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Capitol Police Turned Down Help from Trump Administration Twice Because the Force Thought It Would Look Bad: Report

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The Associated Press reported Thursday that Capitol Police had been offered help by the Pentagon days beforehand to deal with the pro-Trump protest on Wednesday but chose not to accept it for fear of appearing draconian — and also turned the Justice Department’s offer to send in FBI agents as the protest was raging.

While there had been talks about how planning had gone bad at the top of the Capitol Police in the wake of the Capitol incursion, the AP’s report was a particularly brutal post-mortem.

Far from being a case of the administration setting the police up to fail, insider reports say two Cabinet-level departments were rejected, in part because of criticism over how last summer’s protests were handled.

“Despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration,” the AP reported.

“Still stinging from the uproar over the violent response by law enforcement to protests last June near the White House, officials also were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans.”

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There the other usual issues raised by the AP’s report, but these were mostly hypotheticals.

“The rioting and loss of control has raised serious questions over security at the Capitol for future events,” the outlet reported.

“The actions of the day also raise troubling concerns about the treatment of mainly white Trump supporters, who were allowed to roam through the building for hours, while Black and brown protesters who demonstrated last year over police brutality faced more robust and aggressive policing.”

Yes, but the facts the AP could ascertain suggest neither the Pentagon nor the Justice Department wanted to treat all of those “mainly white Trump supporters” differently, while the Capitol Police didn’t want the same backlash over the response to the White House protests in the weeks following George Floyd’s death.

Were the Capitol Police partially responsible for Wednesday's chaos in Washington?

Furthermore, while the Capitol Police couldn’t pin down a number on how many people would be coming into the city for the event — Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said law enforcement had estimates that “were all over the board,” ranging from 2,000 to above 80,000 — other federal agencies expected a bigger audience.

The Department of Justice and the FBI, among other agencies, had looked to indicators like hotel and flight bookings. They expected large crowds.

Even though Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser had asked for National Guard assistance on Dec. 31, the Capitol Police would refuse entreaties from the Defense Department on activating the National Guard as late as Jan. 3.

“We asked more than once and the final return that we got on Sunday the 3rd was that they would not be asking DOD for assistance,” said Kenneth Rapuano, assistant defense secretary for homeland security.

McCarthy said he watched as the protest spiraled out of control into a riot and realized the police were overwhelmed. However, the National Guard needs to be asked before it can be activated — meaning they had no contingency plans.

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“They’ve got to ask us, the request has to come to us,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department offered the support of the FBI as things were beginning to get violent on Wednesday, the AP reported, citing two anonymous sources. Again, Capitol Police reportedly told them that, no, they wouldn’t be accepting.

However, the AP said by this point, “it was too late.”

“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department descended. Agents from nearly every Justice Department agency, including the FBI, were called in. So was the Secret Service and the Federal Protective Service. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent two tactical teams. Police from as far away as New Jersey arrived to help,” the outlet reported.

The article doesn’t say much about President Donald Trump’s role in bringing in the National Guard, something he’s said to have resisted.

A statement from the Department of Defense on Wednesday didn’t even mention Trump had been consulted about deploying the National Guard.

Reports later stated he’d demurred bringing them in, although the Pentagon said the president had told Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller he could take “any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings,” according to CNN.

That said, the Trump administration offered the vastly overmatched Capitol Police protection. At the top, they decided against it.

It led to scenes like this:

As a country, we’re paying the price now.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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