Capitol’s Former Security Officials Point to Intelligence Failures Before Riot

Date: 2021-02-23T13:45:05.000Z


Three former top Capitol security officials deflected responsibility at a Senate hearing on Tuesday for security failures that contributed to the Jan. 6 riot, blaming other agencies, each other and at one point even a subordinate for the breakdowns that allowed hundreds of Trump supporters to storm the Capitol.

Their testimony illustrated the chaos of the day, suggesting that officials were reluctant to accept responsibility for the politically charged issue of calling in National Guard troops even as the violence escalated. It also showed that the overlapping jurisdictions of the Capitol Police, the District of Columbia government and other agencies created utter confusion that hindered attempts to stop the most violent assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

The officials testified that the F.B.I. and the intelligence community had failed to provide adequate warnings that rioters planned to seize the Capitol and that the Pentagon was too slow after the attack began to authorize Guard troops to help overwhelmed police. They also gave their own conflicting accounts of communicating with each other as they sought to quell the riot in its early minutes.

“None of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred,” the former Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund told senators. He called the riot “the worst attack on law enforcement and our democracy that I have seen” and said he witnessed insurrectionists assaulting officers not only with their fists, but also with pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades and flagpoles.

“These criminals came prepared for war,” Mr. Sund said.

He and two of the other officials — the former House sergeant-at-arms, Paul D. Irving, and his Senate counterpart, Michael C. Stenger, the top two security officials at the Capitol on the day of the assault — did acknowledge their own mistakes, as well. Mr. Sund admitted that his staff had never trained for such a wide-scale intrusion and lacked proper protective equipment.

Coming a month and a half after the siege, the testimony was the first high-profile public hearing in what is expected to be a lengthy series of investigations into the attack. It provided the most detailed account of the security mistakes leading up to — and during — the nearly five-hour siege.

Senators deemed the lapses a “failure of imagination” to consider that hundreds of rioters would be willing to storm the Capitol — a refrain frequently invoked by officials nearly two decades ago to explain the security breakdown that led to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Former President Donald J. Trump was rarely mentioned during the nearly four-hour hearing, despite his perpetuation of the baseless claims of widespread election fraud and his encouragement of his supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6 to pressure lawmakers to stop the certification of the presidential election. Senate aides said lawmakers coming off the impeachment this month wanted to focus more narrowly on security issues.

Neither F.B.I. nor Pentagon officials appeared at the hearing on Tuesday, but they are expected to testify next week as the homeland security and rules panels continue their joint investigation.

President Biden’s cabinet took steps toward belated completion on Tuesday with the confirmation of a United Nations ambassador and an agriculture secretary, but other top posts remained locked in partisan hearings.

The race to question prospective cabinet officials led to overlapping hearings throughout the morning, as Democrats labored to staff key roles that most of Mr. Biden’s predecessors had filled much earlier in their first terms.

The Senate voted to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield, 68, as the U.N. ambassador and Thomas J. Vilsack, 70, as the secretary of agriculture. Both Ms. Thomas-Greenfield and Mr. Vilsack were confirmed by comfortable margins, with senators approving Mr. Vilsack in a 92 to 7 vote to become the agriculture secretary for the second time after serving in the role under former President Barack Obama.

Earlier in the day, the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up a second day of questioning Mr. Biden’s attorney general nominee, Merrick B. Garland, 68. Mr. Garland’s hearing was again predominantly civil and straightforward, with members of both parties continuing to strike the same deferential tone they set in praising his qualifications on Monday.

The atmosphere was less easygoing in other committee rooms.

Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, Mr. Biden’s pick for interior secretary, faced a litany of questions over the fierce stance she has taken in the past against fossil fuels, particularly from senators who represent states still reliant on fossil fuel extraction.

Ms. Haaland sought to play down her past activism.

“If I’m confirmed as secretary, it’s President Biden’s agenda, not my own agenda, that I would be moving forward,” she said.

She will appear before the committee for a second day on Wednesday.

Tuesday also marked the first of two challenging confirmation hearings for Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California and Mr. Biden’s nominee for secretary of health and human services.

