Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller spoke with Mike Pence as the Capitol was under attack on Jan. 6, and not Trump, before issuing an order to deploy federal troops.
As vice president, Pence had no statutory authority to issue military orders.
Under questioning from House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Miller denied that anyone had gone outside the chain of command.
“The vice president is not in the chain of command, he did not direct me to clear the Capitol,” Miller said.
The exchange between Miller and Maloney focused on one of the outstanding mysteries of the attack: whether Pence stepped beyond his authority to approve national guard deployment as Trump remained out of the picture.
Pence, a target of rioters screaming “Hang Mike Pence,” called Miller at 4:08 pm, Maloney said.
By that point, Miller had authorized the mobilization of the D.C. National Guard, but not its deployment.
Maloney noted that Pence’s call came “more than two hours after the Capitol had been breached,” and emphasized that National Guard troops had not been deployed before the Vice President made the call.
During the Pence phone call, the AP reported, Pence told Miller to “clear the Capitol,” and said that the complex was not secure.
Miller gave a verbal order approving deployment of the D.C. National Guard at 4:32.
“Did you issue the order in response to the Vice President’s call?” Maloney asked.
Miller said that he did not.
“Mr. Miller, your order to deploy came only 24 minutes after the Vice President called you,” Maloney added.
Throughout all this, what Trump was doing remains unknown. At 2:32, Trump had tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” and was later persuaded to release a video telling the rioters to leave the building while adding that he loved them.
Maloney ended her questioning by telling Miller that she found his responses unconvincing.
“And in your testimony you say that they’re unrelated?,” she said, referring to the Pence call and his order to deploy troops. “I find that hard to believe.”