Inauguration and Impeachment: Washington Prepares


In a few days, Joe Biden is to be sworn in as future president. After the attack on the Capitol, fears of further violence in the US capital grow. For Trump, an impeachment process is getting closer.

After storming the Capitol, the US authorities tightened security for the impending inauguration of future President Joe Biden. The National Guard plans to gather up to 15,000 soldiers in the capital Washington to support the local security forces. The Ministry of Homeland Security also announced on Monday an expansion of the security measures around the swearing-in. The reason for this is fears of further violent protests in the next few days. In the midst of the turbulent situation, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced his resignation. Meanwhile, in Congress, the Democrats are doing all they can to impeach the elected President Donald Trump.

Angry Trump supporters stormed the seat of the US Congress last Wednesday, sometimes with brute force. The security forces were not up to the attack of the rioters. After the attack on the Capitol, the National Guard was mobilized. A good 6,000 soldiers are currently deployed. There could be more than twice as many to help secure Biden’s swearing-in ceremony in front of the Capitol on January 20. A new security fence was also erected around the Parliament seat.

Washington is made a security zone for Joe Biden to be sworn in: The FBI has warned of further violence in the capital. (Source: Patrick Semansky / AP / dpa)

Joe Biden: “Don’t be afraid”

Biden himself said he had no security concerns about the ceremony. “I’m not afraid to take the oath outside,” he replied on Monday to a journalist question.

The swearing-in ceremony traditionally takes place on the west terrace of the Capitol. The inauguration of a new president is per se an event with the greatest security requirements. This year, however, in view of the recent riots, this is particularly true – even if the ceremony takes place in Washington without the usual mass audience due to the corona pandemic.

FBI warns of violent protests

Several US media reported on Monday that the FBI had issued an internal warning to the security forces that there could be armed and violent protests around Biden’s inauguration in capitals of all states. An armed group wanted to travel to Washington on Saturday, according to a report by broadcaster ABC in the FBI notice.

The short message service Twitter also warned a few days ago that concrete plans for further armed protests were already being disseminated on its platform and elsewhere. Among other things, there is talk of another attack on the Capitol and parliament buildings in states on January 17th.

Incumbent Trump issued an immediate declaration of emergency for the US capital on Monday with a view to Biden’s swearing-in, which is valid until January 24. This is a formal act so that the capital can request assistance from federal agencies. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had requested help.

Another US minister resigned

The Department of Homeland Security said on Monday, also at Bowser’s request, that in view of the latest events, the Secret Service would begin an intensified deployment phase on Wednesday. Originally, the large-scale operation, combined with the closure of parts of downtown Washington, should not begin until January 19. At the inauguration, the Secret Service responsible for protecting the President is in charge of the security measures.

In the midst of the tense security situation, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, whose department plays the central role in this matter, announced his early departure. Wolf published a declaration of resignation on Twitter on Monday. Last week, Minister of Education Betsy DeVos and Minister of Transport Elaine Chao announced their early departure and justified this with the attack on the Capitol.

One day after the storming of the Congress seat Trump “pleaded” to condemn the “tragic and disgusting” violence emphatically. In that statement, Wolf had emphasized that he wanted to continue until the end of Trump’s term in office. Most recently, in addition to cabinet members, other government employees had been thrown for the attack on the Capitol.

The Democrats blame the outgoing president personally for the outbreak of violence because he had previously incited his supporters with a speech. They are demanding Trump’s immediate dismissal and warning that he is a danger to the country in the last few days of office.

Democrats put pressure on Mike Pence

The Democrats are pursuing a dual strategy. On the one hand, they are trying to convince Vice President Mike Pence with a resolution to remove Trump on the basis of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution before the change of power in Washington. Amendment 25 enables the Vice President to declare the President with a majority of important cabinet members incapable of “exercising the rights and duties of office”.

On Tuesday evening (local time / Wednesday CET) the House of Representatives is to vote on the resolution in which Pence is called to respond to the request within 24 hours. The Democrats have a majority in the Congress Chamber. A yes to the resolution is therefore likely. However, the initiative does not have much prospect of implementation: Pence met Trump in the White House on Monday evening (local time) and then let it be known that he did not want to apply the constitutional amendment. The president and his vice-president had “a good conversation” in the Oval Office, a senior government official said. Both wanted to continue “their work for the country” until the end of Trump’s term in office next Wednesday.

The Democrats are therefore pushing ahead with preparations for a parliamentary impeachment process against Trump. On Monday, they formally introduced a resolution to the House of Representatives, accusing Trump of “inciting a riot”. According to the planning so far, the chamber is to vote on this charge against Trump on Wednesday – and thus on the opening of impeachment proceedings against him.

Given their majority in the chamber, the Democrats could initiate such an impeachment process on their own. However, a decision was made in the Senate. It is difficult to imagine that the second Congress Chamber could decide before January 20th. The Democrats are also interested in banning Trump from future government offices after being sentenced in impeachment proceedings. This would deny him a possible presidential candidacy in 2024. Even if resentment about Trump is growing among the Republicans, the two-thirds majority in the Senate that is necessary for a conviction is not in sight.

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