In contentious questioning, Republican members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee sought to portray Mr. Becerra, who has little experience in public health, as unqualified, while painting his positions on abortion and health care as radical.

Mr. Becerra, who will lead an extensive coronavirus vaccination effort if confirmed, said he sought to focus on the country’s most immediate challenges stemming from the pandemic and to find opportunities to compromise on more politicized health policies.

“When I come to these issues, I understand that we may not always agree on where to go,” he said, “but I think we can find some common ground.”

On Wednesday, senators will take up William J. Burns’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, and on Thursday they will turn to Katherine C. Tai’s nomination to serve as the United States trade representative.

President Biden spoke by video conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Tuesday, trying in his first virtual meeting with a foreign leader to restore a sense of normalcy to a core relationship brusquely upended by former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump often cast America’s northern neighbor, close ally and key trading partner as an economic predator and insulted Mr. Trudeau as “two-faced,” “weak” and “dishonest.” Tuesday’s tone could hardly have been more different.

“The United States has no closer friend than Canada,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Trudeau just before their meeting. “We’re all best served when the United States and Canada work together and lead together.”

“U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Mr. Trudeau responded.

As a matter of diplomacy, the meeting was a somewhat stilted affair and a reminder of the persistence of the coronavirus. Ordinarily, Mr. Biden would have hosted Mr. Trudeau in the Oval Office, where cameras would have captured them seated next to each other in a classic Washington tableau.

As a matter of diplomacy, the meeting was a somewhat stilted affair and a reminder of the persistence of the coronavirus. Ordinarily, Mr. Biden would have hosted Mr. Trudeau in the Oval Office, where cameras would have captured them seated next to each other in a classic Washington tableau.

Instead, Mr. Biden sat at the head of a long wooden table in the White House’s Roosevelt Room and interacted with a two-dimensional Mr. Trudeau, who appeared on a television monitor perhaps 20 feet away. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.

Even through a distant screen, however, Mr. Trudeau was plainly relieved to be in the virtual presence of a new American president after the havoc Mr. Trump wreaked on one of the world’s most placid cross-border relationships.

In addition to belittling Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Trump imposed a 10 percent tariff on Canadian aluminum imports. “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” Mr. Trump said when he renewed the tariff in August.

“It’s so great to see you, Joe,” Mr. Trudeau said on Tuesday, adding that he was “really excited” to be working with the United States again on climate change, a top priority for the Canadian leader as well as Mr. Biden.

With President Biden’s aides struggling to find innovative ways to retaliate against Russia for the most sophisticated hacking of government and corporations in history, key senators and corporate executives warned on Tuesday that the “scope and scale” of the operation were unclear, and that the attack might still be continuing.

“Who knows the entirety of what happened here?” Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. “Right now, the attacker” — which appears to be the S.V.R., one of Russia’s main intelligence agencies — “is the only one who knows the entirety of what they did.” Microsoft was one of the first to raise the alarm about the intrusion into networks across the government and private sector.

The hearing was a rare public airing of one of the biggest failures of American intelligence since Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: an assault on the “supply chain” of network management software used by governments and most of the nation’s largest companies.

The National Security Agency, despite spending billions of dollars planting sensors in networks around the world, missed the evidence for more than a year — a point made by Democratic and Republican senators, who asked how long the United States would have remained in the dark.

“It could have been exponentially worse,” Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said at the end of two and a half hours of testimony.

In fact, it may prove to be worse. At a White House briefing last week, Anne Neuberger, President Biden’s new national security adviser for cyber and emerging threats, said the White House was preparing a comprehensive response because of “the ability of this to become disruptive.” She was referring to the possibility that the same access that gave the Russians the ability to steal data could, in the next phase of an operation, enable them to alter or destroy it.

But no representative of the United States’ intelligence agencies, chiefly the National Security Agency, appeared at the hearing. Several senators castigated executives of Amazon Web Services for declining to attend. Amazon’s absence left no one to explain how the Russian hackers secretly used its servers inside the United States to run command-and-control centers to carry out the operation, stripping emails and other data from what Ms. Neuberger said were at least nine government agencies and more than 100 companies.

Mr. Biden’s aides are contemplating a range of responses that his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, referred to over the weekend as “a mix of tools seen and unseen.”

