A former D.C. National Guard official has accused two generals of lying to Congress and attempting to cover up their lack of action in response to the insurrection on Jan. 6, Politico reported on Monday.
Col. Earl Matthews, who served in the Trump administration on the National Security Council and in the Pentagon, wrote in a 36-page memo that the Pentagon’s inspector general authored a report with “glaring errors” that paints ” a false narrative” of what happened on Jan. 6. That report, Matthews claimed, was written to protect a leading Army official who postponed the National Guard’s response to the Capitol attack.
Matthews accused Gen. Charles Flynn, who was deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of Army staff, of being “absolute and unmitigated liars” for the way they described what happened on Jan. 6. Flynn is the brother of disgraced former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, although Matthews did not mention that in his memo.
“Every leader in the D.C. Guard wanted to respond and knew they could respond to the riot at the seat of government,” Matthews wrote. On the day of the attack, Matthews was serving as the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, who was then commanding general of the D.C. National Guard. D.C. Guard officials, he wrote, “set [sic] stunned watching in the Armory” while Trump supporters started to attack the Capitol.
According to Matthews’ account, during a 2 p.m. conference call with Army officials, “LTG Piatt stated that it would not be his best military advice to recommend to the Secretary of the Army that the D.C. National Guard be allowed to deploy to the Capitol at that time.” Matthews wrote that Piatt and Flynn “stated” they were concerned “that the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good.” Instead, the officers suggested deploying National Guardsmen to take over traffic responsibilities from D.C. police, allowing those officers to try to defend the Capitol.
Matthews accused Piatt and Flynn of lying to Congress when they denied ever saying that the Guard should not go to the Capitol. Politico additionally obtained a memo from the Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters that stated at 2:37 p.m., Piatt and Flynn “recommended for DC Guard to standby and start drafting a plan for courses of action.” Four minutes later, at 2:41 p.m., the memo stated that “Flynn advised D.C. National Guard to standby until the request has been routed to” then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.
This account conflicts with Piatt’s response to a question from House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in June in which Piatt wrote: “At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol.”
Flynn also responded to Maloney’s question, telling the congresswoman that he “never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of” sending the Guard to the Capitol.
Matthews wrote that Flynn’s answer was “outright perjury” and called Piatt’s statement “false and misleading.”
In an interview with The Washington Post last month, Maj. Gen. Walker attacked the IG’s report, calling it “incomplete,” “inaccurate” and “sloppy work.” The report alleges that Walker received a call from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy at 4:35 p.m. informing him that Miller had approved the request for the D.C. Guard to support the U.S. Capitol Police. Walker said that was not true.
“Our Army has never failed us and did not do so on January 6, 2021,” Matthews wrote. “However, occasionally some of our Army leaders have failed us and they did so on January 6th. Then they lied about it and tried to cover it up. They tried to smear a good man and to erase history.”
Responding to Matthews’ allegations, spokesperson Mike Brady told Politico that the Army’s “actions on January 6th have been well-documented and reported on, and Gen. Flynn and Lt. Gen. Piatt have been open, honest and thorough in their sworn testimony with Congress and DOD investigators.”
Matthews shared his memo with the Jan. 6 select committee this month.