Cotton calls for removal of National Guard from DC
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called for federal authorities to remove National Guard troops from Washington, D.C., as thousands remain deployed in the nation’s capital due to ongoing threats of political violence.
“Despite cold weather and uncomfortable conditions, these soldiers did their duty, in the finest traditions of the Guard. Their presence, coupled with tough federal charges against the Capitol rioters, deterred any further violence; the presidential inauguration occurred without incident,” Cotton wrote in a new op-ed published on FoxNews.com on Wednesday. “With the inauguration complete and threats receding, now it’s time, yes, to send home the troops.”
Pentagon officials said Monday that roughly 5,000 National Guard members will stay in the district through mid-March when former President Trump’s impeachment trial is set to be completed.
There are currently approximately 7,000 service members stationed in D.C., which will be pared down to the 5,000 figure throughout the week, the Pentagon said.
“They’re concerned that there could be situations where there are lawful protests — First Amendment protected protests — that could either be used by malicious actors or other problems that could emerge,” acting Army Secretary John Whitley previously said.
Cotton argued he was not aware of any “specific, credible threat reporting—as distinguished from aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet—that justifies this continued troop presence.”
“The lesson of the Capitol riot is not that we should quarter a standing army at the Capitol just in case, but rather that our security measures should be calibrated to the actual threats,” he wrote.
Over the summer, Cotton published an op-ed in The New York Times advocating for the deployment of military forces to control Black Lives Matter demonstrations and other civil unrest in cities across the country following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police.
“These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives. Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further,” Cotton wrote in the Times. “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers. But local law enforcement in some cities desperately needs backup, while delusional politicians in other cities refuse to do what’s necessary to uphold the rule of law.”
The editorial sparked intense backlash, including among news employees of the Times, which later apologized for publishing the piece and attached a lengthy editor’s note to the top of its online version.
Cotton addressed The New York Times controversy in his new op-ed Wednesday.
“My position was grounded in federal law, based on many historical precedents, and supported by a majority of Americans. But this argument outraged many on the left, so much so that the editor of the New York Times opinion page lost his job for publishing it,” Cotton wrote. “But when a different mob chanting different slogans threatened our Capitol, many of my critics sang a different tune.”
“I’m ruefully gratified that so many of them have rallied to my side,” he continued. “Perhaps they’ll show more gratitude for law enforcement the next time a mob threatens public safety and order, no matter what cause the perpetrators claim to support.”
Trump’s impeachment trial is slated to begin the week of Feb. 8.