A week after the storm on the Capitol and a week before the inauguration of the newly elected US President Joe Biden, downtown Washington has become a fortress. At bus stops, the Federal Police are using large posters to search for people who violently entered the congress building last Wednesday.
Thousands of national guards patrol around the Capitol, the White House and other government buildings, who are now openly carrying weapons. In many places, concrete barriers and fences block the way, and traffic in the city center is chaotic. There are great concerns that there will be riots again in the coming days.
Also in the Capitol for days you can see emergency services in uniform who apparently also spend the nights there. On Wednesday morning, CNN showed pictures of sleeping National Guards in the hallways of the building.
At nine a.m. local time, the House of Representatives met to indict a president for the second time in the US’s 244-year history.
It was expected that several Republicans would join the Democrats’ motion to remove the elected President Donald Trump from his office for “inciting riot”.
Since the election and again explicitly at a rally immediately before the session of Congress, at which Biden was to be confirmed as the election winner, Trump had incited his supporters and asked to march to the Capitol in protest against the alleged election fraud.
Sure that impeachment will be initiated
The security forces were unable to cope with the onslaught of the partly armed demonstrators and could not prevent hundreds from entering the congress building. The session was suspended and politicians had to be taken to safe places. Five people were killed in the riots and many were injured.
The House of Representatives vote for impeachment is scheduled for 3 p.m. local time (9 p.m. CET) on Wednesday. Since the Democrats make up the majority here, it is considered certain that the impeachment will be initiated. Vice President Mike Pence had previously refused to remove Trump prematurely because it was “not in the best interests of our nation”.
The next step is for the Senate to deal with the indictment. However, this chamber does not meet again until January 19, one day before Trump’s term of office ends.
A two-thirds majority would be needed for a conviction. Trump is losing support among Republican senators, too, but it is currently unlikely that the Democrats will be able to win 17 Republicans on their side.
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However, according to the New York Times, even the Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell is said to have declared in private that Trump’s behavior justified impeachment. McConnell has not yet made any public statements about his possible voting behavior.
The armed National Guards show that the situation is serious
The first impeachment proceedings against Trump ended in early February 2020 with Trump’s acquittal in the Senate. So far, only three presidents have been charged by the House of Representatives: Besides Trump, they were Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. No president has yet been convicted.
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The fact that the National Guard, which initially only provided logistical support to the Washington police after the storming of the Capitol, is now armed shows how seriously the authorities assess the situation. In view of threats from violent Trump supporters to disrupt Biden’s swearing-in on January 20 and to demonstrate in advance, the Ministry of Defense had decided to deploy 15,000 National Guards in Washington.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had previously urged the federal government to send support and urged foreigners not to travel to Washington because of the tense security situation for Biden’s inauguration.
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US General Daniel Hokanson, who heads the National Guard’s office at the Pentagon, announced on Monday that the National Guard had not been authorized to carry weapons. The arming of the national guards and their authorization to carry out arrests are the “last resort” in the event that the security situation gets out of hand. According to the “New York Times”, the Pentagon ordered the arming of the National Guards on Tuesday.
Radical Trumpist threat has increased
According to security experts, the threat posed by right-wing extremists and militant Trump supporters, who armed nationwide protest against Biden’s swearing-in, has increased significantly in the past few days. In an internal report, the FBI warned of the disruption of the swearing-in by armed Trump supporters.
According to the US media, federal police have also learned of plans that a militant group plans to “storm” government facilities in all 50 states on January 20.
In an unusual step, the highest generals in the US Army commented on the events of last Wednesday on Tuesday.
The eight members of the General Staff of the Armed Forces condemned the assault on the Capitol in a memorandum to the soldiers and emphasized that the members of the American armed forces were obliged to abide by the Constitution. “Freedom of expression and assembly do not give anyone the right to violence, riot and insurrection,” declared the generals.