tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN March 3, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST
good wednesday morning to you. yet another busy news morning. i'm jim sciutto. >> i'm poppy harlow. we're glad you're with us. the breaking news right now, sources tell cnn the fbi has warned the capitol police about a new threat to breach the u.s. capitol tomorrow. officials sounding the alarm about the possibility of violence again tomorrow at the capitol tied to the baseless conspiracy theory from qanon that former president trump will somehow become president tomorrow, march 4th. jim, this is your reporting. we'll learn much more about this chatter online from extremists in a moment. this as the commanding general, major general william walker, will testify on capitol hill about that day. so many questions about the response of the deadly riot. we have a preview of his testimony. >> we're told that the national guard has increased its force posture from today through march 6th as a result of this and other threats related to
tomorrow's dates. cnn's manu raju is on capitol hill. manu, yet one more official is going to sit down and tell their story of what happened on january 6th. based on the written testimony in advance, it looks like, again, differences, contradictions with what we're hearing from other people who sat in that chair. >> reporter: and a lot of questions about why the national guard was not called to this building much earlier. there were several hours where people like me, others, so many other people in this building were questioning why was the national guard not here to back up capitol police and perhaps major general william walker, the commanding general of the d.c. national guard could shet some lights. unlike states, the district of columbia is a district and has to rely on not its governor but actually the secretary of the army to essentially approve the national guard request, and why was that request not approved earlier. in this testimony that was released by the committee this
morning, his opening statement raises perhaps even more questions for the senators to dig into when he testifies in just a matter of minutes here. just from his opening statement, he talks about the frantic nature of the afternoon, the phone calls and why the -- perhaps raising questions about why the guard was not called in earlier. he says 1:49 p.m. on january 6th, i received a frantic call from the chief of u.s. capitol police, stephen sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter of the capitol had been breached by hostile rioters. chief sund, his voice cracking with emotion, requested the immediate assistance of as many guardsmen as i could muster. immediately after the 1:49 p.m. call i alerted the army senior leadership of the request. the approval for chief sund's request would eventually come from the acting secretary of defense and be relayed to me by army senior leaders at 5:08
p.m., three hours and 19 minutes later. in this brief opening statement, he doesn't ex plain exactly why it took three hours and 19 minutes from the time he requested the national guard to come in until they eventually did. so expect questions today about why that happened, and he also explains discussions about bringing in the national guard ahead of january 6th, discussions that happened that did not seem to go anywhere because of a back-and-forth with the senior army leadership. so a lot of questions here, guys. will they get answers or lead to even more questions? we'll have to see in a matter of minutes. >> manu, thank you very much. let's bring in cnn correspondent and former fbi supervisory special agent josh campbell. charles ramsey is a cnn law enforcement analyst and former d.c. police chief. josh, let me begin with you on what william walker is going to tell senators under oath today and what mark millie, the chairman of the joint chiefs
said which is that the pentagon acted as quickly as possible in terms of responding to the capitol. walker is saying, no, we waited three hours and 19 minutes to get the green light. >> obviously. this discrepancy is important, because there was a question after we saw for ourselves what was happening at the united states capitol. there was questions about whether reenforcements would come in. there was radio silence from officials in the immediate aftermath of the attack where we, journalists, the public, lawmakers, were trying to discern what exactly happened and what was the tick tock, the time order of events when that request went out and when it was actually approved. there's been this lingering question, was there some kind of delay perhaps driven by the white house that may have been political in nature? that is why we're trying to get to the bottom of this question about this timeline. as you mentioned, these statements are not appearing to line up. it's worth noting that the officials today will be under oath. so we presume they will be telling the truth. this is part of the process for
lawmakers to look back to try to get at exactly what happened because, of course, the question is, we can't have a repeat of this in the future. >> one consistency in all this testimony is, not me, it was someone else, right? from literally everyone we've heard. they're like, we didn't get the intel, they didn't bring the -- it's remarkable. charles ramsey, i want to ask about our new reporting about a new threat, at least chatter regarding a threat to the capitol tomorrow, march 4th. you know about this date. mythically that somehow former president trump is going to take office tomorrow, and the fbi sharing this in alerts with capitol police. how seriously should authorities take threats like this that they hear online, particularly in the wake of january 6th? >> well, in light of january 6th, they should take it very seriously. i would be surprised if anything major develops tomorrow, only because they're so well prepared now. the capitol police are on full
alert. i'm sure mpd is on full alert, 5,000 national guardsmen. i don't think you'll see a repeat of january 6th, but you have to take these things very seriously. obviously, now, they're communicating better. hopefully that lasts. there's no excuse for the information to not have been transferred in a timely fashion. so they could be prepared on january 6. but this hearing today will really shed light on a few things. it also will highlight the need for a commission to take a deep dive into this. right now all you have is finger-pointing, a senate hearing, people putting their own political spin on it. we need to get at the truth to find out what exactly happened so we don't have a repeat in the future. >> that's a great point. josh, the fact that you used to sit in the seat you sat in at the fbi, i wonder if you could let the viewers know -- jim's reporting is very significant, there's this online chatter still happening right now about
a potential attack at the capitol tomorrow. what would you do with that at the fbi? >> what we're learning is that the capitol insurrection on january 6th didn't happen in a vacuum. theets people were emboldened. the threat continues. the question is, is this chatter they're seeing, a couple questions -- is this something that's out there for everyone to see on public information forums or is that a result of fbi investigative activity going after some of these closed forums which would show a more intrusive style of investigating and how serious they're taking this threat. just as we look back on the so-called norfolk memo we talked about yesterday and the previous days, is this threat, is it aspirational in nature or do these people actually have the capability? it's worth noting this should be a question for these officials sitting before congress today. whereas yesterday there's a phenomena in congress, if you're an agency head like the director of the fbi, congress is a little
more patient when you don't have the specifics of threats and investigations. that changes as you get further down the chain of command as you get to the people in operational control. that's who we'll have sitting in front of congress today. >> we should note that my colleague, whitney wiles reporting, no evidence at least today of a hardened plot to carry this out. it does show the difference with which they take this chatter given all the signals leading up to january 6th. i want to ask you, charles ramsey, because you sat as head -- not only the police force here but elsewhere. are you disappointed that one phrase -- at least i haven't heard it. maybe the others with me have, that i have not heard from any lawmaker of either party, any chief of police, or anyone, this is on me. this is the mistakes we made. why didn't we do this? there's a lot of finger-pointing, but there's not
a lot of buck-stops-here. >> i'm disappointed, but not surprised. i've seen it before. taking the heat and accepting responsibility is part of the -- of being a leader. if you made a mistake, if something could have been done better, you have to address it. if you don't acknowledge it, you can't fix it. i was disappointed yesterday in listening to the director that really when he talked about the process of how intelligence flows from fbi to other agencies. but what he didn't say, and it's been almost two months since the capitol insurrection, he's worked with the capitol police, worked with the metropolitan police, maybe brought in secret service and homeland security to really figure out what went wrong. how can we fix it? you don't need a congressional hearing in order to fix that part of it or some kind of commission. they should be proactive in looking at the issue. they noted somebody dropped the ball somewhere. it doesn't matter who.
bottom line is, what happened at the capitol should not have happened. it should have been better prepared. they should deal with it up front. i'm not surprised, but it is disappointing. >> on the blame aspect, let me say real quickly, obviously we're looking back at what law enforcement did or did not do. i think it will be also interesting to watch today, this could be the first time we have career national security officials laying at least part of the blame at the feet of the former president, donald trump. they're not going to volunteer that information. these people aren't grand-standers. if they're asked the question in the press on what motivated these people to attack and what's continuing to motivate some of these extremiextremists have to say donald trump because they've already said it. it goes back to higgs big lie, continuing to perpetuate that. that will be something for the history books to hear security officials asked and answering that question about a former president motivating a terrorist attack. >> guys, this is just coming in.
