Home / World News / Presidential Transition Live Updates: House Could Delay Sending Impeachment Article to Senate, Clyburn Says

Presidential Transition Live Updates: House Could Delay Sending Impeachment Article to Senate, Clyburn Says

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic whip, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the first session of the 117th Congress on Capitol Hill this month.
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic whip, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the first session of the 117th Congress on Capitol Hill this month.Credit…Pool photo by Joshua Roberts

The No. 3 House Democrat said on Sunday that the chamber could vote as soon as Tuesday on an article of impeachment charging President Trump with inciting a violent mob that attacked the Capitol — but then delay sending it to the Senate for trial.

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic whip, said that the vast majority of House Democrats believed the president must be impeached for his conduct but that top leaders were still trying to determine how to punish Mr. Trump without hamstringing the first days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency with an all-consuming Senate trial. They recognized it would be impossible to impeach and hold a trial before Mr. Trump leaves office in 10 days, he said.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Clyburn suggested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was considering impeaching now but not sending the article to the Senate for trial for weeks — possibly until after Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office. The Senate must immediately begin a trial when it receives impeachment articles, but it cannot begin one without them.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” said Mr. Clyburn, an influential ally to the incoming president. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”

The comments came after senior Democrats had met late into the night on Saturday discussing possible options for the week ahead, as support for impeachment grew to encompass nearly their entire caucus. House leaders were giving extra attention to security concerns that could affect the timing after last weeks events, working with the U.S. Air Marshals and the Capitol Police to ensure lawmakers could travel safely back to Washington for a vote.

They also came as pressure against the president continued to build. Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania became the second Republican senator to call for Mr. Trump to resign. And Mick Mulvaney, the president’s former acting chief of staff and a former congressman from South Carolina, said he would consider voting for articles of impeachment if he were still in the House, and predicted many other Republicans would do the same.

As of Sunday morning, 195 of 222 House Democrats had signed onto the article of impeachment drawn up by Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California. It charges Mr. Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

Members of the House of Representatives leaving the floor on Wednesday.
Members of the House of Representatives leaving the floor on Wednesday.Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

While sheltering in a secure location as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone who was infected with the coronavirus, Congress’s Office of the Attending Physician said on Sunday.

In an email sent to lawmakers, Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician, said that while “the time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others,” during that period, “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.” He told lawmakers to obtain a P.C.R. test as a precaution and continue taking preventive steps against the spread of the virus.

Congress has long struggled to stem the spread of the virus within its ranks, with mixed guidance and a delayed testing regimen. Dozens of lawmakers, staff members and reporters took shelter in the secure room on Wednesday, but a handful of Republicans refused to wear masks, one person there said, even as Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Democrat of Delaware, tried to pass out masks.

Before the mob breached the Capitol, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, overseeing the certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and debate over a Republican effort to subvert those results in certain states, admonished Republicans for having too many people on the floor and for some objectors refusing to wear masks as they spoke.

As the 117th Congress reconvened a week ago, multiple lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus after taking their oath. Late Wednesday, one Republican, Representative Jake LaTurner of Kansas, received positive test results after voting on the House floor to overturn Arizona’s results and did not return for a second vote early Thursday. It was unclear where Mr. LaTurner was sheltering in place as the mob tried to break into the House chamber, but in a statement issued shortly before 3 a.m. on Thursday, his office said he was not experiencing symptoms.

Because lawmakers qualified for early access to the coronavirus vaccine, many have received at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine, with some receiving both doses. Some congressional aides have been authorized to receive the two-dose vaccine.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said President Trump had effectively “disqualified himself” from ever running for office again.
Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said President Trump had effectively “disqualified himself” from ever running for office again.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A second Republican senator called on Sunday for President Trump to resign from office after inciting a violent siege of the Capitol, but conceded it was unlikely in the 10 days remaining in his term.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said Mr. Trump had “spiraled down into a kind of madness” since the election and had effectively “disqualified himself” from ever running for office again.

