The FBI warns of plans for nationwide armed protests before Biden’s inauguration

The FBI has warned that armed protests are planned for Washington and all 50 U.S. capitals ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, a federal law enforcement source said Monday.

Threatened with more violence from outgoing President Donald Trump’s supporters after last Wednesday’s storming of the US capital, the FBI issued warnings for next weekend that run at least until the inauguration day, the source says.

In other steps to protect the US capital, the National Guard was authorized to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington and tourists were not allowed to visit the Washington Monument until January 24.

The head of the National Guard Bureau, General Daniel Hokanson, told reporters that he expected about 10,000 troops in Washington by Saturday to help with security, logistics and communications.

He said the number could rise to 15,000 at the request of local authorities.

At least one lawmaker asked the Pentagon to do more.

Senator Chris Murphy, who said he sent a letter to the acting defense secretary on Monday, said it was unclear whether the National Guard would be enough to protect the country’s capital and that active duty troops may also be needed.

“I’m not afraid to take the oath outside,” Biden told reporters in Newark, Delaware, referring to the traditional setting for the Capitol inauguration ceremony. But he said it was critically important that people “who engaged in riots and threatened people’s lives, damaged public property, caused great damage” be held accountable.

Biden’s inaugural committee said Monday that the theme for the January 20 ceremony would be “America United.” Trump, who has unsuccessfully tried to overturn the November 3 election result with false allegations of widespread fraud, said last week that he would not attend the ceremony, a decision supported by the president-elect.

Washington Monument closed for tours

The Park Service said it would suspend tours of the Washington Monument, an obelisk honoring the country’s first president, due to security concerns from threats to disrupt the inauguration.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser called on the US State Department to revoke public collection permits until January 24.

In a letter to acting Secretary of State Chad Wolf published on Sunday, Bowser called for a new approach to security after what she called last week’s “unsurpassed terrorist attack.”

Bowser asked Wolf to extend the national special security event from Monday to January 24. The Secret Service conducts security operations for events, including presidential inaugurations, that are considered nationally significant.

Wolf said in a statement that he had instructed the secret service to launch national special security events for the inauguration, which will take effect on Wednesday, instead of January 19 as previously planned. The acting secretary told his staff that he was resigning on Monday.

The attack on the Capitol, which challenged the certification of Biden’s election victory, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Dozens of people have been charged with violence and hundreds more are expected.

The attack came shortly after Trump urged supporters to march on the Capitol during a demonstration in which he reiterated false claims that his resounding defeat in the November election was illegal.

Democrats in Congress began a push on Monday to force Trump out of office and introduced an indictment article accusing him of inciting rebellion.

The president’s inaugural committee and Bowser have told Americans not to travel to the inauguration and said that Washington’s National Mall would be covered with 191500 flags of various sizes to represent the missing crowds.

A presidential inauguration traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Washington, but the ceremonies have been dramatically reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In state capitals, governors are on high alert for the inauguration.

In Wisconsin, a swing state where Trump alleged election fraud, Gov. Tony Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support the state Capitol Police.

In Michigan, another swing state where Biden’s victory is being contested by Trump, the state Capitol Commission, which oversees the legislature, issued an order banning open arms transportation inside the Capitol building in Lansing.