DEVELOPING | FBI screens troops ahead of inauguration, no evidence of murder plot in Capitol attack

 Members of the National Guard gather outside the US Capitol. (Stefani Reynolds, Getty Images via AFP)
Members of the National Guard gather outside the US Capitol. (Stefani Reynolds, Getty Images via AFP)
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1h ago

Isolated, facing an impeachment trial, Trump dedicating his last days to spoiling Biden's inauguration

President Donald Trump seems determined to be the center of attention in his final few days in office.

Trump is boycotting Joe Biden's inauguration, which will be held under unprecedented security following the Capitol riot.

Instead, he plans to fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he is expected to land just ahead of Biden's inauguration ceremony, a photo-op likely to drag attention away from Biden in real time. 

<p><strong>Isolated, facing an impeachment trial, Trump dedicating his last days to spoiling Biden's inauguration</strong></p><p><em>President Donald Trump seems determined to be the center of attention in his final few days in office.</em></p><p>Trump is boycotting Joe Biden's inauguration, which will be held under unprecedented security following the Capitol riot.</p><p>Instead, he plans to fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he is expected to land just ahead of Biden's inauguration ceremony, a photo-op likely to drag attention away from Biden in real time.&nbsp;<em></em><strong></strong></p>
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2h ago

Trump plans to issue 100 pardons and commutations on his final day in office

President Donald Trump plans to pardon or commute the sentences of 100 people on his last day in the White House, CNN reported.

A list of names was drawn up by Trump on Sunday during a meeting with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and a number of other aides, The Washington Post reported. 

<p><strong>Trump plans to issue 100 pardons and commutations on his final day in office</strong></p><p><em>President Donald Trump plans to pardon or commute the sentences of 100 people on his last day in the White House, CNN reported.</em></p><p>A list of names was drawn up by Trump on Sunday during a meeting with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and a number of other aides,&nbsp;The Washington Post reported.&nbsp;<em></em><strong></strong></p>

7h ago

FBI investigating whether a woman stole a laptop from Pelosi's office to sell it to Russia

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating whether a Pennsylvania woman stole a laptop from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's Capitol siege to sell it to Russia, a new affidavit said. 

The affidavit, which is part of the criminal case against Riley June Williams, said in the days after the siege the FBI received calls from an individual who claimed to be a former romantic partner of Williams.

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9h ago

FBI screens US troops ahead of Biden inauguration

Washington – US law enforcement agencies are screening National Guard members to make sure they do not pose a security risk during president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, a four-star general said in comments broadcast on Sunday.

Following the 6 January riots at the Capitol building in support of outgoing President Donald Trump, it emerged that some of those involved had current or former ties to the military.

General Daniel Hokanson, who heads the National Guard Bureau, was asked by CBS News on Sunday if troops were being checked as they arrived in Washington.

"In coordination with the Secret Service and the FBI, they're screening all the personnel that are coming in," Hokanson said.

Much of Washington resembles a fortified compound in a war zone, with most of the downtown area blocked off, security fences topped by razor wire and about 25 000 National Guard troops deployed to the capital.

In a recent letter to all US troops, the Joint Chiefs of Staff told service members the 6 January riots were "inconsistent with the rule of law" and said troops "must embody the values and ideals of the nation".

 - AFP

17 January 11:04

No evidence of murder plot in Capitol attack - US Justice

Washington – US Justice Department investigators say they have not found any evidence yet that the rioters who ransacked the US Capitol last week intended to capture and kill any lawmakers.

In an Arizona court filing on Friday in the case of Jacob Chansley, federal prosecutors took back an earlier assertion that supporters of President Donald Trump planned to "capture and assassinate elected officials" in the 6 January siege of the US legislature.

The claim was made in arguments to prevent the court from granting bail to Chansley, aka Jake Angeli, seen worldwide in photographs bare-shirted, wearing a horned headdress and carrying a spear inside the Capitol.

But on Friday, the Arizona prosecutors withdrew that claim as the Justice Department said that, despite calls during the attack to capture certain lawmakers and to kill Vice President Mike Pence, no evidence had been found yet to support any serious effort to do so.

