Here is a summary of the top political issues making headlines this week.
1. Mayhem: Trump supporters storm Capitol, one woman killed
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, in a battle of force against law enforcement personnel as senators inside debated the certification of Joe Biden’s gaining the needed electoral votes to deny Trump a second term in office.
One person was shot in the melee and later died. The D.C. National Guard was activated. The expansion of military involvement came after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested that guards members already on duty be sent to the Capitol.
Politico reported that Vice President Mike Pence “was swiftly ushered out of the Senate chamber” where had been to oversee the proceedings.
The Washington Post said the Capitol Police had briefly ordered evacuations of two Capitol campus buildings — the Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building and the Cannon House Office Building, Representative. Elaine Luria, whose office is in the Cannon building, tweeted; “I just had to evacuate my office because of a pipe bomb reported outside.”
Writing in The Post, Dan Balz said: “Instead of a day designed to symbolize the peaceful transfer of power, Wednesday will be remembered as the day when a mob, encouraged and incited by President Trump, breached the Capitol, smashed windows on a door into the House chamber, creating an armed standoff, and in one case mounted the dais in the Senate chamber to protest the election of President-elect Joe Biden.
“Instead of an orderly and normally pro forma procedure to ascertain the results of the electoral college, it will be remembered as the day Capitol Hill security collapsed, when members of the House and Senate were forced into lockdown, when Vice President Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others had to be escorted to safety, when House members were told to prepare to don gas masks.”
The Post said that just before 1 p.m., a group of primarily White men pushed, then toppled the barricades, Capitol police stood guard but could not hold back the tide. Hundreds scaled and kicked aside the barricades, yelling “forward!!” as they ran upward.
“There’s the house of traitors!” one man shouted as the Capitol building came into view. the newspaper said.
a. A day for ceremony descends into anarchy on Capitol Hill – The Washington Post
b. LIVE BLOG: Violent protests erupt in Washington D.C. – ABC Action News
c. Hill chaos turns deadly after rioters storm Capitol – Politico
2. Trump, with bitterness, and Biden both plea for peace
In reaction to the unprecedented violence in Washington regarding a U.S. election, President Donald Trump still conveyed the message that he was robbed of victory over Joe Biden and a second term in office.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump tweeted. “Go home with love & peace.”
Projecting a much different tone, Biden said: “Let me be very clear: the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now. …
“America is so much better than what we’re seeing today.”
c. World stunned by violence in Washington – Port Macquarie News
3. Call for using 25th Amendment to oust Trump
As pro-Trump supporters brought mayhem to Washington Wednesday, some Democratic lawmakers called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and remove President Donald Trump from office.
Section Four of that amendment provides a process for removing a president when his behaviour is deemed outrageous and dangerous to the country.
New York magazine explains: “If the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet decide that, for whatever reason, the president has become unfit to carry out the powers and duties of the office and they transmit a letter to Congress to that effect, then the vice president becomes the acting president and remains so unless and until Congress refuses to allow that transfer of power to stand.”
The Twitter feeds were on overdrive as lawmakers argued that Trump incited the violence that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and for the National Guard to be called out to enforce a peace.
The Hill newspaper collected a few of the tweets.
“Dear @VP @Mike_Pence: You need to start the 25th Amendment. @realDonaldTrump is detached from reality,” wrote Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat.
Ayanna Pressley, a Democratic representative from Massachusetts, tweeted: “Donald J. Trump should immediately be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate as soon as Congress reconvenes. This is dangerous & unacceptable.”
b. Pence Should Invoke 25th Amendment to Remove Trump From Office Immediately – New York Magazine
4. Democrats take control of the Senate, winning two Georgia races
Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively, in a special runoff election to give Democrats control of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House.
The U.S. Senate will now be split 50-50 between the Democrats and Republicans as the two independents caucus with the Democrats. This means Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast the deciding vote on any tied legislation.
Warnock, a Baptist pastor, becomes the first African-American senator for Georgia, a slavery state in the U.S. Civil War.
Warnock paid tribute to his mother, Verlene, who as a teenager worked as a farm labourer.
“The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said.
Ossoff, at age 33, will become the youngest Democratic senator since President-elect Joe Biden won a Senate seat in Delaware in 1972.
“I can’t wait to get to work, to put my boots on, and represent the people’s concerns in the United States Senate,” Warnock told NBC’s “Today” show just hours after winning the state’s special election. Warnock is in office for the remaining two years of former Senator Johnny Isakson’s term and will have to run for a full term in 2022.
