As crime escalated out of control on Jan. 6, an urgent request for the National Guard was made by the head of the Capitol Police. To be accepted, it took almost two hours.
From 1:09 p.m. Minutes after demonstrators broke through the barricades across the U.S. on Jan. 6, The Chief of the Capitol Police made a desperate call for help and started using the steel debris to attack the officers standing watch. It took officials nearly two hours to approve the National Guard deployment.
New descriptions of what happened on that dark, violent day over those 115 minutes, exposed in interviews and journals, tell a tale of how chaotic decision-making among political and military leaders burned precious time as the Capitol rioting spiraled out of control.
Breakdowns of communication, inaction and uncertainty about who had the authority to call for the National Guard postponed the deployment of hundreds of soldiers who might have helped contain the violence that raged for hours.
This era is likely to be the subject of a congressional hearing on Tuesday, when lawmakers will publicly question for the first time Steven A. Sund, the then Chief of the Capitol Police, and other current and former officials about the security violations that led to that day’s abuse.
Said Senator Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire, “Capitol security leaders must address the decision not to approve the National Guard request, failures in interagency coordination and information sharing, and how the threat intelligence they had before Jan. 6 informed their security decisions leading up to that day.”
Some American officials have said that it was well past the time when the urgent request came to the Pentagon on the afternoon of January 6 that National Guard troops should deploy fast enough to keep the Capitol from storming. But law enforcement sources pointed out that any missed minute was crucial during a melee that lasted hours.
For 61 minutes after he called for support from the National Guard, Chief Sund did not hear back. And even then, there was a catch: the Pentagon had the final say, while Capitol security officials had accepted his application. A top general said during a tense phone call that started 18 minutes later that he did not like the “visual” of the army protecting the Capitol and that he would suggest that the Army secretary refuse the appeal.
At 3:04 p.m., Pentagon approval eventually arrived. Two and a half hours later, the first deployment of National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol.