The Capitol Police said Friday that they had opened an investigation into whether members of Congress inappropriately gave visitors access to the Capitol ahead of the storming of the building last week, after several lawmakers raised concerns that their own colleagues might have allowed members of a pro-Trump mob inside in the days leading up to the assault.
The inquiry came to light as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she had named Russel L. Honoré, a retired Army lieutenant general, to lead a security review of the Capitol in the wake of the riot, in which a throng of President Trump’s supporters rampaged through the building in a deadly security failure that put the lives of lawmakers and the vice president at risk.
Pledging accountability for those behind the Jan. 6 siege, Ms. Pelosi warned that if any Republican members of the House had aided the rioters as they sought to advance Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election results, they would be punished. She also said that she had spoken with the secretary of the Army and the Secret Service director to ensure that the necessary resources were in place to prevent a repeat at President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration next week.
“In order to serve here together, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution,” she said. “If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection — if they aided and abetted the crimes — there may have to be action taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that.”
Led by Representative Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers called on Wednesday for an investigation into visitors’ access to the Capitol on the day before the riot.
In a letter to the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the Capitol Police, the lawmakers, many of whom served in the military and said they were trained to “recognize suspicious activity,” demanded answers about what they described as an “extremely high number of outside groups” let into the Capitol on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman, said the Capitol Police was looking into the issue.
“The matter is under investigation,” Ms. Malecki said.
Ms. Pelosi said she had asked Mr. Honoré, who helped coordinate the military relief efforts around Hurricane Katrina, to conduct “an immediate review of the Capitol’s security infrastructure, interagency processes and procedures, and command and control.”
“We must subject this whole complex, though, to scrutiny in light of what happened,” she said, adding that House committees would begin conducting their own investigations into what took place.
As Washington was turned into a militarized zone ahead of Inauguration Day, inspectors general from a range of federal agencies opened a coordinated investigation into the catastrophic failures that led to the riot at the Capitol, amid reports that officials ignored, downplayed and responded sluggishly to the deadly assault on the nation’s core democratic institutions.
The National Park Service announced that the National Mall — the iconic arena of American monuments that stretches between the Capitol and the White House — would be closed for a week to prevent further violence.
In the days leading up to the mob attack on the Capitol, congressional security officials never let House and Senate leaders know that the Capitol Police had warned they might need National Guard backup, according to a congressional aide and other people familiar with the matter.
The police request, made to the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, was prompted by intelligence that showed Trump supporters planned to target the Capitol itself as Congress certified the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, according to a congressional official. The Capitol Police asked the sergeants-at-arms to request that the National Guard be placed on standby.
But the sergeants-at-arms, Michael C. Stenger of the Senate and Paul Irving of the House, rejected the request without raising the issue with either the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, or Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to the aide and another person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Stenger and Mr. Irving, who have resigned amid the fallout from the violence, would most likely have had to ask the leaders whether to approve the requests for such a serious measure, according to former sergeants-at-arms.
The sergeants-at-arms and the chief of the Capitol Police were also among officials who briefed lawmakers the day before the riot and reassured them that they were prepared for the events that day, going so far as to say the National Guard was on standby, though only a modest contingent was on duty to provide traffic control. The sergeants-at-arms are the chief law enforcement officers for the House and Senate, responsible for security matters and keeping order.
Their inaction was a key breakdown in a series of security decisions that left the Capitol inadequately protected as thousands of Trump rioters breached the building, leading to the melee that killed a Capitol Police officer and at least one of the rioters.
Vice President Mike Pence telephoned Vice President-elect Kamala Harris Thursday to congratulate her and offer his belated assistance — filling a leadership role all but abdicated by President Trump, who is planning to fly out of the capital shortly before Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in next week.
The Pence-Harris conversation, relayed by two officials briefed on the call, was described as gracious and pleasant. The discussion is the first time Mr. Pence and Ms. Harris have spoken since they debated each other last fall.
It also represents the only one-on-one interaction between the dueling 2020 presidential tickets: Mr. Trump has refused to call President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and has not even fully conceded defeat.
Mr. Pence and his wife, Karen, may have Ms. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, over to the vice-presidential residence before the inauguration on Wednesday, according to one official. But those plans remain uncertain, in part because the security threats posed to the nation’s capital have made scheduling fluid.
