Trump’s Acting Defense Sec.: His Speech Incited Mob to Storm Capitol

Donald Trump was acquitted of the charge of inciting an insurrection at his second impeachment trial in the Senate, but one of the most senior members of Trump’s administration now says that may not have been the right verdict.

Chris Miller, who Trump installed as acting defense secretary just days after he lost the election, told “Vice on Showtime” that he believes Trump’s speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse Jan. 6 was responsible for causing the mob to march up Constitution Avenue and violently attack the Capitol that afternoon. That’s a pretty stunning admission from someone thought to be a Trump loyalist.

In an exclusive interview with “Vice on Showtime,” Miller said, “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.”

(Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

The message of violence to the rally crowd was abundantly clear from the moment Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said it was time to “take names and kick some ass” and Rudy Giuliani proposed “trial by combat.” It was cemented when it was Trump’s turn at the microphone. “This is a criminal enterprise,” Trump told the crowd, referring to the election. “And we fight. We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Some in the crowd acted on that admonishment even before he finished speaking and headed toward Capitol Hill.

Miller says that at the time he heard it he wasn’t sure if Trump was aware his speech might have such extreme consequences, but he also says he’s certain the attack wouldn’t have happened without such inflammatory rhetoric. He says he found Trump’s remarks “concerning.”

“It seems cause-and-effect,” Miller said, referring to Trump’s speech and the violent riot that left five people dead. “The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don’t know.”

Miller’s interview and other new reporting will air exclusively on “Vice on Showtime” at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 14. You can watch an excerpt of that interview below.

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