According to claims that he misappropriated federal funds and was not physically present on the Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, President Joe Biden removed Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton on Monday, a White House official said.
According to the official, Blanton was “terminated” by Biden after calls from both political parties, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, earlier on Monday for his dismissal or resignation. The White House representative stated, “After conducting our due diligence, the Architect of the Capitol was terminated at the President’s request.
In the fall, an inspector general’s investigation accused Blanton of misusing public resources and squandering taxpayer money by giving his family access to a government vehicle and using it for out-of-town vacations to South Carolina and Florida.
In addition, the federal watchdog charged Blanton, who had been appointed by previous President Donald Trump, with breaking the law when she offered to give “patriots” tours just weeks before the November 2020 election.
Members of the House Committee on Administration interrogated Blanton last week during a hearing to discuss a report from a federal watchdog. According to the investigation, Blanton misused public funds, broke ethical rules, and wasted tax dollars.
When it was revealed that Blanton was not physically present on Capitol grounds on the day of the uprising, January 6, 2021, politicians from both sides of the aisle jumped on the information during Thursday’s session.
In response to McCarthy’s request for Blanton to quit, CNN has contacted the Capitol’s Architect’s office. Blanton categorically rejected any unethical behavior during the hearing on Thursday.
“I wholeheartedly reject any assertion that I have engaged in unethical behavior during my service to this country while serving in this particular role; I have taken my commitment to transform the agency’s culture to promote a positive workplace for every AOC employee,” Blanton said. “Moreover, I have fully invested in ensuring that I meet the responsibilities and the expectations of this role.”
Blanton defended not being at the Capitol during the uprising in a conversation with the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, saying he couldn’t drive there because there were so many people on the grounds. Additionally, Blanton said that on January 6, he served as the mobile command center for the Architect of the Capitol while driving his official vehicle.
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Steil demanded Blanton’s resignation on Monday as well. Rep. Joe Morelle of New York, the ranking Democrat, and other members seized Blanton’s admission to inquire why he continued to be in the “mobile command center.”
“If you need to be tethered, and if you needed a vehicle to be here, why did you decide not to come here, and could you not have without the vehicle and all the emergency equipment attached to it? Could you not have fulfilled the same function at home using a cell phone?” Morelle asked Blanton.
In response, Blanton claimed that his home lacked the necessary tools and police radios. Blanton is one of the three members with voting rights on the board that manages the USCP.
He is in charge of the property management and operations of the Capitol. Democratic Rep. Norma Torres of California became visibly agitated as she described her time spent stranded on a balcony during the uprising.
“I am outraged that you would be in a comfortable place while the rest of us were thinking about dying that day and how we were going to come out alive that day; outrageous that you were not here,” she said.
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