Mr. Trump, who has kept a low profile since a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, is expected to depart the White House for the final time early on the morning of the inauguration, people familiar with the planning said.
Mr. Trump’s pre-inaugural takeoff from Joint Base Andrews represents a relatively low-key conclusion to one of the most tumultuous terms of any president in history — although it will not be entirely devoid of the pomp he demands.
While the plans remain in flux, Mr. Trump hopes to depart to the blare of a military band, with a red carpet and military honors, those briefed on the planning said.
Mr. Trump, always wary of ceding the spotlight to others, had been expected to give a farewell speech or hold a rally in his adopted home state of Florida when he lands, but recent events have made either scenario unlikely, people close to him said.
When and how Mr. Trump would depart has been a question since election night, when he began casting doubt on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. The final flouting of norms came when he refused to appear at the swearing-in, a national rite of reconciliation, becoming the first outgoing president to snub an inauguration since the 1860s.
Typically, the outgoing and incoming first families meet at the White House the morning of the inauguration. The Pences will attend the inauguration, in the tradition of past second families, and Mr. Biden has said that Mr. Pence’s presence there will be an important symbol of the peaceful transfer of power.
In the week since a violent mob attacked the Capitol, with some of them hoping to kill Mr. Pence, the president has said nothing in public about his vice president, who has been one of the most deferential members of Mr. Trump’s staff until a rift last week.
Mr. Pence returned to the Senate chamber after the attack to preside over the certification of the Electoral College. In the days since, he has attended law enforcement briefings about the security threat, and on Thursday, he made an impromptu visit to the Capitol to thank the soldiers posted there.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that the House managers she appointed to prosecute President Trump’s impeachment case were preparing to take their charge to trial in the Senate, but she refused to offer a timeline for when they would proceed.
At a news conference inside the Capitol, the speaker made clear that her first priority was ensuring the security of the building and lawmakers ahead of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration next week.
Growing emotional at points as she recounted seeing the image of an insurrectionist in a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, the speaker said accountability would soon follow for Mr. Trump, members of the violent mob he incited who stormed the building last week and far-right members of Congress if they were found to have aided the insurrection.
“One week ago, on Jan. 6, there was an act of insurrection perpetrated on the Capitol of the United States, incentivized by the president of the United States,” Ms. Pelosi said. “One week later, Wednesday to Wednesday, that president was impeached in a bipartisan way by the House of Representatives. So urgent was the matter. They are now working on taking this to trial and you will be the first to know when we are going over there.”
The comments came as Ms. Pelosi fielded questions for the first time since the House impeached Mr. Trump on Wednesday for inciting the violent insurrection at the Capitol as he sought to overturn Mr. Biden’s election victory. The attack came as members of Congress and the vice president met to formalize the result.
Behind the scenes, Democrats, poised to take unified power in Washington next week for the first time in a decade, were working with Republican leaders to try to find a proposal to allow the Senate to split time between the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump and consideration of Mr. Biden’s agenda, including his cabinet nominees and a $1.9 trillion economic recovery plan he proposed on Thursday to address the coronavirus. But they were virtually silent in public about their plans.
Although Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has privately told advisers that he approves of the impeachment drive and believes it could help his party purge itself of Mr. Trump, he refused to begin the proceedings this week while he is still in charge. That means the trial will not effectively start until after Mr. Biden is sworn in on Wednesday, officials involved in the planning said.
It has also left Democrats weighing whether to bring their case to the Senate immediately, potentially handicapping Mr. Biden’s first few days in office and distracting from his inauguration, or waiting until a few days after he is sworn in. The latter option may be more appealing to Mr. Biden, but it could undercut Democrats’ argument that Congress must move urgently to impeach and try Mr. Trump.
With Republicans fractured after the president’s exhortations to supporters to reject his defeat inspired a rampage, many of them were trying to gauge the dynamics of a vote to convict Mr. Trump. Doing so would open the door to disqualifying him from holding office in the future.
A cautionary tale was playing out in the House, where a faction of Mr. Trump’s most ardent allies was working to topple Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, from her leadership post. Ms. Cheney had joined nine other members of the party who voted with Democrats to charge the president with “incitement of insurrection.”
Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., racing against a surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of a new variant that could significantly worsen the pandemic, is planning a vaccination offensive that calls for greatly expanding access to the vaccine while promising to use a wartime law to expand production.
