Pentagon moved slowly to approve January 6 Capitol Police request for National Guard

March 3, 2021 3:44 PM EST

FILE PHOTO: A mob of supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo/File Photo


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By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pentagon officials took more than three hours to approve a request by the U.S. Capitol Police for National Guard troops to back up police under attack by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, a military commander told a Senate hearing Wednesday.

Major General William Walker, the District of Columbia's National Guard commander, told senators that an emotional Capitol Police chief Brian Sund, who resigned after the riot, contacted him at 1:49 p.m. on Jan. 6 to request urgent National Guard backup as violent demonstrators began to attack the Capitol building.

Walker told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees that the day before the riot, he requested and received Pentagon permission to have on standby a 40-member "quick reaction force" and 155 other D.C. guard members.

But Walker said that on Jan. 5, he also received a written order from then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy that he could only deploy the reaction force as a last resort and with a specific operational plan.

Walker said defense officials did not give him final permission to deploy Guard forces until 3 hours and 19 minutes after he received the Capitol Police chief's urgent request.

Officials of the Homeland Security Department and the FBI told senators that months before the Jan. 6 riots, both agencies circulated intelligence reports on domestic extremist groups.

FBI counter-terrorism chief Jill Sanborn said her office issued a warning last August that "domestic violent extremist responses to the election outcome might not occur until after the election and could be based on potential or anticipated policy changes."

But Sanborn acknowledged that a Jan. 5 FBI Norfolk office bulletin warning of possible violence the next day was based on an "anonymous posting" on an internet message board.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Bill Berkrot)



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