Bowser made the remarks during a briefing to discuss the city’s and federal agencies’ security plans ahead of and on Inauguration Day, saying that the level of preparation and execution for the event is “unprecedented.”
The nation’s capital on Friday continued to boost security by shutting down access to iconic landmarks and erecting vehicle checkpoints at a security perimeter surrounding central Washington. Officials have said they expect the number of National Guard troops to rise to 25,000 in the city, a number that could still increase even further.
The heightened security posture follows the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.
“We cannot allow a recurrence of the chaos and illegal activity that the United States and the world witnessed last week,” Matthew Miller, the head of the Secret Service’s Washington field office, told reporters.
Asked if the extensive security measures around Washington would be reversed after the inauguration, Bowser said, “We are going to go back to a new normal.”
“We certainly have to think about a new posture in the city,” she said, adding, “So while we are focused on January the 20th, we are also focused on January the 21st and every day thereafter in the nation’s capital.”
“I think our entire country is going to have to deal with how our intelligence apparatus, security apparatus at every level deal with a very real and present threat to our nation,” she said.
Bowser’s announcement comes one day after the release of a joint security bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and eight other agencies, noting an elevated security risk following the Capitol riot.
The bulletin, which was obtained and reported on by several news outlets (pdf), indicates that “domestic violent extremists” pose the most likely threat to the presidential inauguration, especially by “those who believe the incoming administration is illegitimate.”
“In light of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on 6 January, planned events in Washington, D.C., in the lead up to and day of Inauguration Day offer continued opportunities for violence targeting public officials, government buildings, and federal and local law enforcement,” the assessment reads.
On Thursday, FBI Director Chris Wray said during a security briefing that the bureau was monitoring an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter” related to potential threats leading up to the presidential inauguration.
“When we talk about potential threats, we are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter—that’s the best way I can describe it—about a number of events surrounding the inauguration and, together with our partners, we evaluate those threats and what kind of resources to employ against them. Right now, we’re tracking calls for potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration,” Wray told Vice President Mike Pence during a briefing on security for the inauguration.
“We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies planned here in D.C. and in state capitols around the country in the days that come that could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government facilities and officials,” Wray added.
Responding to warnings of potentially violent demonstrations, governors across the nation are calling out National Guard troops, declaring states of emergency, and closing their capitols to the public ahead of the inauguration.