In wake of rampage, Washington seeks to secure Biden's inauguration

by Reuters
Monday, 11 January 2021 15:17 GMT

(Updates with Schiff comments, changes media label from USA-ELECTION/INAUGURATION)

Jan 11 (Reuters) - City and U.S. officials pressed law enforcement authorities to safeguard President-elect Joe Biden's Washington inauguration from more violence by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday called for a different approach to security before the Jan. 20 event after what she called last week's "unprecedented terrorist attack."

Adam Schiff, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said he expected law enforcement to ensure a safe event.

The threat of more violence in the last nine days of Trump's term was a reason to swiftly remove the incumbent, who fired up thousands of loyalists in a speech before Wednesday's rampage, Schiff told CBS "This Morning."

"There's certainly a danger that the president will continue to incite his followers to further violent activity, aimed at stopping the peaceful transition of power," Schiff said.

The assault on the Capitol, staged to object to the certification of Biden's victory in the November election, sent lawmakers scrambling into hiding and left five people dead. Dozens of people have been charged in the violence and hundreds more cases are expected.

Far-right groups have praised the siege in encrypted chat rooms and defended the participants as patriots on social media. There have been online calls for more protests leading up to the inauguration, including a so-called Million Militia March on Jan. 20, and federal authorities promised aggressive pursuit of rioters.

Despite evidence of a fair election, Trump has challenged the validity of Biden's substantial electoral victory.

In a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf made public on Sunday, Bowser urged the department "to adjust its approach to the inauguration in several specific ways," including a federal force deployment plan for all U.S. government property.

Bowser said the city was submitting a request for a "pre-disaster declaration" to allow for federal assistance.

A U.S. presidential election traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the U.S. capital, but the ceremonies have been scaled back dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump said last week he would not attend the ceremony, a decision the president-elect supported. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey in Washington, Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Howard Goller)

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