Hagerty, a private equity executive who served as President Trumpâ€™s ambassador to Japan but has never held elected office, joined a quixotic effort led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to contest the counting of legally certified electoral votes. Notably, four of the 10 GOP senators to support the Cruz gambit were just elected in November. Besides Hagerty, the others are Sens. Roger Marshall (Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.).
Not one of the dozen GOP senators who have announced plans to turn what is normally a pro forma session into a circus-like spectacle served in the chamber before the tea party wave of 2010. This reflects not just the Trump takeover of the GOP since 2016 but a more fundamental radicalization. The party, while divided, is shifting to become less committed to the democratic process and the foundational governing institutions that have made the American experiment work.
By design, the Senate has six-year terms to insulate members from scenarios like Trumpâ€™s bid to disenfranchise millions of voters. These new members do not need to face voters again until 2026.
Joining Hagerty in opposing the certification of Bidenâ€™s electors is Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Just two years ago, she replaced Bob Corker when he retired. Illustrating how different she is than he would have been if he had sought another term, Corker publicly congratulated Biden on his victory on Nov. 10. A week later, the former senator tweeted that â€œresponsible citizens cannot let the reckless actions by [Trump] and his legal team stand. Republicans have an obligation when the subject is of such importance to challenge demagoguery and patently false statements.â€
Blackburn and Hagerty defended their position in a joint statement: â€œOn behalf of Tennesseans, we are taking a united stand against the tainted electoral results from the recent Presidential election. American democracy relies on the consent of the governed. Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process.â€
As a reminder, this election was not close: Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trumpâ€™s 232. That is the same margin of victory the president prevailed with four years ago. The former vice president also beat the incumbent by about 7 million votes. Nearly 100 judges across the political spectrum, including several Trump appointees, have ruled in court against the president or one of his allies seeking to challenge or overturn the election.
The other Republican senators who have said they plan to oppose election certification are Ron Johnson (Wis.), elected in 2010; James Lankford (Okla.) and Steve Daines (Mont.), elected in 2014; John Neely Kennedy (La.), elected in 2016; and Mike Braun (Ind.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), elected in 2018. (Kevin Uhrmacher is tracking what every GOP senator has said about this issue.)
On the House side, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told reporters that more than 50 Republicans are backing his move to challenge certification.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had urged GOP senators not to contest the results, warning that it will inevitably fail because Democrats control the House and the donnybrook will only highlight divisions within their own partyâ€™s ranks. Republican senators such as Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) have spoken out against the effort over more principled concerns.Â
On Sunday night, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tried to thread the needle. He said he supports a commission to â€œstudyâ€ the results and expressed concern about unspecified irregularities, but the potential 2024 presidential candidate added that he will not vote against certifying the electors because doing so â€œwould essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress.â€
â€œThe Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states â€” not Congress,â€ Cotton wrote in a statement. â€œThey entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College â€” not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts â€” not Congress.â€
Quote of the day
â€œIt is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans,â€ former House speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement on Sunday. â€œThe fact that this effort will fail does not mean it will not do significant damage to American democracy.â€
More on the voting wars
â€œI just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,â€ Trump told Georgiaâ€™s secretary of state.
The president pushed fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger on Saturday to â€œfindâ€ enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call. Amy Gardner obtained a recording of the conversation, in which Trump alternately berated Georgiaâ€™s top elections official, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if he refused to pursue his false claims. â€œSo what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break,â€ Trump said. â€œThereâ€™s no way I lost Georgia.â€
â€œThe rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss,â€ Gardner notes. â€œThe secretary of state repeatedly sought to correct Trump, saying at one point, â€˜Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, they â€” people can say anything.â€™ â€˜Oh this isnâ€™t social media,â€™ Trump retorted. â€˜This is Trump media.â€™â€ (Read the full transcript and listen to the audio of the call here.)
The only Democrat on Georgiaâ€™s state election board called on Raffensperger to investigate possible civil and criminal violations committed by Trump during the call.Â David J. Worley, an Atlanta lawyer, said the transcript amounted to â€œprobable causeâ€ to believe that Trump violated state law. He cited Georgia code Â§ 21-2-604, which makes it a crime to solicit someone else to commit election fraud. Such a violation can be punished by up to three years in prison. â€œAsking the secretary to change the votes is a textbook definition of election fraud,â€ Worley told Teo Armus.Â
Some lawyers argue that Trump may have violated federal law.Â â€œThe question, according to Justin Levitt, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University, is whether Trump was â€˜knowingly and willfullyâ€™ pressuring Raffensperger to count nonexistent votes when he told the GOP official, â€˜I just want to find 11,780 votes.â€™ â€¦ Considering that two recounts, an audit and several judges have upheld [Bidenâ€™s] win in Georgia, Levitt said it is clear Trump was not actually pushing for an â€˜honest tallyâ€™ of the votes,â€ Armus reports. â€œMichael R. Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, put it more bluntly on Twitter: â€˜His best defense would be insanity.â€™ â€¦
â€œOther legal scholars said that Trump possibly violated 18 U.S. Code 241, which makes it illegal to participate in a conspiracy against people exercising their civil rights. That longstanding statute has been used frequently to prosecute acts of voter intimidation, especially those committed by the Ku Klux Klan against Black voters. But charging Trump under that code would require prosecutors to show that someone else on the phone call was also aiding and abetting a scheme, Levitt said.â€
- â€œThere are but 16 days left in President Trumpâ€™s term, but there is no doubt that he will use all of his remaining time in office to inflict as much damage as he can on democracy â€” with members of a now-divided Republican Party acting as enablers,â€ writes chief correspondent Dan Balz.
- â€œTrump began his presidency trying to obstruct justice. Heâ€™s ending it trying to obstruct democracy, and with an alarmingly large cadre of co-conspirators,â€ writes deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus.
- â€œItâ€™s impeachable. Itâ€™s likely illegal. Itâ€™s a coup,â€ adds columnist Jen Rubin. â€œThere must be a response to a president who exploits his office for the purpose of overthrowing an election. The evidence is on tape. The next attorney general should move forward, if for no other reason, to deter further attempts at such reprehensible conduct.â€
Georgiaâ€™s senators struggle to steer around GOP infighting ahead of Tuesday’s runoffs.
If Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeat Sens. David PerdueÂ and Kelly Loeffler tomorrow, their party would control the Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris campaigned with them in Savannah on Sunday, and both Biden and Trump are scheduled to headline rallies in the state later today. Harris referred to Trumpâ€™s call with Raffensperger as the â€œvoice of desperationâ€ and a â€œbaldfaced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.” Perdue and Loeffler have not just echoed Trump’s baseless claims but also called for Raffenspergerâ€™s resignation. â€œRepublican voters continue to hear a contradictory message from their party: Vote in large numbers in a system that the GOPâ€™s most popular politician says is riddled with fraud,â€ Cleve Wootson Jr. reports.
Neither Loeffler nor Perdue â€” whose Senate term expired Sunday â€” cast votes on Friday when the Senate overrode Trump’s veto of the defense reauthorization bill. Loeffler declined to say how she would have voted during a Sunday appearance on Fox News, during which she also dodged whether she supports challenging the election results. Perdue, appearing separately on the cable channel, said he would not be eligible to participate in Wednesday’s vote because the runoff results would not be certified in time, but suggested he would be on board with the challenge if he could be there. Both Loeffler and Perdue endorsed Trump’s call for $2,000 stimulus checks after he made the demand, even as McConnell likened it to “socialism.”
Georgiaâ€™s Republican governor has gone radio silent.
