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Speaker Pelosi joins others in calling to remove President Trump from office
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Biden: Trump ‘should not be in office’

a man wearing a suit and tie: President-elect Joe Biden on Dec. 29, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. © Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images President-elect Joe Biden on Dec. 29, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware.

President-elect Joe Biden said Monday investigators should focus on holding accountable those who “engaged in sedition” in last Wednesday’s violent assault on the Capitol. 

When asked if Trump is among those who engaged in sedition, Biden said: “I think President Trump should not be in office. Period.”

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His comments came an hour after House Democrats introduced a new impeachment article against Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection as part of a broader effort to remove the president for his role in last week’s attack before his term ends on Jan. 20.

Despite fears that pro-Trump rioters would return to Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day, Biden insisted he would proceed with his swearing-in ceremony as planned. 

“I am not afraid to take the oath outside,” he said.

Biden spoke to reporters in Newark, Delaware, after receiving his second and final dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer’s vaccine, which was the first to receive emergency authorization use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is administered in two doses, three weeks apart. Biden and his wife Jill Biden received their first dose on Dec. 21.

— Courtney Subramanian

Trump’s job approval plummets after mob attack

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has plummeted following last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, tying the lowest point of his presidency.

In a new Quinnipiac University poll, 33% of American voters said they approve how Trump is handling his job, a dramatic drop of 11 percentage points since December, when 44% said they approved of his job performance. It’s the lowest mark for Trump since Aug. 2, 2017, when it was also at 33%.

Among Democrats, 94% disapprove of Trump’s job performance and 4% approve. Seventy-one percent of Republican voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 20% disapprove. Independent voters, by a margin of 65% to 28%, disapprove of his job performance.

Read the full story: Trump’s job approval rating plummets after mob attack at Capitol

The poll found 56% of voters hold Trump responsible for storming the Capitol, while 42% said they do not hold him responsible.

A slight majority of voters, 52%, said Trump should be removed from office, while 45% of respondents said he should not. A slightly higher percentage, 53% to 43%, said he should resign from the White House.

“A majority of Americans hold President Trump responsible for the chaos at the Capitol, and a slight majority believe that he should be removed from office,” said Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University polling analyst.

The poll of 1,239 self-identified registered voters nationwide was taken Jan. 7-10. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

After his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump is set to exit the White House on Jan. 20. But he first faces an impeachment effort from Democrats, who want Trump removed from office for inspiring a group of pro-Trump rioters to storm the Capitol while electoral votes were being counted.

The poll found 74% of voters believe democracy in American is under threat while just 21% said it is alive and well.

Sixty percent of the poll’s respondents said Trump is undermining democracy, while 34% said he’s protecting democracy. Among Republican voters, 73% said Trump is protecting democracy and only 20% said he is undermining democracy.

“When it comes to whether American democracy is under threat,” Malloy said, “both Republicans and Democrats see a raging five-alarm fire, but clearly disagree on who started it.”

— Joey Garrison

Senate Dem calls on Ethics Committee to consider expulsion, censure of Hawley, Cruz

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called on the Ethics Committee to consider expulsion or other punishments for Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in connection to last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Cruz and Hawley led the charge in the Senate to object to the count of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, feeding false claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Wednesday in an attempt to stop the count and overturn the election.

“The Senate Ethics Committee also must consider the expulsion, or censure and punishment, of Senators Cruz, Hawley, and perhaps others,” said Whitehouse, who represents Rhode Island.

Cruz and Hawley’s spokespeople did not immediate respond to a request for comment.

Whitehouse also said Cruz, Hawley and Sen. Ron Johnson, the top Republican on the Senate’s homeland security committee, should be removed from key committees while the Senate probes the Capitol attack.

“The Senate will need to conduct security review of what happened and what went wrong,” likely through its Judiciary, Homeland Security and Rules Committees, Whitehouse said.

