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Valley politicos assess Inauguration week — and beyond

Two weeks after pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol and one week after President Donald Trump was impeached for inciting the riot, President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated Wednesday — in a city on high alert. The anxiety can be felt here, too.
Tim Ryan - Capri Cafaro - Geno DiFabio 01192020
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13th, former Democratic leader of the Ohio State Senate Capri Cafaro and President Donald Trump supporter Geno DiFabio.

WASHINGTON — If you're tired of constantly living through historical events: buckle up. 

Two weeks after pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol and one week after President Donald Trump was impeached for the second time — this time for inciting said riot — President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated Wednesday in a city on high alert. 

Up to 25,000 National Guard troops — including 1,000 from Ohio — were mobilized to support law enforcement providing security for the inaugural activities. 

In a statement issued Monday night, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13th, of Howland said Congress was assured the city is prepared to host a secure inauguration. 

"Since the birth of our nation, the peaceful transition of power has been a sacred tradition and has made our democracy the envy of the world," Ryan's statement read. "The deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will not stop that tradition from continuing."

The nation's capital has seen "a steady progression of lockdown," said former Democratic leader of the Ohio State Senate Capri Cafaro. 

Metro stops near the U.S. Capitol have been closed. The city is also planning to close access to bridges. Cafaro, who has a home in Georgetown, noticed increased law enforcement presence in D.C. neighborhoods and on highways as she traveled the city.  

"There are even big signs that say, 'If you see something, say something,'" she added. "Which obviously we have come to associate with post-9/11 terrorism vigilance. It's jarring to see those kinds of signs knowing the context is more right now geared toward domestic terror."

She added: "I definitely am concerned."

After more than a dozen participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection were revealed to be current or former law enforcement and military professionals, security officials' latest fear is a threat from inside.

National Guard members are even being trained to screen their own colleagues to tamp down on threats from within their own ranks. 

Cafaro, who travels to Washington, D.C. about once a month to teach at American University, said about the upcoming week, "I wanted to make sure I was back in Ohio."

But, when it comes to the possibility of violence, "There is a concern that this is maybe the beginning," Cafaro said. "It's not going to be simple."

From a practical standpoint, she foresees a forceful push for D.C. statehood as the insurrection highlighted security limitations posed by district's lack of statehood.

During the insurrection, the Department of Defense denied Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's request to expand the responsibilities of the D.C. National Guard so they could restore order at the Capitol. Bowser's request was denied. 

Deploying a state's own National Guard is something "any governor would be able to do," said Cafaro. 

From an ideological perspective, the Republican party will have to chart a difficult path forward, she said. 

"How do you distance yourself from an insurrection but at the same time not alienate what's become an important part of the Republican Party?" Cafaro asked. 

Geno DiFabio, a Trump supporter and Valley surrogate for the Trump campaign, threads the needle by arguing the actions of a violent minority do not reflect the sentiment of Trump supporters largely. 

"Just because some Trump supporters did something and they support Trump and bad things happen doesn't mean that Trump supporters are all terrorists," he said. "Everyone that went inside that building should be held accountable. Believe me, I'm for law and order."

Unlike many in his party, DiFabio acknowledges that Biden won the election. Regarding the people who still refuse to accept the results of the election, DiFabio said, "I'll get them to understand. The time to win would have been election night."

DiFabio, who works for City Machine Technologies, said he saw business "picking up" when Trump became president and worries about the effects President-elect Biden's policies will have on the economy. 

"The only saving grace is, it's two years. There's a razor thin majority in the Senate, a very very small majority in the House," he said, discussing the 2022 mid-term elections.

As for four years from now: "We just have to get the right candidate. If it's Donald Trump again, I'll vote for Donald Trump again."

DiFabio was practical — even humorous — in discussing his potential responses to Biden's win.

"Listen, I'm not going to go jump off a bridge. I'm not going to go to D.C. and get myself arrested, that's for damn sure. I can't run from the cops. I've got two bad knees. Honest to God, I want what's best."

Still he added: "I don't like the way it's looking."