News Headlines 1/8/21

TRUMP, FACING GROWING CALLS FOR REMOVAL, RELEASES NEW VIDEO: President Trump was the subject of growing talk Thursday (January 7th) about removing him from office before the end of his term on January 20th because of his actions egging on his supporters before they went on to storm the Capitol Wednesday. In the face of that, Trump released a brief new video in which he condemned the the violence that had taken place at the Capitol, after having a day earlier said of the rioters, “We love you” and you’re “very special.” He also finally acknowledged there would be a new administration — although never mentioning President-elect Joe Biden by name — and said he would focus on helping ensure there is a smooth transition of power, adding, “This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.” For the more than two months since the election, Trump had until that video insisted that he’d won and was cheated out of his victory by massive voter fraud.

Trump: [“I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol. Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. **EDIT** America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy.”] SOUNDCUE (:23 OC . . . of American democracy.)

[“Now Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”] SOUNDCUE (:12 OC . . . transition of power.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday charged that Trump had, quote, “incited an armed insurrection against America,” calling him “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office.” She urged that the 25th Amendment be used by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Cabinet to remove Trump from office, and said that if that wasn’t, the House was eyeing impeaching Trump again, even though his term ends in just 12 days. It was reported, however, that Pence is opposed to using the 25th Amendment to oust Trump.

Pelosi: [“Yesterday the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America.”] SOUNDCUE (:09 OC . . . insurrection against America.)

[“In calling for the seditious act the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and on our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC . . . forward with impeachment.)

In further fallout of the storming of the Capitol and the Trump’s actions leading up to it:

  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos both resigned. Although both cited what had happened at the Capitol, there was speculation they resigned to avoid involvement in any potential 25th Amendment move.
  • Trump’s former chief of staff, retired General John Kelly, told CNN he thought Trump should be removed via the 25th Amendment.
  • The Wall Street Journal, which, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, called on Trump to resign. The conservative editorial board wrote, “This was an assault on the constitutional process of transferring power after an election.”

CAPITOL POLICE REJECTED OFFERS OF HELP; INJURED OFFICER DIES: U.S. Capitol Police twice rejected assistance related to the pro-President Trump rally that led to the Capitol being breached, the Associated Press reported Thursday (January 7th). The Pentagon asked the Capitol Police three days before Wednesday’s planned rally if it needed National Guard forces, and as the rioters stormed the Capitol, the Justice Department offered FBI agents, and they were turned down both times, according to the report. Despite the warnings about what could happen, the Capitol Police only planned for a free speech rally, and in the wake of criticism over the response to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests near the White House, officials didn’t want the appearance the active duty or National Guard troops were being deployed against Americans, according to AP. U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was forced to resign yesterday under pressure from congressional leaders, as was the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate and the Sergeant at Arms of the House. A Capitol Police officer who was injured after responding to the riots died last night. Officer Brian D. Sicknick died due to injuries he suffered while, “physically engaging with protesters,” according to a statement.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Pentagon put tight limits on the D.C. National Guard ahead of the Wednesday’s protest to keep the use of military force constrained, with the guardsmen carrying out a narrow mission requested by Mayor Muriel Bowser to help handle traffic. They were barred from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement, or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s approval. The Post said those limits were imposed because the Guard hadn’t been asked to help with crowd or riot control. When the Capitol was stormed and Capitol Police asked for help from the National Guard, it was denied by the office of the secretary of the Army, with the Post citing an official as saying they didn’t want the “optics” of soldiers in the Capitol building. Higher-up Pentagon leaders later activated the full D.C. Guard. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said yesterday that he’d gotten frantic calls from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer asking that he send the Maryland National Guard, but federal authorization was being refused. Finally, Hogan said he got a call from the Army secretary about 90 minutes later asking if the guardsmen could, quote, “come as soon as possible.”

U.S. HAS MORE THAN 4,000 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS IN ONE DAY FOR FIRST TIME: The U.S. had more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths in one day for the first time Thursday (January 7th), with The COVID Tracking Project reporting 4,033 deaths. There have now been more than 365,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s data. California continues to be hit very hard, with only Arizona ahead of it in cases per resident, and its overwhelmed hospitals are on the brink of having to ration care.

In some much-needed good news, new research suggests that Pfizer’s vaccine can protect against mutations first found in the U.K. and South Africa, which have been causing concern around the world because they are more contagious. The both share a common mutation, but Pfizer’s vaccine seems to work against it. However, researchers say that even if the virus eventually mutates enough that the vaccine needs to be adjusted, it wouldn’t be difficult to do.

BIDEN ANNOUNCES GARLAND AS ATTORNEY GENERAL PICK: President-elect Joe Biden made official Thursday (January 7th) what had been reported a day earlier, announcing Judge Merrick Garland as his pick for attorney general. Biden presented his choice as moving to de-politicize the Justice Department after President Trump, saying, “More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, the independence of the Department of Justice that’s been so badly damaged.” Biden said that Garland’s loyalty would be to the law and Constitution, saying to him, “You don’t work for me.” Garland, who held senior positions at the Justice Department decades ago, was the judge chosen by then-President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. However, his nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans, who refused to bring it up for a vote, saying the winner of the November election should fill the seat. Donald Trump won, and as president appointed Neil Gorsuch to the seat.