Officials shut down entire Capitol complex ahead of Inauguration Day threats

The FBI warned police chiefs in major cities to be prepared for protests to turn violent. There are now more troops in Washington D.C. than the U.S. military has in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
4:55 | 01/15/21

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Transcript for Officials shut down entire Capitol complex ahead of Inauguration Day threats
Good evening and it's great to have us with us here on this Thursday night. And we begin with news just coming in tonight. What we are just heard from FBI director Christopher WRAY, with just days now until Joe Biden is sworn in as our next president. The FBI issuing a new bulletin, warning authorities in our nation's capital and in the capital cities of all 50 states to prepare for a possible showdown against violent extreme itselves attempting to take on law enforcement. They warn of loss of life, of property damage, of disruption of government that could overwhelm law enforcement and emergency response. Authorities warning of the very real potential of new attacks following the deadly riots at the capitol. Tonight, the intelligence they're now picking up. And the new images tonight. Up to 21,000 National Guard members are being deployed to Washington. They will take up positions around the white house, the capitol building, the supreme court. More troops than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Authorities closing the capitol complex and possibly closing the entire national mall on inauguration day. And there is news tonight about the nationwide manhunt for rioters. Federal prosecutors charging the suspect seen beating an officer with a pole, holding the American flag. A retired firefighter now under arrest tonight, accused of throwing a fire extinguisher at police. The rioter seen walking the halls of the capitol carrying a confederate flag now arrested. And new questions tonight about why there were tours of the capitol the day before the riots, when lawmakers say they understood those tours had been halted last spring because of the pandemic. Many lawmakers calling those tours the day before the attack suspicious. Here's our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas tonight leading us off. Reporter: Tonight, a new intelligence assessment raising the specter of continued insurrection next week. The new FBI bulletin urges authorities in D.C. And all 50 state capitals to prepare for a fight, or face the prospect that violent offenders could quote, overwhelm local, state and federal law enforcement. Six days until the inauguration and with an expected 21,000 National Guard available, there are now more troops in Washington, D.C., than U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Razor wire. Blocked streets. A city fortifying itself. Officials shutting the entire capitol complex and floating the possibility of keeping everyone off the national mall. The national mall is normally filled with hundreds of thousands of people who come to watch the inauguration. Shutting it down would be unprecedented. But it shows you just how concerned officials are. Reporter: All this because the FBI believes that last week's assault emboldened right wing radicals to return and pursue more violence. Anybody that plots or attempts violence should count on a visit. Reporter: Sources telling ABC news different groups from around the country appear to be coordinating. Overnight, FBI director WRAY briefing chiefs in major cities, telling them to be on the lookout for potential lone wolf actors that could blend in with more peaceful protesters. When you have people come down to peacefully protest and get a large crowd and some bad actors infiltrate that, a different mentality can take over and turn a peaceful crowd into -- into what we've seen in the past. Reporter: At the same time, they're pursuing rioters by the dozen. Suspects like Kevin seefreed. Authorities say he's seen here carrying the confederate flag. Arrested in Delaware this morning along with his son Robert Sanford, allegedly the man here seen hitting several police in the head with a fire extinguisher. He's a retired firefighter from Pennsylvania. Turned in by a longtime friend who recognized him in the FBI photos. Christine priola, a former occupational therapist for Cleveland schools seen here in the senate chamber. And Jenny Cudd, in a since deleted Facebook video posted after the riot, authorities say she admitted to breaking into the capitol. And tonight, more than 30 members of congress are calling for an investigation, calling it surs pressure that an extremely high number of groups in the comet plex on January 5th. Claiming that some of the visitors appear to be associated with the rally that proceeded the riot. So, let's get right back to Pierre Thomas, back with us tonight. And Pierre, you reported last year that President-Elect Joe Biden and his team had been briefed on the threats. Now less than a week from the inauguration, we know all of this is fluid, very concerning. Where do the plans stand tonight? Reporter: David, they're really trying to hold the inauguration outside as is tradition, but David, the threat situation is so intense right now. So intense, Biden doesn't plan to take his beloved amtrak train to the inauguration. And the FBI has identified 200 suspects tied to that mob assault. Just an incredible number and that number could rise, David. Pierre Thomas with us again tonight. Pierre, thank you.

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