LONE STAR — Texas’ Big Political Read — 1.21.20 — Abbott Locks it Down — Biden Is In, Insults Israel — Ted Cruz, Castro, Lee, COVID— More…
Joe Biden is President. There you have it.
After Biden was sworn into office, state governments, including Texas, locked down their governments for fear that extremist rioting would occur shortly after Biden took office.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called in the National Guard just in case a riot broke out at the capitol building, and in talking to several Texas State Policemen, who were armed with M-4’s, a full-fledged riot-stopping police force was in place to squash any uprising. READ MORE
Israel: Friend or Foe to the U.S. under Biden Administration
Yeah, you can’t make this up. We all wish President Biden well and hope that he governs with America’s interests first, but what his administration did yesterday is alarming. Embracing radical Islam is no joke. READ MORE
Texas GOP Thanks Trump for “Putting America First”– by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey
“Cruz Responds to Biden’s Executive Orders on Immigration” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – President Joe Biden’s first day in office saw a series of aggressive maneuvers to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz issued a statement in response to Biden’s attempt to implement immigration policies via executive order. Hours after his inauguration, Joe Biden worked to finalize 17 executive moves to reverse his predecessor’s course on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s plans include ending the controversial travel ban on noncitizens from 13 countries known colloquially as the “Muslim ban,” reaffirming protections for DACA recipients, ordering a halt to the construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, and rescinding Trump’s attempts to exclude undocumented immigrants from census counts. His actions mark the beginning of a transition toward what Biden promises will be a more welcoming era for immigrants in the US. A slew of Texas-led lawsuits are expected to hit the White House in the coming months in response to Biden’s plans to reverse Trump’s policies. Biden has already been met with significant resistance from Texas Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz. He accused the President of “protecting illegal immigrants and encouraging illegal immigration.”
“Texas GOP Thanks Trump for “Putting America First”” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – On the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration and President Donald Trump‘s departure from the White House, the Texas GOP released a statement that thanked the former president for “putting America first.” Today, Trump left both the White House and Washington DC, breaking tradition by refusing to attend his successor’s inauguration. The former president boarded a government helicopter and headed for Joint Base Andrews, a military facility in Maryland. Before his departure, Trump gave a speech in which he cataloged the successes of his government. Included items were his administration’s response to the coronavirus, support for the military, care for veterans, and handling of the economy. In response to Trump’s departure from the White House, the Texas GOP released a statement that thanked the former president for putting America first. “The Texas GOP thanks President Trump for his tireless work over the past four years. In the face of an endless, antagonistic, and dishonest campaign by the corporate press and their Democrat partners, President Trump fought back and put America and her citizens first,” it reads. The statement continued to laud economic growth seen under the Trump administration, as well as his foreign policy successes. It praised Trump’s conservatism, specifically “curbing mass illegal immigration, promoting a pro-life agenda, and placing countless constitutionalists in the judicial system.”
“Biden insults Israel, legitimizes Hamas-controlled Middle East territories” by Texas Politics’ Javier Manjarres – In what could be his first move as president, Joe Biden changed the Twitter title from the U.S. Ambassador to Israel to U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, giving credibility to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Palestinian Authority. Florida Senator Rick Scott tweeted his disgust over the change, stating “there is no country of West Bank or Gaz, only territories that Israel has been willing for decades to negotiate sovereignty over has been met with only hostility and terrorism. Sen. Scott adds that Biden’s move “shows the Democrats’ hostility to Israel.” *** UPDATE — The Biden Administration has now changed the Twitter handle back to U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
“Texas Capitol locked down, National Guard called in” by Texas Politics’ Javier Manjarres – With President Joe Biden having been inaugurated on Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called in the Texas National Guard to help Texas State Police and Austin Police protect the Capitol. After the fallout over the Capitol riot in Washington, where an epic security failure occurred, it was widely expected that a similar protest riot was going to occur shortly after President Biden was sworn in, but nothing transpired. A group of Biden supporters came out and left, leaving only reporters and cameraman standing around waiting for any civil unrest to break out. According to one bystander, there was a roomer that the “Proud Boys” were going to show up, while another told Texas Politics that he expected Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA to “cowardly wait until dark” before rearing their heads out. All Capitol business has been suspended, and access to the Capitol, as you can imagine, has been completely shut down. Several law enforcement officers believe that it should be business as usual in the Capitol on Thursday, this of course barring any unrest that could take place later today, but nothing official has come out from Gov. Abbott’s office. This is a developing story.
“Texas Republicans Call for Unity on Inauguration Day” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – In the run up to President Joe Biden‘s inauguration today in front of the United States Capitol, many Texas lawmakers confirmed their attendance. Both Texas’ senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, confirmed that their attendance at the inauguration. Joining them are Reps. Colin Allred (TX-D), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-D), Michael Burgess (TX-R), Henry Cuellar (TX-D), Michael McCaul (TX-R), Lloyd Doggett (TX-D), Tony Gonzales (TX-R), Marc Veasey (TX-D), and Roger Williams (TX-R). Of the Republicans who objected to the certification of the election results, Reps. Van Taylor, Beth Van Duyne, Ron Wright, Pat Fallon and Lance Gooden have announced that they have declined to attend. Taylor and Van Duyne both cited coronavirus testing requirements impeding their attendance at the ceremony. Wright said he will not attend because of a recent exposure to the virus. Gooden confirmed he would not attend, but did give an official reason. In a statement, Fallon described “double standards” regarding pandemic safeguards. “It is a classic double standard to pretend that Members of Congress are more important than the citizens we represent,” he said. “If my constituents can’t attend, I’ll take the same advice they’ve were given and will stay home on Inauguration Day.” Other Texas legislatures took to Twitter to commemorate the event. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-D) tweeted, “Congratulations President Joe Biden! We are ready to get to work #ForThePeople. Pa’lante!” She also called it an “honor” to attend the swearing-in of the first female vice president Kamala Harris.
“Rubio defends Trump, says ‘he didn’t create’ current problems” by Javier Manjarres – Appearing on the Brian Kilmeade Radio Show on Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio defended outgoing President Donald Trump from the allegations made against him that blamed him for all current problems the nation faces today. “This idea that Donald Trump created all these problems — Donald Trump was elected because of some of the challenges we face in our country,” said Rubio “He didn’t create them, he was elected because of them. And those challenges did not leave with him today, they’re not going to magically solve themselves because we have a new president. Sen. Rubio became a close ally to President Trump shortly after the contentious 2016 presidential election and supported him during the 2020 presidential election. Rubio is running for reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2022 and will need Trump’s support and the support of the 75 million Trump-supporting voters. There has been talk that Rubio could face a strong primary challenge from a pro-Trump candidate, but after Rep. Matt Gaetz took his name out of consideration, hardcore Trump supporters will have a hard time finding someone to fit the bill. Rubio confirmed that he would not be attending President Joe Biden’s inauguration, citing his senatorial duties. The Floridian first reported that Rubio would not be attending the ceremony.
“Texas border patrol stations see 193% increase in illegal border crossings since last year” by Fox News’ Bradford Betz – Illegal border crossings in the Del Rio Sector of Texas since October have increased roughly 193% over the same time period last year, border patrol agents said Tuesday. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said its stations in the Del Rio Sector – which border the Mexican state of Coahuila – continues “to experience a significant increase in encounters despite the many associated dangers.” Since Oct. 1, the sector “has encountered more than 31,000 individuals, approximately a 193 percent increase over the same time last year,” CBP said in a press release. In that time frame, agents in the Del Rio Sector have rescued more than 275 individuals attempting to illegally enter the U.S. Those numbers represent a 425% increase over Fiscal Year 2020, CBP said. The CBP said that the sector has, to date, apprehended more than 1,730 unaccompanied children, compared with only 745 this time last year – a 132% increase. The spike in illegal border crossings in Texas comes amid renewed fears that President Joe Biden, who took office on Wednesday, will roll back some of President Donald Trump’s signature policies on immigration, prompting a wave of mass migration to the U.S. On the campaign trail, Biden promised to place a 100-day moratorium on deportations, significantly increase the refugee cap, and scrap a number of policies the Trump administration has put in place to stop the flow of migrants.
“Is political reconciliation within reach? North Texas congressmen look back at inauguration’s challenges” by WFAA’s Jason Whitely – Democratic and Republican members of Congress from Texas surrounded the platform on Wednesday to witness Joe Biden become the 46th president of the United States. “We’re going to have our disagreements,” said U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas. “We’re going to disagree on policies. We’re going to disagree on a lot of things. But what we can never disagree about again is our democracy, is about whether we’re going to disagree about the results of elections.” “As I watched it, I kept thinking about the motto that’s over the House chambers: ‘E. pluribus unum. From many, one,'” said U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano. “That is truly what we’re going to have to do as a nation to come together.” U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who two weeks ago questioned Biden’s election, tweeted from the ceremony: “Biden takes the oath. May God Bless the United States of America.” U.S. Senator John Cornyn, also on the platform, apparently misread the moment. Less than an hour after the swearing-in, as the political world paused for ceremony and union, Cornyn blasted Biden in a statement, criticizing the president’s plan to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The senator correctly said the move would likely cost jobs in Texas, but the timing of the release made Cornyn appear tone-deaf to the moment. William Busby, communications director for the Dallas County Republican Party, echoed the unity of the day in a statement: “No matter our disagreements, we are all Americans and we must stand united. We respect the office of President of the United States and wish a warm Congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.”
