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Senate confirms Biden’s pick for spy chief hours after he’s sworn into office

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: Avril Haines, former deputy national security advisor and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee January 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. Haines testified before the committee on the topic of “From Sanctions to the Soleimani Strike to Escalation: Evaluating the Administration's Iran Policy." (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Avril Haines was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration.
  • The Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines.
  • Haines was deputy CIA director and deputy national security advisor in the Obama administration.
  • She pledged during a confirmation hearing that she would keep politics out of intelligence.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Biden's pick for US spy chief, Avril Haines, by a vote of 84 to 10.

Biden nominated Haines to serve as the director of national intelligence, a vast role overseeing 18 intelligence agencies that saw an extraordinary level of politicization during the Trump era. She previously served as deputy CIA director and deputy national security advisor under President Barack Obama.

Haines is the first woman to helm the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and she was the first Biden Cabinet pick to be confirmed. The development came just hours after Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

At a confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Haines pledged to keep politics out of intelligence.

"To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power," she said in her opening statement. "Especially when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult."

She said that as DNI, she will prioritize crafting the US's response to China's aggression and preparing for the next pandemic.

"We should provide the necessary intelligence to support long-term bipartisan efforts to out-compete China - gaining and sharing insight into China's intentions and capabilities, while also supporting more immediate efforts to counter Beijing's unfair, illegal, aggressive and coercive actions, as well as its human rights violations, whenever we can," she said in her prepared remarks.

"At the same time, the DNI should see to it that the Intelligence Community's unique capabilities are brought to bear on the global Covid-19 crisis around the world, while also addressing the long-term challenge of future biological crises - enabling U.S. global health leadership and positioning us to detect future outbreaks before they become pandemics," she continued.

Haines also committed to assisting with putting out a public assessment of the domestic threat that the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory poses. She added that she would release an unclassified public report about the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Haines went on to outline three "institutional" priorities, according to CBS News: rebuilding trust in the US intelligence apparatus' rank and file; using the intelligence community's resources to fight both traditional and nontraditional threats; and strengthening partnerships in the private and public sector.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton initially said that he would hold up Haines' confirmation until he got a written answer from her regarding a question at the confirmation hearing about the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program that was carried out under the Bush administration.

On Wednesday evening, Cotton lifted the hold and cleared the way for her confirmation after receiving a response.

Haines will take the reins of the US intelligence apparatus as it recovers from a period of unprecedented politicization under former President Donald Trump. He installed a longtime loyalist, the former Texas congressman John Ratcliffe, as DNI in the final year of his presidency.

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Former President Donald Trump.

While serving in that role, Ratcliffe made a number of controversial decisions regarding the declassification of sensitive intelligence related to Russia's interference in the 2016 US election and the FBI's investigation into the matter. Ratcliffe was widely criticized for weaponizing and selectively releasing intelligence to bolster Trump's false narrative that the Russia investigation was a "hoax" launched to undermine his presidency.

Ratcliffe also significantly curtailed his office's cooperation with Congress and stonewalled lawmakers on election security briefings. Trump ousted Ratcliffe's predecessor, acting DNI Joseph Maguire, after Maguire authorized an aide to alert Congress about Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2020 election in Trump's favor.

Maguire also ignited the former president's fury when he testified to Congress about a whistleblower complaint revealing the details of a July 25, 2019 phone call in which Trump tried to convince Ukraine's president to launch bogus political investigations targeting Biden ahead of the November 2020 election.

That phone call and the events surrounding it later became the basis of Trump's first impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The former president also forced out his first director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, following a period of fraught tension because Coats publicly contradicted Trump's conspiracy theories about Russia and his views on North Korea and Iran.

Coats praised Haines at her confirmation hearing this week, telling lawmakers, "After several conversations with Avril, there is no doubt in my mind that President-elect Biden has chosen someone who has all the capabilities and qualities, experience, and leadership to be the next director of national intelligence."

But Haines has had some controversies of her own, chief among them being the role she played in overseeing the Obama administration's drone program that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths.

As Insider's John Haltiwanger reported, Haines has also drawn criticism for being complicit in the CIA's use of torture; for redacting the Senate Intelligence Committee's bombshell report on the use of torture; and for greenlighting a panel that decided not to punish CIA employees who were accused of spying on the committee's investigators.

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Biden enters White House for first time since being sworn in as 46th US president

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on the steps of the US Capitol after he was sworn in as the 46th US president.
  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in just before noon Wednesday.
  • Security was tight after the January 6 riot by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
  • Follow Insider's coverage of key moments and highlights of the historic day.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump officially departed Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning and his successor, President Joe Biden, was sworn in shortly before noon.

Biden's inauguration marks a historic end to Trump's rocky presidency and a tumultuous transition period in which the outgoing president refused to acknowledge his election loss and incited a violent insurrection at the US Capitol that resulted in five deaths.

Watch the inauguration ceremony below:

Scroll down for live coverage of the event:

Biden enters White House as president
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President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden pose for photographs on the North Portico of the White House.

Biden officially entered the White House as president on Wednesday afternoon. He was joined shortly afterward by Harris. 

US presidents have traditionally invited their successors to the White House to meet before Inauguration Day. This is in addition to making sure that president-elects receive daily briefings and national security intelligence.

Trump, however, refused to acknowledge his election loss and not only delayed these critical briefings, but also didn't welcome Biden to the White House beforehand. The pair didn't meet or speak before Trump left for Florida ahead of the inauguration ceremony.

 

Harris, Emhoff, and their extended family walk down Pennsylvania Avenue
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Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff (C) along with family members walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House in Washington, DC.

Shortly after, Harris walked into the White House for the first time in her new role as vice president.

Bidens walk to the White House
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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden along with their family walk up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Biden, with his family, walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Biden's inaugural committee hosted a virtual inaugural parade in lieu of the usual in-person festivities.

Biden, Harris, former presidents and former first ladies attend ceremony at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Congressional leaders present gifts to Biden and Harris
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi arrive in the Crypt of the US Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gifted Biden and Harris flags shortly after the inauguration.

Biden also signed three documents as part of inaugural tradition: an Inauguration Day proclamation, nominations for Cabinet positions, and nominations for sub-Cabinet positions.

 

Biden posts his first tweet as president
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Former Vice President Mike Pence, right, applauds as Joe Biden embraces first lady Jill Biden after being sworn in as the 46th president.

The official presidential Twitter accounts are now in the hands of the Biden administration.

"There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face," Biden tweeted Wednesday from his new Twitter account, @POTUS. "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 supporters celebrate in Washington, DC
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Supporters of President Joe Biden celebrate as they listen to him speak during the presidential inauguration.
Protesters gather at the Capitol during Biden's inauguration
Protesters near Union Station in Washington, DC

A small group of people holding anti-abortion and "Jesus saves" signs gathered north of the Capitol building. A man with the group yelled offensive and false attacks about Biden and Harris.

Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reads a moving piece at the ceremony
poet inauguration Amanda Gorman
Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

"For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us," said Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet laureate whose historic speech has gone viral.

 

Garth Brooks sings "Amazing Grace"
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Garth Brooks performs "Amazing Grace" at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Biden: 'We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured'
Biden speech
President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration.

"Let's start afresh, all of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another," Biden said in his inaugural speech after being sworn into office. "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured."

"Disagreement must not lead to disunion," he added. "I will be a president for all Americans. And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did."

Biden went on to call for a end to "this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal," adding, "We can do this if we can open our soul instead of hardening our hearts."

The president also said he would work to "repair" the US's global alliances.

"We will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example," he said.

The Biden family embraces after the president's swearing-in
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President Joe Biden with his family First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Biden, who was sworn in on his family's Bible
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President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

It was a large Bible.

Singer Jennifer Lopez performs "This Land Is Your Land" and "America, The Beautiful"
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Jennifer Lopez performs at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in to office by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on a Bible that belonged to legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall
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Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Harris "stands on the shoulders of so many on this platform who have forged the way to this day," Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said while paying tribute to the historic nature of the former California senator's position. "When she takes the oath of office, little girls and boys across the world will know that anything and everything is possible."

Lady Gaga, a longtime Biden ally, sang the national anthem
lady gaga inauguration
Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden and Lady Gaga worked together when he was vice president to campaign against sexual assault on college campuses.

Biden also introduced the singer at the 2016 Academy Awards.

 

Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence attended Biden's inauguration
mike pence karen pence
Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence arrive to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Pences were among several prominent Republicans who went to Biden's inauguration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also attended.

McConnell and McCarthy skipped Trump's departure ceremony and instead attended mass with Biden before the inauguration, while Pence missed Trump's departure due to logistical issues.

Trump lands in Florida
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Donald Trump gestures as he arrives at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

In his final hour as president, Trump issued a pardon to Albert Pirro Jr., the ex-husband of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro.

