Security Measures Spur Angry Exchange in House: Inaugural Update
(Bloomberg) -- Metal detectors at entry to House floor spark complaints by lawmakers. President Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff says it would be uncharacteristic for him to appeal to the nation for calm. Florida’s governor said he’d react quickly if FBI warnings of violence at state capitols actually takes place.
There are eight days until Joe Biden’s inauguration.
House Security Restrictions Spur Angry Exchange
Lawmakers came back to the Capitol less that a week after the building was stormed by an angry mob with rising anxieties and with some chaffing at new security restrictions that forced them through metal detectors to enter the House floor.
The devices were stationed outside three entrances, causing long lines and some delays as members used to walking freely into and out of the chamber had to take phones out of their pockets and pass inspection.
“You guys know the threat is not on the interior side of the building,” said Representative Rodney Davis, a Republican of Illinois, in an intense exchange with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “You’re taking valuable resources completely away from where it needs to be and you guys did it without any consultation from the minority.”
Democrats were quick to point out the fact that many Americans have to go through metal detectors to get into school and work. And they said that Republicans brought the new restrictions on themselves by supporting Trump despite his inflammatory rhetoric.
“Now they know how HS students in my district feel,” said Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat of Michigan. “Suck it up buttercups. Y’all brought this on yourselves.” -- Dan Flatley
Kelly Says Trump Unlikely to Make Appeal to Nation (7:54 p.m.)
Trump should respond to last week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol and the risk of further violence by making a direct national television address – but that isn’t who he is, the president’s former chief of staff says.
“You have to understand the man: He does not ever, ever, ever want to appear weak or that he might have been wrong,” said John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps. general who also was Homeland Security secretary under Trump.
Good leaders are willing to admit when they’ve made mistakes, but Trump “doesn’t have ability to do that, so his kind of manhood is at issue here,” Kelly said during an appearance at the Land Investment Expo in Iowa on Tuesday. “I don’t understand it, but I used to have to deal with it every day.” -- Mark Niquette
Florida’s DeSantis Vows Fast Response to Any Violence (5:50 p.m.)
Florida is prepared if FBI warnings about violent protests at state capitols prove correct, Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference in The Villages, a retirement community in the central part of the state.
“If anything is disorderly, we’re going to act very quickly. Don’t worry about that,” the Republican governor said. “I don’t care why you’re doing it, you’re not doing it here. If there’s any type of disorder, we will have the reinforcements there. If you riot, you are going to jail.”
DeSantis praised efforts to identify and arrest rioters involved in last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, though he stopped short of criticizing President Donald Trump.
“Those people who took it to the violent level, they need to be held accountable,” DeSantis said. “It’s just not acceptable to do that. It was really, really a sad thing to see.” -- Jennifer Kay
Top Military Leaders Warn Troops About Joining in Riots (5:05 p.m.)
The heads of the nation’s military branches released a letter Tuesday reminding servicemembers not to participate in riots.
Amid reports that active-duty military personnel may have been at the rally before the assault on the Capitol last week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent out a memo calling the riot a “direct assault” on the Constitution.
“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,” they wrote. “Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.”
Fort Bragg officials are reviewing an Army officer’s claim that she was at the rally -- which would be allowed as a political event -- but not the storming of the Capitol. Other military services are reviewing whether any active-duty members participated in the riot.
Portman Calls on Trump to Tell Supporters to Stay Calm (4:27 p.m.)
Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman called on the president to give a speech urging his supporters to avoid violence during the inauguration of Joe Biden.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the lawmaker asked Trump to address the nation and “explicitly urge his supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence.”
“If our nation experiences additional violence and destruction at the hands of his supporters in Washington, D.C. and state capitols around the country, and he does not directly and unambiguously speak out now when threats are known, he will bear responsibility,” he said.
Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine, meanwhile, announced that he is calling up 580 members of the state National Guard to assist with security at the inauguration.
Justice Department May Charge Capitol Rioters With Sedition (3:48 p.m.)
The Justice Department is considering bringing sedition or conspiracy charges against people who rioted at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” said Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. “We’re going to focus on the most significant charges as a deterrent.”