“West Texas women reflect on being given clemency by President Trump, almost one year later” by Everything Lubbock’s Grace Morris – On the last day of his presidency, Donald Trump granted clemency to over 140 people. And almost one year ago, two West Texas women were in the same place. “I’m highly ecstatic about it. I can’t wait until tomorrow,” said Tynice Hall of Lubbock. Both Tynice Hall and Crystal Munoz of Midland were granted clemency by President Trump on February 18, 2020. “Clemency is like a blessing, like — oh my God, [by] the grace of God, we got clemency,” said Munoz. Munoz had been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison on a marijuana charge, while Hall was sentenced to 35 years in prison on various drug related charges. They both left federal prison after their sentences were commuted by Trump. When someone is granted a commutation, it doesn’t mean they are pardoned of their crimes. It simply means that they will not have to serve out the rest of their sentence. “With me receiving clemency, it was just such a blessing. Cause I never thought I would be released. I thought 2031 was when I was getting out, because I received no, no, [so many no’s],” Hall said. “But I’m the type of person, that, I’ll take a million no’s to get that one yes and I’m going to keep trying.” Both women say clemency gave them their life back, so when President Trump spent one of his last days in office granting clemency to over 140 people, they couldn’t help but feel emotional.
“No Protests or Riots at Texas Capitol, All Remained Calm on Wednesday” by NBC DFW – Extra law enforcement were pulled in and the Texas Capitol remained closed on Wednesday in preparation for the possibility of rowdy demonstrations, but all was calm. After the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago, the FBI warned state capitols of potential uprisings across the nation. Since Saturday, the Texas State Capitol remained closed in anticipation of violent crowds during the week of the inauguration. Austin Police said there were no known threats to the state capitol, but said they wanted to be prepared. Wednesday morning, only a handful of people were outside the gates, including two sisters from Killeen who wanted to watch the inauguration from a historical landmark. “I’m not going to lie, it just felt like I could exhale. I have been waiting for this day for four years and I just felt like today’s the day,” said Norma Luna, who is a supporter of President Biden. “Today’s the day where we can get to unify, and just start new, I mean brand new. Looking forward to the future.” She and her sister Sylvia, are teachers and took the day off from work to drive to the Texas Capitol. Sylvia thought other people would be there and was surprised there weren’t more people. “I think because of the security, maybe some people decided not to because of the security, but I’m grateful for the security because I think it was needed,” said Sylvia. “I’m grateful for it, but it would have been nice to see more people out here, even if you are not a Biden supporter as I am, but it would have been nice to see, because it is our rights.”
“Texas Republicans greet Joe Biden’s inauguration with vows to fight his agenda” by Texas Tribune’s Bryan Mena – On the day Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris as the first woman of color to be vice president, Texas Republicans greeted the new administration with a mix of calls for bipartisanship and vows to vehemently oppose Biden’s agenda. The state’s two Republican U.S. senators — Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — and multiple members of the U.S. House were on hand to witness the transition of power. Six House Republicans representing Texas in Washington, D.C., confirmed to The Texas Tribune that they did not attend Biden’s inauguration due to a variety of reasons like dealing with family emergencies and COVID-19 safety concerns. No one stated that they stayed away to protest Biden’s election. Leading up to Biden’s swearing in, U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Irving, signed a letter with 16 other House GOP freshmen hoping to “rise above the partisan fray” and pass legislation relating to coronavirus relief, infrastructure and technology monopolies. “After two impeachments, lengthy interbranch investigations and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation’s capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American,” the letter said. U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, released a statement also addressing the gridlock within Congress, stating that “Washington cannot be enveloped in endless battles of political brinkmanship.”
“How Texas school districts are teaching students about the Biden inauguration” by KXAN’s Alex Caprariello – School districts across Texas have developed lesson plans to teach and showcase President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Many districts have given the authority to individual principals and teachers to develop the lesson plans, and only a few have said they have put restrictions in place. “Teaching about the inauguration is an important part of understanding how the government works and considering the roles, responsibilities, and challenges of the presidency. It is an opportunity for students to reflect on what the transfer of power looks like. It also helps students understand the current reality of the nation and the President’s goals and message.”- AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
In the Austin Independent School District, some school principals encouraged remote families to tune in to a special broadcast that’s made for kids. Dr. Jill Biden, the first lady and lifelong educator, also promoted the recording, calling it a product “made especially for students and families.” “As today is a historic event in American History with the installment and inauguration of the 46th president and vice president of the United States, here is a live-streaming site for teachers and students that has been designed specifically for students and youth to partake in today’s event,” the Kealing Middle School administration team wrote.
