October 21, 2021

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The Latest News on Impeachment, Biden and Trump: Live Updates – The New York Times

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House on Monday plans to introduce a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of the powers of his office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi escalated the pressure on Mr. Pence in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, calling on him to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution. Democrats planned to try to pass the resolution by unanimous consent on Monday, but it is expected to fail.

Next, she said, the House would bring an impeachment case to the floor. Though she did not specify how quickly it would move, leading Democrats have suggested they could press forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” she wrote in the letter. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Ms. Pelosi’s actions in effect gave Mr. Pence, who is said to be opposed to the idea, an ultimatum: use his power under the Constitution to force Mr. Trump out by declaring him unable to discharge his duties, or make him the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

With few Democrats hopeful Mr. Pence would act, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the party’s No. 3, said the House could vote to impeach Mr. Trump by Wednesday, one week before Inauguration Day. Lawmakers were put on notice to return to Washington, and their leaders consulted with the Federal Air Marshal Service and law enforcement on how to safely move them back into a Capitol that was ransacked in a shocking security failure less than a week ago.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Clyburn suggested that Ms. Pelosi was considering impeaching now but not sending the article to the Senate for trial for weeks — possibly until after Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office. The Senate must immediately begin a trial when it receives impeachment articles, but it cannot begin one without them.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” said Mr. Clyburn, an influential ally to the incoming president. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”

Pressure against the president continued to build, including from some Republicans. Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania became the second Republican senator to call for Mr. Trump to resign, joining Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But a day after he called Mr. Trump’s conduct “impeachable,” Mr. Toomey argued an impeachment would be impractical with Mr. Trump already headed for the exit.

As of Sunday morning, 210 of 222 Democrats — nearly a majority of the chamber — had signed onto the article of impeachment drawn up by Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California. It charges Mr. Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

William J. Burns has been vocal in his belief that American diplomacy has been damaged during the Trump administration.
Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden has selected William J. Burns, a career State Department official who led the U.S. delegation in secret talks with Iran, to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

In selecting Mr. Burns, Mr. Biden is turning to an experienced diplomat with whom he has a long relationship. The two men have worked together on various foreign policy issues, not just during the Obama administration, but also while Mr. Biden led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Burns has also long worked with Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s pick for national security adviser, and has been influential in helping foster the younger man’s career.

Mr. Biden’s choice sends a message that American intelligence will not be influenced by politics.

In a statement early Monday, the president-elect said that Mr. Burns “shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.”

Still, Mr. Burns’ experience is as a consumer of intelligence, not as a producer. C.I.A. directors are expected to put aside their policy recommendations and focus on information and prediction. Still, former agency officials have asserted the most important quality in a director is not expertise in intelligence, but a relationship with the president, which Mr. Burns has.

During his presidency, President Trump has undermined and dismissed intelligence officials and has called them “passive” and “naïve” in their analysis of national security threats posed by Iran.

Currently, Mr. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has been vocal in his belief that American diplomacy has been damaged in the Trump administration.

Described as a “steady hand” and a “very effective firefighter,” by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Burns spent 32 years at the State Department, where he was the American ambassador to Moscow and Jordan, and in high-level leadership positions in Washington.

Mr. Burns has been a trusted diplomat in Republican and Democratic administrations. He has played a role in the agency’s most prominent, and painful, moments over the past two decades.

In 2012, he accompanied the bodies of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on a C-17 flight from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Washington after the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. In 2002, Mr. Burns wrote a memo he titled “The Perfect Storm,” which highlighted the dangers of American intervention in Iraq.

Mr. Burns retired from the State Department in 2014.

For a time, Michael J. Morell, a former deputy director of the C.I.A., was considered the leading candidate for the top agency post. But some Democratic senators voiced public and private reservations. Senate liberals, including Ron Wyden of Oregon, opposed picking Mr. Morell, accusing him of defending torture. Mr. Morell’s representatives said Mr. Wyden had inaccurately portrayed his record and comments about the C.I.A. interrogation program.

Earlier, Thomas E. Donilon, a former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, withdrew his name from consideration for the post. David Cohen, a former deputy director of the C.I.A., had also been considered.

A key question will be how Mr. Burns can work with Avril D. Haines, Mr. Biden’s choice to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Biden transition team has said Ms. Haines will be the senior intelligence official in the administration and does not intend to make the C.I.A. director a formal member of the cabinet. In past administrations, there have often been tension between the director of national intelligence and the C.I.A. director.

