LONE STAR — Texas’ Big Political Read — 1.13.20 — McConnell Betrays Trump? — Castro Pushes Impeachment – Cruz, Lee, West, Melania — More…
“Safety Concerns as the 2021 Session of the Texas Legislature Commences” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – The 87th Texas Legislative Session commences today at the Texas State Capitol in Austin amid safety concerns over the pandemic and violence at the U.S. Capitol last week. As cases continue to surge, safety measures have been instituted to facilitate conventions in spite of restrictions on indoor gatherings. Texas House Democrats Rep. Michelle Beckley and Ana-Maria Ramos have announced that they will not attend what Beckley described as a “superspreader” opening day. On Monday, the Department of Public Safety announced that coronavirus tests were mandatory for those entering the Capitol. Both the Texas House and Senate have put in further precautions. Additionally, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has deployed additional personnel and resources. Calls for increased security measures at the Texas State Capitol came after violent riots at the U.S Capitol last Wednesday. DPS responded to the Washington riots by announcing the closure of the State Capitol building in Austin. Local media reported small, peaceful protests earlier that day. Although several protesters held guns, none were fired.
“Members of the Sedition Caucus Face Backlash from Donors, Constituents and GOP Colleagues” by Texas Politics’ Isbel Webb Carey – Following the violent storming of the US Capitol on Wednesday, the 127 Republican lawmakers who persisted in their objections to president-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory face backlash from donors, constituents and GOP colleagues. Sen. Ted Cruz is a notable member of the “Sedition Caucus.” Also listed are Texas Reps. Jodey Arrington, Brian Babin, Michael C. Burgess, John R. Carter, Michael Cloud, Pat Fallon, Louie Gohmenrt, Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls, August Pfluger, Pete Sessions, Beth Van Duyne, Randy Weber, Roger Williams and Ron Wright. Democratic lawmakers have called upon Sens. Cruz, Hawley, and the 125 other Republicans who objected to Biden’s victory to resign. Earlier today, Rep. Cori Bush (MI-D) introduced H.RES. 25 which seeks “to investigate and expel the GOP members of Congress who attempted to overturn the election and incited a white supremacist attack.” Democrats have announced a second impeachment attempt which will be voted on in the House on Wednesday. Corporations have also spoken out against the 127 objecting lawmakers. Marriott International Inc. and the US health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield Association have suspended donations to the lawmakers. JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Walmart responded similarly, promising to pause contributions from political action committees. Many other major companies have been vocal against the Republicans who refused to certify election results on Wednesday and have said that they would take these actions into account when deciding future political donations.
“Trump’s Texas Border Visit in Final Days of Presidency” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – Tomorrow, President Donald Trump is expected to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight his administration’s work on border security, an issue which defined his 2016 campaign. Trump’s visit to Alamo will mark the completion of 4,500 miles of border wall. It will draw attention to his administration’s efforts to reform what the White House described as the nation’s “broken immigration system.” As promised by his 2016 presidential campaign, hundreds of miles of fencing have been completed along the southern border. Despite Trump’s promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, the project has been funded by U.S. taxpayers. Furthermore, according to a Customs and Border Protection report, only 30 miles cover new areas as most of the work has replaced older barriers. The construction has elicited outrage over its devastating effects on endangered ecosystems and sacred Native American burial sites. The visit will be the president’s first public appearance since he addressed supporters on Wednesday during the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House are pushing for a second impeachment vote next week. They plan to introduce their proposal on Monday and vote on Wednesday. Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-D) of Texas’ 28th district responded to the upcoming visit: “I think he’s got much bigger issues than coming over and seeing his 14th century solution called ‘The Wall.’ But, as you know, he started his campaign attacking Mexico and building the wall and all that. And I think he wants to end his term the same way.”