“Dallas County axes plan to prioritize vaccinating communities of color after state threatens to slash allocation” by Texas Tribune’s Emma Platoff and Juan Pablo Garnham – Faced with the threat that the state might slash its vaccine allocation, Dallas officials on Wednesday reversed course on a plan that would have prioritized doses for people living in the county’s most vulnerable ZIP codes, primarily in communities of color. A divided Dallas County Commissioners Court had voted Tuesday to prioritize vaccines at its Fair Park distribution center for individuals in mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods, a reflection of increased vulnerability to the coronavirus in 11 Dallas County ZIP codes, according to the Dallas Morning News. In Texas and across the nation, communities of color have been hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, and health officials are grappling with how to ensure equity in the vaccine rollout. In Dallas, as in other major Texas cities, distribution sites are more commonly located in white neighborhoods, and early data showed the North Texas county had distributed most of its shots to residents of whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. Dallas leaders tried to prioritize any residents who meet the state’s criteria for vaccination and live in one of the 11 ZIP codes, which are all completely or partially south of Interstate 30, a dividing line that splits the county along racial and socioeconomic lines, the Dallas Morning News reported this week.
“Google Asks Federal Judge to Move Texas-Led Antitrust Suit to California” by Reuters – Google has asked a U.S. judge in Texas to transfer an antitrust lawsuit filed by 10 states in December to a court in California, a state that has more relevant witnesses and documents needed by the company. In December, Texas and nine other states sued Google in a federal court in Sherman, Texas, accusing the search engine company of working with Facebook in a way that violated antitrust law to boost its already-dominant online advertising business. Google said in a court filing that the first case alleging it monopolized online display advertising was filed in May by an advertiser, and that since then five other cases have been filed. All were filed in the Northern District of California, “the venue where Google is headquartered and where more relevant witnesses and documents are located than in any other district in the country,” Google said in its request to move the case, which was filed late on Tuesday. Google adds that the states’ lawsuit “does not identify a single company or person who might be a witness at trial and lives or works within 100 miles” of the Texas courthouse where the case was filed. The states asked that Google, which controls a third of the global online advertising industry, compensate them for damages and sought “structural relief,” which is usually interpreted as forcing a company to divest some of its assets. “As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat,” the lawsuit said.
“Texas attorney general pledges to ‘fight’ Biden administration ‘illegal actions’” by Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to “challenge federal overreach” by President Biden’s administration following Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. “Congrats, President Biden. On Inauguration Day, I wish our country the best. I promise to my fellow Texans and Americans that I will fight against the many unconstitutional and illegal actions that the new administration will take, challenge federal overreach that infringes on Texans’ rights, and serve as a major check against the administration’s lawlessness. Texas First! Law & Order always!” Paxton, 58, spoke out just hours before Biden signed a slate of 17 executive orders and actions during his first appearance in the Oval Office. Biden overturned several Trump administration initiatives in the orders, which included a termination of federal funding for the border wall and a mandate requiring masks to be worn on federal property. Paxton, 58, spoke out just hours before Biden signed a slate of 17 executive orders and actions during his first appearance in the Oval Office. Biden overturned several Trump administration initiatives in the orders, which included a termination of federal funding for the border wall and a mandate requiring masks to be worn on federal property. Trump did not include Paxton on his list of presidential pardons and commutations during his final hours in office on Tuesday night.
“Gov. Abbott says if Austin doesn’t reinstate homeless camping ban, Texas will” by KVUE’s Drew Knight – A day after local group Save Austin Now reportedly secured enough signatures to potentially put an item on the May ballot to reinstate the homeless camping ban, Gov. Greg Abbott said if Austin doesn’t elect to do so, Texas will. “If Austin doesn’t reinstate the ban on homeless camping the state will do it for them,” the governor tweeted. “Contrary to what Austin leaders think no one has a right to urinate & defecate wherever they want. Homelessness promoted by Austin has also endangered public safety.” In June 2019, the Austin City Council ruled that citing people for sleeping or camping in certain public areas was unjust. After heavy criticism, the council voted to make several revisions a few months later in October. Now, groups like Save Austin Now now say the lax ordinances have led to threats to public health and safety. On Tuesday, Save Austin Now announced it has collected more than 30,000 signatures to get the ban’s reinstatement on the ballot. Only 20,000 are required by law. Previously, the City Clerk’s Office ruled the group’s attempts in August 2020 were insufficient due to errors such as duplicate signatures. Save Austin Now eventually filed suit over the thrown-out signatures.
“What’s the political future for Texas Republicans who faithfully supported Donald Trump as president?” by WFAA’s Alex Rozier – As former President Donald Trump touches down in Florida, there are still questions about his lasting impact in Washington D.C. and beyond. Many of the lawmakers that remain in Washington, Austin, and elsewhere staunchly supported Trump until the very end, and now many wonder about the Trump supporters’ political future in the months and years ahead. “I think most Texas Republicans are in good shape,” Rice Political Science Professor Mark Jones said. “Most Texas Republicans are in pretty good shape because while Donald Trump’s popularity has dropped, he still remains very popular among Texas Republican primary voters.” The question for Jones is what does the political future look like for Republican Trump supporters elsewhere? “The Republicans who are most concerned about their ties to Trump are those Republican House members who are in swing districts and those statewide senators and governors who are in very competitive states,” said Jones. Matthew Wilson is a political science professor at SMU. He said the big issue right now is how the Republican Party collectively deals with the Trump legacy. “Politically, I don’t think Republicans gain much by repudiating Donald Trump, because that alienates his strong base of supporters,” Wilson said. “On the other hand, to really be competitive in a broader general election, Republicans need to move on from Trump.” “I think a conflict we’re likely to see is tension in the Texas Republican Party with those Republicans who want to move on from Donald Trump and those who remain loyal to him and want to retain him as a leader,” said Jones.
“Texas GOP continues to allege election fraud in statement thanking former President Trump” by Chron’s Abigail Rosenthal – Shortly after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the Texas GOP published a statement thanking former President Donald Trump while continuing to claim widespread election fraud played a part in Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. The Republican Party of Texas published the statement on its website, thanking Trump for “putting America first.” In its closing paragraph, the Texas GOP alleged “massive election irregularities” resulted in Trump’s loss. “It took a global pandemic, a thoroughly corrupt media, and massive election irregularities for President Trump to be removed from office,” the GOP wrote. “However, what he started will not end today. America First is not going away. We will not surrender this nation to the false song of globalism, and progressive socialism.”
After sending the statement out to news agencies, Texas GOP director of communications Luke Twombly took to Twitter to claim that the party’s words had been censored before reaching the public. Twombly claims the word “irregularities” in the party’s closing statement had been replaced with the word “censored” bolded and in parentheses. “We also got censored and weren’t allowed to use the word irregularities for our email blast,” Twombly wrote on Twitter. “Censorship sure is fun.” The official account for the Republican Party of Texas retweeted Twombly’s claim and wrote in a prior tweet that the email platform Texas GOP used for the blast censored the party’s statement. Texas GOP did not reveal the email platform used.
“Biden, in first tweet as president, says ‘no time to waste’ on agenda” by Fox News’ Brooke Singman – President Biden, just after delivering his inaugural address, said he would head to the White House to “get right to work” on his agenda. Biden, in his first tweet as president of the United States from the @POTUS account, tweeted: “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” Biden said in his first tweet as president from the @POTUS account. “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.” Biden is expected to sign 17 executive orders and actions Wednesday afternoon from the Oval Office — some of which are expected to restore a number of Obama-era policies, and others will reverse some of what Biden’s team calls “the gravest damages” of the Trump administration. In his first actions as president, Biden is set to roll back and reverse a number of Trump-era policies and directives. Biden, on Wednesday, will declare an “immediate termination” of funding for the border wall construction — putting an end to a key Trump campaign and administration promise to “build a wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border. The move will direct an “immediate pause” in wall construction and will “determine the best way to redirect funds that were diverted by the prior administration to fund wall construction.” Biden will also sign an executive order revoking Trump’s previous order that directed aggressive immigration enforcement. The Biden team said that the move will allow for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to set “civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people” and that are “in line with our values and priorities.”
“Anti-Biden Antifa attack Portland police officers forcing cops to retreat” by Fox News’ Louis Casiano – Antifa protesters in Portland clashed with authorities Wednesday as they gathered to voice dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden, forcing officers to retreat and taking at least one police bicycle, authorities said. The Portland Police Bureau said several events were planned in the city just hours after Biden was sworn in and implored the nation to come together. A crowd of up to 150 people gathered at Revolution Hall around 2 p.m. and marched to the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon, Portland police Sgt. Kevin Allen said. The so-called J20 protest was a demonstration against Biden and law enforcment. Some in the group smashed windows and vandalized the building with graffiti. Calls and messages to the party headquarters were not immediately returned. When the group left the area and marched to a nearby park, police officers made “targeted arrests” in connection to the damage at the Democratic headquarters. The group later dispersed. In total, eight adults were arrested for crimes ranging from rioting and possession of a destructive device to reckless burning. At one point when officers on bicycles entered the crowd to tell someone to remove metal poles affixed to a banner that could be used as a weapon, they were swarmed and pelted with objects, Allen said.
“Who is Jen Psaki, Biden’s White House press secretary?” by Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn – Jen Psaki made her debut in the White House Briefing Room on Wednesday as President Biden’s press secretary. Psaki previously served in the Obama administration from 2009-2017. She first began as deputy White House press secretary and was later elevated to deputy White House communications director. In 2013, she moved to the State Department where she served as a spokesperson for then-Secretary of State John Kerry. During her tenure at the State Department, Psaki was known for her combative exchanges with reporters. One of those exchanges became at the center of a controversy after it was discovered in 2016 that an eight-minute exchange from 2013 with Fox News reporter James Rosen was edited out of the State Department archives, where she appears to admit that the department previously misled reporters and the American people about the origins of the Iran Nuclear Deal. In 2015, Psaki returned to the White House, this time as communication’s director, which she served until the end of President Obama’s second term. Following serving the Obama administration, she became CNN contributor and was featured on-air during the 2020 presidential election. After it was announced that Psaki would become Biden’s White House press secretary, a resurfaced clip from October 2019 showed her appearing to question the then-Democratic candidate’s questionable gaffes on the campaign trail, specifically one he made at a CNN town hall when he referred to “gay bathhouses” on the subject of LGBTQ issues.
“Biden targets Trump’s legacy with first-day executive actions” by CNN’s Eric Bradner, Betsy Klein and Christoopher Hickey – President Joe Biden is finalizing 17 executive moves just hours after his inauguration Wednesday, moving faster and more aggressively to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy than any other modern president. Biden is signing a flurry of executive orders, memorandums and directives to agencies, his first steps to address the coronavirus pandemic and undo some of former President Donald Trump’s signature policies. “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office as he began signing a stack of orders and memoranda. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.” With the stroke of a pen, Biden has halted funding for the construction of Trump’s border wall, reversed his travel ban targeting largely Muslim countries and embraced progressive policies on the environment and diversity that Trump spent four years blocking.
Biden also reversed several of Trump’s attempts to withdraw from international agreements, beginning the process of rejoining the Paris climate accord and halting the United States’ departure from the World Health Organization — where Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, will lead the US delegation. His first action was to impose a mask mandate on federal property, a break in approach to dealing with the pandemic from Trump, who repeatedly downplayed the virus. Biden also installed a coronavirus response coordinator to oversee the White House’s efforts to distribute vaccines and medical supplies. Press secretary Jen Psaki and other top Biden officials had told reporters on the eve of his inauguration that the first-day actions are only part of what will be a series of moves to undo Trump policies and implement Biden’s campaign promises in his first weeks in office.
“Biden rescinds 1776 commission via executive order” by CNN’s Caroline Kelly – President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order to dissolve the 1776 commission, a panel stood up by President Donald Trump as a rebuttal to schools applying a more accurate history curriculum around slavery in the US, Biden’s transition team announced Wednesday. The commission had been formed as an apparent counter to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project aimed at teaching American students about slavery that Trump, speaking last fall, had called “toxic propaganda.” The announcement comes just two days after the commission issued an inflammatory report on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and just hours before Biden will take over from Trump, whose time in office was marked by racist statements and actions. In its report released Monday, the commission asserted that “the Civil Rights Movement was almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders,” specifically criticizing affirmative action policies and arguing that identity politics are “the opposite of King’s hope that his children would ‘live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ ” Calling today’s ideological divisions akin to those experienced during the Civil War, commission members also took aim at feminists and the widespread use of ethnic and racial identities in American life, arguing that they had been constructed by “activists.” “A radical women’s liberation movement reimagined America as a patriarchal system, asserting that every woman is a victim of oppression by men. The Black Power and black nationalist movements reimagined America as a white supremacist regime. Meanwhile, other activists constructed artificial groupings to further divide Americans by race, creating new categories like ‘Asian American’ and ‘Hispanic’ to teach Americans to think of themselves in terms of group identities and to rouse various groups into politically cohesive bodies,” the report stated.
“QAnon believers are in disarray after Biden is inaugurated” by CNN Business’ Brian Fung and Kaya Yurieff – For years, believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory had been waiting for the moment when a grand plan would be put into action and secret members of a supposed Satanic pedophilia ring at the highest ranks of government and Hollywood would suddenly be exposed, rounded up and possibly even publicly executed. They were nearly always sure it was right around the corner, but “The Storm” never came — and the moment of Joe Biden’s inauguration was the last possible opportunity for President Donald Trump to put the plan in motion. But as Biden raised his hand and swore an oath to defend the Constitution, becoming the nation’s 46th president — nothing happened. The anti-climax sent QAnon adherents into a frenzy of confusion and disbelief, almost instantly shattering a collective delusion that had been nurtured and amplified by many on the far right. Now, in addition to being scattered to various smaller websites after Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) cracked down on QAnon-related content, believers risked having their own topsy-turvy world turned upside down, or perhaps right-side up. Members of a QAnon-focused Telegram channel, and some users of the image board 4chan, vowed to keep the faith. Others proclaimed they were renouncing their beliefs. Still others devised new theories that purported to push the ultimate showdown further into the future. One of the ideology’s most visible icons, Ron Watkins — who goes by the online moniker CodeMonkeyZ — told supporters to “go back to our lives.” “The most hardcore QAnon followers are in disarray,” said Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks extremist groups and misinformation online. “After years of waiting for the ‘Great Awakening,’ QAnon adherents seemed genuinely shocked to see President Biden successfully inaugurated. A significant percentage online are writing that they are now done with the QAnon, while others are doubling down and promoting new conspiracies.”
“Florida Ophthalmologist With Ties to Sen. Menendez Among Those Granted Clemency by Trump” by WSJ’s Christopher Weaver – A Florida eye doctor convicted of defrauding Medicare of $73 million got a break when President Trump commuted the man’s sentence hours before vacating the White House. The doctor, Salomon Melgen, age 66, received a 17-year sentence in 2018, which he has been serving at a federal prison in Miami, according to the Bureau of Prisons. While Mr. Trump has been criticized for pardoning political allies such as his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, Dr. Melgen’s case represents a reprieve for a politically connected convict linked to a top Democrat: Before his fraud conviction, the North Palm Beach-based ophthalmologist stood trial alongside U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez for allegedly bribing the New Jersey Democrat. That case was dropped in 2018 after a mistrial. A lawyer for Dr. Melgen, Sam Stern, didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Spokespeople for Mr. Trump didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Trump White House said in announcing the pardons and commutations that Dr. Melgen’s “patients and friends testify to his generosity in treating all patients, especially those unable to pay,” and that his reprieve had been supported by a Republican congressman in addition to Mr. Menendez. Mr. Menendez said in a statement that he didn’t know what motivated President Trump to act, “but I am pretty sure it’s not me.” He said that he had spoken on Dr. Melgen’s behalf in connection with the commutation but “had no expectation that [President Trump] would act.”
“Democrats Officially Take Control of the U.S. Senate” by WSJ’s Lindsay Wise – Democrats officially control the U.S. Senate, with the swearing in of three new Democratic senators, but negotiations with Republicans have yet to yield a deal on power sharing. Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office on Wednesday to newly elected Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and to her own successor, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California. Both the Democratic and Republican Senate caucuses now have 50 members, and Ms. Harris will cast any tie-breaking vote. Messrs. Warnock and Ossoff are Georgia’s first Black and first Jewish senators, respectively. And Mr. Padilla is the first Latino senator from California. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) now becomes the Senate majority leader. But talks on an organizing resolution for the new Senate have stalled, complicating the timing of confirmation votes for President Biden’s cabinet nominees, as well as the prospects for new legislation. But the parties did come together Wednesday night to confirm Avril Haines, Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. intelligence community, 84-10. The broadly bipartisan vote made Ms. Haines the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence and delivered the newly inaugurated president his first Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary. Power-sharing negotiations between Mr. Schumer and top Republican Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)—now the minority leader—ran into trouble this week over the fate of the legislative filibuster, a longstanding rule that empowers the minority party to block most bills. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, didn’t say what the holdup was on reaching an agreement with Republicans on the organizing resolution, or when he expected a deal to get done. “The first meeting was not as productive as we hoped,” he told reporters.
“Biden’s Stimulus Is a Two-Pronged Attack on Income Inequality” by WSJ’s Greg Ip – There are two ways for the federal government to address income inequality. One is to redistribute more money to people at the bottom of the income ladder. The other is to use the tools of fiscal and monetary policy to drive unemployment low enough to drive up demand and wages for those workers. President-elect Joe Biden is trying to do both. A sizable chunk of the $1.9 trillion fiscal plan he laid out Thursday is aimed at lower-income people, and, in combination with ultralow interest rates and widespread vaccination, the stimulus could drive down unemployment far faster than after any other recent recession. Mr. Biden proposed raising the child tax credit 50% to $3,000 or more for the year and making it refundable, meaning families who owe less tax than the credit would get a check for the difference. He would extend and boost enhanced weekly unemployment insurance benefits by $100 from the $300 in December’s stimulus package to $400. He would extend a 15% increase in food stamps through the summer, raise the maximum earned-income tax credit for childless adults by nearly $1,000 and extend it to more people. Those steps, plus adding $1,400 to the $600-per-adult checks approved in December, would slash the poverty rate from 12.6% to 9%, or by more than 11 million people, according to an analysis by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. The number of children in poverty would drop by half, or 5 million. Then there’s the macroeconomic impact. If Mr. Biden’s proposal is enacted, it would, along with $900 billion in December and previous measures, add $5.3 trillion to deficits, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That’s a staggering 25% of gross domestic product.
“Trump-backing California legislator ousted as GOP caucus leader” by Politico’s Jeremy B. White – State Senate Republicans have chosen Sen. Scott Wilk to lead their caucus, ousting incumbent Sen. Shannon Grove, according to multiple Capitol sources. In trading Grove for Wilk, Republicans are opting for a more moderate choice. Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) periodically votes with Democrats, and he has scored rare endorsements from organized labor — the types of connections that could increase his clout in a Capitol dominated by Democrats. He just won back a battleground seat, thanks in part to massive spending by the California Republican Party and interest groups, and he is termed out in 2024. Dissatisfaction with Grove’s leadership was already mounting after Senate Republicans lost two seats this election even as California Republicans picked up multiple House seats, shriveling the Senate GOP caucus to just nine members. Grove (R-Bakersfield) exacerbated the situation with a tweet blaming the U.S. Capitol riots on antifa. While Grove deleted and sought to walk back the tweet, sources said it amplified concerns among mainstream Republican allies like business groups that Grove embraces fringe views. She had previously asserted that President Donald Trump won a second term. Grove’s ouster came on the day President Joe Biden took office, underscoring the larger decisions facing the California Republican Party. She has been a stalwart defender of Trump, but many California Republicans believe the president’s enduring toxicity in California has damaged down-ballot candidates and alienated moderates. A source within the Republican caucus who requested anonymity cited “the super-tight association with the Trump administration and the not well-timed comments on antifa.”
“Donald Trump leaves as he arrived, minus his microphone” by Politico’s Anita Kumar, Meridith McGraw, and Michael Grunwald – Donald Trump left Washington the same way he came in — flouting traditions, demanding praise and fixated on making himself the center of the story. There was only one difference: The spotlight he so religiously craves was no longer on him. Trump departed the White House early Wednesday, hours before his successor, Joe Biden, took the oath of office at a scaled-back inauguration ceremony outside the heavily fortified Capitol. After boarding Air Force One, he flew to south Florida, where he awaits an uncertain post-presidency amid criminal investigations, lawsuits and a second impeachment trial over the Capitol riots he helped foment. Trump skipped the traditional farewell speech to the nation, news conference and televised interviews designed to serve as capstones to his time in office. He did leave a handwritten note for Biden at the Resolute Desk at the urging of people around him, including Republican leader Kevin McCarthy — about the only custom he followed. But just as Trump came into office in his own unique way, he left on his own terms too. The outgoing president hosted his own ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base. In the lead up to it, his team pressed former officials — including spurned former White House aides like John Kelly, John Bolton, and Omarosa Manigault-Newman — to attend in hopes of producing a grand send-off. But it fell far short of that. Only several hundred die-hard supporters showed up to watch the president depart. Aides Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller and Kash Patel were there. So was surrogate Sebastian Gorka. Vice President Mike Pence and GOP leaders in Congress were not. Neither was Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who is still recovering from surgery. Those who came stood in a cold breeze as the Trump campaign playlist — from Macho Man to Tiny Dancer — blared over the loudspeakers. A military band played as Trump stepped off Marine One and walked down a red carpet to a makeshift stage.
“Trump leaves QAnon and the online MAGA world crushed and confused” by Politico’s Tina Nguyen and Mark Scott – The pardons went to Democrats, lobbyists and rappers, with nary a “patriot” among them. The mass arrests of Antifa campaigners never came. The inauguration stage at the Capitol, full of America’s most powerful politicians, was not purged of Satan-worshipping pedophiles under a shower of gunfire. Even the electricity stayed on. The moment the clock struck noon on Wednesday, Jan. 20, it was over — and the extreme factions of Trump’s diehard base were left reeling. Inauguration Day 2021 was supposed to be a culminating moment for the legion of online conspiracy theorists and extremists who have rallied around the now former president. But the lengthy list of prophecies they’d been told would eventually happen under Trump’s watch never came. In the days leading up to Trump’s departure from office, his online followers watched with horror as his pardons that were supposed to go to allies and supporters instead went to people who were inherently swampy: white-collar criminals convicted of tax fraud, family friends, Steve Bannon, even Democrat Kwame Kirkpatrick. “So just to recap: Trump will pardon Lil Wayne, Kodak Black, high profile Jewish fraudsters … No pardons for middle class whites who risked their livelihoods by going to ‘war’ for Trump,” fumed a user in a white supremacist channel on Telegram, the encrypted messaging service that has gained thousands of new subscribers since the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Conspiracies flew — out of the mouth of Fox News host Tucker Carlson — that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had blackmailed Trump out of pardoning Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, further infuriating MAGA hardliners. Trump’s anti-immigrant base, who’d been with him since his initial run for the presidency in 2015, flipped out when he granted amnesty to tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants.
“U.S. ends program sending asylum seekers to Mexico to wait for court hearings” by Reuters Staff – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in the first day under President Joe Biden, suspended all new enrollments in a program that has pushed tens of thousands of migrants to wait in Mexico for asylum hearings in U.S. courts. The program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, was put in place by President Donald Trump and has left people stuck for months in limbo near the U.S. border. It will end on Jan. 21 but current COVID-19 non-essential travel restrictions will remain in place, a statement from the agency said. “All current MPP participants should remain where they are, pending further official information from U.S. government officials,” it said.
“Biden administration calls China sanctions on Trump officials ‘unproductive and cynical’” by Reuters Staff – China’s move to sanction former Trump administration officials was “unproductive and cynical”, a spokeswoman for President Joe Biden’s National Security Council said on Wednesday, urging Americans from both parties to condemn the move. Around the time Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday China announced sanctions against “lying and cheating” outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other top officials under former President Donald Trump.