National Mall Deserted on High-Security Day

Pentagon is reviewing a request to keep National Guard troops in DC longer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2021 12:32 PM CST
National Guard May Stay at Capitol for Months
National Guard walk near the Capitol Thursday, March 4, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

National Guard troops are scheduled to end their deployment at the Capitol on March 12, but it's now possible they will stay for weeks, if not months, longer. The Pentagon is reviewing a request from the Capitol Police to extend the deployment for 60 days, reports the Hill. A Guard spokesperson tells Politico that no decision has been made, but the development comes amid another high-security day at the Capitol. The National Mall was practically deserted Thursday after intelligence reports suggested that conspiracy theorists might launch another attack, notes the AP. The threat revolved around the QAnon assertion that Donald Trump might somehow be inaugurated as president again on Thursday, and the risk was credible enough to force the House into cancelling its session for the day.

“No one likes seeing the fortress-like security around the Capitol. And no one wants to again have a security problem in and around this symbolic place,” Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin tweeted Thursday. "Whether an extension has been requested or the mission is indeed terminating on March 12, it’s critical that members of Congress get a briefing on what’s behind these decisions." Slotkin is a former intelligence analyst. Guard troops have been deployed at the Capitol since the Jan. 6 attack, though the number has dropped from 26,000 to about 5,200 of late, per the Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't reveal much when asked about whether the troops would stay longer. “We have to have what we need, when we need it, and in the numbers that we need it," she told reporters. "But that's a security decision." (Read more Capitol Police stories.)

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