Trump defense secretary to testify on Pentagon’s delayed response to January 6 riot to Congress, prepared remarks say military has ‘an extremely poor record in supporting domestic law enforcement’: reports

Former acting defense secretary Christopher Miller
citing U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher Miller removes his face mask during a meeting with Lithuania?s Defense Minister Raimundas Karobli at the Pentagon in nearby Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 13, 2020.

  • Ex-Pentagon chief Christopher Miller will defend the department’s response to the Capitol riot before the House oversight committee, reports say.
  • The National Guard arrived at the Capitol more than four hours after pro-Trump supporters breached the building on January 6.
  • Miller is expected to say he did not immediately deploy armed forces for fear of the possibility of a military coup.
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A former Pentagon chief who served during the January 6 riot will defend the Pentagon’s delayed response to the Capitol in a congressional testimony later this week, the Associated Press and Reuters reported Tuesday

Christopher Miller, who served as acting defense secretary under former President Donald Trump on January 6, will appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday in his first public testimony about the insurrection.

Miller is expected to testify alongside former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and District of Columbia Police Chief Robert Contee III.

In prepared remarks reviewed by the AP and Reuters, Miller expressed concern over the possibility of a military coup if he deployed armed troops to respond to pro-Trump supporters storming the Capitol.

“I am keenly aware of the criticism regarding the Department of Defense’s response,” Miller’s remarks read, according to the Reuters report.

“My concerns regarding the appropriate and limited use of the military in domestic matters were heightened by commentary in the media about the possibility of a military coup or that advisors to the President were advocating the declaration of martial law.”

In his remarks, Miller cites public “hysteria” as a factor in his decision of “limited use” of armed forces to “to support civilian law enforcement.”

He also wrote that the Defense Department has “an extremely poor record in supporting domestic law enforcement,” citing specific scenarios like civil rights demonstrations and protests against the Vietnam War, as well as the Kent State shootings. “And some 51 years ago, on May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guard troops fired at demonstrators at Kent State University and killed four American civilians.”

“I was committed to avoiding repeating these scenarios,” he added.

Miller also notes that “logistical challenges” contributed to the delayed deployment of National Guard troops to the Capitol. National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol more than four hours after rioters breached the building as lawmakers worked to certify President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election.

“This isn’t a video game where you can move forces with a flick of the thumb or a movie that glosses over the logistical challenges and the time required to coordinate and synchronize with the multitude of other entities involved, or with complying with the important legal requirements involved in the use of such forces,” the remarks continue.

In his opening statement, Miller wrote that he believes Trump “encouraged the protesters that day,” but it remains unclear if the former acting defense secretary thinks the former president is responsible for the insurrection at the Capitol.

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Trump’s acting secretary of defense is working to install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer for the NSA just days before the president leaves office

Christopher Miller
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller at a Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony led by President Donald Trump at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2020.

  • Trump’s acting secretary of defense told the head of the National Security Agency to install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer at the agency by 6 pm on Saturday.
  • NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone did not honor Christopher Miller’s request by the deadline.  
  • Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection and is working to delay his placement. 
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Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told the head of the National Security Agency to install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer at the agency, The Washington Post reported.

Miller ordered that Michael Ellis be appointed as general counsel by 6 pm on Saturday, but NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone did not follow that order as of the deadline, according to CNN

The Post reported Ellis was tapped for the job back in November by Pentagon General Counsel Paul C. Ney Jr., but he still hasn’t taken the position and has to finish administrative procedures.

His selection came a shortly after Biden was projected to win the presidential election. Around the same time, nearly a dozen senior government officials were fired, forced to resign, or resigned in protest, including a political purge at the Defense Department by President Donald Trump.

Several sources told The Post that Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection to the role and wanted to delay his placement. 

The general counsel position at the NSA is not a political one but a civil servant role, which means it would be harder for the incoming Biden administration to fire him.

Sources told The Post that Nakasone and others are worried that the Trump administration is trying to plant political personnel in a civilian role, which could violate a long-standing policy.

National security legal experts were critical of the effort to install Ellis into the role just a few days before Trump leaves office.

In November, when Ellis’s nomination was first announced, Susan Hennessey, a former NSA attorney, said it “appears to be an attempt to improperly politicize an important career position.”

On Saturday, Hennessy said if Ellis is installed then Biden should remove him on the day he’s inaugurated. 

“At this point, no one should extend this selection process the benefit of the doubt. By all indications, the Trump admin is violating civil service rules and politicizing an apolitical role. If Ellis is installed tonight, Biden should remove him on Day One,” she said in a tweet.

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‘I cannot wait to leave this job’: Trump’s defense secretary joked with reporters about the end of his term, the future of the department

Christopher Miller
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller at a Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony led by President Donald Trump at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2020.

  • Outgoing acting defense secretary Christopher Miller on Thursday appeared to josh with reporters, saying he “cannot wait to leave this job, believe me.”
  • “Oh, did I say that out loud,” he added.
  • Miller has been viewed as a temporary placeholder after being selected by President Donald Trump in December to replace Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was fired a month before.
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Outgoing acting defense secretary Christopher Miller on Thursday appeared to joke with reporters, saying he “cannot wait to leave this job, believe me.”

Speaking to reporters, Miller made several light-hearted quips about the state of the defense industry and America’s military posture ahead of the inauguration on January 20.

“And, uh, it’s kind of the future of the department, even though a lot of people just want to continue doing the same old thing again and again,” Miller said, according to a Defense Department transcript of the talks. “I think that’s the definition of insanity, isn’t it?”

“Oh, did I say that out loud,” he added.

Miller, a former US Army Special Forces soldier and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, has been viewed as a temporary placeholder after being selected by President Donald Trump in December. He replaced Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was fired in the previous month.

Esper was opposed to using active-duty military forces to quell the Black Lives Matter protests across the country in the summer, a proposition Trump made several times in leaked calls with senior officials. After his termination, Esper co-signed an opinion column with all of the 10 living defense secretaries, warning that the military has no role in the presidential transitions and that the election results had been certified.

As the end of Miller’s term draws near, the defense secretary appeared to make that fact clear. 

“I mean, I cannot wait to leave this job, believe me,” Miller said after being asked a question about the Pentagon’s controversial and lucrative defense contracts. 

Asked by a reporter what he was “hoping to see” from US Northern Command, the military command supporting civilian assets in the US, ahead of the inauguration, Miller gave a literal answer.

“I needed to look the commander in the eye, because, you know, the president, [Secretary of Defense], me … I, whatever the correct English is, you guys can clean that up,” Miller said. 

“I wanted to look the guy in the eye and get a sense for his soul, and I think he probably needed to do that for me as well,” he continued. “So, you know, that was why I really felt it important to go out and sit down and have a cup of coffee with him, talk about it, small group, think through it, make sure we kinda had that mind meld.”

President-elect Joe Biden nominated retired US Army Gen. Lloyd Austin for the top Pentagon position. Austin will require a waiver from Congress, due to a law requiring defense secretaries to be out of the military for at least seven years.

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