Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf is stepping down, nine days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and amid widespread fears about security in the aftermath of the mob attack on the Capitol last week.

In Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday that the House will move forward with impeaching President Trump for a second time if Vice President Pence does not seek to remove him under the 25th Amendment by Wednesday.

Her threat came shortly after House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob on Wednesday. Democrats say that measure already has 218 co-sponsors, enough to guarantee passage.

Here’s what to know:

  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, has tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering in place during the Capitol riot with lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Biden announced that he will nominate William J. Burns as the next director of the CIA. A seasoned diplomat, Burns has served as U.S. ambassador to Russia and Jordan and was most recently deputy secretary of state.
  • Biden expressed hope that the Senate could work on Trump’s impeachment trial while confirming the new president’s Cabinet and working on his agenda. If the House impeaches Trump this week, it is unlikely that the Republican-led Senate would hold a trial before Trump leaves office Jan. 20.
  • The campaign finance system has been rocked, with American Express, FedEx, Dow, Facebook and other major companies pausing or halting political donations in the wake of the violent assault on the Capitol.
  • At least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the Wednesday demonstration that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to two congressional officials briefed on the developments.

Secret Service officer under scrutiny over comments on Facebook accusing lawmakers of ‘treason’

3:07 a.m.
Link copied
link

The Secret Service indicated Monday that it was investigating an officer who posted comments on Facebook in which she accused lawmakers who formalized Biden’s win of treason and echoed Trump’s conspiracy theories about the rigging of the election.

According to screenshots provided to The Washington Post, the officer posted a meme on Facebook of Trump shaking hands with himself in the Oval Office, titled “Here’s to the Peaceful Transition of Power.” The day after the attack on the Capitol, a comment posted in the officer’s name ridiculed efforts to remove Trump from office and accused lawmakers who were formally accepting the electoral vote of “committing treason on live tv.”

It read in part: “Good morning patriots! Yesterday started out beautiful and as usual Antifa soured the mood and attacked police and an Air Force veteran was murdered…. It’s OFFENSE time finally!!”

In response to a request for comment about the officer’s posts, an agency spokeswoman said: “The U.S. Secret Service carries out its law enforcement mission in an objective and apolitical manner. Any allegation that an employee is not carrying out their duties in that manner will be investigated. As this is a personnel matter, the agency will not be commenting.”

House barrels toward impeachment, and Biden scrambles to ensure it doesn’t hamper his agenda

Link copied
link

The House on Monday barreled toward impeaching Trump, while Biden, scrambling to ensure the effort does not bog down the start of his tenure, pressed the Senate on whether it could simultaneously hold a trial of the president and pass urgently needed bills.

Trump could be impeached as early as Wednesday on a charge of “incitement of insurrection.” That rapid pace in the House prompted Biden to ask Senate officials whether the chamber could “bifurcate” its schedule, so that his agenda and impeachment could be considered at the same time, while incoming majority leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) explored other, little-used ways of speeding up Senate action.

The accelerating activity reflected the unusually high-pressure moment, with the departure of one president — days after he encouraged a mob that assaulted the U.S. Capitol — increasingly colliding with the agenda of a successor determined to quickly tackle the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a foundering economy.

Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol

Link copied
link

Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.

But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their cries for help.

‘My first thought was that the Iranians had followed through on their threat,’ Sen. Collins writes of Capitol siege

2:20 a.m.
Link copied
link

In a first-person piece in the Bangor Daily News on Monday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) described her harrowing experience during last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, writing that as the attack first began, she thought it must have been launched not by American rioters, but by Iran.

“My first thought was that the Iranians had followed through on their threat to strike the Capitol, but a police officer took over the podium and explained that violent demonstrators had breached the entire perimeter of the Capitol and were inside,” Collins said in the piece. “Several of us pointed out that the doors to the press gallery were unlocked right above us. That tells you how overwhelmed and unprepared the Capitol Police were, although many, many of them were very courageous.”

At one point, Collins recounted, Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) wedged his way between Collins and her fellow senator, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), before members were evacuated from the Senate chamber.

“Only later did I learn that he was positioning himself to repel the rioters and defend us,” Collins said.

She said that she reached out to a contact at the White House to urge Trump to tell the rioters to stop. But Trump, Collins said, “completely undercut that message” by telling those who had stormed the Capitol “that he knew how they felt.”

“This was terrible, especially since he incited them in the first place,” Collins said.

The Maine Republican said she ended up spending the night at Murkowski’s home, out of fear that angry protesters might find her and attack her if she went to her own.

Collins has faced protests in recent years over her support for Trump and his judicial nominees, including Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. She referenced those protests in the piece, noting that she was concerned “about the violent extremists knowing where I live, given the threats and security problems I have encountered during the past two years.”

Trump and Pence speak for the first time since Capitol riot

1:27 a.m.
Link copied
link

President Trump and Vice President Pence spoke Monday for the first time since last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to a senior administration official.

