Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said National Guard members should be removed from Washington as thousands remain deployed near the Capitol as officials cited threats of potential violence.
“Despite 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,” Cotton wrote Wednesday for Fox News. “With the inauguration complete and threats receding, now it’s time, yes, to send home the troops.”
Officials on Monday said that thousands of troops will remain in the District of Columbia until mid-March after former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is finished.
Trump’s impeachment trial is slated to start around Feb. 8.
Cotton said he wasn’t aware of any “specific” or “credible” threats to the capital other than “aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet—that justifies this continued troop presence.”
“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,” he wrote.
On Jan. 6, a group of protesters breached the Capitol during the Joint Session of Congress that was certifying the electoral votes. Congressional Democrats and a small group of Republicans blamed Trump for inciting the riot during a speech, although Trump himself said protesters should act peacefully and later condemned the violence.
Cotton argued that Capitol security officials, the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser rejected backup before the riots “despite threats of violence” on social media websites.
Bowser, he claimed, “insisted that the small detachment of National Guard soldiers who deployed to assist with traffic control come unarmed,” according to his op-ed piece. “She also pandered to anti-police radicals by sending a letter to the acting Attorney General discouraging additional deployments of federal law enforcement.”
U.S. Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the head of the National Guard Bureau, stated that about 13,000 Guard members remain in Washington as of Jan. 25.
“As I speak, there are approximately 13,000 National Guard men and women in the District of Columbia primarily conducting security missions in support of our district and federal partners,” he said during a Pentagon briefing before adding to reporters: “As requested by the federal agencies we are supporting, we are drawing down to 7,000 soldiers and airmen by the end of this week.”