FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday that authorities are monitoring calls for “potential armed protests” in Washington D.C. and state capitols around the country ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Top national security officials detailed their preparations for the inauguration at a briefing with Vice President Mike Pence. Wray said the FBI was “seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter” ahead of the event, which will take place just two weeks after supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an unprecedented security breach.
“Anybody who plots or attempts violence in the coming weeks should count on a visit,” Wray said during the briefing. “Together with our partners here in the district and across the country, we’re going to be doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition of power in the days to come.”
Authorities have ramped up security efforts ahead of the inauguration in light of the riots, deploying about 21,000 National Guard members to Washington, D.C., closing off streets and installing security fencing. The FBI established a national command post at its headquarters to assess potential threats, as well as command posts in its dozens of field offices around the country.
The FBI has identified more than 200 suspects in its investigation into the Capitol riot and made more than 100 arrests, according to Wray.
“We’re looking at individuals who may have an eye toward repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week,” he said.
Wray added the FBI has begun pushing out relevant information about potential threats “as rapidly as possible” to its law enforcement partners around the country.
Pete Gaynor, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, said preparations have been underway “for more than three years” to ensure a safe inauguration. The law enforcement presence “covers most of downtown Washington D.C,” with collaboration between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the FBI and the Secret Service.
“We are highly confident in our security plan,” Gaynor said.
Pence, who led the security briefing, reiterated his pledge that the outgoing administration would facilitate a smooth transfer of power despite the security threats.
“The American people can be confident that our administration will continue to work every day between now and Jan. 20 to ensure an orderly transition,” Pence said. “We’ll continue to work with all of the agencies represented here and the tens of thousands of men and women that are working around the clock to ensure a safe inauguration for our president-elect, for our vice president-elect and for all the American people.”
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