FBI warns of protests ahead of Biden swearing in: Election news

The agency said in an internal bulletin that nationwide protests could begin this week, US media reported.

Members of the National Guard stand outside of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC [Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg]
Members of the National Guard stand outside of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC [Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg]
  • The FBI, in an internal bulletin, warned of possible armed protests in all 50 states and the US capital in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
  • House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for inciting rioters who breached the US Capitol last week.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if Vice President Pence does not comply in invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, the chamber will move ahead with impeachment.
  • Trump remained banned from all major social media accounts in the wake of the riot, which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
  • Several Republicans joined Democrats in calling for Trump’s resignation or removal, while party brass has said impeachment would sow further division.

Here’s Al Jazeera’s coverage of the US elections. This is Creede Newton taking over from Joseph Stepansky.

Trump approves emergency declaration for DC

President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Washington that lasts through January 24 after authorities warned of security threats to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, according to the White House.

Trump ordered federal assistance in response to the emergency conditions, the White House said in a statement.

The order authorises the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency”.

Emergency declarations under the Stafford Act, which Trump used to issue the order, are meant to “save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the District of Columbia”.


Senators decry three-hour military response to Capitol breach

Senators Chris Murphy, Kirsten Gillibrand and Martin Heinrich sent a letter to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller asking for a full account of what needs to change after the significant delay following the Capitol breach.

The letter claims “over three and a half hours … elapsed between the initial breach of the barriers on the West side of the U.S. Capitol.”

Multiple requests were made for the National Guard to respond to the Capitol occupation, though authorisation came slowly.

“In the future, emergency deployments of federal law enforcement and the U.S. Armed Forces to the U.S. Capitol must be significantly faster,” the letter said.


ACLU calls for special counsel to investigate Trump’s role in riot

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called on Acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen to appoint a special counsel to investigate the involvement of the president, his associates and federal officials who may have been involved in the Capitol chaos.

Trump has been accused of “incitement of insurrection” for giving a speech accusing Democrats of “stealing” the election before his supporters breached the Capitol as a joint session of Congress verified electoral results.

Ronald Newman, national political director of the ACLU, said in a news release that there “is little doubt that an investigation is warranted in this matter”.

Voting is a fundamental right, Newman said, “and it is a crime to intentionally interfere with its exercise — let alone urge mobs to threaten and intimidate lawmakers in the process of their constitutional obligation to certify election results.”

Trump is currently facing calls for removal from office. House Democrats have introduced articles of impeachment. He was previously the subject of an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Multiple police under investigation for riot involvement

Multiple off-duty police officers from across the US are under investigation for participating in the riot, including two Capitol police officers, according to a Democratic lawmaker.

Representative Tim Ryan, head of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police, told reporters on Monday there “were two people suspended. One was the selfie officer and another was an officer who had put a MAGA hat on and started directing some people around”.

Capitol police have faced criticism over images of an officer taking selfies with the rioters and reports of collaboration with those who breached the Capitol complex.

Five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died as a result of wounds suffered during the riot.

Police departments in Virginia and Washington state have also placed officers on leave as authorities examine whether they took part in unlawful acts while off-duty.


Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf resigns

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is stepping down, the latest senior Trump administration official to resign following the riot on Capitol Hill.

President Donald Trump withdrew Wolf’s nomination to be permanent homeland security secretary last week after federal courts found his 2019 appointment illegal.

Wolf said in a letter his resignation will take effect at 11:59pm on Monday, and is “warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary.”

Pete Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will take over as acting secretary, according to the letter.


Trump approval tanks post Capitol riot

President Trump’s approval rating has hit an all-time low in the wake of last week’s pro-Trump riot at the US Capitol, according to a poll released Monday.

The new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that 33 percent of American voters approve of Trump’s job performance, with 60 percent disapproving. That’s down from a 44-51 percent rating in December.

Meanwhile, a majority of voters, 56-42 percent, hold Trump responsible for the riot, while a slight majority, 52-45 percent, say he should be removed from office and 53-45 percent of voters say he should resign.

“A majority of Americans hold President Trump responsible for the chaos at the Capitol, and a slight majority believe that he should be removed from office,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.

The poll 1,239 of self-identified registered voters nationwide were surveyed from January 7-10 with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

President Donald Trump addressed supporters shortly before rioters breached the US Capitol as Congress met to certify the victory of Joe Biden [Jim Bourg/Reuters]

NY State Bar launches professional inquiry into Rudy Giuliani’s incitement of Capitol mob

The New York State Bar Association has launched an inquiry into removing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani from is membership, the organisation said in a statement.

