1/13 Second Time Around

Published: 1.13.21

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Trump on charges of “incitement of insurrection.” Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in a 232-197 vote supporting a single impeachment count. Trump is now the only president in U.S. history to have been impeached twice.

In his first major public appearance since his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Trump refused to take responsibility for his role in instigating violence during last week’s attack. Yesterday evening, Vice President Mike Pence proclaimed he would not invoke the 25th Amendment, even as the House approved a resolution (223-205) calling on Pence to do so.

Pence’s inaction and Trump’s outright abdication of responsibility sparked an increasingly bipartisan push to hold the President accountable through impeachment. Norm Eisen, outside counsel to the Voter Protection Program, co-authored a New York Times op-ed with Republican Steven Calabresi, highlighting that impeachment is not a partisan issue, but rather an urgent  matter of national security. Eisen later echoed this sentiment on CNN with Chris Cuomo, saying “You cannot have a president for another day– another hour– who would attack his own government.”

As we prepare for inauguration and state legislative sessions amid threats of violence,  the VPP today released a report, “Countering Lies about the 2020 Presidential Election,” which debunks the false claims that helped fuel the January 6 insurrection by laying out the arguments presented to and rejected by scores of federal and state courts in litigation related to the November election. The VPP also shared guidance for law enforcement officers on how to address unlawful paramilitary activity from  our partners at 21CP Solutions, the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law, and the Crime and Justice Institute.

Below you can find updates on inauguration, impeachment, allegations of GOP insurrection involvement, and state news.

National Update

A Dubious Distinction: President Trump has now become the only sitting president to be impeached twice. In a vote of 232-197 in the House of Representatives today, ten Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting a single impeachment count: “incitement of insurrection.” Even after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately voiced support for impeachment, he declined to reconvene the Senate on Friday, ensuring that any possible Senate trial would begin on January 19 at the earliest.

GOP Aides to the Insurrectionists: Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) revealed  disturbing information in her Facebook Live stream today, alleging that she saw some GOP House colleagues giving protest groups “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol a mere day before the attack. These startling allegations support growing claims of GOP involvement in the insurrection, either through direct aid, harmful rhetoric, or complicity. While the extent of the GOP’s connection to these mobs is still unknown, many have pointed to GOP lawmakers’ collaboration with “Stop The Steal” organizers weeks ago. In one particularly troubling instance, “Stop The Steal” organizer Ali Alexander claimed that Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), and Paul A. Gosar (AZ) directly helped form the plan to disrupt the joint session of Congress.

Inauguration Preparation:  In the wake of the insurrection, concerns abound over inauguration security. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as private companies, are working to mitigate inauguration-related violence. As individual states prepare for the potential of violent mobs on the local level, the U.S. Capitol has doubled its security efforts. Though the final headcount is still subject to change, the number of National Guard troops that could be stationed in D.C. has risen to a staggering 20,000, twice the number of American troops currently in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Even as major social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have started to crack down on groups and individuals planning future violence, pro-Trump insurrectionists have taken to more secretive online channels to continue their preparations. In the wake of these looming threats, Airbnb has blocked and canceled all D.C.-area reservations.

State Updates

Georgia: Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Bobby Christine declared “there’s nothing to” allegations of election fraud. This recent admission is significant as it comes from an official recently appointed by President Trump. Christine replaced former U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, who abruptly resigned on January 4.

Minnesota: Yesterday, after violent threats from protesters, the Minnesota governor and his family were forced to evacuate their home. Attorney General Keith Ellison appeared on CNN New Day to urge lawmakers to stay vigilant at the state level, as people who are not near D.C. may be planning to take out their anger locally. Facing both state and national violence, AG Ellison spoke about his preparations,  “We’re coordinating with your federal attorneys and preparing and making sure that these insurrectionists, that these lawless individuals, are not able to hold sway.”

Michigan: Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to speak out about the lack of security at the Michigan State Capitol. Although open-carry is now banned within the Capitol building, concealed carry is still permitted. There are no metal detectors to detect explosives and other firearms and the building lacks the necessary staff to verify firearm licenses. AG Nessel emphasized the danger on CNN, explaining that limited firearm restrictions are “leaving lawmakers susceptible– and they’re sitting ducks.”

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