 “Because of massive potential conflict of interest, Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Johnson (at least) need to be off all relevant committees reviewing this matter until the investigation of their role is complete,” he said.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also suggested Cruz and Hawley should face consequences for objecting to Biden’s legitimate win. 

“Even a member of Congress that commits a crime, you know, they expel from the body,” Thompson said in an interview Monday on SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show. “There are ethics charges that can be brought against those individuals.”

“…What Hawley did and what Cruz did was horrible,” he added.

— Deirdre Shesgreen

Impeachment article introduced

House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting an insurrection in the violent Capitol riots last week.

“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters.

If passed by the Democrat-controlled House, Hoyer said the article should immediately be sent to the Senate.

Some Democrats have suggested the article should be delayed to give the Senate time to first consider President-elect Joe Biden’s nominations and top policy priorities for holding an impeachment trial.

While the article has no Republican cosponsors, Rep. David Cicilline, one of the authors of the article, said he’s hopeful some will vote for it.

“He incited insurrection against the government of the United States that resulted in the death of five individuals, dozens of people injured in violence here at the Capitol,” the Rhode Island Democrat told reporters Monday.

Cicilline said he and other Democrats would prefer that Pence trigger the 25th Amendment or that Trump resign on his own.

“Days have passed, and it is clear that neither of those possibilities will be realized,” Cicilline wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times published Monday. “So it is Congress’s responsibility to act.”

– Maureen Groppe

Trump admin. blacklists 7 Ukrainian operatives as part of Russia-backed influence campaign targeting Biden

The Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on seven Ukrainian officials for their role in a malign Russian-backed campaign to undermine President-elect Joe Biden’s candidacy in the 2020 election.

In its announcement, the State Department did not name Biden. But it said several of the Ukrainian individuals sanctioned in Monday’s action worked with Andrii Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament and an active Russian intelligence agent, in “the coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent or unsubstantiated allegations involving a U.S. political candidate.”

Derkach was a key player in Russia’s efforts to tarnish Biden with unsubstantiated allegations that while vice president, Biden sought to have a Ukrainian prosecutor fired so that he would not investigate his son, Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, when his father was vice president. There is no evidence that Biden did anything wrong.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach in September, calling him a longtime Russian agent and saying the step was part of a broader effort to expose “Russian malign influence campaigns and protecting our upcoming elections from foreign interference.”

The new announcement says seven individuals and four entities were part of a Russia-linked foreign influence network associated with Derkach. They include former Ukrainian officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, and Andriy Telizhenko, as well as a current member of the Ukrainian parliament, Oleksandr Dubinsky.

“They have made repeated public statements advancing malicious narratives that U.S. Government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.

Pompeo also said the entities sanctioned on Monday are all “media front companies” operating in Ukraine – NabuLeaks, Era-Media, Only News, and Skeptik TOV. The State Department said these outlets “disseminate false narratives at the behest of Derkach’s and his associates.”

Deirdre Shesgreen

New York bar association considers revoking Rudy Giuliani’s membership

The New York State Bar Association is considering removing Rudy Giuliani from its membership after the attorney for President Donald Trump urged supporters to “have trial by combat” before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol Wednesday.

Scott Karson, the organization’s president, has launched an inquiry to determine whether Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, should be revoked, the association announced Monday.

“This decision is historic for NYSBA, and we have not made it lightly,” the group said. “We cannot stand idly by and allow those intent on rending the fabric of our democracy to go unchecked.”

The association said it has received “hundreds of complaints” in recent weeks about Giuliani and his unfounded efforts to cast doubt on the veracity of the 2020 presidential election. Seeking to overturn the election, Giuliani led Trump lawsuits in several states – each rejected — that alleged voter fraud without evidence.

More: YouTube removes Rudy Giuliani podcast video and Steve Bannon’s channel as it cracks down on misinformation

At a Trump rally before Congress counted the Electoral College votes last week, Giuliani reiterated the baseless claims of voter fraud in the presidential election and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs.

“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail,” Giuliani told the crowd. “Let’s have trial by combat.”

