‘Lied With Impunity’: National Guard Whistleblowers Accuse Army Leaders Of Covering Up Jan. 6 Deployment Delay


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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Four D.C. National Guard officials involved in responding to the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021, alleged on Wednesday that top Army leaders lied to Congress about why they did not order the guard to deploy for hours after the need became clear.

Several high-ranking Pentagon leaders at the time, including former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley have claimed the National Guard was sent to the Capitol as soon as they were needed, according to Politico. But National Guard “whistleblowers” accused the officials of seeking to cover up the Army’s reputation and shift the blame elsewhere in testimony before a panel of the House Administration Committee at a hearing Wednesday.

“I have no idea why we never received that order,” retired D.C. National Guard Command Sergeant Major Michael Brooks, told lawmakers. “All I know is that they were more concerned with what it would look like with soldiers with the Capitol in the background than protecting the Capitol of the United States.” (RELATED: Supreme Court Justices Appear Skeptical Of Biden DOJ’s Broad Use Of Statute To Charge Jan. 6 Defendants)

He attributed the roughly three-hour span between when the D.C. police chief pleaded for National Guard assistance and when troops received the order to deploy to “misunderstandings of the capabilities of the D.C. National Guard and the seriousness of the situation.”

McCarthy and senior leaders of the Army staff delayed dispatching the National Guard, Brooks added.

The hearing sought to determine the National Guard’s role in defending the capitol and fill in gaps of what is known about broader security failures that day. In March, the panel released transcripts of testimony from White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato, who stated former President Donald Trump offered National Guard troops to defend the Capitol but that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser rejected them, contravening the narrative they say the Democrat-led Jan. 6 Select Committee sought to create about the incident.

Then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund requested National Guard assistance on a 2:30 p.m. phone call following reports rioters had breached the barriers surrounding the Capitol, according to a 2021 memo compiled by then-Lt. Timothy Nick at the time. But Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, then the Army’s director of operations, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, former director of the Army staff, opposed the move.

They worried the “optics” would not be good and recommended the guard be on standby instead, according to the notes.

Later, the two generals denied they opposed sending the D.C. Guard to the Capitol, according to Politico.

“At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol,” Piatt told Congress in 2021.

Flynn asserted he “never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of” National Guard troops near the Capitol in written answers to congressional inquiry. Flynn also said he and Piatt were waiting on authorization from McCarthy to deploy the National Guard.

Instead, the two argued that the D.C. National Guard was not prepared to deploy, according to Politico.

Every witness on the panel Wednesday — Brig. Gen. Aaron Dean, adjutant general for the D.C. National Guard, Nick, Col. Earl Matthews and Brooks — agreed that the deployment was, in fact, delayed. They disputed suggestions the guard was not prepared to deploy to assist U.S. Capitol Police to secure the capitol grounds.

Miller authorized the D.C. Guard to deploy at 3 p.m. It also had the capability to mobilize at the time,  Matthews, then chief legal adviser to the D.C. National Guard, said on Wednesday, but McCarthy did not give the order to move.

Members of the National Guard were “not allowed to do our job due to paralyzed decision making,” Nick told the panel on Wednesday.

Witnesses also said that while they had informal interviews with investigators on the Jan. 6 committee, meaning they were not transcribed for the record, they were never called to testify.

Matthews also said their warnings about the credibility of some of the witnesses went unheeded.

The Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General report published in November 2021 found that the DOD’s response to the domestic unrest, including requests to assist the U.S. Capitol Police, were “reasonable in light of the circumstances that existed on that day.”

Brooks accused senior DOD leaders of manipulating the IG report “to protect and advance individuals who sought to shield themselves from responsibility, to overly enhance their role and perceived significance in a critical moment in the history of our nation’s democracy.”

Matthews said he was on the 2:30 call and spoke to Flynn and Piatt multiple times during the day.

“These officers lied with impunity,” Matthews said.

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