"There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination," Michael Sherwin, the federal district attorney for Washington DC who is overseeing the investigation of the Capitol attack, told reporters on Friday.

Nevertheless, the US Capitol remained on heavy lockdown on Saturday ahead of the 20 January inauguration of Joe Biden as president, with security officials worried of potentially violent attacks on the event.

 - AFP

15 January 19:25

Pelosi tasks general with security review after US Capitol riot

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that a retired general who coordinated the Hurricane Katrina response will oversee an immediate security review following last week's deadly riot at the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

"We must subject this whole complex to scrutiny in light of what happened, and the fact that the inauguration is coming," the top Democrat told reporters, referring to the swearing-in of Joe Biden as the 46th president next Wednesday on the steps of the Capitol.

"To that end, I have asked retired lieutenant general Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of security infrastructure, interagency processes, and command and control," Pelosi said, adding that Honore is "a respected leader with experience dealing with crises."


14 January 20:06

US police, military confront enemy within after Capitol riot

They swore to serve and protect. But, a week after extremists stormed the US Capitol, police departments and military branches across America are investigating reports some of their own formed part of the mob.

From Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force veteran shot dead as she tried to force her way toward the House chamber, to retired Air Force reserves, Army officers and law enforcement from Seattle to New York, reports have emerged of off-duty police and former members of the military participating in the riot.

The reports have forced a spotlight on a threat that experts have long warned about, largely in vain: extremism and white supremacy within American security forces.


14 January 14:31

Social media giants mishandled Trump: Wikipedia founder

Twitter and Facebook repeatedly mishandled Donald Trump as he pushed baseless claims, including his assertion that US presidential election he lost was rigged, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told AFP.

The two social media giants indefinitely suspended Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, an attack on the seat of democracy that on Wednesday led to Trump's second impeachment.

Wales told AFP in an interview to mark Wikipedia's 20th anniversary on Friday that responsibility for the unprecedented events in Washington rested "100 percent at the feet of Donald Trump".

But he said Twitter and Facebook had consistently "struggled with misinformation, disinformation" peddled by the firebrand former New York real estate tycoon who is due to leave office next week.

"With Donald Trump, they did a poor job of dealing with him for a very, very long time," Wales said. "He was clearly spreading disinformation, he was clearly being abusive to people."

"They (social media platforms) have a business model that says, 'We need as many eyeballs as possible, we need as many page views as possible'," the 54-year-old said. "Now it's also damaging for their brand. So they have to deal with that. But I think they're going to struggle."

Facebook and Twitter have become closely associated with the deeply divisive culture wars in the United States and the spread of misinformation worldwide. 


14 January 12:18

Trump's second impeachment is the most bipartisan in US history

It was the second time Trump was impeached and the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history. Five House Democrats voted to impeach President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, and no Democrats voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson in 1868. President Richard Nixon resigned from office before he was formally impeached.

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14 January 06:11

Trump urges Americans to be 'united' but doesn't mention impeachment

Washington – President Donald Trump urged Americans to be "united" and avoid violence in his first comments after being impeached on Wednesday – while avoiding any mention of impeachment at all.

In the videotaped speech, Trump said he was "calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment and join together as one American people. Let us choose to move forward united for the good of our families."

Repudiating his supporters who assaulted Congress a week ago, triggering his second impeachment in the House of Representatives, Trump said "there is never a justification for violence. No excuses, no exceptions: America is a nation of laws."

"Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice," he said.

 - AFP

14 January 06:10

'No one is above the law' Pelosi says after Trump impeached

Washington – Donald Trump's impeachment on Wednesday confirmed that "no one is above the law", US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the defiant Republican president was impeached for the second time in 13 months.

"Today in a bipartisan way the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States," the top Democrat in Congress said at a ceremony at which she signed the article of impeachment.

Trump, 74, was impeached for "incitement of insurrection" after he exhorted his supporters to march on the US Capitol and "fight", leading to a mob storming the seat of American democracy.