The bar association’s bylaws state “no person who advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States, or of any state, territory or possession thereof, or of any political subdivision therein, by force or other illegal means, shall be a member of the Association.”

“Mr. Giuliani’s words quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to take matters into their own hands,” the bar association said in a statement. “Their subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power.”

Giuliani will be provided due process and have an opportunity to explain and defend his words and actions, according to the bar association. Bar leaders did not provide a timeline on a decision.

Giuliani has practiced law in New York for decades. He served as a federal prosecutor in the 1980s including as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York before becoming mayor in 1994.

If his bar membership is revoked, Giuliani could still practice law in New York. Disbarring a lawyer for misconduct in the state must come from a Grievance Committee appointed by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

— Joey Garrison

Major US companies to pause donations to GOP lawmakers who objected to finalizing Biden’s win

Several major U.S. corporations plan to suspend donations to the Republican lawmakers who voted against finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory last week.

“We have taken the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election into consideration and will be pausing political giving from our political action committee to those who voted against certification of the election,” Marriott International Inc, one of the world’s largest hotel companies, said in an emailed statement.

Other companies that said they will halt donations include Commerce Bank, headquartered in Missouri, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health insurance giant. The news was first reported by Popular Information, a political news website that said it surveyed 144 companies about their political donations to GOP lawmakers after last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The deadly assault on Congress – which left five people dead – was carried about by extremists supporting President Donald Trump, who repeatedly encouraged his followers to try to overturn the election.

“In light of this week’s violent, shocking assault on the United States Capitol, and the votes of some members of Congress to subvert the results of November’s election by challenging Electoral College results, (Blue Cross Blue Shield Association) will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,” the health insurance company said in a statement posted on its website.

A spokesperson for Commerce Bank did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation. But in a statement to CNN, the bank said it would end donations to those GOP officials who “impeded the peaceful transfer of power.”

“Commerce Bank condemns violence in any form and believes the actions witnessed this week are abhorrent, anti-democratic and entirely contrary to supporting goodwill for Americans and businesses,” the statement said.

Marriott’s political action committee donated nearly $200,000 to federal candidates in the 2020 election cycle, with 45% of that money, about $90,000, going to Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s PAC shelled out more than $370,000 in campaign contributions in the last election, with 66% – about $240,000 – going to Republicans, the center’s data shows.

Citigroup, the global investment banking firm, sent an internal memo to employees on Friday stating its intention to pause contributions entirely for the first quarter of the year.

“We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” says the memo, shared with USA TODAY. “We intend to pause our contributions during the quarter as the country goes through the Presidential transition and hopefully emerges from these events stronger and more united.”

The note, from Citi’s government affairs chief Candida Wolff, said of the candidates who led the charge against counting Biden’s Electoral College win, the company’s PAC donated $1,000 to Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

– Deirdre Shesgreen

Obama, Bush, Clinton to join Biden for wreath-laying ceremony after inauguration

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will join President-elect Joe Biden at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier following Biden’s swearing-in ceremony next week.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will lay the wreath following their swearing-in and a Pass in Review inspection of the troops at the Capitol on Jan. 20, Biden’s inaugural committee announced Monday. The ceremony will be one of Biden’s first official acts as the new commander in chief.

The committee said the theme of Biden’s inauguration will be “America United.”

President Donald Trump announced Friday he will not attend Biden’s inaugural, making him the first outgoing president in 152 years to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the ceremony.

– Michael Collins

Democrats to introduce resolution calling for 25th Amendment

House Democrats will introduce a resolution Monday calling for President Donald Trump’s removal via the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president incapable of performing his duties. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out the steps they plan to take in a letter to colleagues on Sunday.

On Monday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., will request unanimous consent for the “Raskin Resolution,” which calls on Pence to convene the Cabinet and activate the 25th Amendment. If they don’t receive consent – which is almost guaranteed since only a single Republican would have to object – Democrats will vote on the measure on Tuesday. 

