As if those concerned about the status of American governance didn’t have enough to worry about already, early this Tuesday, the White House and U.S. Capitol building were briefly placed on apparent lockdown after a not immediately identified aircraft flew into the restricted airspace around the nation’s capital. A source told ABC News that the aircraft was not believed to be hostile, although the outlet adds that it’s unclear what actually happened with it. The lockdown was lifted within about twenty minutes, but not before it included steps like officials kicking out construction workers repairing a fence on the White House complex grounds.
The White House has kicked out all of the construction workers who have been working on the fence replacement on the north side. One just told me: “They said ‘everybody get out.’ Just like that.” https://t.co/437Vz84QyM pic.twitter.com/G9BFgBjcaH
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) November 26, 2019
As the situation unfolded, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell told CNN:
‘Senior officials across the interagency are monitoring the situation on a national event conference call. NORAD aircraft are on site and responding.’
The official Twitter account for NORAD — which stands for the North American Aerospace Defense Command — originally tweeted:
‘Senior interagency officials are monitoring the situation on a national event conference call. Our jet fighters are on site and responding. Plane is not considered hostile at this time.
‘[A U.S.] official said military helicopters were dispatched — not fighter jets as often happens in similar circumstances.’
The response at the White House also included reporters getting told they weren’t allowed to leave the press briefing room, while evacuations reportedly proceeded at the U.S. Capitol building itself.
White House totally on lockdown. All press being sheltered in place inside briefing room. Similar reported response at the a U.S. Capitol + congressional office buildings pic.twitter.com/9GlXpH1qLq
— j.d. durkin (@jiveDurkey) November 26, 2019
President Donald Trump himself has not publicly responded to the situation and doesn’t seem likely to anytime soon, considering he jumped right into Twitter rants attacking those finding some significance in court orders demanding that officials from his administration comply with Congressional subpoenas for testimony.
As D.C. was still settling back into place from the close call, Trump was tweeting as if he was in a different universe. He railed:
‘The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress. I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify… about the phony Impeachment Hoax. It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised.’
Sure he would. He went on to rattle off key figures from his administration who are supposedly on his side, but the reality is that a number of key figures have already provided damaging Congressional testimony confirming his quid pro quo plot targeting Ukraine.
Back down in the real world, this is not the first time that there’s been a similar lockdown-sparking security threat in D.C. In May, a man set himself on fire near the White House grounds and eventually died from the injuries that he sustained. The month before, a wheelchair-bound man lit his jacket on fire right outside the White House in an apparent protest effort against the Trump administration. He ended up taken into custody and hospitalized, and at the time, portions of the White House complex were locked down while Secret Service agents responded to the scene.