The stark testimony of the head of the DC National Guard on Wednesday raised new questions about the Pentagon’s response when insurgents attacked the United States Capitol on January 6.
Here are five takeaways from Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Rules and Homeland Security and Government Affairs committees.
Timeline delays come into focus
One of the biggest revelations in the testimony of DC National Guard Commanding General Major General William Walker was exactly how long he said it took him to get approval for deployment on January 6 after receiving a “frantic” call. from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven. Sund asking for help.
Walker said he got approval at 5:08 p.m., three hours and 19 minutes after Sund’s first call, contradicting Pentagon officials who have been insisting that they act as quickly as possible.
“Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a serious emergency on Capitol Hill and requested the immediate assistance of all the guards I could muster,” Walker said.
But when a call was called between Sund, Pentagon officials and other law enforcement and local DC officials to discuss the request, Walker said he was “stunned” by what he heard.
“The senior leaders of the army did not think it looked good, it would be a good view. They further claimed that it could incite a crowd, “Walker said, corroborating testimony a week before from Sund and DC Acting Police Chief Robert Contee.
Then secretary of the army Ryan mccarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: Army Details New Grooming and Styling Standards | DC National Guard Chief Says Pentagon Restricted Authority Before Riots | Colorado asks Biden not to move Space Command Capitol Police Chief Apologizes and Admits Department Failures in Unrest DC National Guard Commander Says Pentagon Restricted Authority Before Riot MORE he himself was not on the call, Walker said, adding that concern about the optics was expressed by Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt and Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, Army Deputy Chief of Staff and brother. from former security adviser Michael Flynn.
Robert Salesses, acting undersecretary of defense for national defense and global security, testified Wednesday that then-acting defense secretary Christopher Miller told McCarthy that he approved the request at 4:32 p.m.
But Salesses acknowledged there was a half-hour delay in conveying that approval to Walker.
“How is that possible?”, Sen. Roy bluntRoy Dean BluntPadilla Has ‘A Big Chuck Taylors To Fill’ To Replace Harris Partisan Headwinds Threaten Capitol Riot Commission Passage Of John Lewis Voting Rights Promotion Act Is First Step To Healing Our Democracy PLUS (R-Mo.) He asked. “Didn’t the person who had to be told come until more than half an hour after the decision was made? … It is a major problem for the future. “
The delay, Walker argued, could have changed the course of events on Capitol Hill.
“I think that number could have made a difference,” Walker said of the 155 guards he had ready to deploy as soon as he got approval. “We could help extend the perimeter and help push the crowd back.”
The National Guard was paralyzed before the attack
Walker said decisions made in the days leading up to the attack also hampered the response.
Specifically, Walker pointed to an “unusual” January 5 memo from McCarthy restricting his ability to deploy a so-called Rapid Reaction Force without McCarthy’s approval.
Had it not been for that restriction, Walker said, “I would have sent them there immediately as soon as I hung up” on his call with Sund.
The testimony is raising new questions about the many obstacles officials face in requesting the assistance of guards.
Walker also shed new light on Sund’s ability to request National Guard assistance in advance.
Walker said the two are friends and spoke the weekend before January 6.
“I asked him, ‘Are you going to ask the DC National Guard for help? And if so, I need it in writing. It has to be formal because the Secretary of Defense has to approve it. ‘ He told me he couldn’t request support and I asked him if he wanted me to share that and he said, ‘No, I can’t even ask you for the score. That’s what he told me, ”Walker said.
The summer protests got big
Walker told committees, “It was never really explained to me” why restrictions were placed on him. But it drew a stark contrast between January 6 and the response to the racial justice protests over the summer.
Asked by the chairman of the National Security committee Gary PetersGary PetersDeJoy ready for questioning by House Oversight panel Top cops deflect blame for attack on Capitol Law enforcement officials present evidence that Capitol riots were ‘coordinated’ attack (D-Mich.) If he got immediate approval from McCarthy and Miller to deploy guards in June, Walker answered, “yes.” Pressed by Peters on whether he got immediate approval for the deployment on January 6, Walker replied, “no.”
Walker also told senators that McCarthy stood by his side during the summer events, allowing for swift action, but not on Jan.6.
Salesses similarly suggested a connection between the Jan. 6 response and criticism of the response to the racial justice protests, he told the Sen. Rob portmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOn The Money: Tanden Withdraws Biden’s Budget Chief Nomination | Aid Bill Tests Narrow Democratic Majority | Senate Confirms Biden Election for Commerce, WH Republican Chief Economist, Ohio Senate Candidate, Calls Republican Rep to Resign by Impeachment Vote on Sunday Shows: Trump’s Resurgence, COVID-Vaccines 19 and variants dominate MORE (R-Ohio) there were “a lot of things that happened in the spring that the department was criticized for.”
There is pressure for testimony from the Department of Defense
Miller and McCarthy weren’t at Wednesday’s hearing, but lawmakers are likely to want to hear from them.
Salesses responded to senators where he could, but did not participate in some of the key decision-making moments on Jan. 6, such as the call in which Walker said Army officials expressed concerns about the optics.
“I’m disappointed that we don’t have someone from [the Department of Defense] DOD that was actually there at the time. I think they are putting you in a difficult position, Mr. Salesses, ”Portman said.
Blunt, the most senior member of the Rules Committee, said senators “certainly” have questions for Miller and McCarthy, but said he wasn’t sure what format it will take.
“Whether that will require testimony or not, I don’t know, but it will definitely require an opportunity to ask them questions about their point of view from their perspective of why this decision-making process went so horribly wrong,” Blunt said.
Miller, for his part, has previously shown eagerness to testify.
“I have to tell you, I can’t wait to go to the Hill and have those conversations with senators and representatives,” Miller told Vanity Fair in January, adding that the criticism of the Pentagon carried over during the attack is “complete bullshit.”
Senior FBI commanders were unaware of the warnings
A January 5 report from the FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, detailing specific calls for violence on January 6, including those suggesting that protesters go to the Capitol “ready for war,” reached very few. key hands.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers Tuesday that he did not receive the report until after the incident, something that was also echoed by the associate director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Jill Sanborn.
Both Sund and his replacement Yogananda Pittman also said the report never made it to their desks.
“Actually, we didn’t get that information until late in the afternoon on the fifth and almost late at night. And because of our emphasis that we need any kind of intelligence, even though it was raw, and attributed and uncensored, the Norfolk office quickly drafted it, ”Sanborn said.
But the office continues to be criticized for not doing more to communicate what it heard.
“I don’t know if someone picked up the phone and called someone in charge and said ‘This is a problem,'” the Senator said. Tom carperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTexas Snowstorm Wreaks Havoc on State Power Grid The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by TikTok – Democrats Make Their Case; verdict on Trump this weekend No signs of demand for witnesses in Trump’s trial MORE (D-Del.) He said.