Top Trump Administration Officials Refuse to Take Responsibility for Failure to Prepare for and Respond to January 6 Attack
Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to examine the events of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to count the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election.
“January 6th was a historic failure,” Chairwoman Maloney stated at the end of today’s hearing. “The Capitol was overrun, several Americans died, and our nation’s peaceful transfer of power was nearly derailed. If the Attorney General had done his job, then our law enforcement agencies would have been better prepared for the threat of violence by President Trump’s supporters. If the Defense Secretary had done his job, the mob attack would have been repelled hours earlier.”
For the first time, Congress heard testimony from former Acting Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Christopher C. Miller and former Department of Justice (DOJ) Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. The Committee also heard testimony from D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Mr. Robert J. Contee III.
Rosen and Miller admitted that President Trump never contacted them on January 6 to take action to protect the Capitol.
- In response to questioning from Chairwoman Maloney, both Rosen and Miller testified that they did not speak with President Trump while the attack was unfolding. Chairwoman Maloney responded, saying, “I think that the lack of direct communication from President Trump speaks volumes.”
- The President’s complete lack of involvement stands in contrast to the events of last summer, when he instructed governors that they needed to “dominate” peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors and ordered then-Attorney General William Barr to lead the U.S. government’s security response to the protests. In response, Barr reportedly sought to “flood the zone” by putting “the maximum amount of law enforcement out on the street.”
Despite Miller’s claim that the D.C. National Guard’s response “will go down in history as one of the most expedient deployments in National Guard history,” he admitted that nearly four hours elapsed from when he first learned that demonstrators had breached the Capitol perimeter, to when D.C. National Guard soldiers finally arrived at the Capitol.
- In response to questioning from Rep. Ro Khanna, Miller refused to apologize or take responsibility for his decisions on January 6, stating, “I stand by every decision I made on January 6.”
- In response to questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Miller admitted that he did not approve an operational plan to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol until 4:32 p.m., more than three hours after he first learned that demonstrators had breached the Capitol perimeter. The National Guard did not arrive at the Capitol for another hour, at nearly 5:30 p.m.
- Rep. Mike Quigley expressed skepticism of Miller’s claims that the National Guard’s deployment was a historic success, stating, “If this is success . . . how would you have classified a failure?” In response, Mr. Miller admitted that we “lost the battle” on January 6, but he continued to refuse to take any personal responsibility for that failure.
Rosen refused to take responsibility for DOJ’s lack of coordination before the attack and failures during the attack, and he and Miller disagreed on which federal agency was supposed to be in charge.
- In response to questioning from Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Chief Contee disputed Rosen’s claim that critical intelligence was shared in a way that adequately alerted local officials of the threat, stating that violent threats against the Capitol “warrant more than an email being sent out.”
- Rosen and Miller gave contradictory answers about which federal agency was supposed to take the lead on coordinating the federal response on January 6, highlighting confusion about who was in charge. Miller stated that DOJ was “the lead agency,” but in response to questioning from Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Rosen stated that he did not believe DOJ was the lead federal agency.
- In response to questioning from Rep. Robin Kelly about who is at fault for the lack of coordination, Miller said: “I just don’t know. It’s got to be somebody.....”
- In response to questioning from Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rosen refused to acknowledge the stark contrast between DOJ’s militarized response to racial justice protestors in the summer of 2020 and their response to insurrectionists storming the Capitol, stating, “the responses were tailored to the situations at the time.”
Rosen refused to say whether President Trump directed DOJ to help overturn the 2020 election during an Oval Office meeting three days before the January 6 insurrection.
- In response to questioning from Rep. Gerry Connolly and Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Rosen admitted he met with the President on January 3, but he refused to say whether President Trump asked him to take action at DOJ to advance election fraud claims or seek to overturn the 2020 Election. Rep. Connolly stated: “Your responsibility is to be accountable to the American people and this Congress. I cannot imagine a more critical question.”
- Mr. Rosen confirmed that the Department of Justice Inspector General is currently reviewing the matter.
Contee and Miller agreed that there is a need for a 9/11-style commission, and Contee stressed the need for the District of Columbia to have its own authority over the D.C. National Guard, which would be granted if Congress passed legislation aimed to give the District its own autonomy.
- In response to questioning from Rep. John Sarbanes, Miller agreed that another attack on our national security like the events of January 6 could happen again and that an independent review could prevent future attacks and make our federal government more prepared in the future.
- In response to questioning from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about her D.C. National Guard Act, Contee testified that he believed the National Guard would have been deployed earlier on January 6 if the D.C. Mayor had control over the D.C. National Guard.