â€œLoeffler has brought in the biggest GOP names in the country in the closing days of her re-election runoff campaign, including [Cruz], Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and, on Sunday, Gov. Kristi Noem from South Dakota, where the population of the entire state is smaller than Gwinnett County,â€ the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. â€œBut absent from the campaign trail in the final week leading up to Election Day has been Gov. Brian Kemp. Although Kemp campaigned frequently for the senators earlier in the fall, he has been missing from the final Republican push ahead of Tuesdayâ€™s runoffs, embroiled instead in a contentious standoff with Trump â€¦ Repeated requests for comment about Kempâ€™s absence went unanswered Sunday by the governorâ€™s office and Loefflerâ€™s campaign â€¦ Despite the governorâ€™s support, not the least of which was Kempâ€™s decision to appoint her to the Senate in 2019, Loeffler focused on just one chief executive Sunday on the trail. â€˜Are you ready to welcome President Trump to Georgia on Monday night?â€™ Loeffler asked the Cartersville crowd.â€
All 10 living former defense secretaries say the time to question results has passed.
â€œThe former Pentagon chiefs issued their warning Sunday evening in an opinion piece that they co-wrote and published in The Washington Post. Its authors include Trumpâ€™s two former defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, as well as each surviving, Senate-confirmed Pentagon chief dating back to Donald H. Rumsfeld in the 1970s,â€ Dan Lamothe reports. “The article brings together a group of Republicans and Democrats who disagree on many national security issues. Its genesis is a conversation between Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador and defense official, and former vice president and defense secretary Richard B. Cheney about how the military might be used in coming days â€¦ While Trump has called reports that he discussed the possibility of invoking martial law to overturn election results â€˜fake news,â€™ he did have Michael Flynn, a retired Army general and former national security adviser for Trump, at the White House recently after Flynn suggested on television that Trump could declare martial law and use the military to hold new elections. Protests are expected in Washington on Trumpâ€™s behalf this week, and the president has encouraged his supporters to show up, tweeting: â€˜Be there, will be wild!â€™ â€¦ After Cheney expressed interest in co-authoring an opinion piece, Edelman solicited participation from other former defense secretaries, and wrote a draft of the article along with Eliot Cohen, a former Republican national security official who is dean of the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. Some of the defense secretaries requested revisions, but nothing significant to the message â€¦Â
â€œWilliam Cohen, [a former Republican senator] who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, said in an interview that the discussion of martial law alarmed him, especially after Trumpâ€™s use of the military and other federal forces to remove protesters outside the White House in June. The former defense secretary also cited the use of federal law enforcement personnel to remove protesters in Portland, Ore., in unmarked vehicles as another abuse of power. While he said he has no doubts about the willingness of Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military officials to follow the law, he is concerned that violence started by Trump supporters such as the Proud Boys in coming days could be used as a pretext to use the military against civilians again. â€˜Itâ€™s a very dangerous course of action that needs to be called out before it happens,â€™ Cohen said of using the military against civilians.â€
The other former SecDefs who signed onto the op-ed are Ash Carter, Bob Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta and Bill Perry. The group of 10 also calls on the Trump team to assist Biden’s transition team: â€œActing defense secretary Christopher C. Miller and his subordinates â€” political appointees, officers and civil servants â€” are each bound by oath, law and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration, and to do so wholeheartedly. They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team. We call upon them, in the strongest terms, to do as so many generations of Americans have done before them. This final action is in keeping with the highest traditions and professionalism of the U.S. armed forces, and the history of democratic transition in our great country.â€
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 in House GOP leadership and the former VPâ€™s daughter, has circulated a 21-page memo to colleagues rebutting the case made by the senators who plan to challenge the results. â€œSuch objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal statesâ€™ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the President and bestowing it instead on Congress,â€ she writes. â€œThis is directly at odds with the Constitutionâ€™s clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans.â€ (National Review)
Federal and local officials are preparing for street violence in the capital.