“Hours before the angry mob stormed the Capitol walls, Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani addressed a crowd of thousands at the White House, reiterating baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the presidential election and the Georgia US Senate runoffs,” the NY Bar statement said.

The bar noted that speaking to pro-Trump supporters at the Ellipse on January 6, Giuliani had said, “If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail.”

“Let’s have trial by combat,” Giuliani said.

The subsequent attack on the Capitol was “nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power”, the NY Bar said.

US Representatives Ted Lieu and Mondaire Jones had written to the Bar on January 8 asking it to take disciplinary action against Giuliani. Violations of law and the state’s code of conduct for lawyers can lead to loss of licence to practice law in the state.

Lawyer to US President DonaldTrump spoke to supporters shortly before rioters breached the US Capitol [Michael Reynolds/EPA]

Security for US inauguration to tighten on January 13 after recent violence: Homeland security

The US Secret Service will begin carrying out its special security arrangements for the January 20 presidential inauguration on Wednesday, almost a week earlier than originally planned, after last week’s deadly violence on Capitol Hill and threats of more protests have raised questions about safety at the ceremony.

In a statement released on Monday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that “in light of events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration” he had instructed the Secret Service to begin security operations on January 13, instead of January 19.

He added that federal, state, and local agencies “will continue to coordinate their plans and position resources for this important event”.


24 former Republican members of Congress have signed a letter calling for Trump to be impeached

Former Republican members of Congress are signing on to a public letter calling for the impeachment of President Trump following the attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

Trump appeared to “direct and encourage” the protestors, according to the letter.

“There is no excuse for nor defence of a president of the United States to actively orchestrated an insurrection on a separate but coequal branch of government,” the legislators said in the letter.

“Knowing the president will be leaving office in less than two weeks should not be an excuse for not impeaching,” they said.

Most of the Republicans who signed the letter served in Congress prior to Trump taking office in 2017. Two former House members Barbara Comstock and Charlie Dent served in the House during Trump’s term.


AT&T suspends donations to lawmakers who opposed Biden certification

AT&T Inc, one of the largest US political contributors, has said its political action committee will suspend donations to lawmakers that did not back the certification of President-elect Biden’s win last week.

The company said in a statement to the Reuters news agency that it will “suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes last week”.

The decision was made by employees on its PAC board who had convened a call Monday.


FBI warns US law enforcement of nationwide armed protests following attack on the US Capitol

The FBI has sent a bulletin to law enforcement agencies across the United States warning of the potential for more armed protests in US states and Washington, DC beginning January 16, according to media reports.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, a senior law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The warning is based on online threats following Wednesday’s deadly attack on the US Congress by pro-Trump supporters who overran police barricades and forced their way into the Capitol building. President-elect Biden is to be inaugurated at the US Capitol in Washington on January 20.

Supporters loyal to President Donald Trump clash with authorities before successfully breaching the Capitol building during a riot on the grounds on January 6 [John Minchillo/The Associated Press]

House will consider impeachment Wednesday

Democratic leadership has said the House will consider the impeachment of Trump on Wednesday, one week after an angry mob of his supporters invaded the Capitol.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Democrats on a call Monday that members should plan to return to Washington on Tuesday evening to consider a House resolution calling on Vice President Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office. That resolution is expected to pass, but Pence is unlikely to act.

Hoyer says the House will then consider impeachment on Wednesday.

House Democrats have moved quickly to draft an article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection because he egged on thousands of his supporters ahead of the riots by falsely telling them that the election was stolen from him.

One of the Democratic sponsors of the article, Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline, said they have the votes to pass it.


Parler sues Amazon for yanking account following US Capitol siege

Parler LLC, a social networking service favoured by many supporters of United States President Donald Trump, sued Amazon.com Inc on Monday, accusing its internet hosting service of making an illegal, politically motivated decision to shut down its account.

In an antitrust complaint filed with the US District Court in Seattle, Parler accused Amazon of hypocrisy for suggesting a lack of confidence that it could police its platform, including by finding and removing content that encouraged violence.

Parler said Amazon Web Services shut down its account on Sunday night despite making no threats to suspend Twitter Inc, where it said one of the top-trending tweets on Friday night had been “Hang Mike Pence,” a reference to the US vice president.

“AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus,” the complaint said. “Parler has not only lost current and future customers, but Parler has also been unable to find an alternative web hosting company. In short, AWS false claims have made Parler a pariah.”

Read more here.

Parler said Amazon Web Services shut down its account on Sunday night in a move ‘apparently motivated by political animus’ [File: Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA-EFE]

Biden: ‘I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside’

As reports of threats increase and officials prepare to boost security in Washington, DC before and during next week’s presidential inauguration, President-elect Biden is not expressing much concern about being publicly sworn in.

“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” Biden told reporters after receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in on the West Front of the US Capitol at Noon on January 20, in the same spot where thousands of pro-Trump rioters began their siege of the Capitol.

“I think that it’s critically important that there be a real, serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatened people’s lives, defaced public property, caused great damage, that they be held accountable,” Biden added.

When asked if President Donald Trump engaged in sedition, Biden said, “I’ve been clear that President Trump should not be in office. Period.”

President-elect Joe Biden receives his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine at Christiana Care Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware [Susan Walsh/The Associated Press]

National Guard deployed to Washington, DC before Biden inauguration

The head of the National Guard has said least 10,000 troops will be deployed in Washington, DC by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states.

There are currently 6,200 Guard members in the city from DC and five nearby states. The increase in requests for Guard members on Monday comes as officials brace for more, possibly violent protests surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Biden.

Army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters that he has authorisation to bring in up to 15,000 Guard members. He said the number of deployments is changing by the hour and day, based on requests from the Secret Service, the Park Police and the Capitol Police.

There have been repeated questions about why Guard members were not brought in more quickly as the deadly riot at the US Capitol unfolded last Wednesday. Guard officials have said they responded as quickly as they could as the situation spiralled out of control but said the Capitol Police repeatedly turned down offers for help in the days before the protests.

A demonstrator sits in a truck with a video screen near the US Capitol in Washington [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

National Parks Services shuts down access to Washington Monument after ‘credible threats’

The National Parks Service has shut down public access to the Washington Monument until January 24, citing threats surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The agency said Monday that it was implementing the temporary closure “in response to credible threats to visitors and park resources”.

Parks officials say that groups involved in last week’s riot at the US Capitol are continuing to “threaten to disrupt” Biden’s inauguration on January 20. As a result, officials are shutting down tours at the Washington Monument beginning Monday, running through January 24.

They say they may also institute some temporary closures to roads, parking areas and restrooms on the National Mall and could extend the closures “if the conditions persist”.

With the Washington Monument in the background, people attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump before rioters breached the US Capitol [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

House Speaker Pelosi says Republicans enable Trump’s ‘unhinged, unstable, and deranged’ conduct

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, decried a move by Republicans to block a bill calling on Vice President Mike Pence to replace President Trump.

Trump “incited a deadly insurrection against America that targeted the very heart of our democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement.

House Republicans, she said, are “enabling the president’s unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue … Their complicity endangers America, erodes our Democracy and it must end.”

Republicans this morning prevented Democrats from bringing up for a vote under expedited procedures a bill that demands Pence mobilise the president’s Cabinet to replace Trump under the 25th Amendment. The House will vote on the measure tomorrow, Pelosi said.


Republican congressional campaign committee says removing Trump will sow more division

The National Republican Congressional Committee has condemned the violence in the US Capitol, while saying that Democrats move to impeach Trump will only sow more division.

“The violence we saw unfold in our nation’s capital last week has no place in our democracy. It was a disgusting and dangerous spectacle that ultimately cost people their lives,” Representative Tom Emmer, the chairman of the group, said in the statement. “Congress as a whole bears responsibility for fomenting the type of vitriol that has been dividing our nation over the course of many years and it has to stop.”

Emmer continued, “We must come together to heal our nation, but House Democrats’ latest attempts to remove the president from office will further divide us. It is a politically-motivated effort by Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats that will fracture our nation even more instead of bringing us together.”


Impeachment vote ‘may well be’ Wednesday: House Democrat

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said the chamber could vote on the impeachment of Trump on Wednesday.

“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” Hoyer, who is responsible for the House’s floor schedule, told reporters. Democrats earlier filed a resolution containing an article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with inciting insurrection in last week’s violence at the US Capitol.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speaks to Capitol Hill reporters about an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Trump faces prospect of second impeachment, bar from future office

With the House formally introducing an article of impeachment against Trump, he now faces the prospect of being the only president in US history who has been impeached twice.