it gets to the point jim made a minute ago which is he hasn't heard anyone take responsibility, which is true. now we have a little bit. this is dhs acting intelligence chief melissa slim soef va. she's going to testify today and acknowledge that more should have been done to understand the threat of the violence at the capitol, pointing to this concerning information in the weeks ahead. there's a lot more here we'll get through in a moment. that matters, right, to hear t that. >> exactly. the department of homeland security has been, since that attack, out there trying to assess and push out information to state and local partners about the lingering threat. if you look at it on the calendar, what were they doing before january 6th, i think we'd probably all agree that post january 6th they're taking this very seriously, probably taking any type of threat more serious than before because they don't know what would transpire. to hear an official actually coming out and saying, yeah, there's more we should have done, that's somewhat of a
breath of fresh air right now. as we mentioned, no one has seemed to be taking responsibility. they tend to get into this granularity about, well, this information was shared here, an email or phone call. no one is saying, look, we're in charge, we're responsible. we want to make sure this won't happen. hopefully this is a sign of what's to come, as far as these agencies laying their cards on the table, saying this is what we could have been done better. >> and more by whom. beware of the passive voice. >> real quickly, one of the questions i'd like to have answered is really find out how well dhs, department of homeland security and the fbi coordinate the sharing awful information. that was always a problem during my days in d.c. and also phila philadelphia. those separate agencies, they don't always communicate that well themselves. so that's critical. information comes in from a variety of sources. i think that's an important area to look at. >> no question.
it's evocative of pre 9/11. not putting 9/11 on the same scale as january 6th in order of magnitude. but the fail yure to share intelligence widely. chief ramsey, josh campbell, thank you. >> thank you. president biden announced there will be enough vaccines for every adult in this country by the end of may. ahead the deal that two pharmaceutical competitors made that could make this possible. >> it's really great news. also, health officials are warning, do not let your guard down now. some states doing the opposite, lifting mask mandates. why are they doing it now? ws! our new dove advanced care formula is effective... and kind to skin, leaving underarms cared for and you... more confident and carefree.
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live pictures there, joint hearing coming up on the january 6th insurrection. we'll have testimony from, among them, witnesses william walker, the commander of the d.c. national guard. lots of questions for him about the deployment, the slow deployment that day of the guard. >> for sure. also really good news from the white house on the u.s. vaccine supply. president biden says there will be enough shots for every american adult by the end of may. >> yeah, i can't wait. >> i can't wait. >> cnn's elizabeth cohen joins us now with more. this is delivery. that's good news on supply. that's a big deal. that's been an issue. will this accelerate getting
those shots into arms? >> certainly. i can't imagine how that wouldn't be the case. as you said, two parts, the supply. what we're hearing is there will be enough for every american adult by the end of may, and then actually getting those shots into arms as we've seen is a bit of a different story. in the beginning, when clinics were slow to get shots into arms, that was the beginning. vaccinating an entire population is not an easy thing. it is unprecedented. we've never had to do this before. so it's kind of understandable that it did not go as smoothly as it should have, et cetera specially since the beginning was under the demonstration when their plan was basically to have no plan. things have been going better. they will have months of experience under their belt. hopefully once those shots are available, they will not sit around and go right into arms. poppy, jim. >> that's great. you have the cdc's latest projection saying there could be up to 56,000 covid deaths in the
united states by march 27th -- i think that's 556,000. why would there be such a big increase especially in a moment like this? is it because of states that will relax these restrictions? what do you thinks? >> there are usually multiple factors as to why forecasts grow a bit or shrink a bit. in this case it's relatively -- it's not that different from what they expected it to be, and it's taking into account all the changes it's taking into account that cases have gone down, that vaccinations slowly -- that rollout is slowly getting bigger and bigger. let's take a look at these actual numbers. if we look at covid deaths up until this point, more than 516,000 americans have died from covid-19 so far. this cdc projection that we're talking about is by march 27th, between 540,000 and 564,000 deaths. to put that in perspective, and this is just so horrible.
that's more u.s. deaths than u.s. deaths during world war i and world war ii combined. as dr. rochelle walensky at the cdc and tony fauci have said, we cannot let our guard down yet. yes, cases have been going down, but they appear to be plateauing it's still a terrible situation. we still have about 2,000 americans dying every day. that's not time to let our guard down. jim, poppy. >> goodness. yet, folks just don't listen, sadly. elizabeth cohen, thanks very much. health experts and local leaders fear things could start to get worse in states that, as we were discussing there, are already easing coronavirus restrictions in texas. people there will no longer be required to wear masks, and businesses can reopen 100%, 100% capacity next week. >> lucy cavanaugh is joining us in houston.
