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Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief condemns Capitol riots | House chairman calls for Trump's removal | Fence erected around Capitol | Slain woman an Air Force vet

Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief condemns Capitol riots | House chairman calls for Trump's removal | Fence erected around Capitol | Slain woman an Air Force vet
© Bonnie Cash

Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, 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: Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller on Thursday condemned the violent attacks on the U.S. Capitol more than 24 hours after President TrumpDonald TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech MORE’s supporters were cleared from the premises.

“Yesterday’s violence at the Capitol was reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution,” Miller said in a statement. 

“I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect BidenJoe BidenBiden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color MORE on January 20.”

The chaos on Wednesday: Trump at a rally Wednesday morning urged supporters to march on the Capitol while Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential Electoral College victory.

Following the president's speech, a mob of his supporters breached the Capitol building, smashing windows and confronting Capitol Police in the hallways. One woman participating in the riot was shot by the Capitol Police and died later Wednesday from her injuries.

The chaos forced lawmakers to halt the counting of Electoral College votes and shelter in secure, undisclosed locations.

The entire 1,100-person D.C. National Guard was activated Wednesday to respond to the attack. The events of the day also led Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to implement a 6 p.m. citywide curfew.

Blame on Trump: A growing number of both Republican and Democratic leaders have blamed Trump for the violence.

Since the November election, Trump has repeatedly alleged that the election was tainted by widespread fraud, and has falsely claimed that Vice President Pence, who presided over the joint session in Congress on Wednesday, had the ability to overturn the election results.

The role of the vice president during Congress's certification of election is largely ceremonial. In addition, federal election officials have stated that the 2020 election was secure and that they have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Lawmakers have also called for Trump’s removal through either the 25th Amendment or impeachment, and several members of the Trump administration have resigned from their posts following the riots.

But Miller stays out of it: In his statement Thursday, Miller did not address the actions of the president, but instead praised Defense Department personnel.

“Our Republic may have been disrupted yesterday, but the resolve of our legislators to conduct the people’s business did not waver. Due to their efforts, supported by local and federal law enforcement and the National Guard, the attempts of those who tried to stop our government from functioning failed,” Miller said.

And HASC chair calls for Trump removal: The Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee called Thursday for removing President Trump from office a day after pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol.

“President Trump incited & encouraged this riot,” Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) tweeted. “He & his enablers are responsible for the despicable attack at the Capitol. VP Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th amendment to remove Trump, otherwise Senate Republicans must work with the House to impeach & remove him.”

Calls for Trump’s removal in the aftermath have mostly come from Democrats, but Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force veteran who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Thursday became the first Republican lawmaker to call for invoking the 25th Amendment.

 

GUARD ERECT 7-FOOT FENCE AROUND CAPITOL AMONG OTHER SECURITY MEASURES: A new 7-foot fence will be erected around the U.S. Capitol grounds following the violent attack on the area by supporters of President Trump on Wednesday, according to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyPence pleaded with military officials to 'clear the Capitol' on Jan. 6: AP Alarming threat prompts early exit, underscoring security fears Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing MORE.

McCarthy said Thursday that the Army National Guard at 9 a.m. began “erecting a 7-foot non-scalable fence” along a perimeter that includes Constitution Avenue NE to the north of the grounds, Independence Avenue SE to the south, First Street SE to the east and 1st Street NW in the front of the building facing west.

He added that the fence would be up for a minimum of 30 days — a period that includes the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

A condemnation: “Yesterday was a horrible and shameful day in our history,” McCarthy said during a news conference with Washington, D.C., officials including Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserPence pleaded with military officials to 'clear the Capitol' on Jan. 6: AP The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure Washington, D.C. to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those ages 16 and older MORE (D).

Details of the day: He said Bowser’s office called Pentagon leaders on Wednesday afternoon regarding the breach at the Capitol and the officials “quickly worked to move our resources forward in support of MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department] and the Capitol Police.” 

The entire 1,100-troop D.C. National Guard was mobilized Wednesday to help restore order after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s Electoral College win in Congress. 

The governors of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware also sent members of their National Guards into D.C. to help respond to the rioting and chaos.

McCarthy said that by the weekend there will be 6,200 total National Guardsmen in the Capitol region in support of the MPD and Capitol Hill Police.

He added that roughly 850 military personnel would be on the Capitol grounds by noon on Thursday.

 

WOMAN FATALLY SHOT BY CAPITOL POLICE DURING RIOT WAS 12-YEAR AIR FORCE VETERAN: The woman who was fatally shot by Capitol Police during Wednesday's mob attack on the Capitol was an Air Force veteran who served for 12 years, according to service records provided to The Hill on Thursday.

Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego, was jumping through a window into the Capitol with pro-Trump rioters when she was shot. She died later Wednesday and was one of four fatalities from the violent events that prompted evacuations and dozens of arrests.

Her service records: Babbitt began active duty in the Air Force in 2004, eventually reaching the rank of senior airman in a military career that also included service in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, according to her service records.

She remained on active duty, serving as a security forces controller, until 2008, when she served in the Air Force Reserve until 2010. Babbitt then entered the Air National Guard. She was discharged in November 2016.

Babbitt’s ex-husband Timothy McEntee told The Washington Post that she served in Afghanistan and Iraq in active duty, along with deployments to Kuwait and Qatar with the Air National Guard.

The Air Force did not have Babbitt’s deployment data readily available on Thursday.

Her political views: Videos and other posts on Babbitt's Twitter account show her steadfast support for President Trump and indicate she was a follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Her Twitter feed also includes photos of her attending pro-Trump rallies and self-recorded videos about immigration policy and support for a border wall.

She echoed many of Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of widespread voter fraud.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a virtual discussion on “Countering Unmanned Aerial Systems: The Path Forward,” with Army Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, deputy director of Force Protection (J-8) Joint Staff; Nicole Thomas, division chief for strategy and policy at the Joint C-sUAS Office, at 9 a.m.

Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies will hold a virtual discussion on “Did Russia just attack the U.S.? How should the Biden Administration respond? A conversation about the SolarWinds Hack,” at 10 a.m. 

 

ICYMI

— The Hill: Confirmation hearing for Biden Pentagon chief pick set for Jan. 19

— The Hill: US military leaders in Africa reassure troops after Capitol riots: 'Our system of government is strong'

— The Hill: Former Trump Pentagon officials speak out after Capitol siege

— The Hill: Garland vows to fight 'violent extremism' as attorney general

— The Hill: White House announces Wolf nomination withdrawn after he says Trump should 'strongly condemn' Capitol violence

— The Hill: Foreign adversaries skewer US after Capitol riots

— The Hill: Trump national security adviser defends Pence

— The Hill: Opinion: We must redefine Russia relations

— The Hill: Opinion: Senate should press Biden national security nominees