Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 13, 2021

Harold Maass
Trump in Texas
Go Nakamura/Getty Images

1.

Trump defends remarks to supporters before attack on Capitol

President Trump on Tuesday defended himself against allegations that his remarks to supporters last week incited the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday in an unsuccessful bid to push lawmakers to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's election victory. Trump said Democrats' calls to impeach him were a "continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics." He said his remarks to supporters before the riot were "totally appropriate." In his Jan. 6 speech, Trump urged supporters to march on Congress, repeating his false claims of voter fraud and telling them "if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." Trump, speaking during a visit to Alamo, Texas, told his supporters not to be violent ahead of Inauguration Day. "Now is the time for our nation to heal," he said. "And it's time for peace and for calm." [The Wall Street Journal]

2.

House urges Pence to remove Trump, prepares impeachment vote

Democrats on Tuesday pushed through a non-binding resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare President Trump unfit after his incitement of a mob that attacked the Capitol, and remove him from office. Pence notified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he was rejecting the idea, setting up a Wednesday vote on impeaching Trump over the attack, which left five people dead. At least five House Republicans said they would vote for impeachment, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican. Cheney said Trump "summoned" the mob and "lit the flame of this attack." The New York Times reported Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach Trump. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]

3.

FBI report contradicts claim agency had no warning before Capitol riot

FBI agents warned a day before pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week that extremists were traveling to Washington determined to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's election victory, and prepared for "war," The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing an internal document. The account contradicts claims by a senior FBI official that the agency had no indications that anyone went to the protest with plans to be violent. The report said some people shared a map of the Capitol complex's tunnels. "An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating 'Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent... Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die.'" [The Washington Post]

4.

Pompeo cancels Europe trip after counterparts refuse meetings

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly cancelled a trip to Europe on Tuesday after European leaders said they wouldn't meet with him, Reuters reported, citing European diplomats and others familiar with the matter. Pompeo had been scheduled to go first to Luxembourg, but that country's foreign minister declined to meet with Pompeo. The second leg of the trip, to European Union offices in Belgium, remained on the schedule but it was called off at the last minute after top EU officials also balked at meeting Pompeo. A diplomatic source told Reuters that U.S. allies were "embarrassed" by Pompeo after last week's siege at the U.S. Capitol by President Trump's supporters seeking to overturn the results of the November presidential election. Pompeo has condemned the violence, which left five people dead, without addressing Trump's baseless election fraud claims at the center of the insurrection. [Reuters]

5.

U.S. to require negative COVID tests from international travelers

The United States is set to require all international visitors to show a negative COVID-19 test result before flying to the country, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said in a Tuesday statement. All air passengers will have to get a test within three days before flying to the U.S. and provide documentation of their negative result before boarding. The order will go into effect Jan. 26, after CDC officials spent weeks discussing the move with government agencies and the White House's coronavirus task force, The Wall Street Journal reports. Travelers from Britain have had to show a negative test result since December, though a very contagious variant of the coronavirus first found in Britain has already made its way to the U.S. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal]

6.

Lisa Montgomery executed after Supreme Court lifts stay

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was executed by lethal injection early Wednesday at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, becoming the first woman executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years. The Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution just before midnight with orders lifting a stay by an appeals court that had called for assessing Montgomery's mental health, and rejecting a final request for a stay by Montgomery's lawyers. Montgomery was one of several inmates scheduled to be executed in the final days of the Trump administration. Her lawyers argued that Montgomery, who was convicted of murdering a pregnant woman to take her baby, was mentally ill and unable to understand her execution, making it unconstitutional. "The current administration knows this," said Kelley Henry, Montgomery's federal public defender. "And they killed her anyway." [USA Today, The Associated Press]

7.

Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson dies at 87

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire Republican donor, died Monday at his home in Malibu, California, from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. He was 87. Adelson, the son of a cabdriver, built an empire that included casinos in Las Vegas, Macau, Singapore, and other gambling destinations. He served as chairman and CEO of the world's biggest gaming corporation, Las Vegas Sands Corp. He led the development of the casino-convention center model that now dominates the Las Vegas Strip. He used his wealth and influence to serve as a GOP kingmaker, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican candidates and conservative political action committees, supporting right-wing agendas in the United States and Israel. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, The New York Times]

8.

Military leaders remind service members of oath to protect Constitution

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday condemned the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and reminded the military's service members that they took an oath to defend the Constitution and reject any attempt to overthrow the government. The military leaders said the storming of the Capitol was "inconsistent with the rule of law." "The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition, and insurrection," the leaders said in a letter to the nation's 1.3 million active-duty service members and more than 811,000 National Guard members and reservists. The extraordinary statement came as national security officials warn of possible further violence, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, by extremists determined to overturn the election result because of President Trump's false claim of widespread voter fraud. [CNN, NPR]

9.

Authorities consider sedition charges against rioters

Federal law enforcement officials continued the manhunt for people who participated in last week's deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, and said they were looking at more than 160 cases and considering sedition charges for some of the rioters. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) said in a Tuesday evening webcast that she saw some members of Congress leading people through the Capitol on Jan. 5 in what she said was "reconnaissance for the next day" when insurrectionist Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to get lawmakers to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's defeat of President Trump in the November election. As the House moved toward a Wednesday vote on impeaching Trump for inciting the mob, Sherrill said some of her House colleagues had "abetted" Trump and the mob. "I'm going to see they are held accountable," she said. [The New York Times, NJ.com]

10.

Michigan reportedly will charge former governor over Flint water crisis

Michigan is reportedly preparing to charge former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and other ex-officials over the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. Snyder, his former health department director Nick Lyon, and other members of the Snyder administration were told they would soon face unspecified charges, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. Snyder was governor in 2014 when state-appointed officials moved Flint's water source to the Flint River. The water wasn't treated for contamination from the old, corroding pipes the water ran through, yet state regulators signed off on the move. Bacteria in the river water was attributed to an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease, leading to at least 12 deaths. Snyder and Lyon didn't acknowledge the outbreak until 2016, though Lyon admitted he knew of the Legionnaire's cases earlier. The attorney general's office has not acknowledged the reported charges. [The Associated Press]