WASHINGTON — A former D.C. National Guard official is accusing two Army generals of lying under oath in congressional testimony about the military’s response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Col. Earl Matthews wrote in a 36-page memo to the House select committee investigating the attack that Gen. Charles Flynn, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of Army staff, “repeatedly misrepresented, understated, or misled” the House Oversight Committee and the Pentagon inspector general.
Matthews, who on Jan. 6 was serving as the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, then the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, alleged that Piatt misled Congress about the D.C. National Guard’s “capability, readiness and motivation” to respond on the afternoon of the riot.
Matthews also alleged that the two generals “falsely claimed” that the National Guard didn’t have the training and resources to move quickly in shifting from traffic control to civil disturbance operations, and he called them both “absolute and unmitigated liars” for their characterization of events.
“Flynn falsely stated that the Army Staff (which is supposed to be running the global operations of the U.S. Army) had to devote 30 to 40 officers and non-commissioned officers to get 154 ill-prepared DC Guardsmen to Capitol Hill,” Matthews wrote in his memo. “This assertion constituted the willful deception of Congress. It is not just imprecision, it is lying. Senior Army officers lied about little stuff.”
Matthews’ memo was first reported by Politico.
Flynn and Piatt didn’t respond to messages from Politico seeking comment.
Army spokesperson Mike Brady told NBC News that the service’s “actions on January 6th have been well-documented and reported on, and Gen. Flynn and Lt. Gen. Piatt have been open, honest and thorough in their sworn testimony with Congress and DOD investigators.”
“As the Inspector General concluded, actions taken ‘were appropriate, supported by requirements, consistent with the DOD’s roles and responsibilities for DSCA, and compliant with laws, regulations, and other applicable guidance,” Brady said in the statement. “We stand by all testimony and facts provided to date, and vigorously reject any allegations to the contrary. However, with the January 6th Commission’s investigation still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
In his memo, Matthews said that the alleged lies “contributed to the deficiencies” in the Pentagon inspector general’s report.
For example, the inspector general’s report said then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy was on a key 2:30 p.m. ET call on Jan. 6 with Walker and other participants, including the chiefs of the Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department. The report, Matthews said, claims that McCarthy spoke for about five minutes on the call when in reality he was unavailable because he had gone to meet with acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.
Despite the pleas of then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, Piatt said on the call that he would not advise McCarthy to deploy the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol at that time, according to Matthews. Piatt said during the phone call that “the presence of uniformed military personnel could inflame the situation and that the police were best suited to handle the situation,” Matthews wrote.
“Piatt and Flynn stated that the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good,” he continued.
The senior Army leaders recommended instead that National Guardsmen be used to relieve D.C. police officers of traffic duties to allow more of them to aid in the Capitol response.
The two leaders have denied saying on the day of the riot that the Guard should not be deployed to the Capitol.
Piatt wrote in response to a written question from Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in June, “At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol.”
Flynn, the brother of Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s ex-national security adviser, testified, “I never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of sending the D.C. National Guard to the U.S. Capitol.”
Megan Reed, a spokesperson for the inspector general, defended the office’s report in a statement to NBC News.
“We stand behind the conclusions in our review of the Department of Defense’s role, responsibilities, and actions to prepare for and respond to the protest and its aftermath at the U.S. Capitol campus on January 6, 2021,” Reed said.
Mosheh Gains contributed.
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Fox News hosts blast House committee for releasing Jan. 6 text messages they sent to Meadows
Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham on Tuesday night lashed out at the Jan. 6 committee for releasing text messages the Fox News hosts sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the attack on the Capitol.
The messages, provided by Meadows to the committee and read aloud Monday evening by Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., during a meeting of the investigative panel, showed at least three Fox News hosts were urging Meadows to have then President Donald Trump call off the rioters and end the violence.
Hannity on Tuesday said his text message asking “Can [Trump] make a statement asking people to leave the Capitol?” was “one of” the texts he sent to Meadows on Jan. 6. But he focused his criticism on what he called the committee’s partisan work and said the release of his texts was an invasion of privacy.
“I am an honest straightforward person. I say the same thing in private that I say to all of you. Liz Cheney knows this. She doesn’t seem to care. She’s interested in one thing and one thing only — smearing Donald Trump and purging him from the party.”
The nine-member committee includes two Republicans: Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Hannity, who criticized the 2020 presidential election process in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, did not address the texts on Monday’s broadcast of his show in which he interviewed Meadows, after the messages were made public.
Cheney on Monday also read from a text Ingraham sent to Meadows.
“Mark, the president needs to tell the people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham texted.
On her Tuesday night show, Ingraham said the House committee and media reports have misrepresented her actions on Jan. 6.
“The entire Jan. 6 campaign has become one of revenge and defamation, of false characterization and false equivalencies,” she said.
Ingraham also directed her ire toward Cheney, saying the release of the texts “ignores the facts of that day.”
Among Ingraham’s public remarks after the Jan. 6 attack was a suggestion that antifa was partly responsible for the violence.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade also texted Meadows during the riot.
“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Kilmeade texted.
Cheney and other members of the Jan. 6 committee released the text messages ahead of advancing a criminal contempt referral for Meadows after he defied a subpoena to testify. The House voted on Tuesday evening to refer the measure to the Justice Department, which will then decide whether to pursue the matter.
Some of the texts to Meadows also came from GOP lawmakers who apparently worked to delay or halt the counting of electoral votes. The lawmakers were not named by the committee.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Tuesday that he was not in personal contact with Meadows or any other White House officials on Jan. 6.
“But I do think we’re both watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side,” he said. “And it will be interesting to reveal all of the participants who were involved.”
Julie Tsirkin contributed.