we need to be sensitive to the economic realities. it would be remiss not to say that. i can't imagine running a small business that has been s shuttered. i wonder how the texans you're talking to are reacting the this? >> reporr: the health issues and also the economic reality if the decision to remove the mask mandate, to allow businesses to run at 100%, if that back fires and we see, god forbid, a surge in cases and deaths, that's going to impact businesses more longer. there are a lot of concerns about this. he is justifying this decision by saying nearly 7% of all texans have been vaccinated and deaths on average of last week went down to 232 deaths per day. this, again, decision flies in the face of advice from medical professionals and health experts. the cdc said, and i quote here, we cannot give into the false
sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. and this decision has been slammed by a lot of local leaders. i want to play for you what the mayor of houston had to say yesterday. >> it's a step in the wrong direction. doesn't make any sense unless, unless the governor is trying to deflect from what happened a little more than two weeks ago with the winter storm. >> reporter: the judge in el paso county, a county that has seen more than 2,000 covid-19-related deaths tweeted that this directive by the governor to no longer make masks mandatory would be equivalent to him saying we don't have to wear our seatbelts. there's a lot of concern about this, and don't forget while cases and deathing maybe lower than they were in december, they're still as high as they were over the summer. we now have the concern about these new, more highly
contagious variants spreading. houston announced it become the first city in the u.s. to document all those variants in the city through genome sequencing. it doesn't mean other cities don't have them all, but it's documented here. we haven't turned the corner in this pandemic. >> lucy, thank you for the reporting in houston. the senate is expected to begin debate on the covid relief bill. this as speaker pelosi pulls two controversial funding project that made up more than $100 million of that legislation. more next.
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. witness statements have begun on the hearing on security failures of january 6th. listening to department of defense official robert solis sis. more on the national guard and what happened or didn't happen. let's listen. >> -- none of these law enforcement agencies indicated the need for dod or national guard support. after consultation, the request was made for national guard personnel to support 30 traffic control points in six metro stations from january 5th
through the 6th. the acting secretary also authorized a 40-person quick reaction force to be readied at joint base andrews. on january 5th, the acting secretary of defense and the secretary of the army received a letter from the mayor of d.c. stating mpd is prepared and coordinated with its federal partners, namely the park police, the capitol police and the secret service. based on these communications with federal and local civilian authorities, dod determined no additional military support was required on january 5th and 6th. dod has detailed the events of 6 january, 2021, in a memorandum published on defense.gov. i will provide a summary of those key events. after the u.s. capitol police ordered the evacuation of the capitol complex, the secretary
of the army and the commanding general of the d.c. national guard received calls shortly before 2:00 p.m. from the mayor of d.c. and the capitol police chief respectively. at approximately 2:30 p.m., the secretary of the army met with the acting secretary of defense and other senior leaders of the defense department. after this meeting, the acting secretary of defense determined that all available forces of the d.c. national guard were required to reenforce the d.c. metropolitan police and the u.s. capitol police. and ordered the full mobilization of the d.c. national guard at 3:04 p.m. during this period major general walker recalled and made ready the d.c. national guard forces at the national guard armory for deployment to the capitol
complex. after reviewing the d.c. national guard's missions, equipping and responsibilities to be performed at the capitol complex in support of the metropolitan police and capitol police, and conferring with the d.c. metropolitan police at their headquarters at 4:10 p.m., the secretary of the army received the acting secretary of defense's approval at 4:32 and ordered the d.c. national guard forces to depart the armory for the capitol complex. dod continued to deploy national guard forces through the evening to support the u.s. capitol. by 9:00 on 7 january, 1,100 national guard personnel arrived at the capitol. by 9:00 on 8 january, 1,800 national guard personnel had arrived. by 10 january, 6,000 national guard personnel were at the capitol providing security.
