Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors

Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors
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Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: A National Guard officer is poised to tell a House committee that the Park Police’s action to remove protesters from Lafayette Square last month was an “unprovoked escalation.”

The testimony of Maj. Adam DeMarco, who served as a liaison between the Park Police and D.C. National Guard during the incident, contradicts Trump administration officials’ previous explanations for why they forcibly cleared the area of protesters.

“From my observation, those demonstrators – our fellow American citizens -- were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” DeMarco said in written testimony. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”

The House Natural Resources Committee released DeMarco’s testimony ahead of a Tuesday hearing on the Lafayette Square incident. DeMarco is scheduled to testify alongside acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan.

A Park Police spokesperson did not immediately return The Hill’s request for comment. 

DeMarco’s account: In his testimony, DeMarco wrote that Park Police briefed him on a plan to clear the area in order to erect a fence on the northern edge of Lafayette Square, but that he didn’t think it would start until after the 7 p.m. curfew D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed that night.

At about 6:05 p.m., he said, he saw Attorney General William BarrBill BarrHillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations How would a Biden Justice Department be different? MORE and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley walking across the square. Barr spoke with Park Police officers, while DeMarco gave a briefing to Milley on the situation. Milley told DeMarco to “ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights,” according to the testimony.

After Milley and Barr left, at about 6:20 p.m., Park Police began warning demonstrators to disperse, but the announcements were “barely audible” from where DeMarco was standing 20 yards away from the protesters, and the protesters showed no sign of having heard the warnings, he said. The clearing operation started about 10 minutes later.

When, during the initial clearing operation, DeMarco saw smoke, a Park Police officer told him it was “stage smoke” and that no tear gas was being used against protesters, he said. 

“But I could feel irritation in my eyes and nose, and based on my previous exposure to tear gas in my training at West Point and later in my Army training, I recognized that irritation as effects consistent with CS or ‘tear gas,’” he continued. “And later that evening, I found spent tear gas canisters on the street nearby.”

DeMarco also said he saw some protesters fall to the ground as Park Police used shields as weapons and that he witnessed unidentified law enforcement officers firing “paintball-like” weapons that he later learned were firing pepper balls.

By 7:05 p.m., DeMarco said, he saw President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE make his now infamous walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which DeMarco said was a “complete surprise, as we had not been briefed that he would enter our sector.”

As for the fencing that was the stated reason for needing to clear the area, the material didn’t arrive until 9 p.m., and the new barrier wasn’t completed until later that night, he said.

DEMS UP PRESSURE AHEAD OF TATA HEARING: President Trump’s controversial nominee to take over the Pentagon’s policy shop will have his confirmation hearing this week, but Democrats are calling on him to withdraw beforehand.

In a letter released Monday, the 10 Senate Democrats wrote to Anthony Tata urging him to withdraw his nomination to be under secretary of Defense for policy, as well as resign from his current post as a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance Overnight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Trump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports MORE.

“Your record of offensive and inflammatory comments disqualifies you from serving in your current position and the position for which you have been nominated,” the Democrats wrote in the letter, dated Friday.

The letter was organized by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Markey riffs on JFK quote in new ad touting progressive bona fides Howard Kurtz: Kamala Harris 'getting walk on water coverage' by media after VP pick MORE (D-Mass.), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, and co-signed by fellow committee Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Expanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthChris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' GOP lawmaker: 'Pretty cool' Harris has a shot at being the 'most powerful person in the world' Fox's Ari Fleischer: Harris 'not that historically exciting to African Americans' MORE (D-Ill.).

The other signatories are Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Merkley, Sanders introduce bill limiting corporate facial recognition MORE (D-Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards | Democratic lawmakers ask Interior to require masks indoors at national parks | Harris climate agenda stresses need for justice EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards Democrats unveil bill to penalize gas producers for blowouts ahead of expected Trump methane rollback MORE (D-Md.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWhat Trump's orders will and won't do for payroll taxes, unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (D-Ohio), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Booker hits back at Trump tweet, mocks misspelling of name MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Kamala Harris: The outreach Latinos need Biden and Harris seen as more moderate than Trump and Pence: poll MORE (I-Vt.).

