Presidential Transition Live Updates: Push to Impeach Trump Continues to Gain Momentum

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Representative Hakeem Jeffries and other members of New York’s congressional delegation have called for swift impeachment of President Trump.
Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Momentum for impeaching President Trump a second time was growing rapidly over the weekend among rank-and-file Democrats and some Republicans, setting the stage for a final showdown that would test the boundaries of politics, accountability and the Constitution.

Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, announced on Saturday that the article of impeachment drafted by him and other House Democrats had drawn more than 190 co-sponsors.

“We will introduce the Article of Impeachment this Monday during the House’s pro forma session,” he wrote on Twitter.

Most Republicans in Congress remained silent on the issue over the weekend, drawing more attention to those who did speak up.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said on Saturday that Mr. Trump had “committed impeachable offenses,” a sign of growing anger over Mr. Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol building.

Mr. Toomey’s comment, on Fox News on Saturday, was the starkest yet among Republican lawmakers who appeared newly open to the idea. Earlier last week, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska indicated he would be open to considering articles of impeachment at a trial, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has called on the president to resign.

“I want him out,” Ms. Murkowski told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”

But in a reflection of how unpopular the idea is even among Republicans who have criticized Mr. Trump’s role in the riot, seven House Republicans wrote to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday and implored him to ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop efforts to impeach Mr. Trump.

The lawmakers, led by Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, argued that starting such a process would be divisive and overly hasty. Each of them had vocally opposed their colleagues’ bid to overturn the election results.

“A second impeachment, only days before President Trump will leave office, is as unnecessary as it is inflammatory,” the lawmakers wrote.

If the House did impeach, and the Senate put Mr. Trump on trial, at least 17 Republicans would most likely have to join the Democrats to win a conviction.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has indicated that under Senate rules a trial could not begin until the senators’ scheduled return from a recess on Jan. 19, the day before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, raising the prospect of conducting a trial after Mr. Trump vacated the White House.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said President Trump had effectively “disqualified himself” from ever running for office again.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A second Republican senator called on Sunday for President Trump to resign from office after inciting a violent siege of the Capitol, but conceded it was unlikely in the 10 days remaining in his term.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said Mr. Trump had “spiraled down into a kind of madness” since the election and had effectively “disqualified himself” from ever running for office again.

“I think the best way for our country, Chuck, is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible,” he told the host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I acknowledge that may not be likely, but I think that would be best.”

Speaking in a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Toomey also predicted that Mr. Trump could face “possible criminal liability” for his actions and would lose influence over his party — a matter hotly debated by elected Republicans fearful he will not.

The comments from Mr. Toomey, who does not plan to run for re-election in 2022, came as Republicans faced intense pressure by Democrats to constrain Mr. Trump in his final days in office and join them in an effort to punish Mr. Trump for his culpability in violence that sacked the Capitol and left at least five people dead.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, was the first senator in her party to call for Mr. Trump to resign, saying late last week that she was prepared to leave the Republican Party and become a political independent if necessary. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, has also said he would consider articles of impeachment if approved by the House.

Mr. Toomey cast doubt on the possibility that Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet would use the 25th Amendment to try to constrain Mr. Trump’s powers, and he said there was not time to undertake a full impeachment before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took office. That comment came a day after Mr. Toomey said he thought Mr. Trump’s conduct constituted an “impeachable offense.”

“I would certainly hope and I actually do believe that the president has disqualified himself,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “I don’t think he’s a viable candidate for office ever again because of the outrageous behavior in the postelection period.”

Mr. Toomey, who had vocally opposed from the start Republican efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s election loss based on baseless voter fraud claims, said colleagues who had aided the effort, including Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, were “complicit.”

“They’re going to have a lot of soul searching to do, and the problem is they were complicit in the big lie,” he said. “They compounded that with this notion that somehow this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s, that’s going to be, that’s going to haunt them for a very long time.”

Flags flying over the inauguration stage at the Capitol.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Major technology companies like Google and Microsoft, as well as telecommunications giants like Comcast and Verizon, are among the nearly 1,000 people and groups that have donated at least $200 to the committee organizing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s scaled-back inauguration celebration this month.

The donor list, released Saturday evening by the committee, was filled mostly with individual donors, including major givers to Democrats such as Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons; Richard C. Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California; and Donald Sussman, a hedge fund mogul.

The inaugural committee did not list any of the amounts that these 959 donors had given as of Dec. 31, the end of the period covered in the voluntary disclosure.

The actual donor amounts may not be known until 90 days after the inauguration when the committee will be required under law to disclose the names and amounts of all donations over $200. There are no legal limitations on how much a donor can give to an inaugural committee, but Mr. Biden’s committee voluntarily limited contributions by individuals to $500,000 and by corporations to $1 million.

Many of the major corporations that traditionally make large contributions to inauguration events are missing. Some have explained that they are not going to donate given that the event will largely be virtual because of the pandemic. Others have said they are focusing their donations on helping people affected by economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the technology and telecommunications industries, a major source of cash for Mr. Biden’s campaign and the groups supporting it, are well represented on the list, with donations also coming from Qualcomm, a semiconductor and software company based in California, and Charter Communications, a cable company.

Jake Angeli was arrested for participating in the breach of the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A man who was photographed carrying the lectern of Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the raid on the U.S. Capitol last week and another who roamed through the halls of Congress while wearing a horned fur headdress have