“I think the best way for our country, Chuck, is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible,” he told the host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I acknowledge that may not be likely, but I think that would be best.”

Speaking in a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Toomey also predicted that Mr. Trump could face “possible criminal liability” for his actions and would lose influence over his party — a matter hotly debated by elected Republicans fearful he will not.

The comments from Mr. Toomey, who does not plan to run for re-election in 2022, came as Republicans faced intense pressure by Democrats to constrain Mr. Trump in his final days in office and join them in an effort to punish Mr. Trump for his culpability in violence that sacked the Capitol and left at least five people dead.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, was the first senator in her party to call for Mr. Trump to resign, saying late last week that she was prepared to leave the Republican Party and become a political independent if necessary. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, has also said he would consider articles of impeachment if approved by the House.

Mr. Toomey cast doubt on the possibility that Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet would use the 25th Amendment to try to constrain Mr. Trump’s powers, and he said there was not time to undertake a full impeachment before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took office. That comment came a day after Mr. Toomey said he thought Mr. Trump’s conduct constituted an “impeachable offense.”

“I would certainly hope and I actually do believe that the president has disqualified himself,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “I don’t think he’s a viable candidate for office ever again because of the outrageous behavior in the postelection period.”

Mr. Toomey, who had vocally opposed from the start Republican efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s election loss based on baseless voter fraud claims, said colleagues who had aided the effort, including Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, were “complicit.”

“They’re going to have a lot of soul searching to do, and the problem is they were complicit in the big lie,” he said. “They compounded that with this notion that somehow this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s, that’s going to be, that’s going to haunt them for a very long time.”

“My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead,” Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a video he posted on Twitter on Sunday.
“My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead,” Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a video he posted on Twitter on Sunday.Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday that quickly drew millions of views, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star and former California governor, compared the riot at the Capitol last week to Kristallnacht, a rampage in Germany in 1938 in which Nazi-inspired mobs burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish-owned shops.

Seated at a desk and flanked by the American and Californian flags, Mr. Schwarzenegger wove his experiences growing up in Austria after World War II to what he was witnessing in the United States.

“Being from Europe, I’ve seen firsthand how things can spin out of control,” he said, adding that while others may fear that something similar could happen in the United States, he did not think it would.

“I do believe that we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism,” he warned.

Mr. Schwarzenegger recalled growing up surrounded by men who drank away their “guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history.” His father, like others in the neighborhood, would return home drunk once or twice a week, and “he would scream and hit us and scare my mother,” he said.

The painful memory, he said, was one he had not shared so publicly before, but he chose to do so to underscore the “emotional pain” that these men experienced from what they saw or did.

“My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies,” he said. “And I know where such lies lead.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger linked the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol to Kristallnacht, describing the attacks against Jews more than 80 years ago as carried out by “the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys.”

Within hours, the 7-minute video drew nearly 10 million views on Twitter.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has long been critical of President Trump, described him in the video as a “failed leader” and the “the worst president ever.” Noting the book written by former President John F. Kennedy called “Profiles in Courage,” Mr. Schwarzenegger added that a number of Republicans would never see their names in such a book because of what he called “their own spinelessness.”

“We need to hold accountable the people who brought us to this unforgivable point,” he said.

In a call for bipartisanship, Mr. Schwarzenegger underscored the need for the nation’s healing. Referring to his 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” he picked up a sword from his desk and said “This is the Conan sword.” A sword is tempered and strengthened by pounding it with a hammer and then heating and cooling it, he said.

“Our democracy is like the steel of this sword,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”

Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., showed off the envelope he took from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Wednesday.
Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., showed off the envelope he took from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Wednesday.Credit…Matthew Rosenberg/The New York Times

Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, said on Sunday that the Justice Department was considering charges for “theft of national security information” after the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday looted laptops, documents and other items from congressional offices.