If found guilty, the rioters could face prison terms of up to 20 years, Sherwin said.
The department has established a strike force to look at sedition charges and the FBI is trying to determine if there was a “command and control” structure that helped organize and lead the riots, Sherwin said.
Federal investigators are scrubbing travel and financial records of suspects, Sherwin said. The FBI has also received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media. -- Chris Strohm
Illinois Man Arrested For Threatening to Kill Democrats (3:28 p.m.)
An Illinois man was arrested for threatening to kill Democrats during the inauguration next week, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.
Louis Capriotti, 45, is charged with transmitting threats on a voicemail message, the department said. He may be the first individual who has been arrested for threatening violence in the coming days, as opposed to carrying out violence during the riot at the Capitol last week.
Capriotti allegedly left a voicemail for a House lawmaker on Dec. 29 saying “we will surround” the White House and kill any Democrats that step on its lawn, according to the department. -- Chris Strohm
Schumer Calls for Capitol Rioters to Be Barred From Flights (2:49)
Schumer is calling for people who participated in the riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to be placed on the federal no-fly list that is used to bar terrorists from travel on commercial jetliners.
“The insurrectionists who breached the U.S. Capitol fall under the definition of threats to the homeland and should be immediately added,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a press conference in his home state on Tuesday.
The chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has issued similar calls.
The American Civil Liberties Union objected to expanding the list, saying minorities -- especially Muslims -- have been unfairly targeted in the past.
“Doubling down on it now will simply further entrench an error-prone and unconstitutional system that will continue to be used unfairly against people of color,” Manar Waheed, ACLU’s senior legislative and advocacy counsel, said in a statement.
The no-fly list, implemented in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, broadly prohibits people from flying in the U.S. It is managed by multiple intelligence and law enforcement agencies. -- Keith Laing, Alan Levin
Leahy Says Hawley, Cruz Should Not Be On Judiciary Committee (1:47 p.m.)
Two senators who backed Trump’s efforts to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden should lose their seats on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat on the panel, said.
The Vermont senator said he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to be on the Judiciary Committee after they took such active roles to overturn election results.
“The fact that both of them wanted to subvert the will of the people, wanted to tell the whole world and the United States, that we did not have an honest election. I cannot imagine any senator doing that and then serving on Judiciary,” Leahy told reporters.
Leahy’s comments reflect a growing backlash against both senators, who led Senate objections to the Electoral College vote count for two states that Biden won. Both senators also were among the Republicans who voted to reject the certified results from Arizona and Pennsylvania, even after pro-Trump supporters tore through the Capitol after being egged on by Trump. The objections failed in the Senate before also being rejected in the House.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse suggested Monday that Hawley, Cruz and Republican Senator Ron Johnson should be kicked off any committees that might consider a Trump impeachment due to a conflict of interest.
Whitehouse also said the Senate Ethics Committee should consider censuring or even expelling the three senators from the Senate. -- Laura Litvan
Lawmakers Reminded They Can Buy Bulletproof Vests (1:02 p.m.)
Members of Congress were reminded Tuesday they can be reimbursed for bulletproof vests, another sign of rising anxiety over security in the wake of the mob attack on the Capitol last week.
An official with House Administration Committee, which handles logistical matters, sent the email informing House members existing rules allow them to use their office budgets to purchase body armor approved by House security officials.
Members also can use office funds to hire private security details to protect their district offices or accompany them on official duties. Former Representative Gabby Giffords of Arizona was shot during a constituent meeting in 2011.
The memo added that they also can also ask landlords of their district offices to add security features such as bulletproof glass and incorporate the expense in monthly rent payments.
The Capitol Police provides 24-hour security details for congressional leaders but most members don’t have government personal security teams. -- Mike Dorning
Jordan Won’t Say Biden Won Election Fairly (12:23 p.m.)
Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who voted to object to Electoral College results from Arizona and Pennsylvania last week and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday, refused to say that Biden won the election “fair and square.”
