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Calls for Trump’s Impeachment Continue, More Capitol Arrests: Live Coverage – The New York Times

Calls for Trump’s Impeachment Continue, More Capitol Arrests: Live Coverage – The New York Times

The White House, on Friday night. 
Doug Mills/The New York Times

As Saturday dawned on a White House in turmoil, with President Trump unable to communicate on Twitter and other platforms, momentum for impeaching him a second time was rapidly growing among rank-and-file Democrats and some Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday threatened to impeach Mr. Trump unless he resigned “immediately” for inciting the mob attack on the Capitol this week, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican senator to follow her lead.

“I want him out,” Ms. Murkowski told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”

Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, announced on Saturday that the articles of impeachment drafted by him and other House Democrats had drawn 180 co-sponsors.

“We will introduce the Article of Impeachment this Monday during the House’s pro forma session,” he said on Twitter.

With less than two weeks left in Mr. Trump’s term, the timing for an impeachment would be tight.

Yet the Constitution allows House lawmakers to introduce charges and proceed directly to a debate and floor vote in a matter of days, triggering a Senate trial that could take place even after Mr. Trump leaves office. If he were convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office again.

Already, Twitter’s move to permanently suspend Mr. Trump “due to the risk of further incitement for violence” has effectively scuttled his favorite method of communicating with the public, even as he retains his authority as commander in chief. Facebook and other digital platforms have limited his access.

As federal law enforcement officials on Friday announced arrests in connection with Wednesday’s siege, Twitter said that Trump supporters had been using the platform to plan similar attacks, including a proposed one on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings three days before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

In one of his last Twitter posts before being banned, Mr. Trump said he would not attend the inauguration. He would be the first incumbent in 150 years to skip his successor’s swearing-in.

Mr. Biden on Friday pressed ahead with his agenda, promising an accelerated response to an array of challenges. On Friday, the economy was said to have lost 140,000 jobs in December and officials across the United States reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time.

In a sharp break with the Trump administration, Mr. Biden intends to release nearly all available doses of coronavirus vaccines soon after he is inaugurated, rather than hold back millions of vials to guarantee second doses will be available. He has vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during his first 100 days in office.

“Our plan is going to focus on getting shots into arms, including by launching a fundamentally new approach, establishing thousands of federally run or federally supported community vaccination centers of various size located in places like high school gymnasiums and N.F.L. stadiums,” Mr. Biden told a radio station in Columbus, Ga., on Friday.

The Trump administration has shipped more than 22 million doses, and millions more are already in the federal government’s hands. Yet only 6.7 million people have received a dose, far short of the federal goal of giving at least 20 million people their first shots by the end of December.

It is unclear how many more Covid-19 inoculations the administration can deliver before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, particularly as more senior officials leave the White House in the wake of the mob violence at the Capitol.

Also unclear: what the Republican Party will look like after Mr. Trump leaves office. The wave of resignations by administration officials continued. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development said Saturday that Michael T. Harvey, assistant administrator for the Middle East bureau, and Hallam H. Ferguson, senior deputy assistant administrator in the same bureau, had both left the agency on Friday.

At a meeting of the Republican National Committee in Florida on Friday, the chaos of the past week was a mere afterthought. While the R.N.C. chair, Ronna McDaniel, condemned the attack on the Capitol, neither she nor any other speaker publicly hinted at Mr. Trump’s role in inciting the violence.

“We can’t exist without the people he brought to the party — he’s changed the direction of the party,” Paul Reynolds, a Republican committeeman from Alabama, said of the president. “We’re a different party because of the people that came with him, and they make us a better party.”

Pranshu Verma Simon Romero

Protesters being pushed back by police at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Barely 11 months after President Trump was acquitted in a momentous Senate trial, the nation now confronts the possibility of yet another impeachment battle in the twilight of his presidency, a final showdown that will test the boundaries of politics, accountability and the Constitution.

No president has ever been impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors twice. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi was weighing bringing a new article of impeachment to the House floor as early as Monday charging Mr. Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for encouraging the mob that ransacked the Capitol to disrupt the solemn process finishing his own election defeat.

If Ms. Pelosi decides to proceed, the House could approve the article in days, this time with even some disaffected Republicans joining the Democratic majority to send the matter to the Senate. While it seemed unlikely that 17 Republicans in the Senate would go along with Democrats to reach the two-thirds necessary for conviction, the anger at Mr. Trump was so palpable that party leaders said privately it was not out of the question.

The deadly storming of the Capitol by Mr. Trump’s supporters transformed the politics of Washington in ways that were still hard to measure. A new impeachment would be more than a do-over of the drive that failed last year because this time the crime was not a phone call to a foreign leader captured on the dry pages of a transcript but the siege of American democracy played out live on television for all to see.

“Insurrectionists incited by Mr. Trump attacked our nation’s Capitol to stop Congress from accepting the Electoral College results,” said Representative Ted Lieu of California, who began drafting the article of impeachment while sheltering during the Capitol takeover and sponsored it with Representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, two fellow Democrats.

Still, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, indicated that under Senate rules a trial could not begin until Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration.

Some of Mr. Trump’s critics argued that it would be important to hold a trial even if he is already out of power in order to bar him from ever seeking office again, a penalty envisioned by the Constitution.

The Constitution specifically provides for the Senate to bar anyone convicted from holding federal office in the future, a secondary penalty that can be approved in a separate vote but requires only a simple majority of 51 senators rather than two-thirds. The Senate has applied this penalty to impeached judges in the past.

Democrats have asked leaders of the Justice Department for more information about what the department is doing to investigate and prosecute the attack on the Capitol, including the role that President Trump played in the attack.

Five people died in the riot, including a police officer, and dozens have been arrested.

“We write to request an immediate and urgent briefing on the steps the Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking to investigate and pursue for prosecution the instigation, planning, and execution of the deadly terrorist attack on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by President Donald Trump, his supporters, and outside groups,” Democratic leaders said in a letter Thursday to F.B.I. Director Christopher A. Wray.

A Justice Department spokesman said Saturday that the department has received a separate request from Congress for information related to the riot and is working to fulfill it. When asked whether Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting attorney general, would brief lawmakers, the spokesman said no decision had yet been made and that officials on the ground during the attack could be made available.

Mr. Trump’s role in the carnage underpins the articles of impeachment that House Democrats have drawn up, accusing the president of inciting an insurrection. The U.S. attorney in Washington initially refused to rule out investigating Mr. Trump’s role in the riot. A day later, one of his deputies reversed his statement during a news conference.

“Don’t expect any charges of that nature,” Ken Kohl, a top prosecutor in the office, told reporters on Friday.

In their letter to Mr. Wray, House Democratic leaders — including the heads of the Oversight, Judiciary, Homeland Security, Intelligence and Armed Services committees — said that Mr. Trump incited his supporters to travel to Washington and menace members of Congress.

They cited a statement that Mr. Trump made on Twitter last month and comments he made at a rally just before protesters walked to the Capitol and ransacked it: “We got to get rid of the weak Congress people, the ones that aren’t any good,” Mr. Trump said, telling his followers to “if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Near the end of his speech, he told his supporters, “We’re going [to] walk down to the Capitol.”

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” he added. “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

The Democrats said that they wanted to know how the F.B.I. prepared for the Jan. 6 protest and what it is doing to investigate and hold responsible “the domestic terrorists” who attacked the Capitol and what it was doing to disrupt “future violent plans” to attack Washington.

Jake Angeli was arrested for participating in the breach of the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A man who was photographed carrying the lectern of Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the raid on the U.S. Capitol this week and another who roamed through the halls of Congress while wearing a horned fur headdress have been arrested and charged, the Justice Department said on Saturday.

Adam Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Fla., was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Friday night after a widely circulated photograph showed him sporting a wide smile as he waved to the camera with one hand and hauled off Ms. Pelosi’s lectern with the other. On his head he wore a Trump knit hat, with the number “45” on the front.

Jail booking records from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office provide scant details about the arrest of Mr. Johnson but show that he was arrested on a federal warrant. He was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of theft of government property, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The office of Michael Sherwin, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, said on Saturday that it had also charged Jake Angeli, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was photographed in the Capitol on Wednesday.

Mr. Angeli entered the building shirtless, with his face painted red, white and blue, and wearing a fur headdress with horns. He also carried a spear, about six feet long, with an American flag affixed just below the blade, according to Mr. Sherwin’s office.

Nicknamed “Q Shaman” for his propagation of baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, Mr. Angeli was a fixture at pro-Trump rallies in Arizona after the 2016 election. He was arrested on Saturday.

