The Lost Hours: How Confusion and Inaction on Capitol Hill Delayed the Deployment of a Troop

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“I continued to follow up with Mr. Irving, who was with Mr. Stenger at the time, and he told me he was awaiting news from the leadership of Congress, but was awaiting clearance. at any time, ”Chief Sund said in his letter.

Still, it appears Mr. Irving, who had told Chief Sund days earlier that he did not want National Guard troops on Capitol Hill on January 6 because of poor “optics”, waited 30 minutes. after hearing the Capitol police chief before approaching the president. Nancy Pelosi’s staff. Neither Mr. Irving nor Mr. Stenger, who both resigned after the riot, responded to multiple interview requests. Mr. Sund resigned on January 7, after pressure from congressional leaders.

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At 1:40 p.m., Mr Irving finally approached Ms Pelosi’s chief of staff, Terri McCullough, and other staff in the President’s Lobby behind the House Chamber – the site where a Capitol Police officer would shoot. a rioter an hour later. This was the first time Mr Irving had sought permission to seek National Guard support, according to Drew Hammill, Ms Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff.

Ms McCullough immediately entered the room and passed a note to Ms Pelosi with the request. Video from inside the chamber shows her approaching the speaker at 1:43 p.m. Ms Pelosi approved the request and asked if Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican of Kentucky who was then leader of the majority, also had to approve it. Ms McCullough said yes, according to Ms Pelosi’s office.

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Ms McCullough left the room to call Mr McConnell’s chief of staff, Sharon Soderstrom, but could not reach her. She then joined Mr. Irving, who explained that he and Mr. Stenger were already meeting with the Senate Majority Leader staff at the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office, according to Ms. Pelosi’s office.

It was during the meeting in Mr Stenger’s office that Mr McConnell’s staff were first made aware of Chief Sund’s request for the National Guard, according to a spokesperson for the senator. At that meeting, assistants to congressional leaders including Ms Soderstrom were puzzled to learn that the two sergeants-at-arms had yet to approve the request for troops, according to spokespersons for Mr McConnell and by Ms. Pelosi.

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There was also some confusion over whether the approval of Congressional leaders was required to apply for National Guard troops. Mr McConnell’s staff contend that political leaders are not part of that chain of command and that security officials should have done so as quickly as possible. A former Capitol Hill security official said the two Sergeants-at-Arms could have made the request themselves, but even in an emergency “common sense dictates” that they would want to consult with congressional leaders. .

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