Posts tagged with "Vice President Mike Pence"

Capitol rioters intended to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials, court filing says

January 18, 2021

Federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on January 14, saying in a court filing that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officialsn” The Huffington Post and Reuters reported.

Prosecutors offered that view in a filing asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley—the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was famously photographed wearing horns as he stood at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence in the chamber of the U.S. Senate.

The detention memo, written by Justice Department lawyers in Arizona, goes into greater detail about the FBI’s investigation into Chansley—revealing that he left a note for Pence warning that “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

“Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government,” prosecutors wrote.

A public defender representing Chansley could not be immediately reached for comment. Chansley is due to appear in federal court on Friday.

According to the HuffPost, the prosecutors’ assessment comes as prosecutors and federal agents have begun bringing more serious charges tied to violence at the Capitol, including revealing cases Thursday against one man, retired firefighter Robert Sanford, on charges that he hurled a fire extinguisher at the head of one police officer and another, Peter Stager, of beating a different officer with a pole bearing an American flag.

In Chansley’s case, prosecutors said the charges “involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government,” and warned that “the insurrection is still in progress” as law enforcement prepares for more demonstrations in Washington and state capitals.

They also suggested he suffers from drug abuse and mental illness, and told the judge he poses a serious flight risk.

“Chansley has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality,” they wrote.

The Justice Department has brought more than 80 criminal cases in connection with the violent riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, in which Trump’s supporters stormed the building, ransacked offices and in some cases, attacked police.

Many of the people charged so far were easily tracked down by the FBI, which has more than 200 suspects, thanks in large part to videos and photos posted on social media.

Michael Sherwin, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, has said that while many of the initial charges may seem minor, he expects much more serious charges to be filed as the Justice Department continues its investigation.

Research contact: @HuffPost

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

Democrats look to impeachment as Pence demurs at invoking 25th Amendment

January 11, 2021

Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts , the assistant speaker of the House, told The New York Times on January 8 that Democrats could vote on impeachment by the middle of next week—just seven days ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as POTUS.

Democrats plunged forward on Friday with plans to impeach President Trump over his role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol, picking up some potential Republican support to move as early as next week to try to force Trump from office just as his term is drawing to a close.

Clark, the No. 4 Democrat, said that if Vice President Mike Pence would not invoke the 25th Amendment to forcibly relieve Trump of his duties, Democrats were prepared to act by the middle of next week to impeach him for a second time. Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to gather Democrats by telephone at noon to discuss the effort.

According to the Times, they were rushing to begin the expedited proceeding two days after the president rallied his supporters near the White House, urging them to go to the Capitol to protest his election defeat; then continuing to stoke their grievances as they stormed the edifice— with Pence and the entire Congress meeting inside to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory— in a rampage that left five dead.

“If the reports are correct and Mike Pence is not going to uphold his oath of office and remove the president and help protect our democracy, then we will move forward with impeachment to do just that,”  Clark said in an interview on CNN.

The prospect of forcing Trump from office in less than two weeks appeared remote given the logistical and political challenges involved, the Times said—given that a two-thirds majority in the Senate would be required. But the push unfolded amid a sense of national crisis following the Capitol siege, as White House resignations piled up and some Republicans appeared newly open to the possibility, which could also disqualify Trump from holding political office in the future.

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, said he would “definitely consider whatever articles they might move, because I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office.”

“He sworn an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — he acted against that,” Sasse said on CBS. “What he did was wicked.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Schumer urges Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to oust Trump from office

January 8, 2021

After Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on January 6 in an insurrection that was openly incited by the president in hopes of overturning the November 3 election results, federal legislators began calling for his immediate removal, MSN reports.

“This president must not hold office one day longer,” tweeted presumptive Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), adding, “The quickest and most effective way—it can be done today—to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump.”

Indeed, the events Wednesday “stunned the nation and the world,” MSN said, noting, “People watched in disbelief as a swarm of Trump supporters overran police, breached the Capitol building. and ransacked it.” Four people died during the assault, which followed a speech by Trump at a DC-based rally.

