WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: House Could Move To Impeach Trump Next Week

Trump protests
A supporter of President Donald Trump from New Jersey taunts a group of women who were calling for Trump to be removed from office in response to Wednesday riots at the Capitol, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, in Washington. AP Photo
Trump protests
A supporter of President Donald Trump from New Jersey taunts a group of women who were calling for Trump to be removed from office in response to Wednesday riots at the Capitol, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, in Washington. AP Photo

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: House Could Move To Impeach Trump Next Week

Hey there! It’s Friday, and when my 4-year-old nephew learned my dog’s name is Princess Leia, he asked, “You have a princess?” 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. Impeachment vote could happen as soon as next week

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today said that Congress will move forward with impeaching President Donald Trump for a second time if he does not resign “immediately.”

Impeachment talks intensified today after news broke that Vice President Mike Pence opposes invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. It’s not clear how House Democrats will move forward with impeachment procedurally, but there have been discussions on how to expedite the process as Trump’s term ends in less than two weeks.

Some Republicans have signaled they will support impeaching Trump. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said he will “definitely consider” impeachment.

“The president has disregarded his oath of office,” Sasse said during an interview on CBS’ This Morning.

Pelosi also said today that she spoke with Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes.” Pelosi said Milley assured her that steps are in place. A spokesman for Milley confirmed the two spoke. [AP]

Meanwhile, the massive security failure at the U.S. Capitol raises safety questions over the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. [AP]

And Trump said he will not attend the inauguration, becoming the first president to do so since 1869. [CBS News]

2. Extremists used far-right websites and social media to help plan attempted coup

In the weeks leading up to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, fringe right-wing sites were filled with messages about organizing logistics and the “activation” of militia groups and white nationalist activists, said Jared Holt, a research fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

The flurry of online planning intensified when President Trump promoted a Jan. 6 protest in D.C., which a lot of “his extremist supporters interpreted this as a call to action for them,” Holt said. [NPR]

Law enforcement officials have arrested more people involved in the siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Richard Barnett, who was photographed with his foot on Pelosi’s desk, was arrested in Arkansas on charges of entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry and theft of public property, the Justice Department said.

Also arrested today was Derrick Evans, a state lawmaker from West Virginia who posted, and then deleted, a recording of him storming the Capitol. [NBC News]

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that a Capitol police officer gave pro-Trump extremists directions to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office during the insurrection. [NYT]

And why did some of the insurgents wear strange outfits and costumes? They carried meaning within far-right and hate movements. [WBEZ]

3. U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs, a sign the recovery is falling apart

The economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first monthly decline since the spring’s massive layoffs, according to figures released today by the Labor Department. The unemployment rate last month remained unchanged at 6.7%.

The job losses signal that the once-promising economic recovery is backsliding, economists say. And looking at the wider picture, the U.S. economy is still down about 10 million jobs compared to February, before the pandemic hit. [NPR]

Meanwhile, Biden’s plans for a major economic relief package could be in jeopardy. Biden is pushing Congress to provide another $1,400 in stimulus payments to Americans as soon as possible, as well as a $3 trillion tax and infrastructure package. [Axios]

The Biden team is hoping the Democratic Party’s slim majority in the Senate will be enough to pass sweeping relief packages. But Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., said today that he opposes a new round of stimulus checks. [Washington Post]

4. Biden plans to speed up the release of COVID-19 vaccine doses

President-elect Joe Biden wants to release the vast majority of vaccine doses “to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” the Biden transition team announced today.

The plan marks a major departure from the Trump administration, which has been holding back roughly half its supply to guarantee people can receive a second dose. The administration’s strategy has faced blowback as the federal government falls behind its own vaccination centers and mobile units. [AP]

In Chicago, some hospitals want Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to allow them to begin vaccinating people beyond health care workers, reports WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch and Becky Vevea. Those hospitals want to begin vaccinating people who are next in line, such as teachers and other essential workers.

“The point is never to have any doses in the freezer,” said Dr. William Parker, who treats COVID-19 patients at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park. “We need to get needles in arms. … There should be an urgency about this that’s not present.” [WBEZ]

The urgency to ramp up vaccinations comes as the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 4,000 yesterday, a new record. [NPR]

5. Chicago teachers won’t be paid if they don’t show up to work on Monday, CPS says

As Chicago Public Schools prepares to welcome back some students to classrooms on Monday, district officials warned teachers and staff members they will not be paid if they are absent.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson today defended decisions to begin the process of reopening schools, which have been closed to in-person learning since the early days of the pandemic.

The district says it has taken several steps to ensure the safety of teachers, staff members and students. But the Chicago Teachers Union suggests CPS should delay in-person classes until teachers can be vaccinated. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and is seeking $1.3 billion. [NPR]
  • Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., apologized for praising Adolf Hitler during a rally in Washington, D.C. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • The president of Chicago’s union for rank-and-file police officers apologized for defending the mob that stormed the Capitol. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Looking for some light at the end of the tunnel? Nerdette talks with columnists Daniel Lavery and Heather Havrilesky about why there’s still room for optimism this year. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

The New York Times and The Washington Post have must-read reports documenting the terrifying scenes within the U.S. Capitol as pro-Trump extremists stormed the buildings. Here are some excerpts.

From the Post:

“Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) listened to the mob ramming up against the doors, and all he could think about was his family. His 25-year-old son died last week, a tragedy that had shaken the House, and Raskin had taken one of his daughters and his son-in-law to the Capitol to watch the debate over presidential electors, ‘because we wanted to be together,’ he said.” [WaPo]

The Times report provides accounts from three journalists who were inside the Capitol. Photojournalist Erin Schaff writes:

“Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said The New York Times and became really angry. They threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them. They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke a lens on the other and ran away.” [New York Times]

Tell me something good …

What’s one of your favorite songs from the ’80s?

Athene writes:

“I was a college kid in the ’80s and the song that always made me happy was Modern English’s ‘I Melt with You.’ Who wouldn’t want to hear that from a boy or girlfriend!”

Darlene Berry writes:

“Graduated from high school in 1980. Began college that fall with the beginnings of MTV playing on televisions in the basement lounge in dorms across the campus. So MANY good ’80s tunes. Loverboy’s ‘Working for the Weekend,’ Journey’s ‘Jukebox Hero’ and every song on Styx’s Paradise Theater album are quintessential party tunes we dorm girls blared down the hall from one stereo on the wing while curling our hair, putting on makeup and planning our fun at The Alibi.”

And Anita writes:

“One of my favorite songs from the ’80s that is surprising apropos during these times and uplifting is ‘I’m Still Standing,’ by Elton John. I highly recommend giving it a listen after these last few days.”

Thanks for all the messages this week. I’m sorry I couldn’t get to everyone, but it was nice hearing from y’all!

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