dod continues to support efforts to protect the safety and security of the u.s. capitol and provide support to our civilian law enforcement partners. from january 9 through the inauguration, dod provided nearly 25,000 national guard personnel to support security in washington, d.c. today there are approximately 4,900 national guard personnel supporting capitol police and 500 supporting the metropolitan police. going forward, the department of defense is committed to working closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the d.c. government and the congress to ensure that we learn from this event and take all necessary actions to respond and ensure an attack on our nation's capitol never happens again. chairman peters, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking members portman and blunt, distinguished
members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. thank you for your continued commitment and support to the men and women of the department of defense. >> miss smislova, you're now recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you, senator. good morning. chairman peters, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member portman, ranking member blunt and other distinguished senators, thank you for the opportunity for me to testify with you today. i want to start by saying i'm deeply saddened by the ter terrifying events that you, your staff, your loved ones and others experienced on january 6th. the country, myself included, watched in horror as our capitol was attacked. i am here today as the acting undersecretary for the office of
analysis, ina at dhs. i'm a career intelligence professional of over 35 years. i am honored to have this opportunity to lead ima. i focus on a range of homeland threats including domestic terrorism and ensuring our partners across state, local, private sector, have the information they need. before i summarize the actions my office took before january 6th, i do want to say i'm deeply concerned that despite our best efforts, they did not lead to an operational response to prepare and defend the u.s. capitol. throughout the 2020 election period and the presidential transition, ina produced numerous strategic assessments about the potential for reflex-related violence from
domestic extremists. ina discussed the heightened threat environment and the potential for domestic violent extremists to mobilize quickly and attack large gatherings or government buildings. these products were intended to increase awareness about the volatile threat environment and enhance both policy and operational planning. they were shared broadly with all levels of government, law enforcement partners, critical infrastructure including through fusion centers nationwide. i will highlight a few products and engagements. in august, ina published an assessment on physical threats stemming from the 2020 election in which we assessed ideologically motivated vial lent extremists could quickly mobilize to threaten or engage in violence against election or campaign-related targets in response to perceived partisan and policy-based grievances.
in october, dhs released its first publicly available homeland threat assessment which stated racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically white supremacists, would remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland. the assessment also emphasized the breadth of the domestic violent extremist threats including the heightened threats from election-related violence. a week before the attack, on december 30th, ina co-authored an intelligence product with the fbi and the national counterterrorism center highlighting persistent threats to government facilities on law enforcement, noting the perceptions of the outcome of the election could mobilize some extremists to commit violence in the coming months. additionally, ina conducted
briefings and stakeholder calls before and after the election and leading up to january 6th to share that information. moving forward, i want to underscore the department of prioritizing combating domestic terrorism, specifically in ina we're working closely with our dhs colleagues in the civil rights civil liberties office, privacy office and our own intelligence oversight office to carefully examine how we can better address the complex and evolving threat in a manner consistent with the constitution and u.s. law. my office is committed to developing more expertise on domestic terrorism, improving our analysis of social media to better characterize the threat and ensuring our assessments are received and understood by key decision makers. additionally the department has taken these steps since january 6th.
in late january, dhs issued our first national terrorism advisory bulletin on domestic terrorism. it warned domestic violent extremists may be emboldened to act in the wake of the u.s. capitol breach. domestic violence extremists include racially and ethnically motivated extremists, will continue to exploit lawful, constitutionally protected protests and other events to pursue criminal behavior and commit acts of violence. also for the first time, secretary my or cass designated extremists as a national priority in the homeland security grant. let me close by saying my colleagues in ina and across dhs are unwavering in our commitment to ensuring the department is well positioned to combat this evolving threat and protect the american people. thank you for your opportunity to appear before you today.
