Defense

GOP congressman: Army must push FBI, Congress for more specifics on Capitol threats

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A Republican congressman urged the Army on Tuesday to push for more information about specific threats that warrant a continued National Guard presence at the Capitol.

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) spoke on the phone with acting Army Secretary John Whitley on Tuesday after sending a letter last week signed by 10 other Republicans requesting a briefing on threats to the Capitol complex.

“I appreciate the call from Secretary Whitley, and believe the Army must push Congress and the FBI for more clarity as [to] what specific threat requires the Army to have a larger presence on Capitol Hill than we have in Afghanistan and Iraq combined,” Waltz said in a statement provided ahead of its public release to The Hill.

“In the past year, COVID-19, social unrest, natural disasters, and war zone requirements have repeatedly pulled the Guard from their jobs and families causing tremendous stress on the force,” he added. “Lawmakers continue to be left in the dark on actual threat assessments and a long term strategy. I hope we will have a briefing for lawmakers scheduled in the near future.”

A spokesperson for Waltz added that the Army pointed the congressman to “generalized online chatter but no specifics.”

Waltz’s statement and earlier letter come as Republicans have been increasingly critical of the continued deployment of Guardsmen at the Capitol, questioning what intelligence exists that justifies keeping them there.

There are about 7,000 National Guardsmen from around the country in Washington, D.C., currently, down from the height of the deployment of about 26,000 service members who flooded into the city to secure President Biden’s inauguration following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. 

Pentagon officials have said they expect about 5,000 guardsmen to stay at the Capitol until at least mid-March because of FBI concerns about threats to several upcoming events. But they have not publicly specified the threats nor the events of concern.

Among the upcoming events that could be subject to potential threats are former President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, set to start Feb. 9. Adherents to the QAnon conspiracy theory are also pushing false claims Trump will be sworn in again on March 4, the original date of presidential inaugurations before the 20th Amendment moved it to Jan. 20.

The Department of Homeland Security also issued a terrorism bulletin last week warning of threats from domestic extremists persisting beyond the inauguration.

“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said.

Tags Donald Trump Michael Waltz

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