Pentagon officials did not answer a request to deploy troops during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 for more than three hours, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard testified Wednesday.
Maj. Gen. William Walker said the head of the Capitol Police asked for help during the insurrection, and that senior Pentagon officials did not approve deploying the National Guard until three hours and 19 minutes later.
“At 1:49 p.m. I received a frantic call from then-Chief of U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter at the Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters,” Walker said during a Senate hearing. “Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency on Capitol Hill and requested the immediate assistance of as many Guardsmen as I could muster.”
Walker said he then went to Army leadership to ask for help.
“Immediately after the 1:49 p.m. call with Chief Sund, I alerted the Army Senior Leadership of the request,” Walker said. “The approval for Chief Sund’s request would eventually come from the Acting Secretary of Defense and be relayed to me by Army Senior Leaders at 5:08 p.m. — three hours and 19 minutes later.”
Sund, who resigned after facing calls to step down following the deadly attack, also blamed the Pentagon for being slow to deploy the National Guard in his own testimony last week. He said he had asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby days before the insurrection, but was turned down. House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said.
Walker said during his testimony that it was “unusual” that the request to have the National Guard on standby was turned down, considering that the Guard was given immediate approval to be on standby during last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in D.C.
Walker added that Sund had “passionately pleaded for the National Guard to get to the Capitol with all deliberate speed” the day of the insurrection, but “Army Senior Leaders did not think it would look good ― be a good optic ― to incite the crowd.”
Five people were killed in the riot, and 140 officers were injured.
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