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Live Mic: Biden’s national security challenge to protect against enemies foreign and domestic

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

SALT LAKE CITY — Bringing Americans together to a place where they can disagree on policy without resorting to violence, on full display similar to the scene at the US Capitol last week, will be a challenge, said a Utah expert on national security.

Ryan Vogel, director of the Center for National Security Studies at Utah Valley University, joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to discuss the security situation in Washington, D.C., after the armed assault on the Capitol.

Trump’s belated call for calm

President Donald Trump finally conceded the presidential race to President-elect Joe Biden — without mentioning his name — on Thursday after months of saying he would never concede.

“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th,” Mr. Trump acknowledged.

The president also added he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, breaking a tradition that has for centuries been a hallmark of the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.

A day after a deadly riot on the US Capitol by Trump supporters, the president said in a video: “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”

After five people were killed in the chaos — including a Capitol Police officer — Mr. Trump announced: “Now tempers must be cooled, and calm restored. We must get on with the business of America.”

A  ‘real challenge’ for national security

“What are the things that you’re paying attention to most closely?” Lee asked national security expert Vogel.

Vogel said the most immediate concern right now is securing the environment from threats in Washington, D.C., and statehouses throughout the country from this wave of politically fueled attacks.

In the long term, “We’re going to have to pay closer attention to how to bring people back to a place where we can disagree on policy, disagree on issues but still not treat each other as the enemy and still see each other as Americans,” said Vogel. “I think it’s going to be a real challenge going forward.”

Lee mentioned Utah Sen. Mike Lee trying to stop Trump administration officials, such as national security adviser Robert O’Brien, from resigning en masse after the president’s supporters stormed past police to invade the Capitol.

“Is that important? What could happen should they not stay?” Lee asked. 

“It is important. I completely understand why someone would want to jump ship at this point because it seems to be sinking really, really hard right now,” Vogel said. 

Vogel said the reason Sen. Lee is “basically begging” Trump officials to stay on the job for nine more days is that they are more important than ever.

“If there’s going to be a steering the president in a more constructive direction, they need to be there,” he said. ” . . . Those people I think would be serving their country more if they stayed instead of jumping.”

Empowering US adversaries

The Biden team will most likely face a national security challenge from other countries. 

“What are the new challenges, or what are the unique challenges, faced by the Biden administration as they step into the circumstances of today?” Lee asked.

“It’s a complicated world that they’re coming into. I was there during the Bush-to-Obama transition. It’s always a complicated time because you’re trying to get the new team up to speed. You have to orient them to all the issues that are happening,” Vogel said.

He mentioned a power struggle with China and cyberattacks from Russia among others. 

“Are our would-be adversaries outside of this nation looking opportunistically at the circumstances playing out here in America today?” Lee asked.

“Oh, of course, of course. I think the Chinese, in particular,” Vogel said. “The Chinese are our major competitors for global influence and power. I think the Chinese are looking at this and thinking, man, it’s going to be a lot easier to persuade countries that are sort of on the fence between the democratic world and the more authoritarian world that we’re a more stable option. We’re a more reliable partner.

“So I am hoping that we can get through this period quickly so we can take a bit of that pervasiveness away from countries like the Chinese,” he said. “Anytime the United States is distracted, our enemies take advantage of it. Whether it’s the North Koreans building up their nuclear and missile programs or whether it’s the Russians continuing their cyber efforts or terrorist groups regrouping and training and preparing for attacks. Anytime the United States is focused on other distractions, We give them space to do those things.”

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.