Mr. Sullivan promised that when a response came, it would “not simply be sanctions,” the most common way the government reacted in response to North Korea’s attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and Iran’s attacks on American banks and a dam in Westchester County, N.Y.

Those options, according to officials familiar with the discussions, include variants of steps that President Barack Obama considered and rejected after the 2016 hacking of state election systems. They included using cybertools to reveal or freeze assets secretly held by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, exposure of his links to oligarchs or technological moves to break through Russian censorship to help dissidents communicate to the Russian people at a moment of political protest.

But the subtext of much of the testimony was that Russia’s intelligence services might have laced American networks with “backdoor” access. And that possibility — just the fear of it — could constrain the kind of punishment that Mr. Biden metes out.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said on Tuesday that he believed Donald J. Trump would win the Republican nomination for president if he ran for his former office in 2024, another indication of Mr. Trump’s perceived strength in the party.

“I don’t know if he’ll run in 2024 or not, but if he does, I’m pretty sure he will win the nomination,” Mr. Romney said at the DealBook DC Policy Project.

Mr. Romney noted that “a lot can happen between now and 2024,” but he added, “I look at the polls, and the polls show that among the names being floated as potential contenders in 2024, if you put President Trump in there among Republicans, he wins in a landslide.”

Mr. Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, is the sole Republican senator who voted to convict Mr. Trump at both of his impeachment trials.

Asked by The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin whether he would campaign against Mr. Trump, Mr. Romney responded: “I would not be voting for President Trump again. I haven’t voted for him in the past. And I would probably be getting behind somebody who I thought more represented the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent.”

Mr. Romney’s comments were a clear sign of Mr. Trump’s enduring position in the Republican Party, even after his election defeat last year and his impeachment on a charge of inciting the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“He has by far the largest voice and a big impact in my party,” Mr. Romney said.

President Biden said on Tuesday that he still had confidence in Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, even as her nomination teetered in the Senate amid opposition from crucial lawmakers.

“We’re going to push. We still think there’s a shot, a good shot,” Mr. Biden said following a round table at the White House with Black essential workers.

One day after two moderate Republicans said they would oppose Ms. Tanden’s confirmation, sparking speculation that her name could be quickly withdrawn, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Biden’s focus remained on getting her confirmed.

“There’s one candidate to lead the budget department; her name is Neera Tanden,” Ms. Psaki said on Tuesday.

Ms. Psaki would not say if the White House had a backup plan in the event that Ms. Tanden withdrew her name or her nomination failed, dismissing a question about whether Mr. Biden was considering any fallback options, including Gene Sperling, a former National Economic Council director, or Ann O’Leary, the former chief of staff to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.

Some House Democrats have also been lobbying for the job to go to Shalanda Young, the first Black woman to serve as staff director for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, who is Mr. Biden’s pick to be the No. 2 at the budget agency.

Ms. Tanden has now had a total of 44 meetings with senators from both parties, Ms. Psaki said, and the White House is continuing to work the phones to gather sufficient support.

“She’s committed to rolling up her sleeves, having those conversations, answering questions as they come up, reiterating her commitment to working with people across the aisle and also sharing some of her own experience of working with people of different viewpoints,” Ms. Psaki of Ms. Tanden.

Ms. Tanden’s nomination is endangered largely because of statements she made in the past, particularly on social media, in which she leveled partisan and often personal criticism at lawmakers in both parties.

She would need the support of at least one Republican to be confirmed, after Senator Joe Manchin III, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia, announced he would not support her. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah (an earlier version incorrectly identified his home state as Massachusetts) said on Monday that they would also oppose her confirmation.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, on Tuesday privately counseled members of the Republican conference during their weekly lunch to remain united in opposition to Ms. Tanden, according to two people familiar with the discussion. One moderate Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has repeatedly declined to say whether or not she will support Ms. Tanden.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, on Tuesday called on her party to “make clear that we aren’t the party of white supremacy,” arguing that elected Republicans must forcefully condemn those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

“It’s very important for us to ignore the temptation to look away” from the attack, Ms. Cheney said during a virtual foreign policy event hosted by the Reagan Institute. “It’s very important, especially for us as Republicans, to make clear that we aren’t the party of white supremacy.”

