Klobuchar, questioning the Commander of the D.C. National Guard: “You could have had [the National Guard] there earlier, hours earlier, if it had been approved. And then you had them on the bus... So you actually put them on the bus so they were ready to go but you couldn’t let the busses go?”
High-resolution video available for download HERE
WASHINGTON – Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, questioned Major General William Walker, the Commander of the National Guard of the District of Columbia, about the delay from the Department of Defense to allow the D.C. National Guard to deploy to support the U.S. Capitol Police during the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Under questioning from Klobuchar during the second Senate committee hearing on the January 6th attack on the Capitol, General Walker testified that he was “frustrated” by the Army’s reluctance to immediately deploy the National Guard to support the U.S. Capitol Police on January 6th and that he found the delay was “unusual.” General Walker went on to say: “...seconds matter, minutes mattered, and I needed to be ready to get them there as quick as possible…”
A high-resolution video of questioning is available for download HERE.
Senator Klobuchar: Alright. General Walker, I’m going to start with you. I wasn’t going to start here but I am after what I just heard. So Chief Contee had said that he was stunned at the response of the Department of the Army when former Police Chief Sund requested assistance from the guard. What’s your reaction to what Contee said? Were you frustrated on that call as well?
Major General William Walker: Yes I was, Senator Klobuchar. I was frustrated. I was just as stunned as everybody else on the call.
Senator Klobuchar: I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, that with the National Guard, it is much better to prepare them and call them into action and have a plan, which I know that I’ve heard from Mr. Salesses, that people tried to do. They called the Chief, they called people, and said, “Do you want to have the Guard mobilized?” And there was a discussion between you and Sund leading up to January 6th in which this was discussed and you didn’t get a clear direction to have them mobilized. Is that correct?
General Walker: Yes ma’am. So I talked to Chief Sund on Sunday, I talked to him Saturday and Sunday. We talk. We are friends. I’ve known him for a long time. So on Sunday, I asked him, “Are you going to request DC National Guard help and if you do, I need it in writing. It has to be formal because the Secretary of Defense has to approve it.” He told me he was not allowed to request the support. I asked him if he wanted me to share that and he said “No. I can’t even ask you for the support,” is what he told me. But he did say, “If I do call you, will you be able to support me?” I said “Yes, but I have to get approval from the Secretary of the Army and ultimately the Secretary of Defense because it is a federal request.”
Senator Klobuchar: Exactly. And so, as we’ve heard from Chief Sund last week, he had been denied from the Sergeant at Arms, and that’s a subject for last week, but the subject for today is given all that, and we know we would have been in much better shape if they had called in ahead and he’d had the authority. But now we are to the day and it is 2:22, and you are on the phone with them, and you are asking for this authorization, which you felt it was unusual to get, is that right?
General Walker: I thought the delay was unusual. So we were already in support of the Metropolitan Police Department, and when the Metropolitan Police Department left the traffic control points, what I wanted to do was take those guardsmen and move them to the Capitol immediately. And my logic was we were still in direct support, we would have been in direct support of the Metropolitan Police Department, who was supporting the Capitol Police at that point.
Senator Klobuchar: So I just keep imagining the scene -- the whole country, the whole world is seeing this on TV. You’ve got the police line breached at this moment, you have smashed windows, you have insurrectionists going through the police lines, you are on the phone. Everyone is seeing this on TV and they are not immediately approving your request and in your recent testimony, you just said, “Hey I could have gotten them on those busses and ready to go.” Is that correct?
General Walker: That is correct, Senator.
Senator Klobuchar: And you just testified in response to Senator Peters, you believe that would have made a difference to have them at the perimeter at a sooner point? And I know that people in charge of Capitol security felt the same.
General Walker: Yes, ma’am.
Senator Klobuchar: And so you could have had them there earlier, hours earlier, if it had been approved. And then you had them on the bus. And so they were actually sitting on the bus for a short period of time, right? Waiting because you thought they’ve just got to honor the request. Is that how your head was working? So you actually put them on the bus so they were ready to go but you couldn’t let the busses go?
General Walker: Yes, Senator. I just came to the conclusion that eventually I’m going to get approval and at that point, seconds matter, minutes mattered, and I needed to be ready to get them there as quick as possible so I already had District of Columbia National Guard military police vehicle in front of the bus to help get through any traffic lights. We were there in eighteen minutes.
Senator Klobuchar: Eighteen minutes.
General Walker: I arrived at 17:20. They were sworn in as soon as we got there. And it made a difference, according to the Capitol Police.
Senator Klobuchar: Well, according to a lot of us. And I just keep thinking of the hours that went by and the people who were injured and the officers whose lives were changed forever...
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