In an interview with NPR, Mr. Sherwin did not go into detail about what was stolen or the extent of the breach, but he had previously alluded to “electronic items” and “documents” that had been stolen from offices.

Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, posted a video on Twitter in the hours after the riot showing the extent of the damage to his office. He said that the rioters “smashed the door virtually off its hinges” and stole a laptop from his desk.

Drew Hammill, the deputy chief of staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said in a tweet on Friday that a laptop had also been stolen from a Capitol conference room, though he added that the device “was only used for presentations.”

In an internal memo sent the day after the attack, Catherine Szpindor, the chief administrative officer for the House of Representatives, said there were “no indications that the House network was compromised.” But she urged lawmakers and their staff members to take inventory of their electronic equipment and treat any storage devices found as “potentially compromised.”

The mob also had access to paper documents during the breach of lawmakers’ offices. Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., posed for a photograph holding a personalized envelope from Ms. Pelosi’s office. He was later arrested.

Ali Zaslav, a CNN journalist who was with lawmakers in the Senate chamber as the Capitol was being stormed, posted a video on Twitter showing the office of the Senate parliamentarian vandalized, with documents strewn across the floor.

Elijah Schaffer, a reporter for The Blaze, a right-wing media company, was among the mob — whom he described as “revolutionaries” — as they ransacked Ms. Pelosi’s office. He posted a photograph on Twitter showing a computer in the office with emails “still on the screen.”

Mr. Schaffer later deleted the tweet.

Flags flying over the inauguration stage at the Capitol.
Flags flying over the inauguration stage at the Capitol.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Major technology companies like Google and Microsoft, as well as telecommunications giants like Comcast and Verizon, are among the nearly 1,000 people and groups that have donated at least $200 to the committee organizing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s scaled-back inauguration celebration this month.

The donor list, released Saturday evening by the committee, was filled mostly with individual donors, including major givers to Democrats such as Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons; Richard C. Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California; and Donald Sussman, a hedge fund mogul.

The inaugural committee did not list any of the amounts that these 959 donors had given as of Dec. 31, the end of the period covered in the voluntary disclosure.

The actual donor amounts may not be known until 90 days after the inauguration when the committee will be required under law to disclose the names and amounts of all donations over $200. There are no legal limitations on how much a donor can give to an inaugural committee, but Mr. Biden’s committee voluntarily limited contributions by individuals to $500,000 and by corporations to $1 million.

Many of the major corporations that traditionally make large contributions to inauguration events are missing. Some have explained that they are not going to donate given that the event will largely be virtual because of the pandemic. Others have said they are focusing their donations on helping people affected by economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the technology and telecommunications industries, a major source of cash for Mr. Biden’s campaign and the groups supporting it, are well represented on the list, with donations also coming from Qualcomm, a semiconductor and software company based in California, and Charter Communications, a cable company.

Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff, predicted that Republicans would look at a second impeachment of President Trump differently than they did the first.
Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff, predicted that Republicans would look at a second impeachment of President Trump differently than they did the first.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that President Trump’s conduct that encouraged a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol should be viewed differently from the behavior that had drawn criticism throughout his presidency.

“You could go down the long litany of things that people complained about with Donald Trump and I could probably defend almost all of them,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday,” describing many of those differences as about policy or style.

“But Wednesday was different,” he continued. “Wednesday was existential. Wednesday is one of those things that struck to the very heart of what it means to be an American, and it was wrong.”

Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, served as Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff for more than 14 months. In March, Mr. Trump replaced him with Mark Meadows, who was then a House member from North Carolina. Mr. Mulvaney became a special envoy for Northern Ireland, a position he resigned from last week after the riot.

When the host of “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace, asked what prompted the resignation, Mr. Mulvaney said, “I think everybody recognizes that what happened on Wednesday is different.”

Mr. Mulvaney implied that the public and the press were not aware of how Mr. Trump acted in private, and the ways that members of his administration were able to redirect the president from some of his destructive impulses.