Former presidents and first ladies attended the inauguration.
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Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush were all seen at Biden's inauguration ceremony.

Supreme Court justices arrive
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Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett arrives at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump-appointees Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were among the inauguration's attendees.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump's most loyal attack dogs on Congress, attended the inauguration
Rep. Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan.

"This is as close to pageantry as we get in America," Jordan told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple. "This day – this and the State of the Union address – I just think it's important that, that you attend those events."

Lawmaker says she and several other House Democrats wore body armor under their jackets at Biden's inauguration
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Flags decorate the National Mall ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

 

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of Trump's most stalwart defenders, was seen arriving at the Capitol for Biden's inauguration
republican senator ted cruz texas capitol president biden inauguration dc
Sen. Ted Cruz arrives to the inauguration.

Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley led the congressional crusade for Trump's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Biden's motorcade was seen arriving on Capitol Hill shortly before 10:30 a.m. ET
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Preparations are made before inauguration.

 

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan was spotted arriving at Biden's inauguration ceremony
paul ryan gop house speaker biden inauguration dc capitol
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan arrives for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021.

Ryan had a rough tenure as House Speaker in the early days of the Trump presidency before he left public service.

 

Several thousand armed military personnel and law enforcement officials stood guard along an inner perimeter - an 8-foot tall fence topped with razor wire - surrounding the Capitol
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Soldiers stand guard as supporters of Joe Biden gather outside the Capitol building during the inauguration.

Biden's inauguration comes as the nation's capital is heavily fortified amid continued threats from Trump supporters to disrupt the transfer of power. Around 25,000 troops have been deployed to Washington, DC, ahead of the inauguration, which is more than the number of US service members in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

The FBI warned law enforcement authorities that some violent extremists, including followers of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, may try to pose as guardsmen to get through security at the inauguration, USA Today reported, citing two people familiar with the briefing.

On Tuesday, a dozen National Guard members were removed from protecting the inauguration after authorities discovered questionable behavior. Two out of the 12 had possible ties to extremist groups, The New York Times reported.

After Trump departed on Air Force One, Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended a Catholic mass service at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral
Bidens church service
President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior to the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony.

A number of congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, joined the Bidens, Harris, and Emhoff for the service. 

The former president and first lady waved a final goodbye from Air Force One before heading to Florida
Donald and Melania Trump
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.

The Trump family took off for Florida as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played over the loudspeakers to the crowd assembled at Joint Base Andrews.

 

"We were not a regular administration," Trump said during a short speech touting his accomplishments
trump speech jba departure ceremony white house
President Donald Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.

"Have a good life, we will see you soon," Trump said as The Village People's "YMCA," one of his favorite songs at his campaign rallies, played over the loudspeakers. 

In his speech, Trump thanked Vice President Mike Pence (who was not present at his farewell event), and wished the incoming administration luck without mentioning President-elect Joe Biden by name. 

After saying goodbye to attendees, the Trump family boarded Air Force One and headed to Florida. 

A crowd, including members of Trump's family and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was waiting for him at Joint Base Andrews
trump family ivanka eric donald jr tiffany jba farewell ceremony
Ivanka Trump, husband Jared Kushner, their children, Eric Trump, and Donald Jr. and Trump family members stand on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
Marine One did one final lap around Washington, DC.
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Marine One with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump passes the Washington Monument as it departs the White House.

The Trump family flew from the White House to Joint Base Andrews aboard Marine One.

Shortly before 8:15 a.m. ET, Trump and former first lady Melania walked across the South Lawn to Marine One with only a small crowd of reporters present to see them off
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Outgoing President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak to reporters before leaving the White House.

 

Shortly before 8 a.m. ET, Marine One landed on the South Lawn to take Trump to Joint Base Andrews.
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White House staff members carry boxes to Marine One before President Donald Trump leaves the White House.

Trump's departure from the White House was slightly delayed as was his farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.

Previously...

Wednesday's proceedings will begin with remarks from Father Leo J. O'Donovan, the former president of Georgetown University and a longtime friend of the Biden family. The ceremony will feature performances from prominent celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, and will wrap up with a benediction from Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman.

In a stark contrast with previous presidential inaugurations, Trump and former first lady Melania Trump skipped Wednesday's inauguration.

Ahead of Wednesday's ceremonies, Biden made an emotional speech bidding farewell to his home state of Delaware and paying tribute to his late son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

"Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart," Biden said, in reference to the Irish poet James Joyce's famous quote in which he said Dublin was written on his heart.

Biden then mentioned Beau, saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret, that he isn't here, because we should be introducing him as president."

Trump, meanwhile, taped a 20-minute farewell speech that was posted to the White House's YouTube channel because the president has been banned on every major social media platform.

Though he acknowledged that Biden will take office on Wednesday, he did not mention his successor by name and did not concede that he lost the November general election.

"This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck — a very important word," Trump said.

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Democratic Rep. Cori Bush makes a fiery speech calling to impeach ‘the white supremacist in chief’

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  • The House of Representatives is poised to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time for "incitement of insurrection" following last week's deadly Capitol siege.
  • Debate over the article of impeachment began shortly after 9 a.m. ET and can be watched online on C-SPAN, YouTube, and the House's official website.
  • Scroll down to watch the livestream and follow Insider's live coverage of the historic event.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The House of Representatives is poised on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time after he incited a deadly riot at the US Capitol that resulted in five deaths and multiple injuries.

With just a week left in his term, the president is facing an unprecedented level of legal and political risk after he whipped thousands of his supporters into a frenzy at a rally on January 6 and then urged them to march to the Capitol to stop Congress from formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

The pro-Trump mob went on to lay siege to the Capitol, swarming the building, ransacking offices, stealing and vandalizing property, and trying to hunt down Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers.

In the wake of the failed insurrection, a slew of Republicans finally broke ranks with the president as congressional Democrats called for his impeachment. If he is impeached Wednesday, as is widely expected, Trump will become the first US president to have been impeached twice.

Watch the proceedings below:

Scroll down for live updates and key moments:

GOP Rep. Doug LaMalfa lashed out at Democrats, the 'left-wing media,' and 'big tech'
doug lamalfa
Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the second annual impeachment show extravaganza, brought to you by the censors in left-wing media, the fact-check ministers of shutdown and big tech, and the Democrat Party," LaMalfa said. 

The House Speaker's podium, which was stolen by pro-Trump rioters on January 6, was carried back into the Capitol and set up for Pelosi to use on Wednesday.
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A pro-Trump rioter carries away Pelosi's lectern during the violent siege of the Capitol on January 6.

 

Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross accuses Republicans of refusing to seek accountability for the deadly insurrection.
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NJ Rep. Donald Norcross.

Rep. Donald Norcross, a New Jersey Democrat, condemned Republicans for calling for "unity and healing," rather than holding the president accountable for the deadly results of his incitement. 

"A police officer was killed and what I hear is 'time to heal.' He's not even buried yet," Norcross said. "No one is above the law, not the president if he has four years or four days. We must do the right thing for all Americans because he must be held accountable."

QAnon-supporting Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene claims she's being censored as she slams Democrats for alleging supporting violence
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) walks through the U.S. Capitol as Democrats debate one article of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., January 13, 2021.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Newly sworn-in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Georgia Republican, accused Democrats of encouraging violence in a fiery speech from the House floor during which she wore a mask reading, "CENSORED." 

"Democrats' impeachment of President Trump today has now set the standard that they should be removed for their support of violence against the American people," she said. 

Freshman Democratic Rep. Cori Bush makes a fiery speech calling to impeach the 'white supremacist in chief'
Cori Bush
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri).

Freshman Democratic congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri gave an impassioned speech calling to impeach Trump, who she referred to as "the white supremacist-in-chief."

"If we fail to remove a white supremacist president who incited a white supremacist insurrection, it's communities like Missouri's First District that suffer the most," Bush said, referring to the district she represents.

She continued: "The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy starting with impeaching the white supremacist in chief."

Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler: 'My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision'
jaime herrera beutler
Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler.

Republican congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler of Washington made a highly anticipated floor speech announcing that she will vote to impeach Trump.

"I am not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail. I'm afraids patriots in this country have died in vain. I'm afraid injustice will prevail," Beutler said.

"But truth sets us free from fear," she added. "It has no shadows where darkness can hide. My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I'm not choosing a side, I'm choosing truth. It's the only way to defeat fear."

Democrats in the chamber broke into applause after Beutler concluded her speech. She is one of at least half a dozen House Republicans who have said they will vote to impeach the president.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy: 'The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters'
kevin mccarthy
Kevin McCarthy

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy gave one of his sharpest condemnations of Trump yet when he spoke on the House floor.

