No Mention of Trump as Acting Secretary of Defense Turns to Pence and Congress Before Rolling Out National Guard


The number one sign we’re in terra nova regarding the 2020 election, the certification of it and the subsequent fallout: The acting secretary of defense didn’t even mention the president and instead seemed to indicate he turned to Vice President Mike Pence and leaders in Congress before rolling out the National Guard to deal with the incursion at the U.S. Capitol.

In an official Pentagon statement issued as the Defense Department activated the Washington, D.C., National Guard, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said he’d spoken to the vice president and four congressional leaders — three of them Democrats — before the move.

No mention of President Donald Trump was made. One can potentially guess why — he had to be convinced to deploy the National Guard, according to CNBC, after speaking to protesters early in the day.

However, Pentagon and other administration officials who spoke with The New York Times said it was actually Pence who gave the order to deploy the National Guard, not the president.

Those unnamed sources also mentioned it was unclear why Trump didn’t give the order.

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While Miller spoke with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — the ranking Republican in the House of Representatives — either wasn’t informed or wasn’t mentioned for deliberate reasons.

“[Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark] Milley and I just spoke separately with the Vice President and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation at the U.S. Capitol,” the statement read.

“We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly.”

Should President Trump have been mentioned as having been in on the decision?

There’s no reason given as to why these were the individuals described as being informed of the decision. However, it still raises questions after Trump’s decision to speak to protesters — and to make pointed comments about Pence, too.

“We want to be so respectful of everybody,” Trump said during his speech to protesters earlier in the day, according to The Times.

“And we are going to have to fight much harder. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”

He added that his supporters should “walk down to the Capitol,” although he said nothing about violence.

“We are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” he said, “and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them — because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

As for why Pence was given mentioned in the statement and Trump wasn’t, you could always say that Pence was presiding over the joint session of Congress which reviews the Electoral College results — and thus, he was in the Capitol. The same thing could be said of three of the four congressional leaders he notified.

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The question remains, however why he Miller felt the reason to notify House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer and not House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (or at least not mention that McCarthy had been notified).

Perhaps this was the chaos of a chaotic day. Perhaps this was just because of the exigencies of a difficult situation; maybe Hoyer was with Pelosi when the Pentagon briefed Congress.

However, one should probably note that McConnell was against the challenge to the electoral vote while McCarthy supported it before the riot at the Capitol.

“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken,” McConnell said during a speech from the Senate floor before the Capitol was breached. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”

“I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power. It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and states on this extraordinary thin basis,” McConnell insisted.

“I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it,” he added, according to New York magazine.

McCarthy, meanwhile, supported challenges to the electoral vote.

“I think it’s right that we have the debate. I mean, you see now that senators are going to object, the House is going to object — how else do we have a way to change the election problems?” he told The Hill.

However, he strongly condemned the violence in strong terms, according to Fox News.

“This is not protected by the First Amendment,” McCarthy said. “This must stop now. As a nation, we have to come together. This is so unacceptable, what I see happening at this very moment. We can disagree, but we don’t take it to this level. We don’t do what is happening right now.”

Whatever the case, what appears to be clear is that the Defense Department wants Trump out of the loop. What this means long term — if anything — is unclear. However, it seems obvious that Trump is now being quietly kept out of the decision-making process — something that could set a dangerous precedent.

But then, there could be worse to come. “If we could throw him to the angry mob, we’d throw him to the angry mob now,” a Trump adviser told CNN after his reported hesitation to call out the National Guard.

One gets the feeling they’ll have a lot more opportunities to do so before Jan. 20.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture