Pro-Trump rioters storm US Capitol

capitol

Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC on Jan. 6 after Trump supporters rallied¬†by the thousands on the National Mall. President Donald Trump¬†had addressed them in a rambling speech laden with grievances and falsehoods just after noon and encouraged them to move on to the Capitol. As they did so, the House and Senate were evacuated, and the Capitol building and surrounding locations put on lockdown. The rioters breached police lines and security barriers at several points and appeared to roam the Capitol corridors at will. Several broke into the House and Senate chambers and sat unopposed in the chairs of the presiding officers. The scenes were disturbingly reminiscent of the moment in 1814 when invading British forces seized the Capitol and their commanding officer mounted the empty Speaker’s Chair, and asked mockingly, “Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All for it will say ‘Aye!'”

The storming of the Capitol interrupted the formal Congressional counting of electoral votes from the November 2020 election; prior to the joint session of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence indicated in a lengthy statement that he was not willing to overturn the Electoral College result in favor of the president.

Additional law enforcement from Maryland has since arrived at the Capitol to reinforce federal authorities there, and National Guard units are also responding. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered a citywide curfew from 6 PM ET today (Jan. 6) to 6 AM tomorrow.

From Jurist, Jan. 6. Used with permission.

Photo: @BGOnTheScene

  1. House Democrats introduce articles of impeachment

    Democrats in the US House of Representatives formally introduced a resolution for the impeachment of Donald Trump Jan. 11.

    Article I of the resolution, titled “Incitement of Insurrection,”¬†states that “the Constitution provides that the House of Representatives ‘shall have the sole Power of Impeachment‚Äô and that the President ‚Äėshall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.'”¬†The article further states that “section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any person who has ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against’¬†the United States from ‘hold[ing] any office ‚Ķ under the United States.'”

    Wherefore, Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

    The House is expected to vote on the resolution this week. (Jurist)

    Trump was first impeached just over a year ago.

  2. Will Trump invoke Insurrection Act?

    The Insurrection Act is trending on Twitter and Google search following last week’s riot at the Capitol. The act allows the president to deploy federal troops or the federalized National Guard on US soil in specific instances.

    While Trump threatened to use it this summer against Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, the act was last invoked in 1992 to quell the Los Angeles riots.

    The act was amended in 2006 to expand the instances in which the president may invoke the law beyond actual insurrection after the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina a year earlier was criticized,¬†according to NPR. The change¬†authorizes¬†“the President to employ the armed forces during a natural disaster or terrorist attack.” (USA Today,¬†KTLA,¬†Newsweek)

  3. Republicans block resolution on 25th Amedment

    House Republicans blocked a resolution Jan. 11 calling on Vice President Mike Pence to begin 25th Amendment proceedings to remove President Donald Trump from office. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer introduced the Unanimous Consent resolution, accusing Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot that temporarily halted the counting of electoral votes, resulted in the deaths of five people, and caused damage to the US Capitol building. (Jurist)

  4. House passes resolution on 25th Amendment

    The US House of Representatives passed a resolution Jan. 12 calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove President Trump from office. The passage has no binding legal effect and is considered symbolic, particularly as Pence had publicly rejected informal calls for invocation of the 25th amendment prior to the House vote. (Jurist)

  5. House committee releases report supporting impeachment

    The US House Judiciary Committee¬†released a report¬†Jan. 12 detailing the case for impeachment of President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors relating to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. The report links Trump’s “prolonged effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and maintain his grip on power”¬†to the violent attack. The committee finds that Trump presents an “imminent threat to our security and democracy if he remains in or holds any future office.”

    ¬†In the months following the November election, Trump “took aggressive steps to overturn its outcome and undermine public confidence in the election results.”¬†The president and his allies filed 62 separate lawsuits in federal and state courts contesting the election, “not to identify legitimate concerns, but to undermine confidence in the results of the election, spread dangerous disinformation, and stoke false and wild conspiracy theories.”

    The report quotes a Jan. 2¬†phone call¬†between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find”¬†the votes to overturn the state‚Äôs results and threatened him with criminal penalties if he failed to do so.

    The report also notes that Trump made public statements claiming election fraud that had already been rejected by the Department of Justice. He called on supporters to “[c]ome to D.C. January 6th to ‘StopTheSteal'”¬†and confirmed his own presence by tweeting, “I will be there! Historic Day.”

