May 18, 2021

Politics & News

Politics and Commentary News Aggregator

The Daily 202: GOP looks to win back Senate in 2022, as new NRSC chairman defends vote to reject Pa. results

26 min read

On the other side of the Capitol, as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is poised to realize his dream of becoming majority leader after 40 years in Congress, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) takes command today of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. More than anyone else, Scott will be responsible for trying to take that title back for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Scott, 68, takes the helm of the powerful party committee amid Republican divisions over the post-Trump future and, more pressingly, intense blowback from the business community and other elites over his vote last week to reject President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania. Scott was one of eight GOP senators, and 139 House members, to support at least one objection to counting Biden’s certified votes. Many people blame lawmakers in this group for reinforcing the false belief among a wide swath of Republicans voters that the November election was stolen from Trump.

Despite the tempers of the moment, history favors Republicans in 2022. Historically, with a few exceptions like the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the opposition party fares well during any president’s first midterm. With Vice President-elect Kamala Harris poised to break the 50-50 tie, the GOP needs to pick up just one seat. 

But next year’s map favors Democrats. The GOP must defend 20 seats, compared to 14 for Democrats, including Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The Republicans incumbents in those last two, Richard Burr and Pat Toomey, have already announced that they will retire, and open seats are more difficult to defend.

In a half-hour telephone interview on Sunday afternoon, Scott said Republicans will put a heavy focus on defeating Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who will be on the ballot again in 2022 to secure a full six-year term, and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), who just won a special election to complete the last two years of the late John McCain’s term. 

“I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m excited,” Scott said from Florida. “We’ll be able to get back the seat that Kelly Loeffler was in if we get our message out. We should be able to win back Arizona. I think we just have to, but there’s plenty of other states where there were close races in 2016 that we have a chance to get back.”

Asked about the lessons from Georgia for next year, he said: “What we have to do is, number one, we have to have the right candidate. That’s the biggest thing. And then you have to have a message that resonates.”

Scott sought to reject Pennsylvania’s 20 electors but opposed the effort to reject Arizona’s 11 votes. His argument is that the Keystone State loosened its rules for mail-in voting because of the coronavirus in ways that didn’t comply with state law. The state’s Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge on these grounds, and the U.S. Supreme Court, despite a 6-to-3 conservative majority, also declined to weigh in.

The senator demurred when I asked whether he reconsidered his vote to reject Pennsylvania’s votes after the carnage in the Capitol. “If we just sit here and say, ‘Oh, we don’t ever care about this,’ it’s not going to get better, and it’s bad for everybody that’s voting,” he said. “I’m sure everybody has different reasons for why they voted the way they did, but I want to get these election laws fixed.”

Asked whether Trump bears responsibility for inciting the riot, Scott said the president “could have responded faster” once the mob made it inside the Capitol. “First off, we’re all responsible for our own actions,” the senator said. “We’re not robots. We all have to take this seriously. It is despicable what happened. I don’t think it’s fair to say that he told people to go break into the Capitol. But I think it is also fair to say he could have responded quicker to asking these thugs to stop. … 

“Everybody could have done a better job that day,” he added. “It’s a bad day. There’s no winners. There’s all losers. Whether it’s a law enforcement officer or anybody else that lost their lives, it’s somebody’s family. You hate this stuff.”

Scott called on Trump to reconsider his announcement that he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, but he criticized efforts to punish or remove the president nine days before he will leave office anyway. This puts him at odds with some of his GOP colleagues. Toomey said on the Sunday shows that Trump should resign and go away as soon as possible. “I acknowledge that may not be likely, but that would be best,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is up for reelection in 2022, also told the Anchorage Daily News that she wants Trump “out.”

Democrats and Republicans weighed in on Jan. 10 about whether impeaching President Trump was warranted days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. (The Washington Post)

Scott said “oh, yeah” when I asked whether it was a hard call to formally object to Pennsylvania’s results. “You’re trying to always figure out ways to do the right thing, and then, also, this stuff was so emotional for people,” he said. “I can’t think of anything, maybe other than after the Parkland shooting, that people contacted me more about, passionately, and they still are.”

