Tag Archives: Wednesday

Harris prepares for central role in Biden’s White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris will make history on Wednesday when she becomes the nation’s first female vice president — and the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to hold that office. But that’s only where her boundary-breaking role begins.

With the confluence of crises confronting Joe Biden’s administration — and an evenly divided Senate in which she would deliver the tie-breaking vote — Harris is shaping up to be a central player in addressing everything from the coronavirus pandemic to criminal justice reform.

Symone Sanders, Harris’ chief spokeswoman, said that while the vice president-elect’s portfolio hasn’t been fully defined yet, she has a hand in all aspects of Biden’s agenda.

“There are pieces that Biden may specifically ask her to champion, but outside of that she is at the table for everything, involved in everything, and giving input and feedback and being a supportive partner to him on all pieces,” she said.

People working closely with Harris on the transition resist the idea of siloing her into any specific issue early on, because the sheer number of challenges the Biden administration faces means it will be “all hands on deck” during their early months. They say she’ll be involved in all four of the major priorities they’ve set out: turning around the economy, tackling COVID-19, and addressing climate change and racial justice.

“She has a voice in all of those. She has an opinion in all those areas. And it will probably get to a point where she is concentrating on some of the areas more specifically,” Sanders said. “But right now, I think what we’re faced with in this country is so big, it’s all hands on deck.”

Harris has been closely involved with all of Biden’s biggest decisions since winning the election in November, joining him for every one of his key meetings focused on Cabinet picks, the COVID-19 relief bill, security issues and more. The two talk over the phone nearly every day, and she travels to Delaware sometimes multiple times a week for transition events and meetings.

Those involved in the transition say both have taken seriously Biden’s insistence that he wants Harris to be the “last voice in the room” on key decisions. Biden is known to turn to Harris first during meetings to ask for her opinion or perspective on the matter at hand.

Biden and Harris knew each other prior to the 2020 presidential campaign in part through Harris’ friendship with Biden’s deceased son, Beau. But they never worked closely together.

Since joining the ticket, and particularly since the election, Harris has made efforts to deepen their relationship and is in frequent contact with the president-elect, people close to Harris say. That personal relationship, according to presidential historian Joel Goldstein, will be key to their success as working partners.

“The relationship of the vice president to the president is the most important relationship. Establishing mutual understanding and trust is really a key to a successful vice presidency,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein pointed to Biden and President Barack Obama’s relationship as a potential model for the incoming team.

Biden and Obama were from similarly different backgrounds and generations and also entered the White House with a relatively fresh working relationship. But their relationship and mutual understanding grew throughout the presidency, and Obama trusted Biden with some of his administration’s biggest endeavors, like the implementation of the 2009 Recovery Act and the troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Harris is said to be looking at Biden’s vice presidency as a guide for her own.

But unlike Biden during his first term, Harris will face constant questions about her political future. While Biden has skirted questions about whether he plans to run for reelection, at 78 he’ll be the oldest president in history, leaving questions about whether he’ll retire at the end of his term. That would make Harris the immediate frontrunner in any 2024 Democratic presidential primary.

Early in the vice presidential vetting process, her potential presidential ambitions gave some Biden allies pause. But since her selection, Harris has proven a loyal partner to Biden, rarely if ever contradicting him publicly.

Still, California Rep. Barbara Lee, who was the first Congressional Black Caucus member to endorse in the primary when she backed Harris, said the vice president-elect isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

“She’s no shrinking violet,” Lee said. “If she believes that one decision should be made versus another she’s gonna weigh in and give her thoughts and opinions.”

Biden has a personal affection for the work of diplomacy and deep relationships with global leaders that Harris can’t match. But aides say she’ll be deeply involved in the administration’s diplomatic priorities simply because of the sheer amount of issues that will take up Biden’s time. She may also be given a particular aspect of the administration’s coronavirus response to oversee.

One of her main priorities early on is certain to be the passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Biden announced Thursday. Those working with Harris on the transition say that while Biden will be intimately involved with ushering the package through the Senate because of his longstanding relationships with longer-serving lawmakers, Harris knows the newer members and can help build fresh relationships in Congress.

The first few months of the Biden administration will be focused on COVID-19 and the economy. But Harris is certain to face scrutiny — and pressure — from advocates to ensure the perspectives of Black and brown Americans are reflected in those policies and the Biden White House’s priorities.

