Va. National Guard to be deployed in D.C. through at least Jan. 20
Governor vows to commit guardsmen, state troopers through Biden inauguration day
The Virginia National Guard and Virginia State Police troopers will be deployed in Washington, D.C., at least through Jan. 20, inauguration day for President-elect Joe Biden, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday afternoon.
In a tweet, Northam said, “I’m extending Virginia’s National Guard deployment at least through Jan. 20, based on conversations this morning with our emergency teams and Washington, D.C. Virginia State Police also remain on the ground. We will be there until President-elect Biden is officially sworn in.”
After crowds of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, leading to the evacuation and lockdown of U.S. legislators, staff members and journalists, Northam authorized the activation of the Virginia National Guard and sent 200 state troopers to the Capitol, which was secured late Wednesday afternoon after nearly four hours.
Northam said in a statement Wednesday that “Virginia will be there for as long as it takes to protect our nation’s capital and ensure the peaceful transfer of power.”
During the breach, people carrying weapons and pro-Trump flags and signs entered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, including one man who posed for pictures sitting behind her desk. Others walked around the Senate chamber and the hallways. Lawmakers were evacuated earlier as the crowd of thousands pushed past police and began banging on windows and doors of the Capitol.
“The violence we saw at the U.S. Capitol today was nothing short of an armed insurrection and a humiliating assault on American democracy. The President incited this mob with his refusal to accept the lawful results of a fair and secure election. And the members of Congress who have enabled him — and continue to encourage and praise his efforts — bear just as much responsibility,” Northam said in a statement issued shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday. “This did not come about overnight. When elected leaders purposefully reject facts and fan the flames of conspiracy theories, all in pursuit of power, they are taking dangerous steps. And now we are seeing where those steps can lead. God forbid we experience anything worse.”
The Virginia State Senate plans to meet in person for its 2021 regular session in Richmond’s Science Museum of Virginia beginning Jan. 13, although the House of Delegates will meet remotely due to COVID-19 precautions. No announcement has been made about increased security for the Senate, as of Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, four people died, including one woman among the crowd inside the Capitol building who was shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer, according to news reports. Three others were reported to have succumbed from medical emergencies during the demonstrations, part of a planned “Save America March” that attracted about 30,000 Trump supporters. The president addressed the crowd for about an hour and encouraged them to march to the Capitol to protest the certification of Biden’s Electoral College ballot win.
The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate gathered Wednesday night to certify the electoral college ballots, concluding at 3:45 a.m. Thursday, after several lawmakers of both parties decried the afternoon’s events and some blamed the president for encouraging violence.
As of Thursday afternoon, there are reports that senior White House officials have discussed removing Trump as president under the 25th Amendment, a move that has been called for Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi and other Democrats, including U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia.
A group of progressive Democratic U.S. representatives, led by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minneapolis, have spoken in support of impeaching the president a second time.
Both Biden and former President George W. Bush spoke strongly against the breach, both referring to it as an “insurrection.” In an address to the nation Wednesday, Biden called for Trump to address his supporters on national television and tell them in no uncertain terms to leave the Capitol. Shortly after Biden’s speech, Trump released a minute-long video — still falsely alleging that he had won the presidential election, claiming it was stolen — saying, “Go home, go home in peace.” He told people at the Capitol, “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Twitter, YouTube and Facebook eventually removed the video, and Twitter banned the president from tweeting for 12 hours starting Wednesday night. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday, after temporarily banning Trump’s account the day before, that Trump is now prevented from posting to Facebook and Instagram indefinitely.