i welcome your questions. >> thu. ms. sanborn, you're recognized for your opening comments. >> good morning chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member blunt, chairman peters, ranking member portman and the members of the committees. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. my name is jill sanborn. i'm the assistant director for the counterterrorism division within the fbi. it's always an honor to be here with you in the senate. for those of you i haven't met or you don't noerks i actually started my career in public service as a senate page in 1987 than tox a sponsorship from my home senator, senator max bacchus. i want to the siege on the capitol complex while you were carrying out your
duties as our elected representatives was not just unacceptable and disturbing. it was criminal. i want to offer condolences to our partners at u.s. capitol police for the loss of one of their brothers, officer sicknick. this is a loss to us all in law enforcement. violence designed to intimidate the population and influence the government is exactly what the fbi's counterterrorism division was designed to combat. the men and women of the fbi are not only dedicated to identifying and bringing to justice the individuals involved in the attack on january 6th, but also and equally as important, and let me stress this, we're committed to working to prevent something like this from ever happening again. over the last two months, the americans you represent from across the country have sent in over 200,000 digital media tips and reported more than 30,000 leads to our national threat operation center. with this support, we have
identified hundreds of people involved in the attack and arrested more than 300 with more and more arrests every day. i want to reiterate something the director mentioned to some of your colleagues yesterday. as americans, we are all victims of this assault, and the american people deserve nothing less than our commitment to see this investigation through and protect them from acts of violence like this in the future. the fbi's number one priority is preventing acts of terrorism. the greatest threat we face is those by lone actors, both domestic violence extremists and home grown violent extremists. by definition, their insular nature makes them particularly difficult to identify and disrupt before they have an opportunity to act. the fbi has been investigating domestic terrorism throughout our organizations history. however, today's threat is different than it was 100 years ago and continues to evolve.
in fact, 2019 was the most lethal year for domestic violent extremist attacks since the oklahoma city bombing in 1995. however, in 2020, three of the four fatal domestic violent extremist attacks were personal interest rated by antigovernment or anti authority. one in portland. in fact, this was the first fatal anarchist violent extremist attack in over 20 years. 2020 also marked the first year since 2011 that there were no fatal attacks committed by the racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists advocating for the superiority of the white race. i think all of those explain how the threat is persistent and evolving. looking forth we assess the domestic extremist threat will continue to pose a threat to the u.s. we expect antigovernment ex
extremists will pose the greatest domestic terrorism threats throughout 2021. in fact, leading into 2022. regardless of the specific perpetrator, the domestic terrorism threat remains persistent. that's why we must remain focused on countering it. i want to take this opportunity to reemphasize that the fbi's mission to uphold the constitution and pro teeth the american people is dual and simultaneous and not contradictory. one does not come at the expense of the other. that said, when a person crosses the line from expressing beliefs to violating federal law and endangers the communities we serve, we aggressively pursue those threats. we simply cannot be successful without them, our investigations and disruptions rely on partnerships and they represent american lives saved in communities around the united states. for instance, in fiscal year 2020 alone, jttfs across the
united states arrested 235 terrorism subjects. we also continue to expand our partnerships in academia, private sector and within the communities we serve. this is critical because nearly half of our cases are predicated on tips and leads from the community and our law enforcement partners. we in law enforcement cannot and will not tolerate individuals who use the first amendment as a guise to incite violence. that's true now as we work hard to hold those accountable for the events on january 6th, just as last summer. when violent extremists utilize explosive devices, attack government facilities or businesses or target law enforcement officers, the fbi investigates those unlawful acts regardless of the underlying ideological motivation. at the fbi, we work every threat with the same level of rigor and dedication, and that's what i hope you take away from my testimony today.
thank you again for an opportunity to talk with you about the hard work our folks and our partners are doing every day to keep the country safe. we are grateful for the support that you have provided and continue to provide the men and women of the fbi. i look forward to answering any of the questions you may have. >> thank you. general walker, you are now recognized for your opening stat statement. >> good morning chairman peters, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking members portman and blunt. i'm major general william walker, commanding general of the d.c. national guard, affectionately known as capital guardians. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the events of january 6th, a dark chapter in our nation's history. i was personally sickened by the violence and destriks i witnessed that fateful day and the harm that came to capitol police officers and metropolitan police officers, some of whom i met with later that evening and
i could see the injuries they sustained. it is my hope that the recollection -- my recollection of the events and my presentation of the facts as i know them will help your committees in its investigation and prevent such tragic events from ever occurring again. first, i think it's critical to understand what the district of columbia national guard mission was on january 6 to include the civilian agency we were supporting and our request of support for other civilian authorities were handled. on december 31st, 2020 t district of columbia national guard received written request from district of columbia mayor muriel bowser and her director of homeland security, dr. christopher rodriguez. the request sought national guard support for traffic control and crowd management for planned demonstrations in the district from january 5th through january 6th, 2021. after conducting mission analysis to support the district's request, i sent a letter to the secretary of the
army, ryan mccarthy, on january 1st, requesting his approval. i received that approval in a letter dated january 5th, granting support to the metropolitan police department with 320 guardsmen personnel to include a 40-personnel quick reaction force. the district of columbia national guard provides support to the metropolitan police police department, the park police, secret service and other federal and district law enforcement agencies in response to planned rallies, marches, protests and other large scale first amendment activity on a routine basis. the standard component of such support is the stand-up of an off-site quick reaction force, element of guardsmen held in reserve with civil disturbance response equipment, helmets, shields, batons, et cetera. they're postured to quickly respond to an urgent and immediate need for assistance by civil authorities.
