Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Morning Confidential: Trump Trouble Looms, More Violence Feared

HOUSE MOVES CLOSER TO IMPEACHMENT, FBI WARNS ABOUT NATIONWIDE ARMED PROTESTS: The House moved closer to impeachment of President Trump on Monday, with a resolution on a single charge, incitement of insurrection, that the chamber will begin debating Wednesday. However, Democrats first called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The resolution was blocked by Republicans, but the House is expected to hold a roll call vote on it today, and it's expected to pass. After that, if Pence doesn't respond within 24 hours, impeachment proceedings would begin. Pence hasn't indicated he's willing to invoke the 25th Amendment. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is a Trump ally, said in a letter to colleagues that impeachment would, quote, "have the opposite effect of bringing our country together," but said instead he's reviewing possible censure of the president.

FBI Warns of Armed Protests

The FBI has issued a bulletin warning of plans for armed protests to be held in Washington, D.C., and at all 50 state capitals in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, potentially starting Saturday, according to media reports. It's believed some of those planning to show up are members of extremist groups. Army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday the Guard is also looking at any potential issues, saying, "We’re keeping a look across the entire country to make sure that we’re monitoring, and that our Guards in every state are in close coordination with their local law enforcement agencies to provide any support requested."

Law enforcement in charge of protecting the Inauguration say they will be prepared and security will be extremely tight in the region, with Michael Plati, the U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge who's leading the inauguration security, saying they've taken the Capitol attack into account. Biden himself didn't express concern about his security, telling reporters yesterday, "I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside," meaning in the traditional location outside at the Capitol. The event was already planned to be much smaller than usual, with Biden having asked people to stay home and watch on TV, and no traditional parade planned, because of the coronavirus. 

Pence and Trump Meet for First Time Since Attack

Pence and Trump met late yesterday for the first time since the attack on the Capitol, according to AP, which cited a senior administration official as saying they had a, quote, "good conversation" about the week ahead, reflected on their accomplishments, and pledged to continue working for the remaining days until Biden's inauguration. Pence and his allies were reportedly angry about Trump pressuring the vice president to try to block the certification of the election results last Wednesday, which he didn't have the power to do, and then singling him out during the rally before the Capitol was attacked and via Twitter as it was under assault and Pence and his family were in hiding. There was further anger over Trump not checking if Pence was safe during the attack. However, they appeared yesterday to have decided to mend ties.

Meanwhile, Axios reported last night that in a phone call yesterday with House Republican Leader McCarthy, Trump was blaming, quote, "Antifa people" for the Capitol attack. McCarthy told Trump, "It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there." Trump again ranted about false claims of election fraud, leading McCarthy to say, "Stop it. It's over. The election is over." McCarthy also reportedly told Trump he should call Biden, meet with him, and follow the tradition of leaving a welcome letter in the president's Resolute Desk. Trump told McCarthy he hadn't decided whether or not to do so.

Several Capitol Police Officers Suspended Related to Attack

U.S. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman announced yesterday that several officers had been suspended in connection with the attack on the Capitol. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who chairs the House subcommittee investigating the police response to the attack, had said earlier in the day that one of the suspended officers took a selfie with a rioter, and another put on a Make America Great Again hat and, quote, "started directing people around." Ryan also said that about 10 to 15 other Capitol Police officers are under investigation. One Capitol Police officer was killed by rioters during the attack, and another who was on duty during the siege died by suicide three days later.

➤ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY DEPT. HEAD WOLF RESIGNS: Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf unexpectedly resigned on Monday, at a time when the country is facing an elevated domestic terrorism threat in the wake of the attack on the Capitol last week and ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20th. Less than a week earlier, Wolf had said he would remain in office until the end of President Trump's term. In explaining his departure, Wolf cited, quote, "recent events," including a legal challenge to him holding the acting secretary position that had been brought months ago. Court rulings had recently found he couldn't legally hold the position. Wolf had served in an acting capacity since November 2019 and was never confirmed by the Senate. He didn't specify other events, but stated, "These events and concerns increasingly serve to divert attention and resources away from the important work of the Department in this critical time of a transition of power." Peter Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will serve as acting head of the department until the Biden administration takes over.

➤MODERNA EXPECTS CORONAVIRUS VACCINE TO PROTECT FOR AT LEAST A YEAR: A top Moderna official told investors at a conference Monday that they believe their coronavirus vaccine should protect people for at least a year. Moderna's vaccine is one of two being administered in the U.S., along with Pfizer's. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday that nearly nine million people have received their first doses of vaccine and nearly 25.5 million doses of vaccine have now been distributed. People have to get two shots a few weeks apart. As of Monday morning, 35.3 percent of doses distributed have been administered, with states struggling with having enough staff or money to get people vaccinated at the target rate.

