Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told TBEN “The News with Shepard Smith” that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle “must be realistic” that President Donald Trump will not try to deter violent protesters in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“This president is not going to do that,” said Panetta, who served as defense secretary from July 2011 to February 2013 under President Barack Obama. “It’s not in his nature to do something that would be important to the country. He is thinking about himself. It will continue to consume him.”
At the Save America rally on January 6, Trump told thousands of onlookers on Capitol Hill that “we will never concede” and promoted a show of force from his supporters. A few minutes later, a crowd of his supporters stormed Congress and terrorized. Trump has since taken no responsibility for the deadly riot and has defended his speech.
“People thought what I said was very appropriate,” Trump told a group of reporters on Tuesday.
Trump’s comments come at a time of heightened alert for violence across the United States after the FBI warned of possible armed protests. In a Tuesday night interview on “The News with Shepard Smith,” Michael Chertoff, who served as Homeland Security Secretary during the Bush administration, said he believed there was a “real threat” of hostility in the state capitals of the country.
“I’m really worried about the next few weeks,” Chertoff said. I certainly think next week will be a time when these groups feel encouraged to go and try to commit chaos, not only by attacking the Capitol, but also by attacking other places. . “
A state of emergency has been declared in Richmond, Virginia over what authorities are calling “credible threats” from protests leading up to inauguration day on January 20. The Virginia Capitol Police have announced that they are increasing security.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers activated his state’s National Guard to protect the state Capitol building and closed the windows on the building’s ground floor. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted that, “The Michigan Capitol is not secure.” Chertoff said he doesn’t expect the threats to end after opening day.
“We could have active shooters, we could have homemade bombs, but honestly I think this will continue after January 20,” Chertoff said. “I think these groups have been made to believe this is their time.”
Panetta told host Shepard Smith that Trump will “face punishment” for “inciting this insurgency” last Wednesday. Trump is accused of inciting an insurgency, and House Democrats plan to vote on Tuesday to ask Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Panetta said if Pence doesn’t implement the 25th Amendment, there is no option other than impeachment.
“This is the bottom line, we cannot ignore what happened last Wednesday, and we must send a clear message to this president and to future presidents that this kind of behavior will never be tolerated in our country,” Panetta said.