Mr. Burns was considered a likely candidate to run the State Department in the incoming Biden administration. He could prove critical in helping Mr. Biden restart discussions with Tehran after Mr. Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018.

A heavy-duty security fence surrounding the Supreme Court on Sunday.
Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

In a series of unsigned orders on Monday, the Supreme Court refused requests from President Trump and his allies to expedite consideration of various challenges to the results of the presidential election. The court will consider whether to hear the cases in the ordinary course in the next month or two, but the orders in effect made the challenges moot.

As is the court’s custom, the orders gave no reasons. There were no dissents noted.

Mr. Trump had hoped that the court, which includes three of his appointees, would overturn the results of the election. But the court, notably in a terse order rejecting an audacious lawsuit in which Texas sought to sue four other states, has consistently rejected the requests.

Melania Trump, the first lady, who had not spoken publicly since sending well wishes on New Year’s Day, urged people to “listen to one another.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

In her first public comments since rioters stormed the Capitol five days ago, Melania Trump, the first lady, said on Monday that she was “disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week” but did not address her husband’s role in encouraging the attack.

Mrs. Trump, who had not released a statement since wishing the public well on New Year’s Day, urged people to “listen to one another” and implored people to “stop the violence.” She said she was praying for the families of those killed on Wednesday or in its aftermath, starting with a list of four Trump supporters who died — including one who was shot during the attack inside the Capitol — before the officers defending it.

Though the tone was mostly reconciliatory, she first struck back at perceived critics.

“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me — from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” she said. “This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.”

Last week, a former staff member for the first lady, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, strongly criticized Mrs. Trump in The Daily Beast, writing that she had “blood on her hands.”

Mrs. Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, was among the White House officials to resign after the violence on Wednesday.

Mrs. Trump has mostly remained silent on her husband’s efforts to overturn the election. In her one public statement on the matter, on Nov. 8, she wrote on Twitter that “every legal — not illegal — vote should be counted.”

She has focused instead on nonpolitical matters, including holiday celebrations, a monument that pays tribute to women’s suffrage and the completion of a tennis court at the White House.

On Monday, she asked people to “focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us.”

“It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence,” she said. “Our path forward is to come together, find our commonalities, and be the kind and strong people that I know we are.”

JPMorgan Chase is halting all political donations from its PAC for six months.
Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

Big businesses often donate to both political parties and say that their support is tied to narrow issues of specific interest to their industries. That became increasingly fraught last week, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and some Republican lawmakers tried to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win in the presidential election.

A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees, according to the DealBook newsletter.

Some big banks are pausing all political donations:

  • Goldman Sachs is freezing donations through its PAC and will conduct “a thorough assessment of how people acted during this period,” a spokesman, Jake Siewert, told DealBook.

  • JPMorgan Chase is halting donations through its PAC for six months. “There will be plenty of time for campaigning later,” said Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.

  • Citigroup is postponing all campaign contributions for a quarter. “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, the bank’s head of government affairs, wrote in an internal memo.

Some companies are pausing donations to specific politicians. Morgan Stanley is suspending all PAC contributions to members of Congress who did not vote to certify the results of the Electoral College, a spokesman said.

Marriott said it would pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokeswoman told DealBook. She did not say how long the break would last or how the hotel chain (not bank as was earlier reported here) would decide when to resume.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston Scientific and Commerce Bancshares are taking a similar, targeted approach to donation freezes. The newsletter Popular Information is tracking the responses of these and other companies that donated to lawmakers who challenged the election result.

Other banks, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, said they would review their corporate contribution strategy.

The suspensions coincide with the first quarter after a presidential election, which is typically light on fund-raising anyway. Efforts by some companies to pause PAC donations to all lawmakers — those who voted to uphold the election as well as those who sought to overturn it — are raising eyebrows. And companies can still give to “dark money” groups that don’t disclose their donors but often raise far more money than corporate PACs.

In other fallout, the P.G.A. of America said it would no longer hold its signature championship at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.; the social app Parler, popular among conservatives as an alternative to Twitter, went dark this morning after Amazon cut it off from computing services; the payment processor Stripe banned the Trump campaign from using its services; YouTube blocked Steve Bannon’s podcast channel; and the debate continues over tech giants’ influence over public speech.

Kate Kelly contributed reporting.

