Amid the criticism on the National Guard for its delay in responding to the Capitol attack led by Donald Trump supporters on January 6, it has been revealed that the former United States President wanted the troops to protect the demonstrators.

During a hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday, Representative Carolyn Maloney who chairs the committee, asked Former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller why National Guard troops did not arrive until hours after the Capitol building was overrun by demonstrators.

In response, the former Pentagon official defended the military and said criticism of the troops' response to the riots that claimed five lives including that of a Police Officer "is unfounded." According to his testimony, the military response was based on a meeting he had with Trump on January 3, three days before Congress was to certify Joe Biden's victory over him in the presidential elections. During the meeting, Trump asked him whether the District of Columbia's mayor had requested National Guard troops for the day, and proceeded to tell him to "fill" the request, reports Newsweek.

Trump told the former defense secretary: "Fill it and do whatever is necessary to protect the demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights."

Miller said the military filled the request and stationed National Guard troops at 30 traffic control points and subway stations to "demonstrate a law enforcement presence," and direct traffic and intervene in disturbances "if required." However, he intentionally did not station troops at the Capitol as he had concerns that would fan fears of a military coup or that Trump advisers were advocating martial law.

National Guardsmen were later deployed at the building, but at least three hours after Trump supporters stormed the building following his fiery speech where he claimed voter fraud in the presidential elections. Major General William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told Congress in March that deploying the National Guard sooner "would have made a difference" because they could have helped "extend the perimeter and push back the crowd."

In his defence, Miller said that anyone with an understanding of military deployments "will recognise how rapid our response was," adding that the criticism "reflect inexperience with, or a lack of understanding of, the nature of military operations."

Miller also noted that he did not have any communication with Trump as the riot unfolded, as he "didn't need to" because he had the necessary authority and "knew what had to happen." He did have a conversation with then-Vice President Mike Pence, who gave him insight into what was happening from where he was in the Capitol. However, Miller denied the claims that Pence had given him the direction to "clear the Capitol" and said he is not part of the "chain of command."

Miller also told the committee that he believes Trump fulfilled his duties as president on the day of the riot. However, Committee chair Carolyn Maloney replied: "I think the evidence is clear. The president refused to lift a finger to send aid after he incited a violent rebellion against our republic. The president, therefore, betrayed his oath of office and betrayed his constitution of duty."

Donald Trump
Former US president Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party has tightened with the ouster of one of his chief Republican critics from her leadership role in the party Photo: AFP / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS