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Inauguration Day 2021: FBI warn of national protests following Capitol riots

National security fears for Inauguration Day 2021 are coming to a head as the fallout from the Capitol riots begins to settle across the country.

With the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden just days away, the FBI has issued warnings to law enforcement agencies about the potential for further armed protests in all 50 state capitals.

According to a senior law enforcement official, the FBI’s memos warn of an armed group who have threatened to travel to Washington, D.C. to stage an uprising if Congress removes President Donald Trump from office.

Inauguration Day 2021 us capitol riots
Photo: CNN.com

The memo, first reported by ABC News, gathered information from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Defense Department; U.S. Park Police; and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Other agencies also contributed intel, some of which was gathered from social media, open sources, and undisclosed sources.

The senior official in question said that the FBI’s National Crisis Coordination Center had distributed the update as a summary of information received since the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol last week (January 6).

However, law enforcement agencies aren’t necessarily expecting violent mass protests in every state capital on Saturday, January 20, despite the memo discussing possible threats made by individuals and groups online.

“At this point in time, the FBI Boston Division is not in possession of any intelligence indicating any planned, armed protests at the four state capitals in our area of responsibility (ME, MA, NH, and RI) from January 17-20, 2021,” a spokesperson for the FBI in Boston said.

“As always, we are in constant communication with our law enforcement partners and will share any actionable intelligence.”

According to the memo, the armed group who discussed travelling to Washington warned of an uprising if Congress tried to impeach Trump under the 25th Amendment. The United States Constitution Amendment rules that, if the President becomes unable or unfit to carry out his role, the Vice President will be sworn in as President (Section 1) or Acting President (Sections 3 or 4).

While law enforcement officials pointed out that Congress can’t remove a president through the 25th Amendment, the Capitol protests tell a worrying tale of what could be expected for Biden’s inauguration.

In response to the riots, Apple and Amazon have suspended “free speech” social networking service Parler from their app-stores and web hosting services due to its inability to moderate violent or inflammatory content. Funnily enough, the app was used by a large network of right-leaning US patriots, mainly Trump supporters.

Amazon and Apple’s decision follows on from Google’s suspension of the app and Twitter’s permanent suspension of Trump from their platform.

“We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues,” Apple said in a statement on Saturday.

Parler is seen as a haven for people who have been expelled from Twitter, making it a dangerous cocktail of unmoderated extremism that fuelled Wednesday’s siege of the US Capitol.

Likewise, Amazon removed Parler from its Web Services unit (AWS) for failing to deal with the steady increase in violent content. As Parler relies on Amazon to host its services, the company’s decision, to be enacted on Sunday, will essentially remove the platform from the web.

While Apple has given Parler 24-hours to submit a moderation plan, Chief Executive John Matze reported that the iPhone maker would ban the service until it gave up “free speech” and instituted “broad and invasive policies like Twitter and Facebook.”

“They claim it is due to violence on the platform. The community disagrees as we hit number 1 on their store today,” Matze said in a post responding to Apple’s suspension. “More details about our next plans coming soon as we have many options.” 

Luckily, before Parler was wiped, a lone researcher, @donk_enby, painstakingly catalogued every post on Parler from January 6 for what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence. At the time of writing, she had managed to archive 99 per cent of Parler’s content before Amazon and Apple removed the site.

However, Parler isn’t the only social network feeling the effects of the US’s political upheaval. Since deciding to ban Trump’s account last Friday, Twitter’s stock dropped by 10 per cent in premarket trading.

For those who don’t know (and are living under a rock), Twitter’s management suspended the former President’s 88-million-follower-strong account due to his unsubstantiated conspiracies about voter fraud and election theft.

This dangerous spreading of misinformation is believed to have resulted in thousands of his supporters storming the US Capitol last week, including indie rock musician Ariel Pink.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter announced.

Facebook also decided to cut Trump’s account for at least the two remaining weeks of his presidency. Last Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the decision came from Trump’s insistence on undermining a peaceful transition of power.

Now, the Democrats are moving quickly to impeach Trump for a second time, potentially making him the first president in American history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

The House is expected to vote on Thursday (AEDT) regarding the impeachment, exactly a week after the assault on the Capitol and a week before Trump’s term in office ends.

To end Trump’s presidency prematurely, a two-thirds majority of the Senate would need to vote to convict the President – which is unlikely to happen before Inauguration Day. As such, the impeachment would be an entirely symbolic punishment for his repeated lies of voter fraud.

Yet, the Democrats insist that there must be some form of retribution for Trump’s reckless behaviour and believe that accountability for the violent Capitol protests must be delivered before the two parties can attempt to reunify.

Democratic congressman Adam Schiff took to Twitter to outline the importance of immediate intervention.

“Trump incited a violent insurrection, and for that he must be impeached,” he said.