As the protesters became an increasing threat to the Capitol on Jan. 6, Chief Sund asked for more help from federal agencies and law enforcement agencies in the area. “He also lobbied the board for authorization to bring in the National Guard, but he was not granted authorization for over an hour,” Chief Pittman said.
During the hearing, the commander of the District of Columbia National Guard told committee members that his authority to quickly deploy the guard was removed ahead of the riot. Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said he had such authority for July 4, but the Pentagon required additional approval for a request for the guard during the Capitol attack, according to a person familiar with the testimony.
General Walker testified that Chief Sund called him as the threat to the Capitol increased on Jan. 6 and that he immediately notified the Army.
“On my own, I started preparing people to be ready, but I had to wait for specific approval to go out to launch,” General Walker said. “I was in constant communication with the U.S. Army leadership who was acting on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.”
Two of the board members at the time of the attack have already resigned: Paul D. Irving, the House sergeant-at-arms, and Michael C. Stenger, the Senate sergeant-at-arms. The third member, J. Brett Blanton, the Architect of the Capitol, is still on the board. Mr. Blanton was nominated by Mr. Trump in December 2019 and confirmed by the Senate that same month. The chief of the Capitol Police serves in an ex-officio, non-voting capacity.
“In my experience, I do not believe there was any preparations that would have allowed for an open campus in which lawful protesters could exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and at the same time prevented the attack on Capitol grounds that day,” Chief Pittman said.
In the aftermath of the attack, many officers are suffering from PTSD, she said, “particularly after the loss of two of our officers directly and indirectly as a result of the events of January 6th.” Officers also have been experiencing an increase in coronavirus infections.