Quiet on the U.S. Capitol after new extremist threat

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Washington | Calm reigned Thursday in a Capitol under tight security in Washington after the announcement that a “militia” sought to attack the seat of Congress, two months after the deadly assault led by pro-Trump extremists.

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Some members of the QAnon Nebula place symbolic importance on March 4 because it is the date that U.S. presidents took office until 1933.

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Still refusing to accept Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election, some would be convinced that Donald Trump could be invested a second time on Wednesday.

However, no demonstrator was visible in the early afternoon. Soldiers of the National Guard patrolled the corridors of the imposing building, protected since January 6 by high barriers, in places surmounted by barbed wire.

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This imposing security device makes it hard to imagine the repetition of such an assault, carried out when thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators were already gathered at the feet of the Capitol after a speech by the Republican billionaire, then still president.

The House of Representatives advanced to Wednesday evening votes initially scheduled for Thursday.

But the Senate maintained its session and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi played down security fears behind the decision to shift the votes on Thursday during her weekly press conference held from Capitol Hill.

This decision was “logical” after the warning issued by the police, she declared, stressing that the parliamentarians of the House were much more numerous than in the Senate (435 against 100) and that it was easy for them to bring forward the only few hours of sitting scheduled for Thursday morning.

“No one should interpret it as if we had changed our entire schedule because a few troublemakers were likely to arrive,” she said, stressing the security greatly enhanced since January 6. “We are much better prepared than last time. “

Congress security officials, however, advised parliamentarians to use underground parking lots and corridors to access the Capitol, and to be extra vigilant.

These fears are based on information obtained by US intelligence. At the end of February, an “unidentified” group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the US Capitol, “the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security wrote in a note.

These extremists, mistakenly convinced that the November presidential election was marked by massive fraud, deny the legitimacy of Joe Biden, who arrived at the White House on January 20.

On Wednesday, Capitol police said information showed “a possible plan by an identified militia to force entry into the Capitol on March 4”.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that the city remains under a “high level of vigilance and preparedness.”

Based in Florida, Donald Trump did not react to this alert.

Deserted streets

The QAnon movement was born in 2017 in the United States among supporters of the businessman, who would, according to this conspiracy theory, be on a crusade against “an elite composed of satanist pedophiles”, and has spread to Europe . It is now officially banned from major digital platforms, making it more difficult to track its members.

Many were discouraged by the failed January coup.

Room prices at the luxurious Trump International hotel, near the Capitol, have skyrocketed to $ 1,331 a night for Wednesday and Thursday nights, from $ 476 until the end of March.

But the surrounding streets were almost deserted, very far from the image of the thousands of supporters who had come to listen to Donald Trump in front of the White House on January 6, before the assault.

Five people, including a Capitol policeman, died in the January coup. More than 270 people are being prosecuted for their participation in the attack, according to the FBI.

Accused of “inciting insurgency” for calling on his supporters to march on Congress, Donald Trump was acquitted in the Senate on February 13.

He never accepted the result of the presidential election, believing without foundation that his defeat was due to massive fraud.