More than 25,000 National Guard members from all 50 states, three territories and Washington, D.C., are supporting federal and district authorities at the 59th presidential inauguration Wednesday, according to the latest figures from the National Guard Bureau.
As the nation prepares to inaugurate a new president, combat medic specialists within the Pennsylvania National Guard have been working to ensure the well-being of soldiers providing support for the event, the Department of Defense said.
Medic specialists “focus on morale and are trained and capable of responding to major battlefield trauma to include mass casualty incidents, gunshot wounds and improvised explosive devices,” according to the Pentagon.
INAUGURATION SECURITY AROUND US CAPITOL TIGHTENS AS HUNT FOR DC PIPE BOMB SUSPECT CONTINUES
The threat of explosives in the downtown region of the city remains high, as officials continue to search for the suspect who left pipe bombs at both the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters just blocks away from the Capitol on the same day the building was stormed on Jan. 6. A law enforcement official briefed on the matter told Fox News Tuesday that catching the suspect, whom the FBI believes could be planning similar attacks on Inauguration Day, is a “top priority.”
“My focus here in the next couple of days is really focused on Washington, D.C. to make sure all the 200 partners — 27,000 National Guard, 14,000 law enforcement officials, 5,000 DoD [Department of Defense] providing technical assistance — are all synchronized make sure that again, on the 20th, it is peaceful and uneventful,” Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Peter Gaynor told Fox News Tuesday.
Gaynor on Tuesday also met with the FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support team in D.C., which has trailers set up and is standing ready to provide emergency support during the inauguration if needed.
In brief ceremonies inside the Capitol building Tuesday evening, soldiers and airmen with the National Guard were deputized by the U.S. Capitol Police and raised their right hands to take an oath to swear to defend the U.S. Constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies. National Guardsmen have been sleeping on cots inside the Capitol building, as well as in hotel rooms, as they worked in shifts for days to provide technical assistance and security for the inauguration.
The U.S. Capitol building sat empty Wednesday morning just hours before President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are expected to be sworn in around 12 p.m. ET. Troops will square up around the Capitol, White House and throughout D.C., as Americans are encouraged to watch the ceremony virtually rather than in-person due to the coronavirus pandemic.
BIDEN INAUGURATION SECURITY: WHAT TO KNOW AS DC LOCKS DOWN
Outgoing President Trump pumped his fist and waved as he departed the White House on Marine One around 8:30 a.m. before heading to Joint Base Andrews, where he gave brief remarks and then boarded Air Force One and took off en route to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.
As the FBI worked to vet all National Guard troops amid the fallout of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and concerns that extremists possibly infiltrated the ranks, at least 12 National Guard members were removed from the inaugural mission Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Jonathan Hoffman, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, announced. Of those removed, only two were taken off of the mission “due to inappropriate texts or statements related to the inauguration event,” they said.
“We work very closely with law enforcement and if there’s any identification or anything whatsoever that needs to be looked into, out of an abundance of caution we automatically pull those personnel off the line and make sure that they’re not part of the mission set,” the National Guard Public Affairs Press Desk said in a statement.
No permits have been issued by the National Parks Service (NPS) for “Stop The Steal” or other pro-Trump rallies in D.C. for Wednesday — unlike as previously seen in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6. The federal agency did issue a permit to the group Working Families Party/DC Action Lab to hold a demonstration aimed to “call on President Biden to hold more progressive policies.”
It only allows five people to attend in-person and the group, instead of having speakers or hosting a large gathering, will erect a 9-by-12-foot high LED screen “showing a 24hr [sic] video of loop with accompanying sound featuring message bearing images and speeches.”
The National Mall remains on lockdown Wednesday, and Fox News has learned that two additional protests that were planned within the secure zone were scrapped by the Parks Service.
D.C. witnessed a small protest Tuesday night with people picketing outside Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant shot up by a conspiracy theorist in a 2016 incident known as Pizzagate. The eatery is located miles from the downtown area, where National Guard troops created a more militarized presence. Residents reportedly drove protesters away by blasting songs by Lady Gaga, who is scheduled to perform the National Anthem at Biden’s inauguration Wednesday. Police also responded to the restaurant to monitor the situation.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) sent at least 200 of its officers to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to assist with security for the presidential inauguration. Police departments from across the country — including Austin, Texas; Chicago; Atlantic City, N.J., and South Florida — have also sent groups of their officers to assist with inaugural support.
The U.S. Secret Service is also among the agencies working security at the inauguration Wednesday.
For 116 years, the U.S. Secret Service has provided presidential protection on Inauguration Day. Fewer than a dozen Secret Service Special agents worked the detail in 1905 when the nation’s 30th presidential inauguration marked the beginning of then-President Theodore Roosevelt’s second term. In recent years, that number has grown to thousands of Secret Service personnel “on the ground and working around the clock to ensure a safe and successful event,” the agency said in a video posted Tuesday.
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Securing each presidential inauguration takes the commitment of a well-trained and fully equipped workforce, and, of course, the cooperation of our partners at every level, the video said. Uniformed Division personnel are deployed throughout the city to secure sites for the American public and the protectees. Planning for the next inauguration begins the moment the current one ends.
The Justice Department has brought charges against at least 100 individuals in connection to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to interrupt Congress certifying Biden’s Electoral College win, and is pursuing additional investigations, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said Tuesday.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.