with Mariana Alfaro

On the eve of the inauguration four years ago, Donald Trump likened his “movement” to the one that elected President Andrew Jackson. “There hasn’t been anything like this since Andrew Jackson,” Trump said. “That was a long time ago!”

Allies such as Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and Newt Gingrich frequently made this comparison. The organizer of Trump’s inaugural festivities, Tom Barrack, looked into opening up the White House to the general public for a party that would be modeled on what Jackson hosted when he became the seventh president. “Unfortunately, security concerns are different than they were in 1829,” Barrack said in 2017.

When Trump was sworn in, he hung Old Hickory’s portrait prominently in the Oval Office, made a pilgrimage to his Nashville estate and blocked plans to replace Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.

But Trump will likely be remembered much more in the category of another 19th-century president from Tennessee. Next week, Trump will become the first president to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration since President Andrew Johnson snubbed Ulysses S. Grant in 1869.

Johnson was the first of three presidents to be impeached. Trump is poised to become the first president to be impeached twice.

While Jackson and Trump both ran as populists, Jackson actually practiced what he preached. Google the Bank War if you have never studied that period. On the other hand, Trump has governed more often as a plutocrat than a populist.

Unlike Jackson, who won reelection in a landslide and has an epoch of U.S. history named for him, Johnson left office after one term. He was loathed by a majority of Americans and denied his party’s nomination for a full term.

Historians occasionally debate whether Johnson was the worst president in U.S. history – or just one of the worst two or three. Johnson was a demagogue who played on racial fears as he battled with radical Republicans over Reconstruction. He traveled the country to give long-winded speeches at rallies that oozed with grievance. In one notorious episode, on George Washington’s birthday, Johnson gave a speech in which he referred to himself more than 200 times and described congressmen with whom he disagreed as traitors.

Just like the current lame-duck president, Johnson issued a flurry of scandalous pardons during his final Christmas in the White House.

Ironically, Trump’s presidency is ending with current and former members of his Cabinet turning on him. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned in protest last week after Trump incited an act of insurrection against the legislative branch, which left five dead. John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff and secretary of homeland security, said he would vote to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump if he was still in the Cabinet. Mick Mulvaney, another former Trump chief of staff and the ex-director of the Office of Management and Budget, resigned his position as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland.

Johnson was impeached after firing Edwin Stanton as secretary of war. He had inherited Stanton and the rest of his Cabinet from President Abraham Lincoln. Nervous he would lose reelection in 1864, Lincoln had dumped his first-term vice president, Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, for Johnson, a so-called War Democrat who was then the military governor of Tennessee. The unity ticket was part of an effort to appeal to moderates in the border states, and it achieved its intended goal: Lincoln won reelection by 10 points after the Union victory in Atlanta. He carried Tennessee but lost the neighboring state of Kentucky to George McClellan. 

Unlike the teetotaler Trump, Johnson was an alcoholic. He showed up drunk to Lincoln’s second inauguration. One month later, he became the 17th president.

In lieu of a second impeachment, a growing number of constitutional scholars and historians who specialize in the Reconstruction period are suggesting a remedy from 1868 to punish Trump for his role in last week’s events. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could be used to bar Trump from holding another federal office if he is found to have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States. This provision was written largely to prevent Johnson from unilaterally granting blanket pardons to ex-Confederates, without congressional support, that might allow them to run for office again.

“The finding could be accomplished by a simple majority vote of both houses, in contrast to the requirement in impeachment proceedings that the Senate vote to convict by a two-thirds majority,” Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman and Indiana University law professor Gerard Magliocca write in an op-ed for today’s newspaper. “Congress would simply need to declare that Trump engaged in an act of ‘insurrection or rebellion’ by encouraging the attack on the Capitol. Under the 14th Amendment, Trump could run for the White House again only if he were able to persuade a future Congress to, ‘by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.’”

More political fallout

New details emerge about Trump's initial refusal to act after the mob stormed the Capitol.

“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,” Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Phil Rucker report. “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 pleas. … ‘It took him awhile to appreciate the gravity of the situation,’ Graham said in an interview. ‘The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.’ 

"Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to ‘go home in peace.’ But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed Press officials had begun discussing a statement from Trump around 2 p.m. … But they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the president and could only take the matter to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows … [Donald] Trump Jr. headed to the airport for a shuttle flight home to New York. … An aide called Trump Jr. and suggested he immediately issue a statement urging the rioters to stop. At 2:17 p.m., Trump Jr. hit send on a tweet as he boarded the plane: ‘This is wrong and not who we are,’ he wrote. … But the president himself was busy enjoying the spectacle. … 

“McCarthy did eventually reach Trump, but later told allies that he found the president distracted. So McCarthy repeatedly appeared on television to describe the mayhem, an adviser said, in an effort to explain just how dire the situation was. … At one point, Trump worried that the unruly group was frightening GOP lawmakers from doing his bidding and objecting to the election results. … [Around 4 p.m.], the White House was preparing to put out a video address on behalf of the president. … Trump aides did three takes of the video and chose the most palatable option — despite some West Wing consternation that the president had called the violent protesters ‘very special.’ …

"The following evening, on Thursday, Trump released another video, the closest advisers say he is likely to come to a concession speech. … His calls for healing and reconciliation were more than a day too late, many aides said. Yet as Trump watched the media coverage of his video, he grew angry. The president said he wished he hadn’t done it … because he feared that the calming words made him look weak.”

  • In a Monday phone call with McCarthy, Trump falsely accused leftists of being behind the insurrection. McCarthy responded: “It’s not Antifa. It’s MAGA. I know. I was there.” (Axios
  • Shortly before convening a conference call of House Republicans later in the day, McCarthy sent a memo floating several alternatives to impeachment, including a censure resolution, a bipartisan investigative commission and changes to the law governing the counting of electoral votes. On the call with his GOP colleagues, McCarthy said Trump privately agreed that he bore some responsibility for Wednesday’s riot, according to two Republicans who heard his remarks. (Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane)
  • New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, a key Trump supporter in 2016, announced that he will no longer accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom award from him on Thursday. He said he had agreed to accept the award before last week’s violence. “Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” Belichick said in a statement. (Cindy Boren and Mark Maske)
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) holds Trump responsible for inciting the mob. “I called and texted my closest contact at the White House to urge that the president immediately tell the rioters to stop their violence and go home. But Trump completely undercut that message by repeating his grievances and telling the rioters that he knew how they felt," Collins writes in the Bangor Daily News.
  • A narrow majority of Americans – 52 percent – say Trump should be removed from office, and 53 percent say he should resign, per a new Quinnipiac poll. The same survey shows Trump’s job approval rating has fallen to 33 percent, matching his previous all-time low in the aftermath of Charlottesville in 2017. 
  • A group of 24 former House Republican lawmakers endorsed impeaching Trump. In an open letter, they say “there is no excuse for nor defense of a President of the United States to actively orchestrate an insurrection on a separate but coequal branch of government.”
  • William Webster, the former federal judge, FBI director and CIA director, endorses Trump’s impeachment. “I’m a lifelong Republican, but I am an American first,” he writes in an op-ed for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Never in my 96 years did I imagine a sitting president of the United States, abetted by numerous members of Congress, using tools of deception and innuendo to challenge the will of the American people in choosing their leadership. Abraham Lincoln warned us that ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside if we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.’”
Pence and Trump are speaking again. 

“Vice President Pence was in hiding from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol last Wednesday when the presidential tweet attacking him posted. ‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,’” Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m., Dawsey and Parker report. “Trump never called him that day or in the days following to make sure Pence was okay — or to discuss a governmental response to the deadly riots the president incited. … A senior administration official said Trump and Pence finally met in the Oval Office on Monday night and ‘had a good conversation, discussing the week ahead and reflecting on the last four years of the administration’s work and accomplishments.’ Pence is under pressure from Democrats to invoke the 25th Amendment … but he is not expected to do so, aides said. Trump’s treatment of Pence has reverberated badly in the White House and among campaign aides, many of whom see it as unseemly and unfair. One senior administration official described it as ‘unconscionable, even for the president.’"

Quote of the day

"I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them,” writes Fiona Hill, who formerly served as the senior director for European and Russian affairs on Trump's National Security Council. (Politico)

Trump has been advised he potentially could face civil liability connected to his role in encouraging the mob.

