Josh Hawley calls for removal of National Guard as threats to Capitol prompt House to cancel votes

Capitol Police request extension of National Guard to protect Congress as QAnon conspiracy theory points to March 4

By Jon Skolnik
March 4, 2021 7:18PM (UTC)
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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asks questions during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process on December 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump continues to push baseless claims of voter fraud during the presidential election, which Chris Krebs called the most secure in American history. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., dismissed the idea on Thursday that the National Guard should be stationed outside Capitol Hill on March 4, the day pro-Trump conspiracy theorists mistakenly believe he will be sworn in for a second term, flouting intelligence received by Capitol Police suggesting that there might be a far-right plot to breach the building again. 

"I certainly appreciate their service," Hawley said in a Fox News interview, "but the idea they're going to be there indefinitely, that appears to be the plan."

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On Thursday, Capitol Police requested a 60-day extension for the National Guard presence at the Capitol.

"Folks have been asking," Hawley continued, "'How long will the Guard be on Capitol Hill?' Nobody can get an answer [...] I think the idea of keeping them there indefinitely and keeping a barbed wire fence around the Capitol indefinitely is crazy."

Hawley went on to stress that the Capitol is "the people's house" and that "it should be open to the people," despite the fact that right-wing radicals staged an armed insurrection just two months ago.

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Fellow Republican Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida echoed Hawley's concerns in another Fox News interview on Thursday. 

 "January 6 was horrible," Waltz said, "Everyone should be prosecuted that participated. But I'm just not seeing the specific threat that keeps these soldiers here." He continued, "I've been asking official after official for that briefing and we're not getting it."

Republican Rep. Greg, R-Fla., also joined the GOP chorus of complaints about increased security at the Capitol, telling the Washington Examiner, "None of us have received a response."

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Meanwhile, members of QAnon have had Mar. 4 marked on their calendar since late January, warning that former President Trump will usurp President Biden and reclaim power over the federal government. The conspiracy stems from principles held by the "sovereign citizen" movement, which avers that The Organic Act –– which turned the District of Columbia into a municipal corporation –– actually turned the entire country into one, rendering all laws Presidents null and void after 1871. 

Now, members of QAnon have reportedly latched onto Mar. 4 –– the original date of the presidential inauguration –– to plot another insurrection and oust President Biden from office.  

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According to ABC News, U.S. Capitol Police are reportedly taking the threat "seriously." In a statement on Twitter, the Capitol Police tweeted: "Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time," the statement said.

The Capitol Police have stationed 5,000 troops around the perimeter of the building, which is guarded by tall fencing topped with razor wire. 

On Tuesday, the Capitol Police distributed an intelligence bulletin warning of the possibility that the "Three Percenters militia group" may "use diversionary tactics such as detonating a bomb" in order to lure Capitol Police away from the building. The bulletin also alleges that the group is planning on bringing a brigade of 50,000 people, although one intelligence official disputes this claim. 

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Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman declined to provide specifics about the threats intelligence officials have gathered, but she stated the department is "prepared to respond appropriately."


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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Barbed Wire Capitol Capitol Police Conspiracy Fence Fox News Hawley March 4 National Guard Qanon Security Troops