The Full Belmonte, 1/14/2021
100% Pure News. Distilled.
Of the 45 presidencies in America's nearly 245-year history, only Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton suffered impeachment, as had Donald Trump, once each.
Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the U.S. Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office, Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick, Jonathan Lemire and Alan Fram report.
Lawmakers, moving at lightning speed, voted just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.
The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power.
The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.” She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
VIDEO: Pelosi signs second Trump impeachment. Read more at AP
Investigators are now looking into the possibility that the Capitol riot was more than just a protest that spiraled out of control. Evidence uncovered so far, including weapons and tactics seen on surveillance video, suggests the breach may have been planned. Questions also have been raised about whether rioters had “insider” help. At least one protest organizer said he coordinated with three House Republicans. The Department of Justice is using tactics it typically employs in counterterrorism investigations to apprehend and charge suspects. With a slew of new charges, including for Olympic medalist Klete Keller and a man seen on video wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt, the number of new federal criminal cases is up to 32, with possibly hundreds more expected. Read more at CNN
Even during a scandal, a president’s own party members usually defend him. Decades later, people tend to forget how overwhelming the partisan support was and exaggerate the degree of conscience among politicians of the past.
In 1999, no Senate Democrats voted to convict Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. Many Democrats made excuses for his affair with a 22-year-old White House intern, and some went so far as to smear her.
In the 1970s, Republican leaders spent months casting the investigations into the Nixon administration as partisan overreach. Gerald Ford, while still the Republicans’ House leader, called the Watergate investigation a “political witch hunt.” Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush defended both Nixon and his bribetaking vice president, Spiro Agnew.
In the 1860s, Andrew Johnson’s fellow Democrats stood solidly by him during his impeachment and kept him from conviction.
All of which helps puts yesterday’s second impeachment of President Trump into perspective: It was both a strikingly partisan affair — and an unusually bipartisan one.
On the one hand, dozens of members of Congress refused to break with a president who tried to overturn an election result and incited a mob that attacked Congress, killing a police officer. Only 10 House Republicans voted for impeachment, and the final tally was 232 to 197.
“The political penalties for encouraging extremism and attacking democratic norms are dangerously weak,” the political scientist Brendan Nyhan wrote yesterday.
On the other hand, Trump has suffered more defections from his party than any previous president besides Nixon, who ultimately lost Republican support and resigned before the House could impeach him. Yesterday’s vote, Daniel Nichanian of The Appeal wrote, was “the most bipartisan impeachment of a president in U.S. history.”
By comparison, only five House Democrats voted to impeach Clinton, The Times’s Carl Hulse noted — three of whom later became Republicans, while a fourth joined the George W. Bush administration. In 2019, not a single House Republican voted to impeach Trump. Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, voted to convict, and other Republicans disdained the process from the start.
This time, they are sending a more nuanced message. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, has put out word that he is glad impeachment is happening, and he issued a statement yesterday saying he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote” in the Senate trial.
Of course, McConnell is a crafty politician who would like both to be rid of Trump and to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from passing much legislation. So McConnell also signaled yesterday that he would not start a Senate trial before Biden took office, effectively forcing Democrats to choose between trying Trump and focusing on Biden’s agenda.
The delay seems to make conviction less likely. “People’s outrage levels recede,” my colleague Maggie Haberman wrote yesterday. “Memories fade. And I do wonder if there will be as much Senate Republican anger next month as there is now.”
Still, the existence of that anger underscores the historic nature of yesterday. Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice — and only the second to have a meaningful number of his party members in Congress deem him unfit to be president.
The 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment included Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 ranking Republican in the House; four others from safely Republican seats; and five from more competitive districts.
“I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail,” Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, who’s in her sixth term, said. “My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I am not choosing a side. I’m choosing truth.” Read more at New York Times
The Hill: In a written statement ahead of his impeachment, Trump called for “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind.”
Even as Democrats on Wednesday impeached President Trump, they turned their attention to allegations that Republican members of Congress encouraged last week’s attempted insurrection, possibly providing help that enabled the mob who stormed the Capitol.
“Their accomplices in this House will be held responsible,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a speech during the impeachment debate, without mentioning specific members or allegations.
