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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
BREACH AT THE CAPITOL
Calls for help and warnings of violence were ignored:
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund made six attempts to request officials to deploy the DC National Guard, all of which were rejected or delayed. Two days prior to last Wednesday’s breach of the Capitol, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that DC National Guard troops be put on standby in case of an emergency — however, those officials turned down Sund’s request, Sund told reporters yesterday in his first interview since resigning last week. Sund said his supervisors did not want to call on the Guard, with House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving stating that he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of formally declaring an emergency prior to the demonstration, and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggesting that Sund should informally reach out to his Guard contacts and ask them “lean forward” and be on alert in case help was needed — neither Irving or Stenger have yet commented. The day of the breach, and in fact during the breach, Sund made a further five requests for assistance which seem to have fallen on deaf ears. During riots, Sund joined a call with other DC and Pentagon officials, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt, according to Sund, said that he could not recommend that his senior, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, approve the request: “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt said. By Carol D. Leonnig, Aaron C. Davis, Peter Hermann and Karoun Demirjian report for the Washington Post.
The FBI and New York Police Department (NYPD) officials warned US Capitol Police of the risk of violence on Jan. 6 — the FBI also visited over a dozen extremists already under investigation to stress to them that they should not attempt to travel to the Capitol, senior law enforcement officials have said, which contradicts an earlier statement by a top FBI official who said there was no indication of possible violence. Ken Dilanian, Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst and Andrew Blankstein report for NBC News.
Pressure ramps up for Trump to be removed from office:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pledged yesterday to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump as soon as this week if Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet do not act swiftly in invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power. In a letter to House lawmakers, Pelosi said Democrats will today introduce a resolution calling for Pence to use the Constitution to remove Trump, with votes on the resolution expected tomorrow; if the resolution is approved, Pence will be given 24 hours before impeachment proceedings begin. “We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat,” Mrs. Pelosi said. Some Democrats, however, have expressed reservations about how hard to push in removing Trump, including Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), a Biden ally and House leader, who yesterday proposed that the House should vote on the impeachment this week but should wait a few months before submitting articles of impeachment to the Senate —although many Democrats have voiced frustration at Clyburn’s comments. Felicia Sonmez, Mike DeBonis and Juliet Eilperin report for the Washington Post.
Trump is considering having Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz as his lawyers to defend any potential impeachment proceedings, two sources have said. Dershowitz told POLITICO that it would be his “honor and privilege” to present Trump, although Giuliani has not responded for comment. Jeremy Diamond and Pamela Brown report for CNN.
Last week, around 175 State Department career officials filed a second dissent cable rebuking Trump’s inciting of insurrectionists, calling for his removal from office, according to a Department official who signed the cable. The cable was the second sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week — and was signed predominately by lawyers — condemning Pompeo for his “failure to issue a statement unequivocally acknowledging that President-Elect Biden won the 2020 election” and further protesting the “President’s incitement of insurrectionist violence against the United States.” This cable goes further than the first cable, this time setting out how Trump’s actions undermined U.S. foreign policy and democracy, stressing that Pompeo should support the 25th Amendment being invoked. “To protect our Constitution from the threat posed by this President, we urge Secretary Pompeo to … publicly condemn in the strongest possible terms the role of the President in the assault on democratic values and American democracy” and “support all lawful mechanisms to mitigate ongoing threats to American democracy, including by consulting with Vice President Pence and the other principal officers of the Executive Departments regarding the possible implementation of the procedures provided for in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment,” the cable reads. Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch report for Foreign Policy.
Law enforcement officials are preparing for Inauguration Day:
Law enforcement agencies are bracing for more potential pro-Trump marches in Washington DC and elsewhere, with the Site Intelligence Group, a company why tracks extremist threats online, stating in a report Saturday that a day of armed far-right protests is scheduled for Jan. 17 and has been being planned for weeks, with encouragement for people to come armed. Rachael Levy and Brent Kendall report for the Wall Street Journal.
Pentagon officials are considering whether there is a need to increase the number of National Guard troops to as many as 13,000 for Inauguration Day, according to a defense official with knowledge of the plans. Prior to the Capitol breach, around 7,000 troops were estimated for Jan. 20. Over 6,000 members have already been mobilized following last week’s breach, working 12-hour shifts to police Capitol grounds and work traffic control points in the city. Geneva Sands reports for CNN.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) yesterday asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take additional steps to ensure the Capitol is secured ahead of inauguration day. In a letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, Bowser called for several specific steps to be taken: an extension of the special security period surrounding the inauguration from Jan. 19-21 to Jan. 11-24, the declaration of a pre-disaster zone, and increased coordination between federal law enforcement agencies. John Bowden reports for The Hill.
Military and police officers implicated in mobs:
Commanders at Fort Bragg are reviewing Captain Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s breach after reports indicate she led a group of people from NC to the rally in DC. Rainey has said she acted within military regulations and that she was not among those who broke the law. “I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” Rainey told The Associated Press, after Rainey has been said to have led 100 members of “Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which describes itself online as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative values, to Washington, DC to “stand against election fraud” and support Trump,” reports Al Jazeera.
Two Rocky Mount Police Department officers have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation after the off-duty officers attended Wednesday’s event. The Department said it “supports all lawful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly by its employees,” but it “does not condone the unlawful acts that occurred that day.” Ian Shapira reports for the Washington Post.
The Seattle Police Department also said it had placed two of its officers on administrative leave to investigate whether they had any involvement in the violence that ensued. “If any SPD officers were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I will immediately terminate them,” the department’s interim chief, Adrian Diaz, said in a statement. Also, the New York City Fire Department received “anonymous allegations” that some of its members were present on Wednesday and so have provided the FBI with information; the Sanford Fire Department in Florida has also placed one of its firefighters on administration leave after a photo and video emerged that suggested he was with the mobs. Maria Caspani reports for Reuters.