Early Saturday morning, the F.B.I. arrested Doug Jensen, who was captured on a video taken by Igor Bobic of HuffPost that showed him pushing far into the Capitol, ignoring the warnings of a law enforcement officer.

On his Twitter account, Mr. Jensen posted a photo of himself during the raid with the captions “You like my shirt?” and “Me… .”

Mr. Jensen is in custody in Polk County, Iowa, and is facing charges including obstructing a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder, according to a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The authorities also arrested Richard Barnett, 60, on Friday, the man pictured with his feet kicked up on a desk in Ms. Pelosi’s office during the Capitol siege. Mr. Barnett, who was arrested in Bentonville, Ark., will appear in federal court on Tuesday and will ultimately be extradited to Washington, D.C.

Officials are investigating whether off-duty police officers played a role in the Capitol siege on Wednesday.
Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Police departments across the country have suspended officers or referred them to internal reviews for attending the events on Jan. 6 in Washington that devolved into an assault on the U.S. Capitol.

The commanding officers or officials involved in the cases in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington State stressed that while the officers attended as private citizens, the question of whether they broke the law would be investigated.

In San Antonio, Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County said he had referred Lt. Roxanne Mathai to the internal investigations department after she posted a video of herself on Facebook from near the Capitol, wearing a red, white and blue face mask and wrapped in an American flag. The officer waxed enthusiastic about the day but stated explicitly that she would not enter the Capitol.

Plumes of tear gas waft in the background of the video, and Mr. Salazar said investigators would determine whether police had declared the gathering an unlawful assembly. “If that is the case and she remained on scene and began filming and began making challenging statements, that means breaking the law,” the sheriff said.

Mr. Salazar, noting that Ms. Mathai had already been suspended from the force since October on another matter, said at a news conference on Friday that he had referred the video to the F.B.I. and to the internal investigations department.

Ms. Mathai could not be reached for comment.

Thomas Goldie, a Pennsylvania police officer, posted pictures of himself on Facebook from the rally wearing a Trump cap, but there was not yet any indication that he had been in the Capitol, said Jim Miller, chief of the Zelienople Police Department, a 10-member force in a small town 29 miles north of Pittsburgh.

“Him being there is not a problem — he had a right to be there, but not to break into the Capitol, obviously,” said Mr. Miller, adding that the legal department was reviewing the matter. Mr. Miller said Mr. Goldie was on vacation and had yet to return. Mr. Goldie did not respond to telephone messages.

In Seattle, the Police Department announced on Friday that two officers were being placed on administrative leave after attending the demonstration. Internal investigators would determine if the officers were directly involved in any of the illegal events, Chief Adrian Diaz said in a statement.

And in Troy, N.H., Richard Thackston, the head of the town Board of Selectmen expressed support for the police chief, David Ellis, after there were calls for his resignation for attending the events in Washington. Neither man responded to telephone messages left at the town hall and with the police dispatcher.

Mr. Ellis told New Hampshire Public Radio that he opposed the violence. At a regular meeting of the selectmen on Thursday night, Mr. Thackston said Troy residents and many outsiders had called for Mr. Ellis to be dismissed.

He said that while the events at the Capitol were appalling, everybody has the right to participate in political events without fear of being fired. “So, Dave Ellis in my book is just fine,” Mr. Thackston added. “And the rest of the world needs to go about and mind its own damn business.”

Supporters of President Trump prayed for Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, after questioning why he wouldn’t vote to object to Electoral College votes from some states.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In the hours before and after a violent mob urged on by President Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, voters loyal to the president cornered Republican lawmakers who voted to certify the election results, demanding answers and promising revenge. The scenes — sometimes painful, always unresolvable — played out again and again in Washington this week.

A distraught constituent accosted Representative Nancy Mace on Tuesday night at a restaurant in the nation’s capital. Driven by Mr. Trump’s fictitious claims that the election had been stolen from him — and that lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence could clinch him another four years in power during Congress’s official electoral count — the voter had come all the way from Ms. Mace’s home state of South Carolina to witness it. Now, the voter, shaking and in tears, demanded to know why Ms. Mace, a first-term congresswoman, had refused to join the effort.

Calm but firm, Ms. Mace tried to explain that it was not Congress’s role to subvert the results of an election — and that to do so would defy the Constitution.

“It didn’t matter what I said,” Ms. Mace said in an interview. “They didn’t believe it.”

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Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, was accosted at Reagan National Airport by supporters of President Trump after he failed to uphold Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud.Alex Wong/Getty Images

The confrontations — and the scenes of mayhem that unfolded on Wednesday — have brought Republicans face to face with the consequences of their yearslong alliance with Mr. Trump, providing human evidence of the downside of his deep influence on the voters who form their party’s base.

It helps explain the searing anger that has prompted many Republicans to belatedly turn against Mr. Trump after years of enabling him and seeking his validation. But it also reflects the conundrum in which the Republican Party finds itself, beholden to voters who have internalized the president’s falsehoods and been emboldened by his divisive talk.

“Their hearts, minds and wallets were taken advantage of,” Ms. Mace said, her voice rising in fury. “Millions of people across the country who were lied to. These individuals, these hardworking Americans truly believe that the Congress can overturn the Electoral College.”

Many Republican members of Congress stoked that belief this week when they objected to Mr. Biden’s victory in battleground states and backed the challenges in votes that illustrated their party’s rift. In the House, more than half the Republicans, including the party’s top two leaders, voted in support of the challenges, while in the Senate, fewer than 10 Republicans did so and the leaders were vocally opposed.

The videos that emerged from the standoffs dramatized the yawning distance between elected Republicans in Washington who are increasingly desperate to peel away from the president and their constituents who say they will never let go.

On Friday, supporters of Mr. Trump swarmed Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, at his gate at Ronald Reagan National Airport, calling him a “traitor.”

“You know it was rigged, you know it was rigged,” a woman yelled as he was ushered away by a security detail. “You garbage human being. It’s going to be like this forever, wherever you go, for the rest of your life.”

And a maskless woman approached Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, on Tuesday night as he waited to fly to Washington, calling him a “disgusting shame” for not standing with the president. Once on board, Mr. Romney was greeted by supporters of Mr. Trump chanting “Traitor!”

Some Republicans, like Senators Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Todd Young of Indiana, both of whom voted to certify President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, tried to reason with their constituents, working through their concerns point by point in scenes captured on video outside the Capitol.

But Mr. Cramer and Mr. Young could not persuade them that what the president and many of their Republican colleagues had told them was wrong — that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the election, and no way for Congress to overturn the results.

A protester carries a sign in front of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday.
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

When Simon & Schuster canceled its plans this week to publish Senator Josh Hawley’s book, he called the action “a direct assault on the First Amendment.”

And when Twitter permanently banned President Trump’s account on Friday, his family and his supporters said similar things. “We are living Orwell’s 1984,” Donald Trump Jr. said — on Twitter. “Free-speech no longer exists in America.”

The companies’ decisions may have been unwise, scholars who study the First Amendment said, but they were perfectly lawful. That is because the First Amendment prohibits government censorship and does not apply to decisions made by private businesses.

It is certainly possible to violate the values embodied in the First Amendment without violating the First Amendment itself. But the basic legal question could hardly be more straightforward, said RonNell Andersen Jones, a law professor at the University of Utah. And, she said, it should not have been lost on Mr. Hawley, who graduated from Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

“It’s become popular — even among those who plainly know better — to label all matters restricting anyone’s speech as a ‘First Amendment issue,’” she said. “But the First Amendment limits only government actors, and neither a social media company nor a book publisher is the government. Indeed, they enjoy their own First Amendment rights not to have the government require them to associate with speech when they prefer not to do so.”

Mr. Hawley’s book, titled, as it happens, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” was to have been published in June. In canceling it, Simon & Schuster said that “it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints” but that Mr. Hawley had crossed a line in light of “the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington.”

The publisher was free to make that decision, Professor Magarian said, but that does not mean it was the right one.

“I want a wide range of ideas, even those I loathe, to be heard, and I think Twitter especially holds a concerning degree of power over public discourse — Hawley’s right about that much,” he said. “But any suggestion that people like Trump and Hawley, and the viewpoints they espouse, will ever lack meaningful access to public attention is ludicrous. We should worry about private power over speech, but presidents and senators are the last speakers we need to worry about.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, too, said the free speech interests involved in suspending Mr. Trump’s Twitter account were complicated.

“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions,” said Kate Ruane, an A.C.L.U. lawyer. “President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others — like the many Black, brown and L.G.B.T.Q. activists who have been censored by social media companies — will not have that luxury.”

