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He cruised against gun violence in Baltimore. Then he was shot and killed.

A leader of an urban campaign to quell gun violence in Baltimore, widely credited with roaming gang-war-prone streets with words of reconciliation, was shot dead on Sunday, authorities said.

Dante Barksdale, an outreach coordinator for the city’s Safe Streets program, was found around 11:17 a.m. with a gunshot wound to the head near Douglass Homes, a public housing complex in the southeastern part of Baltimore, police said.

He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he died shortly after, officials said.

Mr. Barksdale, 46, was called Tater and was the nephew of Nathan Barksdale, the now deceased narcotics trafficker known as Bodie, who inspired the character Avon Barksdale in HBO’s crime series “The Wire.” Dante Barksdale drew on his time in prison selling drugs and his experience growing up in projects for his outreach work.

His death rocked community leaders, who recognized Mr Barksdale on Sunday for his work to defuse gang violence.

Mayor Brandon M. Scott of Baltimore called him the “heart and soul” of the Safe Streets program in a statement Sunday.

“While I am devastated by the loss of my brother in the fight to save lives in Baltimore, I will not let those who chose to commit violent suicide in light of his work,” Mr. Scott said. “Dante’s work saved lives. It’s a sobering reminder how dangerous this frontline job is. “

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Barksdale was at work when he was shot or whether he had been targeted. Homicide detectives are investigating the murder, police said.

Michael S. Harrison, the city’s police commissioner, credited Mr. Barksdale with helping defuse crime in Baltimore.

“His work in raising awareness, mediating conflict and reducing gun violence in our city has been invaluable,” Mr. Harrison said, “and he embodied a message of redemption and peace to the many young people in our city.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Barksdale had any survivors.

Erricka Bridgeford, co-founder of the Baltimore Ceasefire 365 gun violence prevention group, mourned the death of Mr Barksdale in a Tweeter on Sunday.

“My level of shock and pain at her murder makes my knees sag,” Ms Bridgeford said. In another post, she added, “What I know is Tater’s soul is unleashed to keep doing the job in a miraculous way. We were not left alone. We have just won a mighty warrior in this spiritual warfare.

Mr. Barksdale was the subject of a series of profiles by local and national media on his outreach efforts, including a 2014 article by The Atlantic titled “Walking the Streets of Baltimore With the Other Barksdale.” .

Mr. Barksdale, who grew up in the city projects, wrote about his life in a 2019 book, “Growing Up Barksdale: A True Baltimore Story”.

According to the Baltimore Beat website, he also appeared in the 2018 documentary “Charm City,” which examined violence in Baltimore following the 2015 murder of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who died of a serious injury. to the spinal cord while in police custody.

Nick J. Mosby, the chairman of Baltimore city council, paid tribute to Mr. Barksdale on Twitter on Sunday.

“Dante Barksdale has used his life to save others by preventing gun violence on our streets,” Mosby said. “He beat a myriad of chances to do it. Dante was my friend and I mourn with countless other people over the murder of this exceptional man.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

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State capitals are restless and closely watched after warnings of possible violence.

WASHINGTON – The atmosphere was tense on Sunday in the nation’s capital and state houses across the country, where military vehicles and police barricades lined the streets and officials braced for the possible influx of pro-Trump protests in the amid concerns about potential violence.

In Washington, crowds were sparse by noon, but law enforcement and National Guard troops remained on high alert, hoping to prevent a repeat of the riot less than two weeks, when supporters of President Trump raped the nation’s Capitol. At least 19 states have deployed National Guard troops to their capitals, and several have closed state offices and delayed legislative sessions in response to FBI warnings that white supremacists and right-wing extremists could target capitals across the country.

People posting to right-wing websites and social media called on supporters to march on Washington and the 50 state capitals on Sunday, with plans in Washington for a march that will end at the White House. In recent days, however, as authorities have stepped up precautions, some online agitators have started to discourage people from moving, making it difficult to know what to expect.

In Washington, concerns grew over the weekend before the presidential inauguration on Wednesday. A militarized “green zone” developed in the city center, the streets being blocked by concrete barricades and military vehicles, and dozens of other soldiers arrived in a large black and orange bus. Pentagon officials said 15,000 National Guard personnel from the 50 states and 3 territories arrived in Washington on Saturday and that 25,000 of them could arrive by Wednesday.