“Allen West says cool heads will prevail against the ‘Bidenistas’” by Texas Politics’ Daniel Molina – After the storming of the Capitol, and as Democrats prepare to possibly file articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump (R), former Florida Rep. Allen West (R) assures that “cool heads always prevail.” West staunchly supports the President, but he warns that there appears to be a “communist takeover of America,” citing that America must adopt the leadership tactics that he learned while serving in combat. West expressed that “the real issue from the 2020 election cycle has less to do with mythical beasts – like the Kracken – and, more with the understanding as to how the left enveloped Republican State legislatures. Since the storming of the Capitol, a number of Republican lawmakers have distanced themselves from the President, and some have even noted that they would support the removal of the President before President-elect Joe Biden (D) is sworn into office on January 20th, 2021. West argued that “the left targeted and encircled key Republican State legislatures in places like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona, among others, and changed election law by way of governors, secretaries of state, and judicial activism.” He added that this was only heightened by Governors that “enacted emergency declarations to deal with a ‘pandemic’ that has a 99.96 percent recovery rate.” Slamming Democrats for being “incredibly effective in preventing the review of voter rolls in states all over the country,” West noted that state legislatures “need to refine the meaning of an emergency.”
“Melania Trump ‘Disappointed And Disheartened’ Over Capitol Riot” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – First lady Melania Trump released a statement extending her condolences for lives lost in last week’s Capitol riot and condemned supporters of President Trump who breached the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win. “I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week,” Melania said in a 600-word statement posted on the White House website and shared on her First Lady Twitter account early Monday morning. Our Nation must heal in a civil manner. Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable,” she added. Following the “Save America” rally where President Trump gave remarks on the National Mall, thousands of Trump’s supporters marched on the Capitol. Some in the crowd stormed their way inside the Capitol complex by breaking a window, forcing lawmakers, staff, and reporters including Vice President Mike Pence to shelter in a hideout for over 6 hours in both the House and Senate buildings. In her first comments breaking her silence on the riot in nearly a week, Melania urged Americans to “listen to one another, focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us” following the chaos.
“After a rocky start, Gov. Greg Abbott promises to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations across Texas” by Texas Tribune’s Karen Brooks Harper – More than 877,000 Texans have received a COVID-19 vaccine since they first began arriving in Texas nearly four weeks ago, and that number is expected to increase by at least 50,000 more per day, Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday. “Never before in the history of this state has Texas vaccinated so many people so quickly, “ Abbott said during remarks at the Esports Stadium Arlington & Expo Center, a newly-designated “vaccination hub” that local health officials said can vaccinate thousands per day. “It’s stunning to see what we’ve accomplished.” The Arlington center, home to the city’s mass vaccination effort since December, is among 28 sites designed by the state as hubs. “Our goal is, by the end of the week, we have no vaccines left,” said Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley. The county’s health district was allotted 9,000 doses in the most recent shipment this week. The hubs are meant to streamline vaccinations at a time when the state is seeing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations. Texas continues to prioritize vaccinating health care workers, people who are 65 and older, and those with medical conditions that increase their risk of hospitalization or death if they contract the virus. The large sites will receive most of the state’s next shipment of 158,825 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week. Just over 38,000 doses will go to 206 additional providers across the state, including several in rural counties that until recently had not received an allotment.
“These Dallas-Fort Worth providers are among Texas’ 28 vaccination hubs” by Dallas Morning News’ Dana Branham – Six agencies in Dallas-Fort Worth will serve as COVID-19 vaccination hubs as Texas shifts toward a centralized approach to distributing the shots, the state announced Sunday. In Dallas County, the county health department, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Health and Hospital System were designated as hubs by the Department of State Health Services. In Tarrant County, the county health department and Texas Health Resources were designated by the state as hubs. And the sixth is the Denton County health department. Collin, Rockwall and Ellis counties are not on the state’s list. Providers won’t exclusively vaccinate people who live in their respective counties. State officials have said their goal is to send most of the vaccines Texas is allocated to large hubs to streamline immunizations. This week, the 28 hubs will receive 158,825 doses of the vaccine, and 38,300 doses will go to other providers across the state, according to a news release. “The idea is to concentrate much of the vaccine at a smaller number of locations so there will be a more centralized opportunity to vaccinate people,” state health department spokesman Chris Van Deusen told The Dallas Morning News. Van Deusen added Sunday that the state has asked the chosen providers to vaccinate people in surrounding areas, too. The vaccines were allocated based on the number of people each provider estimated it could serve in a week.