"The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," McCarthy said. "He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding."

The California Republican went on to shoot down conspiracy theories that antifa agitators infiltrated the pro-Trump demonstrations to spark violence.

"Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that," McCarthy said. "And conservatives should be the first to say so."

 

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's speech goes off the rails as he rants about the 'Biden crime family'
matt gaetz
Matt Gaetz.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, another one of Trump's most stalwart defenders in Congress, gave a meandering and off-topic floor speech in which he complained about the so-called Biden crime family.

  • Fact check: No one in the Biden family has been charged with a crime, though the president-elect's son, Hunter, is under criminal investigation over his financial activities.

Gaetz went on to congratulate Trump for pointing out "unconstitutional behavior, voting irregularities, concerns over tabulations, dead people voting," and other purported issues with the 2020 election.

  • Fact check: The 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history. The vast majority of concerns raised about voting irregularities and election fraud have come from Republicans themselves and have been thrown out by courts across the country, including the Supreme Court. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities in the election, and every state has certified its results, the Electoral College cast its votes, and Biden's victory has been formalized as of last week.

Gaetz also compared when pro-Trump insurrectionists "tore through" the Capitol to when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "tore through" Trump's State of the Union speech.

  • Fact check: Pelosi's decision to tear up Trump's speech did not result in anyone dying, any theft, or destruction to property other than the speech.

 

McConnell's aide confirms he will not have the Senate reconvene to hold an earlier impeachment trial
Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after attending the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not bring back the Senate early to kick off an impeachment trial, his press secretary confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

That means a Senate trial would not start until after Biden takes office, at the earliest.

Rep. Cedric Richmond says some Republicans are 'co-conspirators' in the insurrection and tells them to 'man up, woman up,' and defend the Constitution
cedric richmond
Cedric Richmond.

In his last floor speech before he leaves Congress to join the Biden administration, Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana said Trump "put the domestic terrorists on notice by saying, 'Stand back and stand by.'"

Richmond was alluding to Trump's response when he was asked during a presidential debate last year to condemn white supremacists for their role in trying to incite violent riots during the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said, referring to the far-right neo-fascist group that supports him. "But I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem."

Speaking on Wednesday, Richmond said that Trump "summoned" extremists to Washington, DC, "directed them to march on the Capitol, and then he sat back and watched the insurrection."

"Some of my colleagues, some of which may well be co-conspirators, in their latest attempt to placate and please this unfit president, suggest that we shouldn't punish Trump for his actions in order to unify the country," Richmond continued. "That is the climax of foolishness. Stand up, man up, woman up, and defend this Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including Donald J. Trump."

Republicans embark on a misleading crusade against 'cancel culture'
jim jordan
Jim Jordan.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan spent most of his time decrying "cancel culture."

"The double standard has to stop, and frankly the attack on the First Amendment has to stop," Jordan said. "Do you have a functioning First Amendment when the cancel culture only allows one side to talk? When you can't even have a debate in this country ... it needs to stop, because if it continues, it won't just be Republicans who get canceled, it won't just be the president of the United States, the cancel culture will come for us all."

GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California echoed Jordan, saying, "If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted ... suppressing free speech is not the answer."

He continued to say that the president "simply told the crowd" at his rally "to protest peacefully and patriotically, and the vast majority of them did."

Fact check: At the January 6 rally, the president called on his supporters "to fight" and march to the Capitol, adding, "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."

It's also unclear what Jordan was referring to when he said the president had been "canceled," given that Trump has full access to the podium at the White House briefing room and a press corps dedicated to reporting out what he says to the public.

Republicans repeatedly claimed that social media companies want to "cancel" them in the wake of the Capitol siege, pointing to Twitter's decision to permanently ban Trump from its platform, and Facebook and Instagram's decision to block him from posting until at least the inauguration.

Twitter did not ban Trump to "cancel" him. In a statement announcing its decision, the company said it suspended the president because his supporters were actively using his tweets to plan domestic terrorist attacks on the US Capitol and state capitols across the country.

The far-right app Parler was also booted from the Apple and Google app stores and Amazon's web hosting service after the companies determined that violent extremists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists were using Parler to plan more armed insurrections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tears up while recounting the 'day of fire' when Trump supporters besieged the Capitol
nancy pelosi
Nancy Pelosi.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the floor around 12:30 p.m. ET and delivered a passionate plea for lawmakers to hold the president accountable.

The California Democrat's voice appeared to shake as she recalled the "day of fire" on which Trump supporters besieged the US Capitol last week.

"Those insurrectionists were not patriots," she said. "They were not part of a political base to be catered to and managed. They were domestic terrorists and justice must prevail."

Pelosi then turned to Trump, saying the mob was "sent here by the president with words such as a cry to, 'Fight like hell.'"

"Words matter," she said. "Truth matters. Accountability matters."

 

At least 6 House Republicans will vote to impeach Trump
Rep. Liz Cheney
Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

The following Republicans have announced that they will vote to impeach the president:

  • New York Rep. John Katko
  • Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney
  • Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger
  • Michigan Rep. Fred Upton
  • Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler
  • Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse
As House debates impeachment, CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell 'hates' Trump
McConnell/Trump
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) look on as US President Donald Trump speaks at the Oval Office of the White House on March 27, 2020.

The top Senate Republican has grown more and more furious with the president in the days since the Capitol siege. That anger was compounded because many Republicans believe Trump played a central role in costing the GOP its majority in the Senate and paving the way for a Democratic-controlled legislative and executive branch.

On Tuesday evening, The New York Times reported that McConnell believes Trump committed multiple impeachable offenses and is "pleased" at the prospect of his impeachment. Axios later reported that the Kentucky Republican is inclined to vote to convict Trump following a Senate trial. If McConnell does vote to convict, it would be a remarkable ending to the two men's relationship after years of moving in lockstep with one another.

Last week, as Congress convened to finalize Biden's victory in the November general election, McConnell sharply condemned Trump's efforts to overturn the results and said his own vote to certify the results was the most important one he had ever cast in 36 years of public service.

House begins voting on rule surrounding the article of impeachment
house vote on rules of impeachment articles

After initial statements were made, the House moved to vote on the rules surrounding the article of impeachment.

Once the rule is passed, the House will move on to two hours of debate over the article, and a final vote is expected later this afternoon.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern: 'If this isn't an impeachable offense, I don't know what the hell is'
jim mcgovern
Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern.

Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern responded to Republican claims that Democrats objected to finalizing Trump's victory in 2017 just as GOP lawmakers objected to finalizing Biden's this year.

Democrats objected "as a protest vote" in 2017, McGovern said, adding that Democrats all accepted Trump's victory the day after the election, and that then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton conceded the day after as well.

"None of us pushed conspiracy theories ... that somehow the president won in a landslide," McGovern said, referring to Trump's lie that he defeated Biden in the 2020 election.

"The bottom line is this: this Capitol was stormed. People died because of the big lies that were being told by this president and by too many people on the other side of the aisle," he said. "Enough. It was unforgivable. Unconscionable. And coming up on this floor and talking about whataboutism and trying to make these false equivalencies, give me a break."

He continued: "The president instigated an attempted coup in this country. People died. Everybody should be outraged, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. If this is not an impeachable offense, I don't know what the hell is."

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan spouts a fountain of lies and misinformation about the election
Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who has long been one of Trump's staunchest congressional allies and recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, used his time to call Democrats out for what he said was hypocrisy given that they objected to counting electoral votes in January 2017, as Congress was set to finalize Trump's victory of Hillary Clinton.

Jordan then went on to spout a fountain of lies and misinformation about the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

Among other things, he claimed the state's Supreme Court "unilaterally extended the election to Friday," that the secretary of state "unilaterally changed the rules, went around the legislature in an unconstitutional fashion," that "county clerks in some counties, and you can imagine which counties they were, let people fix their ballots against the law, cure their mail-in ballots in direct violation of the law," and more.

Fact check: None of these claims are true. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not extend the date of the general election, it extended the deadline by which mail-in ballots could be received provided that they were postmarked by Election Day. The secretary of state also did not "unilaterally" change the rules surrounding election administration in Pennsylvania, as multiple judges ruled.

And Jordan's claim that country clerks allowed people to cure their ballots "in direct violation of the law" also holds no water because it is perfectly legal to "cure" ballots in Pennsylvania.

Freshman GOP congresswoman quotes Martin Luther King Jr. before equating the violent insurrection with Black Lives Matter protests
nancy mace
Rep. Nancy Mace.

Mace was recently sworn in for her first term after winning a congressional race in South Carolina with Trump's endorsement. But she has sharply criticized the president in recent days over his role in inciting the deadly insurrection.

