As D.C.’s mayor and the governors for Maryland and Virginia prepare for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, they released a unified message for possible attendees on Monday evening.
“Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C., and to instead participate virtually,” reads a joint statement from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Bowser, Hogan and Northam had a joint call Monday afternoon to discuss planning for the inauguration next week in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack by supporters of President Donald Trump.
“In this very trying time, January 6 was a dark moment for our nation,” the joint statement reads. “But we know that we will get through this period because American ideals are stronger than one extreme ideology. Together, we will overcome extremism and get back to the work of our residents.”
On Monday afternoon, then-Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that he’s moved up the timing of the national special security event for Biden’s inauguration. It will start Wednesday, instead of its original Jan. 19. He cited the “events of the past week,” along with an evolving security landscape. Later Monday, he announced his resignation.
Earlier, Bowser called the Capitol insurrection an “unprecedented terrorist attack” in a letter requesting additional security ahead of Jan. 20. She asked for a “pre-disaster declaration” for D.C. to allow for federal assistance, which was approved Monday.
Bowser cited “new threats from insurgent acts of domestic terrorists” and asked that the security period around the inauguration be extended from Monday through Jan. 24, and that the Capitol be included in the perimeter.
She also thanked police for their response to the Jan. 6 attack. “They were called a lot of names in 2020. But today, our city rightfully calls them heroes,” Bowser said.
Maryland and Virginia are assisting with the security ramp-up.
Hogan said Monday that officials there are “taking additional security measures here at the statehouse complex, both the Capitol Police and the Maryland State Police.”
Also in D.C., Bowser has requested that the National Park Service deny all Public Gathering Permits on federal land across the District in the days surrounding next Wednesday’s inauguration. National Park Service records show two permits have been granted so far.
The FBI has issued a bulletin warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in D.C. in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters that he has authorization to bring in up to 15,000 Guard members, The Associated Press reported. At least 10,000 troops will be deployed in D.C. by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states.
Trump issues emergency declaration for inaugural
President Donald Trump is issuing an emergency declaration for the nation’s capital amid growing concern among local and federal authorities about violence in the leadup to and during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate with local authorities as needed.
The declaration from Trump comes five days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol as Congress began formally counting the Electoral College votes to certify his defeat to Biden. Five people died.
Trump has spent months complaining that he was cheated out of an election victory by widespread voter fraud, which election officials say does not exist.
Trump’s emergency declaration is in effect from Monday through Jan. 24.
Contee: ‘Sick to my stomach’
Last week’s deadly assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters left at least 56 D.C. police officers injured and made acting police Chief Robert Contee “sick to my stomach,” he said during a news conference Monday.
“I have 56 officers and counting that were injured in some way shape, form or fashion,” Contee said. “Our officers were in a fight, not just for their lives, but for the democracy of this country.”
“I have talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq and say that this was scarier to them than their time in combat. I think that really just kind of speaks to the level of concern that we have as a city, as a government.”
Contee spoke specifically of video showing one officer being crushed by the mob at one of the Capitol’s doors.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to see that video and that officer, obviously, he was afraid for his life,” Contee said.
One officer who was beaten and shocked with a stun gun has been discharged from the hospital and is “getting better,” but is “very shaken, very appalled. Very angry,” Contee said.
“These were people who were very determined to come into our Capitol building and really do some harm. And they did,” Contee said of the rioters.
As investigations continue into the attack, former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy said prosecutors could charge many rioters with felony murder after the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained during the insurrection.
A second U.S. Capitol Police officer who responded to the riots last week died while off-duty on Saturday, though the cause of death has not been officially announced. The Capitol Police’s labor union announced the death of Howard Liebengood, a 15-year veteran of the force, on Sunday.
Employers are also looking into whether their employees took part in the Jan. 6 pro-Trump actions. Two off-duty police officers from the department in Rocky Mount, Virginia, went to events and have since been put on administrative leave, though officials didn’t specify their involvement.
An officer from the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland was suspended with pay “pending an investigation into the officer’s involvement at the U.S. Capitol,” officials said Monday. It’s unclear how the officer was involved.
Also on Monday, a House resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office was blocked by Republicans.
House Democrats are preparing this week to impeach Trump for a second time. Trump faces a single charge: “incitement of insurrection.”
WTOP’s Teta Alim and Jack Moore, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.