“‘Think O.J.,’ an adviser explained it to Trump, according to one source. It was a reference to O.J. Simpson, who was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and a friend but later faced stiff civil damages after being sued by his ex-wife's family,” ABC News reports. "Prior to Wednesday, the president and his advisers had been discussing a self-pardon – something that would be both historic and untested in American history – in the wake of a phone call with Trump and Georgia election officials that was made public. The sources say if the president were to self-pardon, it would only strengthen the motivation to bring civil cases against the 45th president.”

  • Trump’s private business failed to pay a $49,000 hotel bill incurred during his 2017 inaugural — and then, after the bill went to a collections agency, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee improperly agreed to pay the charge instead, according to a new filing from the D.C. attorney general. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) added this to charge to his lawsuit alleging that Trump wasted donors’ money on an overpriced, barely used ballroom at his own hotel. (David Fahrenthold)
  • New York City is considering ending contracts with Trump’s companies that bring him $17 million a year. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the city is looking for ways to stop the Trump Organization from operating a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks. (Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell)
  • Companies linked with the Trumps, including Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest lender, are seeking distance from him and his businesses. (NYT)
  • Chemical company Dow will not donate to any member of Congress who objected to the certification of the presidential vote. (Popular Information)
  • Twitter purged more than 70,000 accounts affiliated with QAnon following the riot. (Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin)
  • Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon Web Services, just hours after the social media network was taken offline when Amazon pulled support. Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. (Rachel Lerman and Nitasha Tiku)
  • Citing concerns over “censorship,” a North Idaho Internet provider blocked Facebook and Twitter from being accessible over its WiFi service after the two social media giants blocked Trump. While these social media platforms are allowed to ban the president because he violated their terms of service, the WiFi provider which also serves parts of Spokane, Wash. may have violated a state-level net neutrality law. (KREM2)
  • Only one person showed up to a pro-Trump protest outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. The building was empty, with Twitter employees working from home because of the pandemic, but there was still heavy police presence to protect against a mob that never materialized. (Verge)
  • Facebook told employees Monday to avoid wearing or carrying company-branded clothing and other items in public following the company’s suspension last week of Trump’s account and its more recent crackdown on content mentioning “Stop the Steal.” (The Information
  • House Democrats will look into social media’s role in the riot as part of a broader inquiry into disinformation. (Tony Romm)
Rudy Giuliani could be disbarred.

The New York State Bar Association will consider expelling Trump's personal lawyer, and a state lawmaker is seeking his disbarment after inflammatory comments during a rally preceding last week's deadly insurrection. “In a statement Monday, the bar association said it has received ‘hundreds of complaints in recent months’ about the former New York mayor and his failed bid to help Trump overturn his loss,” Shayna Jacobs reports. “‘Mr. Giuliani’s words quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to take matters into their own hands,’ a spokeswoman for the group, Susan DeSantis, said in the statement. … New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, filed a formal complaint to an appellate court related to ‘rampant and egregious violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct’ and Giuliani’s ‘complicity’ in inciting last week’s violence. … Speaking to a charged crowd of thousands near the White House on Wednesday, Giuliani said: ‘If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let’s have trial by combat!’”

More law enforcement fallout

Several Capitol Police officers suspended, and more than a dozen are under investigation. 

“Eight separate investigations have been launched into the actions of Capitol officers,” Aaron Davis, Rebecca Tan and Beth Reinhard report. “In one of the cases, officers had posted what Capitol Police investigators found to be messages showing support for the rally on Wednesday that preceded the attack on the complex, including touting Trump’s baseless contention that the election had been stolen through voter fraud. … Investigators in another instance found that a Capitol officer had posted ‘inappropriate’ images of Biden on a social media account. … House and Senate lawmakers have called for investigations into the security failures … On Monday, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), whose committee has financial oversight of the Capitol Police, told reporters in a video conference call that one of those suspended was captured in images of the riot that went viral online. The photo appears to show a Capitol officer allowing or even posing for a rioter to take a picture with the officer. … The other officer who was suspended was seen outside the complex wearing a red Make America Great Again baseball cap at the time rioters were surrounding the Capitol, Ryan said.”

Chad Wolf resigns as acting homeland security secretary.

