© Greg NashPence meets with National Guard members stationed at Capitol
Vice President Pence on Thursday made an unscheduled stop at the U.S. Capitol to greet National Guard members stationed there in the wake of last week's riots and ahead of next week's inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden.
Pence thanked the Guardsmen following a briefing on security measures being taken for the inauguration ceremony. The vice president is expected to attend Biden's inauguration, while President Trump will not and has mostly been out of public view for days.
"Thank you for stepping forward for your country," Pence told the Guardsmen assembled outside the complex.
Pence expressed his well wishes and told the National Guard at the Capitol to have "a safe inauguration and a swearing in of a new president and vice president."
"It's been my great honor to serve as your vice president, and I want to thank you for your service," he said.
The surprise visit was the first time Pence had returned to the Capitol complex since Jan. 6, when he was whisked away after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building, then returned to oversee the certification of electoral results affirming Biden as the next president.
Video and firsthand accounts have since emerged of the mob assaulting police, breaking down doors and shattering windows and carrying zip ties. Dozens have been arrested in connection with the chaos, and federal authorities have said they are building sedition and conspiracy charges for some alleged to be involved.
Pence was the subject of threats and chants among some of the rioters after Trump had insisted to his supporters that the vice president had the ability to reject electors and overturn the result of the election. Pence said prior to the riots that he did not have the authority to do so.
Trump was impeached by the House on Wednesday, with 10 Republicans joining every Democrat to vote in favor of the article charging the president with inciting violence against the government.