Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

House has majority needed to impeach Trump for inciting Capitol riots

January12, 2021

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the cusp of majority support in the House to impeach President Donald Trump—part of a two-front effort to punish and remove him from office for inciting the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, Politico reports.

Key members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a single article of impeachmentincitement of insurrection—on Monday, January 11. The resolution already has at least 218 cosponsors and a House majority, according to a congressional aide involved in the process.

Pelosi signaled Sunday night that the House would vote on that article if Trump refuses to resign and Vice President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove him.

“Because the timeframe is so short and the need is so immediate and an emergency, we will also proceed on a parallel path in terms of impeachment,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) told reporters Monday. “Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue.”

“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” he said, according to Politico.

At a brief House session on Monday morning, the House formally accepted the resignation of Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who was partly responsible for the failed security arrangements on January 6. And moments later, Representative Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia.) blocked unanimous consideration of a resolution from Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) that would have urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump from power. The House intends to vote on the resolution Tuesday.

Politico notes that, although some Democrats have voiced worry that impeaching Trump with just days left in his term could hamstring President-elect Joe Biden’s early weeks in office, momentum has only grown as new and disturbing footage of the violence wrought by the rioters has emerged. That footage included the beating of a Capitol Police officer, yanked out of the building by a crowd of Trump supporters. The officer in the video has not been identified, but it surfaced after the news that at least one officer, Brain Sicknick, died of injuries sustained during the onslaught.

Every new indication that the rioters included a more sophisticated contingent of insurrectionists has inflamed the House anew, even as Republicans have continued to express wariness, if not outright opposition, to impeachment.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, Is it the right thing politically to impeach this president? … Will it harm the Democratic Party?” Representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) said in a press conference Monday. “In terms of whether it could harm the Democratic party, I could not care less.”

Though some Democrats have also floated the notion of impeaching Trump but delaying transmitting the article to the Senate—a move that would forestall a Senate trial until after Biden’s early term plans and nominees are in place—a top Pelosi ally, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), indicated Monday he favors an immediate trial.

“If we impeach him this week … it should immediately be transmitted to the Senate and we should try the case as soon as possible,” Schiff said on “CBS This Morning.” “Mitch McConnell has demonstrated when it comes to jamming Supreme Court justices through the Congress, he can move with great alacrity when he wants to.”

Research contact: @politico

Why Pence cannot ‘save’ Trump on January 6

January 31, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence has come under heavy pressure from President Donald Trump to back an unconstitutional scheme to overturn his Electoral College defeat (306-232) in a joint session of Congress on January 6. According to multiple reports, advisers have repeatedly had to explain to the president that the vice president’s role is merely ceremonial, Salon reports.

In addition to losing the general election by 7 million votes, Trump has lost every legal challenge after failing to show evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities and is now “laser-focused” on January 6, Igor Derysh of Salon notes.

Indeed, the outgoing president views the joint session of Congress as his “last stand for overturning the electoral outcome,” multiple administration officials told The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. Trump has demanded that Pence “act” to stop the ratification of the Electoral College, according to CNN.

Trump has raged at Pence and top White House officials in recent days as they have pushed back on his doomed scheme and would view Pence carrying out his constitutional duty and validating the election result as “the ultimate betrayal,” according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

This pressure arguably puts Pence in a bind, since legally he cannot do anything to affect the result. The vice president reportedly plans to flee Washington for his first overseas trip since the coronavirus pandemic began right after the session.

“Pence’s constitutional role is to ‘open’ the certificates. That’s it,” said Harry Litman, a former Justice Department official and constitutional law expert at UCLA. “Not to certify. Not even technically to count. He has no way even to purport to change the count. It’d be like saying the Oscar presenters get to decide who wins best picture.”

Research contact: @Salon

Biden admonishes Trump Administration over ‘obstruction’

December 30, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday that his transition team had faced “obstruction” from the Defense Department—raising more concerns about the Trump Administration’s distinct lack of cooperation with the new White House denizens with just over three weeks until Inauguration Day, The New York Times reports.

“Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas,” Biden stated in Wilmington, Delaware, after he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were briefed about barricades put in place by agencies dealing with national security and foreign policy, like the Defense and State departments.

“It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said.

In his remarks, the president-elect said that his team had “encountered roadblocks” from political leaders at the Defense Department as well as at the Office of Management and Budget. Biden emphasized the importance of a smooth transition, saying, “Right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations.”

“My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies,” he continued. “We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.”

In a statement on Monday, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, defended the department’s level of cooperation with the Biden team. He said the department was continuing “to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview.”

 “Our D.O.D. political and career officials have been working with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities in a compressed time schedule, and they will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that upholds the finest traditions of the department,” Miller said. “The American people expect nothing less, and that is what I remain committed to.”

As the Times notes, the Biden transition was hamstrung at the outset by the Trump Administration’s delay in formally designating Biden as the apparent winner of the election. The head of the General Services Administration did not take that step until November 23.

More recently, Mr. Biden and his team have complained about their dealings with the Pentagon in particular.

A week before Christmas, Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said that the president-elect’s team had encountered “isolated resistance in some corners, including from political appointees within the Department of Defense.” He expressed concern about what he described as “an abrupt halt in the already limited cooperation there.”

Miller had cited a “mutually agreed-upon holiday pause,” but Mr. Abraham said that no such agreement had been made.

And last week, during an event at which Biden criticized President Trump for playing down the Russian hacking of the federal government and private companies, Biden said, “The Defense Department won’t even brief us on many things.

The department responded by calling that claim “patently false.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Mar-a-Lago neighbors to Trump: Spend your post-presidency elsewhere

December 17, 2020

Outgoing President Donald Trump will not receive a warm welcome to the neighborhood, if he chooses to spend his post-POTUS days at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, The Washington Post reports.

After hearing about his plans to retreat to the property he now uses as his Winter White House, area residents have a message for the Trump: We don’t want you  here.

According to the Post, that message was formally delivered Tuesday morning in a demand letter delivered to the town of Palm Beach and also addressed to the U.S. Secret Service asserting that Trump lost his legal right to live at Mar-a-Lago because of an agreement he signed in the early 1990s when he converted the storied estate from his private residence to a private club.

The legal maneuver could, at long last, force Palm Beach to publicly address whether Trump can make Mar-a-Lago his legal residence and home, as he has been expected to do, when he becomes an ex-president after the swearing-in of Joe Biden on January 20.

The contretemps sets up a potentially awkward scenario, unique in recent history, in which a former Oval Office occupant would find himself having to officially defend his choice of a place to live during his post-presidency. It also could create a legal headache for Trump because he changed his official domicile to Mar-a-Lago, leaving behind Manhattan, where he lived before being elected president and came to fame as a brash, self-promoting developer. (Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida using the White House in Washington as his address, which is not allowed under Florida law. He later changed the registration to the Mar-a-Lago address.)

In the demand letter, obtained by The Washington Post, an attorney for the Mar-a-Lago neighbors says the town should notify Trump that he cannot use Mar-a-Lago as his residence. Making that move would “avoid an embarrassing situation” if the outgoing president moves to the club and later has to be ordered to leave, according to the letter sent on behalf of the neighbors, the DeMoss family, which runs an international missionary foundation.

For years, various neighbors have raised concerns about disruptions, such as clogged traffic and blocked streets, caused by the president’s frequent trips to the club. Even before he was president, Trump created ill will in the town by refusing to comply with even basic local requirements, such as adhering to height limits for a massive flagpole he installed—and frequently attempting to get out of the promises he had made when he converted Mar-a-Lago into a private club.

“There’s absolutely no legal theory under which he can use that property as both a residence and a club,” said Glenn Zeitz, another nearby Palm Beach homeowner who has joined the fight against Trump and had previously tangled with him over Trump’s attempt to seize a private home to expand his Atlantic City casino. “Basically he’s playing a dead hand. He’s not going to intimidate or bluff people because we’re going to be there.”

