A group of 11 Republican House lawmakers have requested a briefing with acting Defence Secretary John Whitley seeking an explanation as to why members of the National Guard will remain deployed in the Washington DC area through the middle of March.
Rep. Waltz sent a letter to Acting @SecArmy requesting a briefing on the threat assessments and requirements for 7k National Guard presence at the U.S. Capitol until March.— Congressman Waltz Press (@RepMichaelWaltz) January 27, 2021
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In a letter to the acting chief of the military, the GOP lawmakers pointed out that National Guard is an irregular force, with members called on duty on short notice and leaving their families and jobs for an indefinite period to serve the country. The Republicans said that the National Guard has been called upon numerous times during an uneasy 2020, and are now stationed in Washington DC but without a clearly-articulated reason.
"The National Guard should be used as an option of absolute last resort. We are seeking clarification and justification on behalf of the National Guard men and women that have kept us safe over the past month and year", the letter said.
The authors of the letter to the acting defence chief are seeking to garner an explanation as to why some 5,000 troops are scheduled to stay for at least 6 more weeks in the US capital, and what will they be doing during the deployment.
According to an earlier Politico report, the key reason for the National Guard's prolonged stay in the capital are "impeachment security concerns" – preparation for possible unrest that would be triggered by the upcoming Senate impeachment conviction trial over the former US president, Donald Trump. The trial will review accusations against the 45th US president over his role in what the House characterized as an "incitement of insurrection", after the deadly 6 January storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters, the original impetus for the National Guard's deployment.
The Democrats, as well as few Republicans, claim that Trump incited the violence, which claimed lives of five, with his speech at the rally that preceded the unrest as well as with his previous statements regarding the 2020 election. During the said rally, Trump reiterated his claims of widespread fraud, which he blames for "stealing" the election from him. He has been repeating these claims since November 2020 and urged the Congressmen to deny the certification of election results. At the same time, he denied inciting the insurrection and was quick to condemn the actions of the protesters, once they breached the Congress building's perimeter.