Former Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in a congressional testimony on Wednesday rejected criticism of an allegedly belated and insufficient military response to the June 6 Capitol unrest, claiming that he was under impression that 8,000 law enforcement officers could handle the situation.
Miller was asked to explain why the National Guard was moved to the Capitol grounds hours after the building was breached by a group of President Donald Trump supporters who sought to protest congressional certification of his electoral defeat to Joe Biden.
“On January 6, 2021, 8,000 local and federal law enforcement officers were on duty in the District of Columbia. I was told during planning sessions that such a force routinely manages demonstrations well north of 100,000 demonstrators. That is what they are trained, equipped, chartered and expected to do,” Miller said.
Miller noted that by that time he had only a written request for a small number of unarmed National Guard soldiers to support the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, which he formally approved.
“We received no further request for different or additional support until the Capitol was breached,” he said. “I ask you to consider what the response in Congress and in the media would have been if I had unilaterally deployed thousands of troops into Washington, DC, that morning against the express wishes of the Mayor and the Capitol police who indicated they were prepared.”
Miller admitted that another factor that influenced his decisions were widespread “concerns and hysteria” that Trump may resort to military force to remain in power.
“During that time there was irresponsible commentary by the media about a possible military coup or that advisors to the President were advocating the declaration of martial law… And just before the Electoral College certification ten former secretaries of defense signed an op-ed published in the Washington Post warning of the dangers of politicizing and inappropriately using the military,” Miller said.
“No such thing was going to occur on my watch. But these concerns and hysteria nonetheless factored in my decisions regarding the appropriate and limited use of our armed forces to support civilian law enforcement during Electoral College certification. My obligation to the nation was to prevent a constitutional crisis,” he added.
Miller emphasized his belief is that the US military can be deployed for domestic law enforcement only when all civilian assets are expended and only as an absolute last resort. He said that stands by every decision he made on January 6 and the following days.