Biden had predicted in a statement Wednesday morning that the Georgia Senate runoff election would lead to “Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate.” But he said he remained determined to work with leaders of both parties “to get big things done for our nation,” including another round of covid-19 relief for Americans.
a. Democrats retake the Senate with Georgia sweep – Politico
c. Democratic Senate win a game-changer for Joe Biden – Economic Times
d. Democrats win control of U.S. Senate as Ossoff defeats Perdue – Washington Post
5. Biden to name Garland attorney general
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden wants Merrick Garland, a former judge whose 2016 nomination to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama was stalled by Senate Republicans, to serve as his attorney general, Politico and other news outlets reported.
Biden selected Garland over former Senator Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.
Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told reporters the announcement could come on Thursday.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said: “If media reports are accurate, I believe Judge Garland would be a sound choice to be the next attorney general. He is a man of great character, integrity and tremendous competency in the law.”
Garland attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School and clerked for then-Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court. The Obama White House said in 2016 that Garland paid for law school by “taking a summer job as a shoe store stock clerk, selling his comic book collection and counseling undergraduates.”
a. Biden to tap Merrick Garland for attorney general – Politico
d. Why Sally Yates Stood Up to Trump – The New Yorker
6. White House shoots down Trump escaping to Scotland rumor
The latest rumors about U.S. President Donald Trump not attending the January 20 inauguration of the man who defeated him in the November election started with a U.S. military Boeing 757 aircraft reported circling Trump’s Turnberry golf resort in Scotland.
A local newspaper report followed saying Glasgow Prestwick Airport “has been told to expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft, that is occasionally used by Trump, on January 19.”
That was enough for Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to say she had no idea what Trump’s travel plans were but that he, like everyone else, was not allowed to travel to Scotland without an essential reason during another lockdown due to the coronavirus.
“We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose,” Sturgeon said.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that reports of a Trump trip to Turnberry were “not accurate. President Trump has no plans to travel to Scotland.”
With less the two weeks to go in his term in an office he still claims is being stolen from him, Trump has not said where he will be on January 20.
7. Ongoing border wall construction complicates Biden’s pledge
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to halt construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
But the Trump administration is making that a little more difficult to do as it is still awarding construction contracts with just a few weeks to go in President Donald Trump’s term.
The wall has become one of the hottest political issues as debates over legal and illegal immigration are often tinged with ethnic prejudices against Hispanis
Asked by CNN Tuesday whether there are plans to continue to finalize contracts, even in areas where the real estate is not owned by the federal government, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan responded “yes.”
“We believe that probably by January 17,18,19, we will have well over 700 miles of that 800 funded. …The contract will have already been awarded,” Morgan said. “The major milestone is having a contract awarded.”
A Biden administration will have to deal with trying to terminate contracts under which work is already being done.
“We’re going to have to go into settlement agreements with each individual contractor,” Morgan told CNN. He payments will have to be made for what they’ve already done, as well as for materials produced.and that the process could cost billions.
Morgan touted the administration’s progress on border wall construction in a call with reporters, saying the goal to complete 450 miles by the end of 2020 had been met.
And that happened despite the coronavirus pandemic.
c. Border walls don’t make us safer or stronger, says political scientist – Berkeley News
d. This Isn’t a Border Wall: It’s a Monument to White Supremacy – Bloomberg
8. Legal adviser on Trump call resigns from law firm
Cleta Mitchell, an attorney with an influential Washington law firm who advised U.S. President Donald Trump on his phone call in which he asked the Georgia secretary of state to find votes for him has resigned from the firm.
Trump’s January 2nd call in which he berated and threatened Brad Raffensperger could put him in jeopardy, legal experts say. In excerpts of the one-hour phone call, Trump criticized his fellow Republican “for refusing to falsely say that he had won the election in Georgia and repeatedly touted baseless claims of election fraud,” CNN reported..
“Cleta Mitchell has informed firm management of her decision to resign from Foley & Lardner effective immediately. Ms. Mitchell concluded that her departure was in the firm’s best interests, as well as in her own personal best interests,” firm spokesman Dan Farrell said in a statement.
“With the ever more brazen attacks on conservatives and, most especially, anyone who supports and wants to help President Trump, I realize that a large national law firm is no longer the right platform for me or my law practice,” Mitchell wrote in an email to friends, CNN reported.
Officials in Raffensperger’s office recorded the call with Trump, according to a source who was on the call..
c. Bice: Milwaukee law firm ‘concerned’ by attorney’s role in Trump call trying to upend Georgia election results – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
d. What you need to know about Brad Raffensperger – The Washington Post