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National Guard troops fill US Capitol ahead of impeachment, inauguration

Photos showed hundreds of National Guard troops resting on the floor of the U.S. Capitol Visitor's Center before heading out to reinforce security at the complex.

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. House of Representatives considers whether to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, the halls of the U.S. Capitol were filled Wednesday with extra security. 

Hundreds of National Guard troops waited inside the Capitol Visitor's Center early Wednesday morning to reinforce security at the complex, exactly one week after Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol.

Up to 15,000 Guard members are expected to be on duty in the coming days in Washington D.C. to support law enforcement in connection with the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

RELATED: Top military leaders remind troops of limits of free speech

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Credit: AP
Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Photos posted on social media showed the National Guard members sleeping in the halls of the Capitol during the early morning hours Wednesday. 

Last week's pro-Trump rally, turned violent siege, was viewed as a free speech event in the days before, despite multiple warnings about the potential for violence from right-wing extremist groups.

Egged on by President Donald Trump and his repeated attempts to delegitimize Biden’s win, the violent mob marched from the White House to the Capitol, where they occupied the building for hours to try to stop lawmakers from certifying Biden's win.

During the riot, five people died, including a police officer. Two explosive devices were also found, but they did not go off. 

RELATED: US Capitol Riot: What we know about the chaos in DC, aftermath

The District of Columbia National Guard says it has been authorized to arm troops assigned to security duty on the U.S. Capitol grounds. 

The Guard added in a statement that the authority was requested by federal authorities and approved by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy as of approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Credit: AP
Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Authorities are concerned about threats of violence, following the insurrection at the Capitol last week.

The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, in one week, will be held on the same risers in the same spot at the U.S. Capitol mob descended last week. But the two events aren't even comparable from a security standpoint, said Michael Plati, U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge, who is leading the inauguration security.

RELATED: Biden inauguration is 'national special security event'; Capitol closed to public

Credit: AP
Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

The inauguration is designated as a “national special security event," which clears the way for communication, funding and preparation between multiple agencies in Washington, like the Capitol Police, Pentagon, Homeland Security and District-area police.

Other national special security event-like events are the State of the Union, the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Biden himself hasn't expressed concern about his own security at the inauguration.

“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” he told reporters Monday. “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage -- that they be held accountable.”

Credit: AP
Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

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