10 things you need to know today: January 8, 2021
Calls mount for Trump to resign or be removed from office, U.S. reports a single-day record 4,051 coronavirus deaths, and more
Calls mount for Trump to resign or be removed from office
A growing number of lawmakers and other officials on Thursday called for President Trump to resign or be removed from office after he provoked a mob of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol building. Lawmakers fled the Senate and House chambers as rioters broke windows and ransacked offices Wednesday, trying to get Congress to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. They failed, as lawmakers later returned and certified Biden's win. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. Pence reportedly is opposed to invoking the 25th Amendment, which provides ways to remove a president unable to carry out their duties. Pelosi said Congress would consider impeachment if Pence does nothing.
U.S. reports record 4,051 coronavirus deaths in 1 day
U.S. health officials reported a record 4,051 coronavirus deaths on Thursday. It was the second single-day record in a row, and the first time U.S. COVID-19 deaths had ever exceeded 4,000 in a single day. In California, more than 1,000 people have died of the virus in the past two days, with one person dying of COVID-19 every eight minutes in Los Angeles County. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told NPR on Thursday the increase in coronavirus cases is likely a reflection of people traveling over the holidays and attending gatherings. "We believe things will get worse as we get into January," he said, but people can still do their part to "blunt that acceleration" by wearing masks and social distancing.
DeVos, Chao resign over Trump supporters' attack on Capitol
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday became the first members of President Trump's Cabinet to resign over Wednesday's attack on the Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob. "Yesterday our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed," wrote Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). In a letter to Trump, DeVos said "there is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation." Earlier Thursday, former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney stepped down as the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland. "I can't stay here," he said. "Not after yesterday." Former Attorney General William Barr said Trump's conduct was a "betrayal of his office and supporters."
Prosecutor declines to rule out charging Trump
The top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., on Thursday declined to rule out charging President Trump with inciting a riot at the Capitol. Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said the Justice Department was weighing criminal charges against anyone who played a role in storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Trump. Hours before the riot, Trump urged a crowd to "go wild" at the Capitol to get lawmakers to overturn the election result. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called for "trial by combat" to settle allegations of election fraud, which courts and state election officials from both parties have rejected as false."We're looking at all actors here," Sherwin said.
Trump acknowledges 'new administration' taking over
President Trump posted a brief video on Twitter on Thursday acknowledging his defeat in the presidential election for the first time, less than two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. "A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20," Trump said. "My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power." Trump also denounced the mob of his supporters that stormed the Capitol in a failed effort to get Congress to overturn Biden's election win. Trump, who said shortly after the attack that he "loved" the "very special" people in the mob, said Thursday that he was "outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem," and that lawbreakers "will pay." Biden said Trump incited the mob, and noted that if Black Lives Matter protesters had attacked the Capitol they would have been "treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs" who attacked it Wednesday.
Facebook extends suspension of Trump accounts
Facebook announced Thursday that it was extending a temporary block on President Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the suspension was necessary because Trump's encouragement of a mob before it stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday showed that he planned to "use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transfer of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden." Zuckerberg said the risks of letting Trump continue to use the company's platforms were "simply too great," so it was "extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete." Twitter temporarily locked Trump's account Wednesday and threatened "permanent suspension," saying Trump had committed "severe" violations of the company's civil integrity policy.
Simon & Schuster drops plan to publish Hawley's book
Simon & Schuster announced Thursday that it was canceling plans to publish a book by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) due to his leadership of a group of Republican lawmakers to overturn the 2020 presidential election result. Critics accused Hawley, who challenged the Electoral College votes of several states President-elect Joe Biden won, of helping to incite the mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Hawley's book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, was set to be released in June. "We did not come to this decision lightly,” Simon & Schuster said in a statement. "As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat."
Biden introduces Merrick Garland as attorney general nominee
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday formally introduced Washington, D.C. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general. After four years of President Trump's "contempt for our democracy," Biden said the extensively experienced Garland, whom former President Barack Obama nominated to the Supreme Court but Republicans blocked, would help "restore the honor" of a badly damaged Justice Department. "As everyone who watched yesterday's events in Washington now understands, if they did not understand before, the rule of law is not just some lawyers' turn of phrase, it is the very foundation of our democracy,” Garland said. Biden also reportedly rounded out his Cabinet selections Thursday with the addition of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) as labor secretary and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) as commerce secretary.
Capitol police chief resigns
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned Thursday after facing harsh criticism for his force's failure to prevent a pro-Trump mob from storming the Capitol building on Wednesday. His boss, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, also resigned, as did the Senate's sergeant-at-arms, Michael Stenger. The riot briefly delayed Congress' certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Sund said his department had planned to handle a free-speech demonstration, but were not expecting a violent siege. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had called for Sund to step down. Critics said it was inexcusable for the Capitol Police to be so unprepared, because far-right extremists had been vowing for months to show up in force in Washington, D.C., to overturn the election result.
Capitol police officer dies of injuries suffered in insurrectionist riot
The U.S. Capitol Police said Thursday night that Officer Brian Sicknick has died from injuries incurred during Wednesday's siege of the Capitol by a mob of people who wanted Congress to overturn President Trump's loss. Sicknick "was responding to the riots" and "was injured while physically engaging with protesters," Capitol Police said in a statement. The homicide unit from the D.C. Metropolitan Police and federal agencies are involved in the investigation of Sicknick's death, Capitol Police said. Sicknick is the fifth person whose death is tied to the Capitol insurgency. A Capitol Police officer fatally shot one participant, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, and three other people were killed during medical emergencies, including Rosanne Boyland, 34, who was reportedly crushed to death during the unrest.