But his plan is colliding with a sobering reality: With only two federally authorized vaccines, supplies will be scarce for the next several months, frustrating some state and local health officials who had hoped that the release of a federal stockpile of vaccine doses announced this week could alleviate that shortage. Trump administration officials clarified Friday that the existing stockpile would only go toward giving second doses to people who had already received the vaccine, and not to new groups of people.
“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure so far,” Mr. Biden said. “The honest truth is this, things will get worse before they get better. And the policy changes we are going to be making, they’re going to take time to show up in the Covid statistics.”
The president-elect said he would invoke the Defense Production Act, if necessary, to build up vaccine supply. But the team also sought to tamp down expectations. Mr. Biden said his plan “won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, because supply is not where it needs to be.” But, he added, it will mean that as doses become available, “we’ll reach more people who need them.”
The Biden team promised to ramp up vaccination in pharmacies, and build mobile vaccination clinics to get vaccine to hard-to-reach and underserved rural and urban communities, emphasizing equity in distribution.
Mr. Biden spoke of “the tragic reality of the disproportionate impact this virus has had on Black, Latino and Native American people,” adding that “equity is central to our Covid response.”
Like the Trump administration, Mr. Biden called for states to expand the vaccine eligibility groups to people 65 or older.
The administration will also make “programs available for high-risk settings, including homeless shelters, jails and institutions that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” the fact sheet said.
In some respects, Mr. Biden’s proposals echo those of the Trump administration, which also called earlier this week for opening vaccine eligibility to groups to 65 and older, making greater use of pharmacies and moving vaccinations to federally qualified health centers. The Trump administration has also frequently used the Defense Production Act to give vaccine makers priority with suppliers for raw ingredients and other materials.
Mr. Biden unveiled the vaccine distribution plan just one day after he proposed a $1.9 trillion spending package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, including $20 billion for a “national vaccine program.” The president-elect has said repeatedly that he intends to get “100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” by his 100th day in office.
In an alarming assessment of last week’s Capitol rampage, federal prosecutors said that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials,” according to a memo filed in court.
The 18-page document was submitted Thursday in Arizona federal court as part of the criminal case against Jacob Anthony Chansley, who goes by the name Jake Angeli and is a well-known conspiracy theorist known as the “Q Shaman.”
At a briefing on Friday with reporters, Michael R. Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, pointed to individual cases where someone might have intended to kidnap people at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
But Mr. Sherwin tried to clarify the assessment, saying that investigators so far had not uncovered “direct evidence” of teams of rioters who might have planned to storm the U.S. Capitol with the aim of abducting and harming members of Congress.
He said there was a “disconnect” between what prosecutors in Arizona and Texas had uncovered and what investigators in Washington, D.C., leading the inquiry had determined.
Mr. Chansley, a fixture of the QAnon conspiracy movement, has become among the most conspicuous figures of the Capitol riot. He was photographed in the building bare-chested, with his face painted red, white and blue, and wearing a fur headdress with horns, holding an American-flag draped spear.
Prosecutors said Mr. Chansley approached a Capitol Police officer and screamed that members of the mob “were there to take the Capitol and to get congressional leaders.” In the Senate chamber, he ran up to the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding just minutes before and began posing for other rioters to photograph.
He wrote a note for Mr. Pence, reading, “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
The next day, Mr. Chansley called the F.B.I. and confessed to his actions, admitting that he was able to enter the Senate “by the grace of God.” Prosecutors are arguing for Mr. Chansley to be detained until his trial begins, noting that he wants to return to Washington for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration.
“I’ll still go, you better believe it,” he told the F.B.I.
On Friday, a judge in Arizona ordered Mr. Chansley be held pending a trial, calling him a “danger to the community.”
“Mr. Chansley was an active participant in a violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States government on January 6, 2021,” federal Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine said. “This is not a protest. This is a riot. This is an insurrection.”
In Texas, a federal prosecutor said another rioter, Larry Rendall Brock Jr., planned to take hostages with zip-tie handcuffs when he stormed the Capitol last week and pointed to an array of violent online threats that Mr. Brock made in the run-up to the mob attack.
Mr. Brock, a former Air Force officer with multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, was photographed in the mayhem carrying handcuffs and wearing gear emblazoned with the insignia of the 706th Fighter Squadron, in which he once served.
He was arrested on Sunday in Texas and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.
On Friday, federal prosecutors in Washington unsealed charges against one of the F.B.I.’s most-wanted suspects, Dominic Pezzola, a 44-year-old Rochester man, who appeared to lead a group of men in a violent assault on the Capitol building.
According to a cooperating witness quoted in court papers, Mr. Pezzola, a member of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys, said that he and his crew had broken into the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a shield they had taken from a Capitol Police officer.
He and the mob he led intended to kill “anyone they got their hands on,” the witness said, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Pence. Mr. Pezzola, a former Marine and boxer known as Spaz, was intent on returning to Washington with his group next week to wreak more havoc at President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration, according to the witness.
By Friday afternoon, federal prosecutors had unsealed charges against at least 11 more defendants. One of them, Daniel Goodwyn, was also a member of the Proud Boys and had recently posted a message on social media echoing President Trump’s call for the far-right nationalist group to “Stand back and stand by,” court papers said. At least two other members of the Proud Boys, Nicholas Ochs and Joshua Pruitt, have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack.
Prosecutors also brought charges against Jennifer L. Ryan, of Frisco, Texas, who flew to Washington to take part in the assault on the Capitol in a private plane, court papers said. In a now-deleted Facebook video obtained by the F.B.I., Ms. Ryan, a real-estate broker, could be seen standing outside the Capitol building saying she was about to go inside, adding, “Life or death, it doesn’t matter.”
Then, just before she entered, she turned to the camera and said: “Y’all know who to hire for your Realtor. Jenna Ryan for your Realtor.”
Alan Feuer contributed reporting.
Inspectors general from a range of federal agencies are opening a coordinated investigation into the catastrophic failures that led to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, amid reports that officials ignored, downplayed and responded sluggishly to a deadly assault on the nation’s core democratic institutions.
Government watchdogs, who are shielded from political interference under federal law, said on Friday that they planned to review the protocols, and policies that were in place in the lead-up to last week’s breach.
Their goal: To determine why the federal government was caught flat-footed when pro-Trump rioters attacked Congress, and come up with protocols to prevent similar failures in dealing with a dramatic escalation in political violence in Washington and in state capitols.
The review will be jointly conducted by the inspectors general from the Justice Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior, according to a statement from the office of Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general.
In the days following the attack, it has become clear that federal agencies, including the F.B.I., did not do enough to heed alarms, raised within the bureau itself, that far-right extremists allied with President Trump planned to attack the Capitol. Several people on a terrorist watch list were also in Washington for the rally by Mr. Trump that devolved into the assault.
At the same time, questions have arisen about the Pentagon’s delay in sending national guard troops to help Capitol Police officers who were overwhelmed and, in some cases, badly beaten by the mob.
The review will examine all of the information relevant to the that was available to the Justice Department and the F.B.I. before it took place, and the extent to which that information was shared with the Capitol Police and other federal, state and local agencies.
Mr. Horowitz will also review what role Justice Department personnel had in responding to the siege, and whether weaknesses in the department’s protocols led to the security failure.
The Department of Defense review “will examine requests for D.O.D. support leading up to the planned protest and its aftermath at the U.S. Capitol complex, the D.O.D.’s response, and whether the D.O.D.’s actions were lawful” the Pentagon’s inspector general wrote in a statement on Friday.
The new probe comes after the announcement earlier this week that the inspector general from the Capitol Police will initiate a separate investigation into the failures by the force to contain the violence. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, signaled that it would look into what role, if any, members of Congress may have played in inciting the mob.
Led by Representative Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers on Wednesday called for an investigation into an uptick of visits to the Capitol — perhaps for the purpose of surveillance and planning — the day before the riot.
The National Mall — an iconic arena of American celebration, protest and unity — will be closed for a week to prevent a repeat of violence by far-right demonstrators who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6., the National Parks Service announced on Friday.
The closure of the mall began at 11 a.m. Friday and will extend to at least Thursday, Jan. 21, the day after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration.
Federal law enforcement agencies have been alarmed by an increase in chatter from right-wing extremists threatening to target the capital city in protest of Mr. Biden’s decisive victory in the popular vote and Electoral College.
To Mr. Trump, the mall is not merely a physical space, but a psychic one. In the days following his own inauguration four years ago, he repeatedly exaggerated the size of the crowd that attended, falsely claiming it was the biggest in history, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.
