DC National Guard mobilized to Capitol
The entire D.C. National Guard has been mobilized to help restore order after supporters of President Trump on Wednesday stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing lawmakers to halt their counting of Electoral College votes and shelter at undisclosed locations.
“We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation,” acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities,” he added. “Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly.”
Miller also said he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley have spoken with House and Senate leadership in both parties, as well as Vice President Pence, who was at the Capitol to preside over the proceedings when the rioters breached the building.
A congressional aide confirmed to The Hill that about “1,100 National Guard personnel” — the size of the entire D.C. Guard — “have been approved to help restore order.” The aide added guardsmen are “already in coordination with D.C. law enforcement personnel.”
The governors of Virginia and Maryland are also sending members of their National Guards, as well as state police troopers, into D.C. to help respond to the violence and chaos.
A joint session of Congress was convening Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the November presidential election when pro-Trump rioters calling for the election to be overturned breached the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to abruptly recess less than an hour into debate on the first GOP objection to a state Biden won — Arizona.
Among the wild scenes that were playing out at the Capitol on Wednesday, Capitol Police officers inside the House chamber drew their guns in anticipation of rioters trying to breach the door after a glass window was shattered.
Some of the mob broke into the Senate chamber, with one getting up on the dais and yelling “Trump won that election.”
At least one person was shot in a confrontation at the Capitol, according to The Associated Press.
Unlike state National Guards, which are controlled by governors, the D.C. National Guard is commanded by the president, or by delegation the Defense secretary or Army secretary.
For more than an hour after the mob first breached the Capitol, conflicting reports circulated about whether congressional leadership had requested Guard help or if the Pentagon had denied a request for help, as lawmakers implored Trump to rein in his followers and send in the National Guard.
In an apparent response to the initial reports that the Pentagon denied a request for assistance, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman stressed late Wednesday afternoon that there have been two requests this week — one from the D.C. mayor earlier in the week and today’s — and that both have been approved.
Initially, about 340 D.C. Guardsmen were activated at D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request this week in anticipation of protests surrounding the vote certification.
But the Guard was taking pains to avoid any perception of militarizing the protest response after the heavy-handed response to racial justice protests in June that saw hundreds of guardsmen from around the country pour into D.C. at Trump’s request and a National Guard helicopter hover over protesters in the way the military does to insurgents overseas.
The Guard had stressed earlier this week their only job would be crowd control at local subway stations and helping police with street closures. They also stressed they would be unarmed and wearing black identification vests common for domestic support operations rather than combat camouflage.
Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report which was updated at 5:14 p.m.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.