The presidential inauguration is usually a joyous occasion that brings thousands of people to Washington D.C. to celebrate. But authorities decided to move away from the ugly scene that took place during the violent riots on Capitol Hill on the 6th. The country that went to Washington on January 1 – once a jewel of democracy admired around the world – now resembles a police state as authorities try to ensure a peaceful transfer of power when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Wednesday. About 25,000 National Guard troops are deployed, military vehicles block some Washington streets, the National Mall is closed, and tall fences and barricades protect the country’s most sacred buildings as traffic is restricted.
But with less than four days to go before Trump’s presidency ends, the nation remains on edge.
As America was forced to seek refuge in this state of safety by the actions of a negligent and autocratic commander-in-chief, Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, the top prosecutor in the House of Representatives, said Sunday morning that Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate should condemn the president in an upcoming impeachment trial to make clear that his actions leading to the Capitol siege have consequences.
I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that we should set a precedent where every president has two, three or four weeks to try to provoke an armed rebellion against the union or stage a coup against the union-and if that succeeds, he becomes a dictator, and if that fails, he’s not subject to impeachment or condemnation because we just want the past to be in the past, Maryland Democrat Jake Tapper told CNN on the State of the Union. This is the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America. The most dangerous crime any president has ever committed against the United States, and there are Republicans who admit it, as well as Democrats.
Although Democrats have argued that the president poses a clear and present danger to the nation, Raskin said he doesn’t know when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will invoke the Senate’s impeachment clause, which is irrelevant.
Biden said impeachment proceedings would be decided by Congress and declined to comment on the Senate’s upcoming proceedings. But his new chief of staff, Ron Clain, told Tapper Sunday that Trump clearly incited the crowd on January 6, and Biden officials remain concerned about broader threats related to this week’s ceremonies – though they believe the Secret Service, with the help of the National Guard, will provide security for the inauguration ceremony itself.
Clain noted that Biden decided to run for president after hearing Trump’s comments following the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville and the murder of 32-year-old legal aid worker Heather Heyer, who was part of a group of counter-demonstrators who opposed the presence of right-wing groups that day.
The events of the past few weeks have shown how damaged America’s soul is and how important it is to repair it. That work begins Wednesday, Clane said.
In the final days of Trump’s presidency, the National Guard’s presence in Washington is stronger than the US presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria combined – a scenario that once seemed unthinkable in a country where democracy rules. But Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen said Saturday that additional security measures were necessary and warranted.
It’s like being attacked by foreign enemies, Van Hollen told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s War Room. It is sad that this is an attack on our democracy from within, instigated by the President of the United States.
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Many state capitals are also strengthening their security measures to avoid being sidelined, as was the case on 6. The month of January was spent with the U.S. Capitol Police. For example, after the FBI warned last week that armed demonstrations were planned in all 50 states, Michigan State Police, in coordination with the FBI and the National Guard, mobilized personnel from across the state to secure the state capitol in Lansing.
In particular, Michigan is threatened by armed protesters who gathered last spring to demonstrate against the restrictions in Covid 19. With protests expected on Sunday, a fence was erected around the Capitol and Lansing Mayor Andy Shore asked Michiganders to stay away from downtown and not make contact with protesters coming to our city with bad intentions.
The Michigan House and Senate canceled their sessions from Tuesday to Thursday because of credible threats. In addition, Airbnb is looking at reservations made during opening week around Lansing, saying they will cancel reservations from customers associated with violent hate groups.
The last trump days
Unwilling to take responsibility for the fear that followed the 6. January swept the country, and Mr. Trump couldn’t make it to the White House this weekend. He is still unable to communicate with his supporters through major social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
But in what appears to be another clear political movement of the eleventh hour. At the eleventh hour, his administration appeared to be trying to install an Atout loyalist as chief counsel of the National Security Agency – a civil servant, not a political appointee, who will be harder to fire once Biden is in office, sources told CNN.
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In keeping with Inauguration Day tradition, Trump plans to travel to Palm Beach, Florida, a few hours before Biden is sworn in. But Mr. Trump wants to know how he will be celebrated when he leaves the White House for the last time. He is considering a farewell ceremony that could include a red carpet, a flag guard, a military band and even a 21-gun salute, administration official Jim Acosta told CNN.
In recent days, Mr. Trump has also been busy assembling a legal team to defend him in his upcoming indictment, as a number of prominent advisers who defended him in his last Senate trial have made it clear they are not interested in a second round.
Although President Rudy Giuliani’s personal lawyer was seen at the White House on Saturday, Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley tweeted that the president has yet to pick a team to represent him in the shameful attack on our Constitution and democracy known as the impeachment hoax. The president is leaving office with the lowest approval rating for his presidency (34%), according to a new CNN survey of the SSRS, and 54% of Americans say he should be removed from office because of his role in inciting violence on Capitol Hill on 6. January.
The president has resisted calls from his advisers to deliver a graduation speech highlighting the administration’s achievements. Instead, Pence – who will attend Biden’s inauguration – remains the administration’s public leader, traveling to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, on Saturday to deliver a speech praising the administration’s national security accomplishments.
The American people are grateful, Pence told the sailors, thanking them on behalf of the Trump administration for their service. And I want to assure you of our deepest respect for the dedication and courage you embody every day.
The vice president argued that the armed forces are better equipped than ever before, adding – without irony, though parts of the nation are currently locked down under heightened security – that he was proud to say that just days before the end of this administration, it is the first administration in decades that has not pulled America into another war.
Biden is preparing for the first day of Executive Action.
As Biden has struggled for national attention since the security breach on Capitol Hill, Clain wrote a memo listing the steps Biden will take on his first day in office to defeat the Trump administration, including adhering to the Paris Climate Accord and lifting the ban on entry into the country for predominantly Muslim countries.
Last week, Biden also launched his first signed legislative initiative, announcing a $1.9 trillion aid package to mitigate the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic and expand and accelerate the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.
But Biden’s advisers are concerned that the Senate’s focus on impeachment proceedings could divert his attention from such critical tasks as confirming members of the president’s national security team and his cabinet.
It’s important that the Senate not only does its constitutional duty, but also moves forward with these appointments – on the urgent action the country needs, Clain told Tapper Sunday, noting that the Senate was able to hold confirmation hearings during the morning sessions while the previous process to remove Trump was underway. I hope Senate leaders will find a way to move forward on a bipartisan basis with all of their responsibilities.
Clain’s memo on Biden’s next executive action states that the president-elect will sign an executive order ending evictions and exempting people in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic from paying their student loans. Biden also plans to impose a masking requirement for federal facilities and interstate travel. The president-elect urged Americans to cover up his first 100 days in office.
Biden also plans to implement an immigration plan within the first 100 days that includes a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants to the United States. She also plans to ask the federal government in late January or early February to establish a system to reunite separated children with their families at the U.S.-Mexico border and to focus on advancing criminal justice reform.
On Sunday, Clain highlighted Biden’s plans to streamline the sluggish national Covid 19 vaccine management system by speeding up delivery, ensuring a sufficient second dose for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and using the Defense Production Act to produce, for example, syringes that allow health care workers to take six doses from each vial instead of five, increasing vaccine supplies by 20 percent.
We inherited a huge mess, Clane told Tapper. But we have a plan to fix that.
This story was updated on Sunday with additional details.
Jim Acosta, Josh Campbell, Jeremy Diamond, Jamie Gangel, Dan Merica, Peter Morris, Artemis Moshtagian, David Shortell, and Carolyn Song contributed to this report.