- On Monday, the electoral college began the process of certifying Joe Biden as the official president-elect. The process will conclude with the state of Hawaii, which will convene its electoral college at 7 p.m. ET.
- The news follows a weekend of violence in Washington, D.C., where four people were stabbed Saturday during a protest that attracted thousands.
- A similar protest in Washington state resulted in one person being shot following several clashes between armed protesters and counterprotesters.
- The incidents signal a notable uptick in unrest compared to previous weeks of demonstrations. They also follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who asked the court to throw out election results from four key swing states that Biden won.
SCOTUS Rejects Texas Lawsuits
After a tumultuous weekend of protests, the electoral college is set to officially certify former Vice President Joe Biden as the future 46th President of the United States on Monday.
Biden’s confirmation follows protests in Washington D.C. and Washington state that left dozens injured, the worst of which involved four stabbings and one shooting.
Both protests follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject an election fraud-related lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). In the lawsuit, Paxton directly asked the Court to throw out election results in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
On Friday, SCOTUS — a court with three Trump-appointed judges and a conservative majority — said in a brief, unsigned order that Texas lacked standing.
“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the Court added.
While Biden won in all four states in question, Paxton’s goal was to overturn millions of legally-casted votes in the hope that President Donald Trump would then be declared the winner of each state. Seventeen other states then joined this case — none of them being any of the four states in question.
A group of more than a hundred House Republicans also joined, claiming that the election was “riddled with an unprecedented number of serious allegations of fraud and irregularities.” Oddly enough, they said that about the same election that resulted in most of their re-elections.
Last week, Trump referred to the Texas lawsuit as “the big one,” though Trump has previously said that about other election fraud lawsuits that didn’t hold up in court.
Texas Politicians Call for Secession
In a highly controversial statement, on Friday, Texas GOP Chair Allen West advocated for Texas’ secession in response to SCOTUS’ rejection of the lawsuit.
West’s idea was quickly condemned by members of both major political parties, including by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.), who said the Texas GOP “should immediately retract this, apologize, and fire Allen West and anyone else associated with this. My guy Abraham Lincoln and the Union soldiers already told you no.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hi.) said the Texas GOP “have lost their minds.”
West’s insinuation that Texas should secede from the Union is not the first talk of secession this month from the Texas GOP. Last week in a Facebook post, Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann promised to file a bill that would “allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”
Biedermann tagged his post with the hashtag #Texit.
Texas has been rife with rumors of secession throughout much of its modern history, but the only time it has ever attempted to secede from the United States was during the Civil War. Talk of secession occurred following President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 but never resulted in any proposed legislation.
D.C. Protests Follow SCOTUS Rejection
On Saturday, thousands of Trump supporters protested outside of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Steal” march. Like similar protests this year, many demonstrators were maskless and crowded close together.
The march included the likes of the Proud Boys — a far-right, male-only group with ties to white nationalism.
During the morning, while several tense situations and even smaller scuffles arose, there were no significant reports of violence.
“My final message is everybody keep the faith because we’re in the greatest revival in history,” Michael James Lindell, the creator of My Pillow, told Fox News around noon.
“And this is an anomaly, and when we get through it, we’re going to look back and say, ‘This all had to happen the way God’s intended it to and it’ll all — you’ll all be okay.’ I just want everybody in the country to have faith that God’s got his hand in all of this, and it’ll all be a blessing when it’s all over. And there’s our president!”
“There’s our president for four more years!” Lindell said as the president’s helicopter, Marine One, flew past the crowd of protesters. “There he is! God bless America! We are one nation under God!”
As the day passed, the situation began to grow tenser. At one point, while speaking on stage, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said Joe Biden “will be removed one way or another.”
Meanwhile, officers in riot gear reportedly worked to keep the Proud Boys and a group of counterprotesters separate. As The Washington Post noted, the Proud Boys became “increasingly angry as they wove through streets and alleys, only to find police continuously blocking their course with lines of bikes.”
From there, a number of fights erupted between the Proud Boys and counterprotesters. The Post noted that “agitators determined to find trouble were successful — and posturing quickly turned into punching, kicking and wrestling.” It also reported that multiple Proud Boys were seen openly drinking beers, whiskey, and White Claws between fights.