Several editorial boards in Florida’s biggest newspapers have blasted Scott, noting that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) voted to uphold the results. The Tampa Bay Times said: “Scott disgraces himself and embarrasses Florida.” Some House Democrats are calling for the expulsion of any member who did not accept the election results.

Lawmakers who voted to reject electors also face a growing backlash from corporate America. Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, said Sunday that the chaos at the Capitol has prompted a halt to all campaign donations to any lawmaker who voted against certifying the electoral college results. “The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said it would do the same. The provider of health insurance to more than 100 million people said in a statement that its political action committee was suspending contributions ‘to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,’” Todd Frankel and Jeff Stein report. “Commerce Bank also said in a statement that its PAC has ‘suspended all support for officials who have impeded the peaceful transfer of power.’”

Financial institutions are also suspending donations. “Goldman is still formulating its measures that will probably curtail future political giving to the elected leaders who fought to overturn the 2020 result,” Bloomberg News reports. “JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, said it’s planning a six-month suspension to both Republicans and Democrats. Citigroup said it intends to temporarily stop all political contributions in the current quarter. … Morgan Stanley also joined its competitors, with pointed scrutiny on all members of Congress who did’t vote to certify Biden’s win by pausing its contributions to them. … 

“Stopping short of vowing to suspend donations, Bank of America Corp., Ford Motor Co. and AT&T Inc. said they will take recent events into consideration before any future donations. CVS Health Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and some other donors said they are reviewing their policies on political giving.” 

All of this is significant because fundraising is the most important part of the job for an NRSC chair. It is unclear whether new corporate policies like Marriott’s will apply to the party committees. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, opposed the electoral college challenges, though House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joined the objectors.

Scott’s predecessor as NRSC chairman, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), also opposed the election challenge. He was swarmed by Trump supporters as he arrived at work a few hours before the mob breached the Capitol. “Opinions don’t matter. The law matters,” Young told the crowd in a heated back-and-forth.

Scott told me he will put a heavy emphasis on cultivating small-dollar, grass-roots donors to compete with the green tsunami of cash that Democratic candidates have raised during the past two cycles. “Here’s my definition of success: Ultimately, do we get a majority back? That’s where I’ve got to get us to, but the path there is that we need to be able to be competitive with ActBlue,” he said. “To do that, we have to work on clearly defining the differences.”

The former hospital company chief executive is one of the richest members of the Senate. In an introductory video that will go out to NRSC donors later today, Scott says that he will never ask a donor to give more than he’s already donated, a reference to his heavily self-funded bids for governor in 2010 and 2014 before his 2018 Senate bid.

While Burr and Toomey announced last year that they are retiring, Scott said right he is trying to convince all the GOP incumbents who are up for reelection in 2022 to run again. That includes Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, 87, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who said in 2016 he would not seek a third term but, more recently, has kept the door open to changing his mind.

Scott said he is calling the state party chair and the two Republican National Committee members in each state with a Senate race next year to get their read on the lay of the land. “I’ve talked to Toomey about Pennsylvania, and he’s got ideas, and Burr clearly has ideas on North Carolina,” said Scott. “We’ll find good people.”

The NRSC has always supported incumbents. But the committee has also become much more aggressive about getting involved in primaries ever since flawed Republican candidates like Todd Akin, Christine O’Donnell and Richard Mourdock blew winnable general elections. Scott told me he is uneasy with wading into primaries.

“Do I want to? No! I’ve not done that because, as you remember, I had a really tough primary for governor back in 2010, and everybody endorsed my opponent,” Scott said. “But I know there’s other people in Senate leadership that want to make sure I do. So we’ll see. This will an interesting experience because you want to make sure that you let the voters’ voices be heard. For me personally, that will be a pretty big challenge.”

Scott hopes to unify different factions of the party by keeping the focus on their shared opponents. “I think the Democrats are going to give us a big opening,” he said. “Nancy Pelosi is going to tell you what you’re going to be able to get paid, and Kamala Harris will tell you how much you get to keep.”

Scott will be up for a second term in 2024, but he is also keeping the door open to running for president instead. “I’m planning to run for reelection,” he said. “A lot of people ask me about running for president. What I tell them is that I’m not – right now.”

Cascading fallout for Trump

More evidence emerges that Trump exerted improper influence on Georgia officials.

Four significant stories came out over the weekend. 

1) White House officials pushed Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor to resign the day before Georgia’s Senate runoffs because Trump was upset he wasn’t doing enough to “investigate” the president’s unproven claims of election fraud. “A senior Justice Department official, at the behest of the White House, called the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak late on the night of Jan. 3,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

2) A federal prosecutor in Savannah, Ga. — whom Trump himself tapped to take over the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta — brought to his new assignment two assistants previously tasked with monitoring possible election fraud. By default, leadership of the Atlanta office was supposed to pass to Kurt Erskine, a longtime federal prosecutor who had been Pak’s top deputy. But, according to the Justice Department, Bobby Christine was appointed instead “by written order” of the president. “The move, legal observers say, is unusual on multiple levels,” Matt Zapotosky and Amy Gardner report. “Atlanta already has more prosecutors than Savannah, including those with experience in election cases, so it is unclear why Christine would want additional personnel there. It would be atypical for an acting U.S. attorney to initiate an investigation or special assignment so close to the end of a presidential administration. … 

“Trump’s attorneys, meanwhile, seemed to stand down in their efforts to challenge election results in Georgia, voluntarily dropping five lawsuits pending against [Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R)]. But they may have exposed themselves to court sanctions by falsely claiming in their filings that the request for dismissal was the result of a settlement agreement with Raffensperger — which Raffensperger’s attorneys said was not the case.”

3) Trump urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a lengthy Dec. 23 phone call that had not previously been reported, saying the official would be a “national hero,” Gardner scooped on Saturday night. “Trump placed the call … while the individual was leading an inquiry into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County … The president’s attempts to intervene in an ongoing investigation could amount to obstruction of justice or other criminal violations, legal experts said.”

4) Trump told Loeffler before he landed in Georgia for his final rally last Monday night that he would “do a number on her” from the stage if she didn’t announce support for his electoral college challenges, Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Eliana Johnson reported Sunday in Politico. Loeffler agreed to announce her support for the challenges onstage. Ultimately, after she lost and the mob stormed the Capitol, the appointed senator announced that she would not vote to reject the results from her own state.

PGA pulls 2022 championship from Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., course.

“Jim Richerson, PGA of America’s president, said the group’s board voted Sunday night to ‘exercise the right to terminate the agreement’ with Trump’s course,” David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell and Barry Svrluga report. “The PGA Championship is one of the four majors in men’s golf, and therefore it was scheduled to be the most prestigious event ever held at a Trump property. … The group made no announcement about a replacement venue. …

“Last week’s events have caused other business partners to cut ties. The e-commerce firm Shopify said it would no longer host the Trump Organization’s online retail store, which sold T-shirts, hats, scented candles and bath bombs with the Trump name. That retail site, trumpstore.com, generated about $900,000 in revenue for the president’s company in 2019 … On Friday, real estate brokerage firm JLL said it would no longer represent Trump’s company in its efforts to sell the Trump hotel in downtown Washington.” The president did not speak publicly on Sunday, and he has been barred from Twitter, his preferred communication channel.

  • Cumulus Media, one of America’s largest talk-radio companies, which employs some of the most popular right-leaning talk radio hosts, told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from Trump – or else face termination. (Paul Farhi)
  • Stripe announced it will no longer process payments for Trump’s campaign website. (WSJ)
  • Parler CEO John Matze said his company has been dropped by virtually all of its business partners after Amazon, Apple and Google cut off the alternative to Twitter. (Deadline)
Republicans objected on Jan. 11 to a House measure calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove President Trump from office. (The Washington Post)

As Pelosi vows to forge ahead with impeachment, the debate divides and consumes Democrats.

Most House members remain mad and insist Trump must face consequences for inciting last week’s deadly assault, but Biden has signaled he does not want the effort to interfere with his agenda and some key Democrats are quietly looking for a way to put the brakes on this. “The train has left the station,” one Democrat said of impeachment. “It’s on a track that, while people have reservations, nobody knows how to stop it.”

The conflict confronts Biden with his first test on what could be an early, incendiary dilemma facing his presidency: how hard to pursue accountability for Trump and those in his orbit,” Felicia Sonmez, Mike DeBonis and Juliet Eilperin report. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a Biden ally and House leader, proposed Sunday that the House vote this week to impeach but wait a few months to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. Those comments provoked widespread frustration among Democrats, according to multiple aides and lawmakers. … 

The earliest action on impeachment could come Tuesday in the House Rules Committee, which would meet to prepare legislation for the House floor; actual votes on impeachment or other items can occur no sooner than Wednesday — a week before Biden’s inauguration. As of Sunday afternoon, a draft impeachment resolution had garnered 210 co-sponsors in the House, according to Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), one of its authors. … 

Others said Congress should censure Trump instead of impeaching him, an action that could be taken quickly and possibly attract broader support. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District of Columbia’s nonvoting representative in the House, said she plans to introduce such a measure Monday, describing it as ‘the only way to send a bipartisan, bicameral message without delay to the country and the world that the United States is a nation of laws.’ Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a frequent Trump critic, also suggested he would back a censure motion. … 

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump is expected to travel to Alamo, Tex., on Tuesday to mark progress on his border wall. …Speaking on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Trump’s former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said that of all of the things Trump has done, ‘I could probably defend almost all of them’ until this point. But in the riot’s aftermath, he added, he would ‘seriously’ consider voting to impeach Trump if he were still a House member. On ABC’s ‘This Week,’ [Chris] Christie, a former Trump backer, said he would also vote to impeach if he were in Congress. ‘If inciting to insurrection isn’t [an impeachable offense], then I don’t really know what is,’ Christie said. Other Republicans, however, remained wary or opposed to impeachment, including most of those currently in office. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested it was not necessary because there was little chance Trump would repeat his dangerous actions.”

  • An ABC News-Ipsos poll published Sunday found that 56 percent of Americans think Trump should be removed from office before Jan. 20. Among those who say Trump should not be removed immediately, 45 percent nevertheless say his actions last week were wrong. Only 13 percent of Republicans support removing Trump from officer early. Overall, 67 percent of Americans lay blame squarely at Trump’s feet for the riot and the Capitol breach.
  • In a statement this morning, First Lady Melania Trump offered condolences to the families of all six people whose deaths have been connected to the riots but then she complained about criticism that she’s been quiet for five days. “I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” she wrote.
  • In a highly unusual move, American diplomats have drafted two cables condemning Trump’s incitement of the assault on the Capitol and calling for administration officials to consider invoking the 25th Amendment. (AP)
  • Relations between Trump and Pence have collapsed, and Reuters reports the two men are no longer on speaking terms. “Pence gave a goodbye pep talk to his staff in an emotional meeting on Friday before many of them leave this week,” Reuters reports. “He cited a Bible verse that his chief of staff, Marc Short, texted him on Thursday morning after Pence formally certified Biden’s victory. ‘We have fought the good fight, we have kept the faith and we finished the race,’ Short said.”
  • “Pence has not ruled out an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment and wants to preserve the option in case Trump becomes more unstable, a source close to the vice president says,” per CNN.
  • Frank Luntz, a veteran GOP pollster, conducted a focus group the night after the Capitol attack with 12 Trump voters from 11 different states. Luntz said that when he asked the group of 12 to name their preferred candidate for president in 2024, only two said Trump. None said Pence. (Phil Rucker)
  • The day before the riots, an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent out robocalls urging supporters to come to D.C. to “fight” Congress on behalf of Trump’s baseless election claims. Now, several GOP attorneys general are distancing themselves from the calls, claiming they did not know what was done in their names. (Andrea Salcedo)
  • Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) said some House Republicans who voted to reject Biden’s win knew they were lying about election irregularities but did so anyway because they are worried about the safety of their own families. (Reason)
  • Three siblings of Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) reached out to Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) asking for his help to get their brother expelled from Congress. The siblings – who recorded a commercial for Gosar’s challenger in 2018 – blame their brother for inciting the riots. (Arizona Republic)
  • More than 5,000 law school alumni and students have signed a petition calling for Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to be disbarred. (Valerie Strauss)

Quote of the day

“If there’s ever any silver lining in an awful, awful, awful day, I think it’s that this has accelerated the march away from Trumpism,” said former senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). (Matt Viser)

Law enforcement fallout

Outgoing Capitol Police chief says House and Senate security officials blocked efforts to call in National Guard.

“Two days before Congress was set to formalize Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest. To be on the safe side, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup. But, Sund said Sunday, they turned him down,” Carol Leonnig, Aaron Davis, Peter Hermann and Karoun Demirjian report. “Sund, who has since resigned his post, said his supervisors were reluctant to take formal steps to put the Guard on call even as police intelligence suggested that the crowd Trump had invited to Washington to protest his defeat probably would be much larger than earlier demonstrations. House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the ‘optics’ of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to ‘lean forward’ and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help. … It was the first of six times Sund’s request for help was rejected or delayed, he said.

“Two days later on Wednesday afternoon, his forces already in the midst of crisis, Sund said he pleaded for help five more times as a scene far more dire than he had ever imagined unfolded on the historic Capitol grounds. … At 2:26 p.m., Sund said, he joined a conference call to the Pentagon to plead for additional backup. … On the call were several officials from the D.C. government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. The D.C. contingent was flabbergasted to hear Piatt say that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, approve the request. ‘I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,’ Piatt said … Again and again, Sund said, ‘The situation is dire,’ recalled John Falcicchio, the chief of staff for D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. ‘Literally, this guy is on the phone, I mean, crying out for help. It’s burned in my memories.’”

  • U.S. Capitol Police on Sunday announced the death of off-duty officer Howard Liebengood, 51, who had been on the scene Wednesday. “Its statement did not list a cause of death, but two law enforcement officials told The Post that he had died by suicide,” Allison Klein and Rebecca Tan report.
  • Pelosi said several of her staffers ran into a conference room, barricaded the door, switched off the lights and cowered under a conference table for hours as rioters vandalized the speaker’s office. Pelosi showed “60 Minutes” where the rioters broke down her office door and shattered an antique mirror, scattering glass. (Jaclyn Peiser)
  • The FBI and NYPD told Capitol Police about the possibility of violence before the riot. “The FBI even visited more than a dozen extremists already under investigation to urge them not to travel to Washington,” NBC News reports.
  • Two Black Capitol Police officers said their leaders left them unprepared for the attack. “Management’s inaction left Black police officers especially vulnerable,” BuzzFeed News reports. “The [officers] said they were wrong-footed, fighting off an invading force that their managers had downplayed and not prepared them for. They had all been issued gas masks, for example, but management didn’t tell them to bring them in on the day.” 

The Post has identified over 100 members of the Capitol mob. Almost all are White. Most are men.

“Those who made their way to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday hail from at least 36 states, along with the District of Columbia and Canada, according to a Post list of over 100 people identified as being on the scene of the Capitol. Their professions touch nearly every facet of American society: lawyers, local lawmakers, real estate agents, law enforcement officers, military veterans, construction workers, hair stylists and nurses. Among the crowd were devout Christians who highlighted Bible verses, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory and members of documented hate groups, including white nationalist organizations and militant right-wing organizations, such as the Proud Boys,” Amy Brittain, Julie Zauzmer, Jenn Abelson, David Willman and Nicole Dungca report. 

“The list is just a limited cross section of the thousands of people who descended upon the area, yet some striking commonalities are hard to ignore. … About one in six were women — also almost all White. Many left extensive social media documentation of their passions, ideologies and, in some cases, disillusionment and vendettas. … A handful of the most notorious rioters, including a man who carried a Confederate flag over his shoulder though the Capitol, have not yet had their identities publicly confirmed by law enforcement. Dozens of people have been arrested — some for minor offenses like breaking curfew or unlawful entry, while others face more serious federal charges, including firearm possession, violent entry and disorderly conduct at the Capitol building. The count is expected to grow rapidly in the coming days. … Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia told NPR that his staff is working around-the-clock to sort through ‘potentially thousands of people that may have information about crimes … meaning there could be hundreds of people charged.’”

  • Two men who allegedly carried zip ties around the Capitol during the riot are being investigated by counterterrorism prosecutors. Larry Rendell Brock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was arrested in Texas and charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct. Eric Gavelek Munchel, arrested in Tennessee, was charged with the same counts, prosecutors said, after being allegedly photographed climbing over a railing in the Senate gallery carrying plastic restraints. (Spencer Hsu, Meryl Kornfield, Paulina Villegas and Dan Lamothe) 
  • The U.S. Army is investigating a psychological operations officer who led a group of North Carolinians to the D.C. rally. Fort Bragg commanders are reviewing Capt. Emily Rainey’s involvement in the events, but she said she acted within military regulations and that no one in her group broke the law. (AP)
  • Two police officers with the Rocky Mount, Va., police department were placed on administrative leave after the town discovered they attended the riot. (Ian Shapira)
  • At least two Seattle police officers who were in D.C. during the riot have been placed on administrative leave. (Seattle Times)
  • A Philadelphia police detective from the unit that investigates the backgrounds of potential recruits was temporarily reassigned based on a tip that she attended Trump’s D.C. rally. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Video shows the mob dragging a police officer down the stairs. A rioter beat the officer with an American flag pole. The outnumbered officer has not been identified. (Katie Shepherd)
  • A small group of sleuths has been identifying right-wing extremists long before the attack. (Robert Klemko)
  • An Idaho man who posted a video of himself on Instagram in the chair Pence had sat in moments earlier after apparently jumping down from the balcony to the Senate floor told the Boise CBS affiliate that he “got caught up in the moment.” Josiah Colt, in a statement, said that he is speaking with his lawyer to see what his next steps should be and begged “for forgiveness from America.” (CBS2)

The coronavirus

Congress’s physician warns lawmakers that they may have been exposed to covid.

“‘Many members of the House community were in protective isolation in a room located in a large committee hearing space,’ Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, wrote in an email that was sent to members of Congress on Sunday morning. ‘The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others,’” Paulina Firozi, Amy Wang and DeBonis report. “Monahan did not specify how large the group of lawmakers in the room was. Two House aides confirmed to The Post that Monahan was referring to a room where scores of House members were taken to during the riot. … [Video] showed maskless Republicans — including Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Tex.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) and Scott Perry (Pa.) — refusing masks offered by Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.) while in the room. Monahan’s email advised lawmakers who may have been exposed to continue monitoring for symptoms, wearing masks and social distancing.” He also recommended that they get tested this week.

  • The U.S. reported 1,949 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, for a total of more than 373,000 covid deaths in the United States. More than 228,991 new cases were reported as covid-related hospitalizations rose 2.9 percent, per The Post’s tracker.
  • Hospitals are throwing out doses of Pfizer’s vaccine because the federal government is supplying some facilities with syringes that can only extract five doses from vials that often contain more. (Politico)
  • Medical providers across New York State were forced to throw out precious vaccine doses because of difficulties finding patients who precisely matched the state’s strict vaccination guidelines. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is finally loosening the rules, allowing employees who interact with the public, such as a pharmacy’s cashiers and delivery staff, to receive the shot. (NYT)
  • As schools in Chicago prepare to reopen, 147 nurses with the city’s public school system are warning that reopening the buildings is still unsafe. (Valerie Strauss)
  • The vaccine rollout in Florida has turned into a free-for-all, as the state experiences an alarming surge in new cases. Adding to the complications, the state announced Sunday that its large testing and vaccination site at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens — the recent scene of long lines of people awaiting vaccination — would shut down for much of today to make way for the College Football Playoff national championship game. (NYT)
  • The NBA canceled a game between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat as its covid woes mount. The cancellation came after a Miami player returned an inconclusive result for a covid test. (Ben Golliver and Des Bieler)
  • Vitamin D sales are up, but experts still don’t know whether it prevents or treats covid. (Allyson Chiu)

As spending climbs and revenue falls, the virus threatens even stable, middle-income countries.

