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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 TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm 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.”

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Trump at a rally Wednesday morning urged supporters to march on the Capitol while Congress was certifying President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Obama alum Seth Harris to serve as Biden labor adviser: report 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 BowserAbigail Breslin mourns loss of father from COVID-19 NAACP president accuses Trump of having operated under 'white supremacist doctrine' DC vaccine sign-ups plagued with technical problems 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.

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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 ChaoThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden on COVID-19: Next year Americans will be 'better off' Buttigieg sets goals for electric, automated freight vehicles Ben Carson launches conservative think tank MORE announced that she will resign from her position effective Jan. 11. 

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Liberal watchdog group files ethics complaint over Boebert's reimbursements Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides 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. 

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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 MattisRejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs The GOP senators likely to vote for Trump's conviction 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 EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command 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.