Jan 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Capitol assault reshapes Biden inauguration

Protesters breaching inaugural platform.
A Trump supporter celebrates atop the inaugural platform amid Wednesday's assault on the Capitol. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities are hoping a nightly curfew and far smaller crowd will keep President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration from descending into a repeat of Wednesday's Capitol chaos.

Why it matters: The fact that a crowd of Trump supporters breached the Capitol and scaled the platform where Biden is slated to take the presidential oath has led to criticism by political leaders, calls for investigations and reflection about how it will alter a normally festive day.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said today the performance by Capitol Police was a massive failure.
  • The chief later announced his resignation, as did the Senate sergeant-at-arms, and the Secret Service reminded everyone it would be in charge that day.

Sen. Roy Blunt, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, told reporters "the Capitol Police will and should really do a quick review here of what went wrong, and what they need to do to be sure nothing like that could happen again.”

  • The inauguration “is always a high-security moment,” he added, because it's outside and “has so many different targets to it.” Blunt expressed hope, though, because "we're gonna have … less than 3,000 people in the secure area, as opposed to 200,000, so that part gets easier."

The changes already made: Washington will be under a state of emergency until 3pm on Jan. 21, the day after Biden’s inauguration.

  • The state of emergency gives officials heightened powers to tap into funds, coordinate between agencies and enlist special police help. It also gives the mayor power to announce a new curfew, if needed.
  • Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said today that military personnel are erecting a 7-foot-tall “non-scalable” fence around the Capitol grounds, a fence that will remain in place for at least 30 days.
  • The Metropolitan Police Dept. said at least 6,200 National Guardsmen from D.C. and surrounding states will be deployed to the city by this weekend.
  • The troops will be on a 30-day mobilization plan extending beyond the inauguration.

Go deeper: Listen to Dan Primack discuss the Capitol insurrection on the Axios Re:Cap podcast.

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