The Pentagon will deploy 100 D.C. National Guard troops to be on standby for the rally Saturday supporting the jailed Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday that he approved a request from U.S. Capitol Police seeking assistance from the Guard and the troops will be stationed at the D.C. Armory to serve as a “physical security task force.”
“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,” Mr. Austin said.
He added that the Capitol Police will first use local, state and federal law enforcement partners before requesting help from the National Guard.
The National Guard approval comes as police ramp up security measures ahead of the rally — including reinstalling a fence around the U.S. Capitol — in an effort to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 riot at the building.
The rally is billed as an event to demand “justice” for the more than 600 people charged after rioters stormed the Capitol building in an effort to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory over then-President Trump.
DHS sent an internal bulletin this week warning of “small number of recent online threats of violence” linked to the Saturday rally, including “online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally,” CBS News reported Friday.
Melissa Smislova, a top intelligence official at DHS, said the agency expects about 700 people will attend, NBC News reported Wednesday.
Both the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department will be fully activated, and an emergency declaration has been authorized to allow Capitol Police to deputize outside law enforcement officers as special officers during the Saturday rally.
Top local police officials are scheduled to hold a news conference Friday afternoon to discuss security preparations for the rally, which is set to begin at noon on Saturday on the west side of the Capitol grounds.