President Biden urged swift passage of his $1.9 billion coronavirus relief plan Friday, arguing during an Oval Office appearance that Americans will be “badly, badly hurt” if Congress does not pass legislation soon.
Biden later headed toWalter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to visit wounded troops, his first trip to the hospital since taking office.During the visit, he also toured a coronavirus vaccination site and thanked hospital officials for the care they provided to his son Beau during the final days of his battle with brain cancer in 2015.
President Donald Trump was treated at Walter Reed in October after contracting the coronavirus.
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The two pipe bombs discovered Jan. 6 near the Capitol shortly before a mob stormed the building are believed to have been planted the night before, according to a law enforcement official and video footage obtained by The Washington Post.
Open hostility broke out among Republicans and Democrats in Congress amid growing fears of physical violence and looming domestic terrorism threats from Trump supporters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) leveled an extraordinary allegation that dangers lurk among the membership itself.
Police officer who died after defending Capitol will lie in honor in Rotunda
Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots, will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda before he is interred at Arlington National Cemetery next week, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Friday.
A ceremonial arrival for Sicknick will take place at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, and a viewing period for Capitol Police members will begin at 10 p.m. and continue overnight. Members of Congress will be able to attend a viewing from 7 to 9 a.m. the following day. At 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 3, a congressional tribute to Sicknick for invited guests only will be held, followed by a ceremonial departure at noon before Sicknick’s interment at Arlington.
“On behalf of the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is our great privilege to pay tribute to Officer Sicknick with this lying-in-honor ceremony,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement. “May this ceremony and the knowledge that so many mourn with and pray for them be a comfort to Officer Sicknick’s family during this sad time.”
Earlier this week, two South Carolina Republicans — Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Ralph Norman — introduced legislation that would allow Sicknick to lie in state, a proposal supported by the Capitol Police union.
“Officer Sicknick is a national hero that deserves our deepest respect,” Scott tweeted Thursday.
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Rep. Cori Bush elaborates on decision to move office away from Greene: ‘My team deserves better,’ she tells MSNBC
Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri,elaborated on her decision Friday to move her office at the U.S. Capitol complex away from the office of Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene in an interview on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut.”
“I moved my office because I came here to do a job for the people of St. Louis,” Bush told host Joy Reid. “They deserve that. And what I cannot do is continue to look over my shoulder wondering if a white supremacist in Congress by the name of Marjorie Taylor Greene or anyone else — and there are others — that they are doing something or conspiring against us.”
Bush also said she moved her office so that she and her staff would not have to waste time worrying about working in a toxic environment.
“My team deserves better,” Bush said. “They should not have to come to work and have to wonder if that door is going to open … and it’s somebody that does not want to do them well.”
Earlier Friday, Bush claimed Greene accosted her without a mask. Meanwhile, Greene — a who has a history of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks and has endorsed QAnon, the extremist ideology that has radicalized its followers and been designated by the FBI as a domestic terrorism threat — called Bush a liar and accused her of leading a “terrorist mob” because she supported Black Lives Matter.
The Biden administration announced Friday that it will expand Pandemic EBT benefits to infants and young children as part of a package to get more food aid to young families who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus-induced recession.
The measure follows President Biden’s executive order last week to expand food assistance programs. This new initiative, aimed at the 12 million families receivingPandemic EBT (which is meant to replace free or subsidized mealsfor kids now learning online) will also give states added flexibility to swiftly distribute the benefits.
“Within one week, the USDA is executing on the president’s directive and getting more money into the hands of kids and families who need it,” Stacy Dean, who last week was named deputy undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services,told The Washington Post.“We are committed to acting quickly so states can set up and deploy these programs right away.”
The initiative increases pandemic food assistance benefits, intended for those children who would have qualified for subsidized school meals were schools in session, by 16 percent. Children 0-6 will now also be eligible.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday visited National Guard troops stationed at the U.S. Capitol. Since a pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a deadly insurrection, National Guard members have been deployed at the complex and its perimeter to provide extra security.
Wearing a black suit and a dark face mask, Austin could be seen greeting Guard troops with fist bumps as he exited a vehicle near the Capitol, according to C-SPAN video.
“Let me say upfront that I’m absolutely grateful for your service,” Austin told one group of troops. “The country’s grateful and certainly the lawmakers here who are doing the business of our government are really, really grateful.”
Austin spent about half an hour walking along fencing that had been erected around the perimeter of the Capitol complex after the attack, greeting service members and asking if they had everything they needed. He vowed they had the support of the Department of Defense.
David Hogg was walking briskly toward the U.S. Capitol when he heard someone shouting a familiar conspiracy theory at him, something about the philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros and the Second Amendment.
It was March 2019, just over a year after he had survived a mass shooting at his high school in Parkland, Fla., and Hogg had become a target of bogus right-wing claims. It wouldn’t become clear until later, but this encounter with an aggressive heckler would be different. The woman trailing him, Marjorie Taylor Greene, would soon be elected to Congress.
