Outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund accused House and Senate security officials of hindering multiple efforts before and during the Capitol riots to call in the National Guard.
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 county 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-President Trump protests.
But the Capitol Police chief, who was officially replaced as 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 for last Wednesday.
“We knew it would be bigger,” Sund told the Post. “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.”
The outgoing chief said his request ahead of the riots ended up being the first of six times his calls for assistance would be denied or postponed. When the pro-Trump mob reached the Capitol at about 12:40 p.m., it took about 15 minutes for the west side perimeter to be breached
“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,” he said.
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.
The first National Guard personnel ended up arriving at 5:40 p.m., after four of the now five deaths amid the riot had already occurred.
The Post could not reach Irving for comment, and Stenger declined to comment, telling a reporter, “I really don’t want to talk about it.” Both officials have resigned after the riot amid pressure from lawmakers.