AP “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointedly did not rule out Wednesday that he might eventually vote to convict the now twice-impeached President Donald Trump, but he also blocked a quick Senate impeachment trial. Minutes after the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump, McConnell said in a letter to his GOP colleagues that he’s not determined whether Trump should be convicted in the Senate’s upcoming proceedings. The House impeachment articles charge that Trump incited insurrection by exhorting supporters who violently attacked the Capitol last week, resulting in five deaths and a disruption of Congress.”
Assuming the House sends the article of impeachment to the Senate on or before Jan. 19 (the day the Senate returns from recess):
Once the Senate’s impeachment rules are launched, the secretary of the Senate will alert the House that the Senate is ready to receive its impeachment managers, either immediately or at a mutually agreed time.
The managers will then walk the article and the resolution appointing them to the Senate and read the article aloud.
The Senate will then notify Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and invite him to preside.
Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day):
Senate Impeachment Rule III provides that, once the article is exhibited by the managers, “The Senate shall, at 1 o’clock afternoon of the day (Sundays excepted) … or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration” of the article.
During both Trump and President Clinton’s trials, the Senate unanimously agreed the trial would begin immediately after the House managers exhibited the articles, rather than the next day.
That could mean Trump’s impeachment trial would begin at 1 pm on Jan. 20 — one hour after Biden is sworn in to replace him.
On the day and time of the trial, the chief justice will be sworn in by the president pro tempore of the Senate to serve as the presiding officer.
The chief justice then swears in the senators as members of the Court of Impeachment. The Senate then summons the person who is being impeached — by this point, former President Trump — to appear before the body, and to file an answer to the articles of impeachment.
And … On The Streets Of D.C.
D.C. should expect a “new normal” for security — even after President-elect Biden’s inauguration, Mayor Muriel Bowser warned today. An estimated 20,000 troops are now patrolling D.C. streets. Fences are surrounding the Capitol, armored vehicles are deployed and swaths of public transit have been shut down. House Speaker Pelosi said today: “We’ve really lost our innocence in this.” (Axios)
And … This Stat
There are more U.S. troops deployed on Capitol Hill now than in Iraq or Afghanistan, actually more than 3 times the number of troops. (Fox News)
-Rep. Liz Chaney (R-AZ) the third-highest ranking House Republican, vote[d] to impeach the president.
“They stuck with him as he separated children from their parents, as he used his power to profit off of the presidency, as he at least twice obstructed justice, as he tried to strongarm a foreign leader into smearing a political opponent, as he ignored a global health crisis that has now killed more than 380,000 Americans, and as he degraded his office and threw the country into turmoil with a daily barrage of lies, conspiracy theories, bigotry, and inanity. But, with just a week left in his term, Donald Trump may have finally found a line he can’t cross with the GOP: Inciting a literal attack on the U.S. Capitol that not only endangered the lives of Democrats, journalists, and other people they don’t seem to care all that much about, but their own. (Vanity Fair)
The Full Arrest Picture
Federal prosecutors on Thursday for the first time described last week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol as a ‘violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government’ — and one they consider to still be underway. … “FBI and Justice Department officials have emphasized that more serious charges are on the horizon, after an initial round of lesser charges were leveled to ensure they corralled some of the most dangerous offenders.”
“FBI director says 100 arrests to date from Capitol riots,” “The Justice Department also announced on Thursday evening that the FBI had received more than 140,000 tips identifying rioters and had opened about 200 subject case files.” — “Feds edge closer to sedition charge in Capitol riot aftermath’“
Lawmakers Who Conspired With Capitol Attackers In Legal Peril
Politico “Lawmakers who interacted with the pro-Trump protesters who rioted at the Capitol last week could face criminal charges and will almost certainly come under close scrutiny in the burgeoning federal investigation into the assault, former prosecutors said. “This is incredibly serious,’ said Ron Machen, a former U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. … Unlike with the president, there’s no Justice Department policy shielding members of Congress from legal accountability while in office.”
For Politico: Jeffrey Rosen, President, National Constitution Center answers … Does The Senate Have The Power To Try Trump After He Leaves Office and Bar Him From Running Again?