Mr. Biden has resisted calls to move the celebration indoors for the sake of safety. His inauguration committee had already been planning a scaled-back celebration with virtual components because of the coronavirus.
Two small areas adjacent to the two-mile long park, which extends from the foot of the Capitol to the Potomac tidal basin behind the Lincoln Memorial, will remain open for inauguration events, and areas will be set aside for peaceful protest, the service announced in a statement.
“Each of these park areas will be limited to no more individuals than can be safely accommodated,” the park service wrote in the statement. “Based on the current assessment, no more than 100 individuals at each location can be safely accommodated.”
The Memorial Bridge, which connects the mall to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, will also be shut, along with long stretches of the grand thoroughfares that crisscross the capital’s downtown, including Constitution, Pennsylvania and Independence Avenues.
The Capitol Police also announced that the Capitol complex would be closed to the public on Inauguration Day.
Metro officials are shuttering 13 rail stations and several bus routes near the White House, and Capitol, part of a security effort that includes the mobilization of 20,000 national guard troops — evoking images of Civil War in Washington.
President Trump, isolated and watching the clock count down on his time in the White House, spent a few minutes of it on Friday with the C.E.O. of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, who brought some notes with him.
White House officials said nothing came of the roughly five-to-ten-minute meeting between Mr. Lindell and Mr. Trump, which Mr. Lindell said came after he’d been asking to get on the president’s calendar for days.
But notes that Mr. Lindell brought with him, captured by a news photographer as Mr. Lindell waited before entering the White House, sparked hours of concern on social media about what was taking place with a president who as recently as Friday insisted to White House officials that he had won an election that he lost.
In photographs captured by Jabin Botsford, a photographer for The Washington Post, Mr. Lindell held notes in his hand as he stood outside the doorway to the West Wing lobby mid-afternoon on Friday. The notes included a mention of Sidney Powell, the lawyer and conspiracy theorist whom Mr. Trump at one point wanted to offer a job in the White House.
They were only partially visible, but there was also a suggestion about invoking the Insurrection Act, by which a president can deploy active military troops into the streets, and “martial law if necessary.” One line appeared to suggest moving Kash Patel, currently the Department of Defense chief of staff and a Trump loyalist, as “C.I.A. Acting,” which seemed to indicate the top job.
White House press aides were caught off guard by the photos as they circulated on Twitter, and said they had no idea what had transpired.
Reached by phone, Mr. Lindell said that he was carrying notes supplied to him by a lawyer he was working with to try to prove that Mr. Trump was the true winner of the 2020 election. He would not identify the lawyer.
“The attorney said, can you bring these to him,” Mr. Lindell said. ”It was stuff to help the American people.”
Mr. Lindell said that he was seated next to an administration official, who another official later identified as Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser. Mr. Trump ended the brief meeting by directing Mr. Lindell to go upstairs to the office of White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone. Mr. Lindell said he showed them material but was sent back downstairs to wait awhile longer.
Officials seemed “disinterested” in what he had to say, Mr. Lindell said.
A second administration official said that Mr. O’Brien was called to the meeting after Mr. Lindell arrived, because advisers in search of someone who could steer Mr. Lindell away couldn’t immediately reach Mr. Cipollone. Among the items on Mr. Lindell’s list was replacing Mr. O’Brien. The national security adviser, seeking to end the conversation, said if there was evidence of what he was saying it should go to the White House counsel, and he steered him upstairs.
Mr. Lindell maintained that the notes he had did not contain the words “martial law,” although the photograph showed it to be the case. He said the “fake news” was stirring it up. An administration official said that the blacked-out part of Mr. Lindell’s notes could be seen when looked at closely, and that they referenced firing Mr. Cipollone. The official said that Mr. Lindell got “loud” while waiting in the West Wing lobby.
Mr. Lindell has been one of the few supporters of Mr. Trump from corporate America who has stayed with him after the riot by Trump supporters at the Capitol complex on Jan. 6, which left five people dead and included chants calling for the death of Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Lindell appeared on Newsmax, the conservative cable network, the day of the riot and pushed the now-debunked claim that “antifa” protesters had masqueraded as Trump backers in order to cause damage.
And even after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory was certified, Mr. Lindell continued to insist that Mr. Trump will be inaugurated for a second term next week.
There was no move to fire Gina Haspel, the director of the C.I.A., on Friday or have Mr. Patel arrive at the C.I.A. headquarters to take over, according to people familiar with the matter. And Washington has already become a militarized fortress ahead of Mr. Biden’s inauguration, in order to clamp down on threats of new violence being planned for the day of the ceremony.
But Mr. Lindell’s ability to walk into the Oval Office and meet with Mr. Trump underscored the type of conspiracy theorists who still appeal to Mr. Trump, so long as they are saying what he wants to hear. It is unclear whether Mr. Lindell wrote the notes or if he was passing along someone else’s thoughts.
Mr. Trump has at times considered Ms. Powell too conspiratorial, as she has touted falsehoods about a global conspiracy to rig the 2020 election. At other times, he has welcomed her input.
Right-wing journalists have resumed demands for the declassification and release of documents related to the 2016 election, including material created by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, where Mr. Patel used to work.
Ms. Haspel has opposed the release of those documents. However both Mr. Trump and John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, have the authority to declassify the documents, and the White House would not need to force out Ms. Haspel to make the material public.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has activated the Michigan National Guard to help with security around the state Capitol in Lansing, part of a wave of concern across the country in the wake of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
There have been calls for armed protests in all 50 states, but it remains unclear how many will come about and whether they pose any threats of violence.
Concerns are particularly high in Michigan, where armed people flooded into the state Capitol last year to protest the state’s coronavirus restrictions and where 13 men were arrested in October on terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges. At least six of them, officials said, had hatched a detailed plan to kidnap Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat who became a focal point of anti-government views and anger over coronavirus control measures.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops and surrounded the state Capitol grounds in Sacramento with a six-foot, covered chain-link fence to “prepare for and respond to credible threats.”
In Lansing, a six-foot high fence will be erected around the state Capitol and windows of state office buildings boarded up to guard against potentially violent protests that are expected on Sunday and Wednesday.
The state Legislature, which just had its first session day of the year and had been scheduled to meet several times next week, canceled those sessions out of an abundance of caution.
The increased law enforcement presence will continue through at least mid-February, said the Michigan State Police director, Col. Joe Gasper. He declined to reveal how many more police and National Guard members would be in place to guard against violence.
“The security enhancements that we have made are both seen, such as the increase in uniformed personnel and a perimeter fence that will be installed around the Capitol today, and unseen, which are things that we have no intention of discussing or disclosing because these efforts are meant to be covert,” he told reporters on Friday.
Tim Waters, special agent in charge of the F.B.I. office in Detroit, said the agency had opened up “numerous” investigations into Michigan residents who were involved in the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week and had picked up both chatter and numerous tips on protests that were planned in the aftermath.
Ms. Whitmer on Friday said the state would send several hundred Michigan National Guard members to help out with security in Washington D.C.
“Ensuring a peaceful transition of presidential power is essential to our democracy,” she said in a statement.
Former staff members for Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who lost re-election in 2018 to Senator Josh Hawley, have started a super PAC to defeat Mr. Hawley the next time he runs for office — part of a broad backlash against him for leading the effort last week to overturn the results of the presidential election.
“Senators swear an oath to the Constitution and loyalty to this country, not aid and abet an attempted coup against both,” the super PAC’s first ad, posted on Friday, says. The group is called Just Oust Seditious Hacks, a backronym for JOSH.
Mr. Hawley, who represents Missouri and is viewed as someone who wants to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, was the first senator to agree to join House members in challenging the election results when Congress convened to formalize them on Jan. 6.
Because such challenges require the backing of at least one senator to receive consideration from members of Congress, his action guaranteed the disruption of what is normally a ceremonial process — a disruption during which supporters of President Trump violently stormed the Capitol. His decision drew immediate backlash from fellow Republicans, and the anger intensified after the Capitol attack, with some lawmakers calling for Mr. Hawley’s resignation and Simon & Schuster canceling plans to publish his book.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who joined Mr. Hawley in objecting to the results, has also faced a backlash, including the resignation of his communications director this week. But while Mr. Cruz lodged his objection to the results in Arizona at the beginning of the proceedings, Mr. Hawley has drawn particular ire for objecting to the Pennsylvania results hours later, after the attack on the Capitol had taken place.