A White House spokesperson and Palm Beach’s mayor did not respond to requests for comment. To date, Palm Beach has made no public attempt to prevent Trump from living at Mar-a-Lago or from using it as his legal residence.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump and friends got ‘special treatment’—COVID care that many Americans cannot access

December 11, 2020

HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and President Donald Trump are not the strongest candidates to survive the coronavirus: They are older, in some cases overweight, male, and not particularly fit. Yet all seem to have come through COVID-19—thanks to access to an antibody treatment that is in such short supply that some hospitals and states are doling it out by lottery, The New York Times reports.

Now RudyGiuliani, the latest member of President Trump’s inner circle to contract the coronavrius, has acknowledged that he received at least two of the same drugs the president received. He even conceded that his “celebrity” status had given him access to care that others did not have.

“If it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in a hospital frankly,” Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, told WABC radio in New York. “Sometimes when you’re a celebrity, they’re worried if something happens to you they’re going to examine it more carefully, and do everything right.”

According to the Times report, Giuliani’s candid admission once again exposes that COVID-19 has become a disease of the haves and the have-nots. The treatment given to President Trump’s allies is raising alarms among medical ethicists as state officials and health system administrators grapple with gut-wrenching decisions about which patients get antibodies in a system that can only be described as rationing.

We should not have Chris Christie and Ben Carson—and in the case of Carson, with intervention by the president—get access,” said Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist who works with drug companies on how to ration scarce medicines, referring to the secretary of housing and urban development’s admission that the president “cleared” him for the therapy. “That is not the way to secure public support for difficult rationing systems.”

The treatments — a monoclonal antibody developed by Eli Lilly and a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies developed by Regeneron — won emergency use authorization, or an E.U.A., from the Food and Drug Administration last month for outpatients with “mild to moderate” disease who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease or for being hospitalized.

With cases soaring, the pool of potential patients is vast.

“One of the challenges is the E.U.A. criteria really are so broad, it could be half of the people with COVID could qualify, but there is clearly not enough,” Erin Fox, the senior pharmacy director for University of Utah Health, who has helped her state draft criteria to determine who is eligible for the drugs, told the Times. “Unfortunately, that leaves each hospital or each state to develop their own rationing criteria.”

Even some top officials at the F.D.A —both career employees and political appointee —have privately expressed concern in recent months that people with connections to the White House appeared to be getting access to the antibody treatments, according to three senior administration officials.

Giuliani, 76, appeared unaware of the scarcity issues, telling interviewers that politicians have taken masks and business closures too far now that COVID-19 is “a treatable disease.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden to face test over access to sensitive information as he inherits Trump’s secret server

December 1, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden soon will have to decide whether to share transcripts of calls to and from foreign leaders with a broad, security clearance-holding audience—or to maintain a lockdown on official transcripts of the calls and other highly sensitive information imposed by the Trump Administration over concerns they might be leaked, CNN reports.

A person close to the Biden transition team told CNN that no decisions have been made about how these sensitive materials will be handled when the President-elect takes office on January 20, and that it’s likely they will maintain the Trump Administration’s close hold on such information, at least at first, until they are settled in and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s pick for national security adviser, can assess their information security needs.

A senior US official said that the Biden team will be given access to a secret server containing sensitive information related to President Donald Trump’s more controversial conversations with foreign leaders on a need-to-know basis and the Trump Administration is prepared to share any information that they deem to be relevant to their future decision-making process.

While Biden’s team will likely aim to be more transparent, much has changed since many of his senior appointees were in government and the politically charged atmosphere in Washington on the heels of the election has some officials urging caution in the early months—to prevent leaks, and assess the needs and boundaries of sharing sensitive information.

Back-to-back leaks of controversial remarks made by Trump during calls with leaders of Mexico and Australia in the early days of the Trump White House resulted from an unusually loose record-distribution policy, several officials tell CNN, prompting them eventually to resort to the use of a secret server to store records of calls involving leaders of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Ukraine.

When H.R. McMaster took over as Trump’s second national security adviser, a month into the presidency in February 2017, the distribution lists grew smaller, officials told CNN—although a few individuals could still access records from the National Security Council’s traditional computer portal, which handled everything except CIA operational information, one official explained.

White House officials also moved to significantly limit the number of individuals who could listen in on many of Trump’s calls, or who could access the records after those calls were concluded, the people said.

The disclosure last year of a complaint by an unidentified whistleblower revealed concerns among White House officials over all—including the President’s July 2019 discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which triggered the hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

“The fact is too many people probably had access when Trump came into office: In some ways it was good, but in some ways it can also be bad,” one former administration official close to the transition team said. “Given the politically charged environment we’re in right now, it’s probably wise to maintain some control over it, although maybe not in the form of a secret server.”

The official said that basic details pertaining to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, only will be shared if they are relevant to a pending policy or national security matter.

“There’s a lot to cover,” the senior US official said. “We are going to share anything that’s relevant for them to come to grips with reality when the keys are theirs. If there was something like that that’s actually of note… things on the covert side, for example, we will highlight them very quickly.”

Research contact: @CNN

Trump tells associate he’s trying to ‘get back at Dems’ for questioning legitimacy of his own election

November 23, 2020

President Donald Trump has admitted to a confidant that he knows he lost the election, but that he delaying the transition process—and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results— in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, CNN reported on November 19..

The President’s refusal to concede, as CNN has previously said, stems in part from his perceived grievance that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his own presidency by saying Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could have impacted the outcome, people around him have said.

Trump continues to hold a grudge against those who he claims undercut his election by pointing to Russian interference efforts, and he has suggested it is fair game not to recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect, even though Clinton conceded on election night in 2016 and the Trump transition was able to begin immediately.

Trump is also continuing to process the emotional scars of losing to a candidate he repeatedly said during the campaign was an unworthy opponent. He again made no public appearances on Thursday, skipping the first coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in more than six months.

Trump has heard from a multitude of friends and business associates who have been urging him to at least let the transition begin, even if he doesn’t want to concede, another source who is also familiar with the President’s thinking told CNN. His answer: No. You’re wrong. “Absolutely wrong,” according to one source.

“The most important thing we need to keep in mind is that Donald is in a unique position for him,” said Mary Trump, the President’s niece who wrote a damning account of his family life. “He’s never in his life been in a situation that he can’t get out of either through using somebody else’s money, using connections, using power. And not only is he in a unique position, he’s in a position of being a loser, which in my family, certainly, as far as my grandfather was concerned, was the worst possible thing you could be.”

The President, this source said, “doesn’t see” how bad the aftermath of all of this could be for the country, and for democracy itself. As usual, he’s focused on himself—not COVID-19,  or the transition.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump orders advisers to ‘go down fighting’

November 6, 2020

As Election Day turns into election week, Donald Trump has delivered a simple message to his closest political and legal advisers as they began charting a plan to challenge results in several key states: Give them a court fight that “they’ll never forget.”

The president’s remarks, relayed by two people familiar with them, came as election results seemed trending Joe Biden’s way. And for Team Trump, it was meant as a clarion call to use every possible legal resource and bit of political organizing to help re-tip the balance of the scale, The Daily Beast reported.

Trump told his advisers that, even if Biden were to claw the presidency away from him, he wanted them to “go down fighting” harder than they ever had before, one of the sources with direct knowledge said.

Goaded by White House messaging, his base responded:

The Michigan Republican Party did not return a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Trump’s legal team—including George W. Bush campaign veteran Mark “Thor” Hearne—asked a court in Michigan to halt absentee ballot counts because it alleged its observers had not been granted full access to the tally, and were not permitted to watch video footage of “remote and unattended dropboxes.”

It brought a similar suit in Pennsylvania, fighting to stop the tabulation on the grounds that its overseers had not been allowed within 25 feet of the counting effort.

Further, Trump’s lawyers filed to enter an ongoing Supreme Court case, hoping to convince jurists on the highest bench to overturn a state policy that would allow counties to count votes postmarked on Election Day and received as late as Friday. Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney and confidant of Trump’s, is overseeing the Supreme Court effort.

“Lawyer city,” Joe Grogan, formerly a top domestic policy adviser to President Trump, said, describing the situation on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to be really ugly.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

The morning after: Biden captures slim lead—but races too close to call

November 5, 2020

With the presidential election too close to call—and not all mail-in ballots yet counted nationwide—all eyes were focused on Wednesday morning, November 4, on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three northern industrial states that likely will prove crucial in determining who wins the White House, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Indeed, by early Wednesday, neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the Oval Office. And as votes continued to trickle in, it’s possible the American people could be hours or even days away from knowing who will lead their nation.

Michigan and Wisconsin turned the lightest shade of blue on results maps later Wednesday morning, with outstanding vote still to count in those states. The same is true of Nevada. Georgia and North Carolina—states in which Trump is narrowly leading, which also have outstanding votes.

It could be several days before Pennsylvania, where Trump currently leads, finishes counting mail ballots—which are thought to significantly favor Biden.

The Biden campaign is signaling confidence that they will meet the 270 mark in the coming days, but there is simply too much uncertainty at the moment to clearly predict a winner, and the cloud of litigation hangs over the entire proceeding.

Four years after Trump became the first Republican in a generation to capture that trio of “Rust Belt” states, they again are positioned to make or break a presidential election. Trump kept several states he won in 2016 that had seemed wobbly in the final days of the campaign—including Texas, Iowa and Ohio—where the Biden camp made a play.

Trump cried foul over the election results, falsely calling the process “a major fraud on our nation.” But, the Tribune notes, there’s no evidence of foul play in the cliffhanger.

The president had vowed to take the election to the Supreme Court, and received criticism from conservative pundits after making his comments. The Biden campaign said it would fight any such efforts to stop the counting of votes.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

At late-night Miami rally, Trump threatens to boot Fauci ‘after the election’

November 3, 2020

President Trump revealed at a rally early Monday morning that he was leaning toward firing America’s leading infectious disease expert—Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—after Election Day, further escalating the tension as the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States reaches record highs.

His supporters did not seem to have a problem with that plan—chanting, “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” after Trump revealed his intentions. The president listened in silence for a few moments before remarking: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” The New York Times reports.

The president spoke well past midnight at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida at his fifth and final rally of the day. Indeed, his comments about Dr. Fauci  came toward the end of what was a whirlwind day of campaigning across five states — Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida—nd he spoke even as a local curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus took effect at midnight.

 On Friday, more than 99,000 coronavirus infections were reported across the country, a single-day record. Nonetheless, the Times noted, Trump has maintained without citing evidence that the United States has “turned the corner” in fighting the virus, a point he reiterated at the rally early Monday.

That assertion is strongly disputed by Dr. Fauci, who told the The Washington Post in an interview published on October 31 ththe United States “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as it heads into at winter. A White House spokesman later called Dr. Fauci’s comments “unacceptable.”

By contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has said repeatedly that if he were to win the presidency, he is hopeful Dr. Fauci would remain in his role and serve in his administration.

According to the Times, Trump’s quip about Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was part of an hourlong mix of meanspirited jokes, misstatements, hyperbole, self-congratulation, and occasional on-script arguments he made for his re-election.

Mr. Trump has adopted Florida as his home turf, and it is a swing state that he desperately needs to win to open paths to another four-year term. Although he narrowly prevailed there in 2016, polls, including one released November 1 by The New York Times and Siena College, have shown him trailing Mr. Biden in a tight race.

Research contact: @nytimes