The outgoing head of the Capitol Police requested that D.C. National Guard units be placed on standby in case his small force was overwhelmed by violent protesters last Wednesday, but he was rebuffed by House and Senate security officials and a top Pentagon commander, he said in an interview on Sunday.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned under pressure last week, said he made the request two days before Wednesday’s riot after reviewing intelligence that indicated the demonstration would be larger and more violent that previously anticipated — and repeated his request as he watched the rioters attacking his officers.
“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,” Mr. Sund, who served in the top post for under a year, told The Washington Post.
In the end, the Capitol Police, outnumbered, was unable to hold back a mob several times its size, resulting in a violent invasion of the national legislature not seen since the War of 1812.
Five people, including a Capitol Police officer injured at the scene and another who died shortly after the attacks, died in the violence.
Earlier in the day, President’s Trump exhorted a crowd gathered near the White House to march on the Capitol “to show strength,” warning them, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness.”
Eventually, officers from federal agencies and Washington D.C.’s local police force intervened late Wednesday, clearing the complex shortly before nightfall.
In his first interview since the riot, Mr. Sund, a 25-year veteran of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, claimed that six calls for backup during the riot were rejected or delayed.
On a call at around 2 p.m., about the time the complex was breached, Mr. Sund and local officials in the district pleaded with Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff, for help, only to have the general say that he could not recommend the deployment to his boss, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
“I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing in a police line with the Capitol in the background,” General Piatt said, according to Mr. Sund.
General Piatt pushed back in an interview, saying that he did not have the authority to send the troops, and that the city and the Capitol Police needed a plan for how the National Guard would be deployed.
“The last thing you want to do is throw forces at it where you have no idea where they’re going, and all of a sudden it gets a lot worse,” he said.
General Sund also claimed that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger both had seemed to be reluctant to ramp up the uniformed presence around the Capitol in the days leading up to the riot, suggesting that they too were concerned about the optics.
Both Mr. Irving and Mr. Stenger have announced their resignations, under pressure from members of both parties.
Neither would comment on Mr. Sund’s allegations to The Post, and messages left at their offices were not immediately returned.
Mr. Sund added that he was worried about the possibility of a repeat of the violence at President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“My concern is if they don’t get their act together with physical security, it’s going to happen again,” he said.