“Josh Hawley is convinced that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and deny Joe Biden the presidency — even after helping fuel the U.S. Capitol riots — will make him president in 2024,” the new super PAC said in a statement. “He’s betting that the same far-right, nationalist mobs that supported Donald Trump will put him in the White House to continue Trump’s work. JOSH PAC will run a permanent campaign to stop him now.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Hawley responded: “We expect Claire McCaskill and her team will be as effective with this campaign as they were with the last. They wasted more than $60 million in 2018 — and lost — after Missourians rejected Claire McCaskill’s failed liberal policies.”
The super PAC, news of which was first reported by Politico, is part of a long tradition of efforts to fund election challenges in response to a specific vote or action by a lawmaker. These efforts are not always successful, even when they involve large amounts of money.
For instance, a crowd-funded campaign in 2018 raised $3.7 million for whichever Democrat would be nominated to challenge Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, in response to her support for confirming Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The candidate ended up being Sara Gideon, who gave Ms. Collins her most serious challenge in years but who ultimately lost by more than eight percentage points.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. continued to fill out his administration on Friday, turning to former Obama administration officials to take on key roles.
He tapped Deanne Criswell, currently the commissioner of New York City’s Emergency Management Department, to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If confirmed, she will help oversee the federal government’s pandemic response efforts.
Ms. Criswell previously worked at FEMA from 2011 to 2017 where she led the federal response to emergencies and disasters. She is also a member of the Colorado Air National Guard, where she served as a firefighter and deputy fire chief. She has deployed to Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq on firefighting missions.
Mr. Biden on Friday also chose David S. Cohen to return to the C.I.A. as deputy director, a role he filled from 2015 to 2017. Previously, Mr. Cohen was the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Treasury Department. While there, he oversaw sanctions — intelligence-based actions that play a large role in national security — against Iran, Russia, North Korea and terrorist organizations.
And Mr. Biden has chosen Anita Dunn, a top strategist for his presidential campaign last year and for former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, to be a White House senior strategist. Ms. Dunn is a partner at the Washington consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker and was a senior adviser to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.
Other officials named on Friday include:
Shalanda Young, the staff director and clerk for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Jason Miller, a former Obama administration official who served as deputy director of the National Economic Council, was nominated to be the deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Janet McCabe, who specializes in environmental law and policy and worked at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, was nominated to be the agency’s deputy administrator.
Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the largest advocacy groups for stricter gun laws, announced a campaign on Friday to address armed political intimidation in response to last week’s attack on the United States Capitol.
The group is calling for a ban on firearms in “sensitive government facilities,” including state Capitol buildings, polling places and vote-counting sites; a ban on carrying firearms during demonstrations on public property; and stricter enforcement of existing gun laws and laws against violent extremism.
Its leaders and supporters argued that the siege of the Capitol could have been deadlier if not for the strict gun laws in Washington and the restrictions on firearms in the Capitol in particular, and that the presence of armed protesters harmed democracy by intimidating voters and legislators — some of whom reportedly expressed fear for their lives if they voted to confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory or to impeach President Trump.
“Allowing guns around charged political activity is like storing gasoline next to a pile of fireworks,” John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown, told reporters on Friday.
Nick Suplina — the managing director of law and policy at Everytown, which is backed by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York — said that the group was in touch with members of Congress and the incoming Biden administration, and that its “50-state operation” would lobby for the proposals in state legislatures. They will almost certainly face strong opposition from the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups.
Everytown announced the plan in a phone call that also included several Democratic elected officials, among them Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey, Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan and Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond, Va.
Mr. Kim, who was at the Capitol during last Wednesday’s attack and recalled pulling over multiple times on his way home to New Jersey because he was crying too hard to drive, said the rioters had “sought to usurp the power of the people and replace it with violence.”
Several officials on the call described the attack on the Capitol as an outgrowth of intimidation efforts that had been taking place for some time.
Ms. Nessel recalled last year’s armed protests outside the Michigan Capitol in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus-related policies, and Mr. Stoney described the thousands of armed demonstrators who converged on the Virginia Capitol in early 2020, protesting gun restrictions that the state legislature’s newly elected Democratic majorities were expected to pass.
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown, said that for years, gun-rights activists had openly carried rifles in public meetings, followed M.D.A. volunteers from office to office while they lobbied legislators and even confronted volunteers in grocery stores. At a racial justice rally in Colorado Springs after the police killing of George Floyd, she recalled, men in combat fatigues aimed military-style sniper rifles at protesters from the top of a parking garage.
