WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Secret Service began carrying out its special security arrangements for next week’s presidential inauguration on Wednesday, almost a week earlier than originally planned, after last week’s deadly violence on Capitol Hill and threats of more protests.
Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement that officials have “comprehensive, coordinated plans” in place to ensure safety and security. She said the grounds of the Capitol will be closed to the public. The inauguration is a ticketed event.
The Jan. 20 inauguration will look different from other presidential inaugurations because of last week’s riot, with extremely tight security around the entire capital region. At least 10,000 National Guard troops will be in place by Saturday. Some changes will be obvious: officers in uniforms, checkpoints, metal detectors, fencing. Some won’t.
Next week’s event was already going to be pared down because of COVID-19; Biden had asked supporters to say home and watch from afar. In keeping with crowd size restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, traditional activities like the parade and the inaugural balls will be virtual.
The upcoming inauguration and last week’s rally aren’t comparable from a security standpoint, said Michael Plati, U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge, who is leading the inauguration security.
“There’s a variety of methods to ensure that we have a secure, seamless, safe environment for our protectees, but most importantly, the general public,” Plati said.
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 such events are the State of the Union, the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
“I don’t want to use the expression that we’re comparing apples to oranges,” Plati said, but the event is planned over a year with contingencies, and they anticipate the possibility of extreme violence.
Law enforcement officials as a rule don’t divulge much detail about security so would-be attackers aren’t tipped off. But Plati said they’ve taken into account the siege: “It’s a poignant reminder of what can happen.”
President Donald Trump issued a statement Wednesday afternoon condemning future demonstrations, saying:
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
President donald trump
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel issued a similar statement Wednesday afternoon
“Violence has no place in our politics. Period,” McDaniel said in part. “I wholly condemned last week’s senseless acts of violence, and I strongly reiterate the calls to remain peaceful in the weeks ahead.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held a briefing on the situation Wednesday and urged residents to not attend the inauguration.
“We have asked Americans not to come to the Washington D.C. event but to participate virtually,” said Bowser.
Bowser said an inauguration perimeter would be enforced around the White House, the National Mall, the Capitol and parts of downtown. Bowser advised D.C. residents that public transportation would be affected due to the perimeter, including parking garages within range that would be blocked off beginning Friday.
Bowser requested that the Interior Department cancel and deny all public gathering permits until Sunday, Jan. 24. Bowser said as of Wednesday, the request had not been granted.
Bowser said she also requested the acting Attorney General at the DOJ direct the FBI to provide daily intelligence and threat briefings until Jan. 24.
Acting D.C. Metro Police Chief Robert Contee referenced court documents pointing to a potential threat to the mayor during the Capitol siege. NewsNation is working to obtain the supporting court documents.
Biden 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.”
After Biden is officially inaugurated, he, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and will be joined there by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and their wives. It will be one of Biden’s first acts as president, and a show of bipartisanship at a time when the national divide is on stark display.
Plati said they’re prepared for the group to shift to Arlington — and for the possibility of threats to shift with them.