What Now?! – January 15, 2021

“When Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first president ever impeached twice, he did so as a leader increasingly isolated, sullen and vengeful,” the Washington Post reports.

“With less than seven days remaining in his presidency, Trump’s inner circle is shrinking, offices in his White House are emptying, and the president is lashing out at some of those who remain. He is angry that his allies have not mounted a more forceful defense of his incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol last week.”

“Though Trump has been exceptionally furious with Vice President Pence, his relationship with lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most steadfast defenders, is also fracturing… Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees.”

New York Times: “White House officials have started blocking Mr. Giuliani’s calls to the president.”

“Not since the dark days of the Civil War and its aftermath has Washington seen a day quite like Wednesday,” the New York Times reports.

“In a Capitol bristling with heavily armed soldiers and newly installed metal detectors, with the physical wreckage of last week’s siege cleaned up but the emotional and political wreckage still on display, the president of the United States was impeached for trying to topple American democracy.”

“Somehow, it felt like the preordained coda of a presidency that repeatedly pressed all limits and frayed the bonds of the body politic. With less than a week to go, President Trump’s term is climaxing in violence and recrimination at a time when the country has fractured deeply and lost a sense of itself. Notions of truth and reality have been atomized. Faith in the system has eroded. Anger is the one common ground.”

“President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening will outline a legislative package proposal for Congress to fund his incoming administration’s efforts to vaccinate the country against Covid-19 and provide immediate and direct economic relief to Americans,” CNN reports.

“Biden’s advisers have recently told allies in Congress to expect a price tag of roughly $2 trillion.”

The emergency relief plan includes $400 billion for fighting the coronavirus, more than $1 trillion in direct relief to families, including direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, and $440 billion for aid to communities and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and help advance his plans to reopen most schools by the spring.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) responded to Wednesday’s House passage of a single article of impeachment against President Trump, calling the action “appropriate” in a statement, and adding that she would “consider the arguments of both sides” in the Senate trial, Axios reports.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a likely contender for the next presidential election in 2024, announced on Wednesday night that he would vote to acquit President Donald Trump in what will be Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial.

The GOP senator said in his announcement that his decision was based on the limited amount of time for the trial, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said will not be held before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Cotton argued that the Senate “cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the President leaves office next week.”

“Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president,” he asserted. “The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens.”

Josh Marshall: “[Cotton has] navigated the politics of the last few weeks with more deftness than either Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley.  After the Raffensperger call was released but before the Georgia defeats and the Capitol insurrection Cotton announced that he would not be part of challenging the electoral college results. Now he is, unsurprisingly, saying he won’t convict Trump in a new impeachment trial. But note that he isn’t defending Trump on the merits. He is saying that it is constitutionally inappropriate to hold an impeachment trial of a President after he leaves office. There’s some plausible logic to that. But it’s mainly just a canny dodge. He’s not defending Trump in any bright line way (no figure prints on the horrors of the last weeks) but also avoiding any vote or position that would make him toxic to Trump-supporting Republicans.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) called the Trump-backed mob that invaded the Capitol a week ago “an insurrection,” but stopped short of signaling he’d support the impeachment article that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives once that measure to remove President Trump reaches the U.S. Senate, the Fargo Forum reports.

Said Rounds: “When the story of this last 90 days is told, they will clearly lay out that the president of the United States misled very, very good, honest, patriotic Americans by telling them time and again that the election was stolen. I believe that history will hold him accountable.”

“President Trump, on the eve of facing a historic second impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, is having trouble finding a legal team to defend him,” Bloomberg reports.

“Allies of the outgoing president have been canvassing Washington’s legal landscape looking for representation but so far are coming up short. Lawyers who defended him in the previous impeachment trial, including Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, have said no this time.”

“Other lawyers who have defended Trump at times, including former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, Eric Herschmann, Pat Philbin and Marc Kasowitz aren’t interested in joining a team this time, the people said. Some of the lawyers who don’t want a role have privately said what Trump did was indefensible.”

CNN: “First lady Melania Trump has spent the last several weeks operating inside a gray area of what might happen … The outgoing first lady hasn’t done anything of significance as the weeks of her tenure come to a close. She hasn’t established an office for continuing her platform in the post-White House years, according to a source familiar with her activities. Nor has she helped with the onboarding of incoming first lady Jill Biden — with whom she has still not made contact…”

“The only thing Trump has done, besides pack the White House, work on photo albums of her time as first lady and oversee photo shoots of a rug and decorative items, is make a convoluted statement about the events of last Wednesday, five days after they occurred.”

“Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for pro-Trump events Jan. 6, a day that ended in a chaotic crime rampage when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol,” the Washington Post reports.