 - AFP

13 January 23:45

The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” after a mob of his supporters stormed the United States Capitol last week.

This is the first time in US history that a president has been impeached twice.

The House resolution states that Trump’s actions and remarks ahead of the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, DC incited the rioters.


13 January 23:32

Majority of US House votes to impeach Trump

A bipartisan majority of lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Donald Trump seven days from the end of his term, assuring he becomes the first US president to be impeached twice.

With nearly all votes counted, the number supporting impeachment on the single charge of "incitement of insurrection" for Trump's role in whipping up a violent mob surpassed 217, the majority threshold out of 433 current House members. At least 10 Republicans joined the Democrats.

Impeachment of the president will trigger a trial in the US Senate, which is not expected to begin its proceedings until Trump, 74, is out of office.


13 January 23:27

JUST IN | House of Representatives reaches 217 votes threshold to impeach Trump

13 January 22:36

Republican Senate leader doesn't rule out voting to remove Trump

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell indicated Wednesday he has not decided on President Donald Trump's impeachment, not ruling out voting to remove him.

"While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate," McConnell said in a note to Republican colleagues.


13 January 20:48

Rep Kevin McCarthy: “I believe impeaching the president in such a short time frame would be a mistake. No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held, what more, the Senate has confirmed no trial will begin until after President Biden is sworn in. A vote to impeach will further divide this nation…That does not mean the president is free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob riots. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was happening. A factfinding commission and essential resolution would be prudent. Last Wednesday was the worst day I have ever seen in Congress. A country is deeply hurt.”

13 January 20:00

Pelosi brands Trump 'clear and present danger,' says 'he must go'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday demanded the impeachment of Donald Trump in the final week of his presidency, calling him a "clear and present danger" to America for inciting an "armed rebellion" at the US Capitol.

"He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love," the most powerful Democrat in Congress told the House chamber during debate over whether to impeach Trump for an unprecedented second time, for "incitement of insurrection."

"Since the presidential election in November, an election the president lost, he has repeatedly lied about the outcome," sought to sow doubt about the election process, and "unconstitutionally sought to influence state officials" to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's election win, Pelosi said.


13 January 19:57

Rep Zoe Lofgren: “If we don’t act now, the impeachment clause will be meaningless. We have no choice we must impeach. God bless America.”

13 January 19:17

EXPLAINER | Impeachment of a US president and how it works

Donald Trump is on the brink of becoming the first US president to have been impeached twice, with the House of Representatives beginning a debate Wednesday on accusations he incited an insurrection at the US Capitol last week.

No president has been ousted from office by impeachment, but even the threat can bring one down - Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 to avoid certain removal in the Watergate scandal.

Three presidents have beaten the process: the House formally impeached Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, but in both cases they were acquitted in the Senate.

Trump, of course, was the third: the House first voted to impeach him in 2019 after a political scandal over his attempt to seek dirt from Ukraine on his then-potential 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.


13 January 17:06

Trump on brink of unprecedented second impeachment

The House of Representatives was set to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection Wednesday, with several key Republicans backing the Democrat-led push to bring down the real estate tycoon in flames just a week before he leaves office.

Washington was in a state of siege as lawmakers opened their session, with armed National Guard soldiers deployed, central streets barred to cars and public spaces fenced off.

The expected majority vote, coming seven days ahead of Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration, would make Trump the first US president to have been impeached twice.

Trump's epic downfall was triggered by his 6 January speech to a crowd on the National Mall, telling them that Biden had stolen the election and that they needed to march on Congress and show "strength."

Amped up on weeks of conspiracy theories pushed by Trump, the mob stormed into the Capitol, fatally injured one police officer, wrecked furniture and forced terrified lawmakers to hide, interrupting a ceremony to put the legal stamp on Biden's victory.

One protester was shot dead, and three other people died of "medical emergencies," bringing the toll to five. Trump still remains defiant, refusing to accept responsibility for his campaign to undermine Americans' belief in the election system and his final, fiery speech on the Mall.

