William Walker, currently the House Sergeant at Arms and previously commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, denied Tuesday that the Guard was on standby to protect former President Donald Trump’s supporters during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The claim surfaced in documents released by the Jan. 6 committee, where members describe an email Meadows sent on Jan. 5 in which he allegedly said that the Guard would be present at the Capitol to “protect pro-Trump people.” The committee did not identify to whom Meadows sent the email.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Walker shrugged Tuesday, when asked what would have prompted Meadows to make the claim. “The National Guard was never on standby to protect anybody, pro-Trump or anti-Trump. What we were doing on Jan. 5 was the mission that the mayor of the District of Columbia requested us to do, and that was approved by the Secretary of the Army.”
Questions about the National Guard — its late arrival to the Capitol, its seeming lack of preparation for the event — have permeated attempts to understand the security breach, with Meadows’ alleged claim attracting widespread attention.
The House of Representatives voted to hold Meadows in criminal contempt for defying the committee’s subpoena in mid-December.
Walker’s comments came Tuesday as part of an extremely rare press briefing from the Capitol Police Board, days before the insurrection’s anniversary. Most of it was devoted to sharing improvements the force has made since the attack.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said that there had been about 9,600 threats made against members of Congress and the Capitol itself in 2021, up from “over 8,000” in 2020.
“I don’t know that we have a normal year anymore,” Manger admitted of the threat volume.
He added that the force is aware of multiple events planned for the Jan. 6 anniversary this week, but that nothing is of “great concern” at this point.
The Senate is currently slated to be in session on Thursday. The House is out, but has a number of events planned in which members will participate. The day will end with a prayer vigil on the Capitol steps — and a dueling Trump press conference from Mar-a-Lago.