“Because no former president has been tried before, there are no direct precedents that settle the question. On one side is J. Michael Luttig, an influential former appeals court judge who writes that the Senate can’t hold an impeachment trial once the president leaves office because he cannot “be removed from Office,” as the Impeachment Clause in Article II, Section 4 provides. But other scholars, such as Laurence Tribe and Stephen Vladeck, [note] that a person shouldn’t be able to avoid the penalty of disqualification from holding future office by, say, resigning moments before the Senate trial takes place. Trump shows no intention of resigning before Jan. 20, but I think the same principle applies.
The bottom line: If the Senate decides to convict Trump, it will probably have the final say. And the Supreme Court, in all likelihood, will defer to the Senate’s interpretation of its own rules.
The 14th Amendment’s Obscure Section 3
Impeachment isn’t the only momentous constitutional question the Court may avoid deciding in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Some constitutional scholars are making the case that the 14th Amendment’s obscure section 3 offers a sounder basis than an impeachment trial for disqualifying Trump from holding future office.
Marcia Coyle offers a useful primer on the forgotten history of section 3, which the House quoted in the impeachment against Trump. It says that “no person shall hold any office, civil or military, under the States” who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Coyle says section 3 could be applied against Trump with a simple majority vote by each chamber of Congress, whereas impeachment requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Trump might challenge his disqualification if the new Democratic House and Senate passed it by a simple majority.
Translation: The Democrat-controlled Congress could act unilaterally to bar Trump from holding future office. It also means that, if the Senate refuses to convict Trump in the impeachment trial, his fate may continue to distract Congress and the Supreme Court for weeks or even months as President Joe Biden pushes for the consideration of his $1.9 trillion recovery package. (As a political matter, it’s another question whether Democrats would want to stop the most divisive force in the Republican Party from running again.)
But either way, it’s unlikely, once again, that the Supreme Court would intervene, instead viewing it as a political question that Congress alone can decide. In my view, that’s a good thing. In the wake of the only domestic assault on the Capitol in American history, it’s healthy for our democracy that representatives and senators are making decisions about what the Constitution means, rather than counting on the Supreme Court to make these decisions for them.”
Axios “Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally. The losses are stark and substantial:
They lost their congressional power.
Their two leaders, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, are hamstrung by corporate blacklisting of their election-denying members.
The GOP brand is radioactive for a huge chunk of America.
The corporate bans on giving to the 147 House and Senate Republicans who voted against election certification are growing and virtually certain to hold.
The RNC is a shell of its former self and run by a Trump loyalist.
Democrats crushed them in fundraising when they were out of power. Imagine their edge with it.
Sheldon Adelson, the party’s biggest donor, died Monday.
The NRA is weaker than it has ever been, after massive leadership scandals.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once controlled by rock-ribbed Republicans, also gave to Democrats in 2020.
Rank-and-file Republicans are now scattered on encrypted channels like Signal and fearful of Big Tech platforms.
The big picture: Conservatives hold power in the courts and state legislatures, two foundational pieces to rebuilding their party. But they likely will face a raging internal war over policies and political leaders as they grapple with a post-Trump world — whenever that might be.”
Punchbowl “Something weird is happening. Things are becoming a lot less … weird.
President-elect Joe Biden released a Covid relief plan, and here’s how he did it: His staff scheduled a background briefing for 2 p.m. Thursday. They sent reporters who RSVP’ed a 19-page policy paper explaining the positions they were taking, why they were taking them and what they were trying to achieve. After that, they put two senior officials on a conference call with reporters. The officials answered detailed policy questions.
Then at 7:15 p.m., Biden himself took the stage and explained the policy and why he thought America needed it. He didn’t stray from his message, or start ad-libbing about world leaders or his political enemies. Biden talked about his legislative plan — whether you liked it or hated it, that’s what he did.
Immediately afterward, statements started coming out in support of the plan. Senators, members of the House, the Democratic leadership, trade associations and public-policy groups all said that they were on board with the plan. It was … coordinated! The campaign sent out a press release highlighting positive reactions.
He’ll give another speech today. Biden plans to lay out how he will administer “100 million shots at the end of my first 100 days as president. This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have undertaken as a nation.”
Biden’s not claiming it’ll be easy. He has a plan. We’ll hear what it is. And if it works, terrific. If not, he’ll get flak. He hired David Kessler, the FDA chief from 1990-1997, to help him get the vaccine out, the NYT broke this morning.
“Biden’s proposal is divided into three major areas: $400 billion for provisions to fight the coronavirus with more vaccines and testing, while reopening schools; more than $1 trillion in direct relief to families, including through stimulus payments and increased unemployment insurance benefits; and $440 billion for aid to communities and businesses, including $350 billion in emergency funding to state, local and tribal governments.”