Leah Daughtry, a former chief of staff at the Democratic National Committee, said Harris will make a difference simply by being in the room.

“The fact that Kamala Harris is a Black woman, is a woman of Indian ancestry, is a woman, automatically makes her different from every other vice president this country has ever seen,” she said. “That combination of experiences brings a set of values and lived experiences into a room where they have not previously existed. And that can only be good for this American democracy.”

But as South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn put it, “There will be a lot of weight on those shoulders.”

“Those of us who come to these positions, we come to them knowing full well that we have a burden to make sure that we do it in such a way, that there will be people coming behind us,” he said.

Clyburn also acknowledged that Harris could also be a flashpoint for controversy among the portion of President Donald Trump’s followers who are motivated by racial animus, which Clyburne said contributed to the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“They’re still holding on to a lot of animus about Barack Obama, and they’re gonna transfer it to her, just like they transferred it to others here in this building,” Clyburn said. “And they’re never gonna get beyond that.”

But Harris’ allies say as a child of civil rights activists, and a Black woman who’s spent her life confronting and trying to address racism and inequality, navigating those pressures as vice president will come as second nature for her.

“Kamala Harris didn’t just fall out of the Harvard Law School like Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz or somebody like that,” said Bakari Sellers, referencing two Republican senators who objected to the congressional certification of Biden’s win. (Hawley graduated from Yale Law School.)

Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker and an early Harris endorser, likened her to other civil rights trailblazers.

“She comes from the same lineage as Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm and Ella Baker,” he said. “I mean, she’s built for this.”


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Guardsmen stationed at U.S. Capitol building to get cots


Images from impeachment day on the hill

Members of the National Guard rest inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. | Stephen Voss for Politico

The National Guardsmen providing security in the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration are soon getting cots, after images went viral last week of troops sleeping on the floor in the halls of Congress, according to four people familiar with the decision.

Guard spokesman Wayne Hall confirmed Saturday that Federal Emergency Management Agency received a formal request through the D.C. Emergency Operations Center for more than 1,200 cots “to provide comfort for members of the National Guard supporting law enforcement and the upcoming presidential inauguration in D.C.”

The Army is coordinating the effort with FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, said a Guardsman familiar with the planning. Officials will collect cots from National Guard armories in Maryland and Virginia and transport them to the Capitol, the person said.

Many officials believe the cots are unnecessary, but the photos of Guardsmen resting on the floor of the Capitol quickly became a “PR issue,” the person said — particularly after more than a dozen House Democrats called Thursday on the Army Secretary to send cots, bedding, shower facilities and other resources.

“Most everyone’s opinion is that we honestly don’t need them,” the person said, noting that “this is one of the nicest napping spots most of us have ever had in uniform.”

The cots will arrive Saturday and Sunday, the person said, adding that no costs should be incurred aside from the time and transportation.

A Jan. 15 memo obtained by POLITICO cited guidance from Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville that Guardsmen “who are resting inside the U.S. Capitol Building are to lay on a cot, and not on the ground.” The guidance was confirmed separately by a D.C. National Guardsman, who celebrated the news.

“No more cold marble!” the Guardsman said.

A defense official stressed that McConville did not order Guardsmen to rest on cots, rather that he directed the Army to provide the troops “whatever they need to accomplish the mission and to take care of their life support needs.”

In a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Thursday, a group of lawmakers said they were “disappointed” by images posted to social media of soldiers resting in the Capitol Rotunda, the Capitol Visitor Center and elsewhere as thousands of Guardsmen poured into DC to support local law enforcement responding to threats of violence ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“With the uncertainty for needed rest and recoup time in flux, and to ensure that the Guard members are fully able to execute their protection mission, we urge you to make available cots or other equipment to more easily facilitate their ability to rest while they are on Capitol grounds,” the lawmakers wrote.

More than 21,000 Guardsmen will be deployed to D.C. by Inauguration Day to support law enforcement responding to the protests.


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Author: Lara Seligman and Natasha Bertrand

After Trump, Biden aims to reshape the presidency itself

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Joe Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday outside a wounded U.S. Capitol, he will begin reshaping the office of the presidency itself as he sets out to lead a bitterly divided nation struggling with a devastating pandemic and an insurrection meant to stop his ascension to power.