â€œD.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Sunday that she is making plans to protect public safety when Trumpâ€™s supporters descend on the District on Wednesday to protest the result of the presidential election â€” including asking city residents not to come downtown on Tuesday or Wednesday to avoid confrontation with the demonstrators,â€ Julie Zauzmer reports. â€œBowser also asked people not to counterprotest to minimize potential conflict with the groups on the right. â€¦ Bowser said she would set up an emergency operations center, beginning Monday, for federal and local law enforcement to coordinate their response to the demonstrations. â€¦ In November and December, pro-Trump protesters â€” including far-right groups the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others â€” amassed in the District to protest the election results on two other occasions. Both days ended in violence â€¦ Some experts who monitor far-right groups have warned that Wednesdayâ€™s event could be more dangerous, as groups have discussed ways to sneak guns into the District.â€
The new Congress convenes
Nancy Pelosi is narrowly reelected as House speaker.Â
â€œThe final vote was 216 for Pelosi and 209 for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.),â€ Felicia Sonmez, Donna Cassata, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane report. â€œDemocrats are poised to have the slimmest House majority of either party in 20 years, beginning the session with a 222-to-211 advantage. â€¦ â€¦ Pelosi struck a somber tone, focusing on the responsibility facing lawmakers amid a pandemic. â€˜Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will,â€™ Pelosi, 80, told members of the House, calling the responsibility facing lawmakers â€˜as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced.â€™ â€¦ Pelosi also hailed the diversity of the new House, pointing to the â€˜record-shattering 122 womenâ€™ who will be sworn in, â€˜100 years after women won the right to vote.â€™ And she announced that she is establishing a bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, to address the countryâ€™s widening wealth gap.Â
â€œBefore swearing Pelosi into office, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the dean of the House, made an appeal for bipartisanship, telling Pelosi, â€˜You will be the speaker of the House, not of the party.â€™ â€¦ Young, who is also recovering from the virus, invited Pelosi to â€˜sit down and have a drinkâ€™ with lawmakers from across the aisle whenever negotiations get tough. Pelosi replied that she doesnâ€™t drink but would be glad to sit down for ice cream.”
Trump continues to award allies the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
â€œTrump on Monday is expected to give Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nationâ€™s highest civilian honor,â€ Ashley Parker reports. â€œNunes is a close ally of the president, and one of Trumpâ€™s most vocal supporters in his quest to undermine the Justice Departmentâ€™s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. â€¦ Nunes has long supported some of Trumpâ€™s more outlandish conspiracy theories, including claiming that the intelligence community improperly â€˜unmaskedâ€™ the identities of several officials working on Trumpâ€™s presidential transition. Trump â€” who is using his final days in the White House in part to reward friends and allies with pardons and other decorations â€” is also expected to give Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another confidant, the same award next week, although those plans have not yet been finalized.â€ Trump has previously given what is supposed to be the highest honor a president can bestow on a civilian to shock jock Rush Limbaugh and GOP megadonor Miriam Adelson, the wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Bidenâ€™s Jan. 20 inauguration will feature a virtual parade.
â€œAfter being sworn in on the west side of the Capitol, Mr. Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their spouses will participate in Pass in Review, a military tradition that reflects the peaceful transfer of power and will include every branch of the military,â€ the Wall Street Journal reports. â€œWith the coronavirus still raging across the country, the inauguration committee will be holding a virtual parade instead of the traditional in-person parade and balls. The planned programming is expected to feature Americans across the country along with musical acts, local bands and poets to pay tribute to front-line workers during the pandemic.â€ The inaugural committee previously announced plans for a memorial on Jan. 19 to honor those who lost their lives to covid that will feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.Â
The U.S. death toll from covid-19 surpassed 350,000 on Sunday.
â€œSpeaking on the Sunday morning news shows, the nationâ€™s top health officials, including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams contradicted Trumpâ€™s claim that the counts are â€˜far exaggerated,â€ Meryl Kornfield and Shayna Jacobs report.Â â€œâ€˜The numbers are real,â€™ Fauci said â€¦ â€˜Weâ€™re averaging 2,000 to 3,000 deaths per day,â€™ Fauci said. â€˜All you need to do .â€‰.â€‰. is go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths.â€™ The nation topped or neared 200,000 reported cases for the sixth straight day Sunday. More than 125,000 people are battling covid â€¦ in hospitals across the country â€¦ Fauciâ€™s objection appeared to draw Trumpâ€™s wrath as he tweeted: â€˜Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job, yet he works for me and the Trump Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work.â€™ â€¦
â€œAs of Saturday, more than 4.2 million people had received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccines being distributed to mainly health-care workers and the elderly â€” a figure that falls short of the 20 million people who were supposed to be vaccinated by this time, according to early estimates.Â More than 13 million doses were distributed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but local health departments and state officials have complained that a lack of communication and resources from the federal government has hampered their ability to get shots into arms. â€˜Some health departments have only received vaccines as recently as this week,â€™ said Oscar Alleyne, an epidemiologist and chief of programs and services for the National Association of County and City Health Officials, which includes about 3,000 local health departments.”
