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Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller speaking at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, in November 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller told "VICE on Showtime" that he believes former President Trump incited the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 with his speech preceding the deadly riot.

Why it matters: Miller, who Trump appointed to lead the Pentagon after firing Mark Esper following the 2020 election, said, "it’s pretty much definitive" that the riot, which left five people dead, would not have happened without the president’s “Save America” rally speech.

Context: Before the riot, Trump and rally speakers repeated baseless claims that the election had been stolen.

  • The president told his supporters, "we're going to the Capitol" to give "weak" Republicans "the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country."
  • On Jan. 6, Congress was certifying President Biden's victory.

What he's saying: “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," Miller told "VICE on Showtime" in an interview set to air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

  • “It seems cause-and-effect,” Miller said, referring to Trump’s speech before the riot. “The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don’t know.”
  • Miller said he did listen to Trump's speech and found some of the comments he made “concerning."

Of note: Miller said Trump did not speak to him on Jan. 6, even though Miller was ultimately in charge of the military’s response.

  • Miller rejected criticism that he did not respond to the riot quick enough.
  • “It comes back to understanding how the military works — this isn’t a video game..., it’s not Black Ops Call of Duty,” he said.

Miller described the political climate at the time of the riot as a “constant drumbeat” of “potential illegal, immoral, and unethical activities” that made him consider his “ethical, moral, and legal red lines."

  • He added that he would have stepped down if asked to do something he was uncomfortable with.
  • “I knew that I was not going to cross any of those lines, and if asked, I would resign,” Miller said. “If it’s antithetical to the Constitution or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it’s an illegal order and you don’t follow it.”

The big picture: The House of Representatives impeached Trump on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors over his actions on that day, though the Senate voted to acquit him last month.

Go deeper

3 mins ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Fridays' meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

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