Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops’ role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee
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: The National Guard is ramping up its presence in D.C. ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after last week’s deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.
By Saturday, there will be at least 10,000 Guardsmen in Washington, D.C., to boost security, with as many as 15,000 authorized if needed, National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel Hokanson said Monday.
That’s an increase from the roughly 6,200 Guardsmen from six states and the District already mobilized after the Capitol riots.
The authorization of extra troops follows requests from the Secret Service, Capitol Police and Park Police “to support security, logistics, liaison, & communication missions,” Hokanson said in a statement.
“As always, our first priority is to protect people and property. The National Guard looks forward to working with our district and federal partners to ensure a peaceful inauguration for President Elect Biden on January 20th.”
Blame game: Local officials, Capitol Police and the Pentagon are continuing to trade blame about why more Guardsmen hadn’t been activated before the riot and why they weren’t mustered immediately after the Capitol was breached. Only a small force of 340 Guardsmen were on hand elsewhere in D.C. during the mayhem.
Pentagon officials have pushed back on allegations that they were caught flat-footed, telling reporters last week that the chaotic events were a “rapidly evolving situation” that they did not anticipate and that Capitol Police turned down their earlier offers for help.
“We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation,” Hoffman said. “And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”
On Sunday, in an interview with the Washington Post, outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund accused House and Senate security officials of hindering multiple efforts before and during the Capitol riot to call in the National Guard.
Sund said House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of declaring an emergency ahead of the protests, and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger recommended Sund informally request the Guard to be ready.
Sund also said at about 2:26 p.m. he requested the Pentagon provide backup on a conference call. But a top Army official said he couldn’t recommend Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy authorize deployment, saying he didn’t “like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” the Post reported, citing participants in the call.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) also said Sunday he was still confused about why the Pentagon was slow in granting permission for the Maryland National Guard to come help secure the Capitol.
“All I know is that we were trying to get answers and we weren’t getting answers. It could have been just the fog of what’s going on,” Hogan said on CNN.
Lawmakers demand Pentagon investigations: A growing number of lawmakers is demanding the Pentagon investigate whether active-duty troops or military retirees were among the rioters.
The latest call came Monday from Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs when her helicopter was shot down.
In a letter to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Monday, Duckworth asked that he “immediately” direct each military branch’s criminal investigation service to work with the FBI and Capitol Police to determine whether active-duty troops or retirees “engaged in insurrection against the authority of the United States, or participated in a seditious conspiracy that used force to: oppose the authority of the United States; prevent, hinder and delay the execution of the Electoral Count Act; and unlawfully seize, take or possess property of the United States.”
Her letter came after a similar one to Miller from Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.) and Sara Jacobs (Calif.), as well as a letter from Gallego and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy asking for a House Armed Services Committee briefing on the Pentagon and National Guard response to the siege.
Crow also spoke with McCarthy on the phone Sunday and, among other things, “raised grave concerns about reports that active duty and reserve military members were involved in the insurrection,” according to a statement on the call from Crow’s office.
One veteran arrested already: A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Larry Rendall Brock Jr., was arrested Sunday in Texas and charged by federal prosecutors with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, as well as one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Brock had been photographed on the Senate floor Wednesday wearing a Kevlar helmet and flak jacket with military patches and holding plastic zip-ties used by law enforcement as handcuffs.
The Army is also reportedly investigating an active-duty psychological operations officer who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally that preceded the deadly riot, though she insisted to The Associated Press that neither she nor anyone in her group entered the Capitol.
The officer, Capt. Emily Rainey, reportedly already submitted her resignation in September after she was disciplined for tearing down caution tape at a playground that was closed under North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions. But because the process to separate an officer can take months, she is not officially due to leave the Army until April.
AUSTIN FINANCIAL, ETHICS DISCLOSURES RELEASED: President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to be Defense secretary, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, stands to make up to $1.7 million when he leaves the board of defense contractor Raytheon Technologies Corp. if he’s confirmed, according to his financial disclosure forms.
The disclosures, released Sunday, do not give an exact value of Austin’s stock holdings related to his position on the Raytheon board of directors, but place the range from about $800,000 to about $1.75 million.
In ethics forms, Austin pledged to fully divest from Raytheon within 90 days of being confirmed, as well as to recuse himself from decisions involving the company for a year unless a Pentagon ethics official determines the need for his participation outweighs the perception of a conflict of interest.
Austin took a board seat at United Technologies Corp. shortly after he retired from the military in 2016. He became a board member at Raytheon after it merged with United Technologies in 2020.
As part of his compensation, he was given stock at Raytheon, as well as at two spin-off companies from the merger — Otis Worldwide Corp. and Carrier Global Corp.
The exact value of his payout when he divests his stock will be based on the closing value on the date of his resignation, according to the ethics disclosure.
Context: It’s not uncommon for Defense secretaries to have ties to contractors. Three of the people who led the Pentagon in the Trump administration had defense contractor connections: former Secretary James Mattis was on the board at General Dynamics, former Secretary Mark Esper was Raytheon’s top lobbyist and former acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan was an executive at Boeing.
But it is a practice blasted by progressive Democrats and other critics of the Pentagon’s so-called revolving door, and is an issue likely to be raised during Austin’s Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing next week.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on civilian control of the military with testimony from outside experts at 9:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/2Xwhjgh
— The Hill: Capitol riots spark fear of Trump’s military powers in final days
— The Hill: Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director
— The Hill: 25 domestic terrorism investigations opened after assault on Capitol
— The Hill: Kim says North Korean efforts will focus on bringing US ‘to their knees’
— The Hill: US designating Houthi rebels in Yemen as terrorists
— Washington Post: How the military could bring retirees back to face charges after the Capitol riot
— Foreign Policy: ‘Stop f—ing lying’: Congress, Trump officials in heated exchange over terrorism designations
— Task and Purpose: The Army is kicking out that lieutenant who made a Holocaust joke on TikTok
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