Headlines: February 11, 2021
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Thursday marked the third day of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump as House managers spent hours wrapping up their prosecution to make the case that the former President incited a violent insurrection against the Capitol on January 6th. Lead impeachment manager Representative Jamie Raskin challenged those still intent on exonerating Trump even after seeing harrowing videos of violence on prior days of the hearing. As he and other House managers were presenting their last hours of evidence, the Justice Department in a court filing against one of the January 6th rioters named Jessica Watkins, wrote, “As the inauguration grew nearer, Watkins indicated that she was awaiting direction from President Trump.” It was the most direct link so far that federal prosecutors have made between Trump and the rioters.
On Wednesday, the hearings were focused on never-before-seen surveillance footage from the Capitol building that revealed for the first time just how close several lawmakers came to the violent mob that broke in. Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney, and former Vice President Mike Pence were just a few feet away from rioters when they were shuttled away to safety by law enforcement. Here is House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett presenting evidence of Mr. Pence’s close encounter with the mob. Also showcased was the audio of a phone call from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville asking him to slow down the election certification process. On Wednesday evening Senator Tuberville told reporters that he spoke to Trump by phone and informed him that Pence was in personal danger and had just been whisked away to safety. Trump then issued a damning tweet egging on his supporters against Pence which Representative Joaquin Castro presented as the President directly instructing the rioters.
In another harrowing video from January 6th Rep. Plaskett showed how Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Congressional aides barricaded themselves in an office and just moments later rioters stormed in and tried to break down the door. Representative Madeleine Dean linked the threads of Trump’s words to his supporters’ actions. In spite of the powerful evidence Trump is likely to be acquitted as many have pointed out, he is being tried by a jury that includes his co-conspirators.
Meanwhile Trump himself, who has been silenced by social media companies, is fighting a battle to convince his neighbors in Palm Beach, Florida to allow him to live at his resort. And, now that he is no longer President, he may have to face some tough questions about his tax filings. Meanwhile, news broke that more than a hundred former Republican lawmakers and other officials met last week to privately discuss whether to launch a new conservative party that rejects Trump and Trumpism.
A damning new study published by The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health highlights what could be an even greater crime by Trump: that about 40% of all Covid-19 related deaths in the U.S. were avoidable and happened because of Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to the pandemic. The study’s authors make the case that a Medicare-for-All system in the U.S. is the most effective program for both health and economic equity.
In other news from the pandemic scientists are warning that the new U.K. variant of the coronavirus, being referred to as the “Kent variant” could sweep through the whole world rapidly. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview on the Today Show on Thursday remained optimistic, even going as far as saying the Covid-19 vaccines would be available to the general public by April. Meanwhile Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccination advocate has now been barred from spreading misinformation via Instagram. Members of his own family have denounced him publicly for spreading what they call “dangerous misinformation” about vaccines.
And finally, prominent peddler of violent misogyny Larry Flynt is dead at 78. The man who championed himself as a First Amendment hero for using free speech rights to degrade women and their bodies through his Hustler magazine, died of heart failure.