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Former Trump acting defense chief defends ‘every decision’ made on Jan. 6

Then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller speaks during a meeting at the Pentagon on Nov. 13, 2020.
Then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller speaks during a meeting at the Pentagon on Nov. 13, 2020. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Christopher C. Miller, who was the Trump administration’s acting Pentagon chief, will defend his choices regarding the timing and manner of National Guard deployment to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, telling a congressional committee that he stands by “every decision I made that day.”

“Those of you with military experience or who understand the nature of military deployments will recognize how rapid our response was,” Miller will say Wednesday, according to prepared remarks. “I am keenly aware of the criticism regarding the Department of Defense’s response to the January 6 events at the Capitol. I believe that this criticism is unfounded and reflects inexperience with, or a lack of understanding of, the nature of military operations or, worse, that it is simply the result of politics.”

A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop the congressional affirmation of President Biden’s win, a deadly attack egged on by former president Donald Trump’s repeated falsehoods about a stolen election.

Miller will describe how the Defense Department approved D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s request for an unarmed military presence in the District on Jan. 6. He also will tell lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee that he was reluctant to lean on the military too heavily after the optics of using uniformed service members to clear racial injustice protesters outside the White House in June 2020 so Trump could pose for a photo with a Bible.

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“I agreed only to deploy our soldiers in areas away from the Capitol, avoiding amplifying the irresponsible narrative that your Armed Forces were somehow going to be co-opted in an effort to overturn the election,” Miller says in his prepared remarks.

Miller plans to offer a timeline that he says shows a rapid response by the military. He learned of the breach at the Capitol around 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., met with other leaders at 2:30 to discuss a response, and at 3 p.m. approved the activation of the National Guard to the Capitol. The Guard arrived at the Capitol at 5:22 p.m.

“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 is expected to say.

Miller will reiterate that he thinks Trump encouraged the mob on Jan. 6 but will maintain that he’s not able to “make an official assessment of his responsibility.”

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