Trump’s own Pentagon chief says rioters wouldn’t have stormed the Capitol if it hadn’t been for the president’s speech

capitol siege trump supporters
US Capitol siege in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.

  • Trump’s acting defense secretary spoke out about the role of his Jan. 6 speech in the Capitol riot.
  • Chris Miller said no one would have tried to overrun the Capitol if it weren’t for that speech.
  • Trump was impeached and tried for inciting the Jan. 6 riot. The Senate acquitted him.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The man who was leading the Pentagon on Jan. 6 says that rioters would not have stormed the Capitol if it hadn’t been for President Donald Trump’s speech beforehand.

Asked if he thought Trump was responsible for what unfolded at the Capitol, then-Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller told Vice News that the situation appears to be “cause and effect.”

“Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.”

Shortly before a pro-Trump mob descended on the Capitol complex, Trump spread falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election and told a large crowd of his supporters that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Trump encouraged the crowd to march over to the Capitol make their voices heard, telling them that they have to be strong because “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.”

Amid that aggressive rhetoric, Trump said that demonstrations and protests of congressional efforts to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election should be peaceful and patriotic. What followed was far from peaceful, though, and has been described as an “insurrection” as rioters sought to stop the election certification and tried to find top lawmakers and even Vice President Mike Pence.

Rioters were already inside the Capitol by the time Trump finally urged his supporters to go home.

Five people were killed during the riot, including one Capitol Police officer, and numerous others were injured when rioters violently forced their way into the Capitol.

Miller said that some of Trump’s comments were “concerning” in his interview with Vice News. “The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don’t know,” he said.

Trump was impeached for the second time in his one term by the House of Representatives for “incitement of insurrection” in January. He was, however, acquitted by the Senate.

Miller, who became the acting secretary of defense after Trump fired Mark Esper in November, has faced criticism for the military’s delayed reaction to riot. He has described such criticisms as “complete horses–t.”

Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the DC National Guard, recently told Congress that he could have had roughly 150 Guard troops at the Capitol within about 20 minutes of the request for support, but it took over three hours for him to get approval from senior military leaders.

Miller again rejected criticisms of his response to the riot at the Capitol during his chat with Vice News. The former Pentagon chief also indicated that there was no external pressure from the president regarding the response to the riot, and he said that he was not worried about an illegal order.

He did say, though, that there were a number of things during his time as the acting defense secretary that made him look closely at his “ethical, moral, and legal red lines.”

“I knew that I was not going to cross any of those lines, and if asked, I would resign,” he told Vice News. “If it’s antithetical to the Constitution or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is an illegal order and you don’t follow it.”

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