Though there was an immediate stampede among Washington’s elite to be the first and loudest to blame then-President Donald Trump for the violent unrest at the Capitol on Jan. 6, former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller has just walked back prior statements in which he did just that, as Fox News reports.
During a March interview with VICE on Showtime, Miller discussed the events of that fateful day and remarks delivered by Trump before things spiraled out of control, saying, “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think its pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.”
However, during a Wednesday hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Miller adopted a different position entirely, saying, according to Politico, “I think now I would say that [Trump’s speech] is not the unitary factor at all…I have reassessed,” adding, “It seems clear there was an organized assault element in place that was going to assault regardless of what the president said.”
Fox News noted that Miller’s testimony at the hearing stood somewhat in contrast to the written, pre-written version of his opening statement to the committee, which said, “I stand by my prior observation that I personally believe [Trump’s] comments encouraged the protestors that day,” but added, “I am not in a position to make an official assessment of his responsibility.”
Miller’s seeming defense of Trump provoked the ire of Democrat questioners on the committee, who asked if he believed that fiery political rhetoric served as an incitement to riot. The former Defense Department official declined to pinpoint a single source responsible for the unrest, but said, “I think the entire entertainment, media, political complex is culpable in creating this environment that is just intolerable and needs to change.”
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) was none too pleased with Miller’s unwillingness to pin the blame solely on Trump, implying that he had done a complete reversal of his prior stance on the events of Jan. 6. In response, Miller said he “absolutely” had not done so, adding, “That’s ridiculous,” as Politico noted, prompting Lynch to reply, “You’re ridiculous.”
California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna was even more indignant over Miller’s testimony in which he also declared his pride regarding “every decision” he and his staff made on the day of the Capitol protests, with the liberal congressman saying, “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 this Capitol and the sanctity of our democracy.”
Committee member Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) slammed Miller for adjusting his position on the role played by Trump’s remarks in the ensuing unrest at the Capitol, hinting that something sinister might have been afoot. “Maybe the wrath of Donald Trump came down upon you,” the congresswoman posited, adding, “That is disgusting.”
As Miller explained during the hearing, there is no doubt that Trump’s remarks to assembled supporters on Jan. 6 suggested that they “should March on the Capitol,” but “there’s a difference between marching on the Capitol and assaulting the Capitol,” regardless of any attempts by the hate-driven Democrats on the committee and elsewhere to blur that key distinction.