the secretary of the army's january 5th letter to me withheld that authority for me to employ a quick reaction force. additionally, the secretary of the army's memorandum to me required that a concept of operation be submitted to him before the employment of a quick reaction force. i found that requirement to be unusual as was the requirement to seek approval to move guardsmen supporting the metropolitan police department, to move from one traffic control point to another. at 1:30 p.m. on january 6thtion, we watched as the metropolitan police department began to deploy officers to support the capitol police. in doing so, the officers began to withdraw from the traffic control points that were jointly manned with district of columbia guardsmen. at 1:49 p.m. i received a frantic call from then chief of united states capitol police stephen sund where he informed me that the security perimeter of the united states capitol had been breached by hostile
rioters. chief sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency at the capitol, and he requested the immediate assistance of as many available national guardsmen i could muster. immediately after that 1:49 call, i alerted the u.s. army senior leadership of the request. the approval for chief sund's request would eventually come from the acting secretary of defense and be relayed to me by army senior leaders at 5:08 p.m., about three hours and 19 minutes later. i already had guardsmen on buses at the armory ready to move to the capitol. consequently at 5:20 p.m., less than 20 minutes, the district of columbia national guard at arrived at the capitol and were being sworn in by united states capitol police. we helped to establish the security perimeter at the east
side of the capitol to facilitate the resumption of the joint session of congress. in conclusion, i'm grateful for the guardsmen from the 53 states and territories who supported the district of columbia national guard operation capitol response and helped to ensure peaceful transition of power on january 20th. in particular, i'm grateful for the timely assistance from our close neighbors from virginia, delaware and maryland national guard who augmented d.c. national guard forces in establishing the security perimeter. i'm honored to lead these citizens, soldiers and airmen. these are your constituents, many of whom left behind their families, careers, education, their businesses to help ensure the protection and safety of the united states capitol and those who serve in it every day. thank you for the opportunity to brief you today, and thank you for your continued support of the national guard. i look forward to any questions you may have. thank you again. >> thank you, general walker, thank you for your testimony. again, i know i speak on behalf
of everybody in this joint committee room, that we fully support the men and women of the national guard and appreciate your work on that day and continue to appreciate the service you're providing your country in protecting the capitol, as well as our country. thank you again. general walker, i want to start my questioning by going back in time a little bit prior to the events on january 6th. my question is, in june of 2020, as violence was escalating during the summer protests, were you able to immediately receive approval from the secretary of the army and the secretary of defense to deploy national guard to assist law enforcement at that time? >> senator peters, i was, yes, sir. the secretary of the army was with me for most that week. he came to the armory. i was in constant communication with him when we were not together. so you were immediately able to
receive approval in june of '20. from your testimony, i warrnt t be clear, were you immediately able to receive approval from the secretary of the army and secretary of defense on january 6th? >> no, sir. >> in your opening remarks, you said a january 5th memo was unusual. could you explain to the committee why it was unusual and what was the impact of the memo that you received on january 5th? >> so the memo was unusual in that i was -- it required me to seek authorization from the secretary of the army and the secretary of defense to essentially even protect my guardsmen. so no civil disturbance equipment could be authorized unless it came from the secretary of defense. now, the secretary of the army, to his credit, did tell me that
i could have force protection equipment with the guardsmen. so we did have helmets, shin guards, vests. we did have that with us. but that came from the secretary of the army. the secretary of defense told me i needed his permission to escalate, to have that kind of protection. >> that type of protection, to protect your men and women, before you could do that, you would have to get approval from the secretary of defense? >> the memo from the secretary of defense made clear that i needed permission to have -- what it says, without my personal authorization, the district of columbia national guard is not authorized the following, to be issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons, helmets and body armor.
