With Democrats set to take the majority after victories in the Georgia Senate runoff elections earlier this month, the Biden team is making a heavy push for secretary of state nominee Anthony Blinken, homeland security secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, director of national intelligence nominee Avril Haines and defense secretary nominee retired Gen. Lloyd Austin.
“Regardless of any developments, with our national security at stake, the pandemic costing thousands of lives every day, and our economy in a historic recession, there is absolutely no justification for Republicans to jeopardize the ability of the United States government to keep the American people safe, distribute vaccines, and put Americans back to work,” Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates told Fox News.
“Many of these respected, qualified, crisis-tested nominees were announced in November, many have been previously confirmed, and their paperwork has been submitted,” Bates continued. “We look forward to continuing to work with both parties in good faith on timely confirmations.”
The Senate has traditionally confirmed national security nominees on Inauguration Day.
During the Trump transition, hearings for Trump national security nominees began during the week of Jan. 10, 2017, and on Trump’s Inauguration Day, his nominees for defense secretary and DHS secretary were confirmed.
A source familiar with the process told Fox News that following a presidential election year, the Senate traditionally passes an organizing resolution, which includes the nuts and bolts for committees which would conduct the hearings for nominees, and details how the Senate will conduct itself for the next two years.
Due to the Georgia Senate runoff elections and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, however, the source told Fox News that negotiations on a power-share agreement are still ongoing. The source said committees will likely begin holding hearings to consider the nominees in the coming days.
The push comes as Trump’s Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned from his post, and as security operations for Biden’s inauguration begin ahead of schedule.
Hours before his resignation, Wolf said that the Secret Service would begin their National Special Security Event operations on Jan. 13, instead of Jan. 19. Wolf said the change was made “in light of events of the past week and the evolving security landscape.”
An official familiar with the push told Fox News that a swift Senate confirmation for Mayorkas to lead DHS would send a strong message that it understands there are unprecedented and urgent threats to the U.S.
Meanwhile, a federal law enforcement source told Fox News that there is an internal FBI memo circulating that warns of plans for armed protests in all 50 state capital cities ahead of Biden’s inauguration.
The memo warned that the protests could be before, on and after Inauguration Day.
In a statement to Fox News, the FBI said that they do not comment on “specific intelligence products,” but said that the FBI “is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve.”
“Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” the FBI said. “As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners.The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.”
The FBI added: “Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.”
The memo comes as Fox News has learned the FBI has received more than “40,000 digital media tips, including video and photos, from the public” regarding participants in last week’s Capitol riot.
Sources told Fox News on Sunday that the FBI visited extremists prior to the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally and Capitol riot, urging them not to travel to Washington D.C.
It is unclear, at this point, how many extremists were contacted and how far in advance of Jan. 6.
The change in security plans come after last week’s Capitol riot, which left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer.
Pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, sending Congress into recess and the Capitol building into lockdown as members attempted to certify the results of the presidential election in favor of Biden.
Trump spoke earlier that day to supporters in Washington at a rally. The supporters later marched to the Capitol. Trump further pressured Vice President Mike Pence to act on his own to decertify the results of the election and send them back to the states for recertification.
Pence, before the joint session of Congress began, said he did not believe, under the Constitution, that he had the authority to “unilaterally” accept or reject electoral votes.
As members of the House and Senate debated and raised objections to certain electoral votes, both chambers were forced to recess and evacuate their chambers as protesters stormed the Capitol, damaging property and sending it into lockdown for hours.
The Justice Department has charged more than a dozen people involved in the riots and dozens more have been charged in Superior Court in Washington D.C. with unlawful entry, curfew violations and firearms-related crimes.
Last month, President Trump promised supporters a “wild” protest in D.C. on Jan. 6.
And in the wake of the Capitol riot, House Democrats have introduced an article of impeachment against Trump, saying he incited “insurrection.”
The House is expected to take up the article for consideration on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that the theme of Biden’s inauguration next week is “America United,” despite deep divisions in the country, focusing on a “new national journey” that the Biden team says will “restore the soul of America” and bring the country together.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will join Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony.
Meanwhile, Trump said last week that he would not attend Biden’s inauguration — an extraordinary move that would make him the first U.S. president to skip the inaugural ceremony of his successor since 1869.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” the president tweeted hours before he was permanently suspended from the platform.
Trump will be the fourth president not to attend his successor’s Inauguration Day. Former presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson did not attend their successors’ inaugural ceremonies.
Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.
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