A nation on edge braces for this week’s transfer of power


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Determined to stave off the terrifying scene that unfolded during the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, Washington, DC — once the crown jewel of democracy admired around the world — now resembles a police state as authorities try to ensure a peaceful transfer of power when Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday. Some 25,000 National Guard troops have been deployed, military vehicles are blocking some of DC’s streets, the National Mall is closed, and tall fences and barricades protect this country’s sacred buildings as movement is restricted.
Deep within the fortressed capital city, Trump has remained out of public view during his last weekend in power — unrepentant for the violence he incited and unwilling to abandon the false election claims that have riled up his supporters. Meanwhile, Biden tried to get Americans focused on a more hopeful future as his team outlined the first steps he will take in office to try to aid struggling Americans amid the pandemic and fulfill campaign promises on issues like climate change, criminal justice and immigration.

But with fewer than four days left in the Trump presidency, the nation remains on high alert.

In another unsettling sign of the potential threats posed by homemade bombs or explosives — like the ones planted outside the Republican and Democratic party headquarters earlier this month that didn’t go off — the US Postal Service has removed blue mail collection boxes from certain jurisdictions in 18 states as a security measure.

The National Guard presence in Washington is a stronger military footprint than the US has in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria combined. But Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Saturday the added security was “definitely necessary and warranted.”

“Closing down the National Mall, closing down the Washington Metro system, Airbnb canceling reservations, the actions you just reported about the post office — this is as if we were under attack from a foreign enemy,” Van Hollen told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”

“What’s so sad about it is that it’s an attack on our democracy from within, instigated by the President of the United States,” the Maryland Democrat said. “These are the kinds of forces you would normally see protecting us from an external enemy, and yet here we are, trying to protect ourselves from a violent mob — and people who have been lied to; people who believe the President when he says he was cheated out of an election. We are going to have to come to grips with this.”

Trump's 'pro-law enforcement' image crumbles in his final days

Many state capitols are also ramping up security to avoid being caught flat-footed as US Capitol Police were on January 6. With the FBI warning last week that “armed protests” are being planned in all 50 states, Michigan State Police, for example, have mobilized personnel from across the state to secure the state Capitol in Lansing in coordination with the FBI and the National Guard.

Michigan, in particular, is familiar with the threats posed by armed protesters,…

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