Headlines: January 11, 2021
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House Democrats have introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection,” in his role in the attack on the Capitol last week that left at least 5 people dead. Representative David Cicilline, one of the authors of the article wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday explaining his reasoning. He referred to the pro-Trump violent mob that broke into the Senate and House Chambers as engaging in an “attempted coup,” and asserted, “We cannot let this go unanswered.” He also explained that House Democrats would have preferred Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and that his refusal to do so left them no choice but to impeach. In fact, Republicans blocked a separate legislative effort calling on Pence to use his power. A vote on the article of impeachment may come as soon as this Wednesday. According to a new ABC-Ipsos poll released Sunday, a historic number of Americans now want Trump removed from office. Yet, House Democrat Jim Clyburn on Sunday made headlines after suggesting that any Senate trial following impeachment ought to wait. He said, “Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”
New details are emerging about the attack on the Capitol, suggesting it was far more sinister than previously thought. Videos from various points during the attack shows a violent mob bent on breaking into the building and willing to hurt police officers to do it. Although some officers appeared to sympathize with the mob, and even allowed them to enter, others were targeted violently. One officer was seen getting crushed in a doorway as a vast sea of rioters pressed in. Another video shows a man dragging an officer down stairs surrounded by attackers who then pummeled him with a flag pole while he lay prone. Two Black officers spoke to Buzzfeed about their harrowing experiences facing racist hate speech from the nearly all-white pro-Trump crowd. Another Black officer named Eugene Goodman is being hailed as a hero for using himself as bait to lure violent rioters away from Senators who were still in their chamber when the Capitol was breached. Meanwhile an officer named Howard Liebengood has died after committing suicide over the weekend. He was on the scene at the Capitol and his death is being linked to the riot. Another dimension of law enforcement’s role in the January 6th attack centers on off-duty officers from police departments around the country having traveled to Washington DC to actually participate in the mob attack.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund who has announced his resignation in an interview claimed that he asked House and Senate security officials for their approval to have the D.C. National Guard on standby ahead of the January 6th gathering but was turned down. NBC reports that the FBI and the New York City Police Department warned the Capitol Police about the possibility of violence. As top conservatives and Republican leaders ludicrously claim against all evidence that leftwing anti-fascist individuals were in fact responsible for the violence, Associated Press reviewed the social media profiles of those facing charges and confirm that all were pro-Trump conservatives. Among them was one man who was armed with an assault rifle and had announced plans via text messages to murder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In an interview on Sunday Pelosi explained how her staff huddled under a table in a conference room and remained there for hours while members of the mob occupied her office nearby. She also explained why Trump should be prosecuted. Among the rioters were some men dressed in full military protective gear carrying large numbers of zip-ties, which are basically plastic handcuffs. Two of them are now facing investigation by counterterrorism prosecutors.
In another troubling report, the Capitol attending physician has said that lawmakers that were hunkered down as the mob rampaged through the Capitol, “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.” In fact Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a 75-year old cancer survivor has just tested positive after having been forced to be in close quarters with mask-refusing Republican lawmakers.
Now, reports warn of more violence in the nation’s capital on January 17 through the inauguration of President elect Joe Biden on January 20th. Social media platforms are abuzz with plans from Trump’s base to continue the violence, emboldened by their success on January 6th. In fact, Trump’s own social media bullhorn has now been permanently cancelled. Twitter on Friday pulled the plug on his account after he posted that he would not attend the inauguration. Trump was reportedly livid about the move and attempted to post from the @POTUS account but that was also then suspended. The newer social media platform Parler, run by a Trump supporter, that became an alternative stomping ground for the pro-Trump hate has now lost its status on app stores and been dropped by Amazon web-hosting services. Parler is now suing Amazon. Trump also faces cancelation from the PGA golfing championship and his campaign has been dropped by the financial services company Stripe, hampering his ability to continue to raise funds.
Republicans supporting Trump are also paying a political price as many GOP lawmakers who voted against Joe Biden’s certification last week are now facing anger in their home districts. And the Senate Ethics Committee is discussing whether to sanction Republicans Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in their roles. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse wrote that the committee, “must consider the expulsion, or censure and punishment, of Senators Cruz, Hawley, and perhaps others.” Thousands of lawyers and law students signed a letter urging Cruz and Hawley to be disbarred. A group representing Republican State Attorneys General is under scrutiny for sending out robocalls ahead of January 6th urging conservative voters to go to Washington DC. The recorded call said, “At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal.” A Republican from West Virginia who had just been elected to the House of Delegates resigned over his role in the riot.
In news from the pandemic, numbers of infections and deaths continue to rise. The states of Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina are now reporting the highest number of cases per person.
And finally, President elect Joe Biden has announced his pick of William Burns to head the CIA. Burns is a career diplomat who played a role in the 2015 US-Iran nuclear peace deal. His choice is somewhat unusual because, in the words of the New York Times, “Mr. Burns’s experience is as a consumer of intelligence, not as a producer.”