Stephen Sand said that days before the events, he had asked the security chiefs of both chambers of Congress for permission to resort to the help of the National Guard of the Capital District
Retiring Capitol Police Chief Stephen Sand has accused the security services of the U.S. House and Senate of obstructing his efforts to enlist the National Guard to secure the nation’s legislative building before and during its storming by supporters of incumbent President Donald Trump on January 6. In an interview with The Washington Post on Sunday night, Sand said that he had asked the security leadership of both houses of Congress days before the events in question for permission to enlist the help of the National Guard of the Capital District, if needed, on the day of confirmation of the country’s November 3 presidential election, but had received no support.
Sand said he had made such suggestions to parliamentary bailiff Paul Irving in the House and his colleague in the Senate, Michael Stenger. The former, according to Sande, said he did not want to declare emergency measures before the protest, while the latter recommended that the Capitol Police Chief informally contact the National Guard to be on standby, just in case, on January 6.
“We knew it [the protest] would be bigger”, – Sand said in his first media interview since last Wednesday’s events. – We had familiarised ourselves with the intelligence. We knew we would be dealing with large crowds and that there was a possibility of violent confrontations, [but] I didn’t have any information indicating that a large crowd [could] take over the Capitol.”
Sand said he had made a total of six requests for assistance and had been denied or various excuses each time. As a result, he said, the police cordon outside the west wing of the Capitol was breached by protesters within 15 minutes on 6 January.
“If we had the National Guard at our disposal, we could have held them back much longer, until additional police officers from other agencies interacting with us arrived”, – he said.
Sand said he had requested support from the Pentagon at 2:26 p.m. local time, but a senior army spokesman told him he could not recommend Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy’s use of troops. “I am not attracted to the sight of the National Guard standing in a police cordon outside the Capitol,” he was quoted as saying. As a result, the first National Guard units arrived at the Congress building at 5:40pm, when four people had already been killed in clashes there.
The US Department of Defence said the Capitol Police had not asked the National Guard for assistance before the protest, nor had they offered any plans involving the National Guardsmen in the event of a disturbance.
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“We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement agencies to provide an assessment of the situation,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said earlier. – And based on those assessments that they had, they believed they had sufficient manpower and did not make a request [for assistance].”