Vice President Mike Pence paid an unscheduled visit to the National Guard troops stationed outside the Capitol on Thursday evening to thank them for guarding the seat of Congress amid the unrest in Washington, D.C.
“I’m your vice president, but I used to be a governor, so I’ve got a special place in my heart for our National Guard,” Pence told the large number of troops assembled at attention in front of him on the east side of the Capitol. “Thank you all for stepping forward to serve your country, thank you for stepping forward to provide security here in our nation’s capital at such an important time in the life of our nation.”
“I want you to thank your families, as well. I know you all had to move out to get here … at the Capitol providing the level of security that’s going to make it possible for us to have a historic transfer of power, the inauguration of a new President of the United States. You all are going to make that possible.”
“I just came from a briefing at Homeland Security, and I heard about the great efforts that our National Guard is making, and literally thousands and thousands of men and women in uniform are going to make it possible to have a safe inauguration.”
“And I just wanted to stop [by] today to say thank you,” Pence added. “Thank you for your service, thank you for stepping forward. God bless you in the days ahead. It’s been my great honor to serve as your vice president, and I want to thank you for your service.”
Pence asked several National Guard members their names and where they came from.
According to other footage, Pence closed out his remarks by encouraging the troops to be “vigilant” and “respect the unified chain of command.”
“Look after your people, and we’re going to deliver to the American people a safe inauguration. We’re going to swear in a new president, a new vice president, and we’re going to move our nation forward, okay? You’re going to make it possible. So, thank you all very much. God bless you.”
Pence’s visit came shortly after he attended a FEMA briefing with top officials regarding the unprecedented measures being taken to secure the upcoming presidential inauguration against threats. Approximately 20,000 troops are estimated to be on the ground guarding much of the nation’s capital, which is under a lockdown that encompasses not just the Capitol, but also the National Mall and large parts of downtown.
FBI Director Christpher Wray, who attended the briefing, warned that the bureau is seeing “an extensive amount of concerning online chatter” about threats to the inaugural proceedings. “We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies,” he said, both in D.C. and at state capitols across the country.
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