After an hours-long delay, 150 D.C. National Guard troops were sent to the U.S. Capitol to help law-enforcement efforts to remove Trump supporters who had violently seized the building in an act of insurrection. Such an order would usually be given by the president and commander-in-chief, but according to Pentagon officials who spoke with the New York Times, it was approved by Vice-President Mike Pence.
It’s not clear what caused this upending of the chain of command, which came after President Trump encouraged protesters to head to the Capitol to protest the certification of election results, did not explicitly condemn the attack, and said in a video that he “loves” his supporters who stormed the Capitol.
Pence’s order came hours after the president condemned him for not having “the courage” to stop the certification of the election in Congress on Wednesday — a power that the vice-president does not possess. In his speech before protesters early on Wednesday afternoon, Trump also lashed out at his vice-president before encouraging the crowd to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” to the U.S. Capitol, where a handful of Republican senators and more than 100 House representatives planned to object to the election results. The symbolic process was interrupted by the violent act of Trump supporters, which has reportedly resulted in four deaths.
This post has been updated.