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How Police Tried but Failed to Protect the Capitol

Law enforcement officers confronted with a crowd of Trump extremists unsuccessfully deployed a number of tactics in an effort to stop the mob from storming the Capitol building in Washington.

[chanting] U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Thank you, officers! This is our house! Push forward, patriots! Police are squabbling with protesters. Oh, there we go. We can’t go that way.

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Law enforcement officers confronted with a crowd of Trump extremists unsuccessfully deployed a number of tactics in an effort to stop the mob from storming the Capitol building in Washington.CreditCredit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The chaos wrought by the siege on the Capitol last week revealed that the law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction had no coordinated plan to defend against an attack — especially one specifically aimed at powerful elected officials — despite warnings for years about the growing threat of domestic terrorism.

The Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police had rebuffed offers days before for more help from the National Guard beyond a relatively modest contingent to provide traffic control, so no additional troops had been placed on standby. It took just over four hours for them to arrive.

Those were just two failures in a dizzying list that day and the leading up to the attack — that resulted in the first occupation of the United States Capitol since British troops set the building ablaze during the War of 1812. But the death and destruction this time was caused by Americans, rallying behind the inflammatory language of an American president, who refused to accept the will of more than 81 million other Americans who had voted him out of office

A full reckoning will take months or even years, and many lawmakers have called for a formal commission to investigate.

President Trump’s call at a rally that day for the crowd to march on the nearby Capitol was surely a spark that helped ignite the deadly riots that left five dead — including a policeman and a woman who stormed the building — injured dozens of others and damaged the country’s reputation for carrying out peaceful transfers of power. But the tinder for the blaze had been gathering for months, with every tweet that the election had been stolen, every refusal by Republican lawmakers to recognize Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the next president, every dog-whistle call that emboldened white supremacist groups to violently strike.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at ChristianaCare Hospital in Newark, Del., last month.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to receive his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in front of reporters today, at a time yet to be announced. Mr. Biden took the first of his two scheduled doses of the vaccine on Dec. 21.

The United States reported 300,594 new cases on Friday and more than 4,100 deaths on Thursday, both single-day records, according to a New York Times database. In total, more than 374,000 have died from Covid-19 in the United States.

The emergence of more contagious variants has added urgency to the country’s vaccine rollout, which has gotten off to a slow start.

Also on Monday, Mr. Biden — who announced in a statement this morning that he will nominate the former senior State Department official William Burns to run the Central Intelligence Agency — plans to meet with transition and economic advisers but has no public events scheduled related to policy or personnel.

The Biden-Harris transition team also announced Monday morning the appointment of more than 20 lawyers to the staff of the White House Counsel’s Office, who will report to incoming counsel Dana Remus. Several worked on the Biden-Harris campaign or have been assisting the transition.

President Trump on a news monitor in the White House briefing room on Wednesday, where a video clip he uploaded to Twitter addressing the mob at the Capitol was playing.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

His public persona was a product of television for decades.

Through “The Apprentice,” he built a fantasy version of himself as a tough-minded chief executive of a global business empire and a self-made billionaire. His wrestling match-style rallies helped him dominate television during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ever attuned to how he was playing and the power of ratings, he personally chose which anchors he wanted to interview him, and persuaded hosts to allow him to simply phone into their Sunday shows.

But as his campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the small screen, evolved gradually into a different character, @realdonaldtrump, whose itchy Twitter finger became many things at once: an agenda-setter for the day’s coverage, a weapon against his rivals, a way of firing aides and cabinet secretaries, a grenade he could throw at Republican lawmakers who had crossed him and reporters whose coverage he hated, a window into his psyche, and most of all, an unfiltered pipeline to his supporters.

Now, his Twitter account yanked away from him permanently, President Trump faces the challenge, for both his remaining days in the White House and in a post-presidency, of how to thrust himself into the conversation on his own terms.

He spent the first weekend of his presidency without his Twitter account cycling through fury and acceptance, ultimately telling people he was fine without it. He maintained that being “silenced” would infuriate his supporters.

Even without Twitter, and even under a new threat of impeachment, Mr. Trump remains until Jan. 20 the most powerful man in the world, with access to the White House briefing room, the East Room and the Oval Office to communicate his thoughts. He has a press office devoted to issuing his statements and a cadre of reporters assigned to cover what he says and does.

But while his presidency has often been compared to a reality television show, Mr. Trump has personally moved away from relying first and foremost on the medium that built him into the celebrity he was before running for office and that propelled him to the White House.

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