As it happens, the Supreme Court may decide as soon as Monday whether to hear a case about Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, one that nicely illustrates some of the distinctions raised by the recent developments. Lower courts have ruled that Mr. Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking users from his account.

Trump supporters during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Many of the rioters are being identified through the use of facial recognition technology.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

After the Capitol riot, Clearview AI, a facial-recognition app used by law enforcement, has seen a spike in use, said the company’s chief executive, Hoan Ton-That.

“There was a 26 percent increase of searches over our usual weekday search volume,” Mr. Ton-That said.

There are ample online photos and videos of rioters, many unmasked, breaching the Capitol. The F.B.I. has posted the faces of dozens of them and has requested assistance identifying them. Local police departments around the country are answering their call.

“We are poring over whatever images or videos are available from whatever sites we can get our hands on,” said Armando Aguilar, assistant chief at the Miami Police Department, who oversees investigations.

Two detectives in the department’s Real Time Crime Center are using Clearview to try to identify rioters and are sending the potential matches to the F.B.I.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force office in Miami. They made one potential match within their first hour of searching.

“This is the greatest threat we’ve faced in my lifetime,” Mr. Aguilar said. “The peaceful transition of power is foundational to our republic.”

Traditional facial recognition tools used by law enforcement depend on databases containing government-provided photos, such as driver’s license photos and mug shots. But Clearview, which is used by over 2,400 law enforcement agencies, according to the company, relies instead on a database of more than 3 billion photos collected from social media networks and other public websites. When an officer runs a search, the app provides links to sites on the web where the person’s face has appeared.

In part because of its effectiveness, Clearview has become controversial. After The New York Times revealed its existence and widespread use last year, lawmakers and social media companies tried to curtail its operations, fearing that its facial-recognition capabilities could pave the way for a dystopian future.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the Oxford Police Department in Alabama is also using Clearview to identify Capitol riot suspects and is sending information to the F.B.I. Neither the Oxford Police Department nor the F.B.I. has responded to requests for comment.

Facial recognition is not a perfect tool. Law enforcement says that it uses facial recognition only as a clue in an investigation and would not charge someone based on that alone, though that has happened in the past.

When asked if Clearview had performed any searches itself, Mr. Ton-That demurred.

“Some people think we should be, but that’s really not our job. We’re a technology company and provider,” he said. “We’re not vigilantes.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly called Georgia officials in an attempt to pressure them to “find” votes for him in the 2020 election.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

More than a week before President Trump called Georgia’s secretary of state, pressuring him to “find” votes to help overturn his electoral loss, the president made another call, this one to a top Georgia elections investigator, in which he asked the investigator to “find the fraud” in the state.

The earlier phone call, which Mr. Trump made in late December, was first reported by The Washington Post on Saturday. The content of the Post report was verified by a state elections official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak about the matter.

In the December call, Mr. Trump said the investigator would be a “national hero” for finding evidence of fraud. The call occurred as Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s office was conducting an audit of more than 15,000 ballots in Cobb County, a populous suburb of Atlanta that was formerly a Republican stronghold but voted against Mr. Trump in both 2016 and 2020.

The audit appeared to be an effort to placate Mr. Trump and his allies, who repeatedly, and baselessly, argued that he lost the election in Georgia by around 12,000 votes due to a “rigged” system. On Dec. 29, the office of Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, announced that the audit had found no evidence of fraud.

The December call to the investigator, like the call Mr. Trump made to Mr. Raffensperger, was recorded, the official said. But unlike the call directly to the secretary of state, the newly reported call’s audio has not been made public.

A number of legal scholars have said that Mr. Trump’s call to Mr. Raffensperger, in which the president seemed to vaguely threaten Mr. Raffensperger with “a criminal offense,” may have violated state and federal laws prohibiting election interference, though some also said it may be difficult for prosecutors to pursue the matter.

Mr. Trump made another call earlier in December to Gov. Brian Kemp, urging him to call a special session of the Georgia legislature in hopes that lawmakers would overturn the election results. Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger have rejected all of Mr. Trump’s efforts to get them to help him overturn the election results, even though both are conservative Republicans.

A window is boarded up in a hallway of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Friday. President Trump’s role in inspiring the mob violence had prompted many Democrats to support investigations into Trump and his aides.
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Twelve years ago, when the last Democratic president took office, he did not seek broad inquiries into officials from the previous administration for their use of torture practices, or for domestic eavesdropping. Nor did he pursue prosecutions of Wall Street executives for crimes that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

This time, Democrats are not willing to be so accommodating: They want to hold President Trump, his family and his enablers accountable for acts they believe didn’t just break norms, but broke the law.