Biden had campaigned as a rebuke to President Donald Trump, a singular figure whose political power was fueled by discord and grievance. The Democrat framed his election as one to “heal the soul” of the nation and repair the presidency, restoring the White House image as a symbol of stability and credibility.

In ways big and small, Biden will look to change the office he will soon inhabit. Incendiary tweets are out, wonky policy briefings are in. Biden, as much an institutionalist as Trump has been a disruptor, will look to change the tone and priorities of the office.

“It really is about restoring some dignity to the office, about picking truth over lies, unity over division,” Biden said soon after he launched his campaign. “It’s about who we are.”

The White House is about 2 miles up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, where broken windows, heavy fortifications and hundreds of National Guard members provide a visible reminder of the power of a president’s words. Trump’s supporters left a Jan. 6 rally by the president near the White House to commit violence in his name at the Capitol, laying siege to the citadel of democracy and underscoring the herculean task Biden faces in trying to heal the nation’s searing divisions.

Few presidents have taken on the job having thought more about the mark he wants to make on it than Biden. He has spent more than 40 years in Washington and captured the White House after two previous failed attempts. He frequently praises his former boss, President Barack Obama, as an example of how to lead during crisis.

“Biden’s main task is going to be need to be to reestablish the symbol of the White House to the world as a place of integrity and good governance. Because right now everything is in disarray,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “But Biden is uniquely situated to do this, his whole life has been spent in Washington and he spent eight years watching the job up close.”

The changes will be sweeping, starting with the president’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 400,000 American lives. The sharp break from Trump won’t just come in federal policy, but in personal conduct.

Trump flouted the virus, his staff largely eschewing masks in the warren of cramped West Wing offices while the president hosted “superspreader” events at the White House and on the road. Biden’s team is considering having many staffers work from home; those who do enter the building will wear masks. Biden has already been vaccinated, something Trump, who got the virus last fall, has chosen not to do despite suggestions that it would set an example for the nation.

Biden’s approach to the day-to-day responsibilities of the office will also be a break from his predecessor. For one, Twitter won’t be a principal source of news.

Trump’s trail of tweets has roiled the capital for four years. Across Washington, phones would buzz with alerts anytime the president used his most potent political weapon to attack Democrats and keep Republicans in line.

Biden’s tweets tend to be bland news releases and policy details with the occasional “Here’s the deal, folks” thrown in for good measure. Allied lawmakers are unlikely to have to pretend not to have seen the latest posting in order to avoid commenting on it.

Biden has said he wants Americans to view the president as a role model again; no more coarse and demeaning language or racist, divisive rhetoric. His team has promised to restore daily news briefings and the president-elect does not refer to the press as “the enemy of the people.” But it remains to be seen whether he will be as accessible as Trump, who until his postelection hibernation, took more questions from reporters than any of his recent predecessors.

While Trump filled out much of his Cabinet and White House staff with relatives, political neophytes and newcomers to government, Biden has turned to seasoned hands, bringing in Obama administration veterans and career officials.

Policy papers will be back in vogue and governing by cable chyron likely out.

Trump was mostly indifferent to the machinations of Congress, at times appearing to be an observer of his own administration. Biden, a longtime senator who will have Democratic control of both houses, is positioned to use the weight of his office to push an ambitious legislative agenda.

His team will be tested, though, by the tumult at home: a virus that is killing more than 4,000 people a day, a sluggish vaccination distribution program, a worsening economy and contention over the upcoming second impeachment trial for Trump.

Biden also has as much work ahead repairing the image of the presidency overseas as he does on American shores.

Trump repositioned the United States in the world, pulling the U.S. out of a number of multilateral trade deals and climate agreements in favor of a more insular foreign policy. His ever-shifting beliefs and moods strained relations with some of the nation’s oldest allies, including much of Western Europe.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, Trump fostered competition, not cooperation, on research and vaccine development. Trump also abandoned the tradition role the president plays in shining a light on human rights abuses around the world.

Biden, who spent years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and had a vast foreign policy portfolio as vice president, has pledged a course correction. He has promised to repair alliances, rejoin the Paris climate treaty and the World Health Organization and said he would shore up U.S. national security by first addressing health, economic and political crises at home.

Offering the White House as a symbol of stability to global capitals won’t be easy for Biden as Trump’s shadow looms.

“He has a structural problem and needs to make the U.S. seem more reliable. We’re diminished in stature and less predictable,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He noted that even after Biden’s win, the European Union bolstered ties to China with a new investment treaty.

“Everyone around the world is hedging, they have no idea if Biden’s a one-term president or what could come after him,” Haass said. “There is a fear across the world that Trump or Trumpism could return in four years.”

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire


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The history of Charles Curtis, the first Vice President of color

When she’s Inaugurated on Wednesday, Kamala Harris will make history, as the first woman to become vice president. But she won’t be the first person of color to hold that office. That distinction belongs to Vice President Charles Curtis, who was sworn in 92 years ago. “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Michelle Miller has his story.


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History-maker Kamala Harris will wield real power as vice-president

When Kamala Harris raises her right hand and takes the oath of office on Wednesday she will realize a multitude of historic firsts – becoming America’s first female, first Black and first south Asian American vice-president.

Exactly two weeks after a deadly attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, and a week after the president’s second impeachment, it will be a barrier-breaking moment for millions of women across the US and the world that it is hoped will signal a distinct shift away from the chaos and racist rhetoric of the previous administration.

But for Harris, it will also be deeply personal. The California senator has said she will be thinking of her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an activist and breast cancer researcher who immigrated to the US from India in 1958, and children who were told by their parents: “You can do anything.”

“I feel a very big sense of responsibility … I will be the first, but I will not be the last,” she told ABC, echoing her mother’s words and those of her powerful victory speech.

Bakari Sellers, a friend and supporter, said it will be an “amazing moment” for Harris and her sister Maya, with whom she is very close and was the chairwoman of her presidential campaign, and that their mother “is going to be looking down on them both”.

“Personally it’s going to be an awesome feeling, and then she’ll have a sense of history because from a historical perspective there’s so many women who chipped away at that glass ceiling and now she has broken it. And I think that she will feel the weight of that history on her shoulders,” added Sellers, an attorney, commentator and author of My Vanishing Country.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still raging across the US, and amid heightened security fears following the attack on 6 January and the threat of unrest from far-right extremist groups, the inaugurationwill look very different from previous years.

There will be minimal in-person spectators at the inauguration, themed “America United”, and a virtual parade. Guests will include Vice-President Mike Pence (but not the president, who has said he won’t attend) and former presidents and first ladies Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and George W and Laura Bush.

Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff shop in Washington DC.
Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff shop in Washington. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Harris, 56, is expected to be sworn in just before Biden, 78, at around midday in a televised ceremony in front of the US Capitol that will include performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez.

Together with her husband Doug Emhoff, who will become America’s first “second gentleman”, she will then take part in a pass in review, a tradition with members of the military, and attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington national cemetery with the new president and first lady, Dr Jill Biden.

She will also feature in an evening prime-time television special called Celebrating America.

Manisha Sinha, history professor at the University of Connecticut and author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, said Harris’s vice-presidency has galvanised huge enthusiasm among Black women and the Indian American and Asian American communities and signifies “a new direction in American democracy”.

She added: “It’s also a symbol to the rest of the world that has been watching the United States in horror, just to have her and Biden take over is really important. It signals to the world that we are an interracial democracy and that certainly her election is a rejection of the kind of white supremacist politics that Trump brought back into vogue.”

But, she warned, the whole country is not behind America’s increasingly diverse political landscape, demonstrated by a “tremendous racist backlash”.

“There is a strong unregenerate minority in this country that is willing to overthrow democracy in the United States rather than accept the election of people like Barack Obama and Kamala Harris to the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States.”

Harris’s role will be far more than symbolic. Unusually for a vice-president whose official role is largely ceremonial, she will wield considerable power.

Biden has vowed that Harris will be the “last person in the room” making important decisions, modelled on his relationship as vice-president with Obama, and has asked the vice-president-elect to bring her “lived experience” to every issue. Harris has said she wants to be a “full partner”.

But in addition to her White House duties, following the Democrats’ two recent Senate victories in Georgia, Harris will also play a high-profile role in passing legislation on Capitol Hill.

