Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began on Tuesday, with the Senate voting that trying a former president was, as legal scholars have said, constitutional. Only six Republicans voted that way, however. The rambling and unfocused defense offered that day by Trump’s legal team failed to provide them with any legitimate cover. And the video prepared by House impeachment managers, showing the shocking violence of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, reminded both lawmakers and the public of the consequences of the former president’s lies and provocations.
Never-before-seen security footage was shown the next day, offering evidence of just how close the seditious mob came to its intended targets. Disturbing videos of police officers being beaten and crushed, and of rioters threateningly searching for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence (whom Trump attacked in a tweet minutes after learning Pence was in danger), were played along with images of staff members barricading doors and documentation of frighteningly narrow misses.
As the impeachment managers laid out how Trump could have stopped the violence — but didn’t — and how the perpetrators looked to him for direction, they also demonstrated the extent to which he had laid the groundwork for the Jan. 6 attack over months, if not years. From his encouragement of violent rhetoric and his own campaign’s role in the pre-riot rally to his refusal to accept the results of a democratic election and his failure to take responsibility for the events that followed, it is clear that Trump incited the insurrection and should be convicted and barred from holding further office.
As Rep. Diana DeGette, one of the impeachment managers, said on Thursday, the former president must be held accountable because “the threat is not over.” Indeed, the fact that so many Republican senators have signaled that they will vote to acquit Trump, even when he is no longer in office, demonstrates the power that anti-democratic extremism wields within their party.
Far-right militia groups remain committed to recruiting new members — on Monday, a Pentagon spokesman said such groups “very aggressively” seek out former members of the military — and are active across the country. State and local officials who aided and abetted Trump’s “stolen election” lie remain in office. Meanwhile, new voting restriction proposals have been popping up in multiple states. American Oversight will be investigating all these attacks on democracy to hold officials accountable.
Fulton County Criminal Investigation
As the Senate trial began on Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results, including his Jan. 2 call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump pressured state officials to “find” him the votes needed to tip the scales in his favor. See the latest on our investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results.
Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops
Back in 2020, the New York Times reported that Russian intelligence offered payments to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan — something the White House denied that Trump had been briefed on. We asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for any daily presidential briefings regarding those bounties, and ODNI told us that it had found one record responsive to our request, but that it was being withheld from release. This suggests the information about the bounties was included at least once in a daily briefing, though we can’t be sure of when.
Foreign Election Interference
Last summer, lawmakers became alarmed at reports that the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, had pressured Brazil to alter trade policy so as to help Trump’s reelection chances. Emails we obtained show that officials in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative were concerned about the news becoming “a distraction.” “I’m skeptical that Chapman would do anything that silly,” wrote one.
No Records of Pandemic Communications from Top Education Officials
Last year, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request for any communications between top Education Department officials, including former Secretary Betsy DeVos, and White House officials involved in the pandemic response. The department responded that they could locate no such records, which is especially concerning given Covid-19’s impact on schools.
Trump shifted campaign-donor money into his private business after losing the election (Forbes)
Rudy Giuliani associate jailed for a year over fraud at fraud-busting business (Guardian)
Trump Justice Department sought to block search of Giuliani records (New York Times)
Ukraine releases ‘shock’ call with Giuliani as Trump’s second impeachment trial begins (Time)
Illinois judge finds Trump hotel in Chicago liable for violating environmental laws (Washington Post)
Pompeo spent $10k on engraved pens for notorious “Madison Dinners” (CREW)
Georgia GOP ‘election confidence’ report splits state Republicans (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Audit: Kentucky unemployment office ignored 400,000 emails, violated federal rules (Courier Journal)
Biden administration faces backlog of 380,000 waiting to immigrate (New York Times)
Trump hid his calls with Putin. Now, Biden has access to them. (Politico)
Biden inherited a USPS crisis. Here’s how Democrats want to fix it. (Washington Post)
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