Outgoing Capitol police chief says supervisors denied requests for National Guard ahead of Trump protest

‘If we would have had the National Guard we could have held them at bay longer’

Louise Hall
Monday 11 January 2021 20:24
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Trump supporters clash with police on Capitol steps

The outgoing Chief of the Capitol police has said that initial requests for extra assistance from the National Guard ahead of the demonstration on 6 January were rejected by House of Representatives and Senate security officials.

The former chief of the federal force, Steven Sund, told The Washington Post that he had asked for permission to request that the DC National Guard be placed on standby during the protest.

Mr Sund, who has since agreed to step down from his post on 16 January following the insurrection, said his request for help was rejected or delayed six times by House and Senate security officials.

The claim marks a departure from assertions of other branches of government that the police force had not asked for help or planned for contingency ahead of the demonstration.

Following question marks over underwhelming authoritative presence during the riots, Pentagon officials said the Capitol Police did not request more people to secure the event.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said during a news conference last week: “We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation.

“And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”

House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving has not yet responded after being contacted by The Independent, and  Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger has also yet to publicly comment. Both men have resigned following pressure from lawmakers.

The Office of the Sergeant at Arms did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

During the riot, it became quickly apparent that the Capitol police force was outnumbered and unprepared for violent action as they became overwhelmed by rioters who forced their way into the Capitol.

According to The Post, Mr Sund’s outer perimeter on the Capitol’s west side was breached within 15 minutes and the 1,400 Capitol Police officers on duty were quickly overrun.

“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 told the newspaper.  

The storming of the Capitol building by Mr Trump's supporters came as Congress met to certify the electoral votes for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

The mob broke through windows and security of the building and proceeded to loot and vandalise the structure, forcing lawmakers to evacuate to safety and postpone the proceedings.

Five people died in the riot including one Capitol Police officer who was beaten as he tried to ward off the crowds.

Mr Trump, who has continuously challenged the validity of Mr Biden's election victory, has been accused of inciting the violence. He later told rioters to “go home in peace” before adding that he loved the mob, calling them “special”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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