The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overturn Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump becomes the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. Wednesday’s vote was 232 to 197, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats. It’s the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in history. Missouri freshman Democrat Cori Bush spoke from the House floor ahead of the vote.
Rep. Cori Bush: “If we fail to remove a white supremacist president who incited a white supremacist insurrection, it’s communities like Missouri’s 1st District that suffer the most. The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy, starting with impeaching the white-supremacist-in-chief. Thank you, and I yield back.”
House Republicans: [booing]
Some House Republicans booed after Congressmember Cori Bush delivered those remarks. Shortly after Wednesday’s vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the single article of impeachment.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States, that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country, and that, once again, we honored our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help us God.”
Republican leader Mitch McConnell has adjourned the Senate until January 19, making it unlikely Trump’s trial will take place before Joe Biden takes office. We’ll have more on Trump’s historic second impeachment after headlines.
The FBI is warning police chiefs across the United States to be on high alert for right-wing domestic terror attacks before — and during — Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
In Queens, New York, on Wednesday, federal agents arrested 40-year-old Eduard Florea, a leader of the far-right Proud Boys group, for allegedly plotting another attack on the U.S. Capitol. Authorities recovered over 1,000 rifle and shotgun rounds, along with knives, hatchets and swords.
The FBI also confirmed the arrest of Douglas Allen Sweet in Virginia. He was photographed with the mob in the Capitol last week wearing a shirt captioned “Camp Auschwitz” and “Work brings freedom” in reference to the Nazi death camp.
In Virginia, two police officers from the town of Rocky Mount were arrested after they boasted online about joining the insurrection. One of the officers is an Army veteran and trained sniper.
In Washington, heavily armed National Guard troops slept on the floor of the Capitol ahead of Wednesday’s impeachment vote. The Pentagon said it’s increasing the number of Guard soldiers deployed to the nation’s capital to 20,000. Authorities have erected eight-foot-high metal walls around the Capitol and set up a fortified perimeter around the U.S. Naval Observatory, the official residence of Vice President Mike Pence.
House Democrats are demanding an investigation into whether Republican lawmakers gave “reconnaissance” tours to far-right insurrectionists ahead of the January 6 riots at the Capitol. Congressmember Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, who narrowly escaped the rampaging mob on January 6, says she witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the Capitol complex on January 5, at a time when the building was mostly closed to visitors due to the pandemic. Congressmember Sherrill spoke to MSNBC.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill: “I was flat on the ground as other members were calling loved ones because they thought that might be the last phone call they made. To imagine that colleagues of mine could have aided and abetted this is incredibly offensive, and there is simply no way that they can be allowed to continue to serve in Congress.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote on whether to fine lawmakers who evade metal detectors up to $10,000 per infraction. This week, at least a dozen Republican House members were seen walking around magnetometers or ignoring Capitol Police after setting them off. Among those flaunting the rules was QAnon-supporting freshman Republican Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has pledged to carry her Glock pistol with her at all times. She tweeted, “I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C. and within the Capitol complex.” The statement is false; under House rules, firearms are restricted to a congressmember’s office.
President Trump released a video Wednesday in which he claimed to oppose political violence. Trump read a prepared statement from a teleprompter in a five-minute video posted on the White House’s official Twitter account.
President Donald Trump: “I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement.”
Trump went on to blame “both sides” of the political spectrum for violence over the past year. His statement came a week after he told his supporters, “We love you. You’re very special,” as they rampaged through the Capitol.
Trump’s prepared remarks came after his aides reportedly warned him he faces serious legal exposure once he leaves office. The Washington Post reports Trump has instructed aides not to pay $20,000-a-day legal fees to his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who’s been working to overturn the results of the election. Giuliani faces possible expulsion from the New York State Bar Association after he told Trump’s mob on January 6, “Let’s have trial by combat.”
A growing number of businesses have distanced themselves from Trump and his political allies. Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank say they’re severing ties with the Trump Organization, as did the real estate brokerage firm C/ushman & Wakefield.
The PGA of America said it would no longer hold next year’s championship at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
American Express, AT&T, Comcast, Dow, Nike, General Electric, Verizon and other corporations said they would cut contributions to Republican lawmakers who refused to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the city is canceling all contracts with the Trump Organization.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “So, we will no longer be doing any business at all. By the contract language, we have the right to terminate contracts, obviously, if a criminal act has been committed. And a criminal act has been committed. So, goodbye to the Trump Organization.”
