Former Trump officials try to cover for Trump’s insurrection while Republicans gaslight America
Capitol Police IG testimony
This week started with a little-noticed House Administration Committee hearing with Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton, who has been examining the agency’s failures on Jan. 6. Bolton reported to Congress that the Capitol Police only had 13 counter-surveillance officers at the time of the insurrection, many of whom were investigating the pipe bombs left at the DNC the night before. “So in other words, if those pipe bombs were intended to be a diversion, plainly speaking, it worked,” Bolton told Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-NY) (clip).
Raskin: How much were our people in threat assessment caught unaware just by the sheer magnitude and ferocity of the violent attack on the Capitol? …were they just overwhelmed and stunned at the complexity and magnitude of the attack?
Bolton: I would venture to say yes. And that was the problem, because what we pointed out, by a lack of having adequate policies and procedures and truly defined roles, all this information that was coming into the department, it didn’t go anywhere. They weren’t able to triage it. That’s why we’ve mentioned a duty desk that would receive and then disseminate that information, vet it out, and get it out to either the commanders in the field or even down to the frontline officers.
Raskin: So you’re saying the information was flowing in, but because there was only one analyst, there was no way really to synthesize it, interpret it, and then parlay it into an effective response.
Bolton: That would be a correct assessment. Yes, sir.
IG Bolton recommended the Capitol police shift from a reactionary, police-like stance to a protective agency similar to the Secret Service (clip):
Bolton: A standalone entity with a defined mission dedicated to counter-surveillance activities in support of protecting the congressional community would improve the department’s ability to identify and disrupt individuals or groups intent on engaging in illegal activity directed at the congressional community for its legislative process. he entities should be sufficiently staffed to accomplish its mission, and have adequate resources, including dedicated analyst support and a central desk to exploit, investigative, disseminate, and triage information in real time.
Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) revealed at the hearing that Capitol Police noticed “approximately 200 Proud Boys gathered” at the Capitol but instead chose to monitor “three to four counter-demonstrators setting up props” in the area (clip). Bolton told Lofgren that his office has moved up a report on the matter, adding, “We had a lot of questions ourselves…I’m hoping that we will be able to provide you exact answers after that report.”
- More: “US Capitol Police says threats against members of Congress up 107% compared to 2020,” CNN)
Miller and Rosen testimony
Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing about the insurrection with former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Both officials resisted shedding much light on Trump’s response to the riot, either by taking responsibility themselves or refusing to talk about the former president’s involvement.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): Prior to January 6, were you asked or instructed by President Trump to take any action at the department to advance election fraud claims or to seek to overturn any part of the 2020 election results? (clip)
Rosen: I can tell you what the actions of the department were. I cannot tell you consistent with my obligations today about private conversations with the president one way or the other.
Connolly: We had an unprecedented insurrection that led to seven deaths – five here and two suicides. And you’re saying this is a privileged communication?
Rosen: I’m saying that my responsibility is to tell you about the role of the Department of Justice and the actions we took.
Connolly: No, sir, your responsibility is to be accountable to the American people and this Congress. I can’t imagine a more critical question. Did you have conversations prior to January 6 with the president of the United States urging you to question or overturn or challenge the election results of 2020? It’s a simple question. And by the way, no executive privilege has been invoked prior to this hearing and your testimony. You’ve known you were coming here for over a month.
Rosen: Respectfully, I understand your interest in the issue and I’ve been trying to be as forthcoming as I can. When you ask me about communications with the president, I, as a lawyer, don’t get to make the decision on whether I can reveal a private conversation on that — other people make that decision and I’ve been asked today to stick to the ground rules I have.
Rosen then admitted to meeting Trump at the White House on January 3 but would not tell the Committee what was discussed. He said it did not relate to the “planning and preparations for the events of January 6.” When pressed for details, Rosen made it seem like the conversation was secret due to executive privilege, which he never claimed:
Rosen: I don’t think it’s my role here today to discuss communications with the President in the Oval Office or White House without authority to do that.
Connolly also pressed Rosen on the reported incident wherein Trump tried to replace him with another DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, who would be willing to overturn the election results. Again, Rosen refused to answer, using an ongoing inspector general investigation as a shield.