“We saw the real President Trump who had that ability to pivot when he knew something had gone off the rails,” he said of his time as chief of staff.

He predicted that many Republicans would not view a second impeachment of Mr. Trump the same as they did the first, which ended with the Senate voting to acquit him in February.

“I can assure you, there will be members of both parties who would look at it very very differently than they did last year,” Mr. Mulvaney said.

Another longtime ally of Mr. Trump, Chris Christie, said on Sunday that the president had committed impeachable offenses and that he would vote yes on articles of impeachment if he were in Congress.

“If inciting to insurrection isn’t” impeachable, Mr. Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said on ABC’s “This Week,” “then I don’t really know what is.”

As for whether Mr. Mulvaney would vote to impeach if he were still in the House, he said, “I think it isn’t fair to sit here and say yes or no, but I would take it really, really seriously.”

“I’m not trying to dodge your question, but that’s probably the most serious question you can ask any member of Congress,” he added.

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, said the lawmakers who challenged the election results have “blood on their conscience.”
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, said the lawmakers who challenged the election results have “blood on their conscience.”Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said on Sunday that those who incited the Capitol riot, including President Trump, should “absolutely” be investigated by prosecutors and that a “judicial path” would be better than the Senate undergoing a time-consuming impeachment trial.

In an interview on “State of the Union” on CNN, Mr. Manchin, a moderate, echoed his fellow Democrats that the president should be impeached but implied that a Senate trial would slow the chamber’s ability to confirm members of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s administration. The Senate could not begin an impeachment trial before Inauguration Day, Mr. Manchin noted.

“We’re a country of the rule of law. That’s who we are. That’s our bedrock, and that means no person’s above the law,” he said when asked about whether he supported the prosecution of Mr. Trump or anyone else who incited the riot. “If people have died, and we know they have, all the damage that was done, an insurrection on our own Capitol, someone has to be held accountable for that.”

The Justice Department backed off the prospect of pursuing charges against the president after Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, at first refused to rule out the possibility of investigating him.

Mr. Manchin recalled being under lockdown with other senators during the Capitol siege and pleading with Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, to reconsider challenging the Electoral College votes. Mr. Hawley refused and objected to Pennsylvania’s slate of electors later that evening, forcing both chambers into a two-hour debate.

Mr. Manchin said he believed the Senate could not expel members like Mr. Hawley who challenged the election results, saying, “they stayed within the confines of what the rules and laws allow them to do.” Instead, he predicted, the public would not re-elect those senators who objected and have “blood on their conscience.”

Representative Hakeem Jeffries and other members of New York’s congressional delegation have called for swift impeachment of President Trump.
Representative Hakeem Jeffries and other members of New York’s congressional delegation have called for swift impeachment of President Trump.Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Momentum for impeaching President Trump a second time was growing rapidly over the weekend among rank-and-file Democrats and some Republicans, setting the stage for a final showdown that would test the boundaries of politics, accountability and the Constitution.

Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, announced on Saturday that the article of impeachment drafted by him and other House Democrats had drawn more than 190 co-sponsors.

“We will introduce the Article of Impeachment this Monday during the House’s pro forma session,” he wrote on Twitter.

Most Republicans in Congress remained silent on the issue over the weekend, drawing more attention to those who did speak up.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said on Saturday that Mr. Trump had “committed impeachable offenses,” a sign of growing anger over Mr. Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol building.

Mr. Toomey’s comment, on Fox News on Saturday, was the starkest yet among Republican lawmakers who appeared newly open to the idea. Earlier last week, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska indicated he would be open to considering articles of impeachment at a trial, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has called on the president to resign.

“I want him out,” Ms. Murkowski told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”

But in a reflection of how unpopular the idea is even among Republicans who have criticized Mr. Trump’s role in the riot, seven House Republicans wrote to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday and implored him to ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop efforts to impeach Mr. Trump.