Greene, who baselessly claimed online that several mass shootings were “staged,” led a group who followed Hogg and his friends around a congressional building later that day. The future Republican congresswoman from Georgia recorded both encounters, videos that have resurfaced this week — along with more revelations about her embrace of conspiracy theories and violence, fueling calls for her expulsion from the House.
In an interview Thursday, Hogg said he remembers the encounter vividly and found Greene’s conduct menacing. He said it felt like she was trying to trigger his post-traumatic-stress disorder. It put him on edge — he was then 18 years old and had received multiple death threats for his work as a gun-control activist — but he kept cool.
The next day, Hogg had an interview with CNN, but he didn’t mention the woman who had recorded him.
“I didn’t want to distract from the mission here, which is ending gun violence — not people who are out of their mind like Marjorie Taylor Greene,” Hogg said Thursday. “I didn’t want to give her that platform.”
Hogg is now calling on House Republicans to strip Greene of her committee assignment — she is assigned to the House Education and Labor Committee — and expel her from Congress.
“You can fully disagree with me on everything,” he said of GOP leadership. “But you should in these moments, when we can stand together against these conspiracies that can get people killed, you need to stand together not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as human beings, because democracy cannot exist in a post-truth world.”
Hogg knows firsthand the dangerous impact conspiracy theories can have — and lawmakers should, too, he said, after the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol.
“Why are they not calling this out?” Hogg said of Republicans. “It’s going to get someone killed, unless they didn’t realize that from the insurrection already.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will meet with Greene next week, according to an aide. The GOP leader has said he will have a conversation with her amid calls for Greene to resign.
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Jewish groups condemn Rep. Greene’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that space laser caused Calif. wildfire
Two major Jewish groups are condemning freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) support in 2018 for an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about the origins of the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest wildfire in history.
In a statement Friday afternoon, the Republican Jewish Coalition called Greene “far outside the mainstream of the Republican Party” and said it was “working closely with the House Republican leadership regarding next steps in this matter.”
“The RJC has never supported or endorsed Marjorie Taylor Greene,” the group said. “We are offended and appalled by her comments and her actions. We opposed her as a candidate and we continue to oppose her now.”
Earlier Friday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a Jewish nonprofit, said in a statement that it was “outraged by the statements, past and present,” made by Greene and called for congressional leaders to take action to hold the Georgia Republican accountable.
“As an avid supporter of QAnon, Representative Greene espouses antisemitic canards, such as placing blame on ‘the Rothschilds’ for recent wildfires in California and declaring that ‘Zionist supremacists’ are behind supposed nefarious plots,” the group said. “There must be a swift and commensurate response from Congressional leadership making clear that this conduct cannot and will not be allowed to debase our politics.”
On Friday morning, the White House declined to weigh in on Greene’s conspiracy theories, including her statements about the California wildfire.
“We don’t want to elevate conspiracy theories further in the briefing room, so I’m going to leave it at that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters when asked about Greene’s past statements.
According to a report Thursday by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America, in November 2018, Greene wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post that “there are too many coincidences to ignore” regarding the wildfire.
Fire officials have concluded that the fire was caused by equipment operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. But conspiracy theorists, including followers of the QAnon extremist ideology — which Greene supports — have baselessly suggested that the wildfire was caused by a laser beam fired from space and that then-California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and the Rothschild family were somehow involved.
“If they are beaming the suns energy back to Earth, I’m sure they wouldn’t ever miss a transmitter receiving station right??!!" Greene wrote in the Facebook post, according to Media Matters. “I mean mistakes are never made when anything new is invented. What would that look like anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmmm, I don’t know. I hope not! That wouldn’t look so good for PG&E, Rothschild Inc, Solaren or Jerry Brown who sure does seem fond of PG&E.”
Amid mounting criticism of her actions, Greene sent out a defiant fundraising email Friday in which she repeatedly referred to Trump and challenged Republicans to stand with her, contending that her supporters “will be vital to Republicans taking back the House in 2022.”
“I will never back down,” Greene said in the email, which was sent to supporters and did not address the substance of the reports about her past statements. “I will never give up. Because I am one of you. And I will always represent you.”
Hours earlier, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office sent out an email highlighting the GOP freshman class, describing the members as “a strong representation of who America is and where we come from.”
The message notably did not mention Greene. McCarthy will meet with Greene next week, according to an aide. The leader has said he will have a conversation with the freshman lawmaker.
Two Democratic House members, Reps. Nikema Williams (Ga.) and Sara Jacobs (Calif.), announced Friday afternoon that they plan to introduce legislation next week to formally censure Greene, citing, in part, her pattern of online activity approving of the execution of Democratic leaders and federal agents.
Weeks after their jogging routes and day care drop-offs were interrupted by a mob storming the U.S. Capitol, the residents of a quiet neighborhood nestled amid the national monuments are wrestling with life in a fortress, where checkpoints abut corner stores and armed soldiers are new neighbors.
Some residents on Capitol Hill have rallied behind the thousands of National Guard members stationed nearby, bringing them wagons full of snacks and hot coffee to express gratitude for their service. Other locals have gone to great lengths to avoid the encampment, saying the presence of armed troops and fencing topped with razor wire makes them feel even more on edge in their own neighborhood.
The polarizing positions has laid bare the personal toll that the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol has taken on D.C. residents who have to live with the aftermath of the insurrection and the militarization of their home.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Friday called on the Justice Department to prosecute all those who illegally entered the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot and to provide detailed information about how it is making charging decisions.
Nadler made the request in a letter to acting attorney general Monty Wilkinson, citing news accounts that prosecutors were only planning to charge a “portion” of those who entered the Capitol. The Washington Post reported last week that the Justice Department and FBI were privately debating whether to decline charging some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol but did nothing else.
“It is critical that all of the perpetrators of this insurrectionist attack be identified, investigated, arrested, charged and subsequently prosecuted,” Nadler wrote. “The Department of Justice must dedicate every available resource to its offices across the country in order to ensure that all of these individuals are held accountable.”
Officials said this week they have opened case files on at least 400 potential suspects and expect to bring sedition charges against some very soon. Nadler wrote that he was “heartened” by the commitment to charging wrongdoers, but he requested more information on the process being used to determine where charges would be filed and any guidance documents sent to U.S. attorney offices.
Nadler also requested “demographic data about whether any of those charged held any current or past positions of public trust or military or law enforcement service, especially given reports that some of these individuals may have been elected to public office or had even current or recent military or law enforcement service.”
“To the degree that there will be distinguishing criteria regarding the manner or prioritization in which federal prosecutors investigate and pursue charges, we ask that you provide us with detailed information relating to how these policies are developed and applied consistently throughout the country,” Nadler wrote.
Asked to respond to the letter, a Justice Department spokesman pointed to remarks D.C. U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin made this week insisting that anyone found to have committed a crime at the Capitol would be charged.
“If a crime was committed, we are charging you, regardless of whether you were outside or inside the Capitol, to include misdemeanors," Sherwin said.
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Capitol Police boost protection for lawmakers while traveling, urge vigilance
The Capitol Police are asking members of Congress to remain vigilant while traveling as authorities seek to boost protection for lawmakers in an acutely tense political environment.
In a Thursday night email obtained by The Washington Post, acting sergeant-at-arms Timothy P. Blodgett told lawmakers that they should alert the Capitol Police of their travel itineraries ahead of time so that authorities can notify “the appropriate law enforcement agencies for extra awareness.”
Capitol Police officers will be stationed at the major airports in the region, as well as Union Station, to provide an extra layer of security for members arriving or departing — not as personal escorts but to “monitor as Members move throughout the airport,” he wrote.
“Members and staff should remain vigilant of their surroundings and immediately report anything unusual or suspicious,” Blodgett wrote.
The Associated Press first reported on the email.
More than three weeks after the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, Blodgett’s security advisory makes evident the multiplying safety concerns that have confronted lawmakers in the attack’s aftermath — both within and outside the Capitol building.
Elaborating on what she meant by the enemy “within,” Pelosi noted “that we had members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.”
In his email later that evening, Blodgett reminded lawmakers that they could be reimbursed for personal security expenses, such as hiring a security detail at events such as town halls, to accompany them on official business or to be stationed at their district offices.
The Federal Election Commission also allows them to use campaign contributions to install security systems at home, he said.
As he departed the White House on Friday en route to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Biden reminisced about the time he had spent there as a patient while serving in the Senate and as a visitor while serving as vice president.
“I’ve been at Walter Reed a lot,” Biden said. “I spent almost six months there myself as a patient. And in addition to that, as vice president, every single Christmas, we spent all of Christmas Day at Walter Reed.”
In February 1988, as a senator representing Delaware, Biden was taken by ambulance to Walter Reed for surgery to correct a brain aneurysm. A subsequent surgery and recuperation kept him there more than six months.
Biden told reporters the patients he plans to see Friday are “real heroes.”
Freshman Democratic Rep. Cori Bush asks to move office away from Marjorie Taylor Greene, says she’s been harassed
Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri, tweeted Friday that she had been accosted by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and her staff and that she was moving her office at the U.S. Capitol away from Greene’s.
“A maskless Marjorie Taylor Greene & her staff berated me in a hallway. She targeted me & others on social media. I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety,” Bush tweeted.
Bush has not provided any more details about the incident, and her spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for more information.