“Costa Rica built Latin America’s model society, enacting universal health care and spending its way to one of the Western Hemisphere’s highest literacy rates. Now, it’s reeling from the financially crushing side effects of the coronavirus, as cratering revenue and crisis spending force a reckoning over a massive pile of government debt,” Alexander Villegas, Anthony Faiola and Lesley Wroughton report. “Around the globe, the pandemic is racking up a mind-blowing bill: trillions of dollars in lost tax revenue, ramped-up spending and new borrowing set to burden the next generation with record levels of debt. In the direst cases — low- and middle-income countries, mostly in Africa and Latin America, that are already saddled with backbreaking debt — covering the rising costs is transforming into a high-stakes test of national solvency. Analysts call it a ‘debt tsunami’: National accounts are sinking into the red at a record pace. ‘I consider the risk to be very high of an emerging-market debt crisis where a lot of countries run into problems at once,’ said Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.” 

  • Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were vaccinated. (Karla Adam)
  • Pope Francis said he’ll get the vaccine soon, perhaps as early as next week, and added that inoculation is a duty for everyone. “I believe that ethically everyone needs to receive the vaccine,” Francis told Italy’s TG5. (Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli)
  • Support for holding the Olympics in Japan this summer has plummeted. A Kyodo News Agency poll shows that roughly 80 percent of people in the country want to cancel or reschedule the Games. (Antonia Farzan)

The Chinese Communist Party is telling a tale of triumph — and no mistakes — a year after Wuhan. 

“At a museum in Wuhan, China, a sprawling exhibition paints a stirring tale of how the city’s sacrifices in a brutal 76-day lockdown led to triumph over the coronavirus and, ultimately, rebirth. No costs appear to have been spared for the show, which features a hologram of medical staff members moving around a hospital room, heart-rending letters from frontline health workers and a replica of a mass quarantine site, complete with beds, miniature Chinese flags and toothbrush cups,” the Times reports. “But the exhibition is also striking for what is not included. There is no mention of the whistle-blowing role of Ai Fen, one of the first doctors to sound the alarm in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, or the decision by Zhang Yongzhen, a Shanghai doctor, to share its genome with the world against official orders. … China has spent much of the past year trying to spin the narrative of the pandemic as an undisputed victory led by the ruling Communist Party. The state-run news media has largely ignored the government’s missteps and portrayed China’s response as proof of the superiority of its authoritarian system, especially compared to that of the United States and other democracies.”

  • A team of scientists investigating the origin of the virus will arrive in China tomorrow, more than a week after the WHO mission was set to begin. (Lily Kuo)
  • A Chinese study published in the Lancet found that 75 percent of covid patients experienced symptoms six months later. Fatigue and muscle weakness were prevalent, while sleep difficulties, kidney malfunction, anxiety and depression were reported to be common as well. (Gerry Shih)

Other news that should be on your radar

  • Biden plans to nominate career diplomat Bill Burns to run the CIA. (David Ignatius)
  • As Trump’s presidency winds down, allies of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have ramped up a push for a last-minute pardon from the president, enlisting a lobbyist with connections to the White House and trying to rally supporters across the political spectrum. (NYT)
  • Following an internal battle, the Trump administration will declare Yemen’s Houthi rebels a foreign terrorist organization, a decision that aid groups and several senior U.S. officials worry could worsen a humanitarian crisis. (John Hudson and Missy Ryan) 
  • Investigators located the black box from the Indonesian passenger jet that crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday with 62 people on board. No one survived. (Ruby Mellen)
  • Pope Francis changed church law to give women the right to act as readers and altar servers, but he says they still cannot be priests. (Chico Harlan)
  • Nancy Bush, the sister of one Republican president and aunt of another who devoted herself to Democratic causes, died at an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. She was 94. (NYT)

Social media speed read

A mourning cloth draped the entrance of the Capitol Police headquarters: 

A North Carolina House candidate, who was endorsed by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, touted her attendance at Trump’s D.C. rally in a fundraising email:

Meanwhile, Jared Kushner had a party:

Videos of the day

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), an immigrant from Austria, compared the Capitol violence to the Kristallnacht destruction by the Nazis:

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) posted Jan. 10 a video about growing up in Austria and condemning the mobs that stormed the U.S. Capitol. (Arnold Schwarzenegger/Twitter)

“The Daily Show” compared what Fox News hosts said about Democrats complaining about the 2016 election to what they are saying now:



James Hohmann


2021-01-11 12:22:29


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