“The majority of the watch-listed individuals in Washington that day are suspected white supremacists whose past conduct so alarmed investigators that their names had been previously entered into the national Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, a massive set of names flagged as potential security risks.”

Eric Trump told the Associated Press that hits to his father’s business empire since the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol are part of a liberal “cancel culture.”  He said his father will leave the presidency with a powerful brand backed by millions of voters who will follow him “to the ends of the Earth.”

Asked directly in his interview if he felt his father incited the crowd, Eric Trump paused and then the line went dead.

New York City is terminating its contracts with the Trump Organization because of the mob riot at the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reports.

New York Times: “Deutsche Bank, which has been Mr. Trump’s primary lender for two decades, has decided not to do business with Mr. Trump or his company in the future. Mr. Trump currently owes Deutsche Bank more than $300 million, which is due in the next few years.”

“The bank has concluded that, short of forgiving the debt, it has no way to extricate itself from the Trump relationship before the loans come due.”

“Another longtime financial partner of the Trumps, Signature Bank, also is cutting ties.”

Worker filings for jobless claims jumped to nearly 1 million last week, indicating rising layoffs amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Pentagon, in a break with recent tradition, will not host an Armed Forces Farewell tribute to President Trump,” Defense One reports.

“On Dec. 8, someone made a simultaneous transfer of 28.15 bitcoins — worth more than $500,000 at the time — to 22 different virtual wallets, most of them belonging to prominent right-wing organizations and personalities,” Yahoo News reports.

“Now cryptocurrency researchers believe they have identified who made the transfer, and suspect it was intended to bolster those far-right causes. U.S. law enforcement is investigating whether the donations were linked to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.”

“Audio and chat logs reveal that at least two insurrectionists who broke into the Capitol on 6 January used Zello, a social media walkie-talkie app that critics say has largely ignored a growing far-right user base,” The Guardian reports.

Said one female militia member: “We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it. They’re throwing grenades, they’re frickin’ shooting people with paintballs, but we’re in here.” Said a male voice: “God bless and godspeed. Keep going.” Said another: “Jess, do your shit. This is what we fucking lived up for. Everything we fucking trained for.”

President Trump has repeatedly spoken by phone with Steve Bannon in recent weeks to seek advice on his campaign to overturn his re-election defeat, reconciling with his once-estranged ex White House strategist, Bloomberg  reports.

Meanwhile, he is taking departure photos with White House staffers today, according to the Washington Post.

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) said on Thursday that he has purchased body armor and has been altering his routine amid concerns that his life could be threatened, especially after he joined a group of nine other House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump for inciting an insurrection.

“I have colleagues who are now traveling with armed escorts out of the fear for their safety,” Meijer said during an MSNBC interview on Thursday morning. He added that he has altered routines and is among a group of lawmakers who are “working to get body armor.” 

“I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues… A couple of them broke down in tears… saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.” — Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), in an interview with NBC News.

Tim Alberta: “Crow is right. Numerous House Republicans have received death threats in the past week, and I know for a fact several members want to impeach but fear casting that vote could get them or their families murdered.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is calling on House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) to be removed from leadership for announcing her plans to vote to impeach President Trump for inciting last week’s riot at the Capitol, The Hill reports.

Talking Points Memo: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) announced on Thursday that he tested positive for COVID-19, following the deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week that forced lawmakers to take shelter with several mask-less Republicans.

Espaillat is the fourth Democratic lawmaker to announce their COVID-19 diagnosis in the past week. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Brad Schneider also announced their diagnoses this week.

“Snapchat will permanently ban President Trump’s account on Jan. 20, after locking it indefinitely last week following the Capitol siege,” Axios reports.

Former FBI Director James Comey told the BBC that President Trump “belongs in jail” but President-elect Biden should consider pardoning him instead.

Said Comey: “I don’t know, he should at least consider it. Donald Trump, he’s not a genius, but he might figure out that if he accepts a pardon, that’s an admission of guilt, the United States Supreme Court has said, so I don’t know that he would accept a pardon.”

No.  If Biden wants to end his Presidency before it begins, then he will pardon Trump.  Otherwise, let the justice system take care of him.  And Jim Comey, shut up.  You have done enough damage for one lifetime.

“The White House will not be able to make good on President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to give older Americans discount cards to use for medicine, citing time pressures and still-unfinished planning,” Politico reports. No shit.

“Many U.S. Secret Service agents have stood guard in Washington’s elite Kalorama neighborhood, home over the years to Cabinet secretaries and former presidents. Those agents have had to worry about death threats, secure perimeters and suspicious strangers. But with the arrival of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, they had a new worry: finding a toilet,” the Washington Post reports.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job… After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own.”

“But it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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