The man in charge at the Pentagon during the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot is expected to tell lawmakers Wednesday he was “committed to avoid repeating” the deadly shooting of anti-Vietnam War protesters by National Guard troops at Kent State University in 1970.
Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller will tell the House Oversight and Reform Committee that “I fervently believe the military should not be utilized in such scenarios other than as a last resort and only when all other assets have been expanded.”
Adding, “the Department of Defense has an extremely poor record in supporting domestic law enforcement.”
Democrats have signaled that they intend to press Miller on why it took so long for the National Guard to arrive at the Capitol, even as images of pro-Trump rioters rampaging through the House and Senate chambers and disrupting the official count of electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election were broadcast around the world.
According to Miller’s own testimony, he activated and mobilized the D.C. National Guard response to requests from Mayor Muriel Bowser, US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police at 3 p.m. on Jan. 6, at least 90 minutes after he became aware the building had been breached by rioters. The first National Guard personnel arrived at the Capitol 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,” says Miller, who adds criticism of the Pentagon response to the riot is “unfounded” and “reflects inexperience with, or a lack of understanding of, the nature of military operations or, worse … is simply the result of politics.”
“This isn’t a video game where you can move forces with a flick of the thumb or a movie that glosses over the logistical challenges and the time required to coordinate and synchronize with the multitude of other entities involved,” Miller says, “or with complying with the important legal requirements involved in the use of such forces.”
Miller will claim that former President Donald Trump had no involvement in the Pentagon response to the riot. He also recalls receiving a call from Trump on the afternoon of Jan. 5 in which the president “commented that ‘they’ were going to need 10,000 troops the following day.”
“The call lasted fewer than thirty seconds and I did not respond substantively, and there was no elaboration,” Miller says. “I took his comment to mean that a large force would be required to maintain order the following day.”
In the event, 8,000 local and federal law enforcement officers were on duty on Jan. 6. Miller will tell lawmakers he was told that “such a force routinely manages demonstrations well north of 100,000 demonstrators. This is what they are trained, equipped, chartered and expected to do.”
Miller will also say that he believes Trump “encouraged” the protesters, but “I am not in a position to make an official assessment of his responsibility.”
Miller, a Green Beret and retired Army colonel, served as a White House counterterrorism adviser under Trump before being tapped as acting defense secretary for the final months of the administration, replacing the fired Mark Esper.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who will appear alongside Miller and District of Columbia Police Chief Robert Contee III, will testify that the Justice Department “took appropriate precautions” ahead of the riot, putting tactical and other elite units on standby after local police reports indicated that 10,000 to 30,000 people were expected in the nation’s capital that day.
With Post wires