In the days since the Jan. 6 attack, immediately preceded by Trump’s remarks at a rally, a number of Democrats have pointed to speeches, tweets and videos that they have said raised questions about whether the attackers may have been inspired or helped by Republican members of Congress.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) said in a Facebook Live broadcast that she saw Republicans “who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.” She said some of her GOP colleagues “abetted” Trump and “incited this violent crowd.”
“I’m going to see that they’re held accountable and, if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress,” she said.
Sherrill did not identify the Republicans, and she did not respond to a request for comment.
She and other Democrats sent a letter Wednesday asking congressional security officials to investigate what they called “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” the day before the attack. The letter said that Democratic lawmakers and staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol, which was unusual because the building has restricted public access since March, when pandemic protocols were enacted. Since then, tourists can enter the Capitol only when brought in by a member of Congress.
Among the visitors, according to the Democrats’ letter, were some who “appeared to be associated with the rally.” Sherrill and the other Democrats asked that any logbooks, videos and facial recognition software be examined to identify visitors and determine if they could be matched with those who stormed the Capitol. Read more at Washington Post
Airbnb will cancel all reservations around Washington next week, refunding guests and reimbursing hosts. Read more at New York Times
New York City is ending contracts with the Trump Organization to run a Bronx golf course and skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park. Read more at New York Times
Trump Alone: His place in the history books has been rewritten -- and not how he would have wanted. As the House voted to impeach him, Trump faced his unprecedented second impeachment largely alone and silent. For more than four years, he has dominated the national discourse like no one else. Yet when his legacy was set in stone with the House vote, he was left on the sidelines. He kept out of sight in a nearly empty White House as impeachment proceedings played out at the heavily fortified U.S. Capitol. The suspension of his Twitter account deprived Trump of his most potent means to keep Republicans in line. Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller report. Read more at AP
The Scene: The Capitol was transformed into a fortress of impeachment. Where visitors once walked, hundreds of National Guard members were camped out throughout, even in the Rotunda, protecting lawmakers still reeling from last week’s violence and preparing for Joe Biden's inauguration. Along with the signs of fear, there were also signs of gratitude for those protecting the area. A tunnel leading to House office buildings has become a makeshift tribute to members of law enforcement who protected the Capitol during last week's rioting, Kevin Freking and Andrew Taylor report. Read more at AP
In a new Axios-Ipsos poll, fourth-fifths of Americans — both Republicans and Democrats — say America is falling apart.
Why it matters: The question, asked Tuesday and Wednesday, reflects the collision of crises besetting the country — the backdrop of a pandemic, recession, decoupling of red/blue America, and racial injustice + the immediacy of the Capitol insurrection, followed by Impeachment II.
22% of Democrats and 19% of independents — one-fifth of each — say they aren't proud to be an American. 7% of Republicans, and 17% of Americans as a whole, say that.The bottom line: Something else to agree on ... Both parties say traditional party leaders don't get them. Read more at Axios
Millions are flocking to encrypted apps like Telegram and Signal as fears grow about Big Tech, the N.Y. Times reports:
Telegram said Tuesday that "it added more than 25 million users over the previous three days, pushing it to over 500 million users."
"Signal added nearly 1.3 million users on Monday alone, after averaging just 50,000 downloads a day last year, according to estimates from Apptopia."
Our thought bubble: Careful what you wish for and force, people. Imagine conspiracy and plotting happening only in places no one else can see. Read more at Axios
Tarnished By Trump: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a lot of flattering things about U.S. President Donald Trump over the years, trying to curry favor. He has professed his admiration and even suggested that Trump might be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. But after a mob of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol, Johnson sharply changed his tune, saying Trump had encouraged the violence and was “completely wrong.” It was a dramatic pivot for a populist leader who has often been compared to Trump and refrained for years from openly criticizing him. Johnson’s critics say his years of genuflecting to Trump have harmed Britain’s international authority and poisoned its political culture, Jill Lawless reports. Read more at AP
Pharmacies are offering their help as the US struggles with its Covid-19 rollout. Pharmacists nationwide would have the capacity to administer 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine once supply is available, the CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores said, giving important backup to overwhelmed health care systems. The World Health Organization is also asking wealthier countries to share vaccines with lower-income countries, urging kindness and global solidarity. In the 36 days since countries started vaccinating, 28 million vaccine doses have been administered in 46 countries. Only one of these countries is low-income, a WHO official said. There have been 5 million new Covid-19 cases and 85,000 deaths across the globe in the past week alone. Read more at CNN
The loss of tribal elders has swelled into a cultural crisis as the pandemic has killed American Indians and Alaska Natives at nearly twice the rate of white people, deepening what critics call the deadly toll of a tattered health system and generations of harm and broken promises by the U.S. government. Read more at New York Times
A growing number of restaurants across the U.S. are opening for indoor dining in defiance of COVID-19 regulations in their states, claiming they are being targeted unfairly and are barely hanging on. Gillian Flaccus reports from Oregon, where a movement to defy an inside dining ban began quietly on Jan. 1 and is gaining steam despite warnings from state officials. Read more at AP
U.K Crisis: In Britain, 1,564 more COVID-19 patients died, the highest figure for a single day since the pandemic began. Britain already had Europe’s highest virus death toll. The government has vowed that its vaccine program will operate around the clock seven days a week “as soon as we can,” as the U.K. accelerates efforts to inoculate millions of its most vulnerable people, Danica Kirka reports.
