Christopher Miller, who served as Donald Trump’s final Defense Secretary, said in a forthcoming interview that the former president’s speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 was to blame for the deadly Capitol riot later that day, insisting that it would not have happened without his incitement.
Speaking 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.”
“The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don’t know,” Miller told Vice.
The former defense chief faced criticism of his own due to the delayed deployment of the National Guard to the Capitol after a mob of Trump’s supporters had broken in on Jan. 6.
“It comes back to understanding how the military works — this isn’t a video game, it’s not Black Ops Call of Duty,” Miller said, rejecting the criticism.
A day before the Capitol attack, all 10 living former Defense secretaries released a letter advising Miller to ensure a peaceful transition of power, amid concerns that Trump would attempt to use the military to halt the transition process.
“There was a lot of concern that we were just some sort of Trump hatchet men coming in to do heinous things to the Department of Defense,” Miller said.
The former top Trump administration official noted that the political climate leading up to the riot was a “constant drumbeat” of claims about “potential illegal, immoral, and unethical activities.”
During the speech Trump gave on the morning of Jan. 6, he incorrectly stated that the election had been stolen and that widespread voter fraud had occurred.
“We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said during the speech.
After his speech ended, pro-Trump rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol, causing lawmakers to flee or shelter in place. Five people died as a result of the riot, including one Capitol Police officer.
Watch portions of Miller’s interview below.