WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials are scrambling to call governors and asking whether they have any more National Guard troops they can send to Washington to help protect the Capitol and the city.
A defense official familiar with the discussions says law enforcement leaders and other authorities have now determined that they’ll need about 25,000 National Guard troops. And they say that number could still grow.
As of Friday morning, officials had commitments from states for close to 22,000 members of the Guard. That’s according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In recent days, defense and military leaders have said they understand that states are also facing their own looming protests and the first priority of the governors is to protect their own capitals.
The number of Guard officials are seeking to help protect the District of Columbia in the run-up to Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden has increased almost daily.
Defense and law enforcement authorities have been revising the numbers as they go through rehearsals and other drills to determine how many and where they need the Guard reinforcements to help lock down Washington.
President Donald Trump is facing an impeachment trial in the Senate that could begin on Jan. 20, the day Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated as America’s 46th president.
Trump was impeached on Wednesday, one week after he encouraged a mob of loyalists to “fight like hell” against election results and the Capitol became the target of a deadly siege. The FBI is warning that armed protests by violent Trump supporters are being planned in all 50 state capitals as well as in Washington.
After the House voted to impeach Wednesday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) issued the following statement:
“As I said yesterday, the attack on the US Capitol was an attack on democracy itself, and the President bears some responsibility for what occurred. It was important that the President clearly stated today that violence of any kind is unacceptable.
“Today the House voted to impeach the President for his role in the events of January 6. If the Senate proceeds with an impeachment trial, I will do my duty as a juror and listen to the cases presented by both sides.
“President-Elect Biden has rightly said he wants to set a new tone of greater unity as his administration begins. All of us should be concerned about the polarization in our country and work toward bringing people together. If the Senate conducts an impeachment trial, among my considerations will be what is best to help heal our country rather than deepen our divisions.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-District 15) stated, regarding his “nay” vote on the impeachment:
“President Trump’s actions were unacceptable and contributed to what will be remembered as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Make no mistake, he must be held accountable.
“The result was an attack on our constitutional republic; the peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of our government. But equally fundamental to the republic is the due process, which this snap impeachment process in the House severely undermined by its lack of hearings, presentation of evidence, and committee action. The precedent set by this process is frightening.
“The American people have spoken: in seven days, President-elect Biden will occupy the White House, and President Trump will be a private citizen, subject to the rule of law and the judgement of the judicial system.”