Two former top Trump administration officials testified before Congress today about the Capitol insurrection, dodging questions from Democratic lawmakers about the attack while Republicans at the hearing used their time to criticize the government's investigations into the rioters and question the existence of the insurrection itself.
If you are just tuning in, here are some key moments from today's hearing:
Former acting defense secretary defends his response: Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller issued a strong broadside against criticism lobbed at the US military for not responding to the attack, saying at one point, "Criticism of the military response is unfounded and reflects inexperience with or a lack of understanding of the nature of military operations, or worse, is simply the result of politics — I suspect a combination of both these factors." He added, "This isn't a video game, where you can move forces with the flick of a thumb or a movie that glosses over the logistical challenges and the time required to coordinate and synchronize with the multitude of other entities involved, or with complying with the important legal requirements involved in the use of such forces."
Miller also invoked the Kent State massacre on Wednesday as he justified why he didn’t believe the US military should have responded to the Capitol insurrection, saying he sees the nation’s armed forces “as a last resort” when responding to protests.
Former acting attorney general ducks questions on conversations with Trump: Jeffrey Rosen, the former acting attorney general, meanwhile sought to avoid answering questions about conversations with former President Trump about investigating the 2020 presidential election. Rosen engaged in a tense back and forth with Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly.
“Prior to Jan. 6, were you asked or instructed by President Trump to take any action at the department to advance election fraud claims or to seek to overturn any part of the 2020 election results?” the Virginia Democrat asked.
“I can tell you what the actions of the department were,” Rosen replied, adding, “I cannot tell you consistent with my obligations today about private conversations with the President one way or the other.”
“You’re saying this is a privileged communication?” Connolly shot back.
“I’m saying that my responsibility is to tell you about the role of the Department of Justice and the actions we took,” Rosen said, to which the congressman responded, “No, sir, your responsibility is to be accountable to the American people and this Congress. I can’t imagine a more critical question.”
Republicans downplay the violence on Jan. 6: Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar issued a full-throated defense of the rioters as he attacked the ongoing federal investigations into the participants of the insurrection.
"Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding US citizens, especially Trump voters," Gosar claimed. "The FBI is fishing through homes of veterans and citizens with no criminal records and restricting the liberties of individuals that have never been accused of a crime."
"The government has enlisted Americans to turn in their own neighbors," the Arizona Republican added.
Another GOP member, Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, falsely compared the riot to a tourist visit.
In a separate hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland defended the Justice Department’s focus on investigating and prosecuting Capitol rioters.
“In my career as a judge and in law enforcement, I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Garland said.
Read more about today's hearing here.