As reporting from a forthcoming book about Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark Milley roils Washington, the panel investigating the Capitol insurrection has said that questions about the Pentagon’s role fall within the scope of its probe.
According to a Thursday statement from Jan. 6 Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the panel wants to know about the role of the Pentagon during the entire transition period.
That includes requests about “the potential use of military power to impede or ensure the peaceful transfer of power” during the entire transition period. The requests also focus on how Pentagon leaders reacted to the insurrection on the day of the attack, and for the two weeks afterwards, while Trump remained in office.
“The facts surrounding steps taken at the Pentagon to protect our security both before and after January 6th are a crucial area of focus for the Select Committee,” the statement reads.
Thompson and Cheney noted that a round of requests issued last month to a series of federal agencies included queries sent to the Department of Defense. In that request, investigators sought information about potential plans to to use the military to keep Trump in power.
Write-ups of “Peril,” a book by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, revealed that the book will report that Milley told U.S. military leaders on Jan. 8 that he would have to be “involved” in any decision to order a nuclear strike. The book also reportedly says that Milley held “secret” talks with his Chinese military counterpart after the insurrection in a bid to assure Beijing that Trump would not lash out in his final days in office.
Milley, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is not part of the military chain of command. Experts in civil-military relations told TPM that Milley’s actions as reported likely damaged civilian control of the military, though the civilian controlling the military at the time complicated the situation.
Thompson and Cheney said in the statement that these allegations fell within the scope of the probe, which seeks to examine all of the conduct of Trump, and those around him, that lead to the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt, and to review how government leaders reacted both during the attack and after.
It’s a broad remit that, if successful, could provide a definitive account of Trump’s wide-ranging efforts to first discredit, and then overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“Looking ahead, we will carefully evaluate all the facts based on first-hand testimony, contemporaneous documents, and other relevant materials,” the statement reads. “The Select Committee is dedicated to telling the complete story of the unprecedented and extraordinary events of January 6th, including all steps that led to what happened that day, and the specific actions and activities that followed between January 6th and January 20th, 2021.”