Security officials from the Capitol have warned members of Congress that thousands of President Trump’s extremist backers are planning to try and breach into the Capitol again just before the Inauguration Day of President-elect Joe Biden.
Officials told legislators about four specific armed threats made against Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court. They brief Congress via a call late last Monday night, according to a source.
These warnings come just days after Trump supporters stormed through the Capitol building. The mob interrupted the counting and certification of Electoral College votes. They also sent legislators, Capitol staff members, and journalists looking for a secure place to stay.
Extremists Make Armed Threats Against the Capitol
Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) discussed one of the plots during an interview on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday. He said this specific plan involved Trump’s extremist supporters trying to surround the Capitol, aiming to prevent Democrats from going in.
In the interview, Lamb said: “They were talking about 4,000 armed ‘patriots’ to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in. … They have published rules of engagement, meaning when you shoot and when you don’t. So this is an organized group that has a plan. They are committed to doing what they’re doing because I think in their minds, you know, they are patriots and they’re talking about 1776 and so this is now a contest of wills.”
“We are not negotiating with or reasoning with these people. They have to be prosecuted. They have to be stopped. And unfortunately, that includes the president, which is why he needs to be impeached and removed from office,” he added.
Many legislators still feel shaken after their lives were put in danger last Wednesday. Now, many of them feel more scared given the new threats of insurrection.
One lawmaker recounted, “It was horrifying, the most chilling hour imaginable, but I don’t want to say anything more.”
Another said, “If you weren’t afraid when you got on the call, you were afraid when you got off. There were still 60 people in the queue who didn’t get a chance to ask their questions.”
Security Preparations for Biden’s Inauguration Day
On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for a meeting. Participants included in the meeting are House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the new House sergeant-at-arms, and the acting Capitol Police chief. It took place in light of the new threats of insurrections to the Capitol and the legislators, according to a source.
DeLauro said that security concerns feel “obvious” because of the breach at the Capitol. Although, she also said she felt confident that law enforcement can lock down the area to make sure everyone will be safe during Biden’s inauguration.
“I think they’re getting it under control,” DeLauro said. “I mean, the concern is obvious from Wednesday, but it’s what you do with the concern and that’s what they’re dealing with,” she went on to say.
However, law enforcement authorities seem to be getting ready for the worst things that can happen.
They have set up a 7-foot “non-scalable” perimeter fence around the Capitol. Similar barriers have been erected around the Supreme Court and several nearby office buildings. On Monday night, more fencing has been spotted while being transported into the Capitol, with forklifts ready to offload the barrier.
Currently, the presence of law enforcement personnel is more visible at the capitol. This comes after the National Guard and local state troopers were called to help the police force last Wednesday in securing the building,
Last week, a mob of Trump supporters broke through the Capitols’ original security barricades. Some demonstrators even managed to steal barricades to use as ladders when they broke into the building.
People Instructed to Avoid Washington DC
On Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, at least 15,000 National Guard members will be stationed in the area. Forty-three other states and territories will provide support.
DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), along with other legislators, urge the public to avoid going to Washington on Inauguration Day. This announcement comes due to the security threats made by pro-Trump radicals, along with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apart from the insurrection threats made against the Capitol, lawmakers also have to face furious supporters of the president as they travel in and out of Washington.
Last Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) needed a police escort as he walked through Reagan National Airport near Washington because of Trump supporters harassing him, screaming obscenities, and calling him a “traitor.”
Because of such threats, legislators received a notice, instructing them to send their itineraries to security officers before traveling. This will give involved offices and agencies some time to coordinate for their protection.
Although, some members of Congress decided to temporarily avoid traveling by air. Meanwhile, others are still wondering whether they should be in the area during Inauguration day.