After the chaos of the raid on the Capitol on Wednesday, there is still much confusion over the response of federal law enforcement and the delayed authorization of the National Guard and police support.
While President Donald Trump initially encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol, he later asked the mob to “remain peaceful,” nonviolent and support law enforcement in a tweet that said, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!
Minutes later, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that the president directed the National Guard to protect the Capitol.
At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.
We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) January 6, 2021
In a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, Trump repeated the claim, saying, “I immediately ordered the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.”
Trump lies in his new Twitter video. He did not “immediately” deploy the National Guard.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 8, 2021
After the video was posted, it was widely reported that Trump was not directly involved with the deployment of the National Guard on Wednesday.
In a statement Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller did not mention working with Trump. He said he “spoke separately with the Vice President [Mike Pence] and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation at the U.S. Capitol.”
Reports show that Trump was initially hesitant to involve the National Guard. NBCsaid Trump “had to be convinced” and that Pence was in contact with the Pentagon and “encouraged a much more rapid deployment.”
According to CNN, Trump was less eager to deploy federal forces on Capitol Hill on Wednesday than he had been for other protests, but “Pence played a key role in coordinating with the Pentagon about deploying them, and urged them to move faster than they were.”
Trump did not immediately deploy the National Guard yesterday, as he claims in his video. He initially resisted it, according to several people, as CNN, NYT and others reported.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 8, 2021
As the commander-in-chief, Trump is in charge of the country’s armed forces and is the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard but not the Capitol Police, who, according to the Capitol Police website is overseen by the four members of the Capitol Police Board, with Congressional oversight.
While Trump was less involved in giving orders Wednesday, he gave Miller the green light earlier in the week.
“The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C.,” said Kash Patel, Miller’s chief of staff. “During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”
The deployment of the National Guard was anything but immediate.
The Department of Defense is the lead federal agency in these situations. Pentagon officials said that law enforcement was overwhelmed and responses were slow because they believed the amount of law enforcement personnel leading up to Wednesday’s events was adequate.
“We don’t do domestic [intelligence] collection,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. “We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation. And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”
When D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked for the assistance of the D.C. National Guard (DCNG) earlier in the week, the troops were approved only for crowd and traffic control. The Pentagon prohibited troops from: receiving ammunition or riot gear; interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense; sharing equipment with local law enforcement; or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s explicit sign-off, according to The Washington Post.
According to the Department of Defense, once the protest turned more violent, Bowser requested more assistance and Secretary Miller “immediately called up 1,200 members of the D.C. National Guard.”
However, multiple reports show that the Pentagon refused authorization of additional National Guard support after rioters broke into the Capitol.
The District of Columbia City Council said Bowser’s request to expand the responsibility of the DCNG so they could help protect the Capitol was denied.
Bowser turned to surrounding state governments for support. While the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) allows Bowser to request aid from state national guards within D.C. city limits, out-of-state troops need federal approval to assist on federal property.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan received a call from Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) from an “undisclosed bunker” to send support but was stalled by the Pentagon.
“I was actually on the phone with Leader Hoyer who was pleading with us to send the guard,” Hogan said in The Washington Post. “He was yelling across the room to Schumer and they were back and forth saying we do have the authorization and I’m saying, ‘I’m telling you we do not have the authorization.’”
As he continued to mobilize his troops, Hogan waited 90 minutes before getting a call from Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy that federal authorization was granted for his National Guard to go to the Capitol. The DCNG is under the president’s control, but the commanding authority is delegated to the Secretary of the Army.
“I can’t tell you what was going on on the other end, on the decision-making process,” Hogan said. “There’s been lots of speculation in the media about that, but I’m not privy to what was going on inside the White House or inside the Pentagon.”
Hogan told MSNBC that Miller called him Friday to thank Maryland for sending in police and National Guard but didn’t say anything about why the Pentagon initially denied permission to send support to D.C.
Gov. Hogan on MSNBC now said the Acting Secretary of Defense called him today to thank Maryland for sending in police and National Guard, but didn’t say anything about why Pentagon initially denied permission to send to DC.
— Bryn Stole (@brynstole) January 8, 2021
According to The Washington Post, defense officials did not formally deny requests from Bowser to expand DCNG responsibilities but rather “reinforced the negative optics of having uniformed personnel inside the Capitol, a point on which Bowser had agreed, and later checked with the chain of command.”
A defense official told The Washington Post that the military wanted to be the force of last resort, and that military officials had urged Bowser to request more support from federal law enforcement but that she didn’t do so until Wednesday. Pentagon officials reviewed the request, activated the full DCNG and called governors to send their reinforcements. Officials also lifted previous limits on the guard, arming troops with riot gear, but not guns, before they headed to the Capitol.
Once all the authorization was granted, Pentagon spokesman Jonathon Hoffman did not mention Trump’s involvement in his official public statement.
“The D.C. Guard has been mobilized to provide support to federal law enforcement in the District of Columbia,” Hoffman said. “Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with Congressional leadership, and Secretary McCarthy has been working with the D.C. government. The law enforcement response will be led by the Department of Justice.”
Trump did NOT immediately send out the National Guard.
No initial presence. Clashes began ~1:20pm. The breach happened (roughly) around 2/2:30. Around 3:38pm, DC council tweeted their request for National Guard was DENIED.
When NG was approved, Trump wasn’t cited in decision. https://t.co/SD5vwO1Ory pic.twitter.com/xYqnxY5zIF
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 8, 2021
Numerous reports and statements from defense officials show Trump was not involved in the deployment of the D.C. National Guard to quell the riot at the Capitol.
Acting Defense Secretary Miller used vague instructions that Trump have given days before the riot to “take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”
Reports show Trump initially was hesitant to get the DCNG involved, forcing officials to look to Pence for White House support.
The deployment of the National Guard was not “immediate.” It took multiple requests for troops from D.C. and out-of-state law enforcement to gain authorization from federal defense officials to assist at the Capitol.
Fact Check: Did Trump Call in the National Guard After Rioters Stormed the Capitol? The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Newsweek.