According to outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, House and Senate security officials held up multiple efforts to call in the National Guard last week, both before and during the riots at the Capitol.
Via The Hill:
Sund told The Washington Post in an interview published Sunday night – his first since the events at the Capitol Wednesday — that he asked House and Senate security officials in the days before Congress was set to count the Electoral College votes to allow him to request the D.C. National Guard to be on standby in case troops were needed ahead of the pro-Trump protests.
But Sund, who was officially replaced as Capitol Police chief on Friday after his resignation, told the newspaper that the officials denied the request.
Sund reported that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of declaring an emergency ahead of the protests, and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger recommended Sund informally request the Guard to be ready.
Sund said that it was apparent the rally would be problematic, even if not to the extent that occurred: “We looked at the intelligence. We knew we would have large crowds, the potential for some violent altercations. I had nothing indicating we would have a large mob seize the Capitol.”
Sund “said his request ahead of the riot ended up being the first of six times his calls for assistance would be denied or postponed,” according to the report.
Sund said at about 2:26 p.m. he requested the Pentagon provide backup on a conference call. But a top Army official said he couldn’t recommend Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy authorize deployment, saying he didn’t “like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” the Post reported, citing participants in the call.
Pentagon officials have defended their response to the day’s events:
“We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said last week, according to the Post. “And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”
But Sund warns that “if they don’t get their act together with physical security, it’s going to happen again,” potentially at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Image credit: Screengrab / Washington Post / YouTube