Ninety-two thousand more people in the U.S. could die of COVID-19 in the next three weeks, according to a grim forecast issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 3,800 deaths were reported Wednesday, and over 225,000 new confirmed cases. Over 130,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
Pennsylvania said its number of hospitalizations is now close to double the peak of the spring’s first wave. Arizona officials also reported record-high hospitalization and ICU numbers this week. A staggering one in three Los Angeles County residents has gotten the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to new data.
Early trials for Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine are showing promising results. If further trials prove effective, the vaccine could be a game-changer as it requires just one shot and does not need to be stored in ultra-cold freezers.
Democratic Congressmember Pramila Jayapal said Wednesday her husband Steve Williamson also has COVID-19, days after she tested positive following last week’s riot at the Capitol when she was forced to take shelter with Republican lawmakers who refused to wear face masks. Congressmember Ayanna Pressley’s husband, Conan Harris, has also tested positive for COVID-19. He was with the congresswoman during the Capitol siege.
As confirmed global deaths from COVID-19 near 2 million, the World Health Organization is warning the worst of the pandemic may still lie ahead.
Dr. Mike Ryan: “Going into a second year of this could even be tougher, given the transmission dynamics and some of the issues that we’re seeing.”
The WHO points to the rapid spread of new coronavirus variants — which are believed to be more infectious — that have quickly crossed borders and are circulating in countries around the world. The U.N. body is also asking wealthier countries to share their vaccines with poorer countries, in a show of kindness and global solidarity. Of the 46 countries that started vaccinating their populations, only one is low-income.
China has reported its first COVID death since May as WHO officials arrived in Wuhan to start their investigation into the origins of the pandemic. China recently placed over 22 million people in lockdown in an effort to contain its mounting cases.
Switzerland is holding a referendum on the government’s authority to impose COVID restrictions after campaigners garnered enough support to trigger a public vote on repealing some lockdown and other measures. The vote could come as early as June, and the outcome will be legally binding.
In Peru, health workers are on indefinite strike, calling for more financial support and resources from the government as they battle the surge in patients with dwindling hospital staff.
In Hong Kong, police raided and arrested 11 more people under the national security law as the crackdown on opponents of one-party rule continues. The detained are accused of helping 12 activists attempt to flee to Taiwan by speedboat in August. Human Rights Watch said China had an “appalling year” of human rights violations in 2020, citing the situation in Hong Kong, the treatment of Muslim Uyghurs and the silencing of reports about the coronavirus. This is Human Rights Watch researcher Yaqiu Wang.
Yaqiu Wang: “Since President Xi Jinping came to power, the repression has gone worse and worse overall. Like, on every aspect of the Chinese society, you can see how the party is becoming more and more intolerant of any kind of, like, independent activity.”
Human Rights Watch also slammed the United States in its annual report, with Director Kenneth Roth saying, “Trump has been a complete disaster for human rights.”
In Uganda, voting has begun in the closely watched race between longtime President Yoweri Museveni and the rapper-turned-politician known as Bobi Wine. On Wednesday, tanks began patrolling areas of Kampala largely in opposition stronghold neighborhoods. During the campaign, security forces repeatedly cracked down on opposition rallies, killing more than 50 people. Uganda shut down all social media platforms ahead of the election.
Back in the United States, the Census Bureau has stopped working on President Trump’s directive to establish a count of undocumented residents. The move effectively ends Trump’s bid to exclude immigrants from the census count. The ACLU, which challenged Trump’s attack on the census in court, is calling for incoming President Biden to “formally rescind” Trump’s policy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has barred patients from receiving medication in the mail to have a nonsurgical abortion early in their pregnancy. The court reinstated a federal requirement that patients must visit a doctor’s office or health center to obtain mifepristone — also known as RU-486 — overturning a lower court ruling that the drug could be mailed to reduce unnecessary travel during the pandemic. The decision will force some to drive over 1,000 miles to get the pill. The three liberal judges on the court dissented. Sonia Sotamaor said the ruling “imposes an unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose.”