Jan. 6 Committee Hid Trump-Exonerating Evidence

Jan. 6 Committee Hid Trump-Exonerating Evidence

Former Rep. Liz Cheney’s January 6 Committee suppressed evidence that President Donald Trump pushed for 10,000 National Guard troops to protect the nation’s capital, a previously hidden transcript obtained by The Federalist shows.

Cheney and her committee falsely claimed they had “no evidence” to support Trump officials’ claims the White House had communicated its desire for 10,000 National Guard troops. In fact, an early transcribed interview conducted by the committee included precisely that evidence from a key source. The interview, which Cheney attended and personally participated in, was suppressed from public release until now.

Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato’s first transcribed interview with the committee was conducted on January 28, 2022. In it, he told Cheney and her investigators that he overheard White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows push Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to request as many National Guard troops as she needed to protect the city.

He also testified President Trump had suggested 10,000 would be needed to keep the peace at the public rallies and protests scheduled for January 6, 2021. Ornato also described White House frustration with Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller’s slow deployment of assistance on the afternoon of January 6, 2021.

Not only did the committee not accurately characterize the interview, they suppressed the transcript from public review. On top of that, committee allies began publishing critical stories and even conspiracy theories about Ornato ahead of follow-up interviews with him. Ornato was a career Secret Service official who had been detailed to the security position in the White House.

Cheney frequently points skeptics of her investigation to the Government Publishing Office website that posted, she said, “transcripts, documents, exhibits & our meticulously sourced 800+ page final report.” That website provides “supporting documents” to the claims made by Cheney and fellow anti-Trump enthusiasts.

However, transcripts of fewer than half of the 1,000 interviews the committee claims it conducted are posted on that site. It is unclear how many of the hidden transcripts include exonerating information suppressed by the committee.

Those documents support the committee’s narrative rather than the truth of the events leading up to January 6, 2021, said Rep. Barry Loudermilk, chairman of the House Administration’s Subcommittee on Oversight.

“The former J6 Select Committee apparently withheld Mr. Ornato’s critical witness testimony from the American people because it contradicted their pre-determined narrative. Mr. Ornato’s testimony proves what Mr. Meadows has said all along: President Trump did in fact offer 10,000 National Guard troops to secure the U.S. Capitol, which was turned down,” said the Georgia Republican.

His subcommittee is reviewing the work of the January 6 committee, which has been accused of other unethical behavior at the expense of accuracy, as well as collusion with other Democrat efforts to prosecute political opponents.

“This is just one example of important information the former Select Committee hid from the public because it contradicted what they wanted the American people to believe,” Loudermilk said. “And this is exactly why my investigation is committed to uncovering all the facts, no matter the outcome.”

Early Corroboration For Contested Claim

A January 6 committee staffer asked Ornato, “When it comes to the National Guard statement about having 10,000 troops or any other number of troops, do you recall any discussion prior to the 6th about whether and how many National Guard troops to deploy on January 6th?”

Ornato surprised the committee by noting he did recall a conversation between Meadows and Bowser: “He was on the phone with her and wanted to make sure she had everything that she needed,” Ornato told investigators.

Ornato said White House concerns about January 6 were related to fears that left-wing groups would clash with Trump protesters and that no one in the White House anticipated a riot at the Capitol. Antifa and other left-wing groups were planning protests for the same day. Left-wing groups had been involved in violent assaults on Trump supporters following public protests.

Meadows “wanted to know if she need any more guardsmen,” Ornato testified. “And I remember the number 10,000 coming up of, you know, ‘The president wants to make sure that you have enough.’ You know, ‘He is willing to ask for 10,000.’ I remember that number. Now that you said it, it reminded me of it. And that she was all set. She had, I think it was like 350 or so for intersection control, and those types of things not in the law enforcement capacity at the time.”

Ornato was correct. Bowser declined the offer, asking only for a few hundred National Guard and requiring them to serve in a very limited capacity.

“No DCNG personnel shall be armed during this mission, and at no time, will DCNG personnel or assets be engaged in domestic surveillance, searches, or seizures of US persons,” Bowser wrote in her letter requesting the D.C. National Guard. Bowser had been a strenuous critic of Republican efforts to limit rioting from leftwing political activists in U.S. cities during 2020’s summer of violence.

Bowser’s decision to decline help from the White House did not end the Trump team’s efforts to secure troops ahead of the protest. When the D.C. mayor declined Trump’s offer of 10,000 troops, Ornato said the White House requested a “quick reaction force” out of the Defense Department in case it was needed.

“The only thing I remember with DOD and the National Guard was even though the mayor didn’t want any more National Guard in D.C., that a request was made to have kind of a, lack of better term, a quick reaction force out at Joint Base Andrews being that it was a military installation,” Ornato told investigators in the previously concealed interview. “I remember Chief Meadows talking to DOD about that, I believe. I remember Chief Meadows letting me know that, ‘Hey, there was going to be National Guard that’s going to be at Joint Base Andrews in case they’re going to need some more, we’re going to — the Mayor would need any, we’re going to make sure they’re out there.’”

Meadows was concerned that D.C. would be unprepared for the size of the crowd coming to protest the controversial 2020 election in which hundreds of laws and processes were changed to enable tens of millions of unsupervised mail-in ballots to flood the country. The January 6 Committee prevented an investigation into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s preparation — or lack thereof — for Capitol security ahead of the event, so it is unclear if she was as concerned about keeping the peace as Meadows and the Trump White House were.

