The latest on Biden's inauguration and security threats

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 9:56 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021
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9:15 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Law enforcement using surveillance and other technology to track travel to Washington, DC

From CNN's Evan Perez and Geneva Sands

Members of the National Guard walk up an empty Constitution Avenue alongside the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 15.
Members of the National Guard walk up an empty Constitution Avenue alongside the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 15. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Law enforcement is using a huge amount of surveillance, including monitoring phones and other communications, in an all-out effort to track individuals to ensure they do not travel to Washington, DC, according to law enforcement officials.

Federal authorities are tracking dozens of people who pose potential concerns of violence may be coming to Washington for events around the Inauguration, according to a source briefed on intelligence shared among federal and local law enforcement.

Some extremists are so suspicious and obsessed with anti-government conspiracies that they’re telling associates they don’t trust some of the planned protests, fearing they are actually FBI plots to try to frame them, according to one official.

Security officials also have shared information citing specific concerns about vehicles that could be used to breach security, the source said. The information adds to the already heightened alert in the capital as authorities try to protect a central area of the city where the transfer of power will take place on Jan. 20.

Earlier Friday: Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert Contee said law enforcement has been getting a “daily download” from the FBI of the internet “chatter” of possible protests around the inauguration.

“I can assure the residents of the District of Columbia that the Metropolitan Police Department and federal partners are in a posture to respond to the information that's out there thus far that we’ve heard,” Contee said. 

MPD is coordinating with the FBI, and briefing DC Mayor Muriel Bowser daily on all threats, the acting police chief stated. 

Bowser urged Americans to enjoy the inauguration from virtually from home and asked anyone who does not need to be out to avoid restricted areas. 


7:15 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Trump is taking names of GOP members who voted against him in impeachment 

From CNN's Jim Acosta

President Trump has been demanding to know which Republicans voted against him during the House impeachment and whether those lawmakers could be primaried during the 2022 midterms, a source familiar with the comments confirms to CNN.  

As CNN has reported, Trump has been railing against Republicans at the state and federal level who have refused to adopt his false conspiracy theories on the election and those who he thought weren't fighting hard enough to overturn the election. 

He also gone after his own loyalists, and as recently as yesterday CNN reported that Trump was even angry with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

The Wall Street Journal first reported about Trump's queries about the lawmakers who voted against him. 

A White House official declined to comment.

6:05 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

No plans to test most National Guard members for Covid-19 before they deploy across DC

From CNN’s Keri Enriquez and Zachary Cohen

The overwhelming majority of 20,000 National Guard members expected in Washington for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will not be tested for coronavirus before they are deployed from states around the country or upon their arrival in the nation’s capital, a National Guard spokesperson tells CNN.  

Testing for National Guard members sent to DC is “case dependent” but not widely required, the spokesperson said, noting there are some screening procedures, such as temperature checks, in place.

“Incoming Guard men and women are screened upon departure from their individual states and upon arrival to the DC Armory according to CDC guidelines. Temperature checks and screening questions are in place; masks and social distancing are required where the mission allows,” the DC National Guard said in a statement to CNN Friday. 

The National Guard encourages coronavirus testing to personnel who are symptomatic or exposed to coronavirus.

But as CNN has consistently reported, coronavirus can be spread by people who have no symptoms and without testing, it is impossible to know whether any of the thousands of Guard members are carrying the virus. And they are being deployed with little warning.

“I’ll just remind you — that these National Guard folks that we're bringing on duty were doing something else just a couple days ago and had no idea they'd be coming here,” National Guard Maj. Gen. John Harris said at a news conference.

The troops are also arriving in large numbers as the US has had its deadliest 14 days in the pandemic. More than 3.2 million new cases have been reported in the first two weeks of 2021, according to John Hopkins University data.

“Bringing these folks together collectively — it is a real concern for us,” Harris said.  

The National Guard follows guidance issued by the Department of Defense in April that urged personnel “to follow CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in public settings or where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Additional steps are being taken to ensure the safety of Guard members, including appropriate personal protective equipment and housing arrangements that allow for distancing, a National Guard spokesperson told CNN. 

But it would be difficult to maintain Covid-19 social distancing precautions if there is an event similar to the riot on at the Capitol last week, a spokesperson noted.

National guard troops deployed at the state level by governors follow the health guidance of that particular state, including coronavirus testing protocol. As the District of Columbia is not a state, the gubernatorial role is assumed by the Secretary of the Army under the federal umbrella of the Department of Defense. 


