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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on securing Biden’s inauguration

Last week's insurrection at the Capitol is raising new security concerns ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week, with plans to deploy thousands of additional National Guard troops. Amna Nawaz spoke to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to learn more.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we have been reporting, last week's insurrection at the Capitol is raising new security concerns in Washington ahead of president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration,

    Amna Nawaz picks up our story from here.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Judy, D.C. is on high alert. And, as Lisa reported earlier, additional members of the National Guard are being brought into the nation's capital to help with security.

    Muriel Bowser is the mayor of D.C., and she joins us now.

    Madame Mayor, welcome back to the "NewsHour," and thank you for making the time.

    Can you share with us, as of today, what specific threats do you know of targeting D.C. in and around the inauguration?

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser:

    Well, we know and the FBI has released a briefing announcing what are the known threats, not only in Washington, D.C., but in states around our country.

    We also know that several requests that I have made to the federal government have been granted. I sent a letter over the weekend to Homeland — to the Department of Homeland Security requesting that they extend the time period for the national special security event that supports the inauguration, which they have done.

    That time frame has moved from the 19th of January to the 13th of January. And I just learned that our request for a pre-disaster declaration, which allows FEMA and other federal agencies to work seamlessly with us, has also been approved.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But can I ask, with regard to the threats around inauguration, have you been told that those are specific, the same kind of actors and groups that we saw on the Capitol attack, or new and different threats?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    Well, our team has just been briefed today by the FBI. And we will get daily briefings from them that talk about the nature and the specificity of the threats.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Can I ask you? The designation you just mentioned by the now outgoing acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, who has just announced today he is resigning — it's one of his final acts — does that go far enough to secure the District of Columbia?

    What other specific steps do you want to see done?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    Well, our police department is working hand in hand with the Secret Service.

    And that designation, mind you, puts all federal assets under the command and the control of the United States Secret Service, including the Capitol grounds and other specific federal assets, which is very important, because it will allow for the seamless deployment of necessary forces.

    We know that the National Guard, for example, has committed to have 15,000 on National Guards men and women deployed in the District of Columbia, including around the Capitol grounds and other federal assets.

    And we — they are responding to very specific requests that we have to secure the parameter.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Madam Mayor, there's a lot of questions about accountability following the attack last week on the Capitol.

    And just tonight, D.C.'s attorney general said in an interview that his office is looking into potentially charging President Trump for inciting violence when he was speaking to the crowd that he then instructed to march over to the Capitol.

    Would you support moving forward with those kinds of charges?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    I support full accountability for all of those responsible for inciting violence.

    And I think it's very clear that the president of the United States is one of the main and most important actors in inciting violence. So, whether it be criminal accountability or accountability that's driven by the Congress of the United States, he must be held accountable for all he's done.

    But we also know that the people who laid siege to the Capitol bear a lot of responsibility. I understand that the FBI has received over 50,000 tips related to naming those people, finding them, arresting them, and bringing them to justice.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We're still understanding the timeline of that day.

    There's been a lot of reporting around exactly what happened. We know, on the attack day, the mob breached the Capitol just before 2:00. We also know that the first National Guard troops didn't arrive on the scene until after 5:40 p.m.

    Now, you don't control those troops. They're under the secretary of the Army's control. But what is your understanding of what took so long that day?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    Well, I think that there will be a lot of questions that are investigated, and they deserve an investigation, so something like this never happens again to one of our critical institutions, especially when there was a joint session of Congress in place, especially when a very critical part of certifying our election was happening.

    So, we look forward to those discussions to make sure that all law enforcement have the resources they need for critical events.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Madam Mayor, before January 6, had you received any specific intelligence briefs from the FBI or DHS that indicated we would see the kind of violence we did that day?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    I didn't.

    And I think it has been much discussed that the real threat that people would actually be violent and siege the capital was underappreciated by all of our intelligence organizations.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    I guess the question is, if that intelligence didn't make it to you back then, are you confident that the intelligence you're getting before the inauguration will keep the city secure?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    Well, I think that, yes, I am.

    I'm more confident with every hour that the system, kind of the structure of how this event is supported, is strong. It's been in place for every inauguration. And I have asked all of our federal partners to step it up, in light of the January 6 attacks on the Capitol, but also in light of the spread of the threat across the country.

    It is requiring a national approach to supporting the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Can I ask you briefly, before we go, there has been some reporting about Capitol Police, not D.C. police, Capitol Police being suspended or arrested because they were taking selfies with the protesters or putting on a MAGA hat.

    Do you have any similar concerns about D.C. police being sympathetic to the attackers?

  • Muriel Bowser:

    I do not.

    Our police were called to back up the United States Capitol Police. And that is a position that we take with all of our federal partners on their facilities. I know that my officers acted valiantly. They were able to help get control of that building and exit those rioters out of the building and make sure our lawmakers could go back and do their jobs.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joining us tonight, thank you very much for your time. And good luck in the days ahead.

  • Muriel Bowser:

    Thank you.

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