During the rally, Trump repeated his false claims that the presidential election—which he lost to Joe Biden by 7 million votes—was “stolen” from him. He spoke to the crowd, encouraging them to march to the building and saying, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness; you have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

But can he be removed from office immediately? Under a provision of the 25th Amendment, the vice president can, with the support of the majority of the president’s cabinet, invoke the the measure and declare Trump unfit for office, which could lead to his early removal.

Under such a scenario, NBC News reports, the vice president would immediately take over as acting president.

Earlier Thursday, Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), called for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, becoming the first Republican to do so.

In an interview with MSNBC, Kinzinger, slammed Trump as “unmoored, not just from his duty, or even his oath, but from reality itself” and said Pence, and the rest of Trump’s cabinet, needed to invoke the measure “to end this nightmare.”

“The president is unfit and the president is unwell. And the president must now relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Representatives David Cicilline, of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu, of California and Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, circulated articles of impeachment against Trump on Thursday.

The legislation accuses Trump of “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States” and having “gravely endangered the security of the United States,” which they added, “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”

Research contact: @MSN

Trump to Pence: Nice career, shame if something happened to it

January 6, 2021

At his rally on the eve of the Georgia runoff election, President Donald Trump took out his frustration on his now familiar comfort piñatas—Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, the U.S. Supreme Court, and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) of all stripes—as he struggled to cope with his loss in the 2020 election, The Daily Beast reports.

But on the stage on Monday night in Dalton, Georgia, he added a new one: Vice President Mike Pence.

 “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” said Trump, in front of a cheering throng of supporters. “If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”

The ostensible purpose of Trump’s trip to Georgia was to boost the chances of Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) and David Perdue (R-Georgia) as they fight to hold their Senate seats—and the GOP’s Senate majority—in Tuesday’s run-off election; and not to issue a veiled threat to the vice president to somehow block the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday in the Senate.

But it was just one moment out of many during a lengthy speech in which the outgoing president delivered his perfunctory lines supporting the GOP senators, but buried them within winding tirades in which he surfaced new lies and old conspiracies about the 2020 election. The focus, as ever, was on him and the election that just passed, not on the pair of GOP senators facing a hugely consequential election that looms on Tuesday, The Daily Beast noted.

The president used his perch in Dalton—possibly his last major political rally before leaving office—to solidify his list of enemies in front of his most dedicated supporters. After openly encouraging a primary challenge to Kemp, his former ally who has declined to overthrow Georgia’s election results, at a rally last month, Trump vowed on Monday to personally campaign against Kemp when he faces re-election next year.

“I’ll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor,” said Trump. “I guarantee that.”

The nation’s high court was also booed and jeered at the rally, for not entertaining Team Trump’s failed legal effort to overturn the 2020 election. “I’m not happy with the Supreme Court,” complained Trump. “They’re not stepping up to the plate.”

The president also hinted at some future targets of his ire—some of whom were sitting in the crowd. On two occasions, Trump expressed his frustration that Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has been campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue in Georgia and was in Dalton, did not sign on to a doomed effort from GOP senators to block Biden’s Electoral College victory. On Monday, Lee circulated a letter among senators opposing that effort.

“I’m a little angry at you today,” Trump to Lee from the stage.

Pence is said to be struggling between his loyalties to the U.S. Constitution and to the current U.S. president. Sources say that the vice president plans to leave town immediately after he leaves the hill on Wednesday.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

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

Ex-Pence aide blasts Trump over COVID response, says she’ll vote for Biden

September 21, 2020

In a two-minute video spot released by the group Republican Voters Against Trump on September 17 and posted on YouTube— a former senior adviser and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force lambasted President Donald Trump as a stonewalling, capricious leader with more concern for his reelection than the pandemic—and said she would be voting for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in November.

