News Headlines 01/13/21

HOUSE APPROVES URGING PENCE TO INVOKE 25TH AMENDMENT, SOME GOP MEMBERS WILL VOTE TO IMPEACH: The Democratic-led House passed a resolution last night (January 12th) almost entirely along party lines urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump with a vote by the Cabinet in the wake of the attack on the Capitol that he’s been accused of inciting. However, Pence had already said earlier in the day that he wouldn’t do it in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stating that it’s, quote, time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden.”

So the House will today move on to begin impeachment of Trump on a single charge of “incitement to insurrection,” and as of last night, five Republican lawmakers said they would vote in favor of it, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House GOP leader. She said in a statement, “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” But Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s fiercest allies, said, quote, “cancel culture” was trying to cancel the president. It’s unknown if enough Republicans would join with Democrats in the Senate for the two-thirds needed to convict, but Axios reported last night that there’s a, quote, “better than 50-50 chance” that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would vote to convict.

Trump Says Pre-Capitol Attack Speech ‘Totally Appropriate’

President Trump appeared in public yesterday for the first time since the attack on Capitol, traveling to the city of Alamo, Texas, near the border to highlight what’s been built of the border wall and his illegal immigration policies. Trump rejected any responsibility for the Capitol assault, saying that his speech at the rally before it happened in which he urged his supporters to fight and to march to the Capitol was, quote, “totally appropriate.” While speaking in Texas, Trump also dismissed the 25th Amendment threat, calling it “zero risk” to him, while adding it, quote, “will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration.” He also slammed the push to impeach him a second time, stating, “It’s causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

Trump: [“They’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody to the “T” thought it was totally appropriate.”] SOUNDCUE (:09 OC . . . was totally appropriate.)

FBI Says It Warned of Potential for Violence

In a briefing by FBI and Justice Department officials yesterday, the FBI said it warned law enforcement agencies ahead of last week’s attack on the Capitol about the potential for extremist-driven violence, contradicting earlier statements that they were caught off guard. Justice Department officials said they are mounting an aggressive efforts to find the rioters and bring them to justice. Most of the charges brought against some 70 people so far have been misdemeanors, but the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said they are looking at bringing sedition and conspiracy charges against some of the rioters, stating, “This is only the beginning.” Officials said they were using some of the same techniques they use in international counterterrorism investigations.

Acting U.S. Attorney D.C. Michael Sherwin: [“Just yesterday, our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors. Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous pacts occurred in the Capitol.”] SOUNDCUE (:18 OC . . . in the Capitol.)

Military Leaders Remind Servicemembers Free Speech Doesn’t Give Right to Commit Violence

Amid worries about further violence in the days leading up to Inauguration Day and on the day itself, a memo released yesterday that was signed by all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reminded members of the military that the right to free speech doesn’t give the right to commit violence. It also stated that Joe Biden was duly elected and will be the next commander in chief once he’s sworn in on January 20th. The top military leaders further called the attack on the Capitol an act of sedition and insurrection, and stated, “As service members, we must embody the values and ideals of the nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law.” It’s known that some military veterans took part in the attack on the Capitol, but the extent of any involvement by active-duty members hasn’t been established.

Ocasio-Cortez Said Thought She was ‘Going to Die’ in Attack

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram Live last night that she had a, quote, “very close encounter” during the attack on the Capitol and thought she was “going to die.” She didn’t give many details, saying she wasn’t certain if should could because of security issues. But called what happened “traumatizing,” saying, “I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.”

HHS SECRETARY ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO SPEEDUP CORONAVIRUS VACCINATIONS: Amid vaccinating Americans against the coronavirus going slower than had been hoped, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a series of changes yesterday (January 12th) to increase supply, extend eligibility for seniors, and establish more vaccination sites. In one shift, the government will now base each state’s allocation of vaccines partly on how successful states have been in administering those already given to them, instead of on population. He also said the government will stop holding back the required second doses of the vaccines, saying they believe there will be enough supply for people when their second doses are needed, and is urging states to immediately start vaccinating groups lower down the priority scale, including people age 65 and older and younger people with certain health problems. Further, states had been given permission to designate more places where people can get their shots.

Anyone Flying to U.S. Will Have to Show Negative Covid Test

Health officials announced yesterday that under a new requirement being put into place in two weeks, anyone flying to the U.S. will have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test. The move is an expansion of a similar requirement announced last month only for people coming from the U.K., where a more infectious mutation of the virus was discovered and is driving a big surge of infections there. The order applies both to U.S. citizens and foreign travelers.

FEDERAL GOV’T. EXECUTES FIRST WOMAN SINCE 1953: A 52-year-old woman was executed by lethal injection early this morning (January 13th) at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, the first female federal inmate put to death since 1953. Lisa Montgomery had been convicted of strangling a pregnant woman to death in Missouri in 2004 and cutting the baby out of her womb. The baby survived. The Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to move forward after an appeals court had granted a stay of execution on Tuesday. That stay had come after another appeals court lifted an Indiana judge’s last-minute ruling saying Montgomery was likely mentally ill and couldn’t understand that she would be executed. Her attorney, Kelley Henry, has argued, “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.” Montgomery is the 11th federal prisoner to be executed since last July, when President Trump resumed federal executions after 17 years.