January 18, 2021

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Live Updates: GOP Senate can’t take up Trump impeachment until day before Biden inauguration at earliest – CNBC

9 min read

Senator tells social media companies, wireless carriers to preserve evidence

Incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Mark Warner instructed wireless carriers and social media companies to preserve evidence related to the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Warner, D-Va., sent letters Friday to mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon and social media companies Apple, Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Signal, Telegram, and Twitter, urging them to preserve content and data related to Wednesday’s riots.

“The United States Capitol is now a crime scene,” he wrote in the letters. “Messaging data to and from your subscribers that may have participated in, or assisted, those engaged in this insurrection – and associated subscriber information – are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice.”

—Will Feuer

Horned man charged in Capitol Hill riot

A man with his face painted in the colors of the U.S. flag poses for a picture as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather (not pictured) in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021.

Stephanie Keith | Reuters

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced on Saturday that they were charging Jacob Chansley, the man photographed wearing horns to the riots on Capitol Hill this week.

The press release says Chansley, a.k.a. Jake Angeli, an Arizona man, was “charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”

He was arrested on Saturday.

The release goes on to say that Chanlsey was the “man seen in media coverage who entered the Capitol building dressed in horns, a bearskin headdress, red, white and blue face paint, shirtless, and tan pants.” He carried a spear with an American flag just below the blade.

The riot left at least five dead, including a police officer. Angeli was among three men charged on Saturday.

— Brian Schwartz

Pro-Trump dark money groups organized the rally that led to deadly Capitol Hill riot

Protesters wave American and Confederate flags during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, January 6, 2021.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

A slew of pro-Trump dark money organizations organized a rally that led to a deadly riot on Capitol Hill.

The rally, officially known as the “March to Save America,” was largely organized by a 501(c)(4) group known as Women for America First. The organization was certified by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit that can engage in limited political activities. These groups are known as dark money organizations as they do not publicly disclose their donors.

However, America First Polices, a pro-Trump policy advocacy dark money group, did disclose in 2019 that they contributed to Women for America First. America First’s 990 disclosure form from that year shows they contributed $25,000 to Women for America First.

America First Policies, which is also a 501(c)(4) that does not disclose its donors, is chaired by Linda McMahon, a longtime Trump ally and former head of the Small Business Administration. The 2019 filing shows America First Policies ended up raising over $30 million. They were not involved with the planning of the rally itself.

Read more here

— Brian Schwartz

Trump supporters heckle Lindsey Graham at airport

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is escorted by security personnel as Trump supporters berate him, at Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S. January 8, 2021, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Courtesy of Oreo Express/Social

Orea Express | Reuters

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was harassed by a group of Trump supporters in the Reagan National Airport on Friday after he publicly criticized how President Trump handled the U.S. Capitol Hill riots.

Several people yelled at Graham and called him a traitor and liar, a video of the incident shows.

Graham, a strong ally of Trump, has defended the certification of Electoral College votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden and publicly broke with the president after Wednesday’s deadly riots.

“Trump and I have had a hell of a journey, but enough is enough,” Graham said on the Senate floor Wednesday night.

But as the president faces a mounting impeachment threat backed by Democrats, Graham argued in a tweet on Friday that impeachment could “further divide the country and erode the institution of the presidency itself.”

Emma Newburger

CDC director warns Capitol riots could be Covid ‘surge event’

CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine Covid-19, focusing on an update on the federal response in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2020.

Alex Edelman | AFP | Getty Images

The riots at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week would could prove to be yet another “surge event” that spreads the coronavirus, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

Redfield’s comments come as the U.S. outbreak grows worse than ever. Over the past week, the U.S. has reported nearly 3,000 daily deaths every day, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol,” Redfield told the McClatchy news agency in an interview.

“Then these individuals all are going in cars and trains and planes going home all across the country right now. So I do think this is an event that will probably lead to a significant spreading event,” he added. “This is an event that is going to have public health consequences.”

Redfield said the country is going to continue to see between 2,500 and 5,000 new daily deaths caused by Covid-19, adding that “this is going to continue to get worse through January, and probably parts of February before we really start to turn the corner.”

—Will Feuer

Defense Department calls deadly Capitol riots ‘first amendment protests’ in memo

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

The U.S. Defense Department called Wednesday’s pro-Trump riots “first amendment protests” in an official memorandum outlining the D.C. National Guard’s response that day.