“No one with a record of repeated, repugnant statements like yours should be nominated to serve in a senior position of public trust at the Pentagon,” they wrote. “Your views are wholly incompatible with the U.S. military’s values.”

Background: The nomination of Tata, a retired Army brigadier general most known for his frequent guest appearances on Fox News, has been a flashpoint since CNN resurfaced several inflammatory and racist tweets Tata wrote about former President Obama and other Democratic politicians.

In 2018 tweets, for example, Tata called Obama a “terrorist leader” and said Islam is “most oppressive violent religion I know of.” He also called Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Bill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' MORE (D-Calif.) a "vicious race baiting racist” and said she and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSusan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail' Trump says he'd sign bill funding USPS but won't seek changes to help mail voting On The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' MORE (D-Calif.) "have always been the same violent extremists."

Tata has since deleted many of the offensive tweets. After CNN’s reports and after several Armed Services Democrats, including committee ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (D-R.I.), came out in opposition to Tata’s nomination, he also penned a letter to Reed and committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeLincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire Trump's contempt for advice and consent Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (R-Okla.) expressing regret at the tweets and calling them an “aberration in a four decade thread of faithful public service.”

PENTAGON NEEDS TO CONSIDER CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS ON CONTRACTORS, WATCHDOG SAYS: The Pentagon has not regularly assessed risks posed to contractors by climate change, potentially jeopardizing the department’s ability to carry out its mission, a government watchdog said in a report released Monday.

The Department of Defense (DOD) “has not systematically incorporated consideration of climate change into its acquisition and supply processes, consequently limiting the military departments’ ability to best consider the potential effects on their own operations from climate-related risks faced by their contractors as part of these processes,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) wrote in the report.

“Excluding climate change and extreme weather considerations will limit DOD’s ability to anticipate and manage climate-related risks so as to build resilience into its processes, and could jeopardize its ability to carry out its missions,” the GAO added.

The GAO recommended the Pentagon and each of the military departments implement a 2016 directive on climate change by updating guidance on acquisition and supply.

Lawmakers press Pentagon: The GAO report was first released by Warren and Reed, who requested the watchdog study the effects of climate change on defense contractors and the defense supply chain last year.

In a letter to Esper released Monday, Warren and Reed urged him to implement the GAO’s recommendations.

“We recognize that incorporating climate risk analysis into the DoD’s contracting processes in a systematic way is a challenging task, but the potential risks to DoD operations and mission critical assets are significant,” they wrote. “If DoD fails to identify and address the impacts of climate change to its contracts and supply chains, it could jeopardize DoD’s ability to carry out its missions.”

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host an online event unveiling the “State of the Space Industrial Base Report 2020” with officials from the Defense Innovation Unit, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Force and more at 11 a.m. https://bit.ly/3f6DP5U

The House Rules Committee will meet to prepare the next “mini-bus” appropriations bill, which includes that fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill, at 11 a.m. https://bit.ly/30Q33jH

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Lt. Gen. Glen VanHerck to be commander of U.S. Northern Command and Lt. Gen. James Dickinson to be commander of U.S. Space Command at 2:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/3g65mWp

ICYMI

-- The Hill: US, China jockey for advantage in space race

-- The Hill: Ocasio-Cortez calls for end to federal funding for military recruitment in schools

-- The Hill: Trump's national security adviser tests positive for coronavirus

-- The Hill: Opinion: In defense of Mark Esper

-- The Hill: Opinion: The world once tried to ban armed drones, but now everyone has them

-- New York Times: An American mustache that irritated South Koreans is no more

-- Associated Press: Iran moves mock aircraft carrier to sea amid US tensions

-- Navy Times: Honor Guard sailor collapses from ‘extreme heat and dehydration’ during procession for the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance More than 50 Confederate monuments have been removed since Floyd's death: report Trump rips Bill Maher as 'exhausted, gaunt and weak' MORE