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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 16, 2021 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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welcome to our viewers here in united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. this is a special edition of the situation room. we begin with breaking news, an arrest, calling into serious question how safe wednesday's inauguration in washington might be. the deployment of some 25,000 u.s. military troops from the u.s. national guard have turned downtown washington into a virtual fortress, and tonight,
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we're learning why this is so absolutely crucial after a man was caught at a checkpoint downtown carrying a loaded gun, lots of ammunition and most troubling, fake inauguration credentials. inauguration of president-elect joe biden four days away. shimon prokupecz is working his sources up on capitol hill for us. cnn's matt rivers and then jeremy diamond at the white house. shimon, what more do we know about this disturbing arrest by u.s. capitol police of this virginia man? >> reporter: right, his name is wesley allen bealer and we're told based on some information we've obtained he drove up to e street northeast and presented this fake credential. this inaugural credential and when the authorities checked on the list to see if he had, in fact, been credentialed to enter, they say they did not see
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that, and so when they asked some questions, he told them he had a weapon in the car and that's when they removed a 9 millimeter glock and as you said, found over 500 rounds of ammunition. one of the biggest concerns here, obviously, is that fake inaugural credential and obviously, the weapon and the ammunition in the car. we don't know much more at this point. authorities are continuing to investigate what he was doing there, but as you said, wolf, there is a major security concern here, as you can see behind me, there are national guard troops. just up and down the street here. we're on third street northwest. they are lined up all across the street here and surrounding the capitol. this is now obviously, we're on the ground. before we're showing you some aerial shots up on the roof and i want to quickly show you one other thing down the street. there's tents like this. magnetometers and that's where people who want to come to this
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area, they have to go to that area and go through the magnetometers, check your bags and let you through. this is all across downtown dc, wolf. >> 25,000 national guard troops. at least another 10,000 law enforcement, secret service, dc police, capitol police. the fbi and others, right? >> reporter: yeah, that's right. in fact, when we were walking through here, a secret service, one of the agents here. he's from texas. we asked him where he was from and he actually escorted us to this location. even the media has to be escorted everywhere we go. they are leaving nothing to chance, wolf, so they're escorting whoever they need to escort and basically more law enforcement coming in. fbi agents here and law enforcement from all across the country. the new york city, the nypd said they're even sending officers here to help with the security. 200 officers from the nypd will be here assisting dc law enforcement and the secret service and also, the thing,
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yesterday, we heard from the secret service, they keep changing these plans here, wolf. the head of the secret service here yesterday said that they were on their 11th security plan. obviously, a lot of changes have been made since january 6th when that mob attacked the capitol, so they are continuously changing their plans. we've seen that on the ground where some of the fencing that is behind us, so it's not here even yesterday and so this morning, new fencing went up and that's just continuing to go. there are more secret service agents on the ground, walking around. you can see that and we're starting to see the increase in national guard troops. that is becoming very apparent as we walk through this area here in downtown dc, wolf. >> stand by. i want to go to matt rivers. he's in austin, texas. give us a sense of the security situation at the texas capitol today. we're hearing reports that protesters are on the scene, that some of them have guns. what are you seeing?
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what are you hearing? >> reporter: we have seen several people like that throughout the day. not unusual in the state of texas where it's legal to carry. not the grounds of the capitol but here on the street where we are. you can see on the street behind me, a couple of protesters but really, it's been quite calm all day long but not to say they're not taking this seriously. in a normal time, you could walk into the capitol grounds here. this is the capitol building behind me. normally, this is open to the public. but right now, it's not. it's going to be closed. i can show you the security precautions the department of homeland security is taking. the building and grounds will be closed at least through wednesday according to security officials here. you can see there are dozens of
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officers inside these grounds. they've been here for several days now. although this is the first day this has been closed up. you can see there's a padlock chain here on the fence, not allowing people inside at the moment. and dps said they're doing this out of an abundance of caution. they're trafficking several different events. one for today and two more they say they're tracking for tomorrow and they're saying they don't have any threats, per se, that would be deemed as violent, wolf, but clearly, they are taking those kinds of precautions after what we saw last week in washington, dc. security officials here in often a austin are not willing to take any chances. dozens of extra officers and some with riot gear on them. that's going to remain on them for the next few days. >> all 50 state capitols should take serious precautions out of deep concern. max, stand by. jeremy diamond is over at the white house for us. jeremy, president trump made it clear he will not, repeat, not
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attend the inauguration of the president-elect on wednesday, but vice president pence has been very visible over the last few days. he will attend the inauguration. he's carrying out the duties that one might think that the president himself would do. so what's going on? is the vice president, for all practical purposes, assume some of trump's duties? >> reporter: well, the vice president is certainly filling a vacuum left by president trump here in the final days of trump's presidency. the president is behind closed doors, holed up inside the white house. he has no public events on his schedule, and meanwhile, vice president pence is traveling today to one of two military installations that he will be visiting this weekend to try and talk about the trump foreign policy achievements over the four years in office and send a public signal there is leadership in this government
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and we've seen vice president pence fill this role in several d ways over the last few days. with national guards men protecting that area ahead of the inauguration, he headed to the federal emergency management agency to be briefed on the security precautions being taken ahead of the inauguration and he also, most notably, perhaps, gave a phone call to vice president-elect kamala harris, something president trump has not done as it relates to president-elect joe biden. in multiple ways, you see vice president pence fill this leadership vacuum and act in a way much more consistent with most transitions of power in terms of showing the peaceful transition of power happening and helping to actually make it happen in washington and
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expected to leave washington on wednesday morning, the day of the inauguration and he is asking aides to prepare for a showy sendoff for him, a military sendoff. we're not clear if that would be at the white house or joint base andrews where he would be boarding air force one for the first time but the president has also been asking there be crowds of his supporters there to really show him off in fashion, in the same way that we have seen the president conduct so much of his four years in office but as it relates to assisting a peaceful transition of power, one that's really not like any other we have seen in modern american history, in large part because of president trump's rhetoric. now though, the president is doing nothing to try and allay his supporters' concerns that this election was stolen. he's not doing anything to encourage his supporters to accept president-elect joe biden as the next president of the united states and simply staying out of view.
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wolf? >> at least he doesn't have twitter or facebook or instagram or these other social media posts to rile up those supporters. all right, jeremy, thank you. shimon, matt, guys, we'll get back to you. i know all of you are working your sources. i want to bring in now the virginia attorney general. thank you so much for joining us. i want to get your reaction to the breaking news that you heard right at the top of the hour about this man stopped with a loaded gun, lots of ammunition, 500 grounds. fake inauguration credentials. stopped by dc capitol police. he's from your state, the commonwealth of virginia. what do you know about this individual? >> i don't have much more to add than what you've been reporting, wolf. and thank you for having me. i think it does show a few things though. first of all, it shows that the planning and taking these threats seriously is really
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important. and what we saw on january 6th involved thousands of people storming the capitol in an act of national terrorism, disgrace and desecration of the symbol of our democracy and culmination of the trump presidency which has been marked by lies and violence and words matter. it shows words matter and the planning that is going into the security is really important and while what happened on january 6th involved thousands of people even if the crowds aren't as large, it only takes a few people or just one to cause a great deal of harm. >> certainly, indeed. we know that one individual, a high profile arrest also from virginia, that individual robert keefe packer, the man glorifying auschwitz, the nazi death camp and we know two police officers
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from virginia were arrested. what can you tell us about these virginians and why do you think several virginians were actually arrested for storming the u.s. capitol? >> there's going to have to be a deep look in a 9/11-style commission to really get to all of what happened and why words matter. it's been all through the trump presidency, but especially the last couple of months about the lies of a stolen election and so many republican leaders went along with it, and continued to repeat those lies and repeat the conspiracy theories to the point where the president seemed to be pressuring a secretary of state to falsify an election and then to storm the capitol to try to interfere with what congress was doing for its congressional duty. and so words matter and, in
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fact, these political leaders, some of these republican leaders who should be coming out and saying, no, this is wrong, are doing just the opposite. one state official, a state senator from virginia and a gubernatorial candidate went to dc, participated in some of the events that led to this seditious riot, spoke and addressed the crowd, and you know, she spoke on the senate floor just two days ago trying to explain herself but in fact, actually doubled down and repeated the same conspiracy theories, the same lies and actually called them patriots. wearing a camp auschwitz shirt in the capitol, nothing pat patriotic about that. part of the problem, so many of these republican leaders should be calling it out and instead are just continuing to repeat the lies and the conspiracy theories and words matter. >> they certainly do. good luck in virginia.
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the attorney general mark herring, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me and stay safe. >> you too, please. and join cnn for all day live coverage of the inauguration of the president-elect joe biden, history making event in a truly unprecedented time. special all day live coverage starts wednesday right here on cnn. the arrest of that virginia man is just another awful reminder that uniting our nation after the insurrection at the u.s. capitol will be easier said than done. is there anything president-elect biden can do to make that happen? we're going to discuss that and a lot more. get all the late-breaking developments when we come back.
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the breaking news we're following. we learn a virginia man was arrested here in washington, dc after he tried to pass through a police checkpoint, once again,
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in the nation's capitol with a loaded handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and according to a source, fake inauguration credentials. friday's arrest coming days after rioters stormed the u.s. capitol to try to overturn the results of a free and fair election here in the united states. after the president of the united states and his supporters constantly repeated false, totally false claims of fraud. with that, we're getting a clear picture of what's at stake if these lies continue to spread unchecked and if the political divide in this country continues to only deepen. once again, abby phillip is joining us, our cnn political correspondent. so many americans still believe the lie that the election was st stolen. what role can the president-elect biden, for example, persuade them to move the country forward? >> it's really hard to say what biden is going to be able to do about this because the reason so many americans believe that is
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because republicans spread this lie for so many months. not just the president but many members of congress and elected officials up and down the spectrum so the responsibility is to tell truth to their supporters. biden, i think, is going to focus on two things. one, governing, but secondly, trying to work with people that he considers to be reasonable and i do wonder if that will be helpful in terms of turning the temperature down, getting some people who have been in a very rumpian mode to get back into a kind of sense of normalcy where some of these lies that they've been willing to tolerate over the trump era, especially in the last few months, they are no longer willing to do and say that, and i think we've already seen some hints of that as more and more republicans, especially in the senate, have come forward and said clearly that there has been no fraud and joe biden was the duly elected president of the united states. >> there was a free and fair election in the united states.
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president trump was the loser in the election. he's leaving office on wednesday, but sadly, the conspiracy theories that he inspired, they are all over the place. not only here in washington, but all over the country. qanon in positions of power within the republican party right now including in congress. has trump unleashed something that's likely to continue and spin and spin out of control? >> i think it's already out of control, wolf. we are out of control. we are basically a lockdown state here in washington because of threats that have been sewn by adherence to the president's lies. i mean, just even yesterday, the president was still entertaining the mypillow executive pushing him to declare martial law and do all kinds of things in furtherance of this lie about the election. the republican party has lost control over this situation.
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so much so that more than half of republicans in this country believe that there was widespread fraud where there was not in the last election. it's the responsibility of leaders in that party to turn the tide here and it's going to take leadership. clearly, very few republicans have been willing to speak up. you see people like liz cheney and mitt romney but many more will need to do that if they want to take back control over their party and have voters who are operating from the same set of facts the rest of the world is operating on, not some imaginary conspiracy theory invented by president trump. >> we know, abby, president trump is always desperate for attention. how much could he actually hinder the country moving forward even from the sidelines? >> i think that's a huge, huge question. i mean, when he's no longer president, he's not going to command the same amount of attention that he did before. and not only that, i think
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probably the most notable thing that's happened in the last week is that he's been banned from social media, from facebook, from twitter, from so many different social media companies that he's relied on to get his message out. i think that's really going to tamp down on the degree to which he can set the agenda for republicans. but at the same time, it's going to depend on whether republicans in positions of power are willing to step away from trumpism in the coming months and even years. he also is going to be trying to claim that he will run again in 2024 and using that as a sort of scare tactic for republicans. i am not sure that he will actually do that but i think the fear that they might have of the president running again is going to be a force for some time. it's also notable, the republican national committee is still being run by a trump
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loyalist. rona rodney mcdaniels and trump is embedded there. it will be hard to change that overnight. >> since the election on november 3rd, raised maybe $300 million in various campaign money that he could use in all sorts of ways if he decides to do so. abby, thanks once again for joining us. we want to congratulate abby, next sunday, not this sunday, but next sunday will begin a new job here as the host of "inside politics" sunday mornings on 8:00 a.m. january 24th. congratulations, abby, on that. >> thank you so much. >> i know you're going to be a fabulous anchor of "inside politics" on sunday mornings and one more note. make sure once again to tune in tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. eastern for her cnn special report, "kamala harris: making history" where she talks with the soon to be vice president of the united states and her
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family. abby, very, very busy journalist here in washington. as we follow all the developments of and arrests last night of a virginia man in washington, dc with a loaded gun over 500 rounds of ammunition and unauthorized credentials. the lawmaker said the biggest threat to their safety may be from republicans across the aisle. stand by. this is so disturbing.
