President Donald Trump ordered the National Guard to the Capitol building just after 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon, as his supporters continued to occupy the facility. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced the move, as Capitol police and other local forces failed to contain the breach.
"At President [Trump's] direction, the National Guard is on the way with other federal protective services," McEnany tweeted. "We reiterate President Trump's call against violence and to remain peaceful." This move came about an hour after Trump supporters overcame Capitol police and got inside the building, according to a report by The Associated Press. They had come directly from a rally where the president himself called the 2020 presidential election into question and stirred his base to action.
At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.
We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) January 6, 2021
McEnany's announcement was confirmed by Pentagon officials, who spoke to the AP. They said that 200 National Guard members were on the way, with the very specific mandate to take over policing the outside of the Capitol complex. Only the Capitol police will go inside the building to respond to the dozens of Trump supporters inside.
The comments under McEnany's announcement were chaotic, with many users questioning why the National Guard wasn't called in sooner. In an unrelated post, MSNBC contributor Noah Rothman cited a source saying that the Pentagon was "concerned with the optics" of sending military personnel to the scene. So far, this claim has not been confirmed by any other sources or outlets.
As for Trump himself, his only public statements so far have been tweets, the first reading: "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" The second added: "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!"
Critics have called these comments too lukewarm for the situation, and many have called on the president publicly to condemn his supporters' actions. According to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, aides close to Trump "trying - without success - to get the president to issue a stronger statement. He simply won't do it. He's been furious at Pence for refusing to do something he doesn't have the power to do and that's that." At the time of this writing, Trump supporters continue to illegally occupy the U.S. Capitol.