Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday it took nearly two hours for the Pentagon to give authorization for his state to send its National Guard into Washington to help protect the U.S. Capitol as it came under attack from a violent pro-Trump mob.
The Republican governor said he and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser had been in contact as the violence erupted on Wednesday and she asked for assistance, but the effort was stalled by the Department of Defense’s delay in agreeing to the move.
States often help each other with National Guard deployments. Typically, all that’s needed is for both states to sign off on it. D.C. is unique because it lacks statehood and falls under federal jurisdiction, requiring the Pentagon’s sign-off.
“Our guard mobilized and was ready, but we couldn’t actually cross over the border into D.C. without the OK. And that was quite some time. We kept running it up the flagpole –our generals talking to the National Guard generals,” Hogan told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
“I can’t speak as to what was going on the other end of the line back at the Pentagon or in the White House,” Hogan said. “I was in the middle of a meeting when my chief of staff came in and said the Capitol was under attack. We contacted – we were in contact with the mayor’s office, who requested assistance. We immediately sent police assistance. I immediately called up the National Guard.”
Hogan said that eventually, his office got a call from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, asking to deploy the National Guard.
“All I know is that we were trying to get answers and we weren’t getting answers,” Hogan said.
Pentagon officials on Sunday downplayed Hogan’s assessment, arguing that even if the authorization had been granted, it would have taken several hours for troops to assemble at their armory and equip themselves to join the effort to control the rioters. Guardsmen generally require four hours to leave their jobs or homes for their armories.
The debate over the deployment comes as members of Congress have already gearing up for an investigation into security measures on the day when thousands of people were expected to attend a rally outside the White House and then march on the Capitol.
House Democrats said they were prepared to vote on impeachment as early as Tuesday for Trump’s role in inciting a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. In a show of the president’s evaporating support within his own party, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., suggested Trump should resign and could face “criminal liability” for his actions.
The crowd gathered at a moment of high tension in Washington, as Congress was set to count the Electoral College vote that formalized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump falsely and repeatedly claimed that widespread election fraud had caused his loss, and he encouraged his supporters to stand up to what he described as a matter of national significance. In fact, Congress had a very limited role in the constitutionally required vote count process.
McCarthy, who controls the D.C. Guard, did approve the deployment of the additional Maryland National Guard troops, but they did not arrive on Capitol Hill grounds until 17 hours later, well after the rioters had been dispersed.
The Maryland National Guard informed the National Guard officials in Washington at 3:55 p.m. on Jan. 6 that Hogan had activated a response force of 100 troops that could arrive in D.C. in eight hours, according to a statement released Friday by the Pentagon. Another 150 to 200 troops would be available to follow later.
McCarthy said he first spoke to Hogan at 4:40 p.m. on the day of riot.
At 2:11 p.m. Wednesday, rioters breached police lines on the west side of the Capitol and began scaling the walls moments later. At around 2:40 p.m., rioters were photographed breaking windows at the Capitol.
In the end, the first National Guard troops from Maryland arrived at the Capitol at 10 a.m. Thursday.