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Former D.C. Guard official accuses Army generals of lying to Congress about Jan. 6 response

In a 36-page memo, Col. Earl Matthews called the generals "absolute and unmitigated liars" for how they characterized events.
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WASHINGTON — A former D.C. National Guard official has accused two Army generals of lying under oath in congressional testimony about the military's response to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The officer, Col. Earl Matthews, wrote in a 36-page memo to the House committee investigating the attack that Gen. Charles Flynn, who was the deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of the Army staff, "repeatedly misrepresented, understated, or misled" the House Oversight Committee and the Defense Department's inspector general.

Matthews, who on Jan. 6 was the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, then the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, alleged that Piatt misled Congress about the guard's "capability, readiness and motivation" to respond on the afternoon of the riot.

Matthews also alleged that the generals "falsely claimed" that the National Guard didn't have the training and the resources to shift quickly from traffic control to civil disturbance operations, and he said they were "absolute and unmitigated liars" for their characterization of events.

"Flynn falsely stated that the Army Staff (which is supposed to be running the global operations of the U.S. Army) had to devote 30 to 40 officers and non-commissioned officers to get 154 ill-prepared DC Guardsmen to Capitol Hill," Matthews wrote in his memo. "This assertion constituted the willful deception of Congress. It is not just imprecision, it is lying. Senior Army officers lied about little stuff."

Matthews' memo was first reported by Politico. Flynn and Piatt didn't respond to messages from Politico seeking comment.

Army spokesperson Mike Brady told NBC News 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."

"As the Inspector General concluded, actions taken 'were appropriate, supported by requirements, consistent with the DOD's roles and responsibilities for DSCA, and compliant with laws, regulations, and other applicable guidance," Brady said in the statement, referring to Defense Support of Civil Authorities. "We stand by all testimony and facts provided to date, and vigorously reject any allegations to the contrary. However, with the January 6th Commission's investigation still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Matthews said in his memo that the statements "contributed to the deficiencies" in the Pentagon inspector general's report.

For example, the inspector general's report said Ryan McCarthy, then the secretary of the Army, was on a key call at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 with Walker and other participants, including the chiefs of the Capitol Police and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department. The report, Matthews said, claims that McCarthy spoke for about five minutes on the call when, in reality, he was unavailable because he had gone to meet with acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

Despite the pleas of Steven Sund, the Capitol police chief at the time, Piatt said on the call that he wouldn't advise McCarthy to deploy the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol at that time, Matthews wrote. Piatt said in the phone call that "the presence of uniformed military personnel could inflame the situation and that the police were best suited to handle the situation," Matthews wrote.

"Piatt and Flynn stated that the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good," he continued.

The senior Army leaders instead recommended using guard members to relieve D.C. police officers of traffic duties to allow more of them to aid in the Capitol response.

The generals have denied that they said the guard shouldn't be deployed to the Capitol.

Piatt wrote in response to a written question from House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in June, "At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol."

Flynn, the brother of Michael Flynn, who was briefly former President Donald Trump's national security adviser, testified, "I never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of sending the D.C. National Guard to the U.S. Capitol."

Megan Reed, a spokesperson for the inspector general, defended the office's report in a statement.

"We stand behind the conclusions in our review of the Department of Defense's role, responsibilities, and actions to prepare for and respond to the protest and its aftermath at the U.S. Capitol campus on January 6, 2021," Reed said.

CORRECTION (Dec. 6, 2021, 10:43 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misidentified the military activities an Army spokesperson referred to in a quotation. The spokesperson was referring to Defense Support of Civil Authorities, not the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.