The lawmakers, led by Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, argued that starting such a process would be divisive and overly hasty. Each of them had vocally opposed their colleagues’ bid to overturn the election results.

“A second impeachment, only days before President Trump will leave office, is as unnecessary as it is inflammatory,” the lawmakers wrote.

If the House did impeach, and the Senate put Mr. Trump on trial, at least 17 Republicans would most likely have to join the Democrats to win a conviction.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has indicated that under Senate rules a trial could not begin until the senators’ scheduled return from a recess on Jan. 19, the day before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, raising the prospect of conducting a trial after Mr. Trump vacated the White House.

Lloyd J. Austin III, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s defense secretary pick, needs a congressional exemption from a law that bars recently retired active-duty officers from serving in the top Pentagon job.
Lloyd J. Austin III, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s defense secretary pick, needs a congressional exemption from a law that bars recently retired active-duty officers from serving in the top Pentagon job.Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is facing an arduous struggle to get his choice for secretary of defense in place by Inauguration Day, a senior national security position that all but one president in modern history has secured by Day 1.

The potential delay stems from the need of the nominee, Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired four-star Army general, to obtain a congressional exemption from a law that bars recently retired active-duty officers from serving in the top Pentagon job.

While only the Senate votes to confirm the secretary, House approval of General Austin’s waiver is also required. The House Armed Services Committee will not be holding a hearing on the matter until the day after Mr. Biden is sworn in.

Every president since Eisenhower had his defense secretary confirmed within 24 hours of when he was inaugurated (most on the same day) except for President George Bush, whose nominee, John G. Tower, was rejected; Dick Cheney was swiftly confirmed and installed a week later. (President Barack Obama’s first defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, was held over from the George W. Bush administration.)

Starting an administration without a secretary of defense in place is undesirable for any president, but it would be particularly fraught at a time of extraordinary turmoil in the world, and in the nation’s capital.

“If there was ever a time when you want a president’s confirmed secretary of defense in place as the only other civilian in the chain of command and fully in charge of the military — active duty, guard and reserve — it’s now,” said Arnold L. Punaro, a retired two-star Marine general and former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Senate could quickly confirm Kathleen Hicks, the nominee for deputy defense secretary, who could serve as acting secretary until General Austin’s nomination was resolved. Or Mr. Biden would ask the current deputy secretary, David L. Norquist, to stay on for that same period. President Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper in November and replaced him with a team of loyalists, including an acting defense secretary who has not gone through Senate confirmation, as has Mr. Norquist.

Members of the transition team say they are focused on pushing their nominee through in a timely manner.

On Saturday, a bevy of top former national security officials from both parties released an open letter urging the Senate to quickly confirm Mr. Biden’s entire national security team, warning of the need to have a fast transition of executive power after a week of chaos in the nation’s capital.

Parler is one of several upstarts that have courted President Trump’s supporters with promises of “unbiased” and “free speech” social networks.
Parler is one of several upstarts that have courted President Trump’s supporters with promises of “unbiased” and “free speech” social networks.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Parler, a social network that pitches itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter and Facebook, is suffering from whiplash.

Over the past several months, Parler has become one of the fastest-growing apps in the United States. Millions of President Trump’s supporters have flocked to it as Facebook and Twitter increasingly cracked down on posts that spread misinformation and incited violence, including muzzling Mr. Trump by removing his accounts this past week. By Saturday morning, Apple listed Parler as the No. 1 free app for its iPhones.

But, by Saturday night, Parler was suddenly fighting for its life.

First, Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores because they said it had not sufficiently policed its users’ posts, allowing too many that encouraged violence and crime. Then, late Saturday, Amazon told Parler it would boot the company from its web-hosting service on Sunday night because of repeated violations of Amazon’s rules.

Amazon’s move meant that Parler’s entire platform would soon go offline unless it was able to find a new hosting service on Sunday.

