National Guard presence in D.C. swells to 20,000 ahead of inauguration
More than 20,000 members of the National Guard could be stationed throughout Washington D.C. after federal officials authorized a 5,000 member increase, the city’s police chief said Wednesday. "I think you can expect to see somewhere upwards beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia,” acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said at a news conference.
Contee cautioned that the final headcount is still under deliberation and will be determined in conjunction with the Secret Service. Still, the number is expected to be an order of magnitude beyond what was deployed prior to last week’s riots, which have led to dozens of arrests across the country after participants returned home.
Law enforcement and defense officials have been scrambling to respond to the enhanced security concerns surrounding next week’s presidential inauguration in light of the Jan. 6 riot that took over the U.S. Capitol and left a number of people dead or injured.
Earlier this week the Pentagon allowed National Guardsmen protecting the Capitol to carry lethal weapons in response to the credible threats of violence from militia and extremist groups. Prior to the riot, city and federal officials had deliberately sought to limit the military’s role in response to the protests.
An array of additional security measures have been installed both inside and outside of the Capitol building in response to the violent insurrection, and the new features come as Congress is in the process of impeaching outgoing President Donald Trump for his actions that day.
Scores of uniformed National Guard members filled the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday, adding a layer of surrealness to the day's unprecedented proceedings. The House is on the verge of passing an article of impeachment against Trump later Wednesday, setting him up either for a Senate trial in the days before he is set to leave office or — more likely — shortly thereafter.
The security apparatus in the lead-up to Wednesday’s assault has come under heavy criticism from lawmakers and outside observers, as the police force charged with protecting the Capitol and other federal buildings failed to stop the large mob from storming the building and endangering hundreds of people — including Vice President Mike Pence.
At least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended, and several others are under investigation for their conduct during the riot. One officer was killed as a result of the insurrection, another died by suicide following the attack, and some other officers have reportedly threatened to harm themselves.
The Senate on Monday confirmed Janet Yellen as the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, where her immediate priority will be addressing the coronavirus recession. Yellen, a Democrat, was confirmed by the Senate 84-15, with broad bipartisan support. All 15 no votes came from Republicans,.
Anthony Fauci on Thursday said it has been “liberating” to work as the nation's top infectious diseases doctor under President Biden after his experience working for former President Trump. Speaking at the White House press briefing, Fauci was asked if he feels "less constrained" in the new administration after clashing with Trump and eventually being sidelined last year.
Among the firsts in Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” is the concept of democracy that it assumed. Democracy, according to the twenty-two-year-old poet, is an aspiration—a thing of the future. The word “democracy” first appears in the same verse in which Gorman refers to “a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.” The insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th took place while Gorman was working on the poem, although the “force,” one may assume, is bigger than the insurrection—it is the Trump Presidency that made the insurrection possible, and the forces of white supremacy and inequality that enabled that Presidency itself.”
Joe Biden on Wednesday made an appeal for unity to Americans across the political spectrum in his inaugural address as the 46th president of the United States, seeking to turn the page on the divisions of the Trump era. Biden described unity as the path forward in order to contain the coronavirus, restore the U.S. economy, address the effects of climate change, deliver racial justice and mend deep divisions that were laid bare over the last four years.