Acting Pentagon chief condemns violence, commends law enforcement response to Capitol attack

Acting Pentagon chief condemns violence, commends law enforcement response to Capitol attack
© Bonnie Cash

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller on Thursday condemned the violent attacks on the U.S. Capitol more than 24 hours after President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE’s supporters were cleared from the premises.

“Yesterday’s violence at the Capitol was reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution,” Miller said in a statement. 

“I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on January 20.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump at a rally Wednesday morning urged supporters to march on the Capitol while Congress was certifying President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE’s presidential Electoral College victory.

Following the president's speech, a mob of his supporters breached the Capitol building, smashing windows and confronting Capitol Police in the hallways. One woman participating in the riot was shot by the Capitol Police and died later Wednesday from her injuries.

The chaos forced lawmakers to halt the counting of Electoral College votes and shelter in secure undisclosed locations. 

The entire, 1,100-person D.C. National Guard was activated Wednesday to respond to the attack. The events of the day also led Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserFeehery: DC will become the inverse of West Berlin The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat The Hill's Morning Report: Biden takes it on the chin MORE (D) to implement a 6 p.m. citywide curfew.

A growing number of both Republican and Democratic leaders have blamed Trump for the violence.

Since the November election, Trump has repeatedly alleged that the election was tainted by widespread fraud, and has claimed that Vice President Pence, who presided over the joint session in Congress on Wednesday, had the ability to overturn the election results.

The role of the vice president during Congress's certification of election is largely ceremonial. In addition, federal election officials have stated that the 2020 election was secure and that they have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. 

Lawmakers have also called for Trump’s removal through either the 25th Amendment or impeachment, and several members of the Trump administration have resigned from their posts following the riots. 

On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoHogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Top Republicans pressing Hogan to run for Senate Biden returns restores tradition, returning to Kennedy Center Honors MORE announced that she will resign from her position effective Jan. 11. 

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfCawthorn 'likely' violated rules by bringing candidate on House floor After a year of blatant ethics violations, Congress must reform corruption laws Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Stephen Miller, Kayleigh McEnany MORE called on Trump to strongly condemn the violence that took place in Congress. Following his call on the president, the White House announced that it was withdrawing its nomination for Wolf to serve permanently in the position. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In his statement Thursday, Miller did not address the actions of the president, but instead praised Defense Department personnel. 

“Our Republic may have been disrupted yesterday, but the resolve of our legislators to conduct the people’s business did not waver. Due to their efforts, supported by local and federal law enforcement and the National Guard, the attempts of those who tried to stop our government from functioning failed,” Miller said.

Several of Trump’s former top Pentagon officials spoke out Wednesday, including former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump's 'Enemies List' — end of year edition The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE, who directly blamed Trump.

“Today's violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mattis said in a statement to several news outlets.

“His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice,” Mattis added.

And former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, who until 2019 was Trump’s top military adviser, faulted “leaders who have continued to undermine a peaceful transition.”

Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE, who Trump fired as Defense secretary shortly after November’s election, also blamed “partisan misinformation and patently false claims about the election” for inspiring the attacks.