“Big tech really wants to kill competition,” John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, said in a text message. “And I have a lot of work to do in the next 24 hours to make sure everyone’s data is not permanently deleted off the internet.”

A day earlier, Parler appeared poised to capitalize on growing anger at Silicon Valley in conservative circles and was even a logical choice to become Mr. Trump’s next megaphone after he was kicked off Twitter.

The actions against Parler were part of a wider crackdown by tech companies on Mr. Trump and some of his most extreme supporters after Wednesday’s deadly riot in Washington.

Several upstarts have courted Mr. Trump’s supporters with promises of “unbiased” and “free speech” social networks, which have proven to be, in effect, free-for-all digital town squares where users hardly have to worry about getting banned for spreading conspiracy theories, making threats or posting hate speech. The tougher enforcement from the tech companies could preclude such apps from becoming realistic alternatives to the mainstream social networks. They now face the choice of either stepping up their policing of posts — undercutting their main feature in the process — or losing their ability to reach a wide audience.

Rioters attacked the Capitol on Wednesday.
Rioters attacked the Capitol on Wednesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

False claims that President Trump is working with a Justice Department official to pardon the rioters who attacked the Capitol have spread fast on social media, prompting the department to say on Saturday that the post was untrue.

“POTUS is strongly considering PARDONING all of the patriots who #stormthecapitol,” the post said, falsely claiming to have been written by Rosalind Sargent-Burns, the Justice Department’s acting pardon attorney.

The department said that its Office of the Pardon Attorney was not on social media and that it was “not involved in any efforts to pardon individuals or groups involved with the heinous acts that took place this week in and around the U.S. Capitol.”

Mr. Trump has used his few remaining days in office to pardon friends and allies, including Michael T. Flynn, his first national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I., and Charles Kushner, who is the father of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and was convicted on charges of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering.

The president has also told aides that he was exploring the possibility of pardoning himself, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Such a move would test the limits of the power of the presidency, a theme that has become the hallmark of Mr. Trump’s time in office.

Jake Angeli was arrested for participating in the breach of the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday.
Jake Angeli was arrested for participating in the breach of the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A man who was photographed carrying the lectern of Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the raid on the U.S. Capitol last week and another who roamed through the halls of Congress while wearing a horned fur headdress have been arrested and charged, the Justice Department said on Saturday.

Adam Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Fla., was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Friday night after a widely circulated photograph showed him sporting a wide smile as he waved to the camera with one hand and hauled off Ms. Pelosi’s lectern with the other. On his head he wore a Trump knit hat, with the number 45 on the front.

Jail booking records from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office provide scant details about the arrest of Mr. Johnson but show that he was arrested on a federal warrant. He was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of theft of government property, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The office of Michael Sherwin, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, said on Saturday that it had also charged Jake Angeli, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was photographed in the Capitol on Wednesday.

Mr. Angeli entered the building shirtless, with his face painted red, white and blue, and wearing a fur headdress with horns. He also carried a spear, about six feet long, with an American flag affixed just below the blade, according to Mr. Sherwin’s office.

Nicknamed “Q Shaman” for his propagation of baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, Mr. Angeli was a fixture at pro-Trump rallies in Arizona after the 2016 election. He was arrested on Saturday.

Early Saturday morning, the F.B.I. arrested Doug Jensen, who was captured on a video taken by Igor Bobic of HuffPost that showed him pushing far into the Capitol, ignoring the warnings of a law enforcement officer.

On his Twitter account, Mr. Jensen posted a photo of himself during the raid with the captions “You like my shirt?” and “Me… .”

Mr. Jensen is in custody in Polk County, Iowa, and is facing charges including obstructing a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder, according to a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The authorities also arrested Richard Barnett, 60, on Friday, the man pictured with his feet kicked up on a desk in Ms. Pelosi’s office during the Capitol siege. Mr. Barnett, who was arrested in Bentonville, Ark., will appear in federal court on Tuesday and will ultimately be extradited to Washington.

