Senior Pentagon officials took more than three hours to approve sending National Guard troops to the Capitol as it was being violently breached on Jan. 6, even as troops were loaded on buses and ready to go, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard testified Wednesday.
William Walker told senators that senior Pentagon leaders did not approve then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s “frantic” request until three hours and 19 minutes after Sund’s initial plea. Walker said he received Sund’s call for aid at 1:49 p.m. and raced to send the request to senior Pentagon officials.
“We already had Guardsmen on buses ready to move to the Capitol,” Walker wrote in his prepared remarks to two Senate committees that will hold a hearing on the Jan. 6 insurrection.
But Walker says he didn’t get approval until after 5 p.m. — well after rioters had overtaken the Capitol, sending lawmakers fleeing for safety. He singled out then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in particular as he described the slow-walking of Sund’s request.
“Consequently, at 5:20pm (in under 20 minutes) the District of Columbia National Guard arrived at the Capitol,” Walker wrote. “We helped to re-establish the security perimeter at the east side of the Capitol to facilitate the resumption of the Joint Session of Congress.”
Walker’s testimony adds a new piece to the puzzle of security lapses and miscommunications that enabled a violent mob to ransack the Capitol and delay the certification of the 2020 election results. He is the latest official to suggest that senior military leaders were partly responsible for tying the hands of the security officials on the ground as they hustled to respond to the threat.
Walker also agreed with Capitol security officials that Pentagon leaders gave a tepid response to urgent pleas for aid during a 2:30 p.m. call on Jan. 6.
“The Army senior leaders did not think it would look good” to send troops to the Capitol and also worried about further incitement of the violent mob, Walker said.