➤STUDY REVEALS THE FACE MASK MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WITHOUT REALIZING IT: The pandemic isn’t over and it’s still important to wear a face mask to help stop the spread of the virus, but not everyone wears their mask properly. A 2020 study from mask company Signs.com surveyed 1,000 mask owners about their mask-wearing habits, and found the most common mistakes people make with their masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people wash their hands before and after removing their face mask, but the study found 35 percent reported they do not wash their hands before putting on a mask, and about 44 percent admitted to taking off their mask without washing their hands first. Other mistakes people are making: not washing their face after removing their mask; 25 percent admitted to sharing a face mask with someone else without washing it between uses; 44 percent admitted to wearing a disposable mask multiples times before throwing it away (they’re only effective for one day); about 41 percent admitted to trying to wash disposable masks meant for single-use purposes; and 79 percent admitted they do not wash their cloth face masks after each use. Other top tips: make sure you always wear your mask over both your nose and mouth, and you should store your clean masks in a dry, breathable bag (paper or mesh works well) until they are ready to be used. 

➤STAY OF EXECUTION GRANTED FOR ONLY WOMEN ON FEDERAL DEATH ROW: A federal judge in Indiana granted Lisa Montgomery a stay of execution pending a competency hearing, just hours before the only woman on federal death row was set to be put to death today. The 52-year-old Montgomery was to be executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Prosecutors have filed a notice to appeal the ruling. Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2008 in Missouri for murdering a pregnant woman in 2004, cutting out the fetus, and kidnapping it. The baby survived. Her attorney, Kelley Henry, said in a statement, "Mrs. Montgomery has brain damage and severe mental illness that was exacerbated by the lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers."

➤MASSCHUSETTS THE BEST STATE TO RAISE A FAMILY: Massachusetts is the best state in which to raise a family, according to the website WalletHub, which used metrics including education, opportunities for what it called "family fun," the number of families with young kids, health care, and more. New Mexico came in as the worst state in which to raise a family. The top 10 states in the rankings were: Massachusetts; Minnesota; North Dakota; New York; Vermont; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Washington; Connecticut; and Utah. The bottom 10 in the rankings, starting from the worst and going back up were: New Mexico; Mississippi; West Virginia; Louisiana; Oklahoma; Arkansas; Alabama; South Carolina; Arizona; and Nevada.

🏈ALABAMA BEATS OHIO STATE 52-24 TO WIN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Top-ranked Alabama beat Number 3 Ohio State 52-24 last night to win the College Football Playoff national championship for the sixth time in the last 12 years. Alabama finished at 13-0, ending a season that last summer seemed might not be played amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The victory gave Alabama coach Nick Saban his seventh career national title, breaking a tie with another Alabama great, Paul "Bear" Bryant, for most by a major college coach. Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. He barely played in the second half, leaving with a hand injury. His teammate, quarterback Mac Jones, was 36 for 45 for a CFP championship-record 464 yards and five touchdowns. A reduced capacity crowd of just 15,000 were allowed at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL Miami Dolphins, for the game. 

➤BELICHICK SAYS WON'T ACCEPT MEDAL OF FREEDOM: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced last night that he won't accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the news coming in the wake of the attack on the Capitol last week by supporters of President Trump. A White House official had said Sunday that Trump would be awarding the nation's highest civilian honor to Belichick. In his statement, Belichick didn't directly say he'd turned down the offer from Trump, who's a longtime friend, instead saying, "the decision has been made not to move forward with the award" in the wake of the attack. He continued, "Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team."

🏈EAGLES FIRE HEAD COACH PEDERSON: The Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Doug Pederson on Monday, less than three years after leading the team to their only Super Bowl championship. He also led them to two division championships in five years. His dismissal came after the Eagles were 4-11-1 this season. AP cited a source as saying Pederson’s loyalty to his coaching staff and frustration with the front office’s interference were a major issue, and that he wasn't on the same page with general manager Howie Roseman on many personnel moves.

🏀TWO NBA GAMES CANCELED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: Two more NBA games have been canceled due to the coronavirus, including contact-tracing issues. Last night's game between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans was postponed, as was today's scheduled game between the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics. That came after Sunday's game between the Miami Heat and Celtics was postponed. The NBA's general managers met yesterday to discuss the situation, with involvement from the Players Association, and the NBA's board of governors will meet today.

⚾WHITE SOX SIGN RELIEVER HENDRIKS TO THREE-YEAR, $54 MILLION DEAL: The Chicago White Sox signed reliever Liam Hendriks to a three-year, $54 million deal yesterday (January 11th), according to media reports. The 10-year veteran had been with the Oakland A's for five years, getting 39 saves in the last two seasons.

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