WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Officials with the South Carolina National Guard say their members were not among those National Guard Soldiers asked to leave the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Nonetheless, South Carolina leaders were outraged at the action.
Late Friday afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said the soldiers were done with their duty and would be home this weekend.
Thursday night, an outcry of criticism came from lawmakers all over the country when they heard that National Guard members were asked to leave part of the U.S. Capitol and go to a parking garage.
According to an initial report from Politico, thousands of national guardsmen were asked to leave the capitol office building and relocate to a parking garage nearby.
Like many others, 30-year National Guard veteran and South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson was outraged to see National Guardsmen being told to leave. “I’m really grateful that I have a really proactive staff. We immediately contacted the National Guard Bureau and the Capitol Police. We work very closely with our great [South Carolina Adjutant General Van] McCarty,” Wilson said.
After many Capitol Hill leaders, including Wilson, called for answers, the Guardsmen were let back in hours later with an apology from Capitol Police.
“Our troops deserve the utmost honor and respect for securing the Capitol & defending democracy this week," South Carolina Senator Tim Scott tweeted. "This is unconscionable and unsafe. Whoever’s decision this was to house our National Guardsmen & women in underground parking lots must be held accountable.”
Senator Lindsey Graham also took to Twitter, saying, “Like many other Members of Congress, I will make sure we get to the bottom of how our National Guard soldiers were relegated to the parking garage. Those who made this decision need to be held accountable.”
News 19 reached out to the South Carolina National Guard, who told us, in part:
“We have confirmed with leadership on ground that the South Carolina National Guard was not a part of this relocation.
“Throughout the mission, our service members were resting in garages that were close to the sites where they were conducting their duties. These sites were designated as rest areas for National Guard members when they were not on duty, but between shifts. These sites are heated and served as a location for service members to get out of the cold and take a break during shifts.”
"The news tonight that National Guardsmen, who were instructed to keep the Capitol safe, are now displaced is unacceptable. While the SC Guard has not been impacted, this situation must be resolved as soon as possible, Representative Joe Wilson tweeted.
“The good news is, we have [an] excellent rapport with the National Guard Bureau," Congressman Wilson told News19. "And, hey, our National Guard, with the leadership of Gen. McCarty, we work together so closely and it’s always to show respect for our guard members who protect American families.”
According to CBS News, Capitol Police are investigating who gave the order.
This all comes after National Guardsmen have been protecting the US Capitol for two weeks after the deadly insurrection on January 6.