Headlines: January 13, 2021
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The House debated and voted on an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his role in inciting a domestic terror attack against lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. With less than 10 days to go before he leaves office Trump was the target of angry denunciations by House Democrats who accused him of being a danger to the nation. Lawmakers remain shaken by the horrific attack last week that left 5 people dead. As of this recording the hearing continues but Democrats, who hold a majority in the House, are likely to prevail in their efforts, making Trump the first President in the history of the nation to be impeached twice. Here is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressing the House. PLAY VIDEO. House Majority leader Steny Hoyer also spoke, citing the words of his Republican colleague Liz Cheney who Trump had targeted by name in his Capitol Hill speech shortly before his supporters launched their attack. Hoyer quoted Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who is one of several GOP lawmakers joining Democrats to impeach Trump. Democratic Representative Jim McGovern accused Trump-supporting Republicans of aiding and abetting the President. Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, who Trump and his supporters have directly targeted on many occasions, also made the case for impeaching Trump in strong words.
The House took up the impeachment vote just after Vice President Mike Pence spurned a resolution asking him to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. The New York Times published an extraordinary account of the confrontation between Trump and Pence last week where the President, using misogynist language according to insider accounts, demanding that Pence, “can either go down in history as a patriot or you can go down in history as a p****.” Trump wanted Pence to abuse his ceremonial role of certifying the 2020 election results to enable him to seize power. Pence demurred.
News broke on Tuesday that Trump’s most powerful and ardent enabler Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, privately backs his impeachment. McConnell had decisively ensured Trump was acquitted of impeachment charges a year ago. According to the New York Times, McConnell, “believes that Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge Mr. Trump from the party.” Additionally, “a dozen Republican senators — and possibly more — could ultimately vote to convict Mr. Trump in a Senate trial that would follow his impeachment by the House.”
On Tuesday the Justice Department held a press conference announcing that its investigation into the Capitol riot was unprecedented in its scope. U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin warned that many of the participants would face serious charges including those related to sedition. A 70-year old white man from Alabama named Lonnie Coffman has already been indicted on 17 charges over his intent to distribute lethal weapons including a truck-load of Molotov cocktails and other firearms, to rioters. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in a social media post on Tuesday explained that she got frighteningly close to danger herself on January 6th and feared for her life. She said that it was, “not an exaggeration” to assert that many lawmakers were “nearly assassinated” that day. Her fellow Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley reports that the special “panic buttons” in her office had all been inexplicably torn out. Meanwhile in an extraordinary letter to rank and file military personnel on Tuesday, the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff reminded them that Joe Biden will be President soon and that “sedition and insurrection” are illegal. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has just approved of 15,000 National Guardsmen to the Capitol ahead of Biden’s inauguration where move violence from Trump’s base is expected.
President Trump, whose bullhorn is getting smaller and smaller, has now been suspended for a week by YouTube, the last major social media platform that had allowed him to broadcast hate and incitement to his base. After companies like Facebook and Twitter have finally begun cracking down in earnest on far right extremist content, many among Trump’s base have fled to the darker corners of the internet to organize and plan more violence. Meanwhile Trump continues to lose business over his insurrectionist actions. The city of New York just announced it is ending all contracts with the Trump organization.
In other news, just a day after a judge stayed her execution, the only woman on federal death row was killed by the state in the early hours of Wednesday. Lisa Montgomery, who was convicted of horrific crimes, was also a victim of serious and sustained sexual and physical abuse and sex trafficking as a child and struggled with mental illness. She became the first woman to be executed by the federal government in 67 years.
Finally in news from the coronavirus, the U.S. hit a new daily death toll on Tuesday with more than 4,400 people dying in a 24-hour period—the highest ever total. And, scientists in Ohio report that two new, more transmissible strains of the virus have been found to have likely originated in the U.S. This includes the new strain thought to have mutated in the U.K. On the bright side, a new study published in Science journal concludes that once the vast majority of Americans are inoculated against COVID-19, the virus will become “endemic,” which means that it will remain circulating in the population but only cause mild symptoms. The faster people are vaccinated, the faster the pandemic is likely to become an endemic virus.