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U.S. Capitol Police requested a 60-day extension for a portion of the National Guard troops currently in Washington, D.C., Thursday as the threat of a possible attack from militia groups looms over the city.
Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman asked the Department of Defense to continue to provide support in the Capitol, where 5,200 guardsmen are currently deployed. The troops remained in the weeks following the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the Capitol building.
They were expected to leave the city March 12, a Capitol Police statement said, but are needed in light of current intelligence. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and U.S. Army officials would have to approve.
“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday,” a March 3 statement read. “We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers.”
The House of Representatives canceled its Thursday session after authorities learned about the threat, but the Senate met to discuss a COVID-19 aid bill, NPR reported.
Far-right conspiracy theorists believed former President Donald Trump would return to power Thursday because until 1933, presidents were inaugurated on March 4.
“The USCP is extremely grateful for the Department of Defense and the National Guard support provided,” a Capitol Police statement read. “We understand the Guard has a tremendous service need back home responding to the COVID-10 pandemic.”
The riots in the Capitol left five people dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died the following day from his injuries sustained in the line of duty. More than 250 people have been charged since authorities secured the Capitol, including 20 members of the far-right group the Proud Boys.