National Guard presence in D.C. swells to 20,000 ahead of inauguration

Law enforcement and defense officials have sought to respond to heightened security concerns surrounding the presidential inauguration next week amid the January 6 riot that took over the U.S. Capitol and killed or injured a number of people.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon allowed the National Guards protecting the Capitol to carry lethal weapons in response to credible threats of violence from militias and extremist groups. Prior to the uprising, city and federal officials had deliberately tried to limit the military’s role in responding to the protests.

In response to the violent uprising, a number of additional security measures have been put in place both inside and outside the Capitol Building. The new features will be introduced as Congress is currently indicting outgoing President Donald Trump for his actions that day.

Numerous uniformed members of the National Guard filled the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday, adding a layer of surreality to the unprecedented course of the day. The House is on the verge of passing an impeachment trial against Trump later Wednesday that will either prepare him for trial in the Senate in the days before he leaves office or, more likely, shortly thereafter.

The security apparatus leading up to Wednesday’s attack was heavily criticized by lawmakers and outside observers because police tasked with protecting the Capitol and other federal buildings failed to stop the large mob from storming the building and endangering hundreds of people – including the Vice President Mike Pence.

At least two US Capitol police officers have been suspended and several others are being investigated for their conduct during the riot. One officer was killed as a result of the riot, another died by suicide after the attack, and several other officers have reportedly threatened to harm themselves.

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