“Wolf, who was overseas in the Middle East last week during the siege, attributed his decision to ‘recent events’ and court rulings that have challenged the legality of his appointment by the Trump administration to run the department,” Nick Miroff and Carol Leonnig report. “In a statement to Department of Homeland Security staff, Wolf said he was ‘saddened to take this step,’ having previously announced plans to remain on the job through the end of the Trump administration. … Chase Jennings, a DHS spokesman, said Wolf will remain at the department in his Senate-confirmed role as undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans. … 

“Several lawmakers have called for hearings to question why Wolf and DHS failed to anticipate threats posed by Trump’s followers … In one of his final moves as acting secretary Monday, Wolf announced that the U.S. Secret Service would take over security preparations for the inauguration on Wednesday, six days ahead of schedule … Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called Wolf’s decision to step down Monday ‘questionable.’ ‘He has chosen to resign during a time of national crisis and when domestic terrorists may be planning additional attacks on our government,’ Thompson said.” 

Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed to D.C. for the inauguration. 

That announcement was made “as lawmakers questioned the military’s ability to respond quickly to domestic crises and urged a crackdown on possible extremists in its ranks,” Dan Lamothe reports. “A contingent of 340 D.C. National Guard members had been activated ahead of the riot … But the guardsmen were unarmed and mostly on traffic duty in other parts of the District, in a limited mission that city officials had approved. Once the riot began, lawmakers and D.C. officials pleaded with defense officials to send National Guard members to help, but none arrived for hours as details were finalized … Defense officials have since activated thousands of National Guard members, with 6,000 in the city as of Monday, said Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Up to 10,000 are expected to be deployed by Saturday, with the possibility for even more on the streets by the inauguration on Jan. 20, he said. … The National Guard members will carry weapons based on discussions with the FBI, police and other agencies.”  

The FBI warns that armed far-right extremist groups plan to march on state capitals this weekend.

“The memo is something of a raw intelligence product, compiling information gathered by the bureau and several other government agencies,” Tim Craig, Holly Bailey and Matt Zapotosky report. "Some of it is unverified, and the threat is likely to differ significantly from place to place, though the memo said there were plans in all 50 state capitals … But the data points it highlights for law enforcement are nonetheless troubling — including that there was information suggesting people might storm government offices, or stage an uprising were Trump to be removed from office. … On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that he was activating the National Guard to provide support for the Capitol Police in Madison. … In Arizona, officials had erected a double-layer chain-link fence around the Capitol complex in Phoenix. … Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) called up 750 National Guard troops to help protect the Capitol, where the legislature kicked off its annual session Monday.”

“Another right-wing group stormed the state capitol in Salem, Ore., trying to break into the building while legislators met for a special session on Dec. 21. The capitol’s locked doors kept the crowd at bay — until Republican state Rep. Mike Nearman coolly walked through an exit and held the doors open as far-right demonstrators raced inside,” Katie Shepherd reports. “On Monday, after surveillance video showing Nearman’s role in the incursion became public, his colleagues stripped his committee assignments, restricted his access to the capitol building, and fined him for the damage caused by the crowd after he opened the door. … Few Republicans have publicly criticized Nearman.”

In a call last night, Capitol Police briefed House members on three potential plots.

“The first is a demonstration billed as the ‘largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil.’ Another is a protest in honor of Ashli Babbitt, the woman killed while trying to climb into the Speaker’s Lobby during Wednesday’s pro-Trump siege of the Capitol. And another demonstration, which three members said was by far the most concerning plot, would involve insurrectionists forming a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House and the Supreme Court, and then blocking Democrats from entering the Capitol ― perhaps even killing them ― so that Republicans could take control of the government,” HuffPost reports. “‘It was pretty overwhelming,’ one member said. … Lawmakers were told that the plot to encircle the Capitol also included plans to surround the White House ― so that no one could harm Trump ― and the Supreme Court, simply to shut down the courts. … All of these plots may never materialize. The Capitol Police have established a new perimeter with fencing and razor wire … But while Capitol Police assured members they were prepared for these terrorist plots, there was obvious concern from a number of lawmakers.” 

D.C. leaders issue urgent pleas for Americans to stay away next week.

