D.C. National Guard Maj. Gen. William J. Walker testified before members of Congress on Wednesday that it took over three hours on Jan. 6 before senior Army officials approved a request for National Guard troops to be sent to the Capitol as rioters stormed the building.
Walker revealed that Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt advised against sending National Guard to the Capitol due to optics.
There was also a 36-minute delay from the time the Department of Defense approved the request at 4:32 p.m. to when Guardsmen left for the Capitol.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the top Republican on the Rules Committee, pointed out the problem with the lag time when the attack had gone on for hours.
“I think that’s very concerning,” Blunt said. “I mean one of the questions I asked looking at their own timeline is how could it have been more than half an hour when the acting Secretary of Defense and Gen. Walker to implement [the] decision.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that while every minute passed, “there was someone hiding behind doors not knowing if they would stay alive or die.” She said having 150 trained National Guard members there even an hour or two hours sooner would have made a major difference.
Blunt also raised the question as to whether former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy would be called in to testify.
“I think you should be concerned that [Chief of Capitol Police, Steven] Sund was not allowed to contact me in advance,” Walker said later in the hearing. “The request did take too long, so I think there needs to be a study done to make sure that never happens again. It shouldn’t take three hours to respond to an urgent request.”
“I think Capitol Police should have been empowered to request National Guard assistance,” he added, stressing the Department of Defense should consider how the D.C. National Guard can respond in a more expeditious matter.
Delivering his opening statement before a Senate committee, Walker testified that D.C. National Guard watched, starting at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, as the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) began to deploy all available resources in support of the Capitol Police, as officers withdrew from traffic control points jointly manned with D.C. Guardsmen.
“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. “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.”
“Immediately after the 1:49 p.m. call with Chief Sund, I alerted the Army Senior Leadership of the request,” he continued.
“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,” Walker said, explaining that Guardsmen were already on buses ready to move to the Capitol.
“Consequently, at 5:20 p.m., in under 20 minutes, the District of Columbia National Guard arrived at the Capitol,” he continued. “We helped to reestablish the security perimeter at the east side of the Capitol to facilitate the resumption of the Joint Session of Congress.”
Walker also testified that over the summer he was “immediately” able to receive approval to respond to Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, adding that “optics” were never discussed then.
Those testifying were Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard; Melissa Smislova, senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary in the office of intelligence and analysis for the Department of Homeland Security; Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division; and Robert Salesses, senior official performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense with the Defense Department’s Homeland Defense and Global Security Office.
So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether to and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress.
At a previous Senate hearing last week, officials who had been in charge of security at the Capitol ‒ namely former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving ‒ gave conflicting accounts regarding when a request for National Guard support was submitted on Jan. 6.
Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated.
Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of former President Donald Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat.
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the report of the upcoming riot was disseminated in three ways: by email through FBI’s joint terrorism task force, verbally, discussed at a command post; and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies.
Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.”
“That information was quickly, as in within an hour, disseminated and communicated with our partners including the U.S. Capitol Police,” Wray said, admitting he did not see the memo himself until after Jan. 6.
Wray also revealed that the FBI has some 2,000 investigations open nationwide in connection to the riot.
So far, he said evidence collected has not indicated Antifa or “fake Trump supporters” were involved in the riot but it did include militia groups and White supremacists, namely Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- [LLODO] ‘Clear the Capitol,’ Pence pleaded, timeline of riot shows
- [LLODO] Suspect in Capitol riot allegedly ‘severely beaten’ by DC jail guards
- [LLODO] Capitol officer remembered for humor, paying ultimate price
- [LLODO] Capitol police officer who survived fatal car-ramming attack released from hospital as motive remains unclear
- [LLODO] Latest attack pushes US Capitol Police further toward crisis
- [LLODO] Capitol riot suspect charged with using ‘electroshock weapon,’ flagpole to assault DC police officer
- [LLODO] Capitol Police officers involved in the Jan. 6th riot now sharing their stories on USCP social media platforms
- [LLODO] Capitol riot fallout: Ex-Special Forces soldier Jeffrey McKellop, accused of attacking police, denied bond
- [LLODO] Detective divorcing wife after she was seen in videos at US Capitol riot with other man