"I have officers that were out there literally fighting for their lives and we're going through what seemed like an exercise to really check the boxes. And it was not an immediate response..." Contee said.
Senators in the Homeland Security Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration held a joint hearing Tuesday to find out where the breakdowns in planning and response occurred that allowed the violence to unfold in and around the U.S. Capitol, endangering the lives of, among others, former Vice President Mike Pence, on January 6th.
- But Chief Contee, in my remaining time, just a question. And you mentioned this in your testimony. But in an earlier statement, Chief, you stated that you were stunned by, quote, the tepid response of the Army officials in response to Chief Sund's request for assistance while the violent siege was escalating.
Clearly, here we got a coordinated attack. All of you saw this immediately, the way they were doing. I can imagine the conversations with the National Guard. And Chief, you were stunned by the tepid response. Could you clarify that and tell us exactly how those conversations went?
- So sometime after 2 o'clock PM, I had left the west front of the Capitol after initially being at the scene, assessing what was going on, looking at just how violent-- looking at the violent actions that were taking place. Shortly thereafter, there was a phone call that was convened between several officials. Chief Sund was on the call, literally pleading for-- there were several army officials that were on the call. I don't know all by name who were on the call. Several officials from District government that were on the state.
Chief Sund was pleading for the deployment of the National Guard. And in response to that, there was not an immediate yes, the National Guard is responding, yes, the National Guard is on the way, yes, the National Guard are being restaged from traffic posts to respond. The response was more asking about the plan. What was the plan for the National Guard?
The response was more focused on, in addition to the plan, the optics of how this looks with boots on the ground on the Capitol. And my response to that was simply I was just stunned. You know, I have officers that were out there literally fighting for their lives. And we're kind of going through what seemed like an exercise to really check the boxes. And it was not an immediate response.
When I asked specifically, Steve Sund, Chief Sund, was he requesting the National Guard, and was that request being denied, the response from the US Department of the Army was, no, we're not denying the request. But then they were concerned. They did have concerns. So I was, again, just stunned at that response.