National Security

Pence pleaded with military officials to ‘clear the Capitol’ on Jan. 6: AP

A previously undisclosed document from the Pentagon reportedly sheds light on the timeline of responses from federal government leaders on the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including a call from then-Vice President Mike Pence to clear the building hours before order was actually restored. 

The document, prepared for internal use by the Pentagon and obtained by The Associated Press, provides insight into the level of chaos and panic among a handful of senior White House aides, leaders of Congress and the vice president, who were all tasked with managing responses to the mob attack amid former President Trump’s inaction. 

According to the AP, the timeline shows that shortly after 4 p.m., two hours after rioters broke into the Capitol and as they continued to roam the building, Pence made a phone call from a secure room to then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. 

The document states that Pence told Miller the Capitol was not secure and demanded a deadline from military leaders on when they would be able to restore order. 

Information obtained by the AP indicated that Trump in a Jan. 3 Cabinet meeting approved the activation of the Washington, D.C., National Guard and told Miller to take any necessary action at the Stop the Steal rally events. 

However, the Guard’s role was restricted to traffic sections and checkpoints around D.C., with the Trump administration and Pentagon officials hesitant to display a heavy military presence following criticism over responses to civil unrest in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. 

On Jan. 6, as rioters began to approach the Capitol, then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund called Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, to request assistance.

As the rioters later entered the building, Sund called Walker again asking for at least 200 Guard members “and to send more if they are available.”

Shortly after 3 p.m., Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy gave “verbal approval” of the activation of 1,100 National Guard troops to support the D.C. police. 

Minutes later, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were calling the Pentagon for additional support, they were informed that additional Guard members had been approved. 

However, the AP noted that the Guard had prepared troops only for traffic duties, and law enforcement leaders spent roughly 90 minutes coordinating response plans and handing troops the necessary gear. 

Later in the afternoon, Pelosi and Schumer participated in a 30-minute call with military leaders and at one point accused “the National Security apparatus of knowing that protestors planned to conduct an assault on the Capitol,” the Pentagon’s timeline reportedly says. 

A Pentagon spokesperson said they were “not sure” which document the AP was referring to, but that the response of the National Guard was based on a request from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

“I can tell you the preparation and posture of the DC National Guard was based on the single request for assistance the Pentagon received from the DC Mayor for limited support, primarily for street closures and crowd control involving 340 DCNG at various locations around the District to facilitate and protect peaceful demonstrations,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hill. 

The new timeline comes after the Capitol Police’s Office of Inspector General said in a report obtained by CNN on Thursday that officers were supplied with aging equipment and failed to follow up on additional intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6 attack. 

Thursday’s report was the second from the inspector general’s office slamming “deficiencies” in the agency’s handling of intelligence leading up to the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol after issuing a similar report last week.

Updated: 3:35 p.m.

Tags Capitol breach Capitol insurrection Capitol Police Capitol riot Charles Schumer CNN D.C. National Guard Donald Trump Mike Pence Muriel Bowser Nancy Pelosi Pentagon Ryan McCarthy The Associated Press Washignton D.C. Washington
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