DC National Guard deployment wasn’t purposefully delayed on Jan. 6, final report finds
No Pentagon officials deliberately held off on sending the National Guard to the U.S. Capitol during the attacks of Jan. 6, 2021, the House committee investigating the insurrection said in its final report. Rather, it said conflicting messages caused a delay.
The committee lays blame on then-President Trump for the holdup as rioters attacked the building’s police officers, smashed windows and searched for lawmakers for more than three hours until guard members showed up to help quell the chaos.
“President Trump had authority and responsibility to direct deployment of the National Guard in the District of Columbia, but never gave any order to deploy the National Guard on January 6th or on any other day,” the committee wrote in the 845-page report it released Thursday evening. “Nor did he instruct any Federal law enforcement agency to assist.”
A key focus of the committee was looking into why it took hours for the Pentagon to eventually send the National Guard to the Capitol as the calamity unfolded.
The final report states that Washington, D.C., National Guard head Maj. Gen. William Walker “strongly” considered sending his troops without specific orders from the White House or top Defense Department officials, but ultimately held off.
“Guard officials located with Major General Walker at the Armory all say he seriously contemplated aloud the possibility of breaking with the chain of command,” according to the report. “‘Should we just deploy now and resign tomorrow?’ [an officer] recalled Major General Walker bluntly putting it.”
Walker told the committee he “would have done just that,” had acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy not sent out two memos just days earlier. Those documents restricted National Guard deployments around the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, over fears they could be viewed as too political.
“While the delay seems unnecessary and unacceptable, it was the byproduct of military processes, institutional caution and a revised deployment approval process,” the report states. “We have no evidence that the delay was intentional. Likewise, it appears that none of the individuals involved understood what President Trump planned for January 6th, and how he would behave during the violence.”
The committee also found there were “genuine” concerns that Trump might try to use the military for a coup attempt as lawmakers counted Electoral College ballots to certify President Biden’s win, since the former commander in chief used the military to respond to racial justice protests in summer 2020.
Walker did eventually get permission to send guard troops to the Capitol after congressional leaders frantically called Pentagon officials, but Trump was never involved in the talks, according to the report.
Trump also never gave the Pentagon orders to prepare troops before the now infamous day in U.S. history, Miller told the House panel this summer.
There were conversations with Trump about deploying National Guard troops with his senior staff that day, but only as security for a planned parade with the former president on his way to the Capitol — a plan that was shot down by top White House advisers, the report notes.
Trump and his allies have previously insisted that he made orders to have guard troops ready before Jan. 6.
The final report tracks with conclusions reached in the Defense Department inspector general’s report, released last year, that found Pentagon officials did not delay or obstruct their response to the attack.
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