In response to the fights, police intervened, oftentimes using their batons or firing chemical irritants in order to try to maintain a wall between themselves and each side.
“Each time a fight was de-escalated, another soon began in a different part of town,” The Post reported.
In one incident, people who appeared to be members of the Proud Boys were seen tearing down a Black Lives Matter banner and burning it in the street.
Notably, that banner was taken from outside the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in D.C.
Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, the church’s senior pastor, described the scene as reminiscent of a cross burning.
Later, a similar scene occurred at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, another Black church in the city.
On Sunday, the D.C. Metro police announced they are investigating both incidents as potential hate crimes.
Four Stabbed in D.C. Protest
The most violent situation of the night came when reports surfaced that at least four people had been stabbed near a gathering point for the Proud Boys.
At first, it wasn’t clear what exactly happened or who stabbed who, though reports did mention that the four victims had been rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. On Sunday, that assessment was then dialed back when D.C. police confirmed that all four are in non-critical condition.
The same day, The New York Times reported that the confrontation began “after dozens of supporters of Mr. Trump, many of whom appeared to be members of the Proud Boys… shouted and pointed at a Black man in dark clothes who was alone and against a wall.”
The Times then said at least three of those Trump supporters “offered to let the man leave and implored the others to let him go in peace,” but that “after about a minute, as the man hesitated, more demonstrators closed in and began to punch and kick him.” The latter part of that confrontation has been captured on video by the New York Post.
Following that, The Times said the man drew a knife and “began slashing with it as more demonstrators piled onto him.” Part of that account was then corroborated by the D.C. Metro Police, which said the man was pushed in the back before he produced the knife.
The Times noted that the man broke free from the Trump supporters twice but was then grabbed and beaten again before police intervened. When police lifted him, The Times said the man’s face was swollen and bloody.
That man has been identified as 29-year-old Philip Johnson, and police have now charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon. Still, many of the details around this situation remain unknown.
Police have now confirmed that, in total, they arrested 33 people from Saturday into Sunday morning. The list of arrests includes assault, riotous acts, possession of a taser, and crossing a police line.
At least five others were injured and taken to the hospital over the course of the night, including two officers who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
One Person Shot at Washington Protest
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country in Washington state, a similar protest formed on the same day.
According to the Associated Press, both protesters and counterprotesters “clashed on the streets in Olympia before moving onto the grounds of the Capital building, where they continued engaging in violence against each other.”
The AP also noted that many of the protesters were armed with helmets and carried shields and clubs.
“Both groups were heavily armed, including firearms,” Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department said. “They were fighting amongst themselves, two factions with opposing political beliefs.”
From there, police said the two crowds began to disperse from the Capitol and back to the city streets; however, as this was happening, one person opened fire, shooting someone.
Like the situation in D.C., at first, it was unclear who fired the shot and who was hit. It was only known that the victim had been rushed to the hospital.
Police have since identified the shooter as 25-year-old Forest Michael Machala, who’s now been arrested on a first-degree assault charge. In a 2017 piece, The Seattle Times featured a then-22-year-old man by the same name, describing the man as a Trump supporter. It is unclear if this is the same man, and like the D.C. stabbing, many details are still unknown.
The Seattle Times noted that protests are “becoming a regular weekend occurrence at Washington’s Capitol.” Last week, a Trump supporter at one of these protests allegedly fired his gun at counterprotesters.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NPR)
House To Send Impeachment Article Monday, Starting Impeachment Trial Process
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the House will send the impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the impeachment trial process.
- The news comes one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell requested that the trial be delayed until mid-February so that Trump’s legal team could have two weeks to prepare.
- The senators could still come to their own agreement to delay the start of oral arguments and give Trump’s team more time to file pretrial briefs.
- Some Democrats have signaled support for this move because it would give them extra time to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominations before the trial starts.
Pelosi To Send Impeachment Article
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) will send the impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday.
The move will officially trigger the start of the impeachment trial process. The announcement comes one day after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) requested that the trial be delayed until mid-February so that Trump’s legal team could have two weeks to prepare.
Despite Pelosi’s decision, the senators still could come to their own agreement to start the ceremonial proceedings but delay the start of oral arguments and give Trump’s team more time to file pretrial briefs.