Mace said Wednesday that while the House has "every right" to impeach the president, she believed the way this impeachment was proceeding raised "questions about the constitutionality of this process."

She continued: "I believe we need to hold the president accountable. I also believe that we need to hold accountable every single person, even members of Congress, if they contributed to the violence that transpired here."

Mace then quoted Martin Luther King Jr. before attempting to draw an equivalence between the violent attempted coup at the Capitol last week and the antiracism demonstrations that swept the country last year after the police killing of George Floyd.

"If we're serious about healing the divisions in this country, Republicans and Democrats need to acknowledge that this is not the first day of violence," she said. "Our words have consequences ... there is violence on both sides of the aisle."

Fact check: The overwhelming majority — 93%, according to one report — of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 were peaceful. And while a small minority of protesters engaged in rioting and looting, both rioters and thousands of peaceful protesters were met in many cases with a hyper-aggressive police response.

In perhaps the most notorious example, Secret Service and law enforcement authorities were seen using tear gas and pepper spray on peaceful protestors in Washington, DC, to clear the way for a presidential photo op.

But last week, the pro-Trump mob laid siege to the Capitol building as Congress attempted to ratify the presidential election in a direct attack on democracy. Republican lawmakers attempted to conflate looting and skirmishes with police at social justice protests and a coordinated, violent attack instigated by the president.

At the siege, one Capitol Police officer was seen taking selfies with violent pro-Trump insurrectionists, while another was seen directing them around the Capitol as they swarmed the building. Additional reporting since the riot revealed that many members of the mob itself were active law enforcement officers and ex-military personnel.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer tears into Jim Jordan for being 'Trump-like' and denying reality
steny hoyer
Steny Hoyer.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer gave a fiery speech on the floor in which he highlighted the statements from three out of the six Republican lawmakers who have so far come out in favor of impeachment: Reps. John Katko, Liz Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger.

And then Hoyer turned his sights to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a longtime conservative and one of Trump's most loyal attack dogs on Capitol Hill.

"I see that the gentleman from Ohio is on the floor," Hoyer said. "He likes to say that we Democrats were elected and the first thing we wanted to do was impeach this president. And he's shaking his head in agreement because like the president of the United States, he denies the facts. Trump-like. Fake news."

The Maryland lawmaker went on to point out that in 2017, 2018, and early 2019, Democrats repeatedly voted to table motions to impeach the president. He said that even though some Democrats shared the view that Trump was dangerous, they were not confident that a solid case could be made.

"There was no rush to judgment," Hoyer said.

"The reason I rise today ... is to recognize the contributions that Al Green of Texas has made to getting us to this place," Hoyer said, referring to the Democratic lawmaker who brought forward multiple impeachment resolutions that were tabled before Trump was first impeached in late 2019.

"Is there little time left? Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing," Hoyer said.

Republicans call for unity while Democrats call for accountability
nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sanitizes the gavel after Vice President Mike Pence walked off the dais during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

After the House convened on Wednesday, an immediate theme emerged: Republicans argued against impeachment, saying it would be too "divisive" and that the country needed "unity." And Democrats demanded accountability.

"We need to recognize we are following a flawed process," said GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. "We need to recognize that while the House may be done with this matter after today's vote, it will not be done for the country, it will not be done for the Senate, and it will not be done for the incoming Biden administration. The House's action today will only extend the division longer than necessary."

Democrats struck a different chord, with Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts saying in his floor speech, "Every moment Donald Trump is in the White House, our nation and our freedom is in danger. He must be held to account for the attack on our Capitol that he organized and he incited."

"The damage this building sustained can be repaired," he added, "but if we don't hold Donald Trump accountable, the damage done to our nation could be irreversible." 

National Guard troops were seen sleeping in the halls of the Capitol as the House convened
national guard capitol
Members of the National Guard walk through the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 13, 2021, ahead of an expected House vote impeaching US President Donald Trump.

As the government grapples with the chaos that gripped the Capitol last week, thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to Washington, DC, to protect the Capitol and President-elect Joe Biden leading up to Inauguration Day.

On Wednesday, as the House convened to consider impeaching the president and as violent Trump supporters continue threatening lawmakers online, photos posted online showed scores of troops sleeping in the hallways of the Capitol.

 

Pence refused to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office
Mike Pence Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a coronavirus briefing in February 2020.

The House passed a resolution late Tuesday calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from office. The resolution said that if Pence did not act within 24 hours, the House would move forward with impeachment.

Pence sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the resolution was passed indicating that he would not take that drastic step because he believed it would be unconstitutional and divisive.

FBI and Justice Department are focusing on 'significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy' after the riot
capitol siege riot ladder
Rioters clash with police using big ladder trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors.

FBI and Justice Department officials said Tuesday that the "scope and scale" of criminal conduct they're investigating from the rioters is "unprecedented."

The acting US attorney in Washington, DC, said investigators are focusing on "significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy" in the wake of the siege.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush makes a fiery speech calling to impeach ‘the white supremacist in chief’

trump uk
  • The House of Representatives is poised to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time for "incitement of insurrection" following last week's deadly Capitol siege.
  • Debate over the article of impeachment began shortly after 9 a.m. ET and can be watched online on C-SPAN, YouTube, and the House's official website.
  • Scroll down to watch the livestream and follow Insider's live coverage of the historic event.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The House of Representatives is poised on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time after he incited a deadly riot at the US Capitol that resulted in five deaths and multiple injuries.

With just a week left in his term, the president is facing an unprecedented level of legal and political risk after he whipped thousands of his supporters into a frenzy at a rally on January 6 and then urged them to march to the Capitol to stop Congress from formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

The pro-Trump mob went on to lay siege to the Capitol, swarming the building, ransacking offices, stealing and vandalizing property, and trying to hunt down Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers.

In the wake of the failed insurrection, a slew of Republicans finally broke ranks with the president as congressional Democrats called for his impeachment. If he is impeached Wednesday, as is widely expected, Trump will become the first US president to have been impeached twice.

Watch the proceedings below:

Scroll down for live updates and key moments:

GOP Rep. Doug LaMalfa lashed out at Democrats, the 'left-wing media,' and 'big tech'
doug lamalfa
Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the second annual impeachment show extravaganza, brought to you by the censors in left-wing media, the fact-check ministers of shutdown and big tech, and the Democrat Party," LaMalfa said. 

The House Speaker's podium, which was stolen by pro-Trump rioters on January 6, was carried back into the Capitol and set up for Pelosi to use on Wednesday.
capitol protest podium
A pro-Trump rioter carries away Pelosi's lectern during the violent siege of the Capitol on January 6.

 

Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross accuses Republicans of refusing to seek accountability for the deadly insurrection.
donald norcross
NJ Rep. Donald Norcross.

Rep. Donald Norcross, a New Jersey Democrat, condemned Republicans for calling for "unity and healing," rather than holding the president accountable for the deadly results of his incitement. 

"A police officer was killed and what I hear is 'time to heal.' He's not even buried yet," Norcross said. "No one is above the law, not the president if he has four years or four days. We must do the right thing for all Americans because he must be held accountable."

QAnon-supporting Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene claims she's being censored as she slams Democrats for alleging supporting violence
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) walks through the U.S. Capitol as Democrats debate one article of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., January 13, 2021.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Newly sworn-in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Georgia Republican, accused Democrats of encouraging violence in a fiery speech from the House floor during which she wore a mask reading, "CENSORED." 

"Democrats' impeachment of President Trump today has now set the standard that they should be removed for their support of violence against the American people," she said. 

Freshman Democratic Rep. Cori Bush makes a fiery speech calling to impeach the 'white supremacist in chief'
Cori Bush
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri).

Freshman Democratic congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri gave an impassioned speech calling to impeach Trump, who she referred to as "the white supremacist-in-chief."

"If we fail to remove a white supremacist president who incited a white supremacist insurrection, it's communities like Missouri's First District that suffer the most," Bush said, referring to the district she represents.

She continued: "The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy starting with impeaching the white supremacist in chief."

Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler: 'My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision'
jaime herrera beutler
Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler.

Republican congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler of Washington made a highly anticipated floor speech announcing that she will vote to impeach Trump.

"I am not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail. I'm afraids patriots in this country have died in vain. I'm afraid injustice will prevail," Beutler said.

"But truth sets us free from fear," she added. "It has no shadows where darkness can hide. My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I'm not choosing a side, I'm choosing truth. It's the only way to defeat fear."

Democrats in the chamber broke into applause after Beutler concluded her speech. She is one of at least half a dozen House Republicans who have said they will vote to impeach the president.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy: 'The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters'
kevin mccarthy
Kevin McCarthy

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy gave one of his sharpest condemnations of Trump yet when he spoke on the House floor.

"The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," McCarthy said. "He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding."