Federal officials are screening hundreds of potential plane passengers, putting all those identified among the violent protesters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 on a “no-fly list.” The Transportation Security Administration has added federal marshals on flights and explosive detection dogs at airports. And FBI agents have been working to find people who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan.6 and are also seeking to interview people already under investigation in connection with other domestic terrorism cases to root out potential threats, said officials. responsible.

In Virginia, site of a Martin Luther King birthday rally a year ago that drew thousands of gun rights protesters to Richmond and raised concerns about violent extremism Governor Ralph Northam issued a warning: “If you are planning to come here or to Washington with bad intention in your heart, you must turn around now and go home.

Protests are expected Sunday and Wednesday in Michigan, where armed and angry protesters crowded the state Capitol in April to protest coronavirus lockdown orders, raising fears the protests could turn violent this week . Governor Gretchen Whitmer activated the Michigan National Guard, and a six-foot fence was erected around the Statehouse in Lansing, where windows of state office buildings were closed.

The state legislature canceled several sessions scheduled for this week after “credible threats” were received by Michigan state police.

Governor Gavin Newsom of California authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops and had chain link fencing around the State Capitol grounds in Sacramento.

“There will be no tolerance for violence,” Newsom said last week, referring to the attack on the nation’s Capitol. “California will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the safe public and our democratic principles, and to ensure that these shameful actions are not repeated here.”

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As Biden seeks to revive his tenure, law enforcement prepares for possible violence.

With President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s inauguration just three days away, an air of anxiety hung over Washington and state capitals across the country, as they braced for the possibility of more violence after the Right-wing extremists stormed Capitol Hill this month in an attempt to keep President Trump’s loss from being certified.

Posters on right-wing websites and social media called for marches on Washington and the 50 state capitals on Sunday. In recent days, however, some posters have discouraged people from showing up as officials have tightened security, making it difficult to know what to expect as Wednesday’s inauguration approaches.

Thousands of National Guard soldiers flocked to Washington, and the Secret Service announced a “green zone” in the downtown area, where streets were blocked by concrete barricades and military vehicles and sirens. police sounded on Saturday. Pentagon officials said 15,000 National Guard members from all 50 states and three territories arrived in Washington on Sunday, with up to 25,000 expected by Wednesday.

Federal officials have said they plan to screen hundreds of potential plane passengers, placing all those identified among the violent protesters on Capitol Hill Jan. 6 on a “no-fly list.” The Transportation Security Administration said it was increasing the number of federal marshals on flights and explosive detection dogs at airports.

Even as security officials remained on high alert for any signs of unrest, Mr Biden sought to signal a sharp break with the Trump administration by announcing a series of swift management actions planned for his first 10 days in power.

They include lifting the travel ban in several predominantly Muslim countries, rallying to the Paris climate change agreement, extending pandemic-related limits on evictions and student loan payments, issuing a mask warrant for federal property and interstate travel, and directing agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border, according to a memo released Saturday by Ron Klain, the new Chief of Staff to Mr. Biden in the White House, and obtained by The New York Times.

The executive’s action plan came after Mr Biden announced he would push Congress to pass a $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus and pandemic relief package and after unveiling a $ 20 billion “national immunization program” designed to bring “100 million Covid vaccines to the arms of the American people” on his 100th day in office.

“You have my word,” Mr. Biden said in a speech Friday in Wilmington, Del., “We are going to handle the hell with this operation.”

Mr Biden also introduced members of his White House science team on Saturday, pledging to strengthen scientific research and thinking on topics such as the coronavirus and climate change.

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New warnings of violence as security tightens for inauguration

WASHINGTON – Law enforcement officials screen hundreds of potential plane passengers and beef up airport security as officials amplify warnings of violence ahead of the presidential inauguration of extremists emboldened by the attack on the Capitol last week.

The Transportation Security Administration is increasing the number of federal marshals on flights and explosive detection dogs at airports. Screening officers will be deployed to assist a militarized “green zone” in downtown Washington.

Federal officials say the security perimeter, which includes a growing number of armed members of the National Guard, is necessary to prevent an attack by national extremists. Such groups “pose the most likely threat” to the inauguration, according to a joint threat assessment by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that the attackers could target federal buildings and officials within days. preceding the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as 46th President.

Extremists “remain of concern because of their ability to act with little or no warning, their willingness to attack civilians and light targets, and their ability to inflict significant casualties with weapons that do not require fire. specialized knowledge, ”federal officials wrote in the newsletter obtained by The New York Times.

TSA administrator David P. Pekoske said in a statement Friday that the agency was checking “hundreds of names” ahead of the Jan. 20 event. the Washington area, according to a separate Justice Department bulletin. Two of the major airports near Washington are actually in Virginia, where gun laws are looser.

“Our intelligence and verification professionals are working diligently around the clock to ensure that those who could pose a threat to our aviation industry are subject to increased screening or cannot board an aircraft.” Mr Pekoske said, adding that several airlines had announced in recent days. that they would not allow passengers to register firearms.

Federal agencies have also started to identify people caught on video on Capitol Hill with weapons or engaging in violence and put them on a no-fly list aimed at preventing suspected terrorists from boarding the flights, according to the report. an administration official. It was not known how many suspects had been prevented from stealing. Several Democrats in Congress have demanded the move after the rampage on Capitol Hill.

Federal law enforcement officials said they continued to be alarmed by an increase in gossip from groups like Boogaloo, a far-right group that aims to spark a second civil war, and d other racist extremists threatening to target the nation’s capital to protest M. Biden’s decisive victory in the popular vote and in the electoral college.

Since the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, intelligence officials have seen Chinese, Iranian and Russian efforts to spread the violent messages, according to a joint threat assessment dated Thursday. The escalation is consistent with previous attempts to capitalize on divisive Republican rhetoric, such as Russia’s willingness to amplify disinformation spread by President Trump during the mail-order security campaign.

Officials wrote in an intelligence bulletin obtained this week by The Times that extremists aiming to incite race war “may exploit the consequences of the breach of the Capitol by carrying out attacks to destabilize and force a climactic conflict in the United States. .

Mr Biden has resisted calls to move the celebration indoors for security reasons. Its inauguration committee had already planned a scaled-down celebration with virtual components because of the coronavirus.

But law enforcement remains concerned about potential threats across the country. Calls for armed protests have been made in all 50 states, but it is still unclear how many of them will materialize and whether they constitute credible threats of violence.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer activated the Michigan National Guard to assist with security in Lansing, where armed people flocked to the State Capitol last year to protest coronavirus restrictions and where 13 men have been arrested in October for terrorism, conspiracy and weapons. At least six of them, officials said, had drawn up a detailed plan to kidnap Ms Whitmer, a Democrat who has become a focal point of anti-government views and anger over the coronavirus control measures.

Governor 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 chain-link covered fence to “prepare for and respond to” credible threats ”.

Officials from the Department of Defense and the National Guard said on Friday they were pressuring the governors of all 50 states to have reservists meet a growing demand for security.

National Guard officials said they would most likely need at least 25,000 troops in Washington, 5,000 more than expected this week, for tasks ranging from traffic control to security in and around. from the Capitol itself. That number, about more than three times the number of US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, could increase further.

The military police are among the most popular guard units. All Army National Guard troops are trained to deal with civil unrest, but the Military Police Guard has additional training and expertise.

As Guard troops armed with M9 handguns and automatic rifles took up positions around the Capitol this week, lawmakers who had welcomed Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy’s decision to arm some troops have expressed their discomfort.

“I would always prefer to see the guard play a supporting role for national missions,” said Rep. Michael Waltz, Florida Republican and former Army Green Beret who is now a member of the Maryland National Guard. Having soldiers in law enforcement, he said, “makes me nervous.”

Authorities hope to keep the public away from downtown Washington during the grand opening. The Office of Personnel Management has advised federal agencies to find ways to allow employees to stay home next week. Mayor Muriel Bowser recommended that the public go online to the event.

The National Mall – an iconic arena for American celebration, protest and unity – will be closed at least until Thursday, the day after Mr. Biden’s inauguration, the National Park Service said on Friday.

Two small areas adjacent to the two-mile park, which stretches from the foot of the Capitol to the tidal pool behind the Lincoln Memorial, will remain open for groundbreaking events, and areas will be set aside for peaceful protests, the service said. in a statement.

“Based on the current assessment, no more than 100 people at each location can be safely accommodated,” the statement said. Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia released a joint statement with other state officials saying that several bridges connecting Washington to Virginia, including Theodore Roosevelt and Arlington Memorial, would be closed until the inauguration.

The Memorial Bridge, which connects the mall to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, will also be closed, along with long stretches of the major thoroughfares that crisscross the capital’s downtown area, including Constitution, Pennsylvania and Independence Avenues.

Thirteen metro stations and several bus lines near the White House will also be closed and ambulances will be stationed in the city center. Military vehicles and troops in the streets conjured up images of Washington during the Civil War.

“We have seen white extremists storm the Capitol building who have been trained and organized,” Ms. Bowser said, adding: “We all need to think about a new posture.

Glenn Thrush, Hailey Fuchs, Eric Schmitt and Zach Montague contributed reporting from Washington, and Kathleen Gray from West Bloomfield, Michigan.

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Trump posts a video berating the violence on Capitol Hill but doesn’t mention his role in setting it up.

Hours after becoming the first president to be impeached twice, President Trump posted on the White House’s Twitter account Wednesday evening a video condemning the assault on the Capitol complex by his supporters last week and urged his supporters supporters to avoid a repeat in days here in Washington and across the country. “

Mr Trump recorded the video under pressure from assistants, who warned him that he risked being exposed to justice for the riot, which occurred immediately after a speech in which he urged them to “ fight ” the election results, which he falsely claimed. has been stolen.

The president did not mention his own role in inciting violence last week. On Tuesday, he defended remarks he made at a rally before his supporters marched to Capitol Hill as “entirely appropriate” and said Congress’ efforts to impeach and condemn him “were causing a enormous anger ”.

He also did not acknowledge the loss of life or his own false claims that the election was stolen in the two months leading up to the rally last week.

The video came shortly after Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, made it clear in a statement that he was prepared to vote to condemn the president for the article of impeachment – a radical departure from a year ago, when Mr McConnell whipped his fellow senators against a conviction in the president’s first impeachment trial. Just before the House called him Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Trump issued a statement to his supporters calling on Americans to “ease tensions and calm the spirits.”

In the video, the president did not mention the five people who died as a result of the violence on the Capitol. But he’s gone further in his language than at any time, as law enforcement braces for new insurgencies in Washington and across the country next week.

“As I said, the US Capitol’s incursion has struck at the very heart of our Republic,” said Mr. Trump, his most forceful statement after a few attempts that gave his followers a fig leaf this week. last. “It has angered and dismayed millions of Americans from all political walks of life.”

“I want to be very clear,” he continued. “I unequivocally condemn the violence we experienced last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement. Making America great again has always been about upholding the rule of law ”and supporting law enforcement officials.

During the riot of his supporters, a Capitol Police officer sustained serious head injuries and later died.

As a candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump once encouraged rally attendees to physically attack protesters. But in Wednesday’s video, he said that “the mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. None of my true supporters will ever be able to endorse political violence. “

“If you do any of these things, you don’t support our movement, you attack it and you attack our country,” he said. “We cannot tolerate it.”

On reports of further protests next week, Mr. Trump said: “There must be no violence, no violation of the law, or vandalism of any kind.

Michael gold contribution to reports.

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Federal authorities warn that the breach in the Capitol will be a “major driver of violence.”

The murderous breach on Capitol Hill last week will be a “major engine of violence” for armed militias and racist extremists targeting the presidential nomination next week, according to a joint intelligence bulletin released by federal authorities.

The ‘boogaloo’, a movement that seeks to start a second civil war, and extremists aiming to start a racial war “may exploit the consequences of the Capitol breach by carrying out attacks to destabilize and force a climactic conflict in the United States. ”, According to the bulletin published by the National Center for the fight against terrorism and the departments of justice and internal security, which was widely distributed to law enforcement agencies across the country.

The bulletin, dated January 13, is titled “Violent Extremists Within Family Emboldened After Capitol Violation, Rise in Domestic Terrorism, Threat of Likely Violence Amidst Political Transitions and Beyond.” Anti-government militias and racist extremists “quite possibly represent the greatest threats from domestic terrorism in 2021,” the agencies said.

Federal officials wrote that extremist groups viewed the Capitol violation as a success and were galvanized by the death of Ashli ​​Babbitt, a QAnon follower who was shot dead by police as she attempted to enter in the President’s hall, very protected, just outside. the bedroom of the House. Extremists could perceive this death as “an act of martyrdom”, according to the bulletin.

The Capitol Breach, along with QAnon’s conspiracy theories, will likely prompt these extremists to “engage in more sporadic, solitary or small-cell violence against common” extremist “targets, including minorities and racial institutions. , ethnic or religious. , law enforcement, and government officials and buildings, ”according to the bulletin.

Federal officials also wrote that “the shared false narrative of a ‘stolen’ election,” the false claim perpetuated by President Trump, “may lead some individuals to believe that there is no political solution to answer to their grievances and that violent action is needed. “

The January 6 rally in Washington, DC, and the subsequent breach of the Capitol also provided an opportunity for militia members and extremists from different groups to meet, which could increase the will, capacity and motivation of extremists to attack and undermine a government. they consider it illegitimate.

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Travel companies suspend donations to certain legislators after violence on Capitol Hill

Marriott International Inc. and Airbnb are among other major corporations that are withholding political donations to lawmakers who voted against the certification of President-elect Joe Biden.

“We have taken into consideration the destructive events on Capitol Hill to undermine a legitimate and fair election and we will pause political donations from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against the election certification,” said the Marriott spokeswoman. , Connie Kim, in a statement.

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The decision comes after Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen condemned the violence on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.

“I recognize that we have associates who have very different views on the outcome of this election and the direction of the United States,” Sorenson wrote in an open letter on the Marriott website. “We serve guests who also have a wide range of opinions and perspectives. In the United States, we can use our voice and our vote to share our opinions. But what we cannot do is trample on the Constitution; we cannot use violence and terror. to force an agenda. It’s not who we are, and I would say it’s not what the vast majority of Americans want. “

Airbnb is also taking action. The company released a statement on the political action committee donations that read as follows:

“We have taken into consideration destructive events on Capitol Hill to undermine a legitimate and fair election and will pause political donations from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against the election certification,” said the spokeswoman for Marriott, Connie Kim.

Other major corporations have taken similar actions, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Microsoft, and Facebook.

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An FBI report would have warned of plans for violence on Capitol Hill.

FBI officials in Virginia wrote a stern warning the day before a mob attacked the US Capitol last week, sounding the alarm over the threat of violence, according to a law enforcement official.

The report was produced on Jan.5 by the FBI office in Norfolk, southern Virginia and sent to the office’s field office in Washington, where it was passed on to other law enforcement agencies, said the manager. It is not known which agencies received it.

The report mentions people sharing a map of the tunnels at the Capitol complex and possible meeting points in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina before traveling to Washington, according to the Washington Post, which made a first report on FBI document.

“Be violent. Stop calling it a march, rally or protest, ”the document said, according to The Post. “Go there ready for war. We get our president or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal. “

Officials warned that the information in the Norfolk report was unsubstantiated and that the part that cited “war” appeared to come from a single thread online.

Nonetheless, the report is likely to put the FBI on the defensive, with members of Congress and the public demanding answers as to why the office and other federal agencies were not more prepared for protests and attacks by the crowd, where at least five people died during the violence. and in its immediate consequences.

Supporters of President Trump had descended on Washington to protest Congressional ceremonial certification of the Electoral College after weeks of his baseless allegations of electoral irregularities.

Last week, Steven D’Antuono, head of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters there was no indication the day’s events were going to get out of hand. He said the FBI had seen nothing in advance beyond the activities protected by the First Amendment, which can include protests and even hate speech.

He said the FBI worked closely with its partners before Trump supporters, who came to Capitol Hill to protest the election results, turned violent.

Since the mob attacked the Capitol, the FBI appears to have taken a more aggressive approach to leaking information to other law enforcement agencies. On Sunday, the FBI warned local law enforcement partners that armed protests were planned at all 50 state houses and the U.S. Capitol. The warning also included information about an unidentified group calling on others to join them in state, local and federal “assault” courts if Mr. Trump was removed as president before the inauguration day.

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Can the United States Avoid More Political Violence?

Last week’s violence on Capitol Hill may not live up to extremists’ plans: FBI warns of possible armed protests in all 50 states. It’s Tuesday and here is your political advice sheet. register here to get On Politics delivered to your inbox every day of the week.

Biden received his second vaccine yesterday in Newark, Del.


The violent end of Trump’s presidency only puts an exclamation mark on the repetitive phrase of ethically questionable behavior displayed throughout his four-year tenure.

And as he leaves office, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are already working on ethics changes that seek to prevent some of his most egregious behaviors from normalizing.

Our reporter Elizabeth williamson wrote an article detailing the status of such an overhaul and the likelihood of it being enacted early in Biden’s tenure. Elizabeth has agreed to answer a few questions on the subject for us.