“All eyes on President Trump as he heads to Texas to visit border wall” by ABC News’ John Parkinson and Ben Gittleson – President Donald Trump will break his silence as he visits the U.S.-Mexico border near Alamo, Texas Tuesday — days after he was cut off from supporters when his Twitter account was permanently suspended. Apart from posting video on his Twitter page on Thursday, the president has remained behind closed doors at the White House — spending his final days in office out of the public eye. “President Trump is expected to travel to Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday to mark the completion of more than 400 miles of border wall — a promise made, promise kept — and his administration’s efforts to reform our broken immigration system,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told reporters ahead of the visit. In the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol, the president is facing renewed calls from congressional Democrats to be removed from office. The House is poised to pass an impeachment resolution this week charging the president with incitement of insurrection. If the House successfully impeaches Trump and the Senate convicts the president, he could be barred from seeking future public office — even if Congress acts after he leaves office. The wall, which became a pet project of the president and central focus of his failed campaign for reelection, could stand as a lasting legacy for Trumpism. President-elect Joe Biden has signaled he will halt future construction of the border wall after taking office on Jan. 20. While the White House boasts that Trump has completed 400 miles of border wall, the total includes construction to replace existing barriers along the border.
“Political experts discuss 87th Texas Legislature” by KVUE’s Luis de Leon – The 87th Texas Legislature starts up on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and it will look a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened security at the Texas State Capitol. The Capitol grounds and building recently reopened to the public after months of being closed due to the pandemic and protests during the summer. This could prove to be an interesting session as Texas keeps an eye on how the state budget and redistricting play out. Experts in Texas politics spoke with KVUE Monday to break down how some bills may or may not make headway in this session, as well as the role COVID-19 may play in it. One of the things that the 87th Texas Legislature has to do is pass the state budget. “The budget is the Rosetta Stone of the, of the state’s priorities,” said James Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his biennial revenue estimate (BRE) Monday morning, which says lawmakers will have $112.5 billion to spend when the next two-year budget is drawn up during this year’s legislative session. But the pandemic played a role, causing the amount for the 2022-23 biennium to drop 0.4% from the current budget. The pandemic caused revenue collections to fall well short of what was expected when the Texas Legislature approved the 2020-21 budget. Still, Henson explained that the budget projection isn’t as big of a drop as some had originally predicted.
“At almost every step, Ted Cruz has miscalculated how to deal with Donald Trump” by Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers Jr. – Ted Cruz is a successful politician who rose from obscurity to score an upset win for the U.S. Senate. He became one of the best known constitutional conservatives in the country and set himself up for a 2016 presidential run, even though Democrats and moderate Republicans detested him. But Cruz, Texas’ junior senator, has made major miscalculations involving Donald Trump. He underestimated the New York businessman and reality television star as a presidential contender. Then he misread his own popularity with the GOP base by not immediately endorsing the victorious Trump. Afterward he became too cozy with the president, clearly an effort to inherit Trump’s formidable political base. Last week Trump burned Cruz — again. Cruz pushed a controversial proposal to appoint a special commission to examine unfounded allegations of voter fraud in November’s elections, a move that fueled the misguided belief among Trump supporters that former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory over the incumbent resulted from voter fraud in several battleground states. On Wednesday, just before Congress was to certify the 2020 presidential election results, Trump told participants at a Washington rally to march on the Capitol. They did, and a mob stormed the Hill. Rioters entered the Senate chamber searching for Vice President Mike Pence and wreaking havoc. The ordeal resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer.
“Texas Governor Gregg Abbott rolls out new COVID-19 vaccine hubs” by KXII’s Kylee Dedmon – 28 COVID-19 vaccination hubs to begin in large Texas cities. The vaccination hubs are located in urban areas that have large populations. Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said Texoma’s numbers just couldn’t compare, but that’s not necessarily bad. “This is an urban-based initiative so the urban centers throughout the state are the ones that receive the hubs,” Magers said. More than eight hundred thousand Texans have gotten the vaccine in just four weeks, and now with the help of the hubs, that number is expected to increase by at least 50,000 more each day. “It is much easier as well because you go to one distribution channel and you can get a lot more people with that one channel so that’s why they are focusing on the metropolitan areas right now,” Magers said. Magers said north of the metroplex, the doses are more sparse. “So we just didn’t measure up in terms of our population,” Magers said. Magers says as long as you are qualified, your vaccine is coming, just at a doctor’s office or local pharmacy instead. Susan Miller, a pharmacist at Med Choice Pharmacy in Denison, advises when showing up for your appointment at her clinic, you must bring the NEW red, white, and blue medicare card. “Currently our health department is out of vaccines. We anticipate a small shipment coming in this coming week or the following week for our hospitals,” Magers said.
“‘Swamp Traitor’: Texas Republican Michael McCaul’s office vandalized after vote to certify election” by KXAN’s John Engle – The district office of U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul in Tomball, Texas was vandalized overnight, according to his staff, with the words “Swamp Traitor” spray-painted on the window. McCaul (R-TX 10) voted to certify the 2020 presidential election last week after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. “I understand many people are still frustrated with the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, but I must reiterate as I did last Wednesday that destruction and violence are not the answer,” McCaul said in a statement. “I pray we can come together as Americans, unified knowing we are one nation under God.” McCaul’s staff said the Tomball Police Dept. has opened an investigation and is in contact with the U.S. Capitol Police.
“Texas real estate broker who boasted about taking private jet to MAGA rally but denied storming Capitol is caught out by her OWN live stream” by Daily Mail’s Lydia Catling for MailOnline – A Texas real estate broker who flew to Washington, D.C. on a private jet now is facing calls for her arrest after she broadcast live-stream video of storming the Capitol with other Trump loyalists, posing next to smashed windows and bragging that she wasn’t ‘messing around’. Jenna Ryan, who owns her own real estate firm in Frisco, Texas, called Jenna Ryan Realty, now says she didn’t enter the Capitol, but videos she broadcast herself during the riot appear to place her just there. Ryan told Dallas’s CBS-11 television that the January 6 melee was ‘peaceful,’ and she had just been posing in her video next to smashed glass in the Capitol as she was ‘by the window because I was taking photos all over DC all day.’ Ryan hosted live streams from the rally that showed her stepping inside the federal building with a mob of protesters shouting, ‘Here we are, in the name of Jesus’. Another shows her among a large group of supporters as they entered the Capitol. Despite her denial, Ryan did concede that maybe her ‘feet had crossed the threshold’. During the chaos, she also shared photos on social media of her posing at the rally, which she claimed was attended by ‘working class people’ and described as ‘one of the best days of my life’.
“Candidate profile: Texas House District 68 – David Spiller, Craig Carter” by Texomas Homepage – Five candidates are running for the seat that was left vacant after Drew Springer was recently elected to Texas Senate District 30. Two of these candidates are Jacksboro attorney David Spiller and Nocona businessman Craig Carter, who may be a familiar face. David Spiller has served as city attorney in Jacksboro for over 30 years. Now he’s throwing his hat into the race for Texas Representative District 68. “I’m a rural conservative,” Spiller said. “I look forward to advancing and defending the conservative principles beliefs and values of this district.” Along with Spiller is Craig Carter. The Nocona businessman also ran for state Senate in 2020 and 2018. “With Drew winning and stepping out of the House seat, now is my time. I kind of sat back in the last race and wasn’t very engaged. We’re engaged this time,” Carter said. Along with being City Attorney, Spiller has been general counsel to the Jack County Hospital District for 30 years and also has a private law practice with his two sons. He believes he can be the voice for the rural residents in District 68. “I’ll fight for lower taxes, support the right to life, defend the Second Amendment, I will fight for rural schools, rural hospitals which I know very well. I’ll fight for rural broadband and internet access across the district because that is a problem throughout our district,” Spiller said.
“Demonstrators call for Texas AG Ken Paxton to resign” by KXAN Staff – Demonstrators called for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to resign Monday. They gathered outside his office on West 15th Street, demanding that if Paxton doesn’t resign, he should be impeached under Article 15 of the Texas Constitution. Representatives from the Texas Office of Public Citizen, Texas Campaign for the Environment and ACLU of Texas all attended. In a press release, the demonstrators said Paxton is “criminally and morally unfit” for his role. Paxton was in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday along with his wife, Texas State Sen. Angela Paxton. He spoke at President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally hours before the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Demonstrators said his speech at the rally helped feed white supremacists at the riots.