9:13 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Biden says his may be the "most unusual" inauguration in American history

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Workers install security fencing near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 15.
Workers install security fencing near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 15. Susan Walsh/AP

During a fundraiser Friday evening, President-elect Joe Biden said that his may be the "most unusual" inauguration in the nation's history.

“This may be the most unusual inauguration in American history. Maybe not the most consequential, but the most unusual,” he said.

According to pool reports, Biden said his swearing-in ceremony would not look like previous inaugurations, but did not provide more details. He said it would be an “event that the American people will be proud of.”

5:53 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Facebook imposes additional special restrictions ahead of inauguration

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Facebook will prevent repeat violators of its policies from being able to stream live videos or create new events, groups or pages on its platform through Inauguration Day, the company said Friday evening.  

In addition, Facebook is banning the creation of new event pages tied geographically to Washington, DC, and state capitols, the company announced in a blog post. 

The move is intended to "further prevent people from trying to use our services to incite violence," Facebook said in an update to a blog post. 

Facebook is currently reviewing existing Facebook events and removing those linked to the inauguration that violate company policies, it added.

5:50 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Pentagon authorizes 25,000 National Guard members for inauguration

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

National Guard soldiers prepare for their guard shifts at the US Capitol building on Friday, January 15, in Washington, DC.
National Guard soldiers prepare for their guard shifts at the US Capitol building on Friday, January 15, in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The Pentagon has authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members for the inauguration, the National Guard Bureau said in a news release Friday. That's an increase from the 21,000 troops authorized a day earlier.

"Every state, territory and the District of Columbia will have National Guard men and women supporting the inauguration," the statement said.

As of Thursday, there were 7,000 members in DC from more than a dozen states and the DC National Guard. That number will more than triple in the next few days.

5:43 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Women's March founder Vanessa Wruble: "This is not the time to march"

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Wruble is one of the co-founders of the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.
Wruble is one of the co-founders of the Women’s March on Washington in 2017. Mario Tama/Getty Images/File

In response to the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, Vanessa Wruble, one of the co-founders of the Women’s March on Washington in 2017, told CNN, “This is not the time to march.”

Wruble’s warning comes as states across the country brace for what the FBI has warned are “armed protests” being planned at all 50 state capitols in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

Following the Women’s March in 2017, Wruble went on to found March On, a political organization composed of activist groups that grew out of the Women’s March. She currently serves as the group’s executive director.

While Wruble is not worried about a major protest from the left in Washington, DC, next week, she is worried about demonstrations at the state level, given that “people want to defend democracy and their state capitols,” she said Friday. 

In 2017, Wruble helped lead millions of Americans across the country – and the world – in a counter-protest to the inauguration of President Trump.  

At the time, those who marched were protesting misogyny, bigotry and racism, Wruble said. 

“When we organized the women’s march, it was a true uprising of the people, we were registering our refusal to allow our country to descend into fascism and a place where White supremacists feel comfortable,” Wruble told CNN. 

Four years later, Wruble said the behavior of the insurrectionists “does not warrant a response in the streets.” 

“It’s on a whole different level,” Wruble said Friday.

“What we did is a perfect example of what can happen in a democracy, and what they’re doing is basically an assault on our democracy,” Wruble said.


4:50 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Delaware governor activates National Guard to assist with the inauguration

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Delaware Gov. John Carney signed an executive order today, activating the Delaware National Guard to assist state and local authorities with activity around the presidential inauguration, a release from the governor’s office said. 

The guard will be able take “proactive or responsive action” at the direction of the director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), in consultation with the secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS).

“Members of the Delaware National Guard have continued to step up – time and time again – to support their communities when that support is needed most. This time is no different,” Carney said. “I want to thank all of our Delaware guardsmen and guardswomen for their selfless service to our state and country.”
5:54 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Biden says "yes" when asked if he feels safe about Inauguration Day

From CNN's MJ Lee

Matt Slocum/AP
Matt Slocum/AP

President-elect Joe Biden said "yes" when asked if he felt safe about Inauguration Day, based on the intelligence he has seen, when exiting a televised address to this country this afternoon. 

As he was leaving the podium after finishing his remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, a reporter shouted the question, "Do you feel safe about Wednesday based on the intelligence you’ve seen?"

"Yes," Biden said.

Some context: Domestic extremists pose the most likely threat to the presidential inauguration, particularly those who believe the incoming administration is illegitimate, according to a joint bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and eight other agencies obtained by CNN.

The assessment, dated Jan. 14, also noted that since the attack on the US Capitol, Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have "seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition," adding that there's a lack of specific, credible information indicating that they are seeking to commit violence.