The push to inoculate millions comes as a more contagious variant of COVID-19 is sweeping across Britain, a surge that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals. England is investigating whether some hospital patients could be moved into hotel rooms to free space for more seriously ill patients. Read more at AP
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and ex-Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft have been charged in the Flint water crisis that left 12 people dead and sickened at least 80. Each faces two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. Flint has been exposed to extremely high levels of lead since 2014, when city and state officials switched the city's water supply from the Detroit Water System to the contaminated Flint River in an effort to cut costs. The Environmental Protection Agency detected the lead in 2015 after residents complained. Snyder apologized in 2016 for the Michigan government’s role in the crisis. Last year, the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims. Criminal charges against other officials were dropped in 2019. Read more at CNN
The Arizona Republican Party will vote next week on a measure that would censure GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain, the latest sign of infighting in the state party.
The resolutions, which if passed would express disapproval but have no formal consequences, come as the state GOP is distancing itself from many of the Republican Party’s longtime establishment figures. The three censure resolutions easily passed the party’s resolution committee and will be brought before the entire state committee on Jan. 23.
The proposed censures for each person refer to what some party members say is executive overreach by Mr. Ducey in his response to the pandemic, Mrs. McCain’s support for same-sex marriage, and Mrs. McCain’s and Mr. Flake’s endorsements of President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election, among other things. Read more at Wall Street Journal
The Hill: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a newly elected QAnon adherent and Republican from Georgia, said on Wednesday that she will file articles of impeachment against Biden on his first full day as president. Greene, a Trump supporter who on Wednesday wore a face mask covered with the word “censored,” did not describe charges she has in mind, but she referenced false accusations about Biden and Ukraine during a Newsmax TV appearance.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the Capitol insurrection was “largely organized” on platforms other than Facebook, which garnered pushback from misinformation watchdogs and journalists who pointed to dozens of "Stop the Steal" Facebook groups. Read more at Huffington Post / Jenna Amatulli
Iran ramps up nuclear research. Iran has begun developing uranium metal-based fuel, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Wednesday, in a move that breaches the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The deal, which President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin, had imposed a 15-year ban on Iran producing or acquiring the material, as it is used in the core of a nuclear bomb. Iran told the IAEA that is merely designing an improved fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor and that there are no limits on its research and development activities. Read more at Foreign Policy
Afghanistan's intelligence agency says it has foiled an ISIS attempt to assassinate a US diplomat in Kabul. The country's National Directorate of Security reported that four ISIS members were planning to attack the US Charge d'Affaires in Kabul, Ross Wilson, along with Afghan senior officials on Monday. Public details on how they planned to carry out the killings are scarce, but all four would-be attackers have been arrested. The US State Department called the reports “deeply troubling” and reiterated the US commitment to peace in the region. Read more at CNN
Since its publication by the neo-Nazi leader William Luther Pierce, “The Turner Diaries” has become one of the most influential texts among white nationalists and right-wing extremists. It has inspired dozens of acts of violence, and has been held up as a blueprint for how to enact a violent insurrection.
Last week, as rioters broke into the Capitol, incited by President Trump, some saw frightening parallels with the events described in the novel. Experts who track rhetoric on the far right say the book has long been a reference point for white supremacists who see the government as an oppressive force to be overthrown. Read more at New York Times