“Texas state rep. wants to tell Ted Cruz to ‘shut the #%€¥ up’ after Capitol riot” by My San Antonio’s Taylor Pettaway – In tweet Sunday, San Antonio-area Republican state Rep. Lyle Larson said if U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz were his friend, he would “be obligated to tell him to shut the #%€¥ up” over the baseless claims of wide-spread voter fraud that may have helped fuel an angry mob storming the Capitol last week. The protest that turned violent caused major politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence to seek shelter, and resulted in at least five deaths. Larson admitted in his tweet that he had met Cruz twice and “never really cared much for him” before telling the senator that he needed to “be quiet and stop embarrassing himself, his family and our state.” The state representative is one of many Texas lawmakers who have publicly criticized Cruz. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said Cruz was “spectacularly irresponsible, an embarrassment to the state of Texas,” while his twin brother, former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro, called for the senator’s resignation. Some on social media have said the bloodshed at the Capitol falls on Cruz’s shoulders. U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died after suffering a stroke while trying to stop the mob.
“Recession cuts how much lawmakers can spend with the next state budget, but decrease isn’t as bad as feared” by Texas Tribune’s Mitchell Ferman – Texas lawmakers will enter the legislative session this week with an estimated $112.5 billion available to allocate for general-purpose spending in the next two-year state budget, a number that’s down slightly from the current budget but is significantly higher than what was estimated this summer when the coronavirus began to devastate the economy. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced that number Monday in his biennial revenue estimate, which sets the amount lawmakers can commit to spending when they write a new budget this year. But he acknowledged that Texas’ economic future remains “clouded in uncertainty” and that numbers could change in the coming months. Hegar also announced a nearly $1 billion deficit for the current state budget that lawmakers must make up, a significantly smaller shortfall than the $4.6 billion one Hegar expected over the summer. That number, however, doesn’t account for 5% cuts to state agencies’ budgets that Gov. Greg Abbott, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ordered this summer, or any supplemental changes to the budget lawmakers will have to make. Hegar’s estimates portend a difficult budget-writing session for lawmakers. But Hegar acknowledged that things could have been a lot worse. The $112.5 billion available is down from $112.96 billion for the current budget. He said financial estimate was not as dire as expected over the summer due in part to Texans staying home more often in 2020 and spending money on “staycations instead of vacations,” as well as a new online sales tax collection revenue stream that came into effect after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which allowed the state to collect $1.3 billion from online retailers last year.
“Texas faces nearly $1 billion budget hole heading into legislative session” by KWTX’s Matt Zdun – Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Monday that Texas is about $946 million in the red for the current fiscal year ending in August. He cited “steep declines” in sales tax revenues, as well as decreased revenues from oil and natural gas extraction, because of the pandemic. However, he said the declines were not as steep as they could have been. Previously, in July, Hegar had projected a $4.6 billion deficit for the current biennium. Even with the lower-than-expected budget deficit, some area nonprofits fear their essential programs could be on the chopping block. “The money has to come from somewhere,” said Misty Biddick, executive director of Aware Central Texas, a nonprofit that works to prevent child abuse and family violence. “We always fear that it’s going to come from funding to some of the programs that assist our clients,” she said. Biddick said the pandemic has increased the need for state funding to her organization.
“Trump acknowledged he bears some blame for Capitol riot in conversation with McCarthy: sources” by Fox News’ Brooke Singman – President Trump acknowledged that he bears some blame for the Capitol riot last week during a conversation with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, a source familiar told Fox News. Two sources say McCarthy R-Calif., relayed the president’s sentiment on a call Monday with the House GOP Conference. McCarthy, on the call Monday with Republicans, agreed that Trump bore blame for the unrest which sent Congress into lockdown as they tried to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election last week. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The riot left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer. The riot came after the president spoke at a rally last Wednesday, telling supporters that he would “never concede,” and repeated unsubstantiated claims that the election was “stolen” from him and that he won in a “landslide.” During his remarks, he renewed pressure on Vice President Pence, claiming that he should decertify the results of the presidential election and send it “back to the states,” claiming that if he did that, Trump would be president for another four years. Trump’s remarks came ahead of a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the presidential election. As members of the House and Senate raised objections to certain electoral votes, both chambers called for a recess and left their chambers as pro-Trump protesters breached the Capitol building. Congress later returned and certified the Electoral College vote early Thursday, formally giving Joe Biden his presidential victory.