Shortly after Bush’s tweet, Greene tweeted a selfie video as she walked through a Capitol complex hallway, with someone off camera yelling at her to put on a mask. Greene says it was Bush.
“She is lying to you. She berated me. Maybe Rep. Bush didn’t realize I was live on video, but I have the receipts,” Greene tweeted, also calling Bush “the leader of the St. Louis Black Lives Matter terrorist mob who trespassed into a gated neighborhood to threaten the lives of the McCloskey’s.”
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are the St. Louis couple who aimed guns at protesters marching through their gated community in the summer. They were indicted on weapons and evidence-tampering charges, according to a court official in October. They pleaded not guilty.
In the video, Greene then screams at the person to “stop being a hypocrite.”
It’s unclear whether this is the incident that Bush is referring to in her tweet.
New House members get their office assignments via a lottery, and it’s highly unusual for a lawmaker to move so soon, especially to get away from a colleague. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly ordered the office move at Bush’s request, according to Punchbowl News. A Pelosi aide confirmed the report.
Bush and Greene had offices a few doors from each other in the Longworth Office Building.
In her tweet, Bush also called for the expulsion of any lawmaker who contributed to inciting the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol by spreading baseless conspiracy theories that President Biden’s election win was rigged. This would include Greene.
Democrats are also working to expel Greene, arguing that she promoted dangerous lies before she was elected to office, with a vote possible next week.
Ex-FBI lawyer avoids prison after admitting he doctored email in investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign
The former FBI lawyer who admitted to doctoring an email that other officials relied upon to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced Friday to 12 months of probation, with no time behind bars.
Prosecutors had asked that Kevin Clinesmith, 38, spend several months in prison for his crime, while Clinesmith’s attorneys said probation would be more appropriate. Clinesmith pleaded guilty in the summer to altering an email that one of his colleagues used in preparing an application to surreptitiously monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the bureau’s 2016 investigation of Russia’s election interference.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said that Clinesmith’s conduct had undermined the integrity of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approved the FBI’s application to surveil Page. “Courts all over the country rely on representations from the government, and expect them to be correct,” Boasberg said.
Biden on Friday urged Congress to act quickly on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, saying Americans will be “badly, badly hurt” if legislation is not passed soon.
“The choice couldn’t be clearer,” Biden said during an Oval Office meeting that included his newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “We have learned from past crises the risk is not doing too much. The risk is not doing enough. And this is the time to act now.”
Facing resistance from Republicans objecting to the cost, Democrats are aiming to move the package quickly through Congress in the coming weeks through special budget rules that would allow them to pass the legislation without GOP votes.
In addition to a new round of stimulus checks, Biden’s plan includes an extension of unemployment benefits set to expire in mid-March, an increased child tax credit and hundreds of billions of dollars for schools, vaccines and the health-care system, among multiple other provisions.
“We need to make these investments so the economy can grow,” Biden argued Friday. “Investments now will help the economy grow. It will not, in fact, put a drag on the economy.”
Biden said that 900,000 more Americans filed for unemployment last week and that 30 million Americans don’t have enough food to eat this week, while interest rates are at historic lows and the “return on smart investments in the economy have never been higher.”
“And it’s not just me saying that. It’s a consensus among the vast majority of economists in the country, right, left and center,” Biden said.
He argued that “you could see an entire cohort of kids lower their lifetime earnings” if they are delayed further in returning to school. He also said parents are missing job opportunities as they are forced to stay home with their children.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Friday that Yellen was coming to the White House to brief Biden on “the cost of inaction” on the president’s coronavirus relief legislation.
“Economists agree that if there’s not more help, many more people will lose their small businesses, the roofs over their heads and the ability to feed their families,” Yellen said during a portion of the meeting that reporters were invited to witness. “And we need to help those people before the virus is brought under control. The president’s American rescue plan will help millions of people make it to the other side of this pandemic.”
Erica Werner contributed to this report.
Biden’s move against Trump allies on Pentagon boards includes panel to rename bases that honor Confederates
Biden’s decision to stop Trump loyalists from serving on Pentagon advisory boards includes replacing them on a commission created to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals.
Trump opposed the creation of the commission in the first place, but he was overruled by Congress. Just before his presidency ended, as Trump made a flurry of appointments to various federal boards, his administration saw to it that Trumpsupporters would have a say in the renaming effort.
Then-defense secretary Christopher Miller appointed four people, including three who served in the Trump White House, to the panel this month before departing.
A senior defense official familiar with the process said the Biden administration has the authority to replace any of them.
Trump argued vehemently against renaming the bases, saying it was an effort by Democrats to erase history. But Democrats and many Republicans agreed that the U.S. military should not honor people who fought to preserve slavery.
Congress created the commission to rename those bases as part of the larger National Defense Authorization Act. Trump vetoed the bill in part over his opposition to the commission, leading to Congress’s only veto override of his presidency.