Michael Stenger, 71, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms in charge of security at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, joins the list of key potential witnesses in the January 6 Capitol breach investigation who have died under mysterious circumstances. The Washington Post reports that Stenger “died of natural causes.”
WTOP reported that four other officials close to the January 6 event have died — three deaths were ruled “natural,” one death was ruled an “accident” and the fourth death was classified as a “homicide.”
The Associated Press reported that sources claim Stenger was fighting cancer, though no information on the type or severity of his cancer is available at this time.
Some have drawn parallels to the unexpected deaths of Karyn Kupcinet, Grant Stockdale, Gary Underhill, Hunter, Koethe & Howard, Mary Sherman, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Desmond FitzGerald, Lisa Howard, Winston Scott, Tyler & Kopechne, Kilgallen & Smith, and Bannister & Ferrie — all were potential witnesses in the Kennedy assassination investigation.
The Post adds:
Stenger had served in the role as the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate since 2018 and had previously worked for the U.S. Secret Service for more than three decades. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was majority leader at the time, requested Stenger’s resignation the day after the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, had vowed that he would fire Stenger when he became Senate majority leader later in the month.
Adding to speculation about the timing of his death, a source close to the January 6 committee reported investigators “recently obtained evidence and [would be] receiving witness testimony,” according to The Hill.
It is likely the January 6 select committee would consider Stenger a hostile witness, as he became a kind of scapegoat for the Capitol breach, leading him, the House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to resign their positions.
It is unclear whether the committee intended to call Stenger to provide additional testimony. The Washington Post noted:
Stenger and Irving testified to the Senate Rules Committee in February 2021 about security at the Capitol, the response to the attack and the decision in the days leading up to the riot — as members of the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the force — to not have the National Guard at the Capitol in order to quell any violence. Stenger was also mentioned extensively in the Committee’s report examining the attack.
The January 6 Committee is receiving pushback regarding the evidence they are allowing to be presented. This week officials and Secret Service agents roundly disputed Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony regarding former President Donald Trump’s interaction with security staff.
To the committee’s chagrin, two Secret Service agents publicly disputed Hutchinson’s testimony and offered to testify before the January 6 committee. No word yet on whether the committee will call them to testify.
The Associated Press tweeted:
“Bobby Engel, the agent who was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, a person familiar with the matter said.”
ABC News Executive Editorial Producer John Santucci tweeted:
“New: Source close to the Secret Service tells [ABC Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas] to expect the Secret Service to push back against any allegation of an assault against an agent or President Trump reaching for the steering wheel.”
NBC News’ chief White House correspondent, Peter Alexander, tweeted:
“A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.”
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