    The report details that on the morning of the rally, Trump tweeted 12 times claiming the election was “rigged”¬†and called on supporters to “fight”¬†and “be strong.”¬†He directed the crowd’s attention to Vice President Mike Pence, claiming Pence had the authority to overturn the election results. At the rally, Rudy Giuliani repeated false claims of election fraud and urged the crowd to “trial by combat.”¬†When the president addressed the crowd, he suggested they should “fight much harder”¬†to “stop the steal”¬†and “take back our country”¬†at the Capitol. He called out his vice president and specific legislators saying, “We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good.”¬†He then told the crowd, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol.”¬†After the speech, thousands of attendees marched down Pennsylvania Ave.¬†towards the Capitol.

    The insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol made it clear they believed the president directed them to do so. The mob erected a gallows and left threatening messages, and police recovered multiple guns, components to make a “Molotov cocktail” explosive device¬†and pipe bombs. Five people died and more than 50 police officers were injured.

    Even after the mob entered the Capitol, the president continued to affirm the insurrection‚Äôs mission by attacking Pence in a tweet: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”¬†A later video shows the insurrectionists chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”¬†Trump has shown no remorse, and rather than condemning the violence, has “justified his supporters’¬†actions and reiterated his lies about the election.”¬†(Jurist)

  6. SCOTUS refuses to expedite remaining election challenges

    The US Supreme Court¬†refused¬†Jan. 11 to expedite the remaining Donald Trump campaign election challenges in an order unaccompanied by further comment or explanation. The justices‚Äô refusal to consider the petitions before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration may¬†render the claims moot.

    The Trump campaign sought to expedite eight separate petitions over the election results in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Along with these petitions that the court refused to expedite, there are also two other election challenge petitions out of Pennsylvania. The court may take up these Pennsylvania petitions to determine the challenge of absentee voting in future Pennsylvania elections.

    Though the court refused to expedite the remaining Trump campaign election challenges, it still reserves the right to hear the challenges in the future. However, such a hearing would not impact the 2020 presidential election. The justices will likely not even decide whether they will hear the claims until February.

    The court’s refusal to expedite the Trump campaign’s claims effectively marks the end of Trump campaign‚Äôs electoral legal challenges. (Jurist)

  7. Joint Chiefs of Staff pen message condemning Capitol attack

    The US Joint Chiefs of Staff authored an unusual message to the military Tuesday condemning the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

    In their message, the Joint Chiefs noted that the actions inside the Capitol building were “inconsistent with the rule of law.”¬†Additionally, they reminded service members that it is their duty to “support and defend the Constitution.”¬†The Joint Chiefs also stated that president-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan.¬†20 and become the 46th president.

    The American people have trusted the Armed forces of the United States to protect them and our Constitution for almost 250 years. As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The violent riot in Washington, D.C on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building and our Constitutional process.

    At least 20,000 National Guard members are expected to be deployed for Biden’s inauguration next week. (Jurist)

  8. More than 70 charged in Capitol attack

    More than 70 individuals have already been charged in last week’s seizure of the US Capitol, officials from the FBI and Department of Justice said in a¬†joint briefing¬†Jan. 30. (Jurist) ¬†Acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also issued his¬†first statement¬†about the¬†seizure, promising a swift response to further acts of violence. (Jurist)

  9. US House votes to impeach Trump for second time

    The US House of Representatives voted Jan. 13 to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term.

    The new¬†Article of Impeachment¬†contained¬†a single charge of “Incitement of Insurrection”¬†for Trump’s role in the events that took place at the Capitol Building¬†last week. The article alleges that during the Electoral Vote count in Congress last Wednesday, Trump continued to issue false claims about election fraud and told the crowd “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,”¬†which precipitated the violent acts on the Capitol.

    The Article of Impeachment passed the House by a vote of 232-197, with 10 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with the Democrats for impeachment. The passing of this Article of Impeachment makes Trump the only president in US history to be impeached twice.

    The Article of Impeachment now heads to the Senate, which is required under¬†Article I, Section 3¬†of the US Constitution to convene an impeachment trial and hear the case. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has¬†stated¬†that he intends to hear the impeachment but will not convene the Senate until after Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Biden’s inauguration is expected to take place as scheduled next week on Jan.¬†20, but security has been significantly increased with the addition of¬†20,000 National Guard troops¬†in light of last week’s events. (Jurist)

  10. ‘Baked Alaska’ arrested in Capitol Hill riot

    Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who goes by the handle “Baked Alaska,”¬†was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston, Tex., charged with participating in the violent riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.¬†According to a sworn statement filed by an FBI agent, Gionet livestreamed a 27-minute video from the Capitol.¬†The affidavit quotes incendiary comments from Gionet on the video, including, “We are in the Capitol Building. 1776 will commence again”¬†and “America First is inevitable.” (Reuters)

  11. Pillow tycoon pitches Trump on coup d’etat

    Fervent Trump supporter and My Pillow CEO Michael Lindell was pictured Jan. 15 entering the White House with a document that seemed to outline a path to declaring martial law along with potential personnel changes atop the US national security structure.

    The multi-page document was mostly obscured, but the picture tweeted out by a Washington Post¬†photographer¬†included phrases like “‚Ķ martial law if necessary upon the first hint of any…”¬†and “Move Kash Patel to CIA Acting.”¬†The partial title gleaned from the photograph was “‚Ķ Be Taken Immediately To Save The…”

    A close-up of the document suggests it also appears to reference invoking the Insurrection “Act now as a result of the assault on the…”

    Patel is a staunch¬†White House loyalist¬†who “previously worked for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, and as a staffer played a key role in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe.”

    If nothing else, the sighting proves that Trump‚Äôs coup scheming continues‚ÄĒto what end, we don’t know. (Daily Kos)

  12. UN rights experts condemn US Capitol riots

    A group of independent UN experts released a statement Jan. 18 condemning the violent riots on Capitol Hill that were intended to disrupt the formal counting of the electoral votes 12 days earlier.¬†The group, including 24 human rights experts and Special Rapporteurs who are unaffiliated with any government or organization, called the most recent attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election “shocking and incendiary.” (Jurist)

  13. Proud Boys leader arrested over Capitol riots

    Joseph Randall Biggs, leader of the far-right organization Proud Boys, was¬†arrested¬†in Orlando, Fla, Jan. 20 in connection with the¬†attack¬†on the¬†US Capitol. According to an FBI¬†affidavit, Biggs has been documented as at the Capitol during the riot. The affidavit includes images where the individual identified as Biggs is seen. The video, posted on Parler social media site, shows Biggs and others entering the Capitol at which point an unknown person asks, “Hey Biggs, what do you gotta say?”¬†to which Biggs responds by lowering his mask and stating “This is awesome!” (Jurist)

  14. Dominion Voting Systems sues Giuliani

    Dominion Voting Systems¬†on Jan. 25 brought¬†suit¬†against Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani Monday for defamation following his post-election statements regarding their voting machines. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Giuliani’s defamatory statements gave rise to more than $650 million in damages.¬†The company seeks a total of $1.3 billion, including punitive damages.

    The complaint exhaustively covers statements by Giuliani after the 2020 election, especially focusing on Giuliani’s repeated claim that Dominion Voting Systems is a front for a Venezuelan company called¬†Smartmatic. Moreover, Giuliani claimed that Smartmatic had close ties to deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and investor George Soros. Soros is a popular figure in right-wing conspiracy theories. (Jurist)

    Smartmatic is indeed based in Venezuela, and has been contracted by the Venezuelan government, but its polling results have demonstrated independence from the ruling regime. The only link between Smartmatic and Dominion appears to be a now-defunct company called Sequoia Voting Systems. Sequoia was acquired by Smartmatic in 2005 and two years later divested to managers with US citizenship. In 2010, many of its assets were acquired by Dominion.  

  15. SCOTUS drops emoluments cases

    The Supreme Court on Jan. 25 closed the door on two separate emoluments cases alleging that former president Donald Trump violated the Constitution by financially benefiting from his properties in New York and Washington while in political office. 

    The court, in a series of short orders, found the cases to be moot now that Trump is no longer president. The court ordered the judgments vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss. In declining to hear the cases, the court indicated it would not rule on the three emoluments clauses found within the Constitution; an area of law rarely examined at the appellate level. (Jurist)

  16. DHS issues terrorism advisory in wake of Capitol riot

    The Department of Homeland Security has issued a national terrorism advisory warning, citing a “heightened threat environment across the US” after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. In the¬†alert, the DHS said that a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin would be in effect until April 30, believing that the threat would “persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential inauguration.” (NBC)