Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 2:32 PM

The House has begun debating impeachment of President Trump for a second time during his term and will vote on whether to advance the effort this afternoon, reports the New York Times. Some Republicans have embraced the article of impeachment, which accuses Trump of inciting violence against the U.S. government. The resolution is expected to pass through the House today and move forward to a Senate trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he will not reconvene the Senate earlier than its return date of Jan. 19 to accept an article of impeachment—meaning that a trial will not proceed prior to President-elect Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

According to the Times, McConnell has privately backed the impeachment charge and believes that Democrats’ effort to remove the president will enable the Republican party to distance itself from Trump more easily. McConnell’s assessment represents a stark shift away from the GOP’s largely unwavering support for Trump throughout various controversies during his time as president, including last year’s impeachment.

Last night, House Democrats passed a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment in order to remove the president from office, writes the Wall Street Journal. Pence released a statement rejecting the push, setting in motion today’s impeachment proceedings.

Security threats surrounding President-elect Biden’s inauguration are mounting as officials scramble to avoid a repeat of last week’s rioting in Washington, during which law enforcement failed to prevent Trump supporters from storming the U.S. Capitol, reports the Hill. Upwards of 20,000 National Guardsmen will be deployed to the nation’s capital for Inauguration Day, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Airbnb, a popular home rental company, has announced that it will cancel all reservations in the Washington, D.C., area next week to discourage guests from traveling to the capital during Biden’s inauguration, writes Politico. Airbnb also condemned the Capitol rioting that led to five deaths on Jan. 6, withheld political contributions to lawmakers who voted against certifying 2020 election results and banned “numerous individuals” who participated in the assault on the Capitol. Airbnb joins an increasing list of corporations seeking to take a stand against President Trump following the Jan. 6 riots.

Youtube suspended Trump’s channel on its platform last night, following similar decisions from Facebook and Twitter, reports the Wall Street Journal. While the social media companies cited different pieces of content as reasoning for the suspensions, the decisions were each underscored by Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen and expressed support for the Capitol mob. Parler, a social network that has grown to be increasingly popular among conservative users, faces a costly path to getting back online after Amazon removed the platform from its service, the Journal explains. Amazon claimed it made the decision due to Parler’s inadequate moderation of users’ posts, which stoked violence in last week’s attack on the Capitol.

As the country confronts political crisis, the U.S. coronavirus daily death toll continues to surge to new highs, with more than 4,400 American deaths due to the virus reported yesterday, writes the Times. The U.S. has recorded a staggering 380,882 deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began—the highest coronavirus death toll in the world by a large margin.

In a confidential report, U.N. inspectors said that Iran has taken a new step toward the possible production of nuclear weapons, according to the Journal. Tehran has allegedly told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to install equipment to produce uranium metal—a key material used in the core of nuclear weapons. The development raises the stakes for the incoming Biden administration’s policy objective to resume diplomacy with Iran and return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear agreement that places limits on Iran’s enrichment capacities in exchange for sanction relief.

Biden announced today that he intends to nominate Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President Obama, to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), reports Politico. USAID is responsible for distributing billions of dollars in foreign aid.

The Senate Armed Services Committee appears likely to approve a waiver allowing retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to serve as Biden’s defense secretary, writes the Post. The expected approval comes despite bipartisan concerns that Gen. Austin’s nomination has stoked about dismantling the tradition of appointing civilian leadership of the Pentagon.

The incoming administration’s top economic advisor, Brian Deese, has stated that Biden’s job creation agenda will prioritize solving the climate crisis through increased investments in new technologies, according to Reuters.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Russell Spivak and Benjamin Wittes revisited Devin Nunes’s famous memo and argued that while some points were valid, the document also contained blatant and intentional falsehoods.

Bryce Klehm announced this week’s Lawfare Live, in which members of the Lawfare team will take questions from the Lawfare community that deal with crimes related to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, impeachment and the inauguration.

Jacob Schulz analyzed the cases currently on the inaugural docket for Facebook’s recently established Oversight Board.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, titled “The Incredible Vanishing President.”

Tia Sewell explained how the Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media attempted to politicize his federal agency and propagandize its subsidiary international media outlets.

Quinta Jurecic shared the House Judiciary Committee’s article of impeachment against President Trump and its accompanying report.

Coleman Saunders summarized the oral argument in the Supreme Court’s Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp, a case which examines the “expropriation exception” of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FISA).

Jeremy Gordon summarized the oral argument in the Supreme Court’s Hungary v. Simon, a case which examines whether courts can abstain from hearing lawsuits against foreign sovereigns even when FISA has provided the court jurisdiction over the suit.

Shalev Roisman reviewed Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash’s book, titled “The Living Presidency: An Originalist Argument Against its Ever-Expanding Powers.”

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