WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: New Year, New Impeachment

Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gavels in the final vote of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, for his role in inciting an angry mob to storm the Congress last week, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo
Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gavels in the final vote of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, for his role in inciting an angry mob to storm the Congress last week, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: New Year, New Impeachment

Good afternoon! It’s Wednesday, and I remembered that when the pandemic is over, I’ll have to return to the newsroom at Navy Pier, that cursed and isolated strip of land currently sitting empty at the edge of the lake. 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. Trump is impeached for a second time. What happens now?

The House today impeached President Donald Trump again, marking the first time in the nation’s 244-year history that a president has been impeached twice.

But unlike the last time, today’s vote had bipartisan support. About a dozen Republicans voted with Democrats to charge Trump with a single article of impeachment that accuses the president of “inciting an insurrection.”

It is not clear how quickly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send the article of impeachment to the Senate, which isn’t scheduled to go back into session until Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, had wanted the Senate to use emergency powers to return before Jan. 19, but the current majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, threw cold water on that idea. That means a Senate trial will likely not happen until after Biden is sworn into office.

Some Democrats have floated the idea of delaying the Senate’s trial until after Biden’s first 100 days in office. Biden this week questioned whether the Senate could split its days between the trial and confirming his Cabinet nominees. [NPR]

2. Some members of Congress fear the Capitol attack was an inside job

A Democratic lawmaker said she saw some of her colleagues leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the U.S. Capitol the day before a mob stormed the building.

The shocking allegation comes from Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., who is a former Navy helicopter pilot. She did not name any lawmakers, and the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately respond to questions over whether they are investigating the claims.

Sherrill’s remarks come as several members of Congress have expressed concerns that rioters may have gotten inside help. More than a dozen Capitol Police officers are being investigated for suspected ties to rioters and their actions during the siege. [Washington Post]

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn raised the issue last week when he questioned how insurrectionists found his unmarked office but not his clearly marked ceremonial office. [Axios]

Adding to concerns of an inside job: A far-right leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement said in a now-deleted Periscope video that he teamed up with three House Republicans to put “maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.”

Right-wing activist Ali Alexander said he came up with the plan with Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama. [Washington Post]

Meanwhile, a man seen wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt during the siege has been arrested. [NBC News]

3. Chicago will begin vaccinating people 65 and over next week

The city will move forward with plans to vaccinate people 65 and over by using doses that have not been claimed by health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Arwady told members of the City Council that the city will recommend doctors prioritize residents with preexisting conditions that puts them at risk of severe infection.

According to city data, about 2.1% of Chicago’s population has received at least one dose. [WTTW]

Illinois officials today reported 5,862 new confirmed cases and 97 deaths. Over the last seven days, the state has recorded 6,677 cases per day, up 25% from the average two weeks ago.

Cases are skyrocketing throughout the U.S., and more than 4,440 people died from COVID-19 yesterday, a new record. [NPR]

4. Illinois lawmakers approve criminal justice bill

The Illinois General Assembly today approved a sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system that includes an end to cash bail, requiring every police department in the state to outfit officers with body cameras and allowing anonymous complaints against cops.

The bill now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk. If the governor signs it into law, it would be a victory for the Legislative Black Caucus, which drafted the bill in the aftermath of summer protests over police brutality and racial justice.

State law enforcement groups opposed the legislation. John Catanzara, the head of the police union for Chicago’s rank-and-file cops, said it would “decimate law enforcement.” [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, it is unlikely that Catanzara will resign after he made controversial comments defending rioters at the U.S. Capitol. [WBEZ]

5. Rep. Chris Welch becomes Illinois’ first Black House speaker

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch will succeed Rep. Michael Madigan as the new House speaker after receiving enough votes from House Democrats today.

Welch’s ascension marks an end to Madigan’s legendary run as Springfield’s most powerful politician.

“Welch’s win assured that Madigan, who has been speaker for all but two years since 1983, wouldn’t get to end his historic legislative career on the terms he might have hoped, driven from power largely by fallout from an ongoing federal corruption probe,” reports WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold. [WBEZ]

In this look back at Madigan’s career as speaker, McKinney writes, “Madigan’s career spanned nine Illinois governors, nine Chicago mayors and eight presidents. Nearly half of the Illinois House’s members in December weren’t even born when he first took office in 1971.” [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • More than 20,000 National Guard troops could be deployed to D.C. ahead of next week’s inauguration. [Politico]
  • Amazon says in a court filing that Parler, a messaging app popular with the far-right, failed to take down violent content. [NPR]
  • Here’s a look at how a bill awaiting Gov. Pritzker’s signature aims to tackle racial inequity in education. [WBEZ]
  • A limited TV series about Mayor Harold Washington is in the works. [Deadline]

Oh, and one more thing …

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman is being credited for preventing more violence during the siege at the Capitol. In a video clip that has gone viral on social media, Goodman can be seen holding back insurrectionists and twice retreating up a flight of stairs.

Police experts and colleagues of Goodman said his actions were intentional and likely saved lives.

“He was diverting people from getting on the Senate floor and getting hostages. It was the smartest thing that he could have ever done,” his colleague told The Washington Post. “I don’t know that many people who can think on their feet like that. … His quick thinking enabled those Senators to get to safety.” [WaPo]

Tell me something good …

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

Jack writes:

“I grew up having a winter meal of white bread grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, made from homemade tomato juice from our own garden. I have since had to give up the homemade soup, but have matured the grilled cheese from Velveeta to several varieties of cheeses melted together inside a buttered and toasted wheat bread. Gooey scrumptious, and the memories are still there.”

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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