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federal prosecutors have opened at least 275 cases
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stemming from the capitol hill riot and bulletins said extremists view it as a success meaning the threat is clearly not going away. we're now learning that last night a man was arrested in downtown washington with a loaded gun 500 rounds of ammunition and fake inauguration credentials. i'm joined now by the democratic senator jeff berkeley of oregon. i know there's a lot going on. thanks so much for joining us. how concerned are you about the threats to the inauguration on wednesday, four days away and potentially what could happen in the coming days? >> well, it's certainly reassuring that intense planning has occurred based on what happened a week ago wednesday. it may be one of the safest places in the world to be on inauguration day. there's other threats people continue to worry about, the possibility of drones or things of this nature, but certainly on the ground, i think the perimeter is going to be highly
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secure. >> well, that's encouraging the hear that and an enormous security presence developed. i've never seen anything like this in washington and i suspect you haven't either. 25,000 national guard troops. 10,000 fbi u.s. capitol hill police, dc police, secret service, they're all over the place as they should be given the threats out there. as you know, senator, some democrats say one media threat, and this is unbelievable to actually hear it, right across the aisle, democratic congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez of new york put it in very stark terms yesterday. i want you to watch and listen. >> i did not go to the secure location because i feared other members of congress. that would have allowed harm to me. so i was not in the secure
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location that day. i was almost never in a secure location that day. one of the most frightening things is i had said earlier is just not knowing who's wilthere help and who's there to hurt. >> an extraordinary comment she's so concerned about colleagues from the house of representatives potentially endangering her. do you share those concerns, senator? >> i do not on the senate side. it's so disheartening to hear that we're at the point where the chasm between the party is so large. the incitement to intense opposition is strong that people fear actions of their colleagues. i certainly disagree profoundly with the actions of my colleagues in terms of their decision to saessentially burn
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ballots of arizona and pennsylvania but in terms of feeling personally at risk, no. >> pretty amazing development that happened in the hourpt in the past few days. theymagnetometers. so they have to go on there before they can go on the floor of the house of representatives. that's a pretty amazing development in and of itself. at the same time, senator, there are allegations that republican lawmakers or their staffers actually aided the insurrectionists who showed up and stormed the capitol last week. have you seen or heard anything that indicates there was that kind of inside help? >> well, nothing on the senate side. the allegations i've seen are all about house members who may have worked in partnership in planning or assisting or giving advance tours. again, it just, it's stunning. absolutely stunning situation
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we're in. i keep coming back to the fact that we have to have a huge effort for accountability in every way. the investigations that are under way. the prosecutions that need to follow. completing the trial in the senate. hopefully though i'm not optimistic, hopefully with conviction and a ban on trump for life and certainly passing the "for the people" act, not the factors trump pointed out by the gerrymandering, the voter suppression, which is completely out of control and the dark money. and so that would be a really strong way to shore up our institutions as well as the security side that we're focused on at the moment. >> you raise the issue of the upcoming senate impeachment trial. he was impeached in the house. let's see if he was convicted. you need two-thirds votes, 67 senators, so you need 17 republicans to join the democrats. if all the democrats vote to convict. talk a little bit about the timeline you expect.
