WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Less than a week before President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, Washington, D.C., has been transformed from a tourist attraction to a military zone.
Citing last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol — where the inauguration is always held on Jan. 20 — and with credible threats of more violence, local and federal law enforcement, including the U.S. Secret Service, have taken unprecedented steps to secure the city. Every day, more streets are closed and more fences go up.
The Pentagon has also deployed thousands of National Guardsmen. More than 20,000, many of them armed, will occupy the area around Capitol Hill by Inauguration Day. That’s three times the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria combined. It’s unclear how long the National Guard will remain in the city.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who will attend the inauguration ceremony, said he welcomes the extra security.
“I have concerns that a number of these mobsters, these insurrectionists, these violent far-right-wing white supremacists will come back with guns,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence visited Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters Thursday to be briefed on Inauguration Day security. On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump delivered his most forceful condemnation of the violence yet in a video message.
“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for,” he said. “No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.”
Pence will attend the inauguration ceremony. Trump has said he will not.
Biden said his team is getting security briefings.
“I’m not afraid of taking an oath outside,” he said.
In the meantime, Democrats and Republicans alike are demanding an investigation to prevent future domestic attacks.
“Let’s go through this deliberately and figure out what occurred,” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said.