Trump Officials to Testify on Jan. 6 05/12 06:14
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two senior Trump administration officials plan to defend
their actions during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol when they appear
before Congress, with former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller
standing behind every decision he made that day.
Miller will tell the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that he was
concerned before the insurrection that sending troops to the building could fan
fears of a military coup and cause a repeat of the deadly Kent State shootings,
according to a copy of prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
His testimony, in the latest in a series of congressional hearings centered
on the riot, is aimed at rebutting broad criticism that military forces were
too slow to arrive even as pro-Trump rioters violently breached the building
and stormed inside.
Miller will be joined by former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who
is also testifying for the first time about the Justice Department's role in
the run-up to the riot.
Miller will say he was determined that the military have only limited
involvement, a perspective he says was shaped by criticism of the aggressive
response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities months earlier, as
well as decades-old episodes that ended in violence.
The Defense Department has "an extremely poor record in supporting domestic
law enforcement," including during civil rights and Vietnam War protests in the
1960s and 1970s and the fatal shooting 51 years ago of four students at Kent
State University by Ohio National Guard members, Miller says in his prepared
"I was committed to avoiding repeating these scenarios," he says.
Miller also denies that former President Donald Trump, criticized for
failing to forcefully condemn the rioters, had any involvement in the Defense
Miller will be the most senior Pentagon official to participate in hearings
on the riots. The sessions so far have featured finger-pointing about missed
intelligence, poor preparations and an inadequate law enforcement response.
The Capitol Police have faced criticism for being badly overmatched, the FBI
for failing to share with sufficient urgency intelligence suggesting a possible
"war" at the Capitol, and the Defense Department for an hourslong delay in
getting support to the complex despite the violent, deadly chaos unfolding on
"Our hearing 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," the committee's chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in
Rosen, for his part, is expected to tell lawmakers that the Justice
Department "took appropriate precautions" ahead of the riot by putting tactical
and other elite units on standby after local police reports indicated that
10,000 to 30,000 people were expected at rallies and protests.
Miller's testimony will amount to the most thorough explanation of Pentagon
actions after months of criticism that it took hours for the National Guard to
In his prepared remarks, he defends his resistance to a heavy military
response as being shaped in part by public "hysteria" about the possibility of
a military coup or concerns that the military might be used to help overturn
the election results.
Fearful of amplifying those suspicions -- as well as the possibility a
soldier might be provoked into violence in a way that could be perceived as an
attack on First Amendment activities -- he says he agreed in the days before
the insurrection to deploy soldiers only in areas away from the Capitol.
"No such thing was going to occur on my watch but these concerns, and
hysteria about them, nonetheless factored into my decisions regarding the
appropriate and limited use of our Armed Forces to support civilian law
enforcement during the Electoral College certification," Miller says. "My
obligation to the Nation was to prevent a constitutional crisis."
Although he says the Defense Department should not play a lead role in
domestic law enforcement, he felt it important to initiate planning discussions
out of concern about a lack of coordination and information-sharing between
Democrats have signaled that they intend to press Miller on why it took so
long for the National Guard to arrive despite urgent plans for help. In his
prepared testimony, Miller contends that those complaints are unjustified,
though he also concedes that the Guard was not rushed to the scene -- which he
says was intentional.
"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, or
with complying with the important legal requirements involved in the use of
such forces," he says.
Although the timeline Miller offers in his remarks generally matches up with
that provided by other high-ranking leaders, he notably puts himself at odds
with William Walker, who as commanding general of the D.C. National Guard
testified to what he said were unusual Pentagon restrictions that impeded his
response. He also described a more than three-hour delay between when aid was
requested aid and when it was received.
Walker has since become the House sergeant-at-arms, in charge of the
Miller says that Walker was given "all the authority he needed to fulfill
the mission" and that before Jan. 6 had never expressed any concern about the
forces at his disposal. Miller says he authorized the deployment of 340
National Guard personnel, the total amount Walker had said would be necessary.
Miller says he approved the activation of the Guard at 3 p.m. That support
did not arrive at the Capitol complex until well after 5 p.m., which Miller
says reflected the time-consuming process of coordination and planning.
Miller served as a White House counterterrorism adviser under Trump before
being tapped as acting defense secretary for the final months of the Trump
administration. He replaced Mark Esper, who was fired as defense secretary
after the election after being seen by Trump as insufficiently loyal.
The abrupt appointment raised concerns that Miller was in place to be a
Trump loyalist. Maloney foreshadowed a focus on Trump at Wednesday's hearing,
saying his "inflammatory language provoked and incited the violent mob."
In his opening statement, though, Miller says he believes Trump "encouraged
the protesters" but declines to say if Trump bears responsibility. He recounts
a Jan. 5 conversation when Trump, impressed by a crowd of supporters at a rally
that day, told him 10,000 troops would be needed the next day.
"The call lasted fewer than thirty seconds and I did not respond
substantively, and there was no elaboration. I took his comment to mean that a
large force would be required to maintain order the following day," Miller says.