Drama in D.C.
January 12, 2021

Facing the prospect of a second impeachment for "incitement of insurrection," President Trump on Tuesday insisted a speech he delivered encouraging supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol and "show strength" was "totally appropriate."

In his first remarks to reporters since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol to disrupt the certification of the election results, the president didn't take responsibility and defended the speech he delivered prior to the deadly riot.

"If you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I've seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it's been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate," Trump claimed, citing nobody in particular.

He went on to again assert that unnamed people have "analyzed" his speech and that "everybody to the T thought it was totally appropriate," even though he has faced widespread condemnation for the remarks, including from Republicans.

Trump in his speech had urged supporters in Washington to "walk down to the Capitol" where Congress was meeting to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, and he called on them to "show strength" because "you'll never take back our country with weakness." The subsequent pro-Trump riot at the Capitol left five people dead, and on Monday, House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment charging Trump with inciting an insurrection; the resolution said he "willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol."

Trump, while saying he wants "no violence," on Tuesday dismissed this second impeachment effort as "ridiculous" and said it's "causing tremendous danger to our country." He could become the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Brendan Morrow

January 11, 2021

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met on Monday evening in the Oval Office, the first time they have been together since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, many of them specifically saying they were there to find Pence.

A senior administration official told The Associated Press the pair had a "good conversation," but did not say whether they discussed the events that led up to the riot. Trump pushed Pence to overturn the results of the election, something he did not have the legal authority to do. During a rally on Wednesday, Trump told supporters he hoped "Mike has the courage to do what he has to do," inciting members of the crowd to go to the Capitol, where they breached the building as lawmakers voted to certify the election results.

Some members of the mob chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" and the vice president and his family were rushed to a secure area. Democratic lawmakers have urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, but the administration official told AP both Trump and Pence agreed on Monday to work for "the remainder of their term" and "reiterated that those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week" do not "represent" the "75 million Americans" who voted for Trump.

One person close to Pence told AP aides think Democrats are trying to hurt Pence and make it difficult for him to have a political future. Other allies are outraged that Trump kept telling his supporters Pence could overturn the election, escalating tensions. When Pence was in hiding on Wednesday, Trump never checked in on him, but did rant and rave over Pence's decision to follow his constitutional duty, AP reports. Catherine Garcia

January 11, 2021

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. In one case, an officer posted online that they backed the so-called Stop the Steal demonstrations and believed President Trump's baseless claims that the election was stolen from him.

Ryan said Capitol Police officers are being looked at closely because officials do not want anyone working at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration "who was not doing the job on the Jan. 6th event." Catherine Garcia

January 11, 2021

Following last week's Capitol building riot, House Democrats have officially introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump.

Democrats on Monday formally introduced the impeachment article charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection" days after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building in a deadly riot while lawmakers met to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory, The Washington Post reports. The resolution states that Trump, who has falsely claimed he won the election and spoke to his supporters before they breached the Capitol, "willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol."

"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government," it also says, CNN reports. "He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) previously announced her support for impeaching Trump a second time should Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's Cabinet not invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, and Politico reports Pelosi is "on the cusp of majority support in the House." An impeachment vote may happen on Wednesday or Thursday, according to CNN, and Trump could become the first president to be impeached twice. Brendan Morrow

January 11, 2021

The fact that an armed mob of people angry over President Trump's loss was able to maraud through the U.S. Capitol while the entire Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were inside is "such an embarrassingly bad failure" of law enforcement, former U.S. counterterrorism official R.P. Eddy tells The New York Times. "But it could have been so much worse." Five people died, but every lawmaker made it out unharmed, including the top three people in the presidential line of succession.

Outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund started getting nervous about the size of the pro-Trump crowd converging on Washington on Monday, he told The Washington Post on Sunday, but the House and Senate sergeants at arms turned down his request to ask the D.C. National Guard to be on standby during Wednesday's ceremonial Electoral College count. He pleaded for help five more times on Wednesday, he said. Sund and both sergeants at arms have resigned.

The first contingent of protesters arrived at the Capitol at 12:40 p.m., and Sund said he knew things were bad very quickly. "Violent confrontations from the start. They came with riot helmets, gas masks, shields, pepper spray, fireworks, climbing gear — climbing gear! — explosives, metal pipes, baseball bats." The mob breached the Capitol just before 2 p.m. At 2:26 p.m., Sund joined a conference call to the Pentagon.