Once President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office on Jan. 20, wide segments of his party are eager to see investigations and prosecutions of an array of Trump aides and allies — an effort, they say, that would bolster the rule of law after a presidency that weakened it and serve as a warning to future presidents that there will be consequences for illegal actions taken while in office.

The rioting at the Capitol has only intensified that desire. More than a dozen Democrats interviewed in recent days said the president’s role in inspiring the mob violence had prompted them to change their positions: They now want the Biden Justice Department to investigate the president and his aides.

So far, Mr. Biden has not taken a position on impeachment, let alone launching criminal investigations. He has said he would leave any decisions about it to his Justice Department, which he has promised will return to the pre-Trump norm of maintaining independence from the White House. His choice of Merrick B. Garland, a centrist judge, as his nominee for attorney general is another indication of his more measured approach to pursuing investigations and indictments.

But interviews with more than 50 current and former Democratic elected officials, Democratic National Committee members and party activists found an overwhelming consensus across the party’s ideological spectrum toward holding Mr. Trump personally accountable and launching congressional and Justice Department investigations into him, his family and his top aides — not only for inciting last week’s violent mob at the Capitol but for a host of other actions during his presidency.

The transgressions they cite include collusion with Russia, tax fraud, illegal pressure on state elections officials, using federal offices for political activity and violation of the constitutional provision that prohibits a president from profiting from foreign governments.

Perry Bennett/West Virginia Legislature, via Associated Press

Derrick Evans, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, resigned on Saturday after participating in the storming of the United States Capitol.

“The past few days have certainly been a difficult time for my family, colleagues and myself, so I feel it’s best at this point to resign my seat in the House and focus on my personal situation and those I love,” Mr. Evans said in a statement. “I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians.”

His resignation, which he submitted to Gov. Jim Justice in a one-sentence letter, is effective immediately. He also faces two federal charges: one for knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and one for violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Mr. Evans, a Republican who was just elected to the West Virginia House in November, filmed himself entering the Capitol on Wednesday as part of a pro-Trump mob — incited by President Trump himself — intent on stopping Congress from formalizing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

Like many other members of the mob, he made no effort to conceal his involvement. “We’re in!” he said in his video. “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

The speaker of the West Virginia House, Roger Hanshaw, quickly condemned Mr. Evans’s actions, saying on Wednesday that Mr. Evans would “need to answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”

On Saturday, Mr. Hanshaw, who is also a Republican, said in a statement that he hoped the House could move forward with its session “without any further distraction.”

“In announcing his resignation, Delegate Evans said he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to those he’s hurt,” he said. “In this time of overheated, hyperbolic political rage, I think that’s a good first step for us all to take right now.”

Former national security officials want the Senate to quickly confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s national security team, including Antony Blinken, his pick for Secretary of State. 
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

A bevy of top former national security officials from both parties have drafted an open letter urging the Senate to quickly confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s national security team, warning of the need to have a fast transition of executive power after a week of chaos in the nation’s capital.

“As former senior national security officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations, we urge the Senate to swiftly confirm the national security cabinet nominees put forth by President-elect Biden,” the former officials wrote.

“Alejandro Mayorkas, Antony Blinken, Avril Haines, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Lloyd Austin represent the best of America: our patriotism, our diversity, our commitment to excellence, and our values,” the letter reads, referring to Mr. Biden’s picks for the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, director of National Intelligence, ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of defense, respectively. “Our nation needs these highly qualified and experienced officials in office and ready to serve on day one of the Biden-Harris administration.”

The letter is signed by nineteen leaders including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, former Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge, Janet Napolitano and Jeh C. Johnson and James R. Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, and others who held top posts in Republican and Democratic administrations.

Lloyd J. Austin III, Mr. Biden’s pick for secretary of defense, will need a congressional waiver to be confirmed, a requirement for any Pentagon chief who has been retired from active-duty military service less than seven years.

Some members of Congress have balked at the waiver, citing the tradition of civilian control of the military, and this extra step requires a vote in the House and Senate, which will likely delay a vote on his confirmation. Mr. Austin, a former four-star Army general who retired in 2016, is the only one of Mr. Biden’s nominees to have a scheduled confirmation hearing.

