So WTF Happened With The National Guard And The Capitol Police?

Finally we see some bipartisanship! Nancy and Mitch and Kevin and Chuck agree that HEADS WILL FUCKING ROLL after Wednesday's terrorist attack on Congress. And they were even unanimous on the first three heads, with Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund, House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving, and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael C. Stenger, who presided over this colossal disaster, first on the block.

Safe bet these guys opening the barricades for the mob will be resigning, too.

But after that, the picture looks murkier.

We know who sent those rioters to rampage through the halls of Congress, and beat a responding officer to death with a fire extinguisher. We all saw Trump spend 70 minutes pouring gasoline on the fire as he regaled them with lies about a stolen election and Mike Pence's fictitious ability to stop certification of the results.

"You will never take back our country with weakness," he told them. After his lawyer encouraged "trial by combat" and his idiot son shouted, "we're coming for you."

The message was unambiguous. "Together we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people," the president said, adding that, "We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

He promised to accompany the angry mob as it marched toward Congress, but this was a lie, of course. Trump is extraordinarily lazy.

So we know who incited this riot. But whose fault is it that Congress was virtually unguarded when the domestic terrorists came to break down the doors?

Well, that one's a bit more complicated.

The Washington Post reports that the DC National Guard was placed under severe restrictions in anticipation of the protest. Remember, because DC isn't a state (and we should do something about that!), the Defense Department controls its Guard troops, so Mayor Muriel Bowser can't call them up at will.

In memos issued Monday and Tuesday in response to a request from the D.C. mayor, the Pentagon prohibited the District's guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement, or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary's explicit sign-off, according to officials familiar with the orders. The limits were established because the Guard hadn't been asked to assist with crowd or riot control.

The D.C. Guard was also told it would be allowed to deploy a quick-reaction force only as a measure of last resort, the officials said.

That's a far cry from this summer, when the military terrorized racial justice protestors, buzzing crowds with low-flying helicopters and mass arresting people for the "crime" of being out on the street.

Why were the preparations so different this time? Well, of course, there's racism.

"They see Black Lives Matter and go 'Oh my God, we've got to be ready.' But, hey, these [Trump protestors] have their blue lives matter flags all over the place," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, told the Post. "And that bias and that false sense of security bit them. And it bit them in a historical fashion yesterday."

"Cops were very cool, they were like 'Hey, guys, have a good night.' Well, some of them. It's just crazy," one rioter told CNN. "It's really weird. You could see that some of them were on our side."

Indeed, it is "really weird." Also "weird" that the president of the United States dithered about dispatching the military when Congress was under siege, forcing Mike Pence to exceed his authority and authorize acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to deploy Guard troops.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan immediately dispatched state troopers as he negotiated with the Defense Department to allow Maryland's National Guard to deploy.

"I was actually on the phone with [House Majority] Leader Hoyer, who was pleading with us to send the guard," Hogan told reporters yesterday. "He was yelling across the room to Schumer and they were back and forth saying we do have the authorization, and I'm saying, 'I'm telling you we do not have the authorization.'"

"We had multiple times, the general was — we run it up the flagpole, we're ready — 'Don't have authorization. Don't have authorization.'"

"And then I get a call an hour and a half later, out of the blue, not from the secretary of Defense, not through what would be normal channels ... 'It's Ryan McCarthy, governor, secretary of the Army. Can you come as soon as possible?'"

Which kind of gives the lie to Trump's speech last night after he got out of Twitter jail, declaring that "I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure and expel the intruders."

That did not happen.

He refused to act, so Mike Pence took the law into his own hands. Whether because Trump wanted those guys with zip tie handcuffs and a noose to do what they came there for, or because of a generalized unwillingness to unleash the military on those "special people" whom "we love,"" is unclear. But something went drastically wrong, and you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be many hours of congressional hearings to figure out exactly what it was.

Irrespective of the president's intent and the possible connivance of Capitol cops, it's clear that the military was trying to stay as far away from Trump as possible during his last few days in office. Not only because of the blowback after DHS crackdowns on protestors in Seattle and DC, not to mention General Milley's participation in the infamous Trump photo op after teargassing peaceful protestors, but also because Trump has been making a lot of coup-shaped noises about sending in the military to interfere with the vote.

How many hours has Trump spent closeted with Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and this Q loon strategizing on ways to hold on to the presidency?

Leave aside for the moment whether it was rational to believe that the fever swamp which spawned a plot to kidnap and murder Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer over COVID restrictions would limit itself to peacefully protesting what they believe is a theft of the presidency. If you really thought the MAGA crowd was just going to piss on the ellipse and go home, would you want the military, which is under Trump's command, surrounding Congress as it met to certify the election? Would it not look like an incipient coup?

Here's how Fiona Hill described it to the Daily Beast.

The president was trying to stage a coup. There was little chance of it happening, but there was enough chance that the former defense secretaries had to put out that letter, which was the final nail through that effort. They prevented the military from being involved in any coup attempt. But instead, Trump tried to incite it himself. This could have turned into a full-blown coup had he had any of those key institutions following him. Just because it failed or didn't succeed doesn't mean it wasn't real.

In the event, the DC Police were the first outside agency on the scene, and they did restore order. The Post reports:

After rioters were already inside the building, the D.C. police reinforcements, led by a D.C. police officer, Inspector Robert Glover, began to take charge inside the Capitol itself.

To start, he sent a contingent of Capitol Police and D.C. officers to retake the Capitol's famed Statuary Hall — which one officer said was "like a mosh pit" full of shoving rioters. Then he sent officers to make a floor-by-floor search, corralling rioters and escorting them out.

"If it wasn't for Inspector Glover, we would have probably lost both chambers to looting and had a complete overtaking of the building," the officer on the scene said. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the news media.

The city is now crawling with troops from all over the country and is like to remain that way through the inauguration. But we'll be hearing about this day for a long time after that. This ain't fucking Benghazi. This is Trump's coup, the inevitable result of him feeding these trolls for six dangerous years.

We survived. Democracy survived. But barely.

[WaPo / WaPo / Beast]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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