A former top Defense Department official has taken a sledgehammer to one of the biggest lies disseminated by Donald Trump and his allies in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as they sought to deflect blame for the riot onto Democrats.
Chris Miller, who served as acting defense secretary, told the House Select Committee on January 6 that the former president had never issued a formal directive to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops to secure the Capitol.
The select committee released taped testimony Tuesday evening on Twitter -- and slammed Trump for perpetuating a lie to dodge responsibility for a deadly attack he incited.
“To remove any doubt: Not only did Donald Trump fail to contact his Secretary of Defense on January 6th (as shown in our hearing), Trump also failed to give any order prior to January 6 to deploy the military to protect the Capitol,” the select committee stated in its post.
\u201cTo remove any doubt: Not only did Donald Trump fail to contact his Secretary of Defense on January 6th (as shown in our hearing), Trump also failed to give any order prior to January 6 to deploy the military to protect the Capitol.\n\nHere is Secretary Miller\u2019s testimony\u2014\u201d— January 6th Committee (@January 6th Committee) 1658870468
In the video, investigators questioned Miller on an assertion former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made on Fox News last February. Meadows said the Defense Secretary had asked “as many as 10,000 National Guard troops” to be “on the ready.”
“Not from my perspective,” Miller replied. "I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature," he added. "There was no direct, there was no order from the President," Miller later said in the video.
The video went viral, garnering over one million views since it was posted on Tuesday.
The lie at issue was first uttered one month after the Capitol attack by Meadows, an indefatigable Trumplican, who sought to shift the blame onto House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in some form for the attack Trump incited.
“As many as 10,000 National Guard troops were told to be on the ready by the secretary of defense. That was a direct order from President Trump,” Meadows said on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures last February.
Trump echoed the lie in an interview with Fox News later that month. “I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen and [said] ‘I think you should have 10,000 of the National Guard ready,’” Trump said. “
“They took that number. From what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi. And I heard they rejected it because they didn’t think it would look good,” the former President added.
However, Miller rejected this claim in his testimony. “Obviously, we had plans for activating more folks, but that was not anything more than contingency planning,” the ex-Defense Secretary said. “There was no official message traffic or anything of that nature.”
Miller’s answers echo the reporting of a Vanity Fair journalist who chronicled his experiences tailing the Defense Secretary and his top allies in the period leading up to the insurrection.
However, Fox News hosts, denizens of a world untethered by the truth, and Republican lawmakers — including those who blamed Trump for the insurrection but voted not to convict him for it — have continued to peddle the lie.
“The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the party’s No. 3 leader, said last July.
The audacious effort to rewrite the reality of the worst Capitol attack in history — which resulted in four deaths and nearly 900 criminal charges — has been debunked multiple times. Still, prominent Republicans and Trump have continued to tout the false tally to downplay the gravity of the attack.