Hundreds of National Guard troops have flooded the halls of the U.S. Capitol this week, with some sleeping on the floors with their rifles. The images appeared on social media ahead of the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday, and a week before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The Pentagon has authorized up to 15,000 total guardsmen for security and logistics missions for Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
ABC News tweeted, “Hundreds of National Guard troops are seen in sped-up footage taken in front of the Capitol building, ahead of president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.”
NPR reporter Claudia Grisales tweeted, “The Capitol is blanketed today with new layers of security, including hundreds of members of the National Guard. Some sleeping from overnight stays, others up and about. I walked three in search of food to the Senate subway to get to the right spot to get fed. I hope.”
The heightened National Guard presence comes a week after demonstrators stormed the U.S. Capitol during a “Stop the Steal” protest of the 2020 U.S. election results. The breach of security at the Capitol caused the building to go on lockdown as demonstrators clashed with police. One officer and four demonstrators died from injuries and medical problems sustained during the incident.
USA Today Reporter Christal Hayes tweeted, “Spotted more National Guardsmen sleeping in various areas around the U.S. Capitol, including here where the President-elect enters the building for the inauguration. You can hear them snoring as those in the Capitol tip toe through the halls.”
Hayes also tweeted photos of fences around the Capitol. “Dozens of National Guardsmen are guarding this newly erected fence around the U.S. Capitol this morning, hours before the House is set to impeach President Trump.”
CNN reporter Josh Replogle tweeted, “@mkraju Racks upon racks of rifles and pistols. National guard gearing up at the Capitol,” with video of rifles and riot gear being offloaded from a truck outside the Capitol.
The sight of rifles, and riot gear comes after the D.C. National Guard (DCNG) was criticized for its response time during the storming of the Capitol last week. Only about 340 DCNG troops were active ahead of the incident at the Capitol and they were unarmed. DCNG troops reportedly had to return to equip themselves with riot gear before they could respond to calls for assistance at the Capitol.
Spectrum News reporter Em Nguyen tweeted, “AT THE CAPITOL | The #Pentagon approved National Guard at the US Capitol to carry lethal weapons in these days leading up to the inauguration. I have definitely seen a difference inside and outside the Capitol of armed guards this [email protected]”
In addition to security preparations for Biden’s inauguration, the added Guard presence comes as lawmakers are set to take up an impeachment effort against Trump on Wednesday, over allegations he incited the incident at the Capitol the week earlier.
Newsy reporter Nathaniel Reed tweeted, “Just walked into the Capitol to find literally hundreds of troops napping and lining up in the Congressional Visitor Center— as streets around here are largely blocked. Many are cuddling their firearms, fatigues over their heads to block light, and riot gear in neat piles.”
On Tuesday night Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) tweeted a photo of himself delivering coffee to some New Jersey National Guard troops outside the Capitol.
Kim tweeted, “Took a moment in between votes to visit members of the NJ National Guard protecting our Capitol to thank them and make sure they’re caffeinated for the night shift. Can’t thank them enough for their service and keeping us safe.”
Fox News producer Kelly Phares photographed Army veteran Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) speaking with Guard troops in the Capitol Rotunda.
Phares tweeted, “[email protected], a US Army Veteran, in the Capitol Rotunda this morning chatting with National Guard troops Mast tells me the fact that we’re at this point is ‘really beyond comprehension’. He adds that he’s ‘proud to see’ the National Guard always doing what they’re asked to do.”
Fox News correspondent Edward Lawrence tweeted, “These are certainly crazy times. National Guard military trucks and troops side by side with US Capitol Police holding Washington, DC’s ‘Green Zone’ around the Capitol. #Congress #Capitol #DC.”