...AND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FOR THE TROOPS...
For all that the news has gotten much calmer and more straightforward
since Wednesday, we did indeed get an old-fashioned (or at least a
past-administration typical) news dump tonight.
It turns out that, in the last, desperate days of his attempt to keep
his grip on the presidency, Trump plotted with a lawyer in the
Department of Justice, Jeffrey Clark, to oust the acting attorney
The plan was to replace Jeffrey A. Rosen, who replaced Attorney
General William Barr when he left on December 23, with Clark himself.
Clark would then press Trump's attacks on the election results.
A story by Katie Benner in the New York Times explains that as soon as
Rosen replaced Barr, Trump began to pressure Rosen to challenge the
election results, appoint special counsels to investigate disproven
voter fraud, and look into irregularities in the Dominion voting
machines (Dominion is now suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for
Rosen refused. He told Trump the Justice Department had
found no evidence of anything that would have changed the election
Trump complained about Rosen and moved to replace him with Clark, who
promised to stop Congress from counting the certified Electoral College
votes on January 6.
This struggle came to a crisis on Sunday, January 3, 2021, when the news
broke that Trump had called Georgia Secretary of State Brad
Raffensperger to pressure him to "find" the votes Trump needed to win
the state. That evening, the senior officials at the Department of
Justice agreed to resign as a group if Trump put Clark in as the new
acting attorney general.
The vow that the leaders of the Department of Justice would quit if
Trump tried to demote Rosen and put Clark in his place made Trump back
off from his plan to pervert the Department of Justice.
Three days later, rioters stormed the Capitol.
In addition to this bombshell story, there is more news about the
Capitol attack. Court documents filed on Tuesday reveal that some of the
rioters had made plans ahead of time to attack the Capitol, and had
planned to "arrest" lawmakers on charges of "treason" and "election
An investigation by NPR reveals that nearly 1 in 5 of the rioters
charged so far have a history of serving in the military (only about 7 percent
of Americans in general are military veterans). Prosecutors have
indicated they are planning to bring charges of seditious conspiracy
against some of the suspects, charges that, if proven, bring up to
20-year jail terms.
President Biden has asked new Director of National Intelligence Avril
Haines to assess the dangers of domestic violent extremism. Press
Secretary Jen Psaki today said of the effort: "We are committed to
developing policies and strategies based on facts, on objective and
rigorous analysis and on our respect for constitutionally protected free
speech and political activities."
Congress yesterday set the calendar for the impeachment trial of the former
president for incitement of insurrection.
The House will formally deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate
on Monday evening. The senators will be sworn in as jurors on Tuesday,
and then the Senate will turn to confirming Biden's nominees and
considering the coronavirus stimulus package Biden wants while Trump's
lawyers and the House impeachment managers prepare their briefs and
The trial will begin February 9, and is expected to be shorter than
Trump's first impeachment trial, since the charges are simpler and the
At stake in this impeachment trial is more than the fate of Donald
Trump, who is, after all, no longer president. At stake is, in part, the
fate of the Republican Party. A number of Republicans who themselves
egged on the rioters by claiming to distrust the election results are
trying to discredit the trial and say it is pointless.
This wing of the party is led by former chair of the Judiciary Committee
Lindsey Graham, who is especially eager to have the issue go away since
one of its charges reflects on him.
The article of impeachment notes that Trump had tried "to subvert and
obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential
election" with, among other things, "a phone call on January 2, 2021,
during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia,
Brad Raffensperger, to 'find' enough votes to overturn the Georgia
Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensperger if
he failed to do so."
We know about that phone call because Raffensperger recorded it, and
Raffensperger said he did so because Lindsey Graham had made a similar
call. Raffensperger said he wanted some insurance in case Trump
misrepresented his call as Graham had.
As pro-Trump Republicans are defending the former president and
downplaying the attempted coup, along with their own role in the
discrediting of Biden's victory, other party members would very much
like to see the party purged of the Trump element. With his speech
condemning Trump for feeding lies to the rioters and provoking them,
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seems to be trying to lead his
party away from the Trump personality cult.
Meanwhile, the Senate still has not begun to organize since McConnell is
insisting on a promise from Democrats that they will not end the
filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that
proposal is unacceptable.
Press Secretary Psaki reiterated today that Biden's position on the
filibuster hasn't changed; he does not want to end it. But she tied that
declaration to his desire to get a coronavirus relief package through
Congress on a bipartisan basis.
There is a carrot and a stick in that statement: the carrot is that
Biden is offering to share the credit for such a package with
Republicans; the stick is that if they block such a measure entirely,
Biden will likely back whatever Schumer does to get a bill through.
There are two places where lawmakers have agreed lately, though. Last
night, the leadership of the Capitol Police abruptly moved National
Guard soldiers to a garage for their break time. These troops are
deployed to protect Washington, D.C., against domestic insurrectionists
and have worked grueling hours. When news of the soldiers lying down in
parking spaces reached lawmakers of both parties, they rushed to get the
service members back indoors.
This morning, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited the troops bearing
chocolate chip cookies.
This move was reminiscent of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's 1933 visit
to the Bonus Marchers after the Herbert Hoover administration had tried
to destroy their encampment with troops. Dr. Biden thanked the soldiers
and recalled her son Beau's time with the Delaware Army National Guard
in Iraq. "The National Guard always holds a special place in the hearts
of all the Bidens," she told them. Dr. Biden's visit was an important
indicator of the tenor of this White House.
In another bipartisan move, lawmakers of both parties have
introduced measures in both houses of Congress to award Officer Eugene
Goodman a Congressional Gold Medal.
Goodman is the Capitol Police officer who led rioters away from the
Senate chamber on January 6 and thus bought enough time for the senators
there to escape to safety. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the
two highest civilian awards in the United States. In our history, only
163 of them have been cast.
The Senate bill reads: "By putting his own life on the line and
successfully, singlehandedly leading insurrectionists away from the
floor of the Senate Chamber, Officer Eugene Goodman performed his duty
to protect the Congress with distinction, and by his actions Officer
Goodman left an indelible mark on American history."
©Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American