Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said Tuesday during a hearing on the Jan. 6 riot he had “reassessed” his previous evaluation that former President Trump’s speech that day had led to his supporters storming the Capitol.
“Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened,” Miller had said during an interview with Vice in March.
“I think now I would say that is not the unitary factor at all,” Miller said during testimony at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Capitol attack. “I have reassessed,” Miller said. “It seems clear there was an organized assault element in place that was going to assault regardless of what the president said.”
Miller’s statement went further in defense of the president than his written opening testimony, where he wrote: “I stand by my prior observation that I personally believe his comments encouraged the protestors that day,” though he added, “I am not in a position to make an official assessment of his responsibility.”
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., accused Miller of reversing his stance to favor the former president.
“That’s ridiculous,” Miller replied.
“You’re ridiculous,” Lynch shot back.
“Thank you for your thoughts,” Miller said.
Miller was testifying to defend the Pentagon’s response as pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol while Congress certified President Biden’s election to the presidency. Some raised questions of delays in deploying the National Guard to the scene.
Under Lynch’s questioning, Miller said that Trump’s speech at the ‘Save America’ rally “clearly offered that they should march on the Capitol, so it goes without saying that his statement resulted in that,” but underscored the difference between marching on the Capitol and assaulting it.
Lynch said that Miller’s answers were “not believable.”
“You understand how not believable your new testimony, your new version of testimony that was apparently created between the time you wrote your testimony this morning and when you came before the committee today,” Lynch said.
“There’s a difference between marching on the Capitol and assaulting the Capitol,” Miller said.
“That’s the delineation I’m trying to make, despite the partisan attack that I just was subjected to,” he continued.