But his once seemingly unbreakable grip on Republicans is eroding as leaders run out of patience - and look to a post-Trump rebuilding of their party.

Vice President Mike Pence threw Trump a lifeline on Tuesday, saying he would not invoke the 25th Amendment that allows him and the Cabinet to strip a sitting president of his powers.

But impeachment on the single charge of "incitement of insurrection" is all but assured to pass. A vote has been scheduled for around 15:00.Trump, who has been stripped of his social media megaphones by Twitter and Facebook, and finds himself increasingly ostracized in the business world, is struggling to impose his message - let alone any kind of resistance.

On a quick trip to Texas on Tuesday he visited the US-Mexico border wall, which he regards as one of his biggest achievements. But the brief, low-energy speech he made there did nothing to recapture his rapidly sliding momentum.

His insistence that his infamous speech to the crowd had been "totally appropriate" and that he bore no blame infuriated allies and opponents alike.- Republican cracks -While the House impeachment is all but assured, it had seemed highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled Senate would follow through with a trial.

Senate leader Mitch McConnell made clear that there was no time before the 20 January change in presidency because the Senate is in recess until 19 January.

Other than scheduling problems, there has been no appetite among Republicans, who acquitted Trump in his first impeachment trial a year ago, to strip him of office just days before he is set to leave anyway.

However, according to The New York Times, McConnell signalled privately on Tuesday that he believes Trump did commit impeachable offenses and he welcomes the impeachment.

If confirmed, this would be a potentially fatal shift in the ground under Trump's feet. McConnell could in theory call the Senate back for an emergency session or encourage his senators to join Democrats in convicting Trump even after Biden assumes office.

In the House, the number three Republican Liz Cheney said she would be voting to impeach, and called Trump's actions "a betrayal" of his office.

This came after top House Republican Kevin McCarthy said members would not be required to toe the party line on the vote - a significant weakening of support for Trump.

Four other House Republicans have now also publicly stated they will vote for impeachment.

The increasingly toothless Trump's social media woes also deepened late Tuesday when video-sharing giant YouTube said it was suspending his official account for at least a week, out of concern his videos could incite violence.


13 January 16:48

New York City to end Trump contracts over riot

New York City will terminate its contracts with the Trump Organization following last week's violent rampage at the US Capitol, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The announcement comes as a growing number of businesses, lawmakers and groups move to put distance between themselves and the outgoing president over the deadly mob attack. The New York contracts cover a city-owned golf course in the Bronx, two ice-skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park.

"New York City doesn't do business with insurrectionists," de Blasio, a Democrat, tweeted. "We're taking steps to terminate agreements with the Trump Organisation to operate the Central Park Carousel, Wollman and Lasker skating rinks, and the Ferry Point Golf Course."

The Trump Organisation has more than $17 million worth of contracts with New York City, de Blasio said.

He told MSNBC that he was confident the city would win any legal challenge. "If a company or leadership of a company is engaged in criminal activity we have the right to sever the contract," de Blasio said.

"Inciting an insurrection against the US government clearly constitutes a criminal activity. "His comments came as the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives opened a session that is expected to see Trump impeached for a historic second time.

Deutsche Bank, Trump's primary lender for two decades, will cease its longstanding relationship with Trump, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. Shopify has shut down e-commerce pages selling his items and payment platform Stripe says it will no longer handle transactions from Trump's campaign.

The PGA of America has pulled the 2022 PGA Championship from the Trump National at Bedminster course in New Jersey.


13 January 16:45

Congressman Rodney Davis : “What we saw last week scared all of us…We need to ensure that we fully understand what took place here last week. We must unite as Democrats and Republicans to prevent any future attacks and protect this institution.”

13 January 16:29

US House of Representatives opens Trump impeachment session

The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on Wednesday opened debate on a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump over his supporters' attack of the Capitol that left five dead. Lawmakers in the lower chamber are expected to vote for impeachment around 15:00 - marking the formal opening of proceedings against Trump.


