A former District of Columbia National Guard official has blasted Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn — brother of disgraced onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn — and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt as “absolute and unmitigated liars” in their account of the Pentagon’s response to the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to a memo obtained by Politico.
In a 36-page memo to the House select committee investigating the insurrection, Col. Earl Matthews accuses Charles Flynn and Piatt of lying to Congress about what transpired behind the scenes the day rioters breached the Capitol. According to Matthews, the two men have played a key role in the Pentagon’s attempt to shirk responsibility for a dangerously sluggish, hours-late response to the violence.
Matthews writes that Flynn, who was Army deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Piatt, the director of Army staff, are attempting to “absolve Senior Army Leaders of any responsibility in the delays” in responding to the attack on the Capitol.
On Jan. 6, Matthews, who held top-level National Security Council and Pentagon positions in the Trump administration, was the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, then the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard.
“Every leader in the D.C. Guard wanted to respond and knew they could respond to the riot at the seat of government before they were given clearance to do so on Jan. 6,” Matthews states in his memo.
Instead, he recounts, D.C. Guard officials sat “stunned watching [events unfold on TV] in the Armory when for the first time in its 219 year history, the D.C. National Guard was not allowed to respond to a riot in the city.”
The Pentagon claims it was the D.C. Guard that was slow to react to the violence and had to be told twice to respond, which then-commander Walker has vehemently denied.
Initially, the Army repeatedly denied that Charles Flynn had anything to do with the military response to the insurrection. But he personally confirmed that he had participated in a tense Jan. 6 phone call about what actions to take as rioters breached the Capitol, The Washington Post reported.
Walker has told investors that he was “stunned” and “frustrated” during the conference call in which he says D.C. officials asked for National Guard assistance and Flynn and Piatt advised against providing it. Matthews confirmed Walker’s account of the call in his memo.
In his memo, Matthews also attacked the report that the Pentagon inspector general issued last month on Army leadership’s response to the Capitol riot. Matthews called it “replete with factual inaccuracies that served to create a revisionist history “worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist.”
Walker had earlier called for the inspector general to retract his report for what he described as “sloppy work” and “inaccurate” findings. Walker told Politico that Matthews’ memo “speaks for itself” and said he had nothing to add.
“Our Army has never failed us and did not do so on Jan. 6,” Matthews told Politico. “However, occasionally some of our Army leaders have failed us and they did so on January 6th. Then they lied about it and tried to cover it up.”
Several other key figures in the events of that day have recounted their experiences with the Pentagon’s puzzlingly slow response as rioters marauded through the Capitol, and lawmakers, afraid for their safety and lives, hid beneath benches and in barricaded offices.
Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, for example, said he quickly offered the services of his state’s National Guard but wasn’t granted permission to send them for hours.
Charles Flynn’s brother, Michael Flynn, is a retired Army lieutenant general, right-wing extremist and staunch Trump ally. Just weeks before the insurrection, he retweeted a message calling on a defeated President Donald Trump to declare martial law and keep the White House by force. Five months later, he called for a Myanmar-style military coup in the U.S.
Army spokesperson Mike Brady told Politico in a statement that Charles Flynn and Piatt have been “open, honest and thorough in their sworn testimony with Congress and Department of Defense investigators.”
Citing the Pentagon inspector general report that Matthews and Walker have criticized, Brady said that the inspector general had determined that actions taken were “appropriate, supported by requirements ... and compliant with laws, regulations, and other applicable guidance.”