For the first time, we are hearing from Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund. He stepped down over the weekend amid accusations he botched security the day a mob took over the halls of Congress. In an interview with The Washington Post Sund said he was worried about the “pro-Trump crowds” coming to Washington and “asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.” But Sund says he was turned down multiple times. The newspaper writes:
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. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.
The Washington Post was unable to locate the House Sergeant at Arms for a comment and the Senate Sergeant at Arms simply told them “I really don’t want to talk about it.” Under pressure, both men have also resigned.
Getting approval to send the National Guard in while the building was being stormed wasn’t easy either. The Washington Post says House Sergeant Irving finally gave the approval to send in the National Guard at 2:10 pm, but it still had to go through other channels at the Pentagon. This is where he says he got more pushback, a claim the newspaper says is backed up by others on phone calls. Sund says Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff, was one of those not convinced. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser who was on one of the calls said, “There was some concern from the Army of what it would look like to have armed military personnel on the grounds of the Capitol.” Eventually the newspaper writes “Piatt responded that he wasn’t denying the request; he simply didn’t have the authority to approve it.”
The entire discussion was in vain. Only (Army Secretary Ryan) McCarthy, the secretary, could order the Guard deployed — and only with the approval of the Pentagon chief. McCarthy has since said that, at the time of the call, he was busy taking the requests to activate more Guard to acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller.
Miller finally approved the request at 3:04pm. It’s unclear what role other officials in the White House, including the president may have played in the delay.