The California Republican went on to shoot down conspiracy theories that antifa agitators infiltrated the pro-Trump demonstrations to spark violence.

"Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that," McCarthy said. "And conservatives should be the first to say so."

 

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's speech goes off the rails as he rants about the 'Biden crime family'
matt gaetz
Matt Gaetz.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, another one of Trump's most stalwart defenders in Congress, gave a meandering and off-topic floor speech in which he complained about the so-called Biden crime family.

  • Fact check: No one in the Biden family has been charged with a crime, though the president-elect's son, Hunter, is under criminal investigation over his financial activities.

Gaetz went on to congratulate Trump for pointing out "unconstitutional behavior, voting irregularities, concerns over tabulations, dead people voting," and other purported issues with the 2020 election.

  • Fact check: The 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history. The vast majority of concerns raised about voting irregularities and election fraud have come from Republicans themselves and have been thrown out by courts across the country, including the Supreme Court. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities in the election, and every state has certified its results, the Electoral College cast its votes, and Biden's victory has been formalized as of last week.

Gaetz also compared when pro-Trump insurrectionists "tore through" the Capitol to when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "tore through" Trump's State of the Union speech.

  • Fact check: Pelosi's decision to tear up Trump's speech did not result in anyone dying, any theft, or destruction to property other than the speech.

 

McConnell's aide confirms he will not have the Senate reconvene to hold an earlier impeachment trial
Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after attending the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not bring back the Senate early to kick off an impeachment trial, his press secretary confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

That means a Senate trial would not start until after Biden takes office, at the earliest.

Rep. Cedric Richmond says some Republicans are 'co-conspirators' in the insurrection and tells them to 'man up, woman up,' and defend the Constitution
cedric richmond
Cedric Richmond.

In his last floor speech before he leaves Congress to join the Biden administration, Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana said Trump "put the domestic terrorists on notice by saying, 'Stand back and stand by.'"

Richmond was alluding to Trump's response when he was asked during a presidential debate last year to condemn white supremacists for their role in trying to incite violent riots during the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said, referring to the far-right neo-fascist group that supports him. "But I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem."

Speaking on Wednesday, Richmond said that Trump "summoned" extremists to Washington, DC, "directed them to march on the Capitol, and then he sat back and watched the insurrection."

"Some of my colleagues, some of which may well be co-conspirators, in their latest attempt to placate and please this unfit president, suggest that we shouldn't punish Trump for his actions in order to unify the country," Richmond continued. "That is the climax of foolishness. Stand up, man up, woman up, and defend this Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including Donald J. Trump."

Republicans embark on a misleading crusade against 'cancel culture'
jim jordan
Jim Jordan.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan spent most of his time decrying "cancel culture."

"The double standard has to stop, and frankly the attack on the First Amendment has to stop," Jordan said. "Do you have a functioning First Amendment when the cancel culture only allows one side to talk? When you can't even have a debate in this country ... it needs to stop, because if it continues, it won't just be Republicans who get canceled, it won't just be the president of the United States, the cancel culture will come for us all."

GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California echoed Jordan, saying, "If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted ... suppressing free speech is not the answer."

He continued to say that the president "simply told the crowd" at his rally "to protest peacefully and patriotically, and the vast majority of them did."

Fact check: At the January 6 rally, the president called on his supporters "to fight" and march to the Capitol, adding, "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."

It's also unclear what Jordan was referring to when he said the president had been "canceled," given that Trump has full access to the podium at the White House briefing room and a press corps dedicated to reporting out what he says to the public.

Republicans repeatedly claimed that social media companies want to "cancel" them in the wake of the Capitol siege, pointing to Twitter's decision to permanently ban Trump from its platform, and Facebook and Instagram's decision to block him from posting until at least the inauguration.

Twitter did not ban Trump to "cancel" him. In a statement announcing its decision, the company said it suspended the president because his supporters were actively using his tweets to plan domestic terrorist attacks on the US Capitol and state capitols across the country.

The far-right app Parler was also booted from the Apple and Google app stores and Amazon's web hosting service after the companies determined that violent extremists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists were using Parler to plan more armed insurrections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tears up while recounting the 'day of fire' when Trump supporters besieged the Capitol
nancy pelosi
Nancy Pelosi.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the floor around 12:30 p.m. ET and delivered a passionate plea for lawmakers to hold the president accountable.

The California Democrat's voice appeared to shake as she recalled the "day of fire" on which Trump supporters besieged the US Capitol last week.

"Those insurrectionists were not patriots," she said. "They were not part of a political base to be catered to and managed. They were domestic terrorists and justice must prevail."

Pelosi then turned to Trump, saying the mob was "sent here by the president with words such as a cry to, 'Fight like hell.'"

"Words matter," she said. "Truth matters. Accountability matters."

 

At least 6 House Republicans will vote to impeach Trump
Rep. Liz Cheney
Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

The following Republicans have announced that they will vote to impeach the president:

  • New York Rep. John Katko
  • Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney
  • Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger
  • Michigan Rep. Fred Upton
  • Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler
  • Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse
As House debates impeachment, CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell 'hates' Trump
McConnell/Trump
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) look on as US President Donald Trump speaks at the Oval Office of the White House on March 27, 2020.

The top Senate Republican has grown more and more furious with the president in the days since the Capitol siege. That anger was compounded because many Republicans believe Trump played a central role in costing the GOP its majority in the Senate and paving the way for a Democratic-controlled legislative and executive branch.

On Tuesday evening, The New York Times reported that McConnell believes Trump committed multiple impeachable offenses and is "pleased" at the prospect of his impeachment. Axios later reported that the Kentucky Republican is inclined to vote to convict Trump following a Senate trial. If McConnell does vote to convict, it would be a remarkable ending to the two men's relationship after years of moving in lockstep with one another.

Last week, as Congress convened to finalize Biden's victory in the November general election, McConnell sharply condemned Trump's efforts to overturn the results and said his own vote to certify the results was the most important one he had ever cast in 36 years of public service.

House begins voting on rule surrounding the article of impeachment
house vote on rules of impeachment articles

After initial statements were made, the House moved to vote on the rules surrounding the article of impeachment.

Once the rule is passed, the House will move on to two hours of debate over the article, and a final vote is expected later this afternoon.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern: 'If this isn't an impeachable offense, I don't know what the hell is'
jim mcgovern
Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern.

Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern responded to Republican claims that Democrats objected to finalizing Trump's victory in 2017 just as GOP lawmakers objected to finalizing Biden's this year.

Democrats objected "as a protest vote" in 2017, McGovern said, adding that Democrats all accepted Trump's victory the day after the election, and that then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton conceded the day after as well.

"None of us pushed conspiracy theories ... that somehow the president won in a landslide," McGovern said, referring to Trump's lie that he defeated Biden in the 2020 election.

"The bottom line is this: this Capitol was stormed. People died because of the big lies that were being told by this president and by too many people on the other side of the aisle," he said. "Enough. It was unforgivable. Unconscionable. And coming up on this floor and talking about whataboutism and trying to make these false equivalencies, give me a break."

He continued: "The president instigated an attempted coup in this country. People died. Everybody should be outraged, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. If this is not an impeachable offense, I don't know what the hell is."

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan spouts a fountain of lies and misinformation about the election
Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who has long been one of Trump's staunchest congressional allies and recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, used his time to call Democrats out for what he said was hypocrisy given that they objected to counting electoral votes in January 2017, as Congress was set to finalize Trump's victory of Hillary Clinton.

Jordan then went on to spout a fountain of lies and misinformation about the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

Among other things, he claimed the state's Supreme Court "unilaterally extended the election to Friday," that the secretary of state "unilaterally changed the rules, went around the legislature in an unconstitutional fashion," that "county clerks in some counties, and you can imagine which counties they were, let people fix their ballots against the law, cure their mail-in ballots in direct violation of the law," and more.

Fact check: None of these claims are true. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not extend the date of the general election, it extended the deadline by which mail-in ballots could be received provided that they were postmarked by Election Day. The secretary of state also did not "unilaterally" change the rules surrounding election administration in Pennsylvania, as multiple judges ruled.

And Jordan's claim that country clerks allowed people to cure their ballots "in direct violation of the law" also holds no water because it is perfectly legal to "cure" ballots in Pennsylvania.

Freshman GOP congresswoman quotes Martin Luther King Jr. before equating the violent insurrection with Black Lives Matter protests
nancy mace
Rep. Nancy Mace.

Mace was recently sworn in for her first term after winning a congressional race in South Carolina with Trump's endorsement. But she has sharply criticized the president in recent days over his role in inciting the deadly insurrection.

Mace said Wednesday that while the House has "every right" to impeach the president, she believed the way this impeachment was proceeding raised "questions about the constitutionality of this process."