How much of it is about putting in writing things – like presidents who release their tax returns – that had been considered standard political practice, but never made it into official policy before Trump start to rape them?

The Trump administration scandals have revealed two things. First, how many norms of presidential behavior do not enshrined in law, but rather a matter of tradition, imposed by political shame. For example, the idea that presidents disclose their tax returns or that they do not transfer taxpayer money to their family businesses.

Second, the outgoing president laid out the need to update the last major ethics reform bill to pass by Congress: the now squeaky 1978 Ethics in Government Act, passed after the Watergate. These reforms came in response to President Richard Nixon’s use of the Justice Department to prosecute his political enemies. Trump’s yen for doing the same suggests a tune-up is in order.

One of Trump’s most obvious ways to dismiss ethical concerns was his drive to fire inspectors general. How would the current proposals strengthen the protections of inspectors general of executive agencies?

In fact, the IG protection component of the reform package has received early action in the House, according to Aaron Scherb of Common Cause, one of the watch groups pushing for these changes.

On January 5, on the eve of the Capitol Riot, the bipartisan Inspector General Protection Act – introduced by Representatives Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, and Jody Hice, Republican of Georgia – passed the House by voice vote.

The law would help protect inspectors general from retaliation, for example by requiring the executive branch to notify Congress before placing an IG on administrative leave. And that would help ensure vacant IG positions are filled quickly by requiring the executive to provide Congress with an explanation for not appointing an IG after an extended vacancy.

Biden is on the cusp of being a Democratic president with a Democratic Congress. Is there any real concern that party officials may not be keen to pass tough regulations, as Democrats are now calling the shots?

Historically, presidents have been reluctant to renounce any expansion of power enjoyed by their predecessor administrations. But given the titanic ethical blast holes some of these proposals aim to fill, like banning presidential self-pardons or preventing a sitting secretary from using official travel to make a campaign speech. politically, Democrats expect the next to be relatively minor.

Republican support for the changes is less clear. While some may jump at the chance to put the brakes on a Democratic president, the worry is that they will be afraid to support reforms that could be interpreted by Trump or his supporters as criticism of him.

On Politics is also available as a newsletter. register here to have it delivered to your inbox.

Do you think we are missing something? Do you want to see more? We would love to hear from you. Write to us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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State Capitols ‘on high alert’, fearing more violence

It was the opening day of the 2021 legislative session, and the perimeter of the Georgia State Capitol on Monday was bristling with state police officers in full camouflage uniforms, most of them carrying rifles. tactics.

Across the country, in Olympia, Washington, dozens of National Guard soldiers in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. A small group of protesters faced them in the pouring rain, some also wearing military fatigues and weapons. “Honor your oath!” they shouted. “Fight for freedom every day!”

And in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, an anti-government activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon, appeared outside the Statehouse in Boise with members of his organization wearing “wanted” posters for Governor Brad Little and others. on charges of “treason” and “sedition”.

“In these uncertain times, we need our neighbors to stand by and continue the war raging in this country,” Bundy’s group said in a message to supporters.

State capitals across the country brace for a fallout from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, with state legislatures already becoming the target of protesters in the tense days surrounding the inauguration of new President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Gone is much of the good-naturedness that typically accompanies the annual start of the legislative season, replaced by marked unease over the possibility of armed attacks and security gaps around states that have long prided themselves on being open to voters.

“Between Covid and the idea that there are people who are armed, who make threats and who are serious, it was certainly not your normal start of session,” said Senator Jennifer A. Jordan, a Democratic lawmaker in Georgia who watched the police gather outside. the State Capitol in Atlanta on Monday from his office window. “Usually people are happy, talking to each other, and it doesn’t have that feeling.”

Dozens of state capitals will be on alert in the coming days, following calls by a mix of anti-government organizations for action in all 50 states on January 17. Some of them come from far-right organizations that house a vast anti-government agenda and have already protested against Covid-19 state lockdowns since last spring. The FBI this week sent a warning to local law enforcement about the potential for armed protests in all 50 state capitals.

In a video press conference Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom of California said “everyone is on high alert” for the protests in Sacramento in the days to come.

The National Guard would be deployed as needed, he said, and the California Highway Patrol, tasked with protecting the Capitol, was also on the lookout for any emerging violence. “I can assure you that we have a high and increased level of security,” he said.

