News Trump declares emergency as FBI warns of more violence ahead of presidential inauguration
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Trump declares emergency as FBI warns of more violence ahead of presidential inauguration

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US President Donald Trump has signed an emergency declaration for the 13 days leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony as the FBI warns of further armed protests.

In a signed statement, Mr Trump “ordered federal assistance to supplement [Washington DC’s] response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the 59th Presidential Inauguration from January 11 to January 24, 2021”.

The assault on the Capitol last Wednesday, which challenged the certification of Mr Biden’s election victory, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.

Dozens of people have been charged over the violence, with hundreds more cases expected.

The latest development came as acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf delivered a crushing blow to the outgoing President, announcing on Monday he would step down from his post, days after criticising Mr Trump over the riot.

The resignation on Monday (local time) came a day before Mr Trump was to visit the US-Mexico border wall.

Last week, Mr Wolf asked Mr Trump and all elected officials to “strongly condemn the violence” at the Capitol, where thousands of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the building, entered lawmakers’ rooms and looted furniture.

Dozens of riots have since been subsequently placed on no-fly watch lists. In addition, two Capitol Police officers have been suspended because of their actions during the so-called attempted coup.

An officer who took a selfie with a rioter and another who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat have been suspended.

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The American flag flies at half-staff over the Capitol in memory of police officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed in the riot. Photo: Getty

Democratic Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio said on Monday (US time) that the officer who wore a MAGA hat was deemed by the interim police chief to be “qualifying for immediate suspension”.

The congressman said Capitol Police were looking at everybody involved who could have potentially facilitated the incursion “at a big level or small level in any way”.

Mr Ryan said they did not want an officer working on Mr Biden’s inauguration “who was not doing the job on the January 6 event”.

Mr Wolf said he had condemned violence on both sides of the political aisle, especially any directed at law enforcement.

He tweeted “we now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends” and called that unacceptable.

FBI warns of further armed protests

The FBI has warned of armed protests being planned for Washington and all 50 US state capitals in the run-up to Mr Biden’s January 20 inauguration, a federal law enforcement source says.

The FBI issued warnings from next weekend until at least Inauguration Day, the source said.

In other steps to safeguard the US capital, the National Guard has been authorised to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington, and tourists have been barred from visiting the Washington Monument until January 24.

National Guard Bureau chief General Daniel Hokanson said he expected about 10,000 troops in Washington by Saturday to help provide security, logistics and communications.

He said that could rise to 15,000 if requested by local authorities.

The new president is traditionally sworn in on the steps of the US Capitol. Photo: Getty

‘America United’ inauguration theme

Mr Biden’s inaugural committee said on Monday the theme of the January 20 ceremony would be “America United”.

Mr Trump, who has sought unsuccessfully to overturn the November 3 election with false claims of widespread fraud, said last week he would not attend the ceremony, a decision Mr Biden has backed.

The Park Service said it would suspend tours of the Washington Monument because of safety concerns amid threats to disrupt the inauguration.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser called for the US Interior Department to cancel public-gathering permits until January 24.

In a letter to Mr Wolf made public on Sunday, Ms Bowser demanded a fresh approach to security after what she called last week’s “unprecedented terrorist attack”.

Ms Bowser asked Mr Wolf to extend the National Special Security Event period until January 24. The US Secret Service heads security operations for events considered nationally significant, such as presidential inaugurations.

In a statement ahead of his resignation becoming public, Mr Wolf said he had instructed the Secret Service to begin operations for the inauguration from Wednesday, instead of January 19.

Democrats in Congress began a push on Monday to force Mr Trump from office, introducing an article of impeachment that accused him of inciting insurrection.

The presidential inaugural committee and Mr Bowser have told Americans not to travel to the inauguration. They said Washington’s National Mall would be covered with 191,500 flags to represent the missing crowds.