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Trump Did Propose 10,000 National Guard Troops On January 6th; Report

Trump Did Propose 10,000 National Guard Troops On January 6th; Report

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

One of the long-standing unanswered questions from the January 6th riot has been why the Capitol was so poorly prepared and defended on that day. A newly released transcript has caused a firestorm in Washington over allegations that the J6 Committee downplayed or even suppressed evidence that former President Donald Trump personally suggested the deployment of 10,000 national guard troops to prevent violence.

The transcript also includes contradictions of major allegations that ran wild in the media.

That includes the claim that Trump tried to physically grab the steering wheel of the presidential limo, “The Beast,” when Secret Service refused to take him to the Capitol. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson was the source of the claim, which appeared in most of the media and was highlighted in her testimony. However, it appears that the J6 Committee had testimony of secret service agents directly contradicting that account, including the driver.

However, it is the National Guard question that is more weighty for historical purposes.

Trump has long claimed that he proposed the deployment of the National Guard troops (as was done previously at the White House during violent protests). The January 6th Committee said that was a lie.

The release of the transcript by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R., Ga.) triggered attacks on the J6 Committee. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway wrote a column titled “Former Rep. Liz Cheney’s January 6 Committee suppressed evidence.”

That triggered an angry response from former co-chair Liz Cheney which led to an even angrier reply from commentator Mark Levin.

The anger is nothing new in a J6 investigation that seemed to produce more heat than light. Cheney’s spokesperson called the Federalist report “flatly false” and added “no transcripts were destroyed” while acknowledging that some material was not published “to allow the Secret Service to protect sensitive security information for interviews of its agents before preserving that testimony in the archives.”

The issue of the suppression or destruction of the evidence has drawn a lot of attention, but the more troubling question is the fact that such an offer was made and declined.

The Committee found “no evidence” that the Trump administration called for 10,000 National Guard members to Washington, D.C., to protect the Capitol.

That now stands contradicted and the question is whether Cheney or other members knew the public was being misled on the question. For example, the Washington Post “debunked” Trump’s comments with an award of “Four Pinocchios.”

The Post’s Glenn Kessler admitted that Trump raised the issue but noted that he might have been suggesting the troops “not because he wanted to protect the Capitol,” but to suggest that he and his supporters were being threatened. He added that “Trump brought up the issue on at least three occasions but in such vague and obtuse ways that no senior official regarded his words as an order.”

However, the issue is not whether Trump issued “an order” but made an offer that was declined. For those of us who were covering the event on that day, the question has always been prominent in our minds. I was critical of Trump’s speech while he was still giving it. However, before the Capitol was breached, I also noted that I had never seen the Capitol so thinly protected in a major protest.

We had just seen violent protests outside of the White House with a large number of police officers injured and extensive property damage, including arson. President Trump and his family had to be moved to a secure location out of concern of an imminent breach of the White House. National Guard were deployed and fencing installed.

Even without an offer, it remains unclear why the violence around the White House did not prompt Congress to install the same barriers and deploy the same troops. (They ultimately took both steps but only after the rioters gained entry into the Capitol).

Moreover, if an offer was clearly made, it undermines the allegations that Trump was actively seeking an insurrection. While he has never been charged with an insurrection or even incitement, that allegation was used more recently to support his disqualification from the ballots in Colorado, Maine, and Illinois.

The transcript contains the testimony of former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato’s interview on January 2022 with Cheney present. Ornato states that he clearly recalled the offer of 10,000 troops being made by Trump in a conversation with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser:

“I was there, and he was on the phone with her and wanted to make sure she had everything that she needed. Because I think it was the concern of anti and pro groups clashing is what I recall…I remember the number 10,000 coming up of, you know, the President wants to make sure that you have enough. You know, he is willing to ask for 10,000. I remember that number.”

Ornato said that Browser said that they would not need the troops. (She ultimately asked for only 300 troops). There are also reports that then Speaker Nancy Pelosi was worried about the “optics” of military reinforcements at the Capitol.

Ornato also said that he recalled that, after Bowser refused additional National Guard members, the White House requested the Defense Department have a “quick reaction force” ready on that day. He gave details on meetings with the Defense Department and follow up from Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Hemingway noted in her report that Ornato’s testimony was supported by former Trump administration aide Kash Patel. Cheney has attacked Patel as unreliable.

Ornato also testified that Meadows and others were frustrated by the delay in getting those troops to the Hill. The delay was blamed on the logistics, not some conspiracy to enable or facilitate an insurrection.

The Federalist article makes additional allegations, including that Cheney was behind an op-ed by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, opposing any use of national guard troops on January 6th.

However, even proving such duplicity would hardly be news for Washington. Likewise, it does not negate criticism over Trump’s comments on that day or his delay in publicly calling for supporters to withdraw.

Yet, again, what is more important historically  is whether the J6 Committee had direct evidence that Trump made the offer of thousands of troops and that the White House pushed for rapid deployment troops on that day.

I have previously criticized the one-sided J6 Report and the biased framing of the hearings held by the members. The Committee could have been so much more than the echo chamber that it became.  However, this latest transcript adds questions over the perplexing failure of Congress to take obvious steps to prevent a riot.

Had Congress simply installed the same fencing previously used at the White House and deployed such troops, the J6 riot would likely have never occurred. Given the cost and trauma to our nation, we should want to know the full story of what occurred on January 6th.

Tue, 03/12/2024 – 15:40

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