"'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,’” Emily Davies reports. “Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) held a joint call on Monday to discuss planning for the 59th presidential inauguration and agreed to discourage all in-person attendance in the interest of public safety. … One online post cited by Alethea Group, an anti-disinformation organization, has called for an ‘ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS.’ Others have discussed a ‘Million Militia March’ on Inauguration Day. … Bowser, who said she will be briefed by the FBI daily on threats to the city, warned that demonstrations across the country may mean states will rethink their ability to lend help. That could be especially dangerous at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has hamstrung the city’s emergency response teams. On average, the D.C. fire department is operating with a 10 percent reduction in staffing from coronavirus infection and exposure.”

  • Bowser banned indoor dining and forced museums to remain closed until two days after the inauguration, a fiat intended to both curb the pandemic’s spread but also make Washington less hospitable to visitors. (Julie Zauzmer)
  • The head of the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to unruly passengers flying in for the inauguration: Causing a safety risk could mean a jail term or a $35,000 fine. Several viral videos showed people like Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham being heckled at airports last week, and others showed rowdy Trump supporters aboard airliners and refusing to wear masks. (Ian Duncan and Lori Aratani)
  • The Justice Department is pursuing at least 150 suspects in connection to their roles in the intrusion. A nationwide manhunt is underway. (NYT)
  • Horrific: Someone etched the word “Trump” on a Florida manatee. Wildlife authorities are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. (NYT)

More on the transition

President-elect Joe Biden said his "number one priority" is getting vaccines distributed as he got the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 11. (The Washington Post)
Biden scrambles to prevent impeachment from hampering his first 100 days.

The president-elect called the Senate parliamentarian on Monday to ask whether the chamber could simultaneously hold a trial of Trump and pass urgently needed bills for covid relief. Biden told reporters in Delaware that he asked about how to “bifurcate” the schedule so that his nominees can get confirmed and bills can advance during a morning session before the trial proceeds in the afternoon. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) explored other, little-used ways of speeding up Senate action. 

“Some officials who have been involved in past impeachment proceedings said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to bifurcate the Senate’s work as Biden has proposed,” Seung Min Kim, Annie Linskey and Dawsey report“There could be further delays if legal challenges are mounted to determine whether a former president can face impeachment. And Senate Republicans would have little incentive to work with Biden to speed things along and enact his agenda. All those factors are putting enormous pressure on Schumer to decide how to negotiate the political crosscurrents. He said in an interview published Monday that he considered impeaching Trump and executing Biden’s agenda equally important. …

“The Senate is not scheduled to come into session until Jan. 19 … That has prompted Schumer to explore an obscure authority that would allow him, along with the current majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to jointly reconvene the Senate in cases of emergency … But McConnell would have to agree to such a maneuver, and it is far from clear that he would. Aides to McConnell — who had ignored Trump’s calls before Wednesday’s siege and now has no plans to call him back, according to one official — did not immediately respond to requests for comment. …

“Over the weekend, Schumer quietly advised his fellow Senate Democrats not to take the prospect of impeachment off the table in their interviews and public comments … In addition, Schumer told senators not to float censure as a potential option for punishing Trump, since most Democrats believe that would let Republicans off the hook by providing a way for them to impose a toothless penalty on Trump. … Biden and Pelosi discussed impeachment when they spoke Friday, and Biden suggested he was agnostic on whether lawmakers go forward.”

Democratic control of the Senate will allow repeals of last-minute Trump policies.

The Trump “administration put out three to four times its usual volume of rules in recent months, according to estimates by Daniel Pérez, an analyst at George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center,” the WSJ reports. “Such measures, known as midnight regulations, are often vulnerable to rollback by an incoming administration of the opposing party. Agency heads appointed by a new president can scrap rules that have been finalized but not yet published in the Federal Register or delay implementation of ones that have been published but haven’t taken effect. And they can decline to defend rules challenged in court. But control of both chambers of Congress by the president’s party unlocks an additional tool. The Congressional Review Act, or CRA, allows the Senate and House of Representatives to overturn regulations finalized by the executive branch in the previous 60 legislative days using a fast-track process that requires a simple majority vote. Most other legislation requires 60 votes to clear the Senate."

Biden has said little publicly about his criminal justice plans. 

