Capitol Police chief sought DC National Guard help before riots – but was denied by supervisors: report
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The U.S. Capitol Police chief who was in charge during last week’s deadly riots reportedly asked his supervisors ahead of time for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be on standby if the situation spiraled out of control – but was denied.
Steven Sund, who resigned from the position as of Friday, revealed the plea this week in an interview with The Washington Post.
“If we would have had the National Guard we could have held them at bay longer, until more officers from our partner agencies could arrive,” Sund told the newspaper, describing how the deadly Jan. 6 storming of Capitol Hill by a pro-Trump crowd might have unfolded differently.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifies during a hearing on its fiscal year 2021 budget request on Feb. 11. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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The Washington Post reports that on the Monday before the riot, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request the Guard be placed on standby in case he needed hasty backup.
But Sund told the newspaper that House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving rebuffed the idea, arguing he was uncomfortable with the “optics” that such a move would bring in advance of Wednesday’s protest. Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger told Sund that he should informally reach out to his contacts at the Guard and ask them to “lean forward” and be on alert, he added.
Sund said he followed Stenger’s advice and called the head of the D.C. National Guard that night, who allegedly told him he believed he could get 125 personnel to the scene quickly if needed. The police chief then briefed Irving and Stenger on that information Tuesday and Stenger said the backup – which also included an offering from the Metropolitan Police Department to potentially lend a hand — seemed sufficient, according to Sund’s interview with The Washington Post.
Both Irving and Stenger – like Sund – have since resigned from their posts in the fallout of the riots.
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The National Guard did eventually arrive at the Capitol on Wednesday, but not until 5:40 p.m. — after four people died and security was breached, according to The Washington Post.
Pentagon officials stated last week that Capitol Police never requested D.C. National Guard backup before Wednesday and later made an urgent request as the pro-Trump mob was about to breach the Capitol building, the newspaper adds.
“We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman was quoted as saying. “And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”
Sund also told The Washington Post that he now believes the suspected pipe bombs found in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday were deliberately placed in order to draw officers away from the Capitol building.
“As soon as they hit the fence line, the fight was on,” Sund told the newspaper. “Violent confrontations from the start. They came with riot helmets, gas masks, shields, pepper spray, fireworks, climbing gear — climbing gear! — explosives, metal pipes, baseball bats. I have never seen anything like it in 30 years of events in Washington.”
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The Capitol Police has since been facing bipartisan criticism for its handling of the riots.
“The problem with the Capitol Police is that they think they are going to be defending democracy and they spend all day going through women’s purses,” a Congressional source told Fox News on Sunday.
Sund has defended his rank-and-file’s actions, writing in a statement last week that “USCP officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building.”
The Capitol Police did manage to escort all 99 Senators, Vice President Mike Pence, journalists and aides to safety out of the Senate Chamber before the chaos unfolded.
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But lawmakers are still frustrated that they haven’t been given a full explanation as to why the situation became as dire as it did.
“One thing that disturbs me a lot in the wake of the deadly terrorist coup attempt: four days later, we STILL have not had a single public briefing by federal security officials. Not the FBI, not DOJ, not Homeland Security, not Capitol Police, not the military,” Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said Sunday. “You’d think one or all of these agencies would be answering questions and trying to assure the country the security threat is under control. That’s standard procedure after any event like this. The silence is deafening.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
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