WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: FBI Warned Of “War” Before Capitol Attack

U.S. Capitol insurrection
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, in Washington. John Minchillo / AP Photo
U.S. Capitol insurrection
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, in Washington. John Minchillo / AP Photo

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: FBI Warned Of “War” Before Capitol Attack

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and more chilling details are emerging about last week’s attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. FBI warned of “war” a day before attack on U.S. Capitol

An FBI office in Virginia issued an internal warning that extremists were heading to D.C. to commit violence and “war,” contradicting claims that the bureau had no intelligence suggesting pro-Trump rallies could turn deadly, reports The Washington Post, citing an internal situational information report.

“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.’ ”

But the unnamed author of the report “expressed concern that the FBI might be encroaching on free speech rights,” the newspaper reports.

The news raises more questions about why authorities appeared to be caught off guard by the attack, and it highlights just how much remains unknown about the attempted coup. [WaPo]

The feds today announced charges against a 45-year-old man in south suburban Chicago Heights who threatened violence at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Prosecutors say Louis Capriotti left a threatening voicemail message on Dec. 29 for an unnamed congressman from New Jersey, allegedly saying, “We will surround the [expletive] White House and we will kill any [expletive] Democrat that steps on the [expletive] lawn.” [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, senators and House members inside the Capitol struggled to get a hold of President Donald Trump during the attack because he was too busy watching live coverage of the crisis, reports The Washington Post.

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” a close adviser to the president told the newspaper. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.” [WaPo]

2. Local billionaire gave millions to group that backed pro-Trump rally

Dick Uihlein, a Republican megadonor and CEO of the Uline business supplies company, has contributed nearly $4.3 million in the past five years to the political action committee of the Tea Party Patriots, including $800,000 in October, reports WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos, citing Federal Election Commission records.

On the website for the rally, the Tea Party Patriots were among 11 groups listed as “participating in the March to Save America” as part of the “#StopTheSteal coalition.”

Uihlein did not reply to questions sent by WBEZ to a spokeswoman for his company. [WBEZ]

But a coalition of CEOs from other companies are speaking out by pulling political funding of all lawmakers who tried overturning the election results due to false claims of widespread voter fraud.

As Axios points out, CEOs are becoming “a faster and more effective check on the power of the president than Congress could.” [Axios]

Companies are also breaking away from the president’s family business, and analysts say the Trump brand may never fully recover. [New York Times]

3. McConnell reportedly believes Trump committed impeachable offenses

Sen. Mitch McConnell has told associates he is “pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party,” reports The New York Times. [NYT]

President Trump today took no responsibility for the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, saying his comments at a rally before the attack were “totally appropriate.”

In his first public comments since the attempted coup, the president said “everybody — to the T — thought it was totally appropriate,” and efforts to impeach and convict him were “causing tremendous anger.” [NPR]

During a private phone call yesterday with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump tried pinning the blame for the siege on “Antifa people,” reports Axios. But McCarthy reportedly pushed back, saying, “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there.” [Axios]

The House will take its first step tonight in trying to remove Trump from office.

Lawmakers will vote on a resolution calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, convene the Cabinet and declare Trump unfit for office. The resolution is likely to pass, but it is largely symbolic because Pence reportedly opposes the move.

If Pence does not act within 24 hours, House Democrats say they will move forward with a vote to impeach Trump tomorrow and charge him with “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” [NPR]

Meanwhile, a group of former administration officials and anti-Trump Republicans vowed to contribute $50 million to the reelection of Republican lawmakers who support impeaching Trump. [New York Times]

4. U.S. changes strategy in hopes of speeding up COVID-19 vaccinations

The Trump administration today announced it will no longer withhold vaccine doses in a reserve for people who need a second dose. The change is aimed at giving more people the first shot as cases skyrocket in the U.S.

The Trump administration is also recommending that people 65 and over should begin receiving shots, as well as people with preexisting conditions that put them at a greater risk for serious infection. [NPR]

In Illinois, officials today reported 6,642 new confirmed cases and 117 deaths. That means Illinois is seeing a rolling, seven-day average of 6,921 cases per day, up 32% from the average two weeks ago. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said he tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering in place with Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks during last week’s siege. [NPR]

5. Chicago alderman pushes to remove Trump Tower sign

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s floor leader in the City Council is expected to move forward with a plan aiming to remove the 2,891-square-foot sign on Trump Tower along the Chicago River.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th Ward, says he will introduce an ordinance later this month that would deny sign permits “if the applicant or any controlling person of the applicant … has been convicted of a crime of treason, sedition or subversive activities,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

If Trump is convicted of “treason, sedition and subversive activities” by the Senate or in a courtroom, that means the sign would have to come down. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The Chicago Police Department is investigating whether any officers were involved with the storming of the U.S. Capitol. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer wants people who were inside the Capitol building to be placed on the federal “no fly” list. [Reuters]
  • Twitter and Facebook announced new steps in curbing misinformation and further violence. [NPR]
  • About 18% of teachers and staff did not report to Chicago public schools on Monday, the district says. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

Here’s a problem I’m glad I don’t have: “Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, has two guesses left to figure out a password that is worth, as of this week, about $220 million,” reports The New York Times.

Thomas needs the password to access a digital wallet holding 7,002 Bitcoins. But he lost the piece of paper that he wrote the password on. If he gets his last two guesses wrong, the information will be encrypted forever and he will never be able to cash in.

“I would just lay in bed and think about it,” Thomas told the newspaper. “Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

You’d think a guy with $220 million in Bitcoins would have a better system than a piece of paper. [NYT]

Tell me something good …

What’s your favorite comfort food to eat in the winter?

Curtis writes:

“Gotta be Split Pea soup. Split Pea soup with crusty french bread.”

And Katrina writes:

“Our go-to winter meals are 1) a big pot of my mother-in-law’s beef vegetable soup, 2) a big pan of lasagna and 3) anything in the slow cooker; this week we had a corn & chicken chili. And for dessert — and maybe I’m channeling Santa here — I find a glass of milk with cookies before bed to be extremely comforting.”

What do you like eating during the winter? Feel free to email me at therundown@wbez.org or tweet me at @whuntah.

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