Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, January 15, 2021, 2:24 PM

Politico outlined how President Trump’s impeachment trial will proceed, now that the House has voted affirmatively to impeach him for the historic second time in his term. The trial is expected to start at 1 p.m. on Jan. 20, an hour after the inauguration of President-elect Biden. As Democrats prepare to become the Senate majority, Democratic lawmakers are working to establish a dual track process in which the chamber can both put Trump on trial and consider the Biden administration’s agenda—a difficult task that Politico notes would require the consent of all 100 senators.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet sent the article of impeachment to the Senate, reports the New York Times. Today, Pelosi faced questions for the first time since the House impeached Trump on Wednesday for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol as he sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Pelosi did not indicate when the House would bring the impeachment charge to the Senate.

In a court filing late last night, federal prosecutors alleged that “strong evidence” supports that some individuals in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials” as part of an effort to “violently overthrow the U.S. government,” according to Reuters. The claim was made in a memo asking an Arizona judge to detain Jacob Chansley, a QAnon conspiracy theorist who was photographed standing at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence in the chamber of the U.S. Senate during last week’s attack on the Capitol. The document provides greater detail about the FBI’s investigation into Chansleyincluding the assertion that Chansley left a note at the vice president’s desk warning, “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Inspectors general for the departments of Justice, Defense, Interior and Homeland Security have opened internal probes into the preparation and response to the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, writes the Washington Post. People familiar with the FBI’s investigation of last week’s violence in the nation’s capital told the Post that dozens of individuals on an FBI terrorist watch list were in D.C. for the pro-Trump events on Jan. 6, the majority of whom are suspected white supremacists.

While President Trump has called for his supporters to refrain from political violence since the riots on Jan. 6, the president’s request for calm is being largely ignored by a vast swath of his extremist followers, reports Politico. Trump has not acknowledged that his loss in the 2020 election was legitimate, and many online extremists have disregarded the pleas for peace to instead dissect his phrases and use them as rallying cries. U.S. officials have issued nationwide warnings that ask law enforcement to be on alert for pro-Trump extremists and bolster security. These increased security measures are intended to counter a heightened threat of violence as the inaugural ceremony on Jan. 20 approaches, according to the Post.

The Trump administration is racing to enact term limits for top federal health scientists—a move that current and former officials warn could result in an enduring increase of political pressure on prominent critics of the president’s pandemic response, writes Politico. The regulation would mandate job reviews every five years for career directors at federal health agencies.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization convened to tackle the challenge posed by new coronavirus strains that have been attributed to large new waves of infections in Europe, reports France 24. Almost two million deaths have been recorded worldwide since the pandemic began, though the figure is widely considered to be an underestimate of the virus’s true toll.

President-elect Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion U.S. COVID-19 relief package, urging Congress to back $1,400 per person stimulus payments and increased funding for testing and vaccine distribution, according to the Wall Street Journal.

After a years-long Justice Department internal investigation on the Trump administration’s family separation policy, the department’s inspector general released a report yesterday detailing the probe’s findings, writes the Journal. The report highlights the role that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Justice Department leadership played in pushing the policy forward as part of a “zero-tolerance” strategy that relied on taking children away from their parents at the border in order to deter illegal immigration.

Official Chinese propaganda outlets have criticized President Trump’s expulsion from Big Tech platforms, reports Li Yuan for the New York Times. Yuan notes that Twitter and Facebook’s content moderation decisions have allowed the Chinese Communist Party to propagate the message “that nobody in the world truly enjoys freedom of speech” which “gives the party greater moral authority to crack down on Chinese speech.”

Automakers around the world are closing assembly lines due to a global shortage of semiconductors that stems in part from the Trump administration’s competitive actions against Chinese chip factories, according to Reuters.

Russia will follow the U.S. in withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, an arms control agreement designed to prevent armed conflict between Russia and the West, writes the Journal.

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine claimed that he won the country’s presidential election today, disputing incumbent President Yoweri Museveni’s own claims of electoral victory, reports France 24.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Carissa Byrne Hessick explained why it seems likely that prosecutors could file felony murder charges against at least some of the rioters who participated in the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.

Dan Byman and Aditi Joshi argued that social media companies need to develop better emergency protocols to counter the exploitation of malign users seeking to foment violence.

Jen Patja Howell shared this week’s edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation on the Lawfare Podcast, titled “Jonathan Zittrain on the Great Deplatforming.”

Robert N. Stavins discussed the incoming Biden administration’s plans for international climate change policy and action.

Gary Corn argued that SolarWinds is bad, but a retreat from the U.S.’s proactive defense strategy in cyberspace would be worse.

Lester Munson shared an episode of Fault Lines, titled “Are We Bangui? Continued Crisis on Capitol Hill.”

Bruce Riedel reviewed “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life,” a biography of the 39th U.S. president written by Jonathan Alter.

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