Former Vice President Mike Pence pleaded for the Pentagon to take control of the situation at the Capitol after Trump supporters overran police officers and invaded the halls of Congress, according to an internal Defense Department document obtained by The Associated Press.
“Clear the Capitol,” Pence said on a call with Christopher Miller, then the acting Defense Secretary.
Senate Leader Chuck Schumer made a similar plea more than an hour after the Senate chamber was already breached, telling Pentagon officials “we need help.”
At the Pentagon, officials were growing worried about media reports that state capitals were facing similar mobs.
“We must establish order,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told Defense Department leaders.
But National Guard troops did not reach the Capitol until hours later. The document underscores the panic inside Capitol amid the Pentagon’s delayed response.
Timeline shows slow response:
The document obtained by the AP includes a timeline of what happened behind the scenes as rioters stormed the halls of power.
At 1:49 pm, then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund made the first request to the Pentagon to deploy the D.C. National Guard. Sund made a more frantic call at around 2:10, calling for at least 200 guard troops and “more if they are available.”
As the Pentagon discussed Sund’s request, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy provided “verbal approval” at around 3 pm to activate over 1,000 National Guard troops.
Minutes after McCarthy’s call, Guard troops left Joint Base Andrews for the DC Armory as they awaited final approval from Miller.
By 3:19, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were pleading for National Guard assistance. By 4:08, Pence called Miller as well.
But National Guard troops struggled to deploy the troops, issue new gear, and prepare them for the new assignment.
By 4:40, Schumer and Pelosi were incensed, accusing the “National Security apparatus of knowing that protestors planned to conduct an assault on the Capitol.”
It was not until nearly an hour after that call that the first 155 National Guard troops arrived at 5:20 when the situation had already subsided.
Congress to review response:
The report comes ahead of a Senate hearing with the inspector general of the Capitol Police to discuss the failures behind the response.
“Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” said Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Rules Committee, which is investigating the response.
Earlier hearings saw witnesses deflect blame on other agencies for a lack of preparation and intelligence failures.