“NY Gov. Cuomo’s tone shifts after months of coronavirus lockdowns” by Fox News’ Brittany De Lea – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his “state of the state” address on Monday, telling residents he intends to reopen the state’s economy in a safe way despite an uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases. The Democratic governor put a heavy emphasis on planning the state’s “economic resurgence,” even as it faces a record-setting budget deficit. “We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass – the cost is too high,” Cuomo said in his address. “We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.” Cuomo added that the plan was to use COVID-19 testing to enable the reopening of restaurants, arts centers, and theaters. Without making moves now, Cuomo gravely forecast that the state would have “nothing left to open.” A spokesperson for Cuomo’s office declined to elaborate on the reopening plan beyond remarks made by the governor on Monday. Like many states, New York shut down completely at the outset of the pandemic in the spring. In the summer, the state shifted to a policy of targeting so-called “hot spots,” where businesses were closed within specified areas when confirmed cases climbed above a certain percentage threshold. Cases throughout the U.S. are once again at record levels — with New York’s statewide positivity rate at 6.22% as of Sunday.
“Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf stepping down” by Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Sam Dorman – Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is stepping down, Fox News has learned. Wolf sent a letter to DHS employees Monday afternoon informing them of his decision. “I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration,” Wolf wrote. “Unfortunately this action is warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary.” Wolf went on to say that Pete Gaynor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator, will become the acting secretary of DHS. He tweeted the statement later on Monday. “Be proud of what we have accomplished,” Wolf told DHS employees, “The Homeland is safer and more secure because of your efforts.” Wolf’s resignation came at a tumultuous time for the administration and apparent conflict between him and President Trump. A source from DHS front office source said it was explicitly not a protest resignation. A White House spokesman reportedly denied the withdrawal was related to Wednesday’s event’s or Wolf’s comments Thursday. However, a source close to Wolf told Fox News the Capitol riots factored into his decision. Trump had nominated Wolf to serve as permanent DHS secretary but withdrew the nomination shortly after Wolf publicly urged the president to condemn last week’s riots at the Capitol. According to a senior administration official, Wolf was no longer eligible to serve as acting secretary. “These violent actions are unconscionable,” Wolf said Thursday, “and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday.”
“Pence and Trump finally speak after post-riot estrangement” by CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins – Vice President Mike Pence received a memento from his aides the other day: the engraved chair set aside for him in the White House Cabinet Room, hauled over-the-shoulder from the West Wing and delivered to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for one of his final staff meetings. The gift, accompanied by a standing ovation, was nearly the opposite sentiment being offered to Pence’s boss, President Donald Trump. Instead of applause, many of Trump’s aides — even those who have stuck with him through myriad scandals and embarrassments — were voicing shame and disappointment. His circle has shrunk. Many have resigned and others are still considering it. On Monday, after an extended period of silence, Trump and Pence spoke for the first time after a deadly riot of Trump supporters broke out at the US Capitol with Pence inside, according to two administration officials. A senior administration official told CNN they met in the Oval Office, had what was described as a good conversation and discussed the week ahead while “reflecting on the last four years of the administration’s work and accomplishments.” “They reiterated that those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week do not represent the America First movement backed by 75 million Americans, and pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term,” the senior official said. Trump had spent the weekend largely in isolation, as aides either distanced themselves from him or limited their time in his presence. Trump canceled a planned trip to Camp David, where his closest aides were hoping he would get into a good mindset ahead of his final stretch in office. Instead, he spent the weekend stewing to his deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino, and entered his final full week angrier than ever.