In fact, Democrats, who have been pushing for a schedule that would allow them to still confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees before the trial proceedings start each day, have signaled that they might not oppose a delay because it would give them extra time for confirmations.
During his announcement this morning, Schumer indicated that the details were still being hashed out.
“I’ve been speaking to the Republican leader about the timing and duration of the trial,” he said. “But make no mistake a trial will be held in the United States Senate and there will be a vote on whether to convict the president.”
McConnell, for his part, responded by reiterating that his party will continue to press for Trump’s team to be given enough time.
“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House,” he said. “Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense.”
While the leaders may not have worked out the particulars yet, according to reports, both parties have already agreed that this trial will be shorter than Trump’s first impeachment, which lasted three weeks.
Implications for Power-Sharing Deal
The new impeachment trial deadline could also speed up the currently stalled negotiations between Schumer and McConnell regarding how power will be shared in a Senate with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats effectively control the Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris will be the deciding vote, but she cannot always be there to resolve every dispute.
As a result, McConnell and Schumer have been working to come up with a power-sharing deal for day to day operations, similar to one that was struck in 2001 the last time the Senate was split 50-50. However, those negotiations have hit a roadblock: the legislative filibuster.
The filibuster is the long-standing Senate rule that requires a supermajority of at least 60 senators to vote to end debate on a given piece of legislation before moving to a full floor vote. Technically, all 50 Democrats and Vice President Harris could agree to change the rule to just require a simple majority to legislation advance, or what’s known as the “nuclear option.”
That move, in effect, would allow them to get through controversial legislation without any bipartisan support, as long as every Democrat stays within party lines. Many more progressive Democrats have pushed for this move, arguing that the filibuster stands in the way of many of their and Biden’s top priorities.
Given this possibility, McConnell has demanded that Democrats agree to protect the filibuster and promise not to pursue the nuclear option as part of the power-sharing deal.
But top Democrats have rejected that demand, with many arguing that having the threat of filibuster is necessary to get Republicans to compromise.
In other words: if Republicans fear that Democrats will “go nuclear,” they will be more likely to agree to certain bills and measures to avoid that.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Politico) (The Wall Street Journal)
Biden Signs 17 Executive Order During His First Day in Office. Here’s What You Need to Know
- In the first hours of his presidency, Joe Biden signed 17 executive orders and proclamations, many of which focused on rolling back Trump administration policies regarding immigration, the environment, and protections for minority groups.
- Biden also implemented several measures to tackle the coronavirus, including requiring masks to be worn on federal property and by federal employees. He is also expected to announce a new national strategy aimed at restructuring the federal response to the pandemic.
- On Thursday, Biden will also invoke the Defense Production Act, which would speed up the development and distribution of vaccine-related equipment.
Biden Rolls Back Trump Policies
President Joe Biden signed 17 executive actions and proclamations Wednesday afternoon. Many of his first acts in office are focused on rolling back several policies implemented by former President Donald Trump that Biden’s aides said have caused the “greatest damage” to the country.
“I thought there’s no time to wait, get to work immediately,” Biden told reporters present during the signed of several of the orders.
Here is a breakdown of some of the key measures Biden implemented.
Biden immediately ended all construction on the border wall by overhauling the national emergency declaration Trump had enacted to divert billions in federal funds to his central campaign promise.
The new president also expanded protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and overturned a Trump policy that made immigration enforcement more strict and
In similar actions, he also ended the travel ban on multiple Muslim-majority countries and revoked a Trump administration order that would have excluded non-citizens from the 2020 Census count.
One of the most significant actions Biden took was signing a letter to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. It will take 30 days for the return to go into effect.
The president also issued a sweeping order that reversed a number of the Trump administration’s environmental policies, including revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, re-establishing a working group to look into the social costs of greenhouse gasses, and temporarily banning oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Justice for Minority Groups
In one far-reaching order, Biden directed all federal agencies to review equity in their programs and policies. They are required to issue a report within 200 days that, among other things, details how each will remove barriers to opportunities and ensure all Americans have equal access to federal resources.
Biden also ended Trump’s policy that limited federal agencies, contractors, and other organizations from holding diversity and inclusion training. The same order also disbanded the 1776 Commission created by Trump to study his claims that the education system was too liberal in its teaching of American history.
In a separate order, the president issued changes that will broaden federal protections against sex discrimination to include LGBTQ+ Americans, reversing a previous action by Trump.
As part of a broad measure aimed at general accountability in the executive branch, Biden issued an order that will establish ethics rules for all people in his administration. The same order will also require all executive branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge.
Separately, the president additionally froze all new regulations Trump had put in place during his last few weeks in office until they can be further evaluated.
Economy and Coronavirus
Chief among Biden’s first acts in office were his plans for the coronavirus pandemic and the damage it has caused to the American people.
In terms of financial relief, Biden extended the ban on evictions and foreclosures and paused student loan payments until September.
As for direct actions concerning the pandemic, the president imposed a mask mandate for all federal employees and anyone on federal property. He also signed an extensive order aimed at restructuring the federal response to the pandemic.
Biden is expected to enact more policies in regards to the coronavirus in the coming days, including taking more executive actions to ramp up testing and vaccine distribution, safely reopening schools and businesses, and provide more money to states to help carry out those efforts, among other things.
To achieve these goals, he will also invoke the Defense Production Act, which will compel American companies to manufacture supplies for the pandemic response such as PPE and other items needed for vaccines.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (ABC News) (The Washington Post)
U.S. To Join WHO-led Vaccine Distribution Plan as Biden Implements a Flurry of COVID-19 Executive Orders
- Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated Thursday that President Joe Biden will join COVAX, a World Health Organization-led COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
- Fauci’s announcement comes one day after Biden signed an executive order reversing former President Donald Trump’s plan to remove the United States from the WHO.
- Among other orders, Biden plans to implement a mask mandate for airports, planes, trains, and other forms of interstate travel. He has already ordered masks to be worn on all federal property.
- Biden is also expected to invoke the Defense Production Act on Thursday, which would speed up the development and distribution of vaccine-related equipment.
U.S. To Join COVAX
Just one day after President Joe Biden signed an order to keep the United States in the World Health Organization, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country will join its global COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
That plan, COVAX, is a collaborative effort between 92 countries to ensure that COVID vaccines aren’t only distributed in wealthy countries.
The idea behind the plan is that establishing a global herd immunity will be much more effective at curbing the spread of the virus than just establishing herd immunity in countries that can afford to buy large quantities of the vaccine, especially when international travel picks back up.
The plan is not without its shortcomings. Earlier this week, the WHO stated that some countries participating in COVAX have been disregarding the plan and buying large quantities of vaccines for themselves.
Nonetheless, in a video conference call Thursday morning with the WHO’s executive board, Fauci — now chief medical advisor to the president — said the Biden administration believes it can inoculate every American while also helping people in other countries.
Biden’s plan to join COVAX is a stark contrast from the Trump administration, which refused to participate in the program.
Fauci said Biden will issue the directive to join COVAX later Thursday.
Additionally, Fauci noted that the U.S. once again “intends to fulfill its financial obligations” to the WHO.
In his attempt to leave the organization, Trump cut off payments from the U.S.; however, his administration never got the chance to fully cut ties with the organization because the U.S. wasn’t scheduled to officially leave until July of this year.
Biden Signs Mask Mandate, Other Orders To Come
Among other COVID-related executive orders signed Wednesday, Biden implemented a national mask mandate for people on federal property.
Sometime Thursday, Biden is also expected to sign another order requiring masks to be worn in airports, as well as on airplanes, trains, and other interstate transit systems.
Also on Thursday, Biden is also expected to sign an order that will establish a COVID-19 testing board. Once implemented, the board will be responsible for increasing testing rates, addressing supply shortfalls, and determining the rules and regulations for international travelers coming into the U.S. It will also have the power to distribute resources to minority communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
On top of that, Biden plans to sign an order that will direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse states and Native American tribes for their emergency response efforts. Notably, those reimbursements include costs related to reopening schools.
Finally, Biden is expected to invoke the Defense Production Act on Thursday. Such a move would speed up the production of masks and other equipment needed to help administer vaccines.