Former Trump officials to defend federal response to Capitol insurrection
Law enforcement officials have faced withering criticism in the months since the riot for their apparent lack of preparedness for its severity.
By Alana Wise/NPR
Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
(Washington) — Officials from the Trump administration will deliver testimony to Congress on Wednesday in defense of their handling of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection led by pro-Trump extremists, as lawmakers seek to pinpoint the administrative failures that led to the deadly riot.
Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will address the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to discuss what precautions the administration took in the weeks leading up to the rampage at the Capitol, as well as what steps were taken to quell the siege once it had begun.
“A principal concern for the Department of Defense was the apparent lack of coordination, synchronization, and information exchange with and between the numerous domestic law enforcement organizations having primary jurisdiction and responsibility over such matters in the District,” Miller will tell lawmakers on the panel, according to prepared remarks obtained by NPR.
He is expected to also cite “commentary in the media about the possibility of a military coup or that advisors to the President were advocating the declaration of martial law” as a reason for seeking to limit the use of the military.
Law enforcement officials have faced withering criticism in the months since the riot for their apparent lack of preparedness for its severity, as well as for the poor optics surrounding the event, including images of police officers posing for photos with rioters and other behaviors that some say appear to have condoned the insurrectionists’ behavior. The Capitol police chief as well as the House and Senate sergeants at arms all resigned under pressure from congressional leaders after the riot and have since pointed fingers at federal officials for shortcomings.
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WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 13: Members of the National Guard walk through U.S. Capitol grounds following the conclusion of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on February 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
The response on Jan. 6 stood in contrast to the treatment last summer of demonstrators against racism and police brutality. Those events, which were largely peaceful, were often broken up by use of force, including rubber bullets and pepper spray. Federal officers’ aggressive approach to protesters in Lafayette Square near the White House in June 2020 was especially criticized.
“The Department of Defense was very mindful of lessons learned from its experience providing support to local and federal law enforcement during the June 2020 protests near the White House and elsewhere in Washington in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder,” Miller is expected to say. “One lesson was the need for close coordination with partner agencies because our military personnel and resources must be limited to playing a supporting role to the primary law enforcement entities and only involved in certain situations with well-defined responsibilities.”