Kamala Harris heads into the Senate chamber for a procedural vote in December. The Senate may continue to occupy her time as vice-president.
Kamala Harris heads into the Senate chamber for a procedural vote in December. The Senate may continue to occupy her time as vice-president. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Despite their constitutional duty as president of the Senate, vice-presidents are only allowed to vote to break a tie. But with the balance of power evenly split 50-50 with Republicans, it is likely that Harris will be required to spend more time than perhaps she imagined with her former Senate colleagues.

The last two times that the Senate had a 50-50 split was for six months in 2001, under the vice-presidency of Dick Cheney, and in 1954. Harris is likely to be in this position for at least two years.

Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia, said Harris’s pivotal role in the Senate will mean she “is going to be cast in a very different light than previous vice-presidents” and will make her crucial in terms of putting forward a legislative agenda.

“Now that doesn’t mean that she’s not going to weigh in on important policy decisions or try to be a broad adviser to Joe Biden, [but] at least for that first 100 days, she’s pivotal to ensuring that any piece of tied legislation gets passed because that’s how Joe Biden’s going to build a legislative record.”

She added: “I can’t remember another time, and in contemporary history there isn’t one, where the vice-president is basically the person determining whether legislation gets to the president’s desk.”

The extent to which her Senate responsibilities will shape her vice-presidency will depend on what happens in the 2022 midterms, said Lawless. But she believes it could constrain her ability to work across party lines as well as other responsibilities and potential to travel.

“In a lot of ways, she’s basically just taking on an additional job – she’s going to be a senator plus vice-president … that’s sort of poetic in that women have been doing three times as much work as men forever,” said Lawless.

Harris allies insist nothing has changed in her approach to the vice-presidency in which she will be a “governing partner” to Biden.

A source familiar with the situation said: “If she needs to be there [the Senate] for anything, she will, but the president-elect won because people want the gridlock in Washington to end. Our goal is to work across the aisle to get things done.”

Joe Biden has said he plans to model his relationship with his vice-president on his with Barack Obama.
Joe Biden has said he plans to model his relationship with his vice-president on his with Barack Obama. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Despite an impeachment trial, expected to take place in the Senate in the early days of the new administration, Harris has said they will be “hitting the ground running” on their first day of office, starting with a $1.9tn rescue package to address the pandemic and the economic crisis. Their other top priorities, the source said, will be racial justice and climate change. “She is approaching this as a partner to him and they have to address those together.”

The pair are said to have a “wonderful dynamic” and are in constant contact. Their spouses are also said to have a good relationship and are well acquainted after travelling extensively together on the campaign trail.

Dan Morain, a California-based journalist and author of biography Kamala’s Way: An American Life, said she is an “incredibly talented politician”.

“She’s thoughtful, she is deliberate, she is strategic, she thinks more than one step ahead, she thinks many steps ahead.”

In California, where Harris was district attorney and attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2016, Morain said she was known for being “tough and demanding” but also “incredibly charming and charismatic”. He believes there is little doubt that Harris, who ran against Biden in the 2020 presidential election, will run again for president in the future.

Lateefah Simon, a civil rights activist who worked for Harris in San Francisco and considers her a mentor, cannot wait to see the vice-president-elect – who she refers to as the MVP (Madam Vice-President) – in the White House.

“Kamala shifts that conversation, not only for little Black girls, but for all women who believe that they have to wait their turn,” she said. “Kamala showed us that there’s no turns – if you’re right for the job, you work hard, and you take it.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Gambino


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Author: Miranda Bryant in New York

New Jersey prepares for armed protest at state Capitol

Protests are planned in all 50 states ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Authorities in New Jersey are taking steps to prepare for what they expect to be an armed protest at the state Capitol on Sunday. Patch editor Anthony Bellano joined CBSN’s Lana Zak to discuss.


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The ghost of Trumpism will haunt the GOP

During the House of Representatives’ impeachment debate on Wednesday, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., turned to the Republican side of the aisle and asked, “Is there any depravity too low? Is there any outrage too far? Is there any blood and violence too much to turn hearts and minds in this body?”

For 197 House Republicans, the answer, apparently, is no — at least when it comes to President Donald Trump and his rabid supporters. After all, just one week before Trump sent an angry, deluded mob, which he had summoned to gather on that day, to storm the U.S. Capitol and stop a joint session of Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden. The violence that ensued targeted the elected representatives who were in the building, including Republican Vice President Mike Pence.

