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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 BarrBoehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Dominion: Ex-Michigan state senator 'sowing discord in our democracy' with election fraud claims Hunter Biden says he doesn't know if Delaware laptop was his 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 TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he 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 paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative Biden to keep Trump-era land mine policy in place during review 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 WarrenDemocrats reintroduce bill to block US from using nuclear weapons first CEO who gave employees K minimum wage says revenue tripled 6 years later Forgiving K in school loans would free 36 million student borrowers from debt: data MORE (D-Mass.), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, and co-signed by fellow committee Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIntelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Jon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoAnti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause MORE (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthLawmakers demand justice for Adam Toledo: 'His hands were up. He was unarmed' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Overnight Defense: Biden officially rolls out Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Probe finds issues with DC Guard helicopter use during June protests MORE (D-Ill.).

The other signatories are Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyLobbying world Face mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Green tech isn't all it's cracked up to be MORE (D-Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenLawmakers struggle with Capitol security after latest attack Democrats torn on Biden's bipartisan pledge Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE (D-Md.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBig bank CEOS to testify before Congress in May Democrats get good news from IRS Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC MORE (D-Ohio), Cory BookerCory BookerProgressive lawmakers press DHS chief on immigration detention Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Biden's DOJ civil rights nominee faces sharp GOP criticism MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Trump was right about 'trying to end endless wars' Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Bernie Sanders says he disagrees with Tlaib's call for 'no more police' 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 cuts off Jim Jordan, Fauci sparring at hearing: 'Shut your mouth' Big bank CEOS to testify before Congress in May Maxine Waters: 'Hard to believe' officer meant to use Taser on Daunte Wright MORE (D-Calif.) a "vicious race baiting racist” and said she and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations 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 ReedJack ReedBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Overnight Defense: Biden nominating first female Army secretary | Israel gets tough on Iran amid nuclear talks | Army's top enlisted soldier 'very proud' of officer pepper sprayed by police On The Money: CDC extends coronavirus eviction ban through June 30 | Biden to detail infrastructure proposal Wednesday | US won't quickly lift Trump tariffs on China 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 InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike 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

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