When asked on Tuesday by House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, a Democrat, if he would “admit that Joe Biden won the election fair and square and the election was not rigged or stolen,” Jordan stated Biden became the president-elect on Wednesday when the votes were certified, but added that he still had issues with the election.
“If we want to talk about healing, we have to talk about truth and if we want to talk about healing then we have to deal with the issue of accountability and what this president did last Wednesday was inexcusable and intolerable,” McGovern said after Jordan skirted the question. “I am stunned that after all that has happened that we can’t get a definitive answer.”
Jordan conceded that Biden had won the election but reiterated he believed there were issues with the way it was conducted. -- Emma Kinery
Biden Inauguration Committee Sells Party Favors (11:59 a.m.)
Biden supporters can now buy party favors as they prepare to watch the 46th president be inaugurated next week.
Along with the usual commemorative coins and plates, the committee is selling a “Deluxe Inauguration Party Box” with champagne flutes, a “46” face mask, rally signs that say “USA” and “UNITY” and “JOE” and “KAMALA,” buttons, confetti and balloons.
Also included in the $105 box: “Fun cardboard cutouts of Joe, Kamala and the Capitol Building.”
Other trinkets for sale include a $95 “boardroom coaster” set, a magnet that promises “A Presidency for All Americans,” cuff links and a fanny pack. Supporters can also buy a $155 recycled cotton blanket and a pale blue baseball cap that says “Kamala” on it.
Michigan Capitol Not Safe, Attorney General Says (11:22 a.m.)
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Twitter Tuesday that the state Capitol in Lansing is not safe.
Referring to a new rule passed by the State Capitol Commission that bans the carrying of open firearms on government property, Nessel pointed out that people are still allowed to carry concealed weapons if they have a license.
“That means anyone -- irrespective of criminal history, membership with an anti-government org, or stated intention to harm government employees -- can still enter the Capitol fully locked and loaded with firearms or explosive devices hidden by clothing, backpacks,” Nessel wrote.
The state is particularly sensitive to the prospect of violence following the riots last week in Washington. The FBI issued a warning Monday that there are plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals beginning on Jan. 16 and at the U.S. Capitol starting on Jan. 17.
In May, Michigan canceled a legislative session because of armed protesters. In October, federal authorities foiled a plot by extremists to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat whose lockdown policies during the Covid-19 pandemic have enraged Republicans and their far-right supporters. -- David Welch
‘We Want No Violence,’ Trump Says (11:06 a.m.)
In his first remarks to reporters since the U.S. Capitol was stormed last Wednesday, Trump said he does not want any violence at protests by his supporters.
“We want no violence,” he said. “Never violence.”
Trump has not spoken to reporters since before Wednesday’s mob stormed the Capitol following a rally in which he expressed his anger over the November election outcome. He spoke Tuesday ahead of a trip to Alamo, Texas, to visit a border wall, part of an effort to highlight his achievements in his remaining days in office.
He did not take questions, but he addressed the efforts by the Democratic-led House of Representatives to impeach him for inciting last week’s deadly riots, calling it “absolutely ridiculous” and a “terrible thing.” -- Justin Sink
Pompeo Says History Will Reflect Trump’s ‘Good Work’ (8:48 a.m.)
Pompeo predicted that Trump’s legacy will not be defined by the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol incited by the president in a bid to overturn his loss in the November election.
“History will reflect on the good work that this president and our administration has done,” Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview on the conservative Hugh Hewitt Show. “Those actions -- the actual things that happened -- will be reflected in a way that shows there was good work done on behalf of the American people.”
Trump’s role in instigating a mob of his supporters to march on the Capitol triggered a major backlash from Republicans and Democrats in Congress as well as major corporations. Two cabinet secretaries resigned, citing the violence at the Capitol. But Pompeo and other top national security officials intend to remain in their jobs for the final week of Trump’s term.
“Look, what happened Wednesday was terrible. And I have said repeatedly that those folks who engaged in this activity need to be identified, prosecuted and they are criminals and ought to be treated as such,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo did not criticize Trump for his role in encouraging his supporters to march on the Capitol. -- Jordan Fabian
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