‘We cannot yield’: Harris says inauguration should take place outside despite security concerns

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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris argued in a new interview that it is crucial for her and President-elect Joe Biden to take their oaths of office outside on Inauguration Day, despite heightened security threats ahead of next week’s ceremony.

Asked why it was so important to continue the inaugural tradition of being sworn in on the West front of the Capitol, Harris told NPR on Thursday: “I think that we cannot yield to those who would try and make us afraid of who we are.”

Her comments came one week after supporters of President Donald Trump breached the Capitol, ransacking the nation’s seat of government in a riot that resulted in the deaths of at least five people — including a Capitol Police officer.

Trump was impeached on Thursday by the House of Representatives for a second time for inciting the insurrection, which has raised new concerns over the safety of the inauguration on Jan. 20.

A rehearsal for the ceremony scheduled to take place on Sunday has been postponed until Monday for security reasons. Biden’s transition team has also canceled an Amtrak trip from Wilmington to Washington that was planned for Monday.

The National Guard is expected to deploy more than 20,000 troops to Washington, D.C., to help secure the inauguration, and the FBI has warned about the potential for armed protests in all 50 states.

Both Biden’s inaugural committee and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser have warned Americans to stay away from the inauguration, as the Capitol complex remains heavily fortified. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that all or most of the National Mall is expected to be closed to the general public.

Nevertheless, Biden has said he is “not afraid” to be sworn in outside, even as his inaugural planning team is reassessing its security planning in the aftermath of the Capitol siege.

Following the conclusion of the inauguration festivities next week, the president-elect has signaled that he will embark on an aggressive push for a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package — which Biden formally unveiled on Thursday and Harris described as “our highest priority.”

“We intend to work across party lines to do what is necessary to get this passed,” she said in her interview.

Harris also dismissed anxieties among some Democratic lawmakers that potential Senate impeachment trial of Trump could cloud the opening days of the Biden administration and hobble its legislative agenda.

“We know how to multitask,” she said. “There’s a reason that word exists in the English language. That’s what's going to be required. We have to multitask, which means, as with anyone, we have a lot of priorities, and we need to see them through.”