Frustrated Americans are struggling to sign up for their shots.
â€œBarbara Shlevin has kept a running tally of calls she made in search of the coronavirus vaccine. By Wednesday, she had tried the health department and a hospital system in Broward County, Fla., 184 times. Only once did the 71-year-old retired librarian get through. She said she waited more than 10 minutes, and finally heard a voice on the other end of the line. Then, the call cut off. So, she started trying online. For days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that the potentially lifesaving vaccine would be available to seniors, Shlevin had no idea when she and her husband would have a chance at it,â€ Brittany Shammas and Lori Rozsa report. â€œâ€˜You had at least six months to get ready. You could have figured out a better way to do this,â€™ said Shlevin â€¦ Americans trying to access shots are encountering systems that vary widely county to county and that, in many places, are overwhelmed.Â
â€œSome counties and hospital systems launched reservation websites, only for them to quickly become booked or crash. Others announced appointments only through Facebook, with slots filling before some residents knew to look. And many have not revealed how the vaccine will be made available to anyone beyond health-care workers and long-term care residents and employees, the focus of the first round of vaccinations. In one striking image, Florida health departments offering doses on a first-come, first-served basis saw scores of older residents bring lawn chairs and blankets and camp out overnight.”
Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed, said some Americans may receive only half the recommended dose of the Moderna vaccine to speed up the beleaguered rollout. The vaccine is delivered in two doses, and under the modified regimen, recipients would still receive two separate shots. But each dose would be cut in half. He said that clinical trials showed an â€œidentical immune responseâ€ when participants between the ages of 18 and 55 were given 50-microgram doses, rather than the standard of 100 micrograms. (Antonia Farzan)
Trump’s deregulatory push increased the spread of covid.
â€œThe Trump administration allowed 15 poultry plants to increase slaughter line speeds during the pandemic, an action that boosts production and makes it more difficult for workers to maintain space between one another. It also appears to have hastened the spread of the coronavirus,â€ Kimberly Kindy, Ted Mellnik and Arelis HernÃ¡ndez report. â€œNow the outgoing administration is rushing to finalize a rule that would make the faster line speeds permanent and expand them to dozens of other poultry plants â€” a move at odds with views held by [Biden]. â€¦ Since 2018, the Trump administration has issued â€” or reissued â€” temporary waivers that grant permission to 54 poultry plants to increase line speeds. These plants are allowed to speed up lines from 140 to 175 birds per minute, a 25 percent increase. They are also 10 times as likely to have coronavirus cases than poultry plants without the line-speed waivers, according a Washington Post analysis of data collected by the nonprofit Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN). The Post analysis mirrors academic research that shows more coronavirus cases in counties with plants that have waivers to raise line speeds.
â€œWorkers say the fast line speeds make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for them to socially distance during their eight-hour shifts as they struggle to work faster. Most of these plants are also large, employing thousands of workers who work in tight quarters, creating conditions that can fuel the spread of the virus. Meat plants have been among the most virulent hot spots during the pandemic. More than 51,000 workers in beef, hog and poultry plants have become ill from the coronavirus, with at least 347 dying after becoming infected.â€
- Â A hospital in San Jose is battling an outbreak thatâ€™s infected at least 44 people in the emergency department â€“ including someone who died. The outbreak may be due, in part, to an inflatable tree costume an employee wore on Christmas. The employee was unknowingly infected with the virus, and the costume was powered by a fan that may have spread droplets around the ER. (HuffPost)
- An outbreak at the St. Josephâ€™s Provincial House, a convent near Albany, infected nearly half of its roughly 100 residents, leaving nine sisters dead. (NYT)
- Talk show host Larry King has been hospitalized with covid in Los Angeles for over a week. (CNN)
India approves two vaccines.Â
â€œIndia granted emergency approval Sunday to its first vaccines â€” Oxford-AstraZeneca and homegrown Covaxin â€” as it prepares to undertake an unprecedented immunization program for the country of more than 1.3 billion,â€ Niha Masih reports. â€œIndia aims to administer the vaccine to 300 million people in the first phase, and distribution could begin in the coming days. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield in India, is being produced locally by the Serum Institute of India, the worldâ€™s largest vaccine manufacturer. It has stockpiled 40 million to 50 million doses and plans to produce 300 million doses by July. Its billionaire owner, Adar Poonawalla, has pledged 50 percent of its production for India.â€ Â
- More than 30 countries have reported cases of the highly transmissible â€œU.K. variantâ€ of the coronavirus. Vietnam on Saturday was the latest nation to report a case, while Turkey on Friday reported its first 15 cases of the U.K. variant, found in recent travelers from Britain. At least three U.S. states have identified cases of the variant. (Miriam Berger)
- China is racing to vaccinate about 50 million front-line workers before the Lunar New Year travel rush next month, hoping to avoid a repeat of last yearâ€™s holiday disaster. (Eva Dou)
- Israel has inoculated a higher proportion of its population than any other country, but it is delivering shots so quickly that it is outstripping its supply of vaccines. Officials are scrambling to buy more doses and said they may pause giving their first round of shots to younger citizens in order to deliver the second, final injections to the elderly. (Steve Hendrix and Shira Rubin)
Other news that should be on your radar
A pastor is killed and two people are injured in a Texas church shooting.
â€œThe Rev. Mark Allen McWilliams was killed with his own gun after the suspect disarmed him and shot him, authorities said,â€ Kornfield reports. “Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 21, was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of capital murder, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said Sunday evening. The shooting, at Starrville Methodist Church, about 100 miles east of Dallas, occurred just after 9 a.m. when only about four people were in the church, authorities said. McWilliams, 62, of Frankston found Woolen hiding in a bathroom stall and drew his weapon, Smith told reporters. McWilliams ordered the man to get on the ground, but when the pastor began speaking with his wife, Woolen lunged at him, disarming him and shooting him, Smith said. â€¦ Woolen fled in the pastorâ€™s truck with the churchâ€™s red bank bag, Smith said. Law enforcement officers located the car using GPS tracking and detained Woolen, who also had a gunshot wound. â€¦ Police said they think Woolen was hiding in the church Saturday night after he evaded a chase with police officers and subsequently ran off the road nearby.”
- A commission created by Trump to examine ways to improve the criminal justice system said every state should require its police departments to have an independent agency to investigate all fatal shootings and improve recruitment and training. The 332-page report was prepared primarily by police and prosecutors. (Tom Jackman)
- A British judge ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face charges of violating the Espionage Act because the defense provided compelling evidence that heâ€™s at extreme risk of suicide. Assange is charged with 18 federal crimes, including conspiring to obtain and disclose hundreds of secret government documents. He faces 175 years in a maximum-security prison. (William Booth and Rachel Weiner)
- Iran announced that it has resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment at its Fordow facility, which could complicate Bidenâ€™s hopes to restore the 2015 nuclear deal. (Erin Cunningham)
Social media speed read
Several new liberal House members were sworn in Sunday, including Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.):
The start of a new Congress is always a fun day of pomp and circumstance:
On his final weekend in Congress, retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) decried Trumpâ€™s conduct:
The Arizona GOP praised Trumpâ€™s call with Georgia’s secretary of state. A former RNC chairman questioned their sobriety:
Videos of the day
â€œThe Daily Show’sâ€ DulcÃ© Sloan tried to calculate the cost of police violence:
And someone set Trumpâ€™s demand for 11,780 votes to the tune of â€œSeasons of Loveâ€: