Rep. Stefanik, GOP request briefing by DOD to justify continued National Guard presence in DC

A group of 12 House Republicans, led by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., are requesting a briefing on threat assessments and all relevant intelligence regarding the US Capitol Complex in response to a continued military presence in the nation’s capital.

The request coming amid reports that the National Guard will maintain a presence of at least 5,000 troops on Capitol Hill through mid-March.

Taking to social media, Stefanik responded to a Fox News article to say the soldiers have done their duty.

She tweeted: “We are indebted to the brave men and women of the National Guard for their service. Now, they deserve to go home.”

“Our intention is for the briefing to cover ongoing threats to the Capitol, justification of the decision for a significant troop presence through mid-March, and plans for troop utilization during the time period,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

Addressed to Acting Defense Secretary Whitley, the Republicans are asking for a response as “soon as reasonably possible.”

“As you know better than anyone, our National Guard men and women are deployed on short notice and are pulled away from their families and jobs,” they wrote. “Further, the Guard has endured unprecedented stress on the force in the past year given COVID-19, social unrest, natural disasters, and ongoing overseas requirements.”

“The National Guard should be used as an option of absolute last resort,” the letter continued. “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.”

Other Republicans signing the letter include Reps. Michael Waltz, R-Fla.; William Timmons, R-S.C.; Lance Gooden, R-Texas; Chris Stewart, R-Utah; Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio; Chip Roy, R-Texas; Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.; Greg Murphy, R-N.C.; Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho

Fox News reported a National Guard spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that there are plans to keep National Guard members in the Capitol through mid-March.

“As we continue to work to meet the final post-inauguration requirements, the National Guard has been requested to continue supporting federal law enforcement agencies with 7,000 members and will draw down to 5,000 through mid-March,” National Guard Bureau spokesman Wayne Hall told the network.

“We are providing assistance such as security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support to state, district and federal agencies,” Hall added.

The timing of the troops remaining in Washington covers the upcoming Senate trial being pushed by Senate Democrats to impeach private citizen Donald Trump from an office he no longer holds.

Politico reported the Guard “will help protect the Capitol from what was described as ‘impeachment security concerns,’ including the possibility of mass demonstrations coinciding with the Senate’s trial.”

“There is also some concern over potential unrest surrounding March 4, the date some QAnon conspiracy theorists believe Trump will be inaugurated for the second time,” the political news site added.

This coming on the heels of plenty of media fearmongering about violence leading up to Inauguration Day, which went off without so much as a ripple.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is saying “It’s time to send home the troops.”

In an op-ed published by Fox News, Cotton discounted concerns about there being credible threats to warrant the National Guard’s continued presence,

“I sit on the Intelligence Committee, but I’m aware of no specific, credible threat reporting—as distinguished from aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet—that justifies this continued troop presence. Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs,” he wrote.

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Tom Tillison

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