President-elect Joe Biden’s spokeswoman on Sunday reaffirmed plans to hold the inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, saying it will highlight the “resilience of American democracy” amid safety concerns and a heightened security posture following last week’s violent breach of the complex.
Incoming White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” was asked whether she was sure that the inauguration would still take place at the Capitol in light of persistent worries about security.
“That is certainly our plan,” Bedingfield said. “I think that will send an incredibly important visual image to the world about the resilience of American democracy, and so our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible with his family outside on the west side of the Capitol on the 20th.”
Bedingfield said close coordination was taking place between members of the incoming administration and national security and law enforcement officials to prepare “for any scenario that should arise after noon on Jan. 20.”
“But we have full faith in the United States Secret Service and their partners who’ve been working for over a year on the planning to ensure that this event is safe, so we’re very much looking forward to President-elect Biden putting his hand on the Bible at noon on the 20th,” she said.
Concerns have been raised about the security around the inauguration after the Capitol was stormed by a throng of rioters and protesters, many holding signs or wearing paraphernalia displaying support of President Donald Trump, while a joint session of Congress was meeting to certify Biden’s victory.
The incident has sparked fears of further violence, driving officials to adopt an increased security posture that could last well past Jan. 20. Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that people should expect a “new normal” when asked if the extensive security measures around Washington would be reversed after the inauguration.
On Sunday, dozens of military, National Guard, law enforcement, and Washington, D.C. officials and commanders went through a security rehearsal in northern Virginia. As many as three dozen leaders lined tables that ringed a massive color-coded map of D.C. reflected onto the floor. Behind them were dozens more National Guard officers and staff, with their eyes trained on additional maps and charts displayed on the wall.
Commanders went over every aspect of the city’s complicated security lockdown, with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and others peppering them with questions about how the troops will respond in any scenario and how well they can communicate with the other enforcement agencies scattered around the city.
McCarthy said the key goal is for America’s transfer of power to happen without incident.
“This is a national priority. We have to be successful as an institution,” McCarthy said. “We want to send the message to everyone in the United States and for the rest of the world that we can do this safely and peacefully.”
On Wednesday, the 78-year-old Biden will inherit stewardship of a nation still in the throes of a virulent outbreak, seismic cultural fissures, and many in the Republican base that consider him illegitimate.
Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the president-elect will focus on “a message of unity. A message of getting things done.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.