WASHINGTON – Two senior US military officials involved in responding to the January 6 attack on the Capitol denied in a statement Tuesday that they advised against deploying the District of Columbia National Guard because it did not ” good optics ”would have been.
Your testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at a hearing on the insurrection contradicts what the then commanding general of the DC National Guard, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, now Senate sergeant, told Congress earlier.
In March, Walker told lawmakers that Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, director of the Army Staff, and Gen. Charles Flynn, brother of former President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, said it wouldn’t look good to send National Guard troops to Capitol.
Piatt and Flynn denied on Tuesday that they made such comments.
“It was said that I used the term ‘optics’ to make soldiers react to a Capitol rupture; I don’t remember using that term on the phone call at 2:32 am on January 6th, ”said Piatt. “I respect and understand that others may remember things differently, but ultimately my main concern that day was to ensure that the Army can effectively assist DC and federal agencies in regaining control of the US Capitol.”
Flynn, who served as the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, planning and training on Jan. 6, also said in his testimony that he never used the word “optics”. Flynn now serves as the commandant of the US Army Pacific.
“I did not use the word ‘optics’ nor did I hear the word during the January 6, 2021 call in response to requests for assistance or during the planning and delivery of that assistance,” Flynn said Tuesday. “I also never heard LTG Piatt or any other high-ranking army leader use that word that day. My duty that day was to facilitate the planning and execution of decisions and leadership of (Army) Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy. “
Walker told Congress in March, “The high-ranking army leaders said it wasn’t looking good” and would not be “good looking”, adding, “They went on to say it might incite the crowd.”
Both Piatt and Flynn also denied that they ever turned down requests for help on Jan. 6. “I was asked three times whether I reject the application. Each time I replied that I did not reject the application and that I was not authorized to approve or reject the application,” said Piatt.
Piatt said McCarthy asked how quickly the 40-strong rapid reaction force could respond to the Capitol. Piatt said Walker said the troop “could be up and running in 20 minutes.” McCarthy instructed Walker to prepare the force, but wait to get approval from then Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller before deploying the DC armory.
Piatt said Miller did not approve activation of the National Guard until shortly after 3 p.m. ET, a decision Walker was not notified of until shortly after 5 p.m. ET.
At Tuesday’s hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray also testified about the January 6 attack and the general threat that domestic violent extremists pose to the American public.
Wray warned that the extremists, whom he said commit violent criminal acts in advance of social or political ends, “are very likely to pose the greatest threats from domestic terrorism in 2021 and likely through 2022”.
As in previous riot hearings, some Republican lawmakers downplayed the violence of the rioters. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Re-called the death of Ashli Babbitt, a pro-Trump rioter who was fatally shot by a Capitol cop when he tried to enter the chamber of the house, “one.” Execution ”and accused the officer, who shot her, of“ lying in wait ”.
He also asked for the identity of the officer who had not been charged with the criminal offense. The Justice Department announced in April that it would not prosecute the officer on the grounds that his claim that it was necessary to shoot Babbitt “in self-defense or in defense of Congressmen and others evacuating the House of Representatives” did not stand.
The hearing coincided with another before the House of Representatives Administrative Committee, where the Inspector General of U.S. Capitol Police, Michael A. Bolton, testified about some of the department’s shortcomings exposed by the Capitol riot and what they are like can feast.
Bolton’s recommendations included increased civil unrest and medical training, as well as better coordination between the various units.
In a statement, the Capitol Police said it “welcomes and is already implementing many of the recommendations made in Bolton’s report.”
“The USCP leadership already admitted on January 6th that there were communication deficits and promised that this would not happen again.” said the statement.
Alongside Bolton, said Gretta L. Goodwin, director of homeland security and justice for the Government Accountability Office, who said her office recommended as early as 2017 that the board of directors and command structure of the USCP be revised.
“We recommended that the board revise their manual to fully incorporate each of the leading practices to improve accountability, transparency and effective external communication. In doing so, we recommended that the Board engage with its stakeholders in Congress to seek input and share their views. “As appropriate,” Goodwin said. “Since we published our 2017 report, we have asked the Board for updates on the status of the Recommendation requested. To date, the board has not provided us with any material information, ”she said.