SPONSORED:

Overnight Defense: Capitol overrun by pro-Trump rioters | Entire DC National Guard activated | 38-year-old soldier dies of COVID-19

Overnight Defense: Capitol overrun by pro-Trump rioters | Entire DC National Guard activated | 38-year-old soldier dies of COVID-19
© Julia Nikhinson

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: It’s been a dark day for the United States.

Violent pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol Wednesday as lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden 'disappointed' in Senate parliamentarian ruling but 'respects' decision Taylor Swift celebrates House passage of Equality Act Donald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' MORE’s win in the November elections.

The breach, which the U.S. Capitol Historical Society told CNN is the first of its kind since the 1814 British attack on the building during the War of 1812, forced lawmakers to stop counting Electoral College votes and shelter in undisclosed locations.

Among the wild scenes that played out 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 and later died.

Shortly before a 6 p.m. curfew established by D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserDC vaccine sign-ups plagued with technical problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help DC mayor says sister died from COVID-19 MORE (D), the House sergeant-at-arms informed lawmakers that the Capitol had been cleared.

More than a dozen people have been arrested, D.C. police said Wednesday evening. 

Guard called in: After an afternoon of confusion about whether the National Guard would be called in to help control the situation, the Pentagon confirmed it approved a request to mobilize the D.C. National Guard — all 1,100 members of it.

“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 MilleyMark MilleyFemale generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Biden emphasizes diversity in first visit to Pentagon Pentagon: Extremist groups recruit from military MORE 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.

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.

HASC chairman weighs in: In a statement on Wednesday evening, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display Nearly 5,000 National Guard troops to stay in DC over concerns of potential violence in March Langevin hopeful new Armed Services panel will shine new spotlight on cybersecurity MORE (D-Wash.) said he spoke with Milley and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command Capitol Police chief apologizes, admits to department's failures in riot DC National Guard commander says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot MORE and that Pentagon leadership was working with the D.C. government, Justice Department and Capitol Police “to restore order to the Capitol and allow Members of Congress to safely certify the election results, as is our constitutional obligation.”

“The assault by pro-Trump extremists on the United States Capitol is a criminal act aimed at ending our democracy as we know it. The Capitol campus must be cleared of these extremists as soon and as safely as possible,” Smith said.

"President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE and his enablers are directly responsible for the despicable acts at our nation's Capitol that we all have witnessed today,” he added. “The president incited and encourage[d] this riot. He has lied repeatedly, as have his enablers in Congress and elsewhere about this election. They do not believe in democracy. They believe in retaining power by any means necessary. All Americans who believe in the rule of law and our Constitution must clearly and unambiguously hold these people accountable for their actions.”

Vote counting will continue: Despite the extraordinary violence and chaos that struck the Capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers in both parties and both chambers said Congress will continue the work of certifying Biden's presidential victory later in the evening. 

"I have faced violent hatred before," House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a tweet. "I was not deterred then, and I will not be deterred now. Tonight, Congress will continue the business of certifying the electoral college votes."

In the upper chamber, Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOn The Money: Manhattan DA obtains Trump tax returns | Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda | Biden faces first setback as Tanden teeters OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary | GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns | Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns MORE (R-N.D.) said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE (R-Ky.) is also telling senators to expect the process to continue Wednesday night. 

"We're going to finish tonight. Everyone is committed to staying whatever it takes to get our job done," said Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Biden 'disappointed' in Senate parliamentarian ruling but 'respects' decision House Democrats to keep minimum wage hike in COVID-19 relief bill for Friday vote MORE (D-W.Va.).

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster House Democrats to keep minimum wage hike in COVID-19 relief bill for Friday vote Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow MORE (D-Calif.) later confirmed the decision, describing what happened at the Capitol as "a shameful assault" on democracy, but one that could not "deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden."

"To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use," she said.

IN OTHER NEWS … ACTIVE-DUTY SOLDIER DIES OF COVID-19: Even as U.S. democracy is under assault, the COVID-19 pandemic rages.

The Army announced Wednesday morning that a 38-year-old active-duty soldier in Virginia died of the disease.

Sgt. 1st Class Lisa Maria Soto, originally from Florence, S.C., died early Saturday at a civilian hospital in Hopewell, Va., from complications related to COVID-19, Fort Lee spokesperson Jefferson Wolfe said in a statement Wednesday.

Soto is the Army’s second active-duty death and third active-duty death across military branches. Taking into account reserve forces, she is the military’s 15th death overall during the pandemic.

Latest stats: Overall, the Pentagon has reported 173,077 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, according to a chart the department maintains on its website. That’s up from about 126,000 cases a month ago and from about 90,000 cases at the same point in November.

The total cases reported Wednesday include 111,581 in the military, 32,366 among civilians, 18,165 among dependents and 10,965 among contractors.

Among military cases, 959 service members have been hospitalized over the course of the pandemic and 73,515 have recovered.

In addition to the 15 military deaths, there have been 129 civilian deaths, nine dependent deaths and 44 contractor deaths, according to the Pentagon data.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The Atlantic Council will host an event on women’s gains in Afghanistan, featuring U.S.  ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues Kelley Currie and Afghan ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani, at 1 p.m. https://bit.ly/3hPDLu3

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Trump national security adviser defends Pence

-- The Hill: NATO secretary general: 'The outcome of this democratic election must be respected'

-- The Hill: Murphy reminds Defense leaders that forces in DC protests must visibly ID themselves

-- The Hill: Top US admiral would 'welcome' Biden review of nuclear strategy

-- The Hill: North Korea's Kim admits failures in address to ruling party