Among those arrested:
At least 25 domestic terrorism cases have been opened, according to Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), who said on Twitter that Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy had confirmed the investigations during a call. Crow posted his notes of the call: “[McCarthy] indicated that the (Defense Department) is aware of further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day and is working with local and federal law enforcement to coordinate security preparations,” the note read. The note also states that the Defense Department had made numerous offers to provide assistance to Washington D.C. officers but that the Department “repeatedly were told no additional resources needed.” Marina Pitofsky reports for The Hill.
Federal authorities have arrested two rioters — Eric Gavelek Munchel of Tennessee and Larry Rendell Brock of Texas, a retired Air Force Reserve officer — seen carrying zip tie-style restraints and wearing tactical gear at last week’s events, the Justice Department confirmed. Spencer S. Hsu, Meryl Kornfield, Paulina Villegas and Dan Lamothe report for the Washington Post.
Records show that the “insurrectionist mob that showed up at the president’s behest and stormed the U.S. Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, members of the military and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals,” reports AP.
Corporates suspend financial support:
Goldman Sachs Inc. JP Morgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc. have said they are suspending or reviewing all their political action committee (PAC) donations to Republicans and Democrats following last week’s riots. Bloomberg reporting.
Also, insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Marriott International Inc. and Commerce Bank have said their PAC will be suspending all donations to Republican lawmakers who voted against the Electoral College vote certifying Biden’s victory. Todd C. Frankel and Jeff Stein report for the Washington Post.
“Stripe Inc. will no longer process payments for President Trump’s campaign website following last week’s riot at the Capitol, according to people familiar with the matter,” report AnnaMaria Andriotis, Peter Rudegeair and Emily Glazer for the Wall Street Journal.
A second US Capitol officer has died over the weekend, US Capitol police confirmed in a statement yesterday, which said it did not link officer Howard Liebengood’s death while off duty to Wednesday’s events. “The United States Capitol Police is deeply saddened by the off-duty death on January 9, 2021, of Officer Howard Liebengood,” the agency said. “He was assigned to the Senate Division, and has been with the Department since April 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.” The statement did not confirm the cause of death, but law enforcement officials told The Post that the cause of death was suicide. Allison Klein and Rebecca Tan report for the Washington Post.
Lawmakers who huddled together for safety last week may have been exposed to Covid-19 by someone who also in the room and infected with the virus, the Office of the Attending Physician warned yesterday. Paulina Firozi, Amy B Wang and Mike DeBonis report for the Washington Post.
Over 5,000 law school alumni and students from Harvard and Yalye have signed a petition calling for the disbarment of Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) over what it argues were “efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election.” Valerie Strauss reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER US DEVELOPMENTS
President-elect Joe Biden’s new Cabinet is at risk of not having one official confirmed on Inauguration Day: delays in Congress — stemming primarily from last week’s runoff elections in Georgia for Senate seats and the complex procedures needed to get the new chamber started — have raised concern’s for Biden’s top advisers who have put in place contingency plans in case Biden’s picks are unable to secure Senate support by Jan. 20: plans are in motion to install acting secretaries in most, if not all, Cabinet posts. “The American people rightfully expect the Senate to confirm his crisis-tested, qualified, history-making cabinet nominees as quickly as possible,” Ned Price, the national security spokesperson for the Biden transition team, said in a statement. “With so much at stake, we can’t afford to waste any time when it comes to leading the response to the deadly coronavirus crisis, putting Americans back to work, and protecting our national security.” Paul Kane, Karoun Demirjian and Anne Gearan report for the Washington Post.
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have ramped up efforts for a last-minute pardon by President Trump, signing a pro bono contract with lobbyist Robert Stryk, who has links to the president, in an effort to help with pushing forward the pardon. The contract, which was apparently revealed to the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, states that Stryk’s company, Stryk Global Diplomacy, will “facilitate meetings and interactions with the president and the president-elect’s administrations” to “obtain a full pardon” for Assange. Also, a filed a petition for pardon was sent to the White House Counsel’s Office last month, Assange’s Washington-bases lawyer, Barry Pollack, confirmed. Kenneth P. Vogel reports for the New York Times.
The Statement Department intends to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist organization, Secretary of state Mike Pompeo confirmed in a press statement yesterday, taking effect on Jan. 20, with senior rebel figures dismissing the announcement. AP reporting.
Pompeo also lifted restrictions on US diplomats’ contacts with Taiwanese officials, stating that for several decades the United States has “created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, servicemembers, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts.” “The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing,” Pomepo said. “No more.” Al Jazeera reporting.
China today condemned US plans to lift restrictions on Taiwan. Yew Lun Tian and Yimou Lee report for Reuters.
The US yesterday started a “process of establishing” a consulate in the contested Western Sahara, following news in recent months that the US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the region in exchange for North African nation normalizing ties with Israel. U.S. Ambassador to Morocco David T. Fischer visited the port of Dakhla yesterday, where a ceremony took place which represented the first formal step to opening the consulate. AP reporting.
The novel coronavirus has infected over 22.41 million and now killed over 374,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 90.367 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 1.936 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
China has finally agreed to allow a group of World Health Organization experts into the country to investigate the origins of the coronavirus. Chun Han Wong reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the US is available at the New York Times.
US and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at The Guardian.
“A South Korean diplomatic delegation arrived in Iran on Sunday to negotiate the release of a vessel and its crew seized by Iranian forces amid an escalating financial dispute between the countries, Iranian state-run media reported.” AP reporting.
Ethiopia’s military has stated it has killed 15 members of the Tigray region’s former ruling party, capturing eight others. Reuters reporting.