The two met Monday night in the Oval Office and “had a good conversation” in which they discussed the week ahead and reflected on “the last four years of the administration’s work and accomplishments,” said the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, Trump ramped up pressure on Pence, publicly calling on him to overturn the election results even though he had no authority to do so.

Trump continued to pressure Pence in his speech to supporters outside the White House last Wednesday, when he said he would be “very disappointed” in Pence if he didn’t unilaterally try to invalidate Biden’s victory.

And even after the throngs of angry Trump supporters made their way to the Capitol, the president further unleashed his fury at Pence in a tweet, saying, in part, that the vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

Videos of Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol show dozens of Trump supporters chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they push their way into the building.

As of Monday evening, the White House had delivered a broad condemnation of all violence, but the president himself had not specifically condemned the threats against Pence — a point that has not gone unnoticed among allies of the vice president.

According to the senior administration official, during their conversation Monday night, the president and vice president “reiterated that those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week do not represent the ‘America First’ movement backed by 75 million Americans, and pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term.”

D.C. pleads for low attendance, federal help as tense Inauguration Day approaches

1:24 a.m.
Link copied
link

Battered by months of protests and a violent insurrection at the Capitol last week, the District is making urgent pleas to the federal government and the American people to try to prevent calamity from unfolding when Biden is sworn in as president next week.

On Monday, leaders in the Washington region urged all Americans to stay away from the nation’s capital come Jan. 20, citing the coronavirus pandemic and the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“If I’m scared of anything it’s for our democracy,” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said at a Monday news conference, responding to a reporter who asked if she feared what might happen on Inauguration Day. “Because we have factions in our country . . . that are armed and dangerous.”

Analysis: Congress can impeach Trump now and convict him when he’s gone

1:18 a.m.
Link copied
link

It now seems likely that the House of Representatives will impeach President Trump this week but that there will be no Senate trial until after the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden. Trump’s defenders will surely contend that a president cannot be tried by the Senate after he has left office.

They are wrong.

Both of us have studied and written about impeachment for many years. We each concluded long ago that the history, structure, rationale and application of the Constitution’s impeachment clauses provide powerful evidence for “late impeachability.” This evidence includes precedents: cases in which the House has impeached and the Senate has tried people who had already left office.

Biden speaks with Arnold Schwarzenegger after former California governor’s video calling for unity

12:10 a.m.
Link copied
link

Biden spoke with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday, after the actor and former California governor tweeted a video calling on the country to rally around Biden after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Trump.

“It was fantastic to talk to President Elect @JoeBiden today about bringing the country back together. I’m here to help in any way I can,” Schwarzenegger tweeted Monday afternoon. An adviser to Biden’s presidential transition confirmed that the call occurred.

Holding the sword he used in the movie “Conan the Barbarian,” Schwarzenegger posted a video on Twitter on Sunday in which he compared the rioters at the U.S. Capitol to the anti-Semitic pogroms known as Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, in November 1938, when pro-Nazi paramilitary forces destroyed thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues throughout Germany and Austria.

“The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol,” Schwarzenegger said. “They shattered the ideas we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed the American democracy. They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.”

The actor, who was born in Austria in the wake of the Nazi defeat and served as a Republican governor of California from 2003 to 2011, went on to ask Americans to embrace Biden and his presidency.

“I ask you to join me in saying to President-elect Biden, ‘President-elect Biden, we wish you great success as our president. If you succeed, our nation succeeds. We support you with all our hearts as you seek to bring us together. And to those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: you will never win,’ ” Schwarzenegger said.

Md. police officer suspended with pay as investigators look into possible involvement at U.S. Capitol

11:39 p.m.
Link copied
link

The Anne Arundel County, Md., police department has suspended an officer with pay as the agency works with federal authorities to determine what involvement the officer may have had in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

The department said its Office of Professional Standards is reviewing whether the officer, whose name was not released, violated any agency policies or broke any laws. A statement issued by the department did not specify how the officer was involved, or whether he was among the mob of people who entered the building in hopes of overturning the results of the presidential election.

A number of police departments across the country have launched investigations into alleged involvement of their officers in storming past Capitol Police officers and unlawfully entering the building.

In letter to House Republicans, McCarthy says he’s against impeachment, makes no mention of Trump

10:59 p.m.
Link copied
link

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declared his opposition Monday to impeaching Trump, arguing that members of Congress should refrain from doing so for the sake of national unity.

In a letter to House Republicans, McCarthy suggested four other options, including a censure resolution, although he did not make clear whether Trump, the rioters or someone else might be the subject of such a measure.

And despite Trump’s leading role in inciting Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy’s letter contained no mention of the president at all.

