10 things you need to know today: January 24, 2021
Report: Trump pushed Justice Department to ask Supreme Court to invalidate election results, State Department calls on Russia to release detained protesters, Navalny, and more
Report: Trump pushed Justice Department to ask Supreme Court to invalidate election results
Former President Donald Trump, citing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, pushed the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate President Biden's electoral victory, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The pressure to sue one or more states "got really intense," a former administration official said, but several Justice Department officials, including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Attorney General William Barr, reportedly refused to file a case with the high court because there was no legal basis to challenge the election outcome and the federal government "had no legal interest" in whether Trump or Biden won the presidency. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone also reportedly opposed the idea. The strategy appears to have preceded Trump considering ousting Rosen and replacing him with Jeffrey Clark, an ally within the Justice Department, as reported by The New York Times.
State Department calls on Russia to release detained protesters, Navalny
Police detained more than 3,000 protesters demanding the release of opposition leader Alexey Navalny on Saturday as rallies took place across Russia. Navalny, a fierce Kremlin critic and major rival of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was handed a 30-day jail sentence after returning to Moscow from Berlin, where he had spent several months recovering from a poisoning allegedly carried out by Russia's FSB spy agency. Demonstrators reportedly remained in the streets well into the evening despite the arrests and violent clashes with police. Meanwhile, the Biden administration came out in support of the protesters. The U.S. "strongly condemns the use of harsh tactics against protesters and journalists this weekend in cities throughout Russia," reads a statement from the State Department. "We call on Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights and for the immediate and unconditional release of ... Navalny."
Austin orders reports on military's sexual assault prevention programs
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued his first directive in the role Saturday night, giving the Pentagon's senior leaders two weeks to gather reports on sexual assault prevention programs in the military and send him assessments of what has worked and what hasn't. The move came a day after he was confirmed by the Senate. In his confirmation hearing, the retired four-star Army general promised lawmakers he would prioritize the issue and acknowledged the military must do a better job of handling a problem that has long existed within its ranks. Reports of sexual assault in the military have steadily increased since 2006, The Associated Press notes, including a 13 percent jump in 2018 and a 3 percent jump in 2019 (the data for 2020 is not yet available.) Experts believe sexual assaults remain underreported in the military, though there is some hope that victims have grown more confident in the justice system.
Arizona GOP censures Ducey, Flake, McCain
The Arizona Republican Party on Saturday passed a resolution to censure Gov. Doug Ducey (R), former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Cindy McCain, the widow of longtime Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who once ran as the GOP's presidential nominee. All three prominent Republicans have found themselves at odds with former President Donald Trump. Flake and McCain, both of whom endorsed President Biden ahead of the presidential election in November, were censured for their opposition to Trump and their support of globalist interests. The formal reasoning behind Ducey's censure, meanwhile, was his decision to enact emergency orders in Arizona during the COVID-19 pandemic, though he has also been criticized within the GOP for not doing enough to support Trump's election challenges, despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud. While the censures reflect a growing rift in the Republican Party, they are largely symbolic, and the trio appears unfazed.
U.S. carriers enter South China Sea same day Taiwan reports Chinese incursion
A United States aircraft carrier group entered the South China Sea, the military said Sunday. The strike group is formally "conducting routine operations, promoting freedom of the seas, and reassuring allies and partners," Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo said. The ships entered the area the same day that China launched an incursion into Taiwanese airspace Saturday that was more aggressive than usual, in terms of both the amount and type of military aircraft that entered the zone. China considers Taiwan its territory and its sovereignty remains a crucial global issue. The U.S. does not officially recognize Taiwan, but is a key ally, and the sides continue to strengthen ties as Washington's relationship with Beijing deteriorates.
Capitol rioter who allegedly sent tweet threatening to assassinate Ocasio-Cortez arrested
Garrett Miller, a Texas man, who allegedly participated in the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6 was arrested earlier this week on charges of threats, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The threat charge is reportedly related to an alleged tweet, in which he called for the assassination of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Miller's lawyer didn't deny his client wrote the tweet, but said "the charges are based on an inappropriate comment made in the heat of the moment." Ocasio-Cortez responded to the news of Miller's arrest Friday night, saying "on the one hand you have to laugh, and on the other know that the reason they were this brazen is because they thought they were going to succeed."
Federal law enforcement reportedly debating whether to not charge some Capitol rioters
The Justice Department and the FBI are privately debating whether they should refrain from charging some individuals who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, people familiar with the discussions told The Washington Post. The debate is reportedly in the early stages and officials are not close to reaching a decision. The Justice Department has vowed to identify and arrest individuals who participated in the siege, but there's reportedly practical concerns about an overload of court cases. One camp reportedly has argued people who did not engage in "violent, threatening, or destructive behavior" should not be charged even if they entered the Capitol, while others reportedly pushed back in favor of sending a more forceful message to discourage similar actions in the future.
11 miners rescued 2 weeks after being trapped underground in China
Rescuers brought 11 workers trapped inside a Chinese gold mine for two weeks to safety Sunday. There are still 10 other miners whose fates are unknown, but rescue operations will continue. The miners became trapped when the entrance tunnel to the mine collapsed after an explosion on Jan. 10. At least one man reportedly died as a result of a head wound suffered during the blast. The first man brought to the surface was blindfolded to protect his eyes from the light and was quickly taken to the hospital for treatment. His condition was described as "extremely" weak. Several of the others who were rescued Sunday were seen walking by themselves before being transported to the hospital. Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying the reporting of the accident.
Estonia poised for 1st female prime minister after governing deal struck
Kaja Kallas, the chair of Estonia's center-right Reform Party, has been tasked with forming a Cabinet in the next 14 days, which would make her the country's first female prime minister. The Reform Party and the left-leaning Center Party say they have struck a deal to replace the previous government that collapsed amid a corruption scandal earlier this month. Both parties will reportedly have seven ministerial portfolios in the 14-member government. Kallas is the daughter of Siim Kallas, one of the founders of the Reform Party, who also served as prime minister and as a European Union commissioner. The younger Kallas made an attempt to form a government in 2019, but was unable to do so.
Bucs-Packers, Bills-Chiefs meet in NFC, AFC title games
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET on Fox, pitting two of the NFL's all-time great quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, against one another at legendary Lambeau Field with the NFC championship on the line. Because Brady spent his entire career in the AFC before signing with Tampa Bay in the offseason, he and Rodgers, the league's leading MVP candidate, have never met in the playoffs before. Later, at 6:40 p.m. ET on CBS, the Buffalo Bills aim to upset the defending Super Bowl champions and AFC's top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City's star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is dealing with the aftermath of a concussion from last week's game against the Cleveland Browns, as well as turf toe, so he won't be 100 percent.