“Many say that the credibility Biden earned among civil rights leaders as vice president to Barack Obama, combined with his long-standing ties with law enforcement, including his work on the 1994 crime bill, make him well-positioned to bridge divides among law enforcement officials and civilians pushing for change,” per Tim Craig, Mark Berman, Amy Wang, Tom Jackman, Matt Zapotosky, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Justin Jouvenal.

  • The Biden Justice Department is likely to increase resources for the civil rights division and resume wide-ranging scrutiny of troubled police departments nationwide. (Zapotosky
  • Biden will be the nation’s most pro-LGBTQ president ever and promises an ambitious slate of actions that will go beyond merely reversing Trump’s discriminatory policies. (Wax-Thibodeaux)
  • Biden has promised to, essentially, undo the tough-on-crime policies he supported decades ago, but friend and foe alike are skeptical. (Jouvenal)
  • Biden could oversee broad changes in federal drug policy, including how law enforcement agencies view drug addiction and classify the use of marijuana. (Craig)
Doug Emhoff, the incoming second gentleman, is stepping away from legal work.

“Political spouses seldom cause a ripple, but sometimes they can be a liability," Manuel Roig-Franzia reports. "Emhoff presented a more complex set of questions. Over the years, alongside the boilerplate corporate and real estate work, [the lawyer] has sometimes represented heavily regulated companies or firms that might be frowned upon on the left. … The cases that have gotten the most attention lately, though, have been the quirkiest. He succeeded in shielding an advertising agency from paying a massive judgment in a case involving the origins of the Chihuahua featured in Taco Bell advertisements. … The closest parallel for Emhoff may be Marilyn Quayle, the wife of President George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Dan Quayle. She made inquiries about resuming her legal career when her husband took office, but her plans fizzled amid conflict-of-interest sniping and reluctance within firms to open themselves to undue scrutiny."

The coronavirus

Three House Democrats who tested positive for covid blame GOP colleagues who refused to wear masks.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) prepared for the worst after she was forced to take shelter last week for several hours in a crowded committee room. Many of the GOP members of Congress hiding out with her were not wearing masks, she said, and had refused to accept them from a colleague. After Congress voted to affirm Biden's victory, she began to quarantine. Sure enough, Jayapal announced late Monday that she has tested positive, joining Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.). A third lawmaker, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), said Tuesday morning that he, too, had tested positive after spending “several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other Members of Congress.”

The Trump administration will announce sweeping changes to its vaccination rollout.

New guidelines will make many more doses of the coronavirus vaccine available and urge states to provide shots to anyone 65 years old and older. The changes come days after Biden announced plans to release nearly all the vaccine supply. “The Trump administration has been holding back roughly half the vaccines to ensure sufficient supply for people to get a required second shot. But in draft remarks prepared for a scheduled call Tuesday afternoon with governors and obtained by The Washington Post, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar disclosed the change in plans,” Lena Sun and Laurie McGinley report.

The FDA cycled through three top lawyers Monday in a clash with HHS. 

“The unusual sequence began with Trump appointee Stacy Cline Amin abruptly stepping down as chief counsel and the FDA announcing that career civil servant Mark Raza would be her acting replacement. Then, HHS on Monday night announced that Trump political appointee James Lawrence would instead serve as chief counsel — a move that unnerved health officials as the Trump administration heads into its final week. Two officials said that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows backed Lawrence as FDA's top lawyer, per Politico. “Three FDA officials said they were bracing for HHS to push through additional last-minute policy changes, noting that HHS on Monday announced new deregulatory policies that were partly steered by Lawrence. The moves, which roll back some of FDA's reviews, were opposed by the agency and its allies.”

The CDC says there’s no sign of a homegrown U.S. virus variant. 

“Infectious-disease experts say there is no evidence the massive winter surge that is killing thousands of people a day in the United States is linked to the U.K. variant or to a homegrown strain. But they acknowledge their battlefield awareness is limited,” Joel Achenbach, Kim Bellware and Hamza Shaban report. “Some states have minimal capacity to conduct genomic sequencing that allows scientists to trace the random mutations that could give a virus variant some advantage over other strains. Like any virus, this one mutates randomly, and countless variants are in circulation. The increase in the rate of new infections in the United States has been so rapid in recent weeks that scientists cannot rule out the possibility that an undetected variant is accelerating the spread. Other factors may be behind the surge, including holiday gatherings and the lack of adherence in some communities to public health guidelines designed to limit transmission, such as social distancing and wearing masks. … 

Nearly 198,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 1,600 deaths were reported Monday in the United States. The seven-day running average for daily deaths has topped 3,200. Nearly 375,000 people have died of the virus in the nation since the beginning of the pandemic. … The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday its strain surveillance program and its partners are on track to more than double by week’s end the number of genomic sequences being uploaded to public databases compared with the sequencing rate in December." 