She continued: "I believe we need to hold the president accountable. I also believe that we need to hold accountable every single person, even members of Congress, if they contributed to the violence that transpired here."

Mace then quoted Martin Luther King Jr. before attempting to draw an equivalence between the violent attempted coup at the Capitol last week and the antiracism demonstrations that swept the country last year after the police killing of George Floyd.

"If we're serious about healing the divisions in this country, Republicans and Democrats need to acknowledge that this is not the first day of violence," she said. "Our words have consequences ... there is violence on both sides of the aisle."

Fact check: The overwhelming majority — 93%, according to one report — of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 were peaceful. And while a small minority of protesters engaged in rioting and looting, both rioters and thousands of peaceful protesters were met in many cases with a hyper-aggressive police response.

In perhaps the most notorious example, Secret Service and law enforcement authorities were seen using tear gas and pepper spray on peaceful protestors in Washington, DC, to clear the way for a presidential photo op.

But last week, the pro-Trump mob laid siege to the Capitol building as Congress attempted to ratify the presidential election in a direct attack on democracy. Republican lawmakers attempted to conflate looting and skirmishes with police at social justice protests and a coordinated, violent attack instigated by the president.

At the siege, one Capitol Police officer was seen taking selfies with violent pro-Trump insurrectionists, while another was seen directing them around the Capitol as they swarmed the building. Additional reporting since the riot revealed that many members of the mob itself were active law enforcement officers and ex-military personnel.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer tears into Jim Jordan for being 'Trump-like' and denying reality
steny hoyer
Steny Hoyer.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer gave a fiery speech on the floor in which he highlighted the statements from three out of the six Republican lawmakers who have so far come out in favor of impeachment: Reps. John Katko, Liz Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger.

And then Hoyer turned his sights to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a longtime conservative and one of Trump's most loyal attack dogs on Capitol Hill.

"I see that the gentleman from Ohio is on the floor," Hoyer said. "He likes to say that we Democrats were elected and the first thing we wanted to do was impeach this president. And he's shaking his head in agreement because like the president of the United States, he denies the facts. Trump-like. Fake news."

The Maryland lawmaker went on to point out that in 2017, 2018, and early 2019, Democrats repeatedly voted to table motions to impeach the president. He said that even though some Democrats shared the view that Trump was dangerous, they were not confident that a solid case could be made.

"There was no rush to judgment," Hoyer said.

"The reason I rise today ... is to recognize the contributions that Al Green of Texas has made to getting us to this place," Hoyer said, referring to the Democratic lawmaker who brought forward multiple impeachment resolutions that were tabled before Trump was first impeached in late 2019.

"Is there little time left? Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing," Hoyer said.

Republicans call for unity while Democrats call for accountability
nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sanitizes the gavel after Vice President Mike Pence walked off the dais during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

After the House convened on Wednesday, an immediate theme emerged: Republicans argued against impeachment, saying it would be too "divisive" and that the country needed "unity." And Democrats demanded accountability.

"We need to recognize we are following a flawed process," said GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. "We need to recognize that while the House may be done with this matter after today's vote, it will not be done for the country, it will not be done for the Senate, and it will not be done for the incoming Biden administration. The House's action today will only extend the division longer than necessary."

Democrats struck a different chord, with Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts saying in his floor speech, "Every moment Donald Trump is in the White House, our nation and our freedom is in danger. He must be held to account for the attack on our Capitol that he organized and he incited."

"The damage this building sustained can be repaired," he added, "but if we don't hold Donald Trump accountable, the damage done to our nation could be irreversible." 

National Guard troops were seen sleeping in the halls of the Capitol as the House convened
national guard capitol
Members of the National Guard walk through the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 13, 2021, ahead of an expected House vote impeaching US President Donald Trump.

As the government grapples with the chaos that gripped the Capitol last week, thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to Washington, DC, to protect the Capitol and President-elect Joe Biden leading up to Inauguration Day.

On Wednesday, as the House convened to consider impeaching the president and as violent Trump supporters continue threatening lawmakers online, photos posted online showed scores of troops sleeping in the hallways of the Capitol.

 

Pence refused to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office
Mike Pence Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a coronavirus briefing in February 2020.

The House passed a resolution late Tuesday calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from office. The resolution said that if Pence did not act within 24 hours, the House would move forward with impeachment.

Pence sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the resolution was passed indicating that he would not take that drastic step because he believed it would be unconstitutional and divisive.

FBI and Justice Department are focusing on 'significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy' after the riot
capitol siege riot ladder
Rioters clash with police using big ladder trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors.

FBI and Justice Department officials said Tuesday that the "scope and scale" of criminal conduct they're investigating from the rioters is "unprecedented."

The acting US attorney in Washington, DC, said investigators are focusing on "significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy" in the wake of the siege.

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Impeachment explained: No, it won’t nullify an election or allow a 3rd term

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with U.S. Representative Jeff Van Drew, a Democratic lawmaker who opposed his party's move to impeach Trump, after Van Drew announced he was becoming a Republican, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
President Donald Trump.
  • President Donald Trump is expected to be impeached on January 13 on a charge of inciting an insurrection in the US Capitol, which would make him the first president to be impeached twice. 
  • After he was impeached for the first time in December 2019, Trump and his allies floated several misleading and inaccurate claims about what it means for him.
  • Some of the president's loyalists took it a step further and claimed that impeachment nullifies Trump's first term and he's therefore eligible to run for two more terms.
  • These theories are baseless and reflect a misunderstanding of the Constitution and rule of law.
  • Scroll down to read why they don't hold merit.
  • Read Insider's coverage of Wednesday's impeachment debate on the House floor.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump is set to be impeached for a second term in his first term in office, with the US House expected to vote Wednesday to charge him of inciting an insurrection in the US Capitol on January 6. 

After Trump was impeached for the first time in December 2019 on charges of abusing his office and obstructing Congress, he and his allies in Congress and the right-wing media floated the idea that Democrats are trying to "nullify" the 2016 election.

Trump made a similar claim on Twitter in February 2020, writing, "This is the biggest political crime in American history, by far. SIMPLY PUT, THE PARTY IN POWER ILLEGALLY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE ELECTION, IN ORDER TO CHANGE OR NULLIFY THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION. IT CONTINUED ON WITH THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX. Terrible!"

"After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans," Trump said during a rally as the House of Representatives voted to impeach him last year. "With today's illegal, unconstitutional, and partisan impeachment, the do-nothing Democrats ... are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter. This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat Party."

Trump was banned by Twitter after worries that tweets after his 2020 election defeat could incite more violence.

Read more: GOP kicks Trump to curb after deadly Capitol insurrection, leaving president to fend for himself during his historic second impeachment

Fact-checkers like Snopes also pointed out that some of Trump's defenders have said that if he is impeached by the House but not convicted in the Senate and removed from office, he's eligible to run for two more terms because the impeachment itself nullifies his first term in office.

Both these claims - that impeachment "nullifies" the 2016 election results and that Trump can run for two more terms because he was impeached - are false and inaccurate.

The first claim: Impeachment 'nullifies' an election

Put simply, it doesn't. Impeachment is a constitutionally mandated process and has no effect on the results of an election.

Here's what the Constitution says about impeachment:

  • Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5: "The House of Representatives shall [choose] their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."
  • Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7: "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present."
    • "Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law."
  • Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1: The president "shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
  • Article 2, Section 4: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
white house

The 2nd claim: Trump is eligible to run for 2 more terms because he was impeached

Trump's impeachment does not void his first term as president, and the 22nd Amendment sets two terms as the maximum any president can serve.

Trump is the third US president to be impeached and the first to run for re-election while being impeached. President Bill Clinton was impeached during his second term and acquitted by the Senate. He did not - and, legally, could not - run for a third term just because he was impeached.

Snopes said it also "searched news reports from the time and found no serious reporters, historians, or politicians arguing that the Senate's failure to convict Clinton literally nullified the president's previous term and gave him the opportunity to run for office again."

Read more: How Congress could vote to bar Trump from ever holding federal office again and kill any chances of a 2024 run

President Richard Nixon resigned before he was formally impeached.

And President Andrew Johnson was impeached in his first term and acquitted. Johnson sought a second term but didn't get enough votes at the 1868 Democratic National Convention. However, had he gotten enough votes and won a second term, he could have run for a third term (and more) because the 22nd Amendment hadn't been passed at the time.

In Trump's case, he could theoretically be impeached, convicted, and still run for reelection and become president for a second term if he runs and wins in 2024. While the Constitution lays out the process for removing a sitting president, it doesn't prevent a president or any other "civil officer" from running for or being reelected to a federal office.

If lawmakers want to prevent a person from being able to take office again, the Senate must pass a measure by a simple majority of 51 votes (if all 100 are present) that would bar that person from holding public office again. 

