The Department of Homeland Security’s second-highest official, Ken Cuccinelli, said he spent hours on Tuesday planning with President-elect Joe Biden’s team for worst-case scenarios during next week’s inauguration festivities.
“We’re working on a safe transition, not just the inauguration, but all aspects,” Cuccinelli told CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time. “I spent three hours today with a good chunk of the incoming Biden Cabinet as we walked through emergency scenarios that they might face to try to help them have the benefit of our experience.”
Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of DHS deputy secretary, said he “can’t imagine in a million years that [Trump would] be calling people to violence next week” but that the federal government was taking aggressive actions to thwart and respond to threats.
“We are absolutely ready to deal with every threat that comes, no matter who brings it. And no matter who’s violent, we will advance prosecutions against those people just like we’re doing for Jan. 6,” Cuccinelli said. “Violence is never acceptable — left, right, middle, or anywhere else.”
The former Republican attorney general for Virginia added that all who commit or threaten violence nationwide ought to be prosecuted but that the United States “created a bit of an environment” where “it seems like sometimes it’s OK.”
“You commented on things that we were saying in the summer,” Cuccinelli told host Chris Cuomo. “We had the same line then that I’ve had in the last week. It hasn’t changed in terms of the principles at stake and how we condemn the people committing violence.”
Last summer, in the wake of a police incident outside Minneapolis of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, people across the country demonstrated in dozens of cities over the unfair treatment of black people and other minorities by law enforcement. Protests in some cities, including Portland, turned riotous and lasted months. DHS sent federal agents and officers from border and immigration agencies, as well as federal law enforcement from the Justice Department, to safeguard federal buildings and assist local police.
The move was criticized by Democrats, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, as an overreach by the Trump administration. Cuccinelli said Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments at the time, likening the federal employees to “stormtroopers,” was also wrong but that people acted out of their own volition to carry out violence.