A major, 845-page report from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot found no Pentagon officials deliberately held off on sending the National Guard to the U.S. Capitol Building during the attack.
We’ll share what’s in the report plus the details of President Biden signing the defense authorization bill days before deadline and the message the United States and Ukraine sent to Russia with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Washington meeting.
This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here or in the box below.
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National Guard not purposefully delayed on Jan. 6
No Pentagon officials deliberately held off on sending the National Guard to the U.S. Capitol Building during the attacks of Jan. 6, 2021, the House committee investigating the insurrection said in its final report. Rather, it said conflicting messages caused a delay.
Laying blame: The committee lays blame on then-President Trump for the hold up as rioters attacked the building’s police officers, smashed windows and searched for lawmakers for more than three hours until Guardsmen showed up to help quell the chaos.
“President Trump had authority and responsibility to direct deployment of the National Guard in the District of Columbia, but never gave any order to deploy the National Guard on January 6th or on any other day,” the committee wrote in the 845-page report it released Thursday evening. “Nor did he instruct any Federal law enforcement agency to assist.”
A major focus: A key focus of the committee was looking into why it took hours for the Pentagon to eventually send the National Guard to the Capitol as the calamity unfolded.
The final report states that Washington, D.C., National Guard head Maj. Gen. William Walker “strongly” considered sending his troops without specific orders from the White House or top Defense Department officials, but ultimately held off.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda: “Guard officials located with Major General Walker at the Armory all say he seriously contemplated aloud the possibility of breaking with the chain of command,” according to the report. “‘Should we just deploy now and resign tomorrow?’ [an officer] recalled Major General Walker bluntly putting it.”
Walker told the committee he “would have done just that,” had acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy not sent out two memos just days earlier. Those documents restricted Guard deployments around the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, over fears they could be viewed as too political.
Unintentional: “We have no evidence that the delay was intentional. Likewise, it appears that none of the individuals involved understood what President Trump planned for January 6th, and how he would behave during the violence.”
The committee also found there were “genuine” concerns that Trump might try to use the military for a coup attempt as lawmakers counted Electoral College ballots to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win after the way the former commander-in-chief used the military to respond to racial justice protests in summer 2020.
Walker did eventually get permission to send Guard troops to the Capitol after congressional leaders frantically called Pentagon officials, but Trump was never involved in the talks, according to the report.
Also from The Hill:
- How the Jan. 6 committee wants to safeguard democracy: 11 recommendations
Biden signs NDAA days before deadline
President Biden on Friday signed the $858 billion annual defense authorization bill after Congress passed the legislation just before the year-end deadline.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate last week with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, 83-11. The bill has been named the “James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” after retiring Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
What Biden said: “The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense, foreign affairs, and homeland security,” Biden said in a statement on Friday.
Why it’s important: The measure provides $45 billion more for defense than called for in Biden’s budget, including allocating $817 billion to the Department of Defense and $30 billion to the Department of Energy. It includes language demanded by conservative Republicans to end the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which has been in place since August 2021.
Concerns: Biden noted in his statement that there are certain parts of the legislation he is concerned with.
- “While I am pleased to support these critical objectives, I note that certain provisions of the Act raise concerns,” the president said.
- He also said he is concerned with provisions that would effectively require Biden and officials to submit reports to certain congressional committees that involve highly sensitive classified information, including information that could reveal critical intelligence sources or military operational plans, among other provisions.
Zelensky, Biden send warning to a defiant Putin
President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Washington meeting was covered worldwide, but the leaders also had an audience of one: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The side by side at the White House and Zelensky’s address to Congress came amid warnings from Kyiv that Russia is planning to renew a ground offensive during the winter months.
The visit’s intention: The visit sought to shore up American support for Ukraine to effectively meet Russia on the battlefield. The expectation is that the 10-month war will continue far into the future, with references to peace or a negotiated solution largely addressed as an afterthought.
Biden committed to help Ukraine “as long as it takes.”
Experts say the point of Zelensky’s visit was both to bolster Washington’s position as the global leader in the defense against Russian aggression and allow for close cooperation between U.S. and Ukrainian officials on the next phase of the fighting.
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- Putin calls ‘operation’ in Ukraine ‘war’ for first time
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