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-updates

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated President Trump is the first to be impeached in his first term.

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House passes a resolution calling on Pence to immediately invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office

Mike Pence Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a coronavirus briefing in February 2020.
  • The House of Representatives passed a resolution late Tuesday night demanding Vice President Mike Pence immediately invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office.
  • The vice president announced hours before the vote that he won't be doing so because it will set a "terrible precedent" and further "inflame the passions of the moment." 
  • The House will next move to impeach the president for "incitement of insurrection" and is expected to hold a vote on Wednesday. 
  • Pence and Trump spoke by phone Monday evening — their first conversation since the insurrection — and "pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term," a senior official told CNN.
  • Trump is facing a mountain of political and potential legal trouble after he incited a deadly riot at the US Capitol last week that resulted in five deaths.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution late Tuesday night calling on Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump's Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.

The vote was 223-205, in favor of the nonbinding resolution. One Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, voted with Democrats in favor of the resolution.

But Pence announced hours before the House vote that he would reject the effort and accused the House of playing "political games." He argued that invoking the 25th Amendment would be divisive and set a "terrible precedent" that would further "inflame the passions of the moment." 

The House will now move to impeach the president on Wednesday for "incitement of insurrection."

Tuesday's resolution comes after Trump incited a deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6 while Congress was counting up the electoral votes in the 2020 election and preparing to finalize President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

In their resolution, lawmakers accused Trump of inciting the mob and undermining the Constitution, demonstrating "repeatedly, continuously, and spectularly his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office." 

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who helped author the resolution, said ousting the president for violating his oath of office was "the road to reconciliation" amid national turmoil. He praised Pence for ratifying the Electoral College vote last week - prompting Trump to accuse him of lacking "courage" - and urged him to "stand up again." 

"Can you imagine any other president in our history encouraging and fomenting mob violence against the Congress of the United States? Against our people? That's the question," Raskin said during a House Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday.

'The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden'

Trump refused to take any responsibility for last week's deadly siege of the Capitol, telling reporters on Tuesday that "everybody" thought his speech egging on his loyalists was "totally appropriate." During a speech in Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday, Trump dismissed the threat of his removal through the 25th Amendment. 

"The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration - as the expression goes, be careful what you wish for," he said. 

Trump also warned that the effort to impeach him is "causing tremendous anger and division and pain" and is "dangerous for the USA especially at this very tender time." 

Business Insider reported last week that the vice president, who was presiding over Congress, is not inclined to take the drastic step of removing the president via the 25th Amendment. On Monday evening, he and Trump spoke by phone for the first time since the riot and pledged to continue their work until the end of their terms, again signaling that Trump will not be removed by his Cabinet.

This comes as an increasing number of Republican lawmakers have announced or suggested that they'll vote to impeach the president for inciting an insurrection. Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking House Republican, joined GOP Reps. John Katko and Adam Kinzinger in announcing on Tuesday evening that they support the president's impeachment.

At a rally shortly before Congress convened last week, the president called on his supporters to march to the Capitol and stop the peaceful transfer of power.

"You'll never take back our country with weakness," he told thousands of people who had gathered to hear him speak. "You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."

"We're going to have to fight much harder," Trump added, before unleashing the mob. 

US Capitol riots aftermath
The aftermath of the US Capitol Building riots.

Thousands of Trump supporters overran the US Capitol, hunting for lawmakers

The attempted coup resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer who died after Trump supporters struck him with a fire extinguisher. Rioters breached barriers outside the Capitol, swarmed the building, ransacked lawmakers' offices, vandalized property, and stole records that the Justice Department said may have contained "national security equities."

Pence was quickly evacuated along with senior lawmakers, while other members of Congress sheltered in place or behind makeshift barricades with Hill staffers and reporters.

Additional footage and media reports that have come out since the riot indicate it could have been far deadlier had lawmakers not been evacuated in time. A crowd of Trump supporters chanted "Hang Mike Pence" outside the Capitol, and a Reuters photojournalist said he overheard three rioters talking about wanting to hang him "from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor."

A gallows with a noose was erected outside the building as neo-Nazis and white nationalists who support the president raided the Capitol in search of other lawmakers.

One man who has since been arrested sent a text message before the insurrection saying he was going to "put a bullet" in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "on live TV." Another was arrested while carrying 11 Molotov cocktails. And several rioters who were photographed inside the Capitol were seen carrying zip ties used to take hostages and dressed in tactical gear.

After the insurrection, it surfaced that many members of the mob are active law enforcement officers and ex-military personnel, and police departments across the country have since launched investigations to determine if members of their forces took part in the attempted coup.

Pence, for his part, was livid with the president amid the riot and refused to be evacuated to a safe location outside the Capitol grounds.

"I've known Mike Pence forever," Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe told the Tulsa World newspaper last Wednesday. "I've never seen Pence as angry as he was today."

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module
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The FBI and DOJ are investigating ‘significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy’ after the Capitol riot

Capitol Riots Washington Proud Boys Trump Mob.JPG
Pro-Trump protesters look on 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, U.S, January 6, 2021.
  • Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney in Washington, DC, said Tuesday that the FBI and Justice Department are looking into "significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy" after the Capitol riot.
  • The "scope and scale" of the Capitol riot probe is unprecedented in FBI and DOJ history, Sherwin said at a press conference.
  • He added that his office has opened more than 170 subject files so far and charged 70 cases, but prosectors expect that number to "grow into the hundreds."
  • Steven D'Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's field office in Washington, DC, said the bureau has opened 160 case files and "that's just the tip of the iceberg," adding that FBI agents have received more than 100,000 "pieces of digital media" to investigate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating an unprecedented number of cases and criminal conduct after last week's deadly riot at the US Capitol, officials said Tuesday.

Investigators are focusing particularly on "significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy," Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney in Washington, DC, said at a news conference. He added that prosecutors are also looking into cases involving weapons and destructive devices, and cases that involved attacks on law enforcement and members of the media.

Steve D'Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the bureau's Washington, DC, field office, also said the office has opened 160 case files and "that's just the tip of the iceberg." He added that agents have received over 100,000 "pieces of digital media" and are "scouring every one for investigative and digital leads."

Sherwin said the "scope and scale" of the Capitol riot investigation is unprecedented in FBI and DOJ history.

"The Capitol grounds, outside and inside, are essentially a crime scene," Sherwin said. He added that there were "thousands of potential witnesses" and "hundreds" of potential cases that could arise as a result.

The US attorney's office in DC has opened more than 170 subject files, Sherwin said, which means "these individuals have been identified as potential persons that committed crimes on the Capitol grounds, outside and inside." More than 70 cases have been charged so far, and that number may "grow into the hundreds," Sherwin said.

He also said the range of criminal conduct resulting from the riot was "unmatched" by anything else the FBI and DOJ have investigated, and that potential crimes that could be charged include trespassing, theft of mail, theft of digital devices inside the Capitol, assault on local and federal officers, theft of national security or national defense information, felony murder, and more.

"The gamut of cases and criminal conduct we're looking at is really mindblowing," he added.

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Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf resigns after the Capitol siege

chad wolf dhs
Chad Wolf.

  • Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, has resigned, multiple outlets reported Monday.
  • He is the third Cabinet secretary to leave the Trump administration after the president incited a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol last week that resulted in five deaths.
  • Wolf condemned the violence in a statement last week, and President Donald Trump subsequently pulled his nomination for a permanent role overseeing the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, announced in a letter to employees Monday that he is resigning, Fox News and NBC News reported.

"I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration," Wolf wrote in the letter.

He is the third Cabinet secretary to depart the Trump administration in the wake of a deadly riot at the Capitol that the president incited on January 6.

Transportation secretary Elaine Chao and education secretary Betsy DeVos also announced their resignations in the days following the insurrection.

Wolf condemned the violence, saying in a statement last week: "We now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends. These violent actions are unconscionable, and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday."

Wolf also pledged to stay on at the department until President-elect Joe Biden was inaugurated, saying, "I will remain in my position until the end of the Administration to ensure the Department's focus remains on the serious threats facing our country and an orderly transition to President-elect Biden's DHS team."

Shortly after his statement was released, the White House announced that Trump had withdrawn Wolf's nomination to be the permanent Department of Homeland Security secretary.

Other officials who resigned after Wednesday's chaos include the former White House press secretary and first lady Melania Trump's chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham; deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews; deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger; White House social secretary Rickie Niceta; the US's special envoy to Northern Ireland and former White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; and other officials from the Commerce Department and National Security Council.

CNN reported that former national security officials called senior Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and national security advisor Robert O'Brien, to urge them not to resign. The former officials reportedly said that the departures could pose serious risks to US national security during an already rocky transition period.