“You saw the symbols of Holocaust denial, for example, at the Capitol that day; you saw the Confederate flag being carried through the rotunda, and I think we as Republicans in particular, have a duty and an obligation to stand against that, to stand against insurrection.”

The remarks by Ms. Cheney, the only Republican leader to vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump for inciting the insurrection on Congress, are some of the most forceful comments yet to come from party leaders in the aftermath of the riot. And they cemented what had long been assumed: that despite facing internal rebukes and political blowback at home for her unsparing indictment of Mr. Trump’s role in the insurrection, Ms. Cheney has no intention of moderating her criticism of the former president.

Allies of Mr. Trump were infuriated by Ms. Cheney’s decision last month to vote to impeach him. In Wyoming, the state Republican Party censured her, citing the vote, and called on her to resign.

Some Republicans in Congress retaliated by forcing an internal conference vote in a bid to strip her of her leadership position. Ms. Cheney ultimately held onto her leadership post in a lopsided secret-ballot vote, despite refusing to apologize for voting to impeach Mr. Trump.

On Tuesday she redoubled her criticism of Mr. Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riot, calling his blasé response while lawmakers were under attack an “existential threat to who we are” that “can’t be minimized or trivialized, and it can never happen again.”

Ms. Cheney also assailed the “America First” foreign policy Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress had championed, calling the ideas behind them “just as dangerous today as they were in 1940 when isolationists launched the America First movement to appease Hitler and prevent America from aiding Britain in the fight against the Nazis.”

“Isolationism was wrong and dangerous then and it is wrong and dangerous now,” she said.

She also extended her criticism to media outlets that falsely reported that the presidential election was fraudulent or stolen, accusing them of “contributing to a very dangerous set of circumstances.”

Her comments were in sharp contrast to those made by her fellow House Republican leaders. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican, on Sunday refused to concede that the election was not “stolen” from Mr. Trump, arguing simultaneously that President Biden was the “legitimate” president but that several states did not administer their election laws correctly. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, has offered a series of shifting comments around whether Mr. Trump bears responsibility for the riot.

Republican lawmakers “who take our oaths and obligations seriously,” Ms. Cheney said, “will steer our party and our nation into the future. We will right the unforgivable wrongs of Jan. 6.”

In the author Louise Penny’s upcoming thriller, a novice secretary of state faces the daunting task of rebuilding American leadership after years of diminishing influence abroad. She is immediately put to the test when a wave of terrorist attacks threatens to destabilize the world order.

A topical political thriller represents new territory for Ms. Penny, who is best known for writing intricate murder mysteries set in a quiet Canadian town. But she had a political veteran on hand to help shape the plot: her co-author and friend, the former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Their new novel, “State of Terror,” will be published in October by Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s Press, Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Penny’s respective publishers. Jennifer Enderlin, the president and publisher of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group, will edit it.

“When it was suggested my friend Hillary and I write a political thriller together, I could not say yes fast enough,” Ms. Penny said in a statement. “Before we started, we talked about her time as secretary of state. What was her worst nightmare? ‘State of Terror’ is the answer.”

The White House said on Tuesday that weekly shipments of coronavirus vaccines to the states would rise by one million doses to 14.5 million, as vaccine manufacturers continue to ramp up production.

The figure was provided to governors in a call with Jeffrey Zeints, the president’s coronavirus response coordinator, said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Tuesday. With tens of millions of eligible Americans waiting to get shots, state officials have been clamoring for more vaccine, saying health practitioners could easily double or triple the number of shots they are administering.

Ms. Psaki said the increase was the fifth boost in distribution in five weeks, and said it came just short of doubling the vaccine shipments underway at the time Mr. Biden took office on Jan. 20.

Before snowstorms disrupted vaccine distribution last week, the average number of daily doses administered across the country had been steadily increasing as the two federally approved vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, get more efficient and expand production. While that acceleration was expected well before Mr. Biden assumed office, officials have been anxious to highlight every increase in shipments as evidence that the new administration is fiercely battling the pandemic. As of Tuesday, the seven-day average rate of doses administered across the country was 1.4 million a day, after peaking at about 1.7 million before the storms, according to a New York Times vaccine database.