“This is a moment of truth, my friends,” Connolley asked his Republican colleagues this week. “Are you on the side of chaos and the mob? Or on the side of constitutional democracy and our freedom?”

Only ten GOP House members defended their colleagues, their institution, the democratic process and the Constitution by voting to impeach Donald Trump for a second time. Only ten. So yes, Congressman Connolly was right to ask the question. As we’ve seen over the past five years of the Trump nightmare, one that has featured everything from sexual assault to national security betrayal to massive corruption and now incitement of a violent insurrection, there is no outrage too far nor depravity too low.

Sure, these Republican officials sometimes grumble anonymously to the press and many of them privately assure their congressional comrades that they disapprove, but the base loves Trump so there’s nothing much they can do about it if they want to keep their jobs — which many are apparently willing to sell their souls to do.

Polling done after the assault on Congress shows that Trump has lost a little support from Republicans but not much. According to a Politico–Morning Consult poll, 75 percent of Republican voters said they still approve of the job Trump is doing, which is 8 points less than it was a month ago. A Reuters–Ipsos showed a steeper decline of 18 points since August, bringing Trump down to 70 percent approval among Republicans. That’s right. He’s lost some support but you’ll notice that in both polls the vast majority of Republican voters still approve of Donald Trump.

And it appears that they don’t find the violence that was perpetrated on police officers or the vandalism and threats to Vice President Pence’s life to be deal-breakers. As this New York Times article illustrates, many local and state Republican officials across the country either believes the violence was perpetrated by people other than Trump supporters or was something they didn’t have a problem with in the first place. The report quotes one Oklahoma County GOP chairman wondering on Facebook just hours before the riotous mob took over the Capitol why violence is unacceptable. He wrote, “What the crap do you think the American revolution was? A game of friggin pattycake?”

According to The Times, “the opposition to [Trump] emerging among some Republicans has only bolstered their support of him.” That’s the support that turned into ugly mob violence on Jan. 6th.

When Trump boasted that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any voters, he may have been right. And this does present something of a dilemma for the Republican establishment which looks at his national record and sees someone who lost the popular vote twice, the electoral college once and put both the House and Senate back in Democratic hands over the course of his single term. And yet his blatant white nationalism, lies and conspiracy-mongering has proven to be catnip to the hardcore base of the party, rendering any attempt to purge him very difficult.

Nonetheless, they are testing the waters. While it’s true that Trump maintains a large majority of support among GOP voters, it’s not as large as it used to be and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was not pleased by the losses in Georgia which he reportedly lays at Trump’s feet. For his part, McConnell got what he wanted from Trump and no longer has any reason to put up with him. And neither does Corporate America which, unlike Trump’s cult followers, is not immersed in conspiracy theories and doesn’t want to see the country descend into violence and chaos. That’s bad for business. (Of course, it’s just a total coincidence that they are taking this “principled stand” against Trump at the moment when Democrats are a week away from taking total control of the government.)

On the House side, you have a national security hawk and a member of the House Leadership, Liz Cheney, R-Wy, coming out strong against Trump to see if there are any remnants of the old flag waving Republican Party that can be reached with calls to traditional America patriotism. So far, it isn’t looking good. The Trump followers may chant “USA!, USA!” and babble about “Communist China” but their real enemies are already within the U.S. borders and it appears that Liz Cheney may be one of them.

I don’t think anyone knows yet whether Trump will survive this or if Trumpism survives without Trump. He’s dominated our political culture for five years, with his desperate need for attention and our compulsion to give it to him. Obviously, tens of millions came to worship him as a cult leader — the QAnon believers among them, and they are legion, even think he is “a messianic warrior battling ‘deep state’ Satanists.” But he deeply invaded the consciousness of the rest of the country as well, even those who hate him with the same passion as those who adore him. From the moment he came down that golden escalator in 2015, we haven’t been able to take our eyes off of him, even when we desperately wanted to.

But after Jan. 20 he will not be able to command that level of attention, even if he decides to announce his run for 2024 that same day. There is no novelty in anything he might do, he will no longer wield real power and without access to his social media following, he simply will not be particularly accessible, at least on the level he has been for the past five years. He still has his supporters, of course, but without the grandeur of the office and the ability to dominate the political stage, you have to wonder if he will be able to maintain their attention much longer.