“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours” after the resolution is passed, Pelosi said. If Pence does not act before that deadline, House Democrats will introduce articles of impeachment against Trump.

“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Pelosi told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday that she prefers the 25th Amendment to impeachment.

“Well, I like the 25th Amendment because it gets rid of him. He’s out of office,” she said. “But there’s strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time.”

Here’s how the 25th Amendment works and who can invoke it
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Under the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet declare the president unfit for office, the vice president immediately becomes the acting president.

Impeachment is a lengthier process. First, a simple majority in the House must vote in favor of charges. Then, the Senate must hold a trial to consider the charges. For the president to be removed, two-thirds of its members must vote to convict.

– Camille Caldera

More: Momentum for Trump impeachment soars as some in GOP say it’s warranted after Capitol riot

Reports: FBI, NYPD warned Capitol Police about threat of extremist violence

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York City Police Department both informed the U.S. Capitol Police about the threat of violence ahead of last Wednesday’s planned protest of the counting of the Electoral College vote, according to reports by Fox News and NBC News.

In several instances, the FBI visited extremists who were planning to travel to the rally and urged them to not attend, according to Fox News. Capitol Police did not plan to increase staffing ahead of the events and did not expect that the attendees would begin an armed insurrection and violently storm the Capitol, sources also told Fox.

Social media was a critical part of organizing the protests. Conservative activists and President Donald Trump had advertised the rally for weeks. Far-right extremist groups had intimated they would engage in violence on message boards in the days before the attack, leading some senior officials to question why federal law enforcement was not better prepared, according to NBC News.

Lawmakers at all levels of government and across the aisle have called for investigations into the failure of law enforcement to defend the Capitol.

“Obviously it was a failure or you would not have had people enter the Capitol by breaking windows and terrorizing the members of Congress who were doing a very sacred requirement of their jobs,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said a day after the attacks.

– Matthew Brown

Biden selects career diplomat William Burns to head CIA

President-elect Joe Biden has selected career diplomat William J. Burns as his pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, the transition committee said in a press release Monday.

Burns, who has served in the Middle East and Russia, will inherit the country’s premier intelligence agency as cybersecurity and espionage from rival nations like China, Iran and Russia will be of chief concern to the incoming Biden administration.

The Biden transition contended Burns was well prepared the challenge, noting “he has the experience and skill to marshal efforts across government and around the world to ensure the CIA is positioned to protect the American people.”

Burns “shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect,” Biden said in a statement. “Ambassador Burns will bring the knowledge, judgment, and perspective we need to prevent and confront threats before they can reach our shores.”

Burns left the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after 33-years. Most recently, Burns was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank with a focus on foreign policy and international affairs.

– Matthew Brown 

Democrats to introduce resolution calling for 25th Amendment

House Democrats will introduce a resolution Monday calling for President Donald Trump’s removal via the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president incapable of performing his duties. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out the steps they plan to take in a letter to colleagues on Sunday.

On Monday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., will request unanimous consent for the “Raskin Resolution,” which calls on Pence to convene the Cabinet and activate the 25th Amendment. If they don’t receive consent – which is almost guaranteed since only a single Republican would have to object – Democrats will vote on the measure on Tuesday. 

“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours” after the resolution is passed, Pelosi said. If Pence does not act before that deadline, House Democrats will introduce articles of impeachment against Trump.

“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Pelosi told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday that she prefers the 25th Amendment to impeachment.

“Well, I like the 25th Amendment because it gets rid of him. He’s out of office,” she said. “But there’s strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time.”

Under the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet declare the president unfit for office, the vice president immediately becomes the acting president.

Impeachment is a lengthier process. First, a simple majority in the House must vote in favor of charges. Then, the Senate must hold a trial to consider the charges. For the president to be removed, two-thirds of its members must vote to convict.

– Camille Caldera

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Politics updates: Trump ‘should not be in office,’ Biden says; Trump job approval plummets

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