American Politico magazine quoted National Guard sources in the United States as being prepared for the possibility of attacking the Congress building with explosive devices, coinciding with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, while outgoing President Donald Trump called on his supporters to remain calm and to stay away from violence.
In a related context, a statement from Biden’s transition team said that the president-elect and his team take security threats very seriously.
The statement added that the team is in contact with the current administration to obtain as much information as possible, about the threat picture and the preparations being put in place to deter and defend against unrest.
He pointed out that the president-elect team will receive daily briefings on security preparations, to ensure that the transition process goes smoothly.
The statement emphasized that the transfer of power from one administration to another is the cornerstone of American democracy, and that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris “focus on protecting the security of the American people and their institutions, and this will be a top priority in the days leading up to the inauguration and throughout the Biden and Harris administration.”
Arming the National Guard
The US authorities raised the level of security measures in the vicinity of the Congress building, and the National Guard personnel deployed at the site were provided with weapons, unlike their usual in recent days.
The US Department of Defense (the Pentagon) had decided to arm members of the National Guard, in anticipation of an outbreak of violence with the approaching day of Biden’s inauguration as president on the 20th of this month. It is expected that the number of guards who will be deployed on the day of the inauguration ceremony will reach 15,000.
Security measures also included closing major streets in Washington, especially those leading to the Congress building and the White House. These measures come amid fears of a repeat of violence similar to the storming of the Congress building last Wednesday.
Pictures and recordings of US National Guard soldiers sleeping in the corridors of the Congress building showed that many of them spent the night inside the Capitol and its rooms, while they were called in in anticipation of the repeated scene of Trump’s supporters storming the building last week.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had warned of a plot by extremist right-wing groups to target Congress and government headquarters throughout the United States.
Trump calms his supporters
For his part, the US President called on his supporters to avoid violence, and said in a statement that in light of reports of more demonstrations, he urges avoiding violence, not violating the law and avoiding acts of sabotage, whatever it is.
Trump added that he does not support violence, sabotage and violating the law, and that America also does not support it, as he said, calling on all Americans to help calm and reduce tension.
He said that his true supporters cannot threaten or attack an American citizen, nor do they support political violence, adding, “I clearly condemn the violence that we witnessed in the past week.”
He stressed that those who participated in the violence last week will be brought before the law, saying that America is witnessing an “unprecedented assault on freedom of expression.”
Trump said that he had instructed law enforcement agencies to use all necessary resources to impose order during the January 20 transfer of power, noting that there were reports of upcoming protests and that the Secret Service informed him of the upcoming threats.
In the same context, the authorities in Washington tightened security measures around the residence of US Vice President Mike Pence, and imposed a new security cordon around it late Tuesday evening.
US media reported that the new security measures around the vice president’s residence, which included the deployment of more security personnel and the establishment of additional checkpoints, were unprecedented since the events of September 11, 2001.