Biden inauguration: concerns over departure of homeland security chief

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Washington (AFP)

Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf unexpectedly announced his resignation on Monday as concerns grew over violence during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week.

Wolf’s departure as head of the security corps for the Jan. 20 event came five days after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in hopes of preventing Biden from taking him. replace.

The Department of Homeland Security oversees several law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service, the White House Security Agency, and the US President.

Wolf, who said he was resigning for procedural reasons, has appointed Pete Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to replace him.

But the move did not end questions of whether the U.S. capital would be sufficiently secure over the coming week.

An internal FBI document warned of the possibility that armed Trump supporters could stage protests in all 50 states between the coming weekend and January 20, according to US media.

And federal and city officials continued to point fingers at those responsible for the on-Capitol debacle last Wednesday, when Congressional police were overwhelmed by thousands of Trump supporters who managed to shut down the legislature.

– No more troops called –

The Pentagon said Monday it had authorized 15,000 National Guard troops to be deployed for Biden’s inauguration.

Already 6,200 are on the ground in Washington, and a total of 10,000 are expected by next weekend, said General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard’s office at the Department of Defense.

5,000 more could be deployed on inauguration day, he said.

They will come equipped with riot gear and weapons, but so far have not been allowed to arm themselves on the streets of the US capital, he said.

Before announcing his departure, Wolf also ordered an acceleration of preparations by the Secret Service, citing “the events of the last week and the changing security landscape”.

Preparations for the event were advancing rapidly. A security fence has been built around the entire grounds of the Capitol, where Biden will be sworn in as Trump’s successor.

– ‘Do not come’ –

Still angry at last Wednesday’s violence, in which five people died, including a protester shot dead by police and an attacked policeman dying of his injuries, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser called on Biden supporters to stay away from the American capital on the day of the inauguration.

Normally, hundreds of thousands of Americans, and sometimes over a million, flock to Washington for the quadrennial event.

“We ask Americans not to come to Washington DC for the 59th presidential inauguration on January 20 and to participate virtually,” she said.

Organizers said the Democratic president-elect would use the opportunity to foster national unity, facing a country deeply divided on politics and hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

He will be sworn in at the Capitol in front of the National Mall filled with flags rather than the usual hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Then he and three former US presidents – Trump will not be attending – will travel to Arlington National Cemetery, where thousands of American soldiers who died in war for veterans are buried, to lay a wreath.

But the preparations came as Democrats, accusing Trump of instigating and applauding what they called an attempted “insurgency” and “coup” last week, seek to force Trump to quit. its functions prematurely.

It could spark more violence from Trump supporters, the FBI warns in a new internal advisory.

According to US media, a document indicates that far-right groups like the violent Boogaloo Boys are planning protests across the country around the time of the inauguration.

One group, the FBI said, “warned that if Congress tried to remove POTUS (Trump) via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising would occur,” ABC News reported.

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