Internal Pentagon document confirms military standdown during January 6 coup attempt

Over the weekend the Associated Press (AP) revealed the contents of an internal Pentagon report detailing a series of calls made between lawmakers and the Department of Defense during the attack on Congress on January 6. The report demonstrates that Trump-appointed officials within the Pentagon purposefully forestalled the deployment of military forces for hours even as lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence pleaded for help while fascist-led mobs hunted and called for their deaths inside the Capitol.

The report states that at 4:08 p.m. on January 6, over two hours after windows at the Capitol were breached by members of the fascist Proud Boys, Pence called acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and demanded he “clear the Capitol.”

The AP wrote that Pence’s phone call to Miller “lasted only a minute” and that Pence, who was still trapped in a “secure location,” asked for a deadline as to when the Capitol would be clear. The AP wrote that Pence was forced to make the call because the coup-plotter Trump was “not engaged” during the attack on Congress.

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. [AP Photo/John Minchillo]

This meant that the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard resided in the hands of acting Defense Secretary Miller, a former Special Forces commander and Trump loyalist.

In addition to Pence, the Pentagon report indicated that congressional leaders were also making desperate appeals to military officials seeking the deployment of the National Guard.

“We need help,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other military and Pentagon officials more than an hour after the Senate chamber had been breached, the AP reported. By 3:19 p.m. both Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were calling the Pentagon demanding the deployment of the National Guard to the Capitol.

Lawmakers were being ferried in underground tunnels away from the approaching mob of Trump supporters, far-right militia members and neo-Nazis, some were wielding clubs, bear mace and ropes. Apparently high-ranking Pentagon officials were more concerned with protecting themselves than any lawmakers.

The AP reported that by 3:37 p.m., “the Pentagon sent its own security forces to guard the homes of defense leaders. No troops had yet reached the Capitol.”

At 3:44 p.m. Schumer called the Pentagon again and told officials, “Tell POTUS to tweet everyone should leave.” At the same time, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer inquired to Pentagon officials about deploying active duty troops to the Capitol.

Despite Pence making the call to Miller at 4:08 p.m., Miller’s approval to D.C. National Guard Commander William Walker to deploy the Guard would not come until an hour later, at 5:08 p.m. The call from Pence to Miller occurred roughly two hours and 19 minutes after Walker originally sought approval from Miller to deploy his soldiers to the Capitol to assist overrun police.

By roughly 4:30 p.m., about 13 minutes after Trump tweeted to his “special” followers to “go home and go in peace,” Miller gave his approval to Walker to send the National Guard to the Capitol. However, he would not be told that for nearly 40 minutes.

Despite the apparent approval given to Walker, by about 4:40 p.m. Pelosi and Schumer were again on a call with Gen. Milley and the rest of the military leadership, demanding that acting Secretary Miller “secure the perimeter.”

The timeline noted that during the 30-minute phone call, Pelosi and Schumer “accused the National Security apparatus of knowing that protestors planned to conduct an assault on the Capitol.”

This stunning revelation further demolishes claims from the intelligence agencies as well as D.C. Metropolitan and Capitol Police chiefs that there was “no intelligence” that the January 6 rally would turn violent and that Congress itself was the target.

Underscoring the need to subpoena the entire Pentagon civilian and military leadership and the heads of the various intelligence agencies to ascertain their involvement and knowledge in the attempted overthrow of the election, the report also revealed on January 3, Milley, Trump and his entire cabinet had all gathered to discuss deploying the National Guard in preparation for the planned rally. During the meeting, Trump approved the activation of the D.C. National Guard, telling Miller to “take whatever action [was] needed as events unfolded,” according to the AP.

Following the meeting, Miller and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy issued two memos, which would severely limit the ability of the D.C. National Guard to play any effective security role on January 6.

A January 5 memo from McCarthy to Walker prohibited Walker from deploying a quick reaction force of soldiers without prior approval from McCarthy. A January 4 memo from Miller to McCarthy prohibited Walker from deploying D.C. Guardsmen with weapons, helmets, body armor or riot control agents without the approval of Miller and allowed McCarthy to deploy the aforementioned quick reaction force “only as a last resort.”

On March 3, Walker testified before the Senate Rules and Homeland Security committees that these memos were unlike anything else he had experienced in his military career in that “it required me to seek authorization from the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense to essentially even protect my Guardsmen.”

Walker testified that the three-hour 19-minute delay left him “stunned and frustrated.” He also said that during the June 1 protests against police violence, Army Secretary McCarthy was “right by my side” ready to approve any request he had. But at the time of the January 6 assault, Walker testified that McCarthy was “unavailable” to approve his requests.

Miller was appointed as acting secretary of defense after Trump fired previous Secretary Mark Esper on November 9. Esper sealed his fate with Trump after he publicly opposed Trump’s June 1 threat to invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy active duty soldiers to major US cities to quash mounting protests against police violence. Esper’s position was shared by Milley, both of whom feared the use of troops would provoke massive resistance in the working class that would spiral out of their control.

Even though the entire cabinet, Gen. Milley and Trump were discussing the possibility of violence and the need for the National Guard at the Capitol three days before the attempted coup, none of the domestic intelligence agencies issued reports that would normally accompany such threats, deeply implicating them in the plot to halt the certification of the election.

In congressional testimony earlier last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed that the FBI did not issue a threat assessment for January 6. Melissa Smislova, a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirmed at the same hearing that the DHS did not designate the January 6 joint session as a National Security Special Event, despite the numerous well-known threats.

The report is the latest damning piece of evidence demonstrating that the January 6 attack was not the result of a few excitable Trump zealots overwhelming a suspiciously underprepared Capitol Police force. Rather it was a coordinated operation between fascist militias, sections of the police, military, intelligence agencies and the Republican Party to overturn the results of the election and install Trump as president-dictator.

The release of the report reflects the still ongoing and unprecedented crisis within the capitalist state over three months after the attempted coup. According to the AP, the document was “obtained” by them, and its contents were “vetted by current and former government officials.”

Taking their cue from President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, the mainstream press has largely ignored the damning report, with neither the Democratic-aligned Washington Post nor New York Times devoting an article to the stunning report more than 24 hours after its publication.

This continues the line advanced by Biden and the Democratic Party, who above all seek to foster “unity” with their “Republican colleagues” in order to chloroform the working class to the danger of fascism and continue their shared class agenda. To expose the involvement of the police and military in the attempted coup could trigger a massive social explosion from below against the state and both political parties.

In order to prevent this, Pelosi and former Homeland Security officials have rekindled discussions about a joint “9-11 style commission” into the events of January 6. The fact is the establishment of such a commission would be an effort to conceal rather than reveal the full extent of the “insider threat.”

More than three months after the attempted coup, the Democratic Party, despite controlling both houses of Congress and the executive branch, has yet to subpoena any high-ranking Pentagon officials to explain their seditious actions. This fact alone underscores the need for an independent investigation to be conducted outside the control of the Democratic Party, a party of Wall Street and the military.