I have no doubt that “Trumpism,” if it’s defined as the right-wing extremism that let fly at the U.S. Capitol last week, will continue to be a threat. It existed before Trump came along. He just grew it and brought it mainstream. But I’m afraid it now has a life of its own and I’m not sure that Corporate America, Mitch McConnell, or even Donald Trump can snap some fingers and make it go away. The problem really isn’t Trump. It’s all those people who said over and over again, “he says what I’m thinking.”

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Jimmy Kimmel Roasts Rudy Giuliani for Getting Stiffed by Trump

After gleefully cheering President Donald Trump’s second impeachment on Wednesday night, Jimmy Kimmel had even more good news to celebrate on Thursday.

Not only has Trump already started moving out of the White House, but the president’s mood has been described as “sullen” and “vengeful” and he’s “even lashing out at his number one dirty deeds-doer Rudy Giuliani.” The host was referring to a new report from the Washington Post that Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani for his failed legal efforts to overturn the election results.

“Working for Trump and expecting to get paid is like having dinner with Chris Christie and expecting a doggie bag,” Kimmel joked. After noting that Giuliani’s rate is reportedly $20,000 per day, he added, “Money well spent.”

“He could’ve hired Gary Busey for a hundred bucks to do the same thing,” he added. “That’s a lot for an incompetent attorney.” And then, “I wonder who leaked this story… Maybe it was Giuliani’s head!”

Perhaps expecting that he won’t have the occasion to make any more jokes at Giuliani’s expense pretty soon, Kimmel decided to leave it all on the table.

‘He Won’t Last Until the Primary’: Republicans Who Voted to Impeach Getting Death Threats

When a group of 10 House Republicans took the step on Wednesday of voting to impeach a president of their own party, most were clear-eyed about the political ramifications.

Speaking from the House floor before the vote, Rep. Jaime Hererra Beutler (R-WA) put it simply: “I’m not afraid of losing my job,” she said. “But I am afraid my country will fail.”

And on Thursday, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC)—a stalwart supporter of President Trump who was a surprising vote to impeach him—spoke to the Associated Press and acknowledged that may cost him his seat. “If it does, it does,” said Rice.

“You tell my constituents I love ’em and it’s the honor of my life to do this job,” Rice continued. “I’ve tried to do my best to do the right thing and represent their interests, but if they decide that it’s time for me to come home, that’s OK, too.”

That may very well end up the case for some of them. Several drew primary challengers, or possible primary challengers, within 24 hours of the passage of articles of impeachment on Wednesday.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) faces not only a possible primary but also a Capitol Hill challenge to her post as the third-ranking House Republican thanks to her vote. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), a new member, saw his 2020 primary opponent file to run again on Thursday. Rice, who represents a deep-red district that Trump carried by 18 points in November, might face the toughest path back to office. “A lot can happen in a year and a half,” said Nate Leupp, chairman of the Greenville County GOP. “But I think he needs to be planning for another line of work.”

But the environment in which the impeachment vote unfolded—and the reason it came about to begin with—weighted an already-momentous vote with deeply personal implications for lawmakers, not just political ones. Some of the members who voted on impeachment were, a week beforehand, literally running for their lives as a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, seeking to overturn the 2020 election results and harm or kill those “traitors,” of any party, who they believed were complicit in the fraud.

The right-wing outrage over the election did not die out at the Capitol on Jan. 6, nor have the conspiracies that fueled it. They have simply been joined by fresh conspiracies, like the baseless claim that antifa orchestrated the violence, as well as a surge of indignation that Trump was being punished after the election was allegedly stolen from him.

Among the clearest targets for that ire: the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Serious threats materialized almost instantaneously after Wednesday’s vote, according to some of the GOP lawmakers. Meijer told NBC News on Thursday that the threats flooded in immediately, and that his GOP colleagues have requested armed escorts, a protection typically granted only to members of party leadership.

“Many of us are altering our routines, working to get body armor, which is a reimbursable purchase that we can make,” Meijer said. “It’s sad we have to get to that point. But our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”

Meijer, and other members of the GOP cohort that voted to impeach, turned down interview requests from The Daily Beast, or declined to give any information about new safety threats and how they are managing them.

