House Democrats are inching toward steps to remove President Trump from power, after he incited his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. On Monday, the House adjourned for the day after Republicans objected to a voice vote on a measure calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. The House is set to vote on that measure today.
Pence has signaled he’s unlikely to declare Trump incapable of executing his duties, and such a move would also require a majority of Trump’s Cabinet members.
Democratic leaders have scheduled an impeachment vote for Wednesday. More than 218 lawmakers have already committed to passage of the single article of impeachment charging Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has adjourned the Senate until January 19, all but ruling out a Senate impeachment trial ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Biden on Monday questioned whether the Senate could “bifurcate” its business during his first 100 days, suggesting senators could hold off on an impeachment trial in order to get Cabinet members confirmed.
Meanwhile, at least 47 lawmakers are co-sponsoring a resolution by freshman Missouri Democrat Cori Bush calling for the removal of Republicans who encouraged last week’s insurrection at the Capitol.
The FBI is warning that “armed protests” are being planned in all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., before — and during — Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
In Michigan, authorities have banned the open carry of firearms inside the state Capitol building, hoping to avoid a repeat of last April, when heavily armed militia members menaced lawmakers during a vote to extend public health measures during the pandemic.
In Washington, D.C., Pentagon officials say up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed to protect against a replay of last week’s insurrection. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser is calling on the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to dramatically increase security for the inauguration, but says the event should remain public. President-elect Biden said Monday he will take the oath of office publicly.
The Washington Post reports that during Wednesday’s insurrection, Republican leaders tried repeatedly and failed to get Trump to call off the mob he incited. Trump reportedly could not be reached because he was too busy watching the crisis unfold on live television for hours. On Monday, Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Trump is continuing to thwart attempts to secure the January 20 inauguration.
Sen. Chris Murphy: “President Trump is still in charge. And part of the reason why Congress is talking about impeachment right now is because he is not being helpful in trying to guarantee the security of the inauguration. In fact, he seems to be doing more harm than good.”
Washington, D.C.'s attorney general said Monday he's considering riot incitement charges against President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., as well as attorney Rudy Giuliani and Republican Congressmember Mo Brooks, for inciting Trump’s mob to violence.
On Monday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned, becoming the third Cabinet secretary to quit since Trump’s mob attacked Congress last week. In his resignation letter, Wolf did not refer directly to the Capitol Hill assault; instead, he said he was quitting because of legal challenges to his authority to run DHS without Senate confirmation.
Authorities are still looking for those responsible for planting pipe bombs outside the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters last Wednesday and for fatally wounding Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was struck in the head by a fire extinguisher.
The U.S. Army is investigating an active-duty PSYOP officer who led a contingent of insurrectionists to Washington, D.C., last week. Captain Emily Rainey of the 4th Psychological Operations Group says she led 100 members of a conservative group to D.C. to “stand against election fraud.”
Meanwhile, the Capitol Police department has suspended several officers for their involvement with — or support for — last week’s insurrection, among them an officer who put on a red MAGA hat and directed rioters around the Capitol, and another who posed for selfies with insurrectionists. More than a dozen officers are under investigation.
The United States recorded 223,000 coronavirus cases Monday and more than 2,000 deaths. The U.S. has averaged more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths per day over the past week and could pass 400,000 deaths before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20.
Arizona remains the worst-affected state, but Republican Governor Doug Ducey continues to refuse to issue a statewide mask mandate. On Monday, hundreds of teachers in Arizona’s Peoria Unified School District staged a massive sick-out to protest unsafe classrooms. This comes as many bars and restaurants across Arizona remain open for indoor dining.
Meanwhile, gorillas at the San Diego Zoo in California have tested positive for coronavirus, showing mild symptoms. Zookeepers say it’s the first known instance of natural transmission of the virus to great apes.
At least two members of Congress have contracted COVID-19 after Wednesday’s insurrection. Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, a 75-year-old cancer survivor, believes she was exposed during protective isolation as Trump supporters rampaged through the Capitol. Video shows several Republican lawmakers in the cramped isolation space refusing to wear face masks.
