The Justice Department will have “no tolerance whatsoever” for any attempts to disrupt the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen warned Wednesday.
Rosen’s warning came as National Guard troops began rolling into the Capitol – and some members of Congress bristled at new rules requiring members to enter through metal detectors.
Rosen, in a video statement, described the storming of the U.S. Capitol one week ago as “an intolerable, shocking and tragic episode” in U.S. history. The FBI warned that protests, some possibly violent, could spread across the nation, starting as soon as Sunday.
Rosen vowed not to allow a repeat of the destruction next week.
“I want to send a clear message to anyone contemplating violence, threats of violence or other criminal conduct,” Rosen said. “We will have no tolerance whatsoever for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20 that our Constitution calls for.”
Rosen said federal, state and local law enforcement officials would turn back any attempts to forcefully occupy government buildings.
“There will be no excuse for violence, vandalism or any other lawlessness,” Rosen said. “We will spare no resources in protecting public safety in the coming days.”
Concerns over more chaos were not enough to keep some members of Congress from balking at a new security requirement. Matt Fuller, a Huffington Post reporter, said he saw at least 10 Republicans walk around the metal detector. Members of both parties vented on Twitter.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., argued that she is legally permitted to carry her firearm within the Capitol complex.
“Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week,” she said, calling them “just another political stunt” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., complained of “intense security measures” subjecting lawmakers to being “wanded like criminals.”
“We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!” Lesko said.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said he witnessed Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, refusing to pass through a metal detector and arguing with U.S. Capitol Police officers. Beyer tweeted that many children enter school through metal detectors, “and they handle it more maturely than Members of Congress.”
“Do these people not understand that literally everyone else has to go through metal detectors to get in here?” Beyer said. “Get over yourselves.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., from the Detroit area, tweeted, “Now they know how HS students in my district feel. Suck it up buttercups. Y’all brought this on yourselves.”
The heightened security comes a week after a mob, fueled by President Donald Trump’s debunked claims of a “stolen” election, marched from the White House to the Capitol, where rioters occupied the building for hours in a bloody but ill-fated bid to halt lawmakers from confirming Biden’s election win. Five people died, including a police officer.
Capitol Police, along with a long list of law enforcement agencies ranging from police departments in Washington and its suburbs to the FBI and Pentagon, said they wouldn’t let that happen again.
A phalanx of up to 15,000 National Guard troops will be available. The Pentagon’s senior military leadership branded the riot “sedition and insurrection” and warned all its troops to abide by their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution. The memo to all active-duty and reserve troops was signed by Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with seven other leaders.
Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., said the Pentagon was asked to review all members of the security detail for Biden’s inauguration to ensure they are “not sympathetic to domestic terrorists.”
FBI reports that pro-Trump protests could develop in all 50 states have state law enforcement agencies on high alert. No state capitol is drawing more attention than Michigan, where six men were indicted last month on charges of conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Attorney General Dana Nessel warned that the Capitol in Lansing is “not safe,” and a state commission banned the open carrying of weapons in the building. Open carry of firearms is still permitted outside the Capitol doors, an issue relevant to any demonstrations on the Capitol grounds.
“This is something that we are monitoring closely and will ensure that the necessary security measures are in place,” said Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor asked Whitmer to activate the Michigan National Guard, and on Tuesday, the State Police stepped up visibility in and around the Capitol.
A 6-foot-high chain link fence will go up around the building Friday, Michigan Capitol Commission Vice Chairman John Truscott said, describing the effort as similar to what was done in the mid-1990s when members of the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated at the Capitol. The fence will be temporary, but it is not clear when it will come down, he said.
Other states are also preparing. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who declined to join the bipartisan criticism of Trump over the Capitol riot, warned Tuesday that law enforcement reinforcements will be on hand at the state Capitol. He said he did not know about anything “specific” targeting Tallahassee.
“If anything is disorderly, we’re going to act very quickly,” the governor said. “Don’t worry about that.”
Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY; Jeff Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat; and Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press