KEY POINTS

  • Biden not concerned for his own safety at swearing-in ceremony
  • Last week’s unrest should serve as a warning, Secret Service says
  • Trump declared emergency to bolster security for inauguration

President-elect Joe Biden shrugged off concerns about his safety on Inauguration Day, but a lead security director said last week’s riot on Capitol Hill should serve as a reminder of the growing risk.

Scores of people were arrested and five people were left dead following a storming of Capitol Hill by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The president called on his supporters to march on the Capitol building just as officials were certifying the votes in the Electoral College that confirmed Biden’s win.

Once inside the building, protestors chanted calls to “hang” Vice President Mike Pence for defying the president’s challenge to the election results. Biden, however, said he was undeterred.

“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” he said Monday.

The president declared an emergency for the District of Columbia on Monday, ordering federal support for district officials tasked with securing the inauguration. The emergency extends through Jan. 24, four days after Biden takes the oath of office.

Elsewhere, the event is categorized as special concern, putting national security officials on the same alert level as they would be to protect the State of the Union, party conventions or the Super Bowl.

Michael Plati, the special agent in charge of inauguration security for the Secret Service, said security for next week’s event would be extraordinarily tight.

Last week’s siege is “a poignant reminder of what can happen,” he told the Associated Press.

Capitol police were criticized for what appeared to be a lack of preparation for last week’s unrest, particularly given the early warning signs that violence would mark the day that Congress certified the election results.

Security has been bolstered around state capitals already. An internal FBI document warned of the possibility that armed Trump supporters could hold protests in all 50 states between now and Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

The Defense Department said Monday it authorized 15,000 National Guard troops to be deployed for Biden's inauguration. Already 6,200 troops are on the ground in Washington and a total of 10,000 are planned by the coming weekend,

Another 5,000 could be deployed by the day of the inauguration, said Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the Defense Department's National Guard Bureau.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C Photo: AFP / ROBERTO SCHMIDT