Olivia Troye, a lifelong Republican who worked as an adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security to Vice President Mike Pence before leaving the administration in August, appeared in an ad in which she shared damning anecdotes that portrayed Trump as a debilitating actor in the administration’s efforts to contain the virus, Politico reports. She said Trump was dismissive toward the task force’s efforts to prepare for the outbreak from early in the year, before the virus had made heavy inroads into the United States.

“It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything’s OK when we know that it’s not,” Troye said. “He doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.”

Troye also asserted that Trump said during a meeting: “Maybe this COVID thing’s a good thing. I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.”

That remark, Troye said, encapsulated the president’s flippant attitude toward a pandemic that has since claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.

The Washington Post first reported Troye’s frustrations with her previous role.

The White House promptly rebuffed the allegations, using its frequent defense against personnel-turned-critics by saying that Troye was a disgruntled and vindictive ex-staffer. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Thursday night a letter by Troye after her departure from the White House. It praised the task force’s work combating the disease.

“I have witnessed firsthand how dedicated and committed all of you have been to doing the right thing,” the letter said.

But Troye’s criticisms were directed at the president specifically, not the administration. In the ad, she said working with the task force was the “opportunity and honor of a lifetime.”

“I put my heart and soul into this role every single day,” she said in the ad. “But at some points I would come home at night, I would look myself in the mirror and say, are you really making a difference? Because no matter how hard you work or what you do, the president is going to do something detrimental to keeping Americans safe.”

Her letter likewise praised her colleagues and her work with Pence, but did not mention Trump.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday evening before departing for a campaign rally in Wisconsin, Trump said that “I have no idea who she is.” He then said Troye was dismissed from her post and “then she wrote a beautiful letter.”

According to Politico, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows later told reporters aboard Air Force One: “It’s the swamp fighting back. It’s, generally speaking, disgruntled employees.”

Asked by a reporter what Troye was disgruntled about and whether she was fired, Meadows responded, “I can’t speak to personnel matters.”

As of Friday afternoon, September 18, the YouTube video already had garnered almost 640,000 views.

Research contact: @politico

With Trump oblivious to COVID crisis, GOP begins to break ranks

July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump continues to press for a quick return to life as usual, but Republicans who fear a rampaging disease and angry voters are increasingly going their own way, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the Times notes, both the president’s “failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and his refusal to promote clear public-health guidelines have left many senior Republicans despairing that he will ever play a constructive role in addressing the crisis”—with some concluding that they must work around Trump and ignore or even contradict his pronouncements.

In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the GOP outside the White House have broken with the Denier-in-Chief over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public.

In addition , they have been acknowledging the importance of heeding the advice of health experts, such as  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., whom the president and other hard-right figures within the Administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.

According to the Times, they appear to be spurred by several overlapping forces— including deteriorating conditions in their own states, the president’s seeming indifference to the problem; and the approach of a presidential election in which Trump is badly lagging his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in the polls.

Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to the president’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.

 “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said of the pandemic. He noted that Abbott, a Republican, directs his requests to Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who regularly updated the public during the spring until the president  upstaged them with his own briefing-room monologues. And in his home state of Kentucky last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, broke with Trump on nearly every major issue related to the virus, the Times reports.

McConnell stressed the importance of mask-wearing, expressed “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci and urged Americans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Trump has ignored or dismissed.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is: This is not going away until we get a vaccine,” McConnell said on Wednesday, July 15, contradicting Trump’s rosy predictions that the virus “will just go away.”

The emerging rifts in Trump’s party have been slow to develop, but they have rapidly deepened since a new surge in coronavirus cases began to sweep the country last month.

In the final days of June, the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with the vice president  and urged the Administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus. Herbert said it would help states like his own if Trump and Pence were to encourage mask-wearing on a national scale, according to a recording of the call.

“As a responsible citizen, if you care about your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, let us show the respect necessary by wearing a mask,” Mr. Herbert said, offering language

Pence said the suggestion was “duly noted” and said that mask-wearing would be a “very consistent message” from the Administration.

But no such appeal was ever forthcoming from Trump, who asserted afterward that he would never advocate a national policy on mask-wearing or shutdowns.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, rejected criticisms of Trump’s lack of a hands-on approach. “Any suggestion that the president is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development, and rebuild our economy is utterly false,” Deere said in a statement.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump calls Michael Flynn ‘a hero’ after DOJ drops charges

May 11, 2020

Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may now be free and clear of the federal charges to which he pleaded guilty in December 2017—and President Donald Trump is a happy man.

After Barr’s Department of Justice dropped charges on May 7, Trump—who has said that he would be open to bringing Flynn back to the White House—showered praise on his former aide, calling him “an innocent man,” “a great gentleman” and “a hero,” according to a report by Forbes.

Indeed, the president has been a strong supporter of Flynn throughout the three years that the case against him has been on the books : In February 2017, after just weeks on the job, Flynn was (reluctantly) fired from his post at the White House after he gave false statements about his relationship with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, FBI investigators, White House aides, and the media.

Flynn admitted to talks with the ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, during which he had promised to ease Russian sanctions instituted by the Obama administration, the news outlet noted. In pleading guilty, Flynn said “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right …. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Nevertheless, after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI (and others in the administration) about Russian contacts, Trump celebrated the news and launched into a rant about the Justice Department under President Barack Obama—saying the department’s investigation into Flynn was treasonous, Forbes reports.

Treason, which carries a penalty of death, has a strict definition: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere.”

However, Forbes said, Trump hurled insults at the former administration, calling them “dishonest crooked people” and “human scum,” while also claiming the media is “very complicit” and that people who won Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting are “not journalists, they’re thieves.”

Indeed, according to Forbes, Trump and Flynn’s team have latched on to newly unsealed documents that they claim showcase corruption in Flynn’s charging. Handwritten notes from the FBI detail how they will conduct an interview with Flynn in 2017. “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ and have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] and he admits it, document for DOJ and let them decide how to address it.”

The notes also say, “If we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games ….We regularly show subjects evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing. I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

What will happen next? Judge Emmet Sullivan, the presiding judge on the case, is no pushover. While the DOJ has dismissed its charges, Sullivan knows that Flynn pleaded guilty—and may be unlikely to let him off so easily. He is also is not likely to introduce the equivocal and inconclusive new documents at this juncture.

Stay tuned.

Research contact: @Forbes

Pelosi: Trump told Russia about ISIS raid before informing leaders of Congress

October  29, 2019

To whom does the U.S. president owe fealty—the U.S. Congress or the Russian Politburo? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) revealed on October 28 that President Donald Trump told Russian leaders before he informed senior members of Congress about the U.S. military raid that ended in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the commander of ISIS.

“The House must be briefed on this raid—which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance—and on the Administration’s overall strategy in the region,” she said in a statement responding to the Saturday night operation. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from

According to a report by the Huffington Post, on Sunday morning, Trump announced in a press conference that Baghdadi died in northern Syria after being chased into a dead-end tunnel with three of his children. The four were killed by a suicide vest he detonated.

But according to Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), Trump never gave him or other members of the “Gang of Eight”―a bipartisan group of lawmakers comprising the most senior members of Congress, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York)―a tip-off beforehand.

Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, is prosecuting the impeachment inquiry.

Although Schiff praised the accomplishment, according to the HuffPost, he noted that communicating such developments with lawmakers is key in the event that complications arise.

“Had this escalated, had something gone wrong, had we gotten into a firefight with the Russians, it’s to the administration’s advantage to be able to say ‘we informed Congress,’” he said.

Trump acknowledged to reporters that he notified only “some” congressional leaders because he “wanted to make sure [the raid was] kept secret” because “Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before.”

The president said he contacted Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina)—who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee—and his own chief apologist Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) before his announcement.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s handling of the matter, and avoided answering host Chris Wallace’s queries about why Pelosi was not given a heads-up, the Huffington Post said.

Presented with the question repeatedly, Pence refused to offer a direct response, focusing only on the military feat.

Research contact: @HuffPost