On Wednesday, one week after a mob that he incited violently broke into the U.S. Capitol, President Donald Trump was impeached for the second time.
Predictably, Trump has exhibited no contrition for his seditious and anti-democratic behavior, going so far as to call the speech he gave prior to the Jan. 6 riot — in which he told his supporters to “fight” and “take back our country” — “totally appropriate.” His failure to take responsibility for the attempted coup or to desist from pushing the attack’s animating lie of a stolen election make it clear the danger he continues to be to the nation and its people. The Senate must convict him.
Of course, other government officials — including the scores of Republican members of Congress who challenged the certification of the 2020 presidential election even after the riot — are also complicit in encouraging the stolen-election myth. Some members may have even abetted the attackers in advance. And news continues to surface about the participation of law enforcement officers, state lawmakers, public officials, and dark-money groups in last week’s event.
Fueled by conspiracy theories and lies about voter fraud, these threats to democracy are not going away with Trump. As we investigate the response to the Capitol attack, from the delay in National Guard deployment to reported intelligence failures, we’ll also be looking into where those dangerous lies have taken hold across the country. The Trump administration may be ending in less than a week, but the work of protecting our democracy will continue.
Meanwhile, the city of Washington, DC, is holding its breath as it prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and the possibility of more attacks. Thousands of troops have arrived or are heading to the capital, the National Mall is set to be closed on Inauguration Day, and pictures have been shared of troops resting at the fortified Capitol building, likely for the first time since the Civil War.
The Capitol Police, an agency with a budget rivaling that of major cities, has faced numerous allegations of internal racism and calls — including by American Oversight — that it no longer be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. As of writing, the department has not issued a public briefing about last week’s attack. As investigations continue and officials point fingers, here are some recent headlines:
Justice Department Report on Family Separation
A new report from the Justice Department’s inspector general found that top officials — including DOJ lawyer Gene Hamilton, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — were the “driving force” behind the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that separated migrant children from their parents, even as federal prosecutors at the border voiced concerns. The report also found that the White House aggressively pushed for the devastating policy.
Our investigation into the origins and implementation of family separation uncovered a January 2018 memo from the Department of Homeland Security that listed “problematic outcomes” of the policy. Among those outcomes were “Permanent family separation” and “New populations of U.S. orphans.” Read more about that memo here, and see what else we’ve obtained in our extensive timeline of the Trump administration’s family-separation policy.
Emails Show Wisconsin Officials’ Pandemic Frustration with Trump Administration
Of course, we needn’t remind you that all this disturbing news comes as the Covid-19 pandemic escalates to dangerous new levels. We published records from Wisconsin that show state officials struggling to receive adequate federal support in the spring of 2020, making multiple pleas for badly needed personal protective equipment. Records also include emails that shed light on plans for trips to the state by Vice President Mike Pence, who made news in June 2020 for a campaign event that went against local public health recommendations.
White Supremacy in the Military
The attack on the Capitol brings fresh light to the threat of white nationalism not just in law enforcement, but also in the military. Last year, we asked the Air Force and the Army for reports or studies of related incidents. The Air Force said it had no such records. The Army’s response included a report titled “Indications of Extremism in the Military 2017–2019.” The report looked at 22 cases involving current or former Defense Department members, compiled “due to indications of an increase in extremist activity by former and current military personnel.”
Chad Wolf’s Exit
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf resigned earlier this week. His resignation letter did not mention the attack, but rather the Government Accountability Office’s findings that he was illegally appointed to his role. Need an explainer on how that happened? Here’s a Twitter thread on the issue, along with a reminder that we found records indicating that Wolf’s July 2020 trip to Las Vegas and Portland, Ore. — where he decried protesters as a “violent mob” — cost taxpayers more than $90,000.
Trump’s EPA launches surprise attack on Biden’s climate rules (Politico)
D.C. attorney general seeks to interview president’s son in inauguration spending suit (Washington Post)
Ex-Gov. Rick Snyder pleads not guilty as nine face charges in Flint water crisis (Detroit Free Press)
‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction (Washington Post)
Interior spokesman ordered employees to promote Trump’s Twitter during 2020 campaign (CREW)
4 members of Congress test positive for Covid-19 after insurrection (Business Insider)
White House task force says there could be a fast-spreading ‘USA variant’ of coronavirus (CNN)
Trump’s abrupt shift on Covid shots may sow more chaos (Politico)
Biden, Democrats, plot ‘aggressive’ pandemic response — without the GOP (Politico)
Vaccines were a chance to redeem failures in the U.S. coronavirus response. What went wrong? (Washington Post)
Part of Investigation: