WASHINGTON — Washington was plunged into chaos Wednesday, as a pro-Trump mob invaded the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as the next president. As a result, thousands of national guardsmen are moving towards D.C., while lawmakers are calling for Trump to be impeached or removed from office under the 25th Amendment.
Many of these actions have ramifications for the national security community. Here are the key events Defense News has been tracking.
This list, with the newest items up top, will be updated as events require. The most recent update was at 4:19 p.m. EST, Jan. 7.
– 4:15 p.m.: President-elect Joe Biden is pressuring Congress to quickly confirm his nominees for national security roles, but it emerged that the congressional calendar won’t permit his pick for defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, to be in place on Inauguration Day. Lloyd would need a waiver for the job because he recently retired from the military as a general. It’s unclear who would immediately fill the role, and the incoming administration hasn’t announced its plans.
However, the Senate Armed Services Committee has announced a Jan. 19, 3 p.m. confirmation hearing for Austin, which will start the formal process.
– 3:59 p.m.: Boeing is circulating a statement from CEO Dave Calhoun on the presidential transition, reported Jon Ostrower, the editor of The Air Current.
“Boeing proudly serves a vital role with our U,S. government customer in defending democracy here and around the world,” Calhoun stated. “The vote of the people and the peaceful transition of government are core to our democracy. Our company has a long history of working with elected officials over many years. In the spirit of bipartisanship, we encourage them to work with President elect Biden to unify our nation.”
– 3:54 p.m.: Energy secretary Dan Brouillette condemned “politically-motivated violence,” but said he will not be leaving office before Jan 20., according to a statement obtained by Politico. As energy secretary, Brouillette has oversight of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages America’s nuclear warheads; the NNSA has been under acting leadership since agency head Lisa Gordon-Hagerty resigned after clashing with Brouillette.
– 3:11 p.m.: In a statement released by the Pentagon, acting defense secretary Chris Miller called yesterday’s violence “reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution.
“In the midst of this tragedy, I was proud of the professionalism of our Department of Defense personnel. I want to specifically recognize the service of the District of Columbia National Guard. They performed with honor, integrity, and alacrity to protect people and property from unlawful acts,” Miller wrote. “I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on January 20.”
– 3:10 p.m.: Defense News has learned that Mark Vandroff, senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council and a retired Navy captain, has resigned. In his resignation letter, Vandroff did not specifically say why he was resigning, and the official declined to comment to reporters.
– 3:05 p.m.: Trump’s former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster tweeted that “President Trump and other officials have repeatedly compromised our principles in pursuit of partisan advantage and personal gain.” McMaster, a retired Army general officer who worked for Trump for roughly a year, added that “Those who engaged in disinformation and demagoguery in pursuit of self-interest abdicated their responsibility to the American people.”
– 2:48 p.m.: Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO Eric Fanning issued a statement the reads, in part, “We condemn—in the strongest terms—yesterday’s violence and those who incite such violence. Ensuring the peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of our democracy. We must remain committed to this as a nation.” AIA is one of the largest defense trade associations.
– 2:09 p.m.: Top Democrats in the House and Senate have joined a growing call for President Donald Trump to be removed from office — by either his Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment or Congress impeaching him. The list so far includes incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., as the lone Republican so far.
– Bloomberg reported that national security adviser Robert O’Brien plans to stay through the end of the administration. There had been numerous reports Wednesday evening that O’Brien, who has held that position since September 2019, was considering resigning.
– National Defense Industries Association head Hawk Carlisle issued a statement that the “despicable acts of yesterday’s mob, egged on by irresponsible rhetoric, is anathema to those values and the foundational document that has made America the shining city on the hill that has beckoned millions to a better way of life.” Carlisle, a retired U.S. Air Force general, added that “America and Americans are better than this. NDIA and its members are dedicated to being part of the solution while continuing to be at the heart of the defense of this great nation, its people and the values we hold dear.”
– The deputy assistant secretary of commerce for intelligence and security, John Costello, who is a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, announced his resignation. Costello worked on cybersecurity issues and stated that President Donald Trump “incited” the “violent sedition” against Congress.
– Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of U.S. Africa Command, issued a message, apparently aimed at forces in the command, that “America has withstood much greater and graver challenges in the past” and that the American people expect the command to “stay steady” on its mission. It is unusual for a combatant command to issue a statement on domestic political issues.
– In a Twitter thread, Lt. Gen. Clint Hinote, the head of the Air Force’s strategy office, stated that “To be clear: It is my personal opinion that we are in danger of losing our republic. Real danger.” He also stated that “As bad as 9/11 was, I feel that our situation today is worse.”
– The majority of House Republicans still chose to reject electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania, including incoming House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who had previously condemned the violence at the capitol.
– In an astounding statement from an industry group, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers called for Vice President Mike Pence to “seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment” and remove Trump from power. The association, which represents more than 14,000 companies around the country, previously worked with President Donald Trump on a number of industrial issues. Among its board members are representatives from Raytheon, Boeing, Textron Aviation and the Ball Corporation.
– Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned Wednesday evening, per multiple reports. A former journalist and China expert, Pottinger served on the National Security Council for the entirety of President Donald Trump’s term, and was viewed in national security circles as a rational actor who worked to keep the interagency process working. In a tweet, national security adviser Robert O’Brien praised Pottinger as having served “with distinction.”
– Former Defense Secretaries Jim Mattis and Mark Esper condemned both Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol building by rioters and President Donald Trump for his role in the violence. “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mattis said in a statement. Esper, who replaced Mattis and was also fired by Trump, called the attack on the Capitol “appalling and un-American.”
– Georgians elected Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate, giving the Democratic Party control of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., is poised to lead the Senate Armed Services Committee, among other leadership changes.
Click here to keep up with all the news surrounding the transition of power in the U.S. federal government.