Outgoing Capitol Police chief accuses House, Senate security officials of hindering efforts to call in National Guard

Julia Nikhinson

Outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund accused House and Senate security officials of hindering multiple efforts before and during the Capitol riot 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 count 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-Trump protests.

But Sund, who was officially replaced as Capitol Police 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.

“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 riot 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, he said. 

“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.

Pentagon officials have pointed to the fact that Capitol Police did not request D.C. National Guard ahead of the protest or ask for a riot contingency plan involving the Guard.

“We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said last week, according to the Post. “And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”

But Sund warns that “if they don’t get their act together with physical security, it’s going to happen again,” potentially at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

Tags Capitol Capitol breach Capitol police Capitol raid Capitol Riots D.C. National Guard Donald Trump Joe Biden National Guard Pentagon Pro-Trump riots Ryan McCarthy U.S. Capitol Police

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