Law enforcement officials announced on Monday, Jan. 25, that several thousand National Guard troops will remain in D.C. until mid- to late-March to provide security for the nation's capital during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which is scheduled to start around Feb. 8.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, head of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday, Jan. 25, that there are around 13,000 National Guard members left in Washington. These remaining guardsmen are in D.C. "conducting security missions in support of our district and federal partners."
In compliance with federal agencies, that number will be trimmed down to around 7,000 service members by the end of the week. Their numbers will then continue to be whittled down until there are around 5,000 Guard troops left in the nation's capital.
According to Acting Army Secretary John Whitley, the Guard is stationed there due to concerns that agitators might embed themselves in lawful, First Amendment-protected protests to create violent situations during the impeachment trial.
Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, argued that he has not heard of any specific or credible threats to Washington that justifies the continued presence of the Guard other than "aspirational" and "uncoordinated" ramblings from people on the internet.
"The lesson of the Capitol riot is not that we should quarter a standing army at the Capitol just in case, but rather that our security measures should be calibrated to the actual threats," wrote Cotton in an opinion piece published in Fox News.
"Despite the cold weather and uncomfortable conditions, these soldiers did their duty, in the finest traditions of the Guard. Their presence, coupled with tough federal charges against the Capitol rioters, deterred any further violence; the presidential inauguration occurred without incident. With the inauguration complete and threats receding, now it's time, yes, to send home the troops."
Cotton's position has been criticized due to the fact that he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times over the summer titled "Send in the Troops." This opinion piece argued that Trump should deploy federal troops – including the National Guard – to restore order in cities where riots caused by Antifa and Black Lives Matter have gotten out of control.
"My position was grounded in federal law, based on many historical precedents and supported by a majority of Americans," wrote Cotton in his latest op-ed, arguing that there are no contradictions between his previous and his current statements. "But this argument outraged many on the left."
"But when a different mob chanting different slogans threatened our Capitol, many of my critics sang a different tune," he added. "I'm ruefully gratified that so many of them have rallied to my side. Perhaps they'll show more gratitude for law enforcement the next time a mob threatens public safety and order, no matter what cause the perpetrators claim to support." (Related: War, riot expert: Anti-Trump "agent provocateurs" were in charge of destruction at Capitol building, including Antifa/BLM, using tactics as old as the Bible.)
On the same day that Cotton's opinion piece was published by Fox News, 11 House Republicans sent a letter to the acting army secretary requesting that the National Guard brief Congress regarding any supposedly ongoing threats to the Capitol and the reasoning behind keeping around 5,000 Guard troops stationed in Washington until March.
"The Guard has endured unprecedented stress on the force in the last year given COVID-19, social unrest, natural disasters and ongoing overseas requirements," wrote the legislators. "The National Guard should be used as an option of absolute last resort."
Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, one of the main proponents of the open letter, said that he supports keeping the Guard on Capitol Hill if it is absolutely necessary. However, he has not seen any solid justification for it.
"If [the threat] is just online chatter, that's one thing," said Waltz during an interview with Military Times. "But we should know exactly what is driving that number. And the guardsmen deserve to know that. The ones I have spoken with, they don't seem to know. To have them here just to stare at a fence doesn't make sense to me."
The 10 other congressmen who signed the letter are Rep. William Timmons of South Carolina, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Reps. Lance Gooden and Chip Roy of Texas, Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, Rep. Gregory F. Murphy of North Carolina, Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Rep. Russ Fulcher of Idaho.
"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," they wrote.
"We are seeking this threat assessment briefing as soon as reasonably possible and greatly appreciate your time and attention."
Learn more about the actual threats to the United States' national security by reading the latest articles at NationalSecurity.news.