Some of the key items in the package:
$1 trillion for struggling families:
$1,400 in direct funds on top of the $600 in aid approved by lawmakers last month.
Increase unemployment benefits to $400 per week (currently $300) and extend the program through September (currently ends in mid-March).
$25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to the end of September.
The plan calls for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
A significant expansion of an existing tax credit for children in poor and middle-class households.
$400 billion for pandemic response:
$20 billion toward a vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, tribes and territories.
$50 billion to expand testing, cover the purchase of rapid tests, expand lab capacity and help schools and local governments with testing protocols.
$440 billion for communities and small businesses:
$15 billion in grants for small businesses.
$350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments, including to support first responders, expand testing, and reopen schools. The proposal would create a national vaccination program, provide funding to expand the health workforce by 100,000 people to conduct outreach and contact tracing, offer $50 billion to expand national testing, and provide $40 billion for supplies.
Also, dedicating $9 billion for the federal Technology Modernization Fund and $690 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, among activities to remediate the Solarwinds cyber attack.” (Many more details to come.)
Biden’s Ratings; Trump Departs With Lowest-Ever Job Mark
Pew “As Joe Biden prepares to take office just days after a deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol, 64% of voters express a positive opinion of his conduct since he won the November election. Majorities also approve of Biden’s Cabinet selections and how he has explained his plans and policies for the future.
Donald Trump is leaving the White House with the lowest job approval of his presidency (29%) and increasingly negative ratings for his post-election conduct. The share of voters who rate Trump’s conduct since the election as only fair or poor has risen from 68% in November to 76%, with virtually all of the increase coming in his “poor” ratings (62% now, 54% then). Trump voters, in particular, have grown more critical of their candidate’s post-election conduct. The share of his supporters who describe his conduct as poor has doubled over the past two months, from 10% to 20%.
The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 8-12 among 5,360 U.S. adults, including 4,040 who say they voted in the presidential election, finds that a sizable majority of Americans do not want Trump to remain a major political figure after he leaves office. About two-thirds (68%) say Trump should not continue to be a major national political figure for many years to come; just 29% say he should remain a major figure in U.S. politics.”
WaPo “As Americans prepare for President Trump to leave the White House, they face a sickening reality: Nearly 400,000 people have died of covid-19 under his watch. His administration led a bungled response from the start, health experts have repeatedly said, for which the nation has paid a devastating price. American deaths make up 20% of the global toll — which just crossed 2 million — despite being just 4.25% of the world’s population. Imagine.
The coronavirus is putting an early end to more than 3,000 lives per day… In the most alarming announcement on mutations yet, experts at the CDC said Friday that they expect the spread to get much worse. In every scenario the CDC examined, it found the highly contagious U.K. variant will become the dominant source of infections in the United States in March.”
NYT: “[David] Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the Food and Drug Administration during the presidencies of George Bush and Bill Clinton, has been a key adviser to Mr. Biden on Covid-19 policy and is co-chair of the transition team’s Covid-19 task force. He will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a researcher and former drug company executive, who will become a consultant to [what was formerly known as] Operation Warp Speed. (New name coming.) Dr. Kessler will share top responsibilities for the initiative with Gen. Gustave F. Perna, who will continue as chief operating officer, according to a Biden transition spokesman. Dr. Kessler’s responsibilities will cover manufacturing, distribution and the safety and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics.”
“Vaccine reserve was already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access,” WaPo: “When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line. Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will not immediately increase, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding eligibility for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark.”
Here’s what you need to know. The inauguration is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Jan. 20, on the west front of the US Capitol. Each elected US president’s term starts at noon ET that day, according to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. The president-elect is required to take the oath of office before assuming duties. Following the presidential swearing-in ceremony, Biden will deliver his inaugural address. … there will be a televised virtual parade featuring performances from people throughout the country. “The parade will celebrate America’s heroes and reflect on the diversity, heritage and resilience of our country,” the Biden committee said in a tweet.
THEN, at 8:30 PM ET, there will be a 90-minute TV special hosted by Tom Hanks. Celebrity performances include: Lady Gaga, singing the national anthem, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend, Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen … Politicians and religious leaders — including archbishops, pastors and rabbis — also usually give speeches.”