Col. Earl Matthews accuses Army brass of lying about Jan. 6

A former DC National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals lied to Congress in their testimony about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — calling the Army’s official version of that day’s events an “alternate history … worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist.”

In a blistering, 36-page memo obtained by Politico, Col. Earl Matthews alleged that the Pentagon inspector general’s report on the military response to the violence contained “myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis.”

Matthews, who was serving at the time as a top military lawyer to then-DC Guard commander Maj. Gen. William Walker, vented his rage against Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, at one point describing both officers as “absolute and unmitigated liars.”

The central focus of Matthews’ claims is a call that took place at 2:30 p.m. on the day of the riot, in which then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund “pleaded for the immediate support of the D.C. National Guard at the U.S. Capitol as the security perimeter at the Capitol was being breached at that very moment,” according to Matthews.

Col. Earl Matthews described Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt as “absolute and unmitigated liars.”

When the request was relayed to Piatt, Matthews states, he said that it would “not be his best military advice to recommend to the Secretary of the Army that the D.C. National Guard be allowed to deploy to the Capitol at that time.”

Piatt’s justification, according to the Matthews memo, was that “the presence of uniformed military personnel could inflame the situation and that the police were best suited to handle the situation.”

Matthews added that Piatt, the director of the Army staff, and Flynn — now the commanding general of the US Army in the Pacific — agreed that “the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good.”

In the face of congressional investigations, Piatt and Flynn have denied saying on Jan. 6 that the DC Guard should not be deployed to the Capitol.

“At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol,” Piatt wrote in June while responding to questions from House Oversight Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Flynn, the younger brother of former President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, similarly told Maloney that “I did not observe LTG Piatt express concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of sending the D.C. National Guard to the U.S. Capitol at any point on January 6, 2021 or in the following days.”

Capitol riot.
Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt have denied saying on Jan. 6 that the DC Guard should not be deployed to the Capitol.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

“At least 9 people then who were in the meeting heard Piatt mention optics,” Matthews wrote in his memo. “Only Piatt and Flynn are adamant that he did not.”

“Every leader in the D.C. Guard wanted to respond and knew they could respond to the riot at the seat of government,” Matthews added. “They set [sic] stunned watching in the Armory while for the first time in its 219 year history, the D.C. National Guard was not allowed to respond to a riot in the city.”

Matthews stood by his claims when contacted by Politico.

“Our Army has never failed us and did not do so on January 6, 2021,” he said. “However, occasionally some of our Army leaders have failed us and they did so on January 6th. Then they lied about it and tried to cover it up.”

In May, then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller told lawmakers that he activated and mobilized the National Guard after requests from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police at 3 p.m. Jan. 6, at least 90 minutes after he became aware the building had been breached by rioters. The first National Guard personnel arrived at the Capitol at 5:22 p.m.

Miller told lawmakers that criticism of the Pentagon’s response to the violence, which led to the deaths of five people, was “unfounded” and “reflects inexperience with, or a lack of understanding of, the nature of military operations or, worse … is simply the result of politics.”