Many vaccination appointments last week that were postponed by snowstorms and other disruptive weather are resuming this week. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said vaccinations would start back up again on Tuesday at all of the city-run sites and indicated that people whose inoculations had been delayed by the weather would be given priority over those making new appointments.

At a congressional hearing Tuesday morning, top officials from Pfizer and Moderna reiterated previous supply commitments in front of lawmakers Both firms promised earlier this month to deliver a total of 400 million doses by the end of May, weeks ahead of schedule, and a total of 600 million by the end of July.

John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, testified that his firm will be able to ship more than 13 million doses per week by mid-March, compared to a weekly shipment of just four to five million at the start of this month. He cited a variety of reasons, including federal regulatory approval to count each vial as holding six doses instead of five, more efficient production processes and faster laboratory tests of the vaccine before it is shipped.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, testified that his company expects to double its current shipments to more than 10 million per week by April.

More supply is expected to come from Johnson & Johnson, but not as quickly as federal officials initially had hoped. Federal regulators are widely expected to grant emergency use authorization for that vaccine by early next week.

Dr. Richard Nettles, a company vice president testified that the firm is prepared to deliver 20 million doses of its vaccine by the end of March. Of that, he said, nearly four million doses could be shipped as soon as the Food and Drug Administration gives the firm the green light. Unlike the other two authorized vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s requires only one dose.

Dr. Nettles’s testimony was the first public indication by the company of how many doses it could supply before April.

His promise falls short of the 37 million doses that Johnson & Johnson’s federal contract called for it to deliver by the end of March. Asked what accounted for the gap, Dr. Nettles did not directly answer. But he implied that the company would catch up, saying the firm will deliver the entire 100 million doses it has promised by the end of June, as the contract requires.

Together with the deliveries from Moderna and Pfizer, which developed its vaccine with a German partner, BioNTech, the new supply from Johnson & Johnson would mean that the nation would have enough doses on hand by the end of next month to vaccinate about 130 million Americans. That would cover roughly half of all eligible adults and 40 percent of the total population.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, will travel to Texas on Friday to meet with local officials in the aftermath of the devastating winter storms that knocked out power and water for millions, his first visit to the site of a natural disaster since taking office.

Mr. Biden and Dr. Biden will travel to Houston, where they will review recovery efforts and meet with officials working on the effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters in her daily briefing.

Ms. Psaki said other details of their itinerary were still being ironed out.

“We of course remain in close touch with state and local elected officials to monitor the recovery,” she added.

Even as power and water is restored, nearly ten million people in the region are still under boil-water orders to deal with potential contamination of supplies affected by power outages that took their filtration systems offline, Ms. Psaki said, citing statistics compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Earlier in the day, FEMA officials announced they were expanding a program to allow homeowners and renters in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma hit by the storm to apply for individual disaster assistance.

On Saturday, Mr. Biden approved a major disaster declaration in Texas, a technical designation that accelerates federal aid, in the form of emergency loans and grants to individuals and businesses impacted by the storm.

Federal officials are also helping local governments deal with disruptions to the vaccination distribution system caused by the weather.

Mr. Biden said last week that he planned to visit Texas, but he expressed reluctance to do so in the early stages of the recovery to avoid inconveniencing local officials with the daunting logistics of a presidential visit.

“As I said when I ran, I’m going to be a president for all Americans,” said Mr. Biden, who lost Texas in the 2020 election to former President Donald J. Trump by about five percentage points. “If I can do it without creating a burden for folks, I plan on going.”

Mr. Biden and his team have been holding conference calls with local mayors, county officials and the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, White House officials said.

It is not clear if Mr. Abbott, a Republican, will be meeting with Mr. Biden when he visits. A message left with his office was not immediately returned.

Less than a week after his instantly infamous escape to Mexico during the historic winter storm in Texas, Senator Ted Cruz has alighted on who he believes is the episode’s true villain: the media.

