’I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature,’ said former defence secretary Chris Miller in a video shared by the January 6 Committee
Donald Trump’s former acting defence secretary contradicted his previous remarks about his former boss lodging a formal request to have more than 10,000 troops deployed to the Capitol on 6 January 2021, according to a video released by the committee investigating the riot.
Chris Miller, who served under the former president in the waning months of his first term after he tweeted in November 2020 that he’d “terminated” Mr Miller’s predecessor, Mark Esper, from the position, was heard in a newly released closed-door testimony from the House select committee stating that he was never ordered by Trump to send National Guard troops to protect the Capitol, contradicting previous statements and testimonies he’d provided months earlier.
“I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature,” Mr Miller said in the video, shared by the January 6 Committee official Twitter account on Tuesday night.
In the caption to the tweet sharing the video, the committee states: “To remove any doubt: Not only did Donald Trump fail to contact his Secretary of Defense on January 6th (as shown in our hearing), Trump also failed to give any order prior to January 6 to deploy the military to protect the Capitol.”
The pre-recorded closed-door meeting with Mr Miller shows the former defence secretary definitively saying that, unlike previous remarks he’d made, the then-president did not order troops to be deployed to the Capitol before or during the riot.
“To be crystal clear, there was no direct order from President Trump to put 10,000 troops ‘to be on the ready’ for January 6th, correct?” said an unnamed interviewer in the video clip, referring back to a February 2021 Fox News segment when Mr Miller had stated that Trump had ordered “as many as 10,000 National Guard troops … to be on the ready”.
“That’s correct. There was no direct, there was no order from the President.”
“We obviously had plans for activating more folks, but that was not anything more than contingency planning,” Mr Miller added, before conceding that there had been no “no official message traffic or anything of that nature”.
The testimony that the former defence secretary made upsets a narrative of the events on Jan 6 that has been touted by Trump-loyalists and the president himself, not to mention Mr Miller’s own public remarks and under oath testimonies.
While testifying during a May 2021 hearing held by the House Oversight Committee, which was investigating the security failures in the days leading up to the violent mob’s descent on the Capitol, Mr Miller stated that he’d spoken with the one-term president just three days before the rally and told the panel that Trump wanted National Guard troops in Washington, but only to protect his supporters.
“I had a meeting with Trump on 3rd of January concerning some international threats and at the very end, he asked if there were any requests for National Guard support,” said Mr Miller while being asked by the House of Representatives panel about requests made by Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser for the National Guard’s presence on Jan 6.
“Fill it and do whatever’s necessary to protect the demonstrators,” he said to the panel, relaying what the former president had said in response to the DC mayor’s request.
Mr Miller’s video testimony to the Jan 6 panel also contradicts public remarks he’d made as recently as last month, when the former defence secretary appeared on Fox News’ Hannity alongside his former chief of staff, Kash Patel.
During the segment, Fox News host Sean Hannity claimed that Mayor Bowser and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to certify Trump’s requests to send in the National Guard, a narrative that neither Mr Patel nor Mr Miller contested.
“Mr Trump unequivocally authorised up to 20,000 National Guardsmen and -women for us to utilise should the second part of the law—the requests—come in. But those requests never did, as you highlighted,” said Mr Patel.
The Fox News host then went one step further for clarification and asked the two men if they had made these statements regarding Trump’s purported authorisation for the National Guard “under oath”.
“Let me be very clear. Both of you said this under oath, under the threat of—the penalty of perjury to the committee?” he asked.
“Absolutely, Sean,” responded Mr Miller, before stating that Trump was “doing exactly what I expect the commander-in-chief to do.”
Mr Miller’s earlier statements regarding the National Guard being authorised by the former president clash with his formal testimony but align with the Trump-loyalist narrative that the then-president’s supposed efforts to protect the Capitol were thwarted by Democratic lawmakers.
Just last month, the former president took to his own social media platform, Truth Social, to again push out the line that he’d offered up to 20,000 National Guard troops on the day of the riot.
“The Unselect Committee has now learned that I, as President suggested and offered up to 20,000 National Guard, or troops, be deployed in D.C. because it was felt that the crowd was going to be very large,” he wrote on 9 June 2022, before blaming “Crazy Nancy Pelosi” for rejecting his supposed offer.
“Had they taken up the offer, there would have been no January 6. The Unselects have ruled Pelosi ‘off limits, no questions.’ The hearing is another political HOAX to counter inflation etc,” he added.
The House select committee has concluded with their summer sessions of the public hearings showcasing the more than a year-long probe into the events leading up to and during the deadly insurrection at the Capitol.
Committee members have indicated that they’ll continue to collect evidence before a fall session of televised proceedings, set for September ahead of the fall midterms, will restart.