The Department of Justice closed an investigation on Friday into nine military ballots that had been erroneously discarded in Luzerne County, Penn., citing “insufficient evidence” of any criminal activity, and serving as yet another factual rebuke of President Trump’s false statements about election fraud.
“After a thorough investigation conducted by the F.B.I. and prosecutors from my office, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent on the part of the person who discarded the ballots,” said Bruce D. Brandler, the acting U.S. attorney for the middle district of Pennsylvania. “Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed and the matter is closed.”
The investigation into the nine ballots drew immediate controversy, as the U.S. attorney at the time, David J. Freed, announced that nine military ballots, seven of which had been cast for President Trump, had been illegally discarded and that the department was conducting an investigation.
Officials rarely disclose ongoing investigations, particularly with such a small number of ballots involved, and the disclosure prompted fears that Mr. Trump’s allies and political appointees were weaponizing the levers of law enforcement to sow doubt about the election.
Mr. Trump immediately seized on the investigation, using it as evidence to his false and discredited theories of widespread voter fraud. His attorney general at the time, William P. Barr, had briefed the president on the investigation before it was made public.
But top elections officials in both the county and the state, including the secretary of the commonwealth, Kathy Boockvar, said that it was clearly a “bad mistake” made by a temporary worker, and not any evidence of intentional wrongdoing.
The F.B.I. has conducted dozens of interviews in the killing of the Capitol Police officer who died after confronting the pro-Trump mob last week and other assaults on law enforcement during the violence, according to a bureau official.
An earlier F.B.I. memo, sent to the private sector and others, had wrongly said that the bureau was investigating 37 people in the death of the officer, Brian Sicknick, but it relied on incorrect internal information; the F.B.I. official confirmed that the figure was inaccurate. It was not clear how many people the F.B.I. have identified who might have information about Mr. Sicknick’s killing.
Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher as a violent mob flooded the halls of Congress, according to two law enforcement officials. Lawmakers hid under their desks from violent protesters after President Trump encouraged them during a rally to head to the Capitol. Mr. Sicknick died in the hospital where he was getting treatment for his injuries.
Fourteen other Capitol Police officers were injured in the mob last week, the memo said.
Law enforcement officials are bracing for more unrest in the days leading up to the inauguration.
Since the Jan. 6 siege, intelligence officials have seen Chinese, Iranian and Russian efforts to fan the violent rhetoric, according to a joint threat assessment dated Thursday. The amplification is consistent with previous efforts to take advantage of divisive Republican rhetoric, such as the Russian efforts to amplify disinformation spread by Mr. Trump during the campaign about the security of mail-in voting.
The inspectors general for several federal agencies, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, announced on Friday that they had opened an investigation into the response to the riot at the Capitol. The watchdogs will also look at how federal agencies shared intelligence ahead of the riot.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.
Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary and one of the most prominent members of the Cabinet, took a parting shot at President Trump in a letter he wrote to him confirming his departure on Inauguration Day, suggesting that he considered quitting after a violent mob stormed the Capitol building last week.
In a not-so-subtle condemnation of Mr. Trump’s embrace of election conspiracies, Mr. Azar wrote that “the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during the past week, threaten to tarnish” the administration’s legacy, effectively telling Mr. Trump that his attempts to overturn the election results undermined his term.
The letter, dated Jan. 12 and obtained by The New York Times, came days after two Cabinet officials, Betsy DeVos, the former education secretary, and Elaine Chao, the former transportation secretary, resigned after citing the Capitol invasion.
The letter was also a notable break for Mr. Azar. He has repeatedly lavished attention and praise on Mr. Trump in his three-year tenure, ingratiating himself with West Wing officials. Still, the White House came close to firing him in the spring after a series of unflattering stories came out about Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic, articles White House advisers believed Mr. Azar had a role in.
Mr. Azar also called on Mr. Trump to “demand that no one attempt to disrupt the inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere” and to support a peaceful transition of power.
Mr. Azar’s letter includes just a single acknowledgment of Mr. Trump’s influence on health policy, thanking the president for taking on “entrenched special interests in health care.” He added that with the pandemic “raging” and the obligations of a transition, he decided to stay on as health secretary until the end of the term.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” this week, Mr. Azar said he had “wrestled” with the idea of staying on in the job after the riot, and declined to discuss whether he had talked with other Cabinet officials about the 25th Amendment.