Army secretary says Capitol Police did not seek National Guard troops before riot
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The U.S. Army secretary says he was not asked for National Guard troops to protect the U.S. Capitol ahead of the mob storming into the complex and ransacking lawmaker’s offices on Wednesday.
"We were not pre-coordinated or asked for support by the Capitol Police," Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told a small group of reporters at the Pentagon Friday morning.
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"The Capitol Hill Police has the responsibility and the jurisdiction. They are a separate branch of government," McCarthy said. "They have to ask and request the support."
As late as Sunday, Jan. 3, "They said they didn’t need any support," McCarthy said.
At 3:04 pm Wednesday with an angry mob laying siege at the U.S. Capitol, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller ordered the National Guard to help retake the building. "It was green light, go," McCarthy said.
This was minutes after McCarthy said he received a call from the U.S. Capitol Hill Police chief who called saying, "I need help!"
"They were under duress," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he "sprinted" to the acting defense secretary’s office after receiving the urgent plea for help.
At 2:20 pm the Army secretary, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and the head of National Guard Gen. Daniel Hokanson began discussing options for helping the U.S. Capitol Police clearly overwhelmed with the mob. "We needed to support the Capitol, I needed to mobilize the entire Guard," McCarthy said.
"We had already put a warning order in place for all our locations to move," he added.
"Never at any given time was there a question of ‘we are not going to help,’ it was a matter of how," McCarthy added.
At 3:19 p.m., McCarthy called congressional leadership to update them. The leaders had been evacuated to Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., near Nationals Park.
Just before 4:00 p.m., McCarthy arrived in Washington, D.C., at police headquarters to meet with Mayor Bowser, Washington Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee, and the deputy director of the FBI to start on a plan to retake the Capitol.
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The Department of Justice is the lead federal agency for this effort, McCarthy said, "Who was best suited to get in there quickly?" In the end, a tactical team of FBI and ATF agents stormed into the Capitol and retook the building from the mob.
Gen. Hokanson said he spoke to head of Virginia’s National Guard who said "they would be ready to go by tomorrow morning [Thursday, Jan. 7th]. It would take 8-10 hours for them to arrive at the Capitol."
By 8 p.m., Congress was back in session proceeding with the election certification.
By Sunday there will be 6,200 National Guard troops on the ground. It will be "at a minimum" a 30-day deployment, McCarthy said.
McCarthy was asked by a reporter if more forces could have been in place sooner to prevent the mob from breaking into the U.S. Capitol.
"We could have had a stronger posture, sure, but I am not going to Monday morning quarterback this now," McCarthy said. "It’s only if they ask us."
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The 850 National Guard members are currently standing 12-hour shifts at the U.S. Capitol.
McCarthy said seeing the mob attack the Capitol was "one of the worst days of my life."
Jennifer Griffen contributed to this report.
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