“America’s allies and adversaries alike are closely watching this period of transition between administrations,” the letter says. “Given the many challenges facing the country, the smooth transfer of power in departments and agencies that are essential for national security is critical.”

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaking in Delaware on Friday.
Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday promised an accelerated response to a daunting and intensifying array of challenges as the economy showed new signs of weakness, the coronavirus pandemic killed more Americans in one day than ever, and Congress weighed impeaching President Trump a second time.

As Washington remained consumed with the fallout from the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday and Democrats stepped up their efforts to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his role in inciting the attack, Mr. Biden signaled that he intended to keep his focus on jobs and the pandemic, declining to weigh in on whether the House should impeach Mr. Trump.

On a day the Labor Department reported that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, ending a seven-month streak of growth after the country’s plunge into recession in the spring, Mr. Biden said there was “a dire, dire need to act now.”

Hilary Swift for The New York Times

He pledged to move rapidly once he becomes president to push a stimulus package through Congress to provide relief to struggling individuals, small businesses, students, local governments and schools.

Mr. Biden and his aides have not yet finished the proposal or settled on its full amount. Forecasters expect further job losses this month, a casualty of the renewed surge of the coronavirus pandemic met by state and local officials’ impositions of lockdowns and other restrictions on economic activity meant to slow the spread.

“The price tag will be high,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del.

“It is necessary to spend the money now,” he said, apparently referring to his entire batch of economic plans, including both immediate aid and a larger bill that includes infrastructure spending. “The answer is yes, it will be in the trillions of dollars.”

The Biden team is also preparing a wave of economic actions that will not require congressional approval. Mr. Biden’s aides said on Friday that the president-elect would direct the Education Department to extend a pause on student loan payments that was initially issued under Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden called on Congress on Friday to take “prompt action” to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.

He also pledged to ramp up efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which is now claiming 4,000 lives each day — more than those who perished during the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Biden’s team said the president-elect would immediately release all government-held vaccines when he takes office, breaking sharply from Mr. Trump’s practice of holding back some shots for second doses.

“People are really, really, really in desperate shape,” Mr. Biden said.

President Trump had used Twitter to build his base and spread his messages, which were often filled with falsehoods and threats.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Twitter said on Friday that it had permanently suspended President Trump from its service “due to the risk of further incitement for violence,” effectively cutting him off from his favorite method of communicating with the public and capping a series of actions by mainstream sites to limit his online reach.

In a blog post explaining its decision, Twitter said that Trump supporters had been using the platform to plan additional attacks like the one on the Capitol on Wednesday — including, it said, “a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on Jan. 17” — and that Mr. Trump’s posts had encouraged his supporters in those plans.

The move came two days after supporters of Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol, leading to at least five deaths. Mr. Trump praised the rioters in multiple tweets, including one saying, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

Twitter said in its blog post, “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

It concluded that Mr. Trump’s tweets since Wednesday’s attack were “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.”

Mr. Trump tried to evade the ban late Friday by using the @POTUS Twitter account, which belongs to sitting U.S. presidents, to lash out at the company. But his messages were almost immediately removed by Twitter. The company forbids users to try avoiding a suspension with secondary accounts.

Twitter’s move was a forceful repudiation of Mr. Trump, who had used the platform to build his base and spread his messages, which were often filled with falsehoods and threats. Mr. Trump regularly tweeted dozens of times a day, sending flurries of messages in the early morning or late evening. In his posts, he gave his live reactions to television news programs, boosted supporters and attacked his perceived enemies.

In a statement late Friday, Mr. Trump said Twitter was trying to silence him. He said he was negotiating with other sites and promised a “big announcement soon,” adding that he was looking at building “our own platform.”

A day earlier, Facebook had barred Mr. Trump for the rest of his term, and other digital platforms — including Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch and Reddit — also recently limited Mr. Trump on their services.

The actions were a stark illustration of the power of the social media companies and how they could act almost unilaterally when they chose. For years, they had positioned themselves as defenders of free speech and had said the posts of world leaders like Mr. Trump should be allowed because they were newsworthy. The companies had rejected touching his account, even after they were assailed for allowing misinformation and falsehoods to flow.

Mr. Trump himself never expected that to change. When allies raised the possibility of social media companies banning him, he repeatedly replied, “They’ll never ban me.”

Published at Sat, 09 Jan 2021 21:18:00 +0000

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