👋 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/ Federal prosecutors said there was “strong evidence” the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol planned to “capture and assassinate elected officials.” Hours later, however, the head of the investigation cautioned that the probe is still in its early stages and there was “no direct evidence of kill and capture teams.” The accusation came in an 18-page motion filed Thursday as part of the federal criminal case against Jacob Anthony Chansley, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was photographed shirtless, but wearing a fury hat with horns during the insurrection. “Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government,” prosecutors wrote in their memo urging the judge to keep Chansley behind bars. Chansley also wrote a note for Pence in the Senate chamber, which read: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” (Associated Press / USA Today / NBC News / New York Times / Reuters)
2/ Secret Service officers evacuated Pence from the Senate chamber moments before the violent mob that stormed the Capitol reached the second-floor landing in the Senate. If the mob had arrived seconds earlier, Pence would have been in eyesight of the mob as he was being rushed across a reception hall into the a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing. A Capitol Police officer, however, lured the rioters away from the Senate. Pence was later evacuated to a more secure location in the Capitol complex while rioters were still inside the Capitol. (Washington Post)
The inspectors general for the departments of Justice, Defense, Interior, and Homeland Security opened a review of its Capitol security and intelligence preparedness. “The inspectors general for all of those agencies will review what people knew and how they prepared for that day, along with their actions during the riot.” (Washington Post / NBC News)
Investigators have opened 275 criminal cases and charged 98 people in connection to the riot at the Capitol. The FBI has also conducted dozens of interviews into the killing of the Capitol Police officer, who died while confronting the pro-Trump mob. (CNN / New York Times)
Federal authorities are investigating several Bitcoin transactions made to right-wing figures ahead of the assault on the Capitol. On Dec. 8, someone made a simultaneous transfer of about $500,000 in Bitcoin to 22 different virtual wallets belonging to prominent right-wing organizations and personalities. (Yahoo News / New York Times)
👑 Portrait of a president: Trump explodes at Nixon comparisons as he prepares to leave office. “Inside the building, Trump has been weathering a second impeachment and growing isolation from his onetime allies in sullen desolation. He has grown more and more worried about what legal or financial calamities may await him when he is no longer president, people who have spoken to him said, fueled by warnings from lawyers and advisers. He is weighing pardons, including for himself and his family, as he attempts to muster a legal team for another impeachment trial. And he is resentful of Republicans who he feels abandoned him in his hour of need, including the GOP leaders of the House and Senate.” (CNN)
3/ More than two million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide. The global death toll passed one million deaths in late September – more than nine months after the pandemic began. The coronavirus death toll in the U.S., meanwhile, is quickly approaching 400,000 and is “expected” to hit half a million deaths next month. (Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~93,627,000; deaths: ~2,005,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~23,476,000; deaths: ~392,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
4/ Coronavirus vaccine reserves were already exhausted when the Trump administration promised to release additional doses. No such reserve existed because the Trump administration had already distributed what was available at the end of December, taking the doses directly off the manufacturing line. Nevertheless, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that the administration would be “releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve.” (Washington Post / CNN)
- Biden plans to deploy FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics in order to “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies. (CNBC)
5/ Operation Warp Speed waited more than two months to approve a plan to distribute the Covid-19 vaccines, leaving states with little time to prepare for the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. The CDC wanted to start planning in June, but officials at Operation Warp Speed held the release of the CDC’s distribution plan, saying it needed to go through the interagency-clearance process. The Biden administration, meanwhile, said it plans to retire the “Operation Warp Speed” name, citing “failures” by the Trump administration. (Wall Street Journal / NPR)
6/ The CDC warned that the U.K. variant of the coronavirus could become the predominant strain in the United States by March. While only 76 cases of the variant have been identified in the U.S., researchers estimate that is roughly 50% more transmissible than the more common strain. The variant, however, is not known to be more deadly or to cause more severe disease. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
7/ Trump will leave Washington hours before Biden’s inauguration and fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to begin his post-presidential life. The White House is considering holding an elaborate send-off event for Trump that would have the feel of a state visit, with a red carpet, color guard, military band, and a 21-gun salute. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News)
poll/ 89% of Americans oppose the storming of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. 57% say Trump deserves significant responsibility for the attack on the Capitol. (Washington Post)
poll/ 58% of Americans blame Trump for the violent insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters. (NPR)
poll/ 29% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president – his lowest job approval rating ever. 68% of voters do not want Trump to remain a major political figure in the future. (Pew Research Center)
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