On Friday, the Office of the Secretary of Defense put out a timeline to “memorialize” the involvement of the D. C. National Guard in the violent insurrection that took place on Wednesday. Except the Pentagon didn’t call it a violent insurrection, they called it “the First Amendment Protests.”
But there’s more to be outraged about in that timeline of events than just the rebranding of a violent assault on the Capitol. It also includes statements like this one:
Sunday, January 3
Acting Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff meet with the President. President concurs in the activation of the D. C. National Guard to support law enforcement.
There’s almost nothing about that statement that isn’t an overt exaggeration, or an outright lie.
First, it only takes looking a few paragraphs lower to find what Donald Trump’s “concurrence” actually meant. In response to a request from Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, what the Pentagon actually provided was authorization for just 340 members of the D.C. National Guard to be activated.
If that sounds like not nearly enough to deal with the number of white supremacists, militia groups, and plain old Nazis who everyone knew were headed to town, it gets worse. Because of that 340, most were support personnel who never left an office. What the Capitol actually got from Trump and his people at the Pentagon was 90 National Guard to work at “traffic control points,” and 24 to work at Metro stations. Even those scant forced were unarmed, denied riot control gear, and ordered to avoid contact with Trump supporters.
But that’s only part of the story. Because saying that Trump approved the use of National Guard forces to assist D. C. police in controlling his invited and incited group of insurrectionists, is a 180-degree flip of what actually happened. As The New York Times reports, Trump did want the Guard in Washington, but not to hold back his followers. Trump wanted the National Guard to clear a path for the attempt to take down the government and lynch lawmakers.
The president had also expressed interest beforehand in calling in the National Guard to hold off anti-Trump counterprotesters who might show up, the people said, only to turn around and resist calls for bringing those troops in after the rioting by his loyalists broke out.
The result of all this is that a handful of completely defanged National Guard troops were literally left directing traffic blocks away from the Capitol, even as Trump’s insurrection was mounting the steps. And while the nation looked on in shock as the occupation wore on and on, Trump refused to allow actions necessary to recapture the seat of government.
It was only when governors and members of the military bypassed Trump that significant National Guard forces were deployed to regain control.