In Michigan, state police said they had stepped up their presence around the State Capitol in Lansing and would continue doing so for weeks. The commission that oversees the Statehouse voted on Monday to ban the open carrying of firearms inside the building, a move Democratic lawmakers have been calling for since last year, when armed protesters challenging government Covid lockdowns -19 stormed the building.

Two of those involved in the protests were later arrested in what authorities described as a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and bring her to justice.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel took to Twitter to warn the public to keep her away from the Statehouse, saying it was not secure.

Footage from the Wisconsin state legislature in Madison showed large sheets of plywood prepared to cover the downstairs windows. In St. Paul, Minnesota, the Statehouse has been surrounded by a chain link fence since early last summer, when social justice protests erupted over the murder of George Floyd in neighboring Minneapolis.

Patricia Torres Ray, a Democratic state senator, said the barrier served to protect the building and lawmakers, but concerns remained about possible shortcomings, such as the underground tunnel system that connects many public buildings of Minnesota to allow people to avoid walking outdoors. in winter.

Governor Jay Inslee in Washington ordered additional security after an armed crowd of Trump supporters walked through the fence of the governor’s mansion last week while he was at his home. State soldiers intervened to disperse the crowd.

In Texas, Representative Briscoe Cain, a conservative Republican from the Houston suburb of Deer Park, said the Austin legislature was likely protected by the fact that so many lawmakers carry guns.

“I have a gun on my hip as we speak,” Cain said in a telephone interview Monday. “I hope they’ll never be needed, but I think that’s why they never will be.”

The Republicans-dominated Texas legislature meets every two years and was scheduled to begin its 140-day session at noon Tuesday.

There may be efforts to reduce the presence of guns on Capitol Hill, Mr Cain said, but he predicted they would be doomed given the wide support for the Second Amendment.

In Missouri, Dave Schatz, Republican president of the state Senate, said hundreds of lawmakers gathered on the Statehouse lawn in Jefferson City on Monday for the swearing-in of Governor Mike Parson and other senior officials. officials. Although security is tight, with the roads around the building closed, the presence of police and other security personnel was normal for the day, Mr Schatz said, and no fellow lawmaker had so far. suspected of enhancing security.

“We are very far from the events in Washington,” he said.

In Nevada, a Nye County Republican leader issued a letter Friday comparing recent protests against election results across the country to the American Revolution, saying, “The next 12 days will be something to say to the grandchildren!” It’s still 1776!

The letter – written by Chris Zimmerman, chairman of the Nye County Republican Central Committee – drew a rebuke over the weekend from Representative Steven Horsford, a Democrat who represents the county.

Next door, in Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, Democratic officials on Sunday sent out a public safety alert about potential statewide violence, Warning, “Over the past 48 hours, online social media activity has intensified to the point that we need to take these threats seriously.”

While most of the protests announced so far are expected to focus on state capitals, law enforcement and other officials in various cities have said they believe other government buildings may also be targeted. .

Federal officials said Monday they arrested and charged a man, Cody Melby, with multiple bullets at the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon on Friday night. Mr Melby had also been arrested days earlier when, according to police, he attempted to enter the Salem State Capitol with a gun.

Some of those who protested in Oregon and Washington said they were opposed to state lockdown rules that prevent the public from being present when government decisions are made.

James Harris, 22, who lives in eastern Washington state, said he visited the Capitol in Olympia on Monday to urge residents to fully participate in their state’s response to Covid- 19. He said he was against wearing masks and social distancing; lockdowns “hurt people,” he said.

Mr Harris is a truck driver, but he said virus control measures had kept him from working since March.

Georgia has already experienced problems in recent days. As protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington last week, armed Trump supporters appeared outside the state headquarters in Georgia. Law enforcement escorted Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to safety, who had refused President Trump’s attempts to present the presidential election as fraudulent.

Senator Jordan noted that many of the security measures put in place, including the construction of a tall iron fence around the Capitol building, were in fact decided during the social justice protests last summer, when demonstrators surrounded many government buildings.

Now, she says, the threat comes from the other end of the political spectrum.

“These people are clearly serious, they are armed, they are dangerous,” Ms. Jordan said, “and from what we saw last week, they really don’t care who they are trying to eliminate.

Contributory reports were David Montgomery, Kathleen gray, Jill cowan, Maggie Astor, Adam goldman and Hallie Golden. Kitty bennett contributed to the research.