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New report reveals ‘evidence is mounting’ for disturbing reason that the National Guard failed to act during Capitol

With the one-year anniversary of the Capitol riot approaching the events of that day remain the subject of much analysis and debate, particularly why the National Guard did not arrive at the Capitol sooner when it was under attack. In an article published this week by Just Security, authors Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix argue that the Pentagon “restrained” the National Guard out of fear that then-President Donald Trump would “invoke the Insurrection Act.”

“One of the most vexing questions about January 6 is why the National Guard took more than three hours to arrive at the Capitol after D.C. authorities and Capitol Police called for immediate assistance,” Goodman and Hendrix explain. “The Pentagon’s restraint in allowing the Guard to get to the Capitol was not simply a reflection of officials’ misgivings about the deployment of military force during the summer 2020 protests; nor was it simply a concern about ‘optics’ of having military personnel at the Capitol. Instead, evidence is mounting that the most senior defense officials did not want to send troops to the Capitol because they harbored concerns that President Donald Trump might utilize the forces’ presence in an attempt to hold onto power.”

Image of National Guard via Flickr/National Guard is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, please visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2I

On January 6, Christopher Miller, who was acting secretary of defense at the time, warned the US Defense Department Inspector General’s office that he worried “creating the worst constitutional crisis possibly since the Civil War “if we put U.S. military personnel on the Capitol, I would have created the greatest constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War.”

Miller, Goodman and Hendrix then go on to note, “does not specify who held the fears that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act.”

Image of Donald Trump via Flickr/Michael Vadon is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

They also note that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “confided in one another that they had a persistent worry Trump would try to use the military in an attempt to hold onto power if he lost the election, the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reported.”

“The top officials’ fears were warranted: Donald Trump, his close aides and a segment of Republican political figures had openly discussed the possibility of invoking the Insurrection Act or using the military to prevent the transfer of power on the basis of false claims that the election was ‘stolen.’ But the Pentagon’s actions with respect to the National Guard suggest a scenario in which, on the basis of such concerns, a potentially profound crisis of command may have played out on January 6,” Goodman and Hendrix write,

Image of Donald Trump via Flickr/Gage Skidmore s licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, please visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Their analysis argues that the National Guard may have failed to effectively protect Congress because top military leaders were concerned that Trump would use the troops to subvert the Constitution. In their primarily behind-the-scenes investigation, the Jan. 6 committee is presumably looking into this and other lines of inquiry.

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