House said it takes concerns about Blanton very seriously, but declined to say whether President Biden plans to ask for Blanton's resignation.
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