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when do you think this trial will begin? >> well, the senate rules say immediately upon receiving word from the house, so nancy pelosi, if she conveys the articles on the 20th or 21st, we'll convene at least by the next day. i hope that we will be able to z design a process that's far more expeditious. one straightforward charge. an incitement to insurrection. a lot of evidence, some of which we've witnessed ourselves. the side will want to make the legal case whether you can continue with a trial after the president is out of office. i'm absolutely convinced that you can and the point, of course, to be to apply the second punishment, not remove from office but disqualification to hold office in the future or any position of trust in the government. and i'm hoping that it could be the sort of thing that could be done in two or three days. we have nominations.
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we have the economy. we have the pandemic and then we have all the work that's been postponed on issues from climate chaos to the foundations of thriving families, health care housing and education. >> you really think there could be a trial that could be completed within two or three days? so far, every impeachment trial that has gone on involving a president, in this particular case, a former president, has gone the shortest. been about 20 or 21 days. >> it's a far simpler case that's being presented and it will depend a lot on the will of the republicans if they wish to stipulate certain facts, rather than having an extensive review of people giving the same evidence over and over again. it could be done just like the house, so much shorter that be it was a year ago. the actual impeachment process. the senate could be much shorter. i have a feeling that we've
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always been told not to be h helpful in this. they engaged as a strategy in delay and obstruction, but we had their cooperation. it could be much faster than a year ago. >> senator murk lee, thank you so much for joining us. stay safe out there. >> thank you, wolf. coronavirus vaccine that does nothing is sitting in a vial delays right now. plugging the vaccine rollout across the country and as the u.s. nears 400,000 covid deaths over this past year, time is of the essence. which states are doing the rollout right? which are doing it wrong? we have lots to discuss. there's more news right after this. we made usaa insurance for members like martin. an air force veteran made of doing what's right, not what's easy. so when a hailstorm hit, usaa reached out before he could even inspect the damage. that's how you do it right. usaa insurance is made just the way martin's family needs it with hassle-free claims, he got paid before his neighbor even got started.
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another critically important story. the coronavirus pandemic which is getting worse and worse here in the united states. the global coronavirus death toll has now surpassed 2 million here in the u.s. the pandemic death toll could surpass 400,000 americans dead before president-elect biden is sworn in on wednesday and as variants of this virus seem to increase the infection rate, there's not a second to waste when it comes to making, distributing and injecting vaccines. cnn medical analyst dr. megan renee. thank you for joining us. sadly we see great lags between the number of vaccines that have been delivered to various states out there and the number of actual injections that have been given. what's going on here? >> you know, there are a bunch of different reasons for that, wolf. in many ways, it feels like the ppe crisis all over again where
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we're ham strung by our lack of last mile distribution systems. there are things ranging from difficulty getting the vaccines from their cold storage. we've had reports of vaccine doses being thrown out because administrators are told if they administer it to the wrong person, they could get fined. all of these logistical difficulties preventing us from getting those vaccine doses in arms and that's not even to mention the challenges of getting vaccines from their central storage facilities from pfizer, moderna and the federal government to the states. >> when it comes to the vaccination plans we're all seeing right now, some states are getting the doses out relatively well, others are struggling. why do you think there are these discrepancies? >> so i think it's a few things.
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you know, remember, up until late december, there was virtually no funding provided to the states to provide for these last mile logistics. we have states across the country with underfunded public health departments. and officials already exhausted and then been added on to a whole new logistical challenge to their existing work without extra funding, without extra staff. we're seeing some states that were better prepared and better funded that are doing a better job. those states that lacked leadership and funding are not surprisingly doing a worse job. my home state of rhode island, we've been quite active in trying to get vaccines out into the highest risk neighborhoods through mobile vans and door to door, knocking on people's doors as well as through health care facilities. while other states it's like a black friday sale, first come
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first serve, people lining up overnight. a lot of it is explained by the state's focus on the importance of public health as a key strategy for their state's economy and well being. >> we're getting, dr. ranney, new details of some of the executive actions president-elect biden is planning on signing once he's in office. he is sworn in on monday. one is a mask mandate, on all federal property and during interstate travel. do you think that will be enough, some sort of nation weidemw wide mandate? >> i think every element of that plan is necessary and together, it may be sufficient. i'm thrilled at the idea of interstate travel requiring a mask mandate. i'm supposed to be flying down to dc this week to hopefully come to inauguration and i would love, yes, there's officially a rule that people are supposed to be masked on the planes, but i would love for there to be rules about masks whenever you're
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traveling between states. i think any time that we set a norm that masking is expected, that helps to remind people that it does help to save them and their communities. now, is that interstate travel and the federal property is going to be enough. that's debatable. ideally, we have it in every single state, and not just the mandate but enforcement of it because policy alone is not sufficient but it is a step in the right direction. >> thank you very much, dr. megan ranney, stay safe out there. >> thank you. with the nation's capitol essentially on lockdown surrounded by fencing, barricades and over 25,000 national guard troops, many world leaders simply can't believe what is going on, what's happening in the united states of america right now. we're going to talk about that. what president-elect biden may do to try to change how the united states is seen abroad. we'll be right back. the new lexus is is all in on style. all in, all day.
