Shortly after the election in November, Donald Trump began replacing officials at the Pentagon. Experienced leaders and those with at least some degree of competence, were dismissed as Trump packed the halls with sycophants who had demonstrated complete loyalty to Trump. And in particular, Trump made sure to get rid of those officials who had resisted efforts to use active military troops against Black Lives Matter protestors over the summer.
At the time, most people were concerned that Trump was preparing for some last-minute military strike overseas, or that he wanted to be ready to level bayonets at any additional BLM protests. But it’s now clear there was a plan. Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol was the plan. Because Trump’s new crew at the Pentagon blocked requests from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for the use of the National Guard to contain Trump’s “wild” protest. And they kept on blocking it even as senators and representatives were frantically phoning from inside the siege.
This was not a spontaneous event. It was, in every way, a coup plot. And the Pentagon was part of it.
Looking at the obviously anemic preparations for the mob which swarmed the Capitol on Wednesday, it may have seemed like bad planning. However, it’s becoming more and more obvious that it was absolutely intentional.
As The Washington Post reports, Bowser made multiple requests for National Guard forces to help contain a crowd that was expected to contain a large number of white supremacists and militia. But a pair of memos issued in response to that request, the Pentagon blocked the distribution of weapons or riot gear to the D. C. guard, prohibited them from interacting with protestors, and even blocked the guard’s ability to share equipment with local law enforcement.
As the assault on the Capitol unfolded Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned on Thursday, made “an urgent plea” for a 200-member rapid response force to help police at the Capitol building. However, an official from the office of the secretary of the Army replied that “wasn’t going to be possible.” As a reason, that official said the Pentagon didn’t like the “optics” of Guard members entering the Capitol—even though the building was at that point surrounded by thousands of Trump supporters were had forced their way through multiple levels of police security. It wasn’t until Trump supporters had actually stormed the building, smashed their way into the chambers of Congress, ransacked congressional offices, and prowled the halls hoping to take political leaders hostage, that the Pentagon finally approved the use of National Guard forces.
All of this shines a new light on Trump’s post-election moves at the Pentagon. That included bringing in disgraced former Gen. Anthony Tata, Islamophobic right-wing radio host Frank Wuco, and conspiracy theorist Rich Higgins. A day after positioning this trio, Trump replaced the chief of staff at the Pentagon with former Devin Nunes staffer Kash Patel. On the same day, he forced out the undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
On Thursday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy claimed the military had “acted as quickly as possible” and that officials hadn’t anticipated the level of violence demonstrated by Trump supporters in their “wildest imagination.” If so, they were the only ones. Because Trump encouraged exactly this type of action, and everyone else certainly expected it.
In fact, many of these same groups invaded Washington, D.C. in December, where they spread violence, ignored police, and planned for the bigger event that Trump was already pushing for the day of the Electoral College vote count.
That the Trump event was going to be a large violent gathering of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, militias, and others intent on a violent overthrow of the American government was clear weeks before the Capitol building was pillaged. And there were preparations for the event that went back to November. Only those preparations weren’t from the D.C. police. The preparations were on the part of Trump, who made sure that the Pentagon would not provide necessary forces to protect the nation’s capital against the assault he was orchestrating.