again, to be clear, the secretary of the army told me to go ahead and issue that equipment. so we never were going to have weapons or ammunition, and we no longer have bayonets. we do have ballistic protection equipment, helmets, body armor. so i did have that with each guardsman. >> that was unusual, as you mentioned, to have that kind of request. you were on the january 6th phone call at 2:30 that we heard from our previous hearing where the chief of capitol police was making an urgent appeal for help, and we heard the d.c. metro police chief say it was a tepid response. he was shocked by it. what happened on that call? what was your recollection of the call and the assessment of the two individuals i mentioned, was that your assessment as well? >> yes, sir. that call came in. we actually helped facility tate it. the deputy mayor from the
district of columbia and dr. rodriguez, chief contee, chief sund later joined the conversation, and we dialed in the senior leadership of the u.s. army. and at that time, chief conte and chief sund passionately pleaded for district of columbia national guard to get to the capitol with all deliberate speed. so the army senior leaders did not think it looked good, it would be a good optic. they further stated it could incite the kroutd. so their best military advice would be to the secretary of the army who could not get on the call. we wanted the secretary of the army to join the call, but he was not available. we were told that he was with the secretary of defense and not available. the army senior leadership expressed to chief contee, chief sund, dr. mitchell, the dep they mayor and others on the call, that it would not be their
military advice to have uniformed guardsmen on the capitol. >> so during the call, you're saying that optics was raised on that call specifically. i want to go back to the question i started. you said you were able to get immediate authorization in the summer of 2020 during these protests. general walker, was the issue of optics ever brought up by army leadership when the d.c. national guard was deployed during the summer of 2020? was that discussed? >> it was never discussed the week of june. it was never discussed july 4th when we were supporting the city. it was never discussed august 28th when we supported the city. >> did you think that was unusual? >> i did. >> so let's put it in context. in your opening statements, you mentioned the national guard troops that were ready to go. you had them back at the armory.
how many folks were in the armory ready to go once the order was given and at what time were they ready to go? >> i had them ready to go shortly after the phone call. at 1500, i directed that the quick reaction force that was based at andrews air force base leave the base, get to the armory at all deliberate speed. i had a police escort bring them to the armory. they returned to the armory in about 20 minutes. we had them sitting there waiting. then in anticipation of a green light, a go, we put guardsmen on buses. we brought them inside the armory so nobody would see them putting on the equipment and getting on the buses, and then we just waited to get the approval, and that's why we were able to get to the capitol in about 18 minutes. >> what time were they on the buses and ready to go? do you recall? >> before 5:00. at 5:00 i decided, hey, there's
got to be an approval coming, so get on the buses, get the equipment on, get on the buses and just wait. a few minutes after that, we did get the approval. i was on a secure video conference when the army leadership conveyed to me that the secretary of defense had authorized the employment of the national guard at the capitol. so my timeline has 17:08, 5:08 p.m. is when we wrote down we had approval. that was about eight people in the office with me when i got that -- >> how many guardsmen were ready? >> about 155. >> you could have sent 155 much, much earlier. what would have been the impact of selling those 155 around that 2:00 time frame? >> based upon my experience with the summer -- i have 39 years in the national guard. i was in the florida guard, hurricane andrew. i've been involved in civil
disturbances. so i believe that number could have made a difference. we could have helped extend the perimeter and helped push back the crowd. >> ms. sanborn and ms. smislova, last week we heard from former law enforcement officials who stated that a lack of intelligence reporting was the main reason for capitol police not being fully prepared for the january 6th attack. my question to you, yes or no, would you agree that the intelligence community failed to sufficiently identify the threat and warn the capitol police of a plat to breach the capitol, a plot that was planned in public and announced in advance in a number of open sources? >> i think this is on. i'll start. i wouldn't necessarily categorize it that way, sir, but i will tell you, i think you've heard us say before, there's not an agent that wouldn't want more tools in their tool box.
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