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President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the certification of his Electoral College defeat on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Vucci) President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the certification of his Electoral College defeat on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the certification of his Electoral College defeat on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Vucci)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 2, 2021

No proof Trump requested 10,000 Guard troops for Jan. 6 or that Pelosi denied it

If Your Time is short

  • There is no evidence that Trump made a request for 10,000 National Guard troops to be deployed for a rally he held that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

  • There is no evidence that Pelosi denied such a request.

Asked in an interview about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump claimed that he had made a request for 10,000 National Guard troops to be deployed for the rally he led that preceded the attack, and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected it.

His claim was widely repeated on social media.

There is no clear evidence that Trump made such a request, and no evidence that Pelosi denied one.

"The Speaker’s Office has made it clear publicly and repeatedly that our office was not consulted or contacted concerning any request for the National Guard ahead of Jan. 6," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. 

And that has been confirmed, Hammill pointed out, by the former House’s former head of security, under oath.

Trump’s claim on Fox News

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the results of his election loss to Joe Biden. At a rally on the Ellipse, outside the White House, he urged those in attendance to march to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was officially counting the electoral votes from the election. The proceedings were interrupted by a mob in an attack that left five people dead.

In an Feb. 28 interview, Fox News host Steve Hilton asked Trump if he would have done any differently on Jan. 6. Trump said: 

"We said to the Department of Defense, the top person, days before we had the rally … I requested … I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen, I think you should have 10,000 of the National Guard ready. They took that number. From what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi. And I heard they rejected it because they didn’t think it would look good. So, you know, that was a big mistake."

A mention, no clear request 

According to a Jan. 22 Vanity Fair article, Christopher Miller, then the acting defense secretary, said he met with Trump the night before the attack about a matter unrelated to Trump’s rally the next day. But then Trump asked Miller how many troops the Pentagon planned to deploy the next day in D.C., according to Miller’s account. 

There is no clear evidence that Trump made a request for 10,000 National Guard troops, but based on what Miller told the magazine, it appears Trump wondered aloud about what was planned:

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The president, Miller recalled, asked how many troops the Pentagon planned to turn out the following day. "We’re like, ‘We’re going to provide any National Guard support that the District requests,’" Miller responded. "And (Trump) goes, ‘You’re going to need 10,000 people.’ No, I’m not talking bullshit. He said that. And we’re like, ‘Maybe. But you know, someone’s going to have to ask for it.’" At that point Miller remembered the president telling him, "‘You do what you need to do. You do what you need to do.’ He said, ‘You’re going to need 10,000.’ That’s what he said. Swear to God."

A Defense Department spokesman said the department "has no record of such an order being given" by Trump.

In June 2020, Trump did mobilize the National Guard, as well as other federal agencies, in Washington in response to protests over police brutality. 

Pelosi not informed

In testimony at a Senate hearing on Feb. 23, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said he met on Jan. 4 with former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving, who reported to Pelosi, and former Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger, and that Sund requested that National Guard troops be deployed on Jan. 6. (All three men resigned after the attack.)

Irving testified that he did not take the discussion as a request. He said that Sund had said only that he had received an offer from the National Guard. Irving said all three men agreed that, based on intelligence reports, there was no need for troops.

Irving said he had no discussion about the matter with any congressional leaders until Jan. 6.

A spokesman for Trump did not reply to our emails.

Our ruling

Trump said he requested "10,000 National Guardsmen" for his Jan. 6 rally, but Pelosi "rejected it."

A news article reported that Trump told the acting defense secretary the night before the rally that he thought 10,000 National Guard troops would be needed, but he did not make any clear request for 10,000 troops. 

Pelosi’s spokesman said she was not consulted about the National Guard before Jan. 6. And the former House sergeant-at-arms, who reported to Pelosi, testified that he had no discussions about National Guard troops with any congressional leaders before Jan. 6.

Without evidence to back it, we rate Trump’s statement False.

Our Sources

Fox News, Donald Trump Feb. 28, 2021 interview (16:00), posted March 1, 2021

Washington Post Fact Checker, "Trump falsely claims he ‘requested’ 10,000 troops rejected by Pelosi," March 2, 2021

Washington Post Fact Checker, "Rep. Jim Jordan’s false claim that Pelosi denied a request for National Guard troops," March 1, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, Capitol security is not only Pelosi’s responsibility, but she bears some," Feb. 25, 2021

Email, Nancy Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, March 2, 2021

Washington Examiner, "Trump says he told the Pentagon 10,000 National Guard troops would be needed Jan. 6 but was ignored," March 2, 2021 

Vanity Fair, "The President Threw Us Under The Bus": Embedding With Pentagon Leadership In Trump’s Chaotic Last Week," Jan. 22, 2021

Rev.com, "Senate Hearing on January 6 Capitol Attack Transcript February 23," Feb. 23, 2021

Email, LTC Chris Mitchell, Department of Defense spokesman, March 2, 2021

Defense Department, Jan. 6 events timeline, accessed March 2, 2021

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More by Tom Kertscher

No proof Trump requested 10,000 Guard troops for Jan. 6 or that Pelosi denied it

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