President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he was “not afraid” of taking his oath of office on the West Front of the US Capitol, after supporters of President Donald Trump breached the building in a deadly riot.
“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside, and we’ve been getting briefed,” Biden told reporters on Monday after receiving the second dose of his Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on camera.
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“I think it’s critically important that there be a real, serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatened people’s lives, defaced public property, caused great damage, that they be held accountable,” Biden said.
The riot last week at the US Capitol left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and has raised concerns there could be more violence and rioting over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
The Pentagon has authorized up to 15,000 National Guard troops for the inauguration, according to Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado said in a statement Sunday that the Department of Defense is aware of “further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day.”
President Donald Trump, who incited the riot at the Capitol, has said he will not attend Biden’s inauguration. He will be the first outgoing president to skip his successor’s swearing-in in more than 150 years. Vice President Mike Pence, however, will attend the inauguration, according to a source familiar with the plans.
House Democrats are planing to vote Wednesday to impeach Trump for his role in last week’s riots, and formally introduced their impeachment resolution Monday charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”
In the hours leading up to the violence on Wednesday at the Capitol, Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that was taking place in the building at the time, repeating lies about the election being stolen from him and promising to join them.
If there is a Senate trial, Biden spoke about the possibility of the Senate spending half of the day “dealing with the impeachment, and half day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package.”
“That’s my hope and expectation,” Biden said.
Biden’s inaugural committee on Monday announced that the theme of the inauguration would be “America United,” in the spirit of a core pillar of the President-elect’s campaign.
“This inauguration marks a new chapter for the American people – one of healing, of unifying, of coming together, of an America united,” said Tony Allen, the committee’s chief executive officer.
The committee said one of Biden’s first acts as President, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their spouses, will be to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. In a show of bipartisanship and unity, they will be joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, all of whom will attend the inauguration.
CNN’s Geneva Sands and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.