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right now, so much of washington, dc is looking more like a fortress than the scene of democracy. as authorities race to try to secure the u.s. capitol and prevent yet another violent attack. and as americans watch in horror, so too are the country's strongest international allies as global leaders await the inauguration of president-elect joe biden. senior diplomatic editor nick is joining us now. what are some of the closest allies of the united states saying right now about what they're seeing going on here in washington? >> wolf, it's certainly getting
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a lot of headline attention. the idea that you can have as many armed u.s. troops on the streets of washington, dc as you have deployed internationally in iraq and syria and afghanistan multiple times more, that's catching people's headlines. you know, the fact that there are big fences being put up. huge areas being locked down. that also is getting a lot of attention. we saw leaders like boris johnson who is formally very close to president trump, denouncing the insurrection and president trump's role in it, just ten days ago. now leaders are being a little more quiet, waiting to see how the process plays out. inauguration. but the real concerns here are perhaps less around the event itself, showing surprise about the level of security required but the real concern is how much of a distraction for president-elect joe biden will this be going forward? will there be continuing acts of violence when, you know, the united states allies here in europe or japan or south korea
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in the inn ddo pacific region, y want their primary concerns be it china, a concern for biden and the europeans firming up a strong transatlantic relationship. all of these are important things. but what they see on the streets in washington today, it is frankly a worry and i think they're all going to be holding their breath to hope that inauguration day goes off without a hitch and whatever may come after. president-elect biden can deal with international issues too. >> yes, so many world leaders, america's closest friends, allies are having a hard time understanding what is going on here in washington, dc right now. we've also learned, nick, just learned a little while ago what some of president-elect's biden's first orders of business will be after he takes office on wednesday. among them, an executive order to rescind what's called the muslim ban to rejoin the paris
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climate accords. you think these steps are going to be enough to, let's say, reestablish america's strength on the world stage and reassure the closest allies? >> it's a huge first step, wolf. and the fact that president-elect joe biden wants to do this the first day is absolutely a message that allies want to hear. this is going to help reestablish the legitimacy of the united states. let's say in south korea and japan where they have seen under president trump this sort of call for them to pay more to keep u.s. troops on their soil when it's all united states and japan and south korea's interest to have a strong ready to go military presence in the indo pacific region and here in europe, when you have president-elect joe biden saying that he'll rejoin the paris climate change accord, this is the sort of u.s. politics that they want to see here in europe. this is what's going to keep the
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strength and connection, transatlantic alliance strong and alive in the way it was being damaged under president trump. so this is a good first step, but everyone will recognize, wolf, this is a signature. these will be signatures, important signatures on paper. but president-elect joe biden is still going to have all of his domestic issues to deal with. i don't think anyone is fooled that joe biden is really going to be able to turn his back on what's happening at home and really focus internationally, but undoubtedly, these are going to be very welcome stats and frankly, world leaders expecting had been telegraphed and if they hadn't had come, that would have been a desperate worry. >> nic robertson, thank you very much for that analysis. we follow all the late breaking analysts. the special edition of "the situation room," the arrest of the virginia man here in washington, dc with a gun and 500 rounds of ammunition.
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welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. this is a special edition of "the situation room." the breaking news we're following right now here in washington, dc, a virginia man arrested with a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in an area of downtown washington that he was not authorized to enter according to a police report and law enforcement sources. this as the nation's capitol right now is under the highest alert. police and federal agents bracing for potential violence in the short time remaining until joe biden is sworn in as

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