Also testing positive was Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, who has been quarantining at home since the riots. Jayapal said that any lawmaker who refuses to wear a mask should be fined and removed by the House sergeant-at-arms. In a tweet, Jayapal wrote, “I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”
Six lawmakers — all of them Republicans — previously tested positive since the 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3. Most lawmakers have received a single dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine but have not yet received their second shot, which confers better protection against the disease.
In Delaware, President-elect Joe Biden received his second shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Monday. Pfizer says it expects to boost output of its vaccine to 2 billion doses this year amid surging demand. The U.S. has secured contracts for 200 million of those doses, with another 600 million promised to the European Union.
In Geneva, World Health Organization officials warned Monday it’s unlikely most countries will reach herd immunity through vaccination in 2021. WHO adviser Bruce Aylward called on wealthy countries and drug companies to do more to provide vaccines to the world’s poorer nations.
Dr. Bruce Aylward: “Over 40 countries have now begun vaccinating against COVID-19 using five different COVID vaccines. However, all of that vaccination, or virtually all of it, as the director-general has emphasized, were in the high-income and upper-middle-income countries so far.”
The Trump administration has placed Cuba back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism — reversing an Obama-era decision to remove the label over five years ago. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday accused Cuba of “granting safe harbor to terrorists” and attacked the country’s support for Venezuela. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez condemned the move as “hypocritical” and “cynical.” On Twitter, he said, “The US political opportunism of this action is recognized by anyone with an honest regard for the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”
Yesterday marked 19 years since former President George W. Bush sent the first post-9/11 prisoners to the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The grim anniversary comes as human rights advocates continue to demand the closure of the U.S. military prison, where 40 people continue to be indefinitely detained — most without being charged or receiving a fair trial.
In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights urged the Biden administration to close the prison, saying, “Today marks the beginning of the 20th shameful year of Muslim men being unlawfully imprisoned at Guantánamo. Even in a national landscape of brutal and extreme incarceration, the detentions of the men at Guantánamo … are unprecedented and yet largely invisible by now.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the construction of some 800 homes for Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Palestinian authorities have accused Israel of “racing against time” to build illegal settlements before President Trump leaves office next week. In 2019, the Trump administration said Israeli settlements in Palestine didn’t violate international law — despite a 2016 U.N. resolution declaring them a “flagrant violation.”
This comes as leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is denouncing Israel’s control of Palestinian territories as a single “apartheid regime” that violently perpetuates the supremacy of Israelis over Palestinians. In a statement, the group says, “Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it: it is one regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid.”
A South Korean court has ordered Japan to compensate women who were forced into sex slavery by Japanese troops during World War II and Japan’s colonial rule over South Korea, which started in 1910. The landmark ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in 2016 by a dozen survivors. Japan has argued the two countries settled such claims in a 1965 treaty. Some estimates say up to 200,000 Korean girls and women were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers.
A federal judge has granted Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, a stay of her execution scheduled for this evening. The court ordered a hearing to determine Montgomery’s mental competency to face execution. The government has already appealed the ruling. She would become the first woman to face federal execution in nearly 70 years.
This comes as four former corrections officers from Indiana have issued a letter urging acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to postpone three federal executions scheduled for this week, citing safety concerns due to COVID-19. The letter, released alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, says executions at Terre Haute have led to a spike in coronavirus cases among prisoners and staff. Two men scheduled for execution later this week — Dustin Higgs and Cory Johnson — recently contracted COVID-19.
Colorado’s attorney general is opening a grand jury investigation into the police killing of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man from Aurora. McClain was stopped by police as he was walking home in August 2019, tackled, placed in a chokehold, and later injected with ketamine by paramedics. He died days later.
In Bosnia, hundreds of refugees are taking shelter in abandoned buildings as they try to protect themselves from snow and freezing temperatures. This is a 16-year-old refugee from Afghanistan named Ali.
Ali: “I’ve been sleeping in the bus for about five to six months now, and I’m living in really bad conditions. I’m in really a bad way. There’s no one to look after us here, and the conditions are not safe. People who are supposed to support us have been coming and taking things from us and then selling those things inside the camp or in other places. We have nothing here. I have explained what is going on, on several occasions, and others have talked about what is going on, but no one wants to listen to what we say. I’m asking: If you can do anything for us, then please help us.”