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National Guard troops forced to vacate Capitol and rest in parking garages

Guardsmen said they were asked to move out of the government building for unknown reasons.

National Guard soldiers POLITICO

National Guard soldiers who were deployed to secure the U.S. Capitol were forced to sleep in parking garages following an alleged order from the Capitol Police. According to several reports, thousands of guardsmen were instructed by higher-ups to move out of the government building and relocate to a nearby parking garage.

“As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” National Guard Bureau spokesman Major Matt Murphy told CBS News. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities.”

Capitol Police Interim Chief Yogananda Pittman denied the claims, noting that her agency “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities,” but more accounts seem to lean in support of Murphy’s statement.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. — who insists “the troops didn’t move on their own” — said he learned that a uniformed officer told “multiple members of military leadership” to leave the Capitol. Statements by two anonymous Capitol Police also backed the guardsman’s account.

Rep. Tim Ryan. — who helps to oversee the Capitol Police budget — is calling for people to come forward with their stories. “If the Capitol Police in any way, shape, or form pushed the Guard out into a cold garage, then there’s going to be hell to pay,” he said. “We’re already trying to re-establish trust with the Capitol Police, and we’ve got to figure out exactly what happened.”

The guardsmen were eventually allowed to return to the Capitol after widely-spread reports of few restrooms, power outlets and limited cellphone and internet service.

Roughly 26,000 National Guard soldiers were reportedly sent to DC to assist law enforcement during the inaugural services, but according to the Associated Press, only 10,600 are on duty. The National Guard Bureau is reportedly working to send the inactive troops back home.

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