Maj. Gen. William Walker testified today that he was shocked by the many unusual hurdles and restrictions, which he never experienced before (including when he deployed the Guard at civil justice demonstrations during the prior spring and summer), preventing him from quickly deploying the National Guard to assist Capitol Police on Jan. 6, delaying their deployment for 3 hours and 19 minutes from the time of the first request, despite numerous frantic pleas for help. Chief Sund’s voice was already cracking when he asked for help at 3:30, saying it was needed right then or the Capitol would be breached. The Guard was not deployed until 5:08 pm.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that the Secretary of Defense blocked Walker from using the “Quick Reaction Force” if necessary, without jumping through hoops to get his prior approval (totally voiding it’s purpose). The Secretary even tried to block him from properly equipping his men so that he could put them on standby pending approval, but the Secretary of the Army gave Walker permission to at least pull protective equipment for them.
The Army initially falsely denied that Lt. Gen. Charles A. Flynn (the brother of disgraced retired general and Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who Trump pardoned) was involved at all in delaying the military’s response. Later, Charles Flynn confirmed to the Washington Post that he was in the room during a tense Jan. 6 phone call when Capitol Police and DC officials pleaded with the Pentagon to dispatch the Guard urgently, but “top Army officials” expressed concern about having the Guard at the Capitol.
According to Walker, Flynn was actually one of two such “top Army officials” who expressed concern about the “optics” of having the Guard there. Why they were concerned about the visual of the Guard being at the Capitol holding off or actually having to remove Trump supporters, yet had no problem with the Guard being lined up on Capitol Steps during a Black Lives Matter protest is obvious: it’s all about politics. Walker even uses the word “optics” and “politics” interchangeably at one point when asked if politics played a part in these decisions, but later says the only possible reasons expressed to him were “optics” and concern that the Guard’s presence might inflame the insurrectionists.
Walker said it never should have taken so long to respond to such an urgent request. (The Secretary of Defense obviously had advanced notice this could happen, or he wouldn’t have already had the hurdles in place when Walker got the call.) Walker even indicated there actually should have been some prior approval in place for the Capitol Police to call in the Guard if necessary, and they should have been ready and standing by.