April 16, 2021

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Trump Impeachment Calls: Live Updates and Analysis – The New York Times

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House Democrats Take Step Toward Impeaching Trump

House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week. Republicans blocked a move to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.

“I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from further consideration of H.Res. 21, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.” Speaker: “The clerk will report the title of the resolution.” ”House Resolution 21, resolution calling on Vice President Michael R. Pence to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments of the cabinet to activate Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office, and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.” Speaker: “For what purpose does the gentleman from West Virginia rise?” “I object.” “Objection is heard — pursuant to Section 5A1B of the House Resolution 8, the House stands adjourned til 9 a.m. tomorrow.”

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House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week. Republicans blocked a move to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week, vowing to press the charge as Republicans blocked a separate move to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.

The dual actions came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her caucus sought to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Pence to intervene and push Mr. Trump to resign. If they did not, the Democrats promised immediate consequences for Mr. Trump’s role in an attack that put the lives of the vice president, members of Congress and thousands of staff working on Capitol Hill at risk as officials met to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Ms. Pelosi said on Monday.

As expected, Republicans objected to a resolution calling on Mr. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, meaning that the House would have to call a full vote on the measure, most likely on Tuesday. Democratic leaders were confident it would pass, and pressured Republican lawmakers to vote with them to beseech the vice president, who is said to be opposed to using the powers outlined in the Constitution, to do so.

It was a remarkable threat. If Mr. Pence does not intervene “within 24 hours” after passage and the president does not resign, House leaders said they would move as early as Wednesday to consider the impeachment resolution on the floor, just a week after the attack. Already more than 210 Democrats have signed onto the leading charge, just shy of a majority of the House. Several Republicans were said to be considering voting to impeach for the first time, though party leaders were opposed.

“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, told reporters. He also pushed back against those arguing the House should delay sending the case to the Senate for trial until after Mr. Biden has a chance to fill his cabinet and pass coronavirus relief legislation.

“Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue,” he said. “The issue is we have a president who most of us believe participated in encouraging an insurrection and attack on this building, and on democracy and trying to subvert the counting of the presidential ballot.”

The four-page impeachment article charges Mr. Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” when he sowed bogus claims about election fraud and encouraged his supporters at a rally outside the White House to take extraordinary measures to stop the counting of electoral votes underway at the Capitol. A short time later, rioters mobbed the building, ransacking the seat of American government and killing a Capitol Police officer. (Four others also died as a result of injuries or medical emergencies on Capitol grounds.)

Last minute changes were made late Sunday to include a reference to the 14th Amendment, the post-Civil War era addition to the Constitution that prohibits anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding future office. Lawmakers also decided to cite specific language from Mr. Trump’s speech last Wednesday, inciting the crowd, quoting him saying: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Lawmakers involved in the effort — led by Representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California — cautioned that the language could still change before any House vote. An overlapping group led by Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota also introduced a set of two articles, which also charged Mr. Trump with abuse of power, that could still be incorporated into whatever the House puts forward for a vote.

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.”

Mr. Burns’s 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 has 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.

President-elect Biden speaking in Wilmington, Del., on Friday.
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to call on a divided nation to come together at a time of political crisis and a deadly pandemic with an “America United” Inauguration Day theme, his inaugural committee announced Monday.

He will also pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetery with three previous presidents, who represent both major parties. President Trump announced last week that he would not be attending the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington.

Mr. Biden’s message reflects “the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together and creates a path to a brighter future,” the inaugural committee said in a statement Monday. “Our political divisions are seeking to tear us apart and continue to test the strength of our democracy. The moment calls for sober reflection and the mustering of our national resolve. It is also a moment of hope.”

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris also plan to visit Arlington National Cemetery after his swearing in, where they will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, according to the inaugural committee’s statement.

Underscoring the theme of unity — and drawing attention to Mr. Trump’s highly unusual absence — they will be joined at the hallowed cemetery by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The inauguration will also feature a “field of flags,” an art display on the National Mall that will include about 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes representing every state and territory, as well as 56 light pillars, according to the committee. The flags “will represent the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C.,” for the event, the statement said.

Mr. Biden had already been planning a much smaller inauguration because of the coronavirus. Last week, the inaugural committee released details affirming that Mr. Biden would not make the traditional procession from Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House before crowd-lined streets.

The inaugural committee is planning virtual celebrations across the country, for broadcast online and on television, reminiscent of those during the summer Democratic National Convention.

Those who signed the letter, released on Medium on Monday, includes best-selling authors like Ron Chernow, Taylor Branch, Garry Wills and Stacy Schiff, as well as many leading academic historians.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

More than 300 historians and constitutional scholars have signed an open letter calling for the impeachment and removal of President Trump. They say his continuation in office after encouraging supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol posed “a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States.”

Those who signed the letter, released on Medium on Monday, includes best-selling authors like Ron Chernow, Taylor Branch, Garry Wills and Stacy Schiff, as well as many leading academic historians. A number of the signatories had joined a previous letter in December 2019, calling for the president’s impeachment because of “numerous and flagrant abuses of power” including failure to protect the integrity of the impending 2020 election.

“Since November 2020,” the new letter says, “Trump has refused to accept the results of a free and fair election, something no president before him has ever done.”

Politically, the condemnation by historians may carry less weight than the president’s loss of support in recent days from business groups that once supported him or his policies. But David Greenberg, a historian at Rutgers who drafted the new letter, said that historical expertise mattered.

“Trump has defied the Constitution and broken laws, norms, practices and precedents, for which he must be held accountable now and after he leaves office,” the letter says of his presidency. “No future president should be tempted by the example of his defiance going unpunished.”

In September, the American Historical Association issued a statement condemning the first White House History Conference, held at the National Archives (and planned, the statement noted, without the involvement of any professional historical groups).

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.

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 their support is tied to narrow issues of specific interest to their industries. That practice 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:

  • 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 would decide when to resume donations.

  • The chemicals giant Dow said it was suspending all PAC contributions “to any member of Congress who voted to object to the certification of the presidential election.” The suspension will last for one election cycle — two years for representatives and up to six years for senators.

  • Shopify terminated online stores affiliated with President Trump. “Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause,” the company said in a statement.

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.

Some big banks are pausing all political donations — to those who voted to uphold the election as well as to those who sought to overturn it — a tactic that is raising eyebrows. 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.

And 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.

Facebook will pause all of its contributions to political action committees representing either party for at least the remainder of the first quarter of 2021, the company confirmed in a statement on Monday, citing the need to review its policies. A spokesman for Microsoft confirmed that it would do the same.

Other companies, including Bank of America, FedEx 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. 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, Jenny Gross and Mike Isaac contributed reporting.

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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