Last week's insurrection at the Capitol sent shockwaves through the world and left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer who Trump supporters beat with a fire extinguisher as they swarmed the US Capitol. Vice President Mike Pence and senior lawmakers were immediately evacuated as security officials discovered the seriousness of the breach, while other members of Congress, Hill staffers, and reporters sheltered in place or hid behind makeshift barricades for safety.

Additional footage and media reports that have come out since the siege indicated that many of the rioters were active law enforcement personnel and ex-military members with tactical training, some of whom were seen carrying zip ties that could be used to take hostages. A Reuters photojournalist said he heard three insurrectionists saying they wanted to hang Pence "from a Capitol tree," and Trump supporters also set up a gallows with a noose on Capitol grounds.

Dozens of pro-Trump mob members have been arrested on federal charges since the attempted coup, including:

  • Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., a Georgia man who threatened to "put a bullet" in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • Eric Gavelek Munchel, a Tennessee man who was photographed roaming the Senate chamber wearing military gear and carrying zip ties.
  • Larry Rendell Brock, a US Air Force veteran who was also seen on the Senate floor in a helmet and bulletproof vest, and carrying zip ties.
  • Richard "Bigo" Barnett, a self-described white nationalist who was photographed with his feet up on Pelosi's desk after her office was broken into.
  • Derrick Evans, a newly-elected West Virginia state lawmaker who filmed himself swarming the Capitol with other pro-Trump rioters. He has since resigned.
  • Adam Johnson, a Florida man who was photographed carrying Pelosi's lectern out of the Capitol.
  • Jacob Angeli, a popular QAnon influencer known as QShaman who was seen on the Senate floor with red, white, and blue face paint, a fur hat, and a spear.

In the wake of the deadly riot, the US law enforcement and intelligence apparatus came under considerable scrutiny as lawmakers, security experts, and media outlets investigate how thousands of the president's supporters were able to break into the Capitol with relative ease.

The New York Times reported that "poor planning and communication" played a significant part in hamstringing the response from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the DHS.

The report also said that the Capitol Police reached out to DHS for additional backup but not until well after the siege was underway.

Wolf's departure, meanwhile, is particularly notable given his allegiance to the president throughout his tenure. The Government Accountability Office, an independent government watchdog, said in August that Wolf was illegitimately appointed and was not eligible to serve in his current role under a 1998 law known as the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

After former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in 2019, Trump bypassed a senior homeland security official who was legally designated to temporarily lead the agency by tapping Kevin McAleenan to be the department's acting head. Wolf's subsequent appointment to be acting chief represented an apparent continuation of the violation of the order of succession, GAO determined. 

Federal judges also backed up the GAO's conclusion, but the Trump administration dismissed the GAO report and the president nominated Wolf to be the permanent head of DHS in August.

Beyond questions over Wolf's eligibility to lead DHS, he also generated controversy over the deployment of federal agents to Portland, Oregon, amid ongoing anti-racism protests over the summer stemming from the police killing of George Floyd.

At the time, Wolf said he had the authority to deploy federal agents to US cities "whether they like us there or not."

With Wolf stepping down, FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor is set to take over as acting head of Homeland Security. 

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module
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Michelle Obama tears into pro-Trump rioters for carrying out ‘the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president’ who ‘can’t handle the truth of his own failures’

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama released a searing statement Thursday ripping into President Donald Trump's "violent" supporters for laying siege to the US Capitol on Wednesday.
  • "Like all of you, I watched as a gang — organized, violent, and mad they'd lost an election — laid siege to the United States Capitol," Obama said in a statement.
  • The day was "a fulfillment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can't handle the truth of his own failures," she said.
  • Obama also blamed the Republican Party and the right-wing media apparatus, saying they "gleefully cheered him on, knowing full well the possibility of consequences like these."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former first lady Michelle Obama tore into President Donald Trump's "violent" supporters on Thursday who stormed the US Capitol the previous day to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

"Like all of you, I watched as a gang - organized, violent, and mad they'd lost an election - laid siege to the United States Capitol," Obama said in a statement. "They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of American government."

Obama went on to say the day was "a fulfillment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can't handle the truth of his own failures. And the wreckage lays at the feet of a party and media apparatus that gleefully cheered him on, knowing full well the possibility of consequences like these."

 

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Trump’s cabinet is reportedly discussing the 25th Amendment to remove him from office after the Capitol riots

Trump Pence
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony and meeting with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti in the Oval Office of the White House on September 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • Members of President Donald Trump's cabinet are discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, CBS News, ABC News, and CNN reported.
  • The extraordinary development comes after the president whipped his supporters into a frenzy and a mob of them stormed the US Capitol, inciting violence and forcing lawmakers and staff to evacuate.
  • CNN's Jim Acosta reported that cabinet secretaries are in the preliminary stages of discussions about the 25th Amendment, and CBS News' Margaret Brennan reported that nothing concrete has been presented to Vice President Mike Pence yet.
  • Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee also sent Pence a letter urging him to invoke the amendment and remove the president from power.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Members of President Donald Trump's cabinet are in the early stages of considering the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, multiple media outlets reported, a move that would be unlike any other since the amendment was ratified six decades ago. 

CNN's Jim Acosta reported that cabinet secretaries are in the preliminary stages of discussions, and CBS News' Margaret Brennan reported that nothing concrete has been presented to Vice President Mike Pence yet. ABC News also confirmed the reports, all of which were anonymously sourced.

The extraordinary development comes after Trump supporters, whipped into a frenzy by the president's conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, converged on Washington, DC and stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday as Congress convened to count up the electoral votes and finalize President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

The process is typically pro forma and doesn't draw much national attention. But it came into the national spotlight this year because the president and his supporters baselessly said that Congress and, in particular, Vice President Mike Pence, have the legal authority to throw out electoral votes from states where Trump said the election was "rigged" against him.

Congress and the vice president have no such authority and are only tasked with counting up the Electoral College votes cast certifying the results of the general election. Lawmakers can object to the votes, but for an objection to stand it must be upheld by both the House and Senate. Because the Democratic Party controls the House, there is virtually no chance that Republicans who have signed onto Trump's push to overturn the election will succeed. Pence, for his part, plays no role in approving or rejecting a state's electoral votes and his involvement in the matter is largely ceremonial.

Regardless, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Pence and congressional Republicans are obligated to "decertify" the electoral votes from battleground states he lost because, he says, their respective elections were fraudulently conducted and their results were therefore illegitimate. As Business Insider has reported, there is no evidence that any of these claims hold merit, and in fact, the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.

Wednesday's scene at the US Capitol resembled something from a dystopian novel as the president's supporters breached barriers, clashed with police, broke into the Capitol building, vandalized and stole property, and got as far as the House and Senate floors.

All the while, lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters sheltered in their offices and behind makeshift barricades before being evacuated from the building. Trump's supporters rampaged through the Capitol, occupied lawmakers' offices, and milled around outside for hours after the evacuation, and photos depicted multiple rioters carrying Confederate flags through the building, at times flanked by portraits of Civil War figures.

A noose was erected outside the Capitol, and Trump's loyalists attacked members of the media who were covering the riots as they unfolded. NBC's Tom Winter reported that half a dozen people were taken to the hospital, and it was later reported that one woman who was shot inside the Capitol died.

Trump protestors Capitol 10620
A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol 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. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results.

After the area and the building were secured, Congress reconvened to finish debating election challenges and count up electoral votes. Several Republican House and Senate lawmakers reversed their decisions to back Trump in his efforts following the riots, calling them "abhorrent," "unlawful," and "unacceptable."

A number of administration officials resigned after the demonstrations, including First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff and former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews, and White House social secretary Rickie Niceta. Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien, deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, and deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell are all reportedly weighing resigning.

The Daily Beast reported that Trump aides and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is married to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, personally called senior White House officials and cabinet secretaries and asked them to stay on through the night.

Invoking the 25th Amendment

If the president's cabinet does invoke the amendment, it would be the first time in US history that a sitting president was removed from office for a non-health related issue. The amendment lays out the steps that can be taken to ensure a transition of power if a president is deemed unfit or unable to serve.

It has been invoked three times before, but only for reasons involving the physical health of the president. The first time was in July 1985, when then President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery for colon cancer. At the time, Reagan authorized Vice President George H.W. Bush to carry out his duties while he was unable to do so.

The other two times the amendment was invoked were during George W. Bush's administration, in June 2002 and June 2007. In both cases, Bush temporarily transferred power to Vice President Dick Cheney while he underwent routine colonoscopies.

If Trump's cabinet invoked the amendment to remove him from office, it would be by utilizing Section IV, which allows for the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to remove the president from office if they determine that he's unfit or unable to serve out his term.

The stipulation says: "Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."

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