Why Did Trump Install His Loyalists at the Pentagon Before the Capitol Attack?
Disturbing reports are beginning to come out regarding the lead up to the attack at the Capitol. Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD), held a press conference and revealed some disconcerting information: the Department of Defense “repeatedly denied” his requests to send the National Guard to the U.S. Capitol under siege by an armed mob of Trump supporters. Only after pleading with them for over an hour, was the request finally approved. Why was there a delay? That’s the burning question, one we will likely get more answers to in the coming days and weeks.
Two days after losing the presidential election, Donald Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, appointing Christopher Miller, a Trump loyalist, as the acting Secretary of Defense. It didn’t stop there — rank and file changes and new appointments at the Department of Defense merely two months before Biden was set to be sworn in, alarmed many officials. Among the people appointed to top posts at the Pentagon was someone who referred to former President Obama as a “terrorist leader”; as well as a former aide to Representative Devin Nunes, a staunch Trump ally. The shake-ups at the Pentagon in the middle of a presidential transition alarmed people inside and outside of government, and the people that were being appointed raised even more alarms. Why was this happening now? What was the point?
Reports started surfacing that Trump was planning to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Secretary Esper is said to have opposed such measures, and the installment of Trump loyalists at the Pentagon moved the president’s obstacles out of the way. At the beginning of December, Trump ordered the withdrawal of American troops in Somalia. The Pentagon announced that Trump had cut the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but had not fully withdrawn US troops. Trump’s plan to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan infuriated Republicans in Congress. Majority leader Mitch McConnell stated that such a move would “hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm.”
Then, as has been typical of the Trump era, things started to get more weird. The Biden transition team went public, saying that the Defense Department was now refusing to cooperate with them amid the presidential transition. In about a month, President-Elect Joe Biden was set to be sworn into office, yet an integral department to the United States’ national security was refusing to cooperate with the incoming president. They just randomly decided to halt communications. Why?
Trump installed his loyalists at the Pentagon to remove the obstacles of policy decisions that he wished to pursue. Seems pretty straightforward. But were those the only policy decisions Trump was intent on pursuing? It does not look like he was planning to stop there. Recent reporting from The New York Times paints a disturbing portrait leading up the attack at the Capitol:
“Mr. Trump had told advisers in the days before the march that he wanted to join his supporters in going to the Capitol, but White House officials said no, according to people briefed on the discussions. The president had also expressed interest beforehand in calling in the National Guard to hold off anti-Trump counter-protesters who might show up, the people said, only to turn around and resist calls for bringing those troops in after the rioting by his loyalists broke out.”
Not only did Trump want to march with the mob he had incited to attack the Capitol, he wanted to use the National Guard to suppress dissent and block people who might try and stop the mob he was about to incite. It’s some jaw dropping reporting, and Governor Hogan’s statement corroborates the delay for approval from the Pentagon to send the National Guard to stop the mob.
Just three days prior to the attack, all living former defense secretaries, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, warned in The Washington Post that involving the military in election disputes would be “dangerous” and “unlawful.” It’s astounding that such a piece had to be written in the first place, but many could sense the dangerous path we were heading down as Trump became more unhinged, erratic, and desperate to hold onto power. Reporting from The New York Times confirms Trump’s desire to use the military against his opponents, while his own supporters attacked our government. Investigations, reporting, and congressional committees will undoubtedly uncover more information in the coming weeks and months.
Whether Trump installed his loyalists just to get troop withdrawals, or whether there was an even more sinister motive remains to be uncovered. It does not change the fact that congressional leaders had to plead for help from our government in the basement of a bunker while the president and his loyalists sat twiddling their thumbs. That disturbing piece of information, as well as the motives and intent behind such a delay while our government was under siege will eventually come to light.
After Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, he gave an interview to the Military Times. He ended the interview with a chilling statement: if he is replaced with a yes-man then “God help us.”