Former Capitol Police chief reveals he was prevented from bringing in National Guard on Jan 6 due to 'optics'

"I don't like the optics of the National Guard on Capitol Hill."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

In an interview with Tucker Carlson posted on Thursday night, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said he was denied his request for National Guard assistance leading up to January 6 due to "optics."

Sund said that leading up to the events of January 6, 2021, "none of the intelligence that was coming up talking about the storming of the Capitol, killing members of Congress, or killing my police officers was ever discussed" in conference calls that Sund and other agencies took part in, including one that took place on January 5.

Sund said that Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and General Mark Milley "had both discussed locking down the city of Washington DC because they were so worried about violence at the Capitol on January 6, on Sunday and Monday they had been discussing locking down the city, revoking perming on Capitol Hill because of concern for violence."

Sund was the one that issues such permits, and said he wasn’t told about these concerns.

"Instead, on January 4, what does Miller do? He puts out a memo restricting the National Guard from carrying various weapons, any weapons, any civil disobedience equipment that would be utilized for the very demonstrations or violence that he sees coming." 

"When I was calling begging for assistance on January 6, they weren’t allowed to respond at first," said Sund, noting former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference at the time begging to send his National Guard to DC, " and he was being denied by the Pentagon all because of the memo."'

Sund said he’s handled many national special security events, but this one was handled differently by the intelligence agency and by the military.

He noted that Congress had passed a law, that went into effect in December of 2020, that required him to go get approval to bring in the National Guard or federal assistance in advance.

"I have to go to the Capitol Police Board and get approval from congressional leadership in advance, like I did on January 3. I’m denied twice because of optics and because intelligence didn’t support it."

"My request was shut down because of optics, which is interesting. You’re gonna hear that term come up a couple more times, optics, over the look of the National Guard on The Hill."

As events unfolded at the Capitol, Sund said he called the Sergeant at Arms, saying that he needed a declaration of emergency and immediate assistance at the building. The Sergeant at Arms said he would "run it up the chain," which went up to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which Sund noted was not required under the passed Congress law. 

"He didn’t have to do that, but he wouldn’t give me authorization."

Sund called Mike Stinger on the Capitol Police Board next, and received a similar response. 

"So for the next 71 minutes, I make 32 calls," said Sund. 

Sund said that shortly after 2:09pm, he got on a call with two generals at the Pentagon and urged them to send in the National Guard.

"This is urgent, urgent, and they're gonna be looking at the same TVs I'm looking at. I need the National Guard immediately. You know what his response is? 'I don't like the optics of the National Guard on Capitol Hill.' Like, 'because I'd rather have your officers in the fight and we can backfill your officer somewhere else' I said, 'I don't have that option. All my officers are in the fight.' He goes, 'I’m telling you, I don't like the option of the National Guard, you know, don't like the optics of the National Guard on the Hill.'

"And I still remember he said, you know, 'My recommendation is not to support the request,'" Sund recalled.

In the midst of this call, Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed inside the Capitol Building.

"And I said, 'we have shots fired.' I still remember yelling over the phone, we have shots fired on the US Capitol. Is that urgent enough for you now? Hang up the phone, because now I gotta start making the notifications."

"Do you know when the National Guard finally arrived? Six pm. Six pm they’re worn in on post."

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