WAPO 6: Sund said he called Irving twice more and Stenger once to check on their progress. At 1:50 p.m. — nine minutes before the Capitol was breached — Sund said he was losing patience. He called Walker to tell him to get ready to bring the Guard. Irving called back with formal approval at 2:10 p.m. By then, plainclothes Capitol Police agents were barricading the door to the Speaker’s Lobby just off the House chamber to keep the marauders from charging in.
Sund finally had approval to call the National Guard. But that would prove to be just the beginning of a bureaucratic nightmare to get soldiers on the scene.
At 2:26 p.m., Sund joined a conference call organized by D.C’s homeland security director, Chris Rodriguez. Among those on the screen were the District’s police chief, mayor and Walker.
Unlike anywhere else in the country, the D.C. Guard does not report to a governor, but to the president, so Walker patched in the office of the Secretary of the Army, noting that he would need authorization from the Pentagon to order soldiers to the Capitol.
Piatt noted the Pentagon still needed authorization from Capitol Police to step foot on Capitol grounds. Sund ticked through details on the severity of the breach, but the call got noisy with crosstalk as officials asked more questions.
Contee sought to quiet the din. “Wait, wait,” he said, and then directed attention to Sund. “Steve, are you requesting National Guard assistance at the Capitol?”
Sund said he replied: “I am making urgent, urgent, immediate request for National Guard assistance.”
But Piatt, dialed in from across the river at the Pentagon, pushed back, according to Sund, saying he would prefer to have Guard soldiers take up posts around Washington, relieving D.C. police, so that they could respond to the Capitol instead of guardsmen. Sund’s account is supported by four D.C. officials on the call, including Bowser.
Bowser told The Washington Post that Sund had “made it perfectly clear that they needed extraordinary help, including the National Guard. There was some concern from the Army of what it would look like to have armed military personnel on the grounds of the Capitol.”
Falcicchio said that once Contee confirmed that Sund wanted the National Guard, D.C. officials echoed his request.
“Contee was definitely — I hate to use this term, but there’s no other term for it. He was pleading,” Falcicchio said. “He was pleading with them to fulfill the request that Capitol Police was making.”
But the entire discussion was in vain. Only McCarthy, the secretary, could order the Guard deployed — and only with the approval of the Pentagon chief. McCarthy has since said that, at the time of the call, he was busy taking the requests to activate more Guard to acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller.
At one point, according to a defense official, Contee said, “Let me be clear, are you denying this?” To which Piatt responded that he wasn’t denying the request; he simply didn’t have the authority to approve it.
“It was clear that it was a dire situation,” the defense official said. “He didn’t want to commit to anything without getting approval.”