Former acting defense secretary Christopher Miller told the Committee that he did not speak to Trump at all on Jan. 6, saying, “I had all the authority I needed from the president to fulfill my constitutional duties.” Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney then asked him if he spoke to former Vice President Pence during the attack. Miller confirmed that he did speak to Pence but contested the report that Pence told Miller to “clear the Capitol.”
Miller: The Vice President’s not in the chain of command. He did not direct me to clear the Capitol. I discussed very briefly with him the situation. He provided insights based on his presence there, and I notified him, or I informed him that, by that point, the District of Columbia National Guard was being fully mobilized and was in coordination with local and federal law enforcement to assist in clearing the Capitol.
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) asked Miller directly about his avoidance of blaming Trump for the insurrection – pointing out that he did just that in a March interview (clip):
Lynch: Did the president’s remarks incite people in the crowd to march on the Capitol or did they not?
Miller: He clearly offered that they should march on the Capitol. So it goes without saying that his statement resulted in that. The question-
Lynch: I’m reclaiming my time. Let me just share with the Committee what you have said before. This is your quote: “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.” In your written
Miller: I would like to offer, I have reassessed – it’s not the unitary factor at all. It seems clear there was an organized conspiracy with assault elements in place [crosstalk] regardless of what the president said.
Lynch: Reclaiming my time, again. Your written testimony for today – for today, this morning – you stated the following about the president’s quote: “I personally believe his comments encouraged the protesters that day.” That was this morning! So this is a very recent reversal of your testimony.
Miller: Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous.
Lynch: You’re ridiculous.
Miller: Thank you for your thoughts.
- Miller’s interview with Vice News
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) used his time to criticize Miller for refusing to admit any mistake (clip):
Khanna: I have never been more offended on this Committee by a witness statement than yours. You were more concerned about defending your own reputation and justifying your own actions than the sanctity of the Capitol and the sanctity of our democracy. Have you no sense of accountability? No sense of shame? Secretary Miller I want to ask you today: will you at the very least apologize to the American public for what happened on your watch?
Miller: I want to highlight the incredible job that the members of the armed forces-
Khanna: I agree with you about the armed forces. [crosstalk] Secretary Miller, it’s my time. Your pugnacious style is not going to override the democratic process, learn to respect it. My question isn’t about the troops or our armed forces. Everyone recognizes that they’re extraordinary. My question is about your incompetence in leading them. Will you apologize to the American public for what happened on your watch? Will you apologize to the troops for what happened on your watch?
Miller continued responding to Khanna’s questions by praising the troops: “The Dept of Defense and the members of the armed forces performed magnificently on Jan. 6… I stand by every decision I made on January 6.”
Khanna: The gaul to hide behind our troops, who are extraordinarily honorable – it’s you who has let them down. I can’t believe we had someone like you in that role… I thought if you came here, if you apologized – instead it’s total self-promotion. All you’re trying to do is cover your own reputation. (clip)
Other timestamps of interest
Rep. Jamie Raskin’s questioning.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s questioning.
Rep. Cori Bush’s questioning.
I’m not going to spend time transcribing the gaslighting from Republicans on the Committee. Instead, I’ll just share some clips and articles about each:
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA):
- Clip: “Let me be clear: There was no insurrection. And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold-faced lie…[footage showed] people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures… you would think it was a normal tourist visit.”
- Article: “GOP congressman says calling the Capitol attack an insurrection is ‘a bald-faced lie’ and compares the rioters to tourists”
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), who voted to throw out election results on Jan. 6:
- Clip: “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who voted to throw out election results on Jan. 6:
- Clip: “Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters. The FBI is fishing through homes of veterans and citizens with no criminal records and restricting the liberties of individuals that have never been accused of a crime.”
- Clip: Gosar accused the DOJ of “harassing peaceful patriots across the country” by prosecuting people who attacked the Capitol.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC):
- Clip: Norman suggested the insurrectionists weren’t actually Trump supporters. “I don’t know who did the poll to say that they were Trump supporters.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH):
- Clip: Jordan used his speaking time to go after Hillary Clinton and ask the witness: “Was the 2016 election stolen?”
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA):
- Clip: Higgins tried to distract from the hearing’s topic by yelling about Black Lives Matter protests.