  • The District and much of Virginia moved into their next phases of vaccinations, targeting older residents and other vulnerable populations. Bowser said the city will begin vaccinating residents 65 and older, while some jurisdictions in Virginia on Monday began making appointments to inoculate residents 75 and older. (Antonio Olivo, Lola Fadulu and Ovetta Wiggins)
  • The home of Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack was vandalized by coronavirus deniers over the weekend. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said the incident, which he called a form of intimidation, is under investigation. (Antonia Farzan)
  • Three San Diego Zoo gorillas contracted the virus, the first known instance of infection among great apes. The animals were tested after they began coughing. They're believed to have gotten the virus from an asymptomatic zookeeper. Given the similarities between humans and apes, scientists are worried that the virus could pose a threat to the endangered primates. (Farzan)
  • Increased cleaning by people with asthma during the pandemic may be causing flareups of their disease, according to a new study in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. (Reuters)

Other news that should be on your radar

  • Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino tycoon who helped bankroll Trump’s campaigns and Bibi Netanyahu’s comeback in Israel, died at 87 in Malibu, Calif., from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (Donald Frazier)
  • Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer filmed with his knee on George Floyd's neck and is charged with his murder, will be tried separately from the other officers implicated in the death as the court seeks to lower the risk of coronavirus spread at the courthouse. (Holly Bailey)
  • The Alabama football dynasty collected another national title with a 52-24 rout of Ohio State. (Chuck Culpepper and Des Bieler)
  • A series of papers questioning climate change were published online without White House approval by Trump appointee David Legates. The papers, which appeared on nongovernment websites, bear the imprint of the Executive Office of the President and say they are copyrighted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, but they're being disavowed. Legates, a senior official at the NOAA, is a longtime climate skeptic. (Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow)
  • The Trump administration added Cuba to a list of state sponsors of terrorism, reversing a signature move of the Obama administration and hampering Biden’s ability to broker a rapprochement with Havana. (John Hudson, Anthony Faiola and Karen DeYoung)
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to use newly declassified U.S. intelligence to publicly accuse Iran of having ties to al-Qaeda, as part of a last-minute offensive against Tehran to box in Biden. (Reuters)
  • The director of Voice of America ordered the reassignment of a reporter for the international news organization after she sought to ask questions of Pompeo during a VOA-sponsored appearance on Monday. (Paul Farhi)
  • The Army moved to oust an officer who made jokes on TikTok about Nazi concentration camps. The officer, 2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer, has 3.8 million followers on the Chinese-owned platform and has been under investigation for months. (Dan Lamothe)
  • In some positive D.C. news: The panda cub at the National Zoo, Xiao Qi Ji, has mastered walking and is now learning how to climb. (Martin Weil)
  • Colombia is running out of time to tackle Pablo Escobar’s wildest legacy: Hippos. In the 1980s, the drug kingpin smuggled four hippos from sub-Saharan Africa onto his private country estate. Decades later, dozens of their wild spawn roam the wetlands north of Bogota, the largest invasive species on the planet. Scientists say they are an ecological menace, competing with native wildlife and polluting local waterways. A study forecasts that the invasive hippo population will swell to almost 1,500 individuals by 2040. At that point, their environmental impacts will be irreversible and their numbers impossible to control. (Sarah Kaplan)

Social media speed read

One of the most infamous Capitol rioters is not eating in prison: 

The House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report called out McCarthy:

And two old Democratic rivals keep their friendly competition going: 

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert said the rioters who attacked the Capitol were “prepared to kill”: 

Seth Meyers is ready for a second impeachment: 

Trevor Noah mocked conservatives who complained about losing Twitter followers after the platform closed down QAnon accounts: