News Headlines 1/12/21

HOUSE MOVES CLOSER TO IMPEACHMENT, FBI WARNS ABOUT NATIONWIDE ARMED PROTESTS: The House moved closer to impeachment of President Trump on Monday (January 11th), with a resolution on a single charge, incitement of insurrection, that the chamber will begin debating Wednesday. However, Democrats first called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The resolution was blocked by Republicans, but the House is expected to hold a roll call vote on it today, and it’s expected to pass. After that, if Pence doesn’t respond within 24 hours, impeachment proceedings would begin. Pence hasn’t indicated he’s willing to invoke the 25th Amendment. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is a Trump ally, said in a letter to colleagues that impeachment would, quote, “have the opposite effect of bringing our country together,” but said instead he’s reviewing possible censure of the president.

FBI Warns of Armed Protests

The FBI has issued a bulletin warning of plans for armed protests to be held in Washington, D.C., and at all 50 state capitals in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration, potentially starting Saturday, according to media reports. It’s believed some of those planning to show up are members of extremist groups. Army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday the Guard is also looking at any potential issues, saying, “We’re keeping a look across the entire country to make sure that we’re monitoring, and that our Guards in every state are in close coordination with their local law enforcement agencies to provide any support requested.”

Law enforcement in charge of protecting the Inauguration say they will be prepared and security will be extremely tight in the region, with Michael Plati, the U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge who’s leading the inauguration security, saying they’ve taken the Capitol attack into account. Biden himself didn’t express concern about his security, telling reporters yesterday, “I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” meaning in the traditional location outside at the Capitol. The event was already planned to be much smaller than usual, with Biden having asked people to stay home and watch on TV, and no traditional parade planned, because of the coronavirus.

Pence and Trump Meet for First Time Since Attack

Pence and Trump met late yesterday for the first time since the attack on the Capitol, according to AP, which cited a senior administration official as saying they had a, quote, “good conversation” about the week ahead, reflected on their accomplishments, and pledged to continue working for the remaining days until Biden’s inauguration. Pence and his allies were reportedly angry about Trump pressuring the vice president to try to block the certification of the election results last Wednesday, which he didn’t have the power to do, and then singling him out during the rally before the Capitol was attacked and via Twitter as it was under assault and Pence and his family were in hiding. There was further anger over Trump not checking if Pence was safe during the attack. However, they appeared yesterday to have decided to mend ties.

Meanwhile, Axios reported last night that in a phone call yesterday with House Republican Leader McCarthy, Trump was blaming, quote, “Antifa people” for the Capitol attack. McCarthy told Trump, “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there.” Trump again ranted about false claims of election fraud, leading McCarthy to say, “Stop it. It’s over. The election is over.” McCarthy also reportedly told Trump he should call Biden, meet with him, and follow the tradition of leaving a welcome letter in the president’s Resolute Desk. Trump told McCarthy he hadn’t decided whether or not to do so.

Several Capitol Police Officers Suspended Related to Attack

U.S. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman announced yesterday that several officers had been suspended in connection with the attack on the Capitol. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who chairs the House subcommittee investigating the police response to the attack, had said earlier in the day that one of the suspended officers took a selfie with a rioter, and another put on a Make America Great Again hat and, quote, “started directing people around.” Ryan also said that about 10 to 15 other Capitol Police officers are under investigation. One Capitol Police officer was killed by rioters during the attack, and another who was on duty during the siege died by suicide three days later.

ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY DEPT. HEAD WOLF RESIGNS: Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf unexpectedly resigned on Monday (January 11th), at a time when the country is facing an elevated domestic terrorism threat in the wake of the attack on the Capitol last week and ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th. Less than a week earlier, Wolf had said he would remain in office until the end of President Trump’s term. In explaining his departure, Wolf cited, quote, “recent events,” including a legal challenge to him holding the acting secretary position that had been brought months ago. Court rulings had recently found he couldn’t legally hold the position. Wolf had served in an acting capacity since November 2019 and was never confirmed by the Senate. He didn’t specify other events, but stated, “These events and concerns increasingly serve to divert attention and resources away from the important work of the Department in this critical time of a transition of power.” Peter Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will serve as acting head of the department until the Biden administration takes over.

MODERNA EXPECTS CORONAVIRUS VACCINE TO PROTECT FOR AT LEAST A YEAR: A top Moderna official told investors at a conference Monday (January 11th) that they believe their coronavirus vaccine should protect people for at least a year. Moderna’s vaccine is one of two being administered in the U.S., along with Pfizer’s. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday that nearly nine million people have received their first doses of vaccine and nearly 25.5 million doses of vaccine have now been distributed. People have to get two shots a few weeks apart. As of Monday morning, 35.3 percent of doses distributed have been administered, with states struggling with having enough staff or money to get people vaccinated at the target rate.

STAY OF EXECUTION GRANTED FOR ONLY WOMEN ON FEDERAL DEATH ROW: A federal judge in Indiana granted Lisa Montgomery a stay of execution pending a competency hearing, just hours before the only woman on federal death row was set to be put to death today (January 12th). The 52-year-old Montgomery was to be executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Prosecutors have filed a notice to appeal the ruling. Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2008 in Missouri for murdering a pregnant woman in 2004, cutting out the fetus, and kidnapping it. The baby survived. Her attorney, Kelley Henry, said in a statement, “Mrs. Montgomery has brain damage and severe mental illness that was exacerbated by the lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers.”