Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 12, 2021

House Democrats introduce impeachment article against Trump, the coronavirus surge pushes the U.S. death toll above 375,000, and more


House Democrats introduce impeachment article

House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment accusing President Trump of inciting an insurrection aiming to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. Republicans blocked Democrats' effort to unanimously pass a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare Trump unfit and remove him from office. The House plans to vote on the resolution Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said if Pence fails to act the House will impeach Trump, which would make him the first president to be put on trial twice. "We now have the votes to impeach," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), one of the representatives who introduced the impeachment article.


U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 375,000 after record surge

The total number of U.S. coronavirus deaths reached 375,000 on Monday, after the second straight record for weekly deaths. More than 22,000 people died of COVID-19 in the past week, and the nation's seven-day average reached 3,249 on Sunday. The worsening statistics followed a record surge in new cases and hospitalizations. Health-care facilities are struggling to keep up with rising numbers of patients and administer vaccinations. President-elect Joe Biden received his second vaccine dose on Monday, and his aides said he planned to invoke the Defense Production Act if necessary to bolster the national immunization effort, which is going slower than hoped. "My number-one priority is getting vaccine into people's arms," Biden said.


Homeland Security secretary resigns over 'recent events'

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced Monday that he was resigning in response to "recent events." Wolf is the third Cabinet member to resign since a mob of President Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week in a bid to get lawmakers to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College defeat of Trump. Unlike Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Wolf didn't cite the riot as a reason for his departure. He said in a letter to the department that the events that prompted his resignation included "ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as acting secretary." Wolf said the rulings and other concerns "serve to divert attention and resources away from the important work of the department in this critical time of a transition of power." Wolf will be replaced by FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor.


2 Democrats test positive for coronavirus after riot lockdown

Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Monday that they tested positive for coronavirus after being on lockdown with colleagues during last week's siege of the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. Jayapal said her infection came after she spent several hours confined with several Republican colleagues who "not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one." Watson Coleman said she was resting at home in good spirits, but "experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms." Watson Coleman is 75 and a cancer survivor, so she is at elevated risk for severe symptoms. Congress' attending physician warned in an email Sunday that some lawmakers might have been exposed to a coronavirus-infected person during the riot lockdown.


Parler sues Amazon over server ban

Social-media platform Parler, which many conservatives have joined as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter, filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Monday for denying it web-hosting services and forcing it offline. Amazon Web Services gave Parler the boot on Sunday, accusing the company of failing to do enough to stamp out content that incites violence. AWS said it had noted a sharp increase in dangerous content since last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob aiming to get lawmakers to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Parler said Amazon was trying to discourage competition among micro-blogging services to Twitter's benefit. "AWS's decision to effectively terminate Parler's account is apparently motivated by political animus," according to the complaint, which also accused Amazon of breach of contract.


FBI warns of possible armed protests at state capitols

State leaders increased security on Monday as the FBI warned of possible armed protests at all 50 state capitols ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) activated hundreds of National Guard troops to back up state police and defend security fencing. Georgia authorities deployed a state patrol SWAT team. In Idaho, officials locked the doors to the House and Senate chambers on Monday morning. Two Idaho state troopers guarded each entrance. The FBI's National Crisis Coordination Center distributed an update of threat information to the states, discussing threats by right-wing extremists online who called for armed protests from Jan. 16 to Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.


U.S. sanctions Ukrainians over election meddling

The Trump administration on Monday hit seven Ukrainian individuals and four entities with sanctions for allegedly trying to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. Those facing the sanctions also allegedly are associated with a pro-Russian lawmaker, Andriy Derkach, who was linked to unsuccessful attempts by President Trump's allies to find damaging information about President-elect Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. "Russian disinformation campaigns targeting American citizens are a threat to our democracy," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Democratic-led House voted to impeach Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress because of a phone call in which he urged Ukraine's president to investigate Biden and his son ahead of the election. The Republican-led Senate declined to convict Trump.


2 Capitol Police officers suspended over actions in riot

Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended in connection with last week's riot at the Capitol, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said on Monday evening. One of the officers took a selfie with a member of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol, Ryan said, and a second officer put on a Make America Great Again hat. The Capitol Police's interim chief "determined that to be qualifying for immediate suspension," Ryan said. Two congressional officials with knowledge of the situation told The Washington Post more than a dozen additional officers are under investigation for suspected involvement in the riot or showing inappropriate support of it.


Trump, Pence meet for 1st time since deadly riot

President Trump met Monday with Vice President Mike Pence for the first time since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol while Pence was there presiding over the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. The deadly riot reportedly created tension between Trump and the long deferential Pence. Some members of the insurrectionist mob had tried to hunt down Pence, angry that he had said he didn't have the power to overturn the election result as Trump and his supporters wanted. A source close to Pence told CNN that the two had a good conversation after an initial outcry from Pence's office over Trump's encouragement and praise of those who protested the election result. "The feeling is we made our point," the source said.


Alabama crushes Ohio State to win college football national title

Alabama dominated Ohio State in Monday night's College Football Playoff championship game, winning 52-24 to secure the Crimson Tide's 13th college football title. Six of those championships were won under the direction of coach Nick Saban, who entered the record books Monday night; with seven national titles under his belt, including one coaching LSU in 2003, Saban passed former Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant for the most college football championships under any one coach. The is Alabama's third national title in the seven seasons of the College Football Playoff system, the most of any team. Alabama wide receiver DeVonata Smith, winner of this year's Heisman Trophy, also set a new SEC record for career receiving yards.


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