A previously undisclosed document prepared by the Pentagon for internal use reveals dramatic new details about how authorities tried to quell the attack on the Capitol on January 6 and restore order, and how such help took agonizing hours to arrive.
Two hours after the Capitol rape, as Donald Trump supporters beat up police and trashed the building, Vice President Mike Pence tried to assert control. In an urgent phone call to the acting secretary of defense, he issued a surprising demand.
“Clean up the Capitol,” Pence said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were making an equally desperate appeal, calling on the military to deploy the national guard.
“We need help,” Schumer said, more than an hour after the Senate chamber was breached.
At the Pentagon, officials were discussing reports that state capitals faced violence in what had the makings of a national insurrection.
“We must establish order,” said General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint staff, in a call with Pentagon leaders. But order would not be restored for hours.
The Pentagon document was obtained by Associated Press. It adds another layer of understanding about fear and panic as the uprising unfolded, exposing Trump’s inaction, and showing how his refusal to fire his supporters contributed to a slower response from the military and law enforcement. .
It shows that intelligence errors, tactical errors, and bureaucratic delays were overshadowed by the government’s inability to understand the scale and intensity of a violent uprising by its own citizens.
Without Trump engaged, it was up to Pentagon officials, a handful of top White House advisers, Congressional leaders and Pence, hiding in a secure bunker, to try to manage the chaos.
Coupled with hours of sworn testimony, the Pentagon document provides a still incomplete picture of how the insurrection progressed with such speed and lethal force, disrupting Joe Biden’s parliamentary certification as president and delaying the peaceful transfer of power.
Five people, including a police officer, died as a direct result of the riots. More than 400 people have been charged. Lawmakers, still protected by National Guard troops, will hear from the Capitol Police Inspector General this week.
“Any minute we lose, I need to know why,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate rules committee, which is investigating the siege, said last month.
The Pentagon document provides a timeline that fills in some gaps.
Just before noon on January 6, Trump told his supporters at a rally near the White House that they should march to the Capitol. The crowd was at least 10,000 people. At 1:15 pm, the procession was already underway. Some immediately turned violent, breaking barriers and beating officers who got in their way.
At 1.49 pm, when the violence escalated, then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund called Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the DC National Guard, for help. Sund’s voice was “cracked with emotion,” Walker later told a Senate committee. Walker immediately called army leaders to inform them of the request.
Twenty minutes later, around 2:30 p.m., rioters broke through the doors and windows of the Senate. They marched through the halls in search of legislators to count electoral votes. The alarms announced a lockdown.
Sund asked for at least 200 members of the guard “and more if they are available.” But no help was immediately on the way. The Pentagon document details nearly two hours of confusion and chaos as officials tried to find an answer.
At 4.08 pm, as rioters roamed the Capitol yelling for Pence to be hanged, the vice president called Christopher Miller, the acting defense secretary, to demand answers. The call lasted only a minute. Pence asked for a deadline to secure the building.
Trump broke his silence at 4.17pm and tweeted that his followers should “go home and go in peace.” At approximately 4.30 pm, the military plan was finalized. Reports from state capitals raped turned out to be false.
At approximately 4:40 p.m., Pelosi and Schumer were again on the phone with Gen Milley and Pentagon leaders. The leadership of Congress “accuse[d] the national security apparatus to know that the protesters planned to carry out an assault on the Capitol, ”reads the Pentagon timeline.
The call lasted 30 minutes and included a discussion about intelligence failures. It would be another hour before the first 155 members of the National Guard arrived. Dressed in riot gear, they began to take out the rioters. There were few, if any, arrests.
At 8 p.m., the Capitol was declared safe.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism