As supporters of President Trump descended on Washington on Wednesday, broke glass, and stormed the Capitol building where Congress was in the midst of certifying the Electoral College’s vote for Joe Biden, the same question echoed around the country: Where is the National Guard?
Capitol Police, a federal law enforcement agency charged with protecting Congress, was on the scene, but the agency appeared to be outnumbered and unable to cope with the surge of pro-Trump demonstrators pushed toward the front steps of the Capitol building. At least one person was shot inside the Capitol at this time of writing, according to reports. In hopes of reducing the casualties, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
But what about the National Guard, which was deployed over the summer to quell demonstrations in Portland, Ore., in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd? A number of high-profile observers questioned the branch’s absence as chaos raged in D.C.
According to multiple reports, the Department of Defense—which manages the U.S. National Guard—received a request from the Capitol Police, Bowser, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for D.C. National Guard forces to support, but a decision was not immediately made.
By around 3:30 p.m. ET, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam confirmed that he was sending the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia state troopers to deal with the insurrection, per the request of Bowser. And then, minutes later, the White House stated that Trump was ordering the National Guard in as well.
Earlier in the day, Trump remained relatively quiet, tweeting, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”