UPDATE: ‘Ridiculous and Disgusting’: National Guard Sent to Parking Garage, Sparking Fury from Guard Members and Political Leaders
National Guard troops protecting the Capitol were sent to stay in a nearby parking garage, sparking outrage on Friday morning from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Capitol Police told thousands of troops to move to the parking garage from the Capitol complex, where they were stationed after unrest broke out in the city in Jan. 6. Guard Spokesman Maj. Matt Murphy refused to comment on the specific sequence of events leading up to the development.
“As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” Murphy said in a statement. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities.”
According to a report by Breitbart’s Kristina Wong, the move came after Rep. Will Keating (D-MA) complained about a Guardsman not wearing a face mask in a Dunkin Donuts in the Capitol complex. Wong reported, per a source: “After Keating commented … that masks were required to be worn at all times in a federal building, the National Guard member responded, ‘I appreciate my freedom.'”
Guard members and political leaders blasted the decision. “Yesterday, dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service,” one unnamed Guardsman told Politico. “Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a retired Navy SEAL who lost his right eye to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, weighed in on Twitter on Friday. “If it’s true that this was all precipitated from Rep. Keating complaining about Guardsmen not wearing a mask at Dunkin Donuts, as Breitbart reported, then we need to know that,” Crenshaw wrote. “That would be ridiculous and disgusting on the part of Democrat leadership.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he was ordering Florida’s Guard members to return home after seeing the images. He also blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the ordeal, and for a decision by the Guard to investigate members’ political beliefs prior to the presidential inauguration.
“These folks are soldiers,” Desantis said in a Friday interview on Fox & Friends. “They are not Nancy Pelosi’s servants. And this is on the back end of them trying to investigate the background of our guardsmen. [In] Florida, we did not let them go into their political beliefs. I thought that was totally inappropriate. I thought it was very disrespectful for people who are clearly patriots. So this is a half cocked mission at this point, and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home.”
The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that 10,600 troops remained on duty in Washington, D.C., out of nearly 26,000 originally deployed for Inauguration Day. The bureau anticipated that it would take up to 10 days for the remainder to return home.
Watch above via CNN.
UPDATE: In a statement to Mediaite, Keating denied influencing the decision to move the troops. Keating said:
Leave it to Breitbart to concoct such a baseless story that’s been directly refuted by the National Guard. Yesterday, I was with a large number of people in a coffee shop in the House, some of whom weren’t wearing masks. I commented — to no one in particular — that this has the ingredients of a super-spreader event and we should all keep our masks on. A member of the National Guard chose to loudly refuse. That is the totality of what took place. Over 400,000 people have already died in this country, roughly 4,000 a day, due to COVID, and if I were in the same situation today, I would say the exact same thing. We all need to do our part, no matter who we are or what we do.
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