“FBI warns ‘armed protests’ being planned at all 50 state capitols and in Washington DC” by CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Whitney Wild – The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN. The news comes as security measures are being stepped up ahead of Inauguration Day, with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies preparing for the possibility of more violence after rioters stormed the US Capitol last week leaving five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Even as federal investigators continue to track down suspects from last week’s attack, the bulletin highlights concerns that the US Capitol siege was perhaps just the beginning of potentially violent actions from supporters of President Donald Trump who have been animated by his lies about a stolen election. “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 FBI bulletin states. It also suggests there are threats of an “uprising” if Trump is removed via the 25th Amendment before Inauguration Day. “On 8 January, the FBI received information on an identified group calling for others to join them in ‘storming’ state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event POTUS is removed as President prior to Inauguration Day. This identified group is also planning to ‘storm’ government offices including in the District of Columbia and in every state, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump, on 20 January,” the bulletin adds.
“GOP lawmaker ‘strongly considering’ impeachment: Trump is ‘no longer qualified to hold that office’” by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc – Michigan GOP Rep. Peter Meijer said Monday evening he is “strongly considering” voting to impeach President Donald Trump following last week’s riot at the US Capitol, assessing that the President is “no longer qualified to hold that office.” “I would prefer that we have a more fulsome investigation into what happened. Most of what I know about January 6 came either from personal experience or from Twitter. But at the end of the day, I think it is obvious that the President is no longer qualified to hold that office,” Meijer told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “Out Front.” Pressed on whether he’d made a definitive decision on impeachment, Meijer maintained that he will “wait to see the additional evidence presented, but again, this is something we’re strongly considering.” His pointed comments came the same day Democrats formally introduced their impeachment resolution, charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” as they race toward making him the first president in history to be impeached twice. The chamber will vote on the resolution Wednesday. While some GOP lawmakers have called on Trump to resign — notably Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — Meijer’s public position is a notable break from the majority of House Republicans who are urging Democrats not to pursue impeachment, arguing such a move would be divisive.
“Parler, a Platform Favored by Trump Fans, Struggles for Survival” by WSJ’s Keach Hagey and Jeff Horwitz – Parler launched in 2018 as a freewheeling social-media site for users fed up with the rules on Facebook and Twitter, and it quickly won fans from supporters of President Trump. On Monday, it went dark, felled by blowback over its more permissive approach. Amazon.com Inc. abruptly ended web-hosting services to the company, effectively halting its operations, prompting Parler to sue Amazon in Seattle federal court. Other tech partners also acted, crippling operations. Driving the decision was last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. On the afternoon of the riot, Amazon warned executives from Parler it had received reports the social-media platform was hosting “inappropriate” content, and that Parler had 24 hours to address it. “We have been appropriately addressing this type of content and actively working with law enforcement for weeks now,” Parler policy chief Amy Peikoff told Amazon a few hours later in an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Amazon wrote back Thursday: “Please consider it resolved.” The email gave Parler executives confidence that their moderation system, however strained, was acceptable to its tech partner. It wasn’t. Within two days of that correspondence, Amazon announced it was booting Parler from its cloud platform, joining Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. in pulling the plug on the service. Other vendors turned their backs, too: Twilio Inc. cut off Parler’s two-factor authentication system, preventing it from weeding out fake new accounts, and Okta Inc. locked Parler out of key enterprise software tools.
“More Blue-Chip Companies Halt Political Donations After Capitol Riot by Trump Supporters” by WSJ’s Brody Millins and Drew FitzGerald – A growing wave of big businesses are deciding to suspend or review their campaign donations in the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol, with many saying they would stop donating to Republicans who objected to the election’s certification. AT&T Inc., ConocoPhillips, Dow Inc., Facebook Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. were among companies announcing Monday that they are halting or reviewing campaign donations from their political-action committees to lawmakers and political candidates. Those announcements follow JPMorgan Chase Inc. and Citigroup Inc., which said over the weekend they were halting their PAC donations. Some, including Amazon.com Inc., Comcast Corp. and General Electric Co., pledged to stop donations to the Republican lawmakers who objected to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. “Last week’s attempts by some congressional members to subvert the presidential election results and disrupt the peaceful transition of power do not align” with company values, said American Express Co. Chief Executive Stephen Squeri in a memo sent to employees Monday, announcing the company’s decision to suspend PAC donations to more than 100 congressional Republicans who voted to challenge the election results. Dallas-based AT&T, T -0.52% one of the biggest corporate lobbyists, said its federal PAC’s board “decided to suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes last week.” It wasn’t immediately clear how long the suspension will last.
“U.S. Supreme Court shuns election-related disputes” by Reuters’ Lawrence Hurley – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday steered clear of more cases involving bids by President Donald Trump and some Republican allies to overturn his election loss and turned away a Democratic effort to expand mail-in voting in Texas. The justices, as expected, declined to expedite consideration of eight Trump-related cases including three filed by his campaign challenging the election results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two of the states he lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. It already was clear that the court had no intention to intervene because it had not acted before Congress last week certified Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election. Trump has falsely claimed he won the election. A mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, interrupting congressional certification of Biden’s victory. Texas state law makes mail-in ballots available only for people age 65 and older or for voters who meet specific disability guidelines. The state Democratic Party and some voters sued the Republican-governed state, arguing that by treating voters differently by age, the Texas law violated the U.S. Constitution’s 26th Amendment guarantee of the right to vote for American citizens age 18 and above. But the Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling that sided with Texas in the lawsuit. The Democrats had gone to court to try to enable all eligible voters in Texas to vote by mail during last year’s election cycle, including the presidential election, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Democrats barreling toward impeaching Trump in wake of Capitol siege” by Reuters’ Richard Cowan and David Morgan – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to impeach Donald Trump on Wednesday unless he steps down or is removed before then, after drawing up charges accusing him of inciting insurrection ahead of last week’s siege of the Capitol. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told his fellow Democrats the chamber would take up impeachment on Wednesday if Vice President Mike Pence does not invoke the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, a House aide said. Passage would make Trump, a Republican, the only U.S. president ever to be impeached twice. An impeachment would prompt the Senate to hold a trial to decide whether to convict and remove him from office, although it is unlikely the proceeding would be completed before Trump’s term expires in nine days. A Senate conviction could also lead to Trump being barred from holding public office again, ending his potential 2024 presidential bid before it begins. U.S. Representative Tom Reed, a moderate Republican, said in a New York Times opinion piece that he and some colleagues would introduce a censure resolution against Trump on Tuesday as an alternative to a “rushed” impeachment.
“Newsom, California Assembly support Trump removal from office” by Politico’s Carla Marinucci and Jeremy B. White – Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he’s “all for” removing President Donald Trump from office, while the California State Assembly formally called for Trump’s impeachment or resignation over his incitement of last week’s U.S. Capitol siege. The Democratic governor on Monday hastily dealt with a question about Trump’s removal, seeming uncomfortable talking about the issue amid the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations and vaccine rollout. “I appreciate that focus, and I support it,” Newsom said of calls for Trump to leave. “But that’s not my focus right now.” About an hour later, the Democratic-run State Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate end to Trump’s presidency. The legislation was introduced by the house’s former Republican leader. California Assemblymember Chad Mayes, who left the Republican Party in late 2019 to become an independent, introduced House Resolution 7, which states that “Trump’s actions incited a deadly insurrection that attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power at the United States Congress on January 6, 2021.” House resolutions have no effect but serve as a declaration by legislators. Mayes’ resolution backs Trump’s immediate resignation or for “Vice President Michael R. Pence and principal officers of the federal executive departments to invoke the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution, or the United States Congress to impeach President Donald J. Trump.” “The president invited the insurrections, he incited them, and for too long he did nothing to stop them,” Mayes said Monday during the Assembly’s first floor session of the year. “Members, if that is not an impeachable offense then I just don’t know what is.”
“Biden team gets access to Warp Speed-related meetings” by Politico’s Adam Cancryn – The Trump administration this week will give Biden transition officials their first direct access to certain regular meetings tied to the government’s coronavirus vaccine development effort, Operation Warp Speed, a senior administration official told POLITICO. The invite to those meetings comes after POLITICO reported that the Biden team had been denied access to standing meetings on the pandemic response, hampering its planning efforts. The sessions are typically focused on a range of Covid-19 initiatives, including vaccine distribution, therapeutics and manufacturing and supply issues. The Biden team was receiving regular briefings on those meetings, the senior administration official said, but have not actually attended any. Both the Biden transition and a Warp Speed spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment. HHS has previously said that it’s “committed to smooth, professional transition planning” and has held more than 300 meetings with Biden’s team across HHS — including with Warp Speed.