WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: House Impeachment Vote Coming Wednesday

U.S. Capitol
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press
U.S. Capitol
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: House Impeachment Vote Coming Wednesday

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Hi! It’s Monday, and I’m not ready for another potential polar vortex. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. House Democrats move to impeach Trump — again

With just over a week until President Donald Trump’s term comes to an end, House Democrats today filed an impeachment resolution that charged the president with inciting an insurrection last week at the U.S. Capitol.

The article of impeachment also cites Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president asked state officials to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss in Georgia.

House Democrats had tried to pass a unanimous measure that would call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his power. As expected, the measure failed due to a Republican objection.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will proceed with an impeachment vote on Wednesday. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters he would like to send the impeachment measure to the Senate as soon as possible. [NPR]

Impeaching Trump would prevent him from holding office in the future. [New York Times]

You can read the full impeachment article in this link. [NPR]

Meanwhile, CNN reports that White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former Attorney General Bill Barr warned Trump not to pardon himself. [CNN]

2. FBI warns of “armed protests” in all 50 states

An internal FBI bulletin leaked today warns that armed protests could begin later this week in all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., and continue through President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Sources told The Associated Press that some of the people are likely part of extremist groups. [AP]

The National Guard said today that it will increase troops in D.C. to at least 10,000 by Saturday. [AP]

State capitals across the country are also deploying National Guard units, SWAT teams and extra police officers ahead of the inauguration. And Michigan lawmakers voted today to ban the open carrying of weapons in the Capitol building. [AP]

Meanwhile, U.S. Capitol Police designated Yogananda Pittman as acting chief, the first woman and first African American to hold the position. [NPR]

The change comes after Steven Sund, the recently resigned former chief of USCP, told The Washington Post that House and Senate security officials denied or delayed six requests to call in the National Guard before the pro-Trump demonstration that turned into a deadly attack on Congress. [NPR]

Some Capitol Police officers who were expecting to work extra shifts on the day of the attack were sent home. [Business Insider]

3. Michael Madigan suspends his bid for another term as Illinois’ House speaker

Michael Madigan, the longest-serving speaker in any U.S. statehouse and often dubbed the most powerful politician in Illinois, suspended his efforts today to win a record-setting 19th term after support for him collapsed under the weight of the ongoing ComEd bribery investigation.

The announcement came after Madigan, 78, fell nine votes short in the first vote for House speaker.

“This is not a withdrawal,” Madigan said in a statement. “As I have said many times in the past, I have always put the best interest of the House Democratic Caucus and our members first. The House Democratic Caucus can work to find someone, other than me, to get 60 votes for Speaker.”

The very first line of Madigan’s statement made clear his pursuit of another term as speaker is not necessarily over. As WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold report, Madigan could be laying the groundwork to play the role of kingmaker, shifting his support to someone else and retaining some measure of influence. [WBEZ]

4. U.S. COVID-19 outbreak enters most lethal phase yet

With coronavirus cases surging — and the death toll climbing to about 375,000 in the U.S. — politicians and health officials say vaccinations aren’t being issued fast enough.

Only 9 million Americans have received their first shot of the vaccine as of this morning — just 2.7% of the population.

Many states are now increasing the pace of vaccinations by using sports stadiums, fairgrounds and convention centers. [AP]

In Illinois, state officials today announced 4,776 new confirmed coronavirus cases, a 30% increase from two weeks ago. The state also announced 53 deaths, a 5% increase. [WBEZ]

And Indiana confirmed a case of the fast-spreading U.K. variant. [NBC Chicago]

Overseas, World Health Organization experts are due to arrive in China this week for a long-anticipated investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Chinese government. [AP]

5. Students return to CPS classrooms for the first time since March

As many as 6,000 Chicago Public Schools preschool and special education students returned to school buildings today on a chaotic morning that pitted city leaders and some CPS families against some teachers, their labor union, nurses and others who decry it as dangerous.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and school district leaders said again today that in-person learning is safe with the protocols they have put in place, and that the return to classrooms is desperately needed to prevent students from falling further behind.

But some school staff, the majority of aldermen and the Chicago Teachers Union are strongly opposed. CTU said in-person learning is unsafe and argued that remote learning will suffer as teachers try to juggle remote and in-person teaching simultaneously. Nearly 150 CPS school nurses have also signed a letter saying the reopening plan is unsafe. They urged parents to “carefully think about the risks” associated with sending their children to school.

Another 70,000 students are expected back Feb. 1. According to preliminary CPS data from mid-December, only 37% of all students eligible to return opted for in-person learning. Some 16% of CPS families did not respond to the survey.

Most students will continue to learn remotely, and it’s unclear if all of them will be able to work with their regular teachers. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Illinois senators voted to repeal part of an education law that limited the Chicago Teachers Union’s bargaining rights to major issues like pay and benefits. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Thirty-six aldermen backed a resolution calling for John Catanzara, the president of Chicago’s police union, to step down. [Chicago Sun-Times]

  • Twitter’s stock slumped after the service permanently suspended President Trump’s account. [Reuters]

  • Pope Francis changed a church law to allow women to carry out more duties during Mass, although they still cannot be priests. [AP]

  • The Chicago Tribune is relocating from the Loop to its printing facility, leaving the city’s largest newspaper without a downtown office. [Chicago Tribune]

  • The Trump administration added Cuba to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. [Reuters]

Oh, and one more thing …

A small group of cyber sleuths have been identifying right-wing extremists online.

The investigations, which use online clues to learn the hidden identity of white supremacists and far-right extremists plotting violence, can last months or years, with some of the sleuths even infiltrating messaging groups.

“If you’ve ever stayed up way too late trying to find your ex’s wedding pictures on Instagram, you can dox a Nazi,” amateur detective Molly Conger told The Washington Post. “It’s the same skill set.” [Washington Post]

Tell me something good …

This cold weather has me thinking about comfort food, like this carrot cauliflower soup that a friend recently shared with me. It’s warming, healthy and a great pick-me-up.

How about you? What’s your favorite winter comfort food?

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might appear here this week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.