WORLD National Guard exits DC Capitol after January 6 attack

WORLD

National Guard exits DC Capitol after January 6 attack

AFP

21:16, May 25, 2021

The US Capitol stood unprotected by National Guard troops for the first time in nearly five months Monday as concerns about right-wing extremist threats have diminished since the January 6 attacks.

Security measures are taken around Capitol building on the day before the inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden, in Washington, D.C., United States, on January 19. (Photo: VCG)

The last 2,149 of what had been nearly 26,000 troops in an extraordinary deployment in Washington departed over the weekend as their mission to protect Congress formally ended.

The troops were mobilized after hundreds of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, halting the joint session of Congress to confirm Trump's rival Joe Biden as winner of the presidential election.

Some broke into lawmakers' offices, and called for the killing of members of Congress and vice president Mike Pence, who was presiding over the session.

Amid fears of more threats around and following the January 20 inauguration of Biden, thousands of Guard troops were mobilized, patrolling the Capitol area day and night while a large fence encircled the grounds, making it appear a building under siege.

The troops remained in Washington for months after the inauguration as what many dubbed an insurrection was investigated.

"These airmen and soldiers protected not only the grounds, but the lawmakers working on those grounds, ensuring the people's business could continue unabated," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

Trump, who was impeached for encouraging the assault, later claimed the attackers were "zero threat" to lawmakers and downplayed the episode. Since January 6 the FBI has arrested and charged some 440 people involved in attacking the legislature, dozens of them associated with armed militia groups.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, thanked the National Guard, calling them "American heroes and defenders of democracy."

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