Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
A former D.C. National Guard official blasted the Pentagon inspector general’s report on the military’s response to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and directly accused two top generals of lying about their role in the delays deploying the National Guard that day. Previously, the former commander of the D.C. National Guard—who now serves as the House sergeant-at-arms—had called for the retraction of the same inspector general’s report.
William Walker, who was the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard on January 6, and Col. Earl Matthews, who was then Walker’s top attorney, both say that the Pentagon’s claims about when Walker was cleared to deploy troops to the Capitol are flatly false. Matthews laid out his rebuttal of the inspector general’s report in a 36-page memo to the January 6 House select committee, again saying, as has been widely reported since January, that Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, both senior Army officials, opposed a National Guard deployment in a 2:30 p.m. phone call, and calling both men “absolute and unmitigated liars” for their denials that they did so.
National Guard officials say the Defense Department’s story about that 2:30 p.m. phone call has changed repeatedly, and at one point Piatt admitted that yes, he “may have expressed concern” about a National Guard deployment to the Capitol—something that Piatt then denied in a written response to the House Oversight Committee in June. Matthews described that denial as “false and misleading,” but used stronger words for Flynn’s claim that he “never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of” such a deployment. That, Matthews wrote, was “outright perjury.”
The 2:30 p.m. call is a key step in the hours-long delay in responding to the bloody attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump. It is incontrovertibly true that Walker did not at that point get permission to deploy the D.C. National Guard, but when he did get that permission is in dispute. According to the inspector general’s report, Walker was given permission in a 4:35 p.m. call with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Walker says that call did not happen, and that he did not get permission until 5:08 p.m. You would think that if there was a phone call, the Defense Department would have records of it, but, according to The Washington Post, the inspector general’s report cites “an anonymous Army official” in its conclusion that McCarthy gave Walker the go-ahead at 4:35 p.m.
In Senate testimony earlier this year, Robert Salesses, a top Pentagon official, initially said Walker got permission at 4:32 p.m. only to walk it back: “In fairness to General Walker, too, that’s when the [acting] secretary of defense made the decision—at 4:32,” Salesses said. “As General Walker has pointed out, because I’ve seen all the timelines, he was not told that until 5:08.”
Like Walker, Matthews fiercely disputes the 4:35 p.m. claim, calling it “an outrageous assertion … as insulting as it is false,” and saying that McCarthy himself had been “incommunicado or unreachable for most of the afternoon.”
Walker and Matthews both obviously have huge incentives to point the finger outside the D.C. National Guard, just as the Defense Department has huge incentives to point the finger away from itself. But we do know that multiple people have said Flynn and Piatt had the role in the 2:30 p.m. phone call that Matthews describes, and that the Army’s accounts of that call changed in the weeks following January 6. This is definitely an issue that requires further investigation, and the select committee had better be on it.