The House, which is controlled by Democrats, can vote to impeach the president with a simple majority. A trial will then be held in the Senate, and is expected to take place after Trump leaves office, although the constitutionality of such a proceeding is likely to be challenged.

In the Senate trial, a two-thirds-majority vote would be needed in the 100-member chamber to convict Trump, a subsequent vote, likely to require only a simple majority, could then bar Trump from holding future federal office.

Democrats will soon have control of the Senate, with 50 seats and a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice-President elect Kamala Harris.

Read more here.


US House Democrats introduce article of impeachment against Trump

Democrats in the US House of Representatives formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for incitement to insurrection and called on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump now.

The article of impeachment cites Trump’s “repeatedly issued false statements” that he lost the 2020 election “because of widespread fraud”.

Addressing a crowd of supporters in Washington on January 6, Trump said, “We won this election and won it by a landslide” and he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell”.

The Democrat-controlled House is poised to pass the article of impeachment in a vote as soon as Wednesday if Trump does not resign first, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday. Democrats have suggested not sending the article to the Senate until after Biden’s first 100 days in office.

The Republican-led Senate is unlikely to take up impeachment proceedings until after Trump leaves office and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not start a trial before the president’s term ends. With just nine days to go until Joe Biden is inaugurated president on January 20, any Senate trial would occur later under new Democratic leadership.


House Republicans block vote on 25th amendment resolution

House Republicans blocked a Democratic request on Monday to bring up a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to start the US Constitution’s 25th Amendment process of removing President Donald Trump from office.

House Democrats sought agreement to immediately bring up the resolution for debate, but Republicans stopped it on a voice vote. Democrats have indicated they will seek a recorded vote on the same resolution on Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Democrats will move ahead with impeachment if the 25th Amendment is not invoked.


Dow opens down 250 points after Big Tech moves to muzzle Trump

Investors may have stayed calm in the face of last week’s siege of the United States Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump, but the fallout of the insurrection and concerns about market overheating are creeping into Monday’s trading.

After reaching all-time highs last week, major US stock indexes opened in the red on Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 247 points at the open of trading on Wall Street to 30,850.65. The S&P 500 – a proxy for the health of US retirement and college savings accounts- stumbled 0.89 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.13 percent.

Read more here.


Army investigates officer who participated in Trump rally before riot

The US Army is investigating a psychological operations officer who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington, DC that led up to the deadly riot in the US Capitol by supporters of Trump.

Commanders at Fort Bragg are reviewing Captain Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s events in the nation’s capital, but she said she acted within military regulations and that no one in her group broke the law.

“I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” Rainey told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Rainey said she led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which describes itself online as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative values, to the Washington rally to “stand against election fraud” and support Trump. She said she did not know of anyone who entered the Capitol and that they were headed back to their buses hours before an emergency curfew took effect.

Rainey, 30, is assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, according to Major Daniel Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command. Known as PSYOPS, the group uses information and misinformation to shape the emotions, decision-making and actions of American adversaries.

Read more here.


First lady condemns Capitol violence, ‘salacious gossip’ surrounding the event

First Lady Melania Trump on Monday broke her silence on last week’s violence when rioters loyal to her husband, outgoing President Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol.

“I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week,” she said in a lengthy statement. “It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence.”

She added that her heart went out to those who had died since the attack, first naming the deceased rioters and then two Capitol Police officers, one who died Thursday and one who died Saturday.

The first lady condemned the violence, but did not reference her husband’s role in riling up supporters with false claims of election fraud and egging them on to march to the Capitol, but decried “salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations” she said have surrounded the incident.

She did not specify the gossip to which she referred. Read more here.


‘We’ll act with urgency’: Pelosi says House will impeach Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that the House will go ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Trump as she pushes Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office following last week’s deadly assault on the Capitol.

On Monday, Pelosi’s leadership team will seek a vote on a resolution calling on the vice president and Cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that allows the vice president and the Cabinet to remove the president from office if they deem him unable to perform his duties.

Pence and the Cabinet would have 24 hours to act before the House would move towards impeachment.

“We will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat,” Pelosi said in a letter late on Sunday to colleagues. “The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Read more here.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addresses reporters a day after supporters of US President Donald Trump occupied the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on January 7 [Erin Scott
/Reuters]
Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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