The secretary of defense on Friday approved a request from Capitol Police to provide 100 Washington, D.C. National Guardsmen for additional support during a rally Saturday on behalf of Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendants.
Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the guardsmen to be stationed at the D.C. Armory as a “Physical Security Task Force,” according to a statement from the Pentagon.
The armory is a brief drive away from the Capitol, where the event is scheduled to take place midday Saturday. Rally organizer Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign digital director, is trying to recast the Jan. 6 attack as a peaceful protest marred by a few “bad apples” — rather than a mob attack on Congress with the intent of disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
“Should the Capitol Police require assistance, they will first utilize local, state and Federal law enforcement capabilities before requesting the deployment of the Physical Security Task Force,” the Defense Department statement read.
“The task force will only be deployed upon request of the Capitol Police to help protect the U.S. Capitol Building and Congressional Office buildings by manning building entry points and verifying credentials of individuals seeking access to the building.”
The rally, the attendance for which could reach a few hundred people, has D.C. law enforcement on edge: Capitol Police have brought back the temporary fencing surrounding Congress that was previously erected after the Jan. 6 riot itself, and D.C.’s Metropolitan Police has activated its entire force for the event.