Federal agents said Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. sent a text message threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying he would put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.”
Federal agents said Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. sent a text message threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying he would put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.”Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

A man who had an assault rifle was charged with threatening Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, after he traveled to Washington for the pro-Trump rally on Wednesday and sent a text message saying he would put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV,” the federal authorities said.

Federal agents said the man, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., had been staying at a Holiday Inn in Washington and had weapons in his camper-style trailer, including a Glock handgun, a pistol, a Tavor X95 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Mr. Meredith was charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, according to court records. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The Justice Department said on Friday that he was one of 13 people who had been charged in federal court after a violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday and disrupted Congress as it was certifying the results of the presidential election.

Those charged included conspiracy theorists, members of the far-right Proud Boys group, elected officials and everyday Americans.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mr. Meredith had erected a billboard in 2018 in Acworth, Ga., that read, “#QANON” along with the name of his business, Car Nutz Car Wash.

The QAnon conspiracy theory, which the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat, accuses Democrats and some Republicans of being beholden to a cabal of bureaucrats, pedophiles and Satanists. Many followers believe that President Trump is secretly battling a criminal band of sex traffickers.

Mr. Meredith told The Journal-Constitution in 2018 that he had put up the QAnon billboard because he was “a patriot among the millions who love this country.”

Mr. Meredith, whose current hometown was unavailable, told federal agents that he had been traveling from Colorado and had arrived too late for Wednesday’s rally in Washington.

“I’m trying but currently stuck in Cambridge, OH with trailer lights being fixed,” he wrote in one of several text messages to friends, according to the F.B.I.

In another text message, accompanied by a purple devil emoji, he said he had “a ton of 5.56 armor piercing ammo.” In other text messages, he referred to Ms. Pelosi with misogynistic slurs and threatened to run her over, the F.B.I. said.

“I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die,” Mr. Meredith wrote, according to the F.B.I.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is the latest House Democrat to suggest invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies elected officials who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is the latest House Democrat to suggest invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies elected officials who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested on Sunday that more House Democrats were considering invoking the 14th Amendment to expel Republican lawmakers who had participated in efforts to subvert the results of the November election.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, made the remark while discussing the possible impeachment of President Trump and other efforts to respond to the storming of the Capitol last week.

“This is not either the 25th Amendment, or impeachment,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding, “We are looking towards multiple avenues, and I do not believe that those avenues are mutually exclusive.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is the latest House Democrat to suggest invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies elected officials who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

The clause was originally enacted to limit the influence of former Confederates in the Reconstruction era. It has been used occasionally since. Victor L. Berger, a member of the Socialist Party of America, was repeatedly prevented from taking his seat by a House resolution after winning election in 1919 because he had been convicted under the Espionage Act.

In Mr. Berger’s case, a House resolution was passed — with an overwhelming 309-to-1 vote — barring him from his seat in Congress. A special election was held in his Wisconsin congressional district for the vacated seat, but he was re-elected with an increased margin of victory. The seat was again vacated by a House resolution, though Mr. Berger was eventually allowed to take his seat.

Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, had first proposed invoking the clause in December as nearly two-thirds of House Republicans — including their leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California — signed on to Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn the election at the Supreme Court.

“The actions of any of our colleagues to demolish democracy, regardless of party affiliation, must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms,” Mr. Pascrell said in his letter at the time. “The fate of our democracy depends on us.”

Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, mentioned the 14th Amendment in a resolution that was drafted as she and other House lawmakers sheltered in place during the attack on Wednesday. The resolution names Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama and Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri as leaders of the effort to subvert the election, according to The Intercept, which uploaded a copy of the text on Friday.

“I believe the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election must face consequences,” Ms. Bush wrote on Twitter as the police struggled to expel the violent mob from the Capitol. “They have broken their sacred Oath of Office.”

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