“And, again, the crowd sizes were, you know, the organizers were saying, you know, there may be 50,000 here. So that’s where it started, I think, to scare the chief a little bit of how many people were coming in for this event, and wanted to make sure that they would be able to bring in National Guard if needed for this size of this many people inside D.C.,” Ornato said.

Once the Capitol was breached, the Trump White House pushed for immediate help from Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and grew frustrated at the slow deployment of that help, according to the testimony.

“So then I remember the chief saying, ‘Hey, I’m calling secretary of defense to get that [quick reaction force] in here,” Ornato said. Later he said, “And then I remember the chief telling Miller, ‘Get them in here, get them in here to secure the Capitol now.’”

Still later, he said, “[T]he constant was, you know, where is the National Guard? Why isn’t — you know, we’ve got to get control of this.” And again, “But, you know, [Meadows] understood the urgency, that’s for sure. And he kept, you know, getting Miller on the phone, wanting to know where they were, why aren’t they there yet.”

Days prior, Cheney had “secretly orchestrated” a pressure campaign to prevent the Defense Department from deploying resources on January 6, 2021. She organized an op-ed for the Washington Post from her father and other former secretaries of defense specifically to discourage Miller from taking action.

Ornato described Meadows’ strenuous efforts to quicken the Defense Department’s deployment of the National Guard: “Every time [Meadows] would ask, ‘What’s taking so long?’ It would be, like, you know, ‘This isn’t just start the car and we’re there. We have to muster them up, we have to’ — so it was constant excuses coming of — not excuses, but what they were actually doing to get them there. So, you know, ‘We only have so many here right now. They’re given an hour to get ready.’ So there’s, like, all these timelines that was being explained to the chief. And he relayed that, like, you know — he’s like, ‘I don’t care, just get them here,’ you know, and ‘Get them to the Capitol, not to the White House.’”

Cheney hid this testimony and instead asserted in her report that President Trump “never gave any order to deploy the National Guard on January 6th or on any other day. Nor did he instruct any Federal law enforcement agency to assist.”

Her report noted that the secretary of defense “ultimately did deploy the Guard. Although evidence identifies a likely miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense impacting the timing of deployment, the Committee has found no evidence that the Department of Defense intentionally delayed deployment of the National Guard. The Select Committee recognizes that some at the Department had genuine concerns, counseling caution, that President Trump might give an illegal order to use the military in support of his efforts to overturn the election.”

Cheney has never addressed the effects of her secretly orchestrated campaign to prevent Miller from acting ahead of the January 6, 2021 protest. A new book confirms prior reporting that Cheney secretly conspired with District Attorney Fani Willis in Fulton County’s prosecution of Republicans and that she viewed it as a “platform for her to resuscitate her political career” and would “provide a springboard for a Cheney presidential run.”

Ornato’s description of events also matched testimony offered by Kash Patel, the former chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense, in the Colorado Supreme Court hearing about Democrat efforts to limit the ability of Americans to vote for the candidate of their choice. The Colorado court, whose efforts to remove Trump from the ballot were so extreme they were overturned this week by a unanimous Supreme Court, claimed Patel’s “testimony regarding Trump authorizing” at least 10,000 National Guardsmen was “illogical” and “completely devoid of any evidence in the record.” Because Ornato’s corroborating information had been suppressed from the public record by the January 6 committee, the Colorado Supreme Court improperly dismissed evidence.

‘I Never Heard Anything Like That’

Cheney and her committee did devote 2,000 words in their final report to an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that President Trump had physically overcome a Secret Service agent in his zeal to join protesters at the Capitol.

That story had been told by Cassidy Hutchinson, Cheney’s friend and star witness, along with other stories that eyewitnesses disputed. (Disclosure: Hutchinson falsely claimed this reporter received classified information from a Secret Service handler in a clandestine Georgetown meeting. She has thus far refused formal requests to correct her theatrical claim.) While the story of Trump overcoming a Secret Service agent would not be told for months, Ornato pre-rebutted it in his testimony.

Asked if he ever heard anything about Trump deciding to go to the Capitol that day, Ornato said he hadn’t. Ornato said Trump had driven by a previous rally, had flown over another, and that handlers had previously decided against him joining the day’s events.

“No. I did not know that. I mean, I don’t think — that couldn’t have happened. Nobody had — nobody would be prepared for that. There would be no security to do that. There would be no — I mean, that was like I said, talked about a couple of days, whenever it was prior, and it was scoffed at and moved on, and I never heard about it again,” Ornato said, adding that he never heard anything about Trump wanting to go to the Capitol that day. “Usually somebody would, you know, report it up or report over, like, ‘Hey, this is what I overheard’ or something, but I never heard anything like that.”

Later, Hutchinson would claim Ornato had been the source of her dramatic tale that Trump had commandeered the presidential vehicle and demanded to be taken to the Capitol. Other Secret Service sources also strongly repudiated the outlandish claim.


Originally Posted on: https://thefederalist.com/2024/03/08/exclusive-liz-cheney-january-6-committee-suppressed-exonerating-evidence-of-trumps-push-for-national-guard/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=exclusive-liz-cheney-january-6-committee-suppressed-exonerating-evidence-of-trumps-push-for-national-guard
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