The declaration of a state of emergency underscores the scale of the problem and the depth of uncertainty and fear in Washington, where U.S. security officials are struggling to deal with the fallout from the chaos on Capitol Hill and across the country as all 50 states prepare for possible violence.
At the same time, federal officials are determining how best to protect lawmakers in the place of American democracy as more and more information emerges about plans by Trump supporters to launch another attack and disrupt the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
These efforts are taking place at the federal and local levels as the political drama in Washington continues to unfold. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday to impeach Trump for a second time as major cracks in GOP support for the president began to appear.
The president, for his part, stressed Tuesday that he does not believe he is responsible for his supporters’ mutiny and has not yet explicitly called on them to refrain from further attacks on Capitol Hill.
As Washington prepares for any eventuality, officials unveiled security measures ranging from immediate and concrete action by Capitol Hill police, who announced that roads around the Capitol would be closed indefinitely, to a large-scale forensic effort by the Department of Justice to investigate the events in the 6th Congressional District. January and to reconstruct the criminals behind the crimes committed that day.
Federal investigators told reporters Tuesday that the scope and scale of this massive investigation is unprecedented in the history of the FBI and DOJ and creates an image of rebellion that shocks people. This work is ongoing, although researchers say they are also focused on preventing future attacks.
Lawmakers, deeply shaken by last week’s hours of violence, are debating what to do to protect themselves, citing Republican members who may have cooperated or contacted the rioters and other Republican colleagues who carried weapons on Capitol Hill against the rules.
Capitol police installed metal detectors near the Chamber floor Tuesday afternoon, and all Chamber members, staff and aides must go through them, a Capitol police source and aide told CNN.
Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen told CNN in a briefing to all security senators during the inauguration that the number of people expected in Washington next week and the potential for violence – especially the extremist militias among them – is frightening.
Van Hollen told CNN that he is confident that everyone will be fully prepared and that security measures for the event equate to a government approach. They are doing everything they can to make the inauguration a success.
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Various administration officials were scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss security requirements for the inauguration and fears in detail that some events in Washington could turn violent, many senior defense officials told CNN.
Tuesday’s statement by the United Nations chief, reminding troops of their duty to defend the Constitution, is a worrying sign of their concern – leaders want to avoid positions that could have political overtones as much as possible. But military leaders felt it was important to make a statement given the gravity of the inauguration events, CNN reported.
As members of the armed forces, we must embody the values and ideals of the nation. We preserve and defend the Constitution. Any action to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath, but also against the law, the statement said.
The statement talks about congressional confirmation and says President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and would become our 46th president.
No room for extremism
This statement comes as the military has begun to investigate whether some members of the military sympathize with the extremist goals and beliefs promoted by some Trump supporters.
CNN has learned that the U.S. military is working with the Secret Service to determine whether some soldiers who will be part of the National Guard contingent providing security for Biden’s inauguration will need additional background checks.
The D.C. National Guard is also providing extra training to troops when they arrive in Washington to emphasize that if they see or hear anything inappropriate, they should report it to their commanders, an Army spokesman told CNN in a written statement.
There is no room for extremism in the army, and we will examine each report individually and take appropriate action, the spokesman said.
The military is committed to working closely with the FBI to identify individuals who participated in the violent attack on Capitol Hill to determine if they have any connection to the military, the statement said, adding that any activity involving violence, civil disobedience or breach of the peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under federal and state laws.
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Current Department of Defense policy requires all military personnel to complete an annual training program that requires department personnel to report any information about known or suspected extremist behavior that could pose a threat to the department or the United States, the report says.
F.B.I. and Justice officials have compared their examination of the sixth. January with the terrorism investigation.
People will be shocked by some of the blatant contacts that have taken place on Capitol Hill, acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said at a news conference Tuesday following the riot attacks on federal and Washington police officers.
So an image is built up. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what happened on Capitol Hill, and that’s going to focus on the laser, I think, in the coming weeks and days, he added.
The FBI is used to large and complex investigations … we’re ready for it, says Steven D’Antuono, deputy director of the FBI in Washington.
Sherwin echoed this sentiment, telling reporters that the scope and scale of this investigation into these matters is truly unprecedented, not only in the history of the FBI, but perhaps in the history of the DOJ.
According to him, the Capitol Hill grounds are essentially a crime scene, both inside and out. He added that this problem will not be solved in the coming months. According to Sherwin, he directed his prosecutors to pursue significant cases of sedition and seditious conspiracy.
This story has been updated with additional coverage.
Jake Tapper, Daniella Diaz, Manu Raju, Ryan Nobles, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupets and Zachary Cohen of CNN contributed to this report.
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