During an appearance on a podcast hosted by Josh Holmes, a former aide and close adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, Mr. Cruz criticized paparazzi for photographing his bikini-clad wife, Heidi, on the beach in Cancún, the New York Post for publishing the pictures, a reporter who wrote about his dog, Snowflake, and neighbors who leaked text messages that revealed the origin of the Cruz family trip was not what Mr. Cruz had said publicly.

“Heidi is smoking hot, so I said ‘Man, you look great,’” Mr. Cruz said. “I don’t think there are many women who would be thrilled to have reporters following them around taking pictures of them in their bikinis and sticking them in the pages of the New York Post, but that’s what goes by journalism these days.”

Mr. Cruz said his wife was angry that her text messages, first published by The New York Times, inviting their Houston neighbors to travel with them to Cancún in the midst of statewide power outages had been leaked and was investigating who betrayed her confidence. Mr. Cruz said he suspected it was one of his Democratic neighbors.

“She was over at our neighbor’s house walking through it,” he said. “We have folks on our street who put up Beto signs, which I thought was pretty rude.”

The two-term senator, who ran for president in 2016 and has not extinguished his White House ambitions, did not acknowledge it was wrong to leave his state as it was being battered by a deadly storm for a trip to the beach. (Though he acknowledged the trip was “obviously a mistake” after returning from Mexico.) Instead, he said on the podcast that his constituents and the news media should cut him a break.

“Treat each other as human beings,” Mr. Cruz said. “Have some modicum of respect. We just need to laugh a little bit and loosen up.”

Former Senator David Perdue of Georgia has decided he will not run against an incumbent Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock, in 2022, just a week after Mr. Perdue announced he had filed paperwork for a possible new campaign, and just days after a visit to former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Perdue, 71, a Republican and a former businessman who lost in a January runoff election to the state’s other newly elected senator, Jon Ossoff, said in a statement that he had reached the decision after “much prayer and reflection” with his wife, Bonnie.

Mr. Warnock defeated Kelly Loeffler, who was also a Republican incumbent, in January, winning a term that expires in January 2023. The two Republican losses handed control of the Senate to Democrats.

There were conflicting signals from people close to Mr. Perdue about how much a 2022 campaign was something he was interested in versus something some of his advisers were pushing. In a post on Twitter on Tuesday, Mr. Perdue called it “a personal decision, not a political one.”

But the announcement came just days after Mr. Perdue made what is becoming a ritualistic trip for Republicans — to former President Donald J. Trump’s private club in Florida, for dinner and a lengthy round of golf last Friday. That raised questions among some Republicans about what Mr. Trump had said to him during their time together.

The meeting did not go well, people briefed on it said. Mr. Trump was focused on retribution, particularly against Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, and Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican whom Mr. Trump views as having betrayed him.

Two Republicans, one in Atlanta and another in Washington, separately said that Mr. Trump spent much of his conversation with Mr. Perdue making clear his determination to unseat Georgia’s governor next year. Trying to navigate a feud between the former president and his state’s sitting governor for the next two years was deeply unappealing to Mr. Perdue, according to a Georgia Republican who knows the former senator.

One of the people briefed on the meeting with Mr. Trump said it appeared to be a factor in Mr. Perdue’s decision not to run. But the second person said the biggest factor was how draining another campaign and then potentially six more years in the Senate would be.

Now the question in Georgia is whether the 2022 race will become a replay of 2020, when Ms. Loeffler and former Representative Doug Collins competed with each other to run against Mr. Warnock.

Yet after Ms. Loeffler sprinted to the right to fend off Mr. Collins, another hard-line Trump favorite, it’s unclear whether she’d want to run the same kind of primary. While Mr. Trump has publicly encouraged Mr. Collins to challenge Mr. Kemp, most Georgia Republicans believe Mr. Collins is more inclined to run for the Senate.

Mr. Perdue said that he was “confident” that any candidate the Republicans nominated would defeat Mr. Warnock, adding, “I will do anything I can to make that happen.”

A message to Mr. Perdue’s spokesman was not immediately returned.

In his statement on Tuesday, Mr. Perdue echoed Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in the state and called on Republican officials in Georgia to change state laws and election rules “so that, in the future, every legal voter will be treated equally and illegal votes will not be included.”

State election officials have repeatedly said that illegal voting had no impact on the outcome of either the November general election or the January runoffs.