Former Defense Chief Cites Coup Speculation Before Jan. 6 Riot

Bookmark

The former acting U.S. defense chief plans to tell a House panel that he was concerned that sending troops to protect the Capitol in anticipation of a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 would heighten speculation about a coup.

“My concerns regarding the appropriate and limited use of the military in domestic matters were heightened by commentary in the media about the possibility of a military coup or that advisers to the President were advocating the declaration of martial law,” Christopher Miller, who former President Donald Trump appointed as acting Defense Secretary, says in prepared testimony for a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday on the insurrection at the Capitol.

Miller plans to tell the panel that he didn’t believe it was in the best interests of citizens or armed forces personnel for the military to play a major role in organizing a domestic law enforcement response on the day that Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election, which Trump falsely claimed had been stolen from him.

He cited the reaction to the use of troops during protests near the White House in June, which triggered fears that Trump “would invoke the Insurrection Act to politicize the military in an anti-democratic manner.”

Miller is to testify at the hearing with former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in the latest in a series congressional inquiries into why law enforcement and intelligence officials didn’t anticipate violence from the mob of Trump supporters and the security failures that allowed it to overrun the Capitol.

Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney of New York said the panel will explore “why the Trump administration did not do more in response to open threats of violence espoused by violent right-wing extremists before the attack, and why federal agencies were so slow to respond once the attack began.”

The hearing, she said,“will provide the American people the first opportunity to hear from top Trump administration officials about the catastrophic intelligence and security failures that enabled this unprecedented terrorist attack on our nation’s Capitol.”

Earlier congressional hearings have cast a spotlight on the Pentagon response, including a March 3 Senate hearing in which the commander of the District of Columbia National Guard said it took more than three hours for senior military leaders to approve a request to send troops to the Capitol on Jan 6, despite a “frantic” plea from the Capitol Police chief for immediate emergency assistance.

In his prepared testimony, Miller says it “is patently and completely false” that the instructions from the military contributed to any delays or limitations on deployment of guard forces.

Miller also said that Trump had no impact on the Pentagon’s actions on Jan. 6, and he does not recall the president being on any of that day’s phone calls.

And he defended the several hours it took for National Guard troops to arrive at the Capitol. They got there at 5:22 p.m.

“Those of you with military experience or who understand the nature of military deployments will recognize how rapid our response was,” added Miller, who spent more than two decades in the Army Special Forces.

In his prepared remarks, Rosen says he believes that the Department of Justice had “reasonably prepared for the contingencies before Jan. 6, understanding that there was considerable uncertainty as to how many people would arrive, who those people would be, and precisely what purposes they would pursue.”

“Unlike the police, DOJ had no frontline role with respect to crowd control. The FBI, ATF, DEA, and U.S. attorneys’ offices, as investigative and prosecuting agencies, are generally not equipped for crowd control,” according to the prepared remarks.

Rosen also plans to say the department has tried to ensure that those responsible for the attack “would face the full consequences of their actions under the law.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.