But a trip through official GOP pages on Facebook, where MAGA-world conspiracies have found fertile ground to spread, offers a glimpse at the perilous atmosphere these lawmakers are facing. In the hours after Wednesday’s vote, the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump saw their social media pages deluged with the kind of feedback that might accompany such a historic vote. Many of the notes were complimentary, many were not, but most critics were relatively tame—if angrily stating their vow to never vote for the person ever again.

Some messages, however, read as especially chilling in light of the extrajudicial violence attempted on Jan. 6, a day when unhinged internet rhetoric seemed to become real in terrifying fashion. “He won’t last until the primary,” said one commenter on the Facebook page of the South Carolina GOP, which posted a message on Wednesday criticizing Rice for his vote. “This is an attempted insurrection. Tribunals coming.” Deeper in the comment thread, one user posted Rice’s personal cell phone number and urged others to have at it.

“Turncoat,” said one commenter on the page of Rep. David Valadao (R-CA). “How much did the democrats pay you to turn on President Trump your constituents and 70 million Americans?”

A commenter on the page of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), said, “You all will be held accountable before the people of this great Nation for breaking this oath and going AGAINST our constitution! It will not be violent, it will be in a court of law!” Gonzalez appeared on a Cleveland talk radio show on Thursday and acknowledged he knows the Trump crowd is “furious” at him. The host, Bob Frantz, commended him for appearing on the show but said he “question[s]” Gonzalez’s “commitment to liberty” because he voted to impeach Trump.

Ironically, as commenters fumed over the allegedly spineless Republicans voting out of fear of getting “cancelled” by the media, they themselves plotted to cancel the pro-impeachment Republicans. A commenter on the Facebook page of Meijer, whose family owns a chain of grocery stores around the Midwest, said: “Time to boycott Meijer stores and see your money go bye bye.”

Cheney, the most visible lawmaker to break with Trump, was a top target. On the Wyoming Republican Party’s Facebook page, Cheney was variously called a “lizard,” a “Judas,” and “Deep State Scum.” Another declared: “GUANTANAMO FOR CHENEY & PELOSI !!”

In a statement criticizing Cheney for the vote, the Wyoming Republican Party stated what was abundantly clear. “There has not been a time during our tenure when we have seen this type of an outcry from our fellow Republicans, with the anger and frustration being palpable in the comments we have received,” said the statement. “Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time. The consensus is clear that those who are reaching out to the Party vehemently disagree with Representative Cheney’s decision and actions.”

Across all the comments, each of the pro-impeachment Republicans were called “traitors”—an epithet that rang through the halls of Congress by insurrectionists on Jan. 6.

Many Republican lawmakers apparently anticipated this reaction as they weighed how to vote on impeachment. Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) said on MSNBC on Wednesday that he spoke to GOP colleagues the night before the vote and claimed “the majority of them are paralyzed with fear.”

“I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues last night, and a couple of them broke down in tears—saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment,” said Crow. Tim Alberta of Politico later confirmed that reporting.

Many Democratic lawmakers and visible Trump critics who have been constant targets of right-wing threats found this somewhat rich. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Muslim progressive who has been personally singled out by the president, receives death threats on a near-daily basis, for example. Alluding to this, Rep. André Carson (D-IN)—one of the first Muslims elected to Congress—said on CNN on Wednesday night, “I receive death threats all the time, and so do [Rep. Rashida Tlaib] and Ilhan.”

After the Capitol attack, Carson saw his name on a list of “good guys” and “bad guys” recovered by law enforcement from an Alabama man arrested for bringing explosives to the Capitol. “One of two Muslims in House of Reps,” read the note next to Carson’s name. In a statement, Carson said he was “especially disappointed” that law enforcement did not notify individuals like him who were already targeted by the people planning to terrorize the Capitol.

It is unclear what plans, if any, Capitol authorities and the U.S. Capitol Police are developing to protect lawmakers who are targets of the extreme right, both those Republicans who voted to impeach and Democrats who are especially villainized. The Capitol Police, whose chief during the Jan. 6 attack has since resigned, has not held a press briefing to discuss that day or future security measures. A spokesperson for USCP did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast on what it is doing to safeguard lawmakers who are most targeted.

“We fund the Capitol Police,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who oversees funding for the force on the House Appropriations Committee, on Wednesday. “We, I think, deserve to know what the hell is going on. It’s a black box over there.”


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Author: Sam Brodey