The memo was issued by the office of the acting Defense secretary. The president fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November and replaced him with Christopher Miller, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

The police response to the mob of armed rioters who stormed the Capitol has been criticized as lenient, especially in comparison to police response to nonviolent 2018 climate change protests at the Capitol, as well as nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd in May.

Some former U.S. national security officials have also questioned federal law enforcement’s lack of preparedness to prevent the Capitol siege.

Five people died in the mob attack on Congress, including a police officer. CNBC has reached out to the Defense Department for comment.

Emma Newburger

Man pictured carrying Pelosi’s lectern at Capitol riots arrested in Florida

Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

The man pictured earlier this week at the riots in the U.S. Capitol leaving the House chambers with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern was arrested Friday in Florida, The Miami Herald reported.

Florida resident Adam Christian Johnson, 36, is being held on a federal warrant, records from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office show. The Herald reported that Johnson was among those sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for involvement in the mob violence on Wednesday.

“Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of criminal activity inside the Capitol,” Steven D’Antuono, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington field office, said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “Bottom line—the FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation.”

Adam Christian Johnson, who was arrested on a federal warrant, poses in a Pinellas County jail booking photograph released January 9, 2021.

PCSO | via Reuters

—Will Feuer

Michael Cohen says he’s cooperating with agencies investigating Trump and his family

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, leaves his apartment to report to prison in Manhattan, New York, May 6, 2019.

Jeenah Moon | Reuters

President Donald Trump‘s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said Friday that he’s cooperating with government agencies that are investigating the president and his family.

“I have been asked and have agreed to cooperate with multiple government agencies to provide testimony on the wrongdoing by #Trump and the #TrumpFamily,” Cohen wrote in a tweet. “I am doing this in large part as #Trump and family have tried, and thankfully failed, to destroy America’s democracy.”

Cohen, who served Trump for years as a lawyer, is serving the remainder of a three-year criminal sentence under home confinement amid the coronavirus pandemic.

— Emma Newburger

Murkowski first GOP senator to call for Trump to resign — ‘I want him out’

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on efforts to get back to work and school during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington, D.C., June 30, 2020.

Al Drago | Pool | Reuters

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the first Republican senator to call openly for President Trump’s resignation in the wake of the mob attack on the U.S. Congress that left 5 people dead.

“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski, who has often bucked her party, told The Anchorage Daily News.

“I think he should leave. He said he’s not going to show up. He’s not going to appear at the inauguration. He hasn’t been focused on what is going on with Covid,” she said. “He’s either been golfing or he’s been inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every single person who has been loyal and faithful to him under the bus, starting with the vice president.”

“He doesn’t want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing,” Murkowski said.

The Alaska Republican did not comment directly on whether she would support impeachment. It’s unclear how much support a second impeachment trial would garner in the GOP-controlled Senate. It takes a two-thirds vote in the chamber to convict a president and remove him from office.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., told CBS Friday that he would “definitely consider whatever articles” the House of Representatives would submit. “As I’ve told you, I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office … What he did was wicked,” Sasse said.

—Spencer Kimball

McConnell: Senate can’t take up impeachment until Jan. 19

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, wears a protective mask while walking through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his caucus in a memo that the chamber cannot take up impeachment until Jan. 19 at the earliest.

That’s a day before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated and Trump leaves office. The Senate is currently in recess and only holding pro forma sessions every three days, with one scheduled for Jan. 12 and another for Jan. 15.

McConnell, R-Ky., said it would take unanimous consent from all 100 senators to conduct any kind of business, including impeachment, during the pro forma sessions. Obtaining unanimous consent is unlikely given Republican control of the Senate.

McConnell’s position on Trump’s future is unclear. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, resigned from Trump’s Cabinet over the U.S. Capitol riots.

— Spencer Kimball

Pelosi gives Trump ultimatum: Resign or face impeachment

The day after hundreds of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi again said that Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office or she will begin impeachment proceedings against the President during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC January 7, 2021.

Melina Mara | The Washington Post | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is calling for President Donald Trump to resign from office or face an unprecedented second impeachment.

Pelosi told the House of Representatives on Friday to move forward with impeachment next week if Trump does not resign from office for stoking a mob that attacked the U.S. Congress Wednesday, resulting in five deaths.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., plan to introduce at least one article of impeachment on Monday. A draft article obtained by NBC News charges Trump with “incitement to insurrection.”

—Spencer Kimball

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