👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Trump refused to take responsibility for inciting the deadly riot at the Capitol, offered no regrets, and defended his pre-riot speech as “totally appropriate.” In his first public remarks since the violence last week that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, Trump deflected blame and called the effort by House Democrats to impeach him for a second time a “witch hunt” that was “causing tremendous anger.” The attack on the Capitol came after Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters to march to the building and “fight like hell,” saying: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” Trump also took aim at social media sites that have banned him, saying they had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a “divisive” manner. Trump then left Washington to travel to Alamo, Tex., to tour a section of his border wall. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Politico / NPR / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)
Trump privately – and falsely – blamed “Antifa people” for storming the Capitol despite overwhelming evidence showing the rioters were Trump supporters. (Axios)
The city of New York is “reviewing whether legal grounds exist” to terminate its business relationships with Trump. The city pays the Trump Organization about $17 million a year to run a carousel, two ice rinks, and a golf course in city parks. (Washington Post)
The director of Voice of America reassigned a reporter after asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questions he refused to answer. Patsy Widakuswara asked if Pompeo if he regretted saying in November that the presidential transition would proceed smoothly into a second term for Trump. (Vox / Washington Post)
2/ Mitch McConnell indicated that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is reportedly “pleased” that Democrats are moving to impeach him. McConnell, who blames Trump for Republicans losing the Senate, believes impeaching Trump a second time would make it easier to “purge” him from the party. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Trump to resign. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said she will vote to impeach Trump, saying there has “never been a greater betrayal” by a president to his office and his oath to the Constitution. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)
3/ Two days before the riot at the Capitol, the FBI warned that extremists were traveling to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The internal FBI report, produced Jan. 5 by the F.B.I.’s Norfolk office in southern Virginia and sent to the bureau’s Washington Field Office, included examples of people sharing a map of the Capitol’s tunnels and possible meet-up points in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and South Carolina before traveling to Washington. The report also said “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
Several Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement in the deadly riot at the Capitol. (Washington Post)
The House and Senate sergeants-at-arms face questions about why they failed to do more to deter Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol last week. Both have since resigned. (New York Times)
4/ Capitol Police briefed House Democrats about three more planned demonstrations in the coming days, including a plot to form a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court to block Democrats from entering the Capitol so that Republicans could take control of the government. Another demonstration is being billed as the “largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil.” The pro-Trump extremists have reportedly published rules of engagement. (CNN / HuffPost)
5/ Trump declared a state of emergency in Washington, D.C., citing the “emergency conditions” surrounding Biden’s inauguration. Trump’s order allows the Department of Homeland Security and the FEMA to assist the city in any emergency response. There will be at least 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., by Saturday – that’s more troops than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. (Politico / Business Insider))
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the Capitol riot and confirmed that Biden will become the 46th commander in chief of the armed forces on Jan. 20. In a memo to the entire U.S. military, the top generals called the riot as “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building and our Constitutional process.” The top Pentagon brass said the military remained fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic.” (Washington Post)
6/ Three Democratic members of Congress have tested positive for Covid-19 after being locked down with colleagues who refused to wear masks during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Reps. Brad Schneider, Pramila Jayapal, and Bonnie Watson Coleman all tested positive for Covid-19 since Monday. Schneider said “several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask […] even when politely asked by their colleagues.” Jayapal added that “several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.” (Axios / NBC News / HuffPost)
7/ The Trump administration expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all Americans over 65 to accelerate distribution. Health Secretary Alex Azar also said future doses will be allocated based on the pace that states administer the vaccine. The government had been holding about half of newly available doses since the rollout began, but will instead release the second doses of the vaccine, which were reserved for booster shots. (CNN / Axios / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~91,384,000; deaths: ~1,957,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~22,785,000; deaths: ~380,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
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