13 January 16:24

Jim McGovern, chairman, rules committee: “This was a well organised attack on our country that was incited by Donald Trump….I never ever will forget what I saw on the eyes on those attacks. It was evil. These were traitors and domestic terrorists, and they were acting under the orders of Donald Trump. America was attacked and we must respond.”

13 January 16:18

Trump should be impeached because insurrection attempt created huge security risk - House Democrats

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee released a 50-page report on Tuesday making the case for quickly impeaching President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection on the US Capitol last week, citing his "imminent threat" to the country. 

Among extensive examples of Trump's allegedly impeachable conduct, the report said that Trump "willfully incited violence" against government officials, staff, and law enforcement - in particular, those next in line to succeed Trump if he were to be removed from office."

The insurrection incited by the President also threatened the safety of the three most senior officials in the presidential line of succession: Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and President protempore of the Senate Senator Chuck Grassley," the report said.


13 January 10:59

READ | House Democrats release scathing 50-page report supporting the impeachment of Trump

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee released a scathing 50-page report on Tuesday evening laying out supporting evidence for why they say the House should impeach President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. 

Read here

13 January 07:22

YouTube suspends Trump channel, removes video due to 'potential for violence'

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump's channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence.

"In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump's channel for violating our policies," YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now "temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a 'minimum' of 7 days," the statement read.

13 January 06:05

VP Pence rejects invoking 25th Amendment to oust Trump

US Vice President Mike Pence told House leaders Tuesday he does not support invoking the 25th Amendment process to remove Donald Trump, all but guaranteeing an impeachment vote against the besieged president.

"With just eight days left in the President's term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment," Pence wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, referring to the process that would declare Trump unable to fulfill his duties and install Pence as acting president for the remainder of the term.

"I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution," he said.Democrats mobilized rapidly to begin the process to have Trump removed after he encouraged his supporters last Wednesday to "march" to the US Capitol and "fight."

In a violent insurrection, the rioters stormed past outnumbered police, rampaged through and ransacked the building, and interrupted Congress as it was certifying Joe Biden's election victory.

Pence, who was presiding over the vote, as well as Pelosi and other lawmakers, were forced to take shelter. Five people died during the unrest including a US Capitol Police officer.

The vice president's letter came just hours before the House of Representatives was to vote on a resolution that calls on Pence to initiate the 25th Amendment process and "declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: that the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office."

Pelosi has said Pence's failure to trigger that process would lead to a Trump impeachment vote on Wednesday. She has described Trump as being "unhinged."

But Pence told Pelosi that her call for invoking the 25th Amendment was misplaced, saying it was designed to "address presidential incapacity or disability," not as a "means of punishment or usurpation."

He also pointed out that despite intense pressure from within his party to invalidate the electoral votes from swing states won by Biden, he fulfilled his consitutional duty to certify the results.

"I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation," he wrote.

Earlier in the day Trump said the 25th Amendment was of "zero risk" to him.


12 January 21:12

New York judge's son arrested over Capitol riot

The son of a New York judge was arrested Tuesday for participating in last week's violent rampage at the US Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump, prosecutors said.

Aaron Mostofsky, 34, is the latest of several supporters of the president to be charged over Wednesday's incursion which left lawmakers fearing for their lives.

Mostofsky faces four charges, including theft of government property, unlawful entry to a restricted building and disorderly conduct, according to the chargesheet.

Prosecutors allege that he stole a police riot shield and bulletproof police vest. They cite photographs of Mostofsky, including on his Instagram page, which show him inside the Capitol with the shield and vest. He was also wearing fur and carrying a stick.

"I don't think 75 million people voted for Trump - I think it was close to 85 million," Mostofsky told the New York Post on the day of the storming."

I think certain states that have been red for a long time turned blue and were stolen, like New York," he added. Trump's campaign has lost dozens of court challenges in several states, with judge after judge saying they showed no evidence of any significant election fraud.

Mostofsky faces up to ten years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge. He is due to appear before a judge in Brooklyn later Tuesday.

Mostofsky's father is Shlomo Mostofsky, a state Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn and a high-profile member of New York's Orthodox Jewish community.


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