"I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance," Sund recalled saying. Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, director of the Army Staff said he could not recommend the deployment, telling Sund and the others on the call that he didn't "like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background," Sund and others said. A livid D.C. Police Metropolitan Chief Robert Contee demanded three times, "Are you denying the request?" the Times reports, and Piatt said no, but he needed approval from up the chain of command.

According to a timeline from the Pentagon, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy verbally approved the request at 3:04 p.m. "Despite Sund's pleas, the first National Guard personnel didn't arrive at the Capitol until 5:40 p.m. — after four people had died and the worst was long over," the Post reports. Piatt defended his caution, telling the Times, "The last thing you want to do is throw forces at it where you have no idea where they're going, and all of a sudden it gets a lot worse." Peter Weber

January 10, 2021

In an email Sunday, the attending physician to Congress notified lawmakers that on Wednesday, as they huddled together in a room to escape a riot inside the Capitol, they may have been exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus.

The physician, Brian Monahan, wrote that "many members of the House community were in protective isolation in a room located in a large committee hearing space. The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others. During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection."

Two House aides confirmed to The Washington Post that the room in question appeared in a video posted by Punchbowl News on Friday. The clip showed Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) trying to pass out masks to lawmakers without face coverings. Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), and Scott Perry (Pa.) all refused to take one.

Monahan instructed lawmakers to monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, wear a mask, and get tested. Since Wednesday's siege, Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) and Rep. Charles Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) have announced they tested positive for the coronavirus, but spokesmen for both lawmakers told the Post they were not in the lockdown room.

The riot was a super-spreader event, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The crowd "wasn't adhering to what we know are good practices in terms of mask-wearing and other things," he said on Sunday's Face the Nation. "I think they deliberately eschewed those things. So, yeah, we're going to see chains of transmission come out of that kind of a gathering, for sure." Catherine Garcia

January 10, 2021

Prior to Wednesday's riot at the U.S. Capitol, the FBI and New York Police Department notified Capitol Police about the possibility of violence, senior law enforcement officials told NBC News.

On Wednesday, President Trump spoke at a rally held to coincide with the tallying of electoral votes. He said supporters should "walk down to the Capitol" where they could "cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you will never take back our country with weakness." By saying this, law enforcement officials familiar with the matter told NBC News, Trump likely got more people to go to the Capitol than might otherwise have gone.

Capitol Police were woefully unprepared for the mob that showed up. On Friday, Steven D'Antuono of the FBI's Washington field office told NBC News "there was no indication that there was anything [planned] other than First Amendment-protected activity." Several law enforcement officials dispute this, telling NBC News the NYPD sent intelligence packets to agencies — including Capitol Police — "describing extremist rhetoric and threats of violence that appeared on social media in connection with the rally."

A senior FBI official told NBC News that before the rally, the agency learned "credible and actionable information about individuals who were planning on traveling to the protests who expressed a desire to engage in violence." Agents visited more than a dozen extremists already under investigation, and were able to discourage them from going to D.C.

Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director, told NBC News there is no domestic terrorism statute, so the FBI has fewer legal avenues to monitor suspects. Unless there is a criminal investigation into a specific individual or organization, "the FBI is not permitted to look and monitor the very same things that you and I can look at on Twitter and Parler," he said. Read more at NBC News. Catherine Garcia

January 8, 2021

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was seen in several viral videos on Friday being harassed by supporters of President Trump, who accused him of being a "traitor" following the certification of the 2020 election results.

At Reagan National Airport, Graham was shouted at by Trump supporters calling him a "liar" and a "traitor" while telling him he "will not be able to walk down the street," as reported by Politico. Another video posted by conservative activist Mindy Robinson showed Trump supporters yelling obscenities at Graham and saying "it's gonna be like this forever wherever you go for the rest of your life."

The South Carolina senator was not one of the Republicans who objected to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win in Congress this week, and he has urged Trump supporters to accept the president's loss.

"Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice president of the United States on January the 20th," Graham said.

Graham also criticized Trump this week after a mob of the president's supporters stormed the Capitol building, saying all of his accomplishments have now been "tarnished." The videos on Friday emerged days after similar videos showed Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who also didn't object to the certification of the election results and acknowledged Biden's win in November, being harassed by Trump supporters at an airport.

"We have a Constitution," Romney can be heard telling a Trump supporter in one of the videos. "The constitutional process is clear and I'll follow the Constitution." Brendan Morrow

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