“Personally, I continue to believe that an impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together when we need to get America back on a path towards unity and civility,” McCarthy said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

“Notwithstanding the Speaker’s push towards impeachment, I have heard from members across our conference who have raised at least four potential avenues available to the House to ensure that the events of January 6 are rightfully denounced and prevented from occurring in the future,” he added.

News of the letter was first reported by Punchbowl News.

The four options suggested by McCarthy include a censure resolution; a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol; a push to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which prevents a vice president from arbitrarily deciding to reject state votes; and unspecified legislation to “promote voter confidence in future federal elections.”

McCarthy said House Republicans would meet later Monday to discuss the options.

On a call with House Democrats on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that a censure resolution “would be an abdication of our responsibility,” according to a person with knowledge of the call — meaning that at least one of McCarthy’s proposals is likely to go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

News of Pelosi’s remarks was first reported by Politico.

In his letter to House Republicans, McCarthy also mourned the deaths of Capitol Police officers Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood and acknowledged that the past week “has been extremely difficult for our conference and for our nation.”

“Having spoken to so many of you, I know we are all taking time to process the events of that day,” McCarthy said. “Please know I share your anger and your pain. Zip ties were found on staff desks in my office. Windows were smashed in. Property was stolen. Those images will never leave us — and I thank our men and women in law enforcement who continue to protect us and are working to bring the sick individuals who perpetrated these attacks to justice.”

At least 2 U.S. Capitol Police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over suspected role in riot

10:57 p.m.
Link copied
link

At least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the Wednesday demonstration that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to two congressional officials briefed on the developments.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D- Ohio) said Monday that the moves were made by the acting chief of the agency. “The main point is that Capitol police are looking at everybody involved that could have potentially facilitated at a big level or small level in any way,” he said.

Eight investigations have been launched, according to a congressional official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the status of the probe. In one of the cases, officers had posted what Capitol police investigators found to be messages showing support for the upcoming demonstration, including supporting the president’s baseless claim that the November election had been stolen through voter fraud.

In one instance, investigators found that an officer had posted “inappropriate” images of Joe Biden on a social media account. The officials declined to describe the photographs.

Supreme Court won’t fast-track Trump challenges to election results

10:47 p.m.
Link copied
link

As expected, the Supreme Court refused Monday to fast-track a batch of challenges to the presidential election filed by President Trump and his allies.

The rejections came without comment or noted dissent and were formal notifications of what already had become clear. Some of the petitions asking for the court to move quickly were filed in early December, and the court had not even called for responses from officials in the states where the results were challenged.

President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in Jan. 20, and the cases presumably will become moot after that.

Among the cases the court declined to expedite were Trump v. Biden and Trump v. Boockvar, which challenged the results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, respectively. Other cases filed by Trump allies objected to the outcomes in Michigan and Georgia.

Freshman GOP lawmaker says he’s ‘strongly considering’ impeaching Trump

10:37 p.m.
Link copied
link

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), a freshman who replaced Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican (turned independent) to back impeaching Trump the last time around, has said that he’s “strongly considering” voting to impeach Trump.

“When it comes to impeachment, it’s something we’re strongly considering at this point,” he said during a local TV interview. “There are timelines and additional considerations and additional information that I want to have before making that decision affirmatively.”

“But what we saw on Wednesday left the president unfit for office,” Meijer added.

Meijer wrote an op-ed for the Detroit News over the weekend describing the attack and encouraging Republicans to reflect on what kind of party they want to be.

“Worse yet, while a dead woman’s blood dried mere feet from our chamber, other Republican colleagues doubled down, repeating lies of a stolen election, baselessly deflecting blame for the Capitol assault from Trump loyalists to Antifa, doing whatever they could to justify, equivocate, rationalize or otherwise avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions,” Meijer wrote.

The Democrats have the votes to impeach Trump this week without any Republican votes, but it would convey a stronger message if the impeachment garnered some bipartisanship support.

Another GOP critic of Trump, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, wants Trump to resign or be removed by the 25th Amendment but said he didn’t think impeachment was the best approach. Still, he said he’d “vote the right way” when the articles come to the floor.

Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf to step down

10:30 p.m.
Link copied
link

Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf is stepping down, citing recent court challenges to his authority. His move comes nine days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration amid widespread fears about security in the aftermath of a pro-Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol last week.

Wolf announced his resignation Monday, effective at midnight, a decision he said was prompted by several court rulings challenging the validity of his appointment to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Wolf did not specifically cite the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, attributing his choice to “recent events.” Wolf was overseas for meetings in the Middle East last week, and DHS has been criticized for failing to prepare for the assault on the Capitol.

“I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration,” Wolf said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this action is warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary. 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 T. Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will take over as acting DHS secretary, Wolf’s statement said.

Wolf has served more than a year in an acting capacity as DHS leader, and the White House withdrew his nomination last week, long after it became clear that the Senate was unlikely to take up a confirmation vote.