WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials feared President Donald Trump would issue an “illegal order” commanding troops to help with his coup attempt to retain power, the House Jan. 6 committee found.
“The select committee recognizes that some at the department had genuine concerns, counseling caution, that President Trump might give an illegal order to use the military in support of his efforts to overturn the election,” the committee wrote in the executive summary of its final report, released Monday.
The finding comes in the section analyzing why it took hours for National Guard troops to be deployed to the Capitol to counter the mob that Trump had sent there to pressure his own vice president into voiding Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election and allowing him to remain in office.
Trump himself has accused Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of failing to deploy troops, even though she lacked any authority to do, while some Democrats have suggested the military intentionally delayed a response to give Trump’s mob a chance to accomplish what he wanted.
The committee, though, found that there was no Defense Department attempt to help Trump.
“Although evidence identifies a likely miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense impacting the timing of deployment, the committee has found no evidence that the Department of Defense intentionally delayed deployment of the National Guard,” the report said.
Committee members, rather, found that the failure to send troops rested with one person: Trump himself.
“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 report states. “Nor did he instruct any federal law enforcement agency to assist. Because the authority to deploy the National Guard had been delegated to the Department of Defense, the secretary of defense could, and ultimately did deploy the Guard.”
The report’s 161-page executive summary provides an overview of the evidence collected by the committee over its year and a half of work. It also provides the detail behind its recommendations of criminal prosecution against Trump and several of his allies on charges that include making false statements, obstructing an official proceeding and seditious conspiracy.
“The underlying and fundamental feature of that planning was the effort to get one man, Vice President Mike Pence, to assert and then exercise unprecedented and lawless powers to unilaterally alter the actual election outcome on Jan. 6,” the committee wrote.
Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of U.S. elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His incitement of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — his last-ditch attempt to remain in office ― led to the deaths of five, including one police officer, injured another 140 officers and was followed by four police suicides.
Nevertheless, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and has already announced his campaign to run for the White House again in 2024.
In statements on his personal social media platform, Trump has continued to lie about the election and the Jan. 6 committee’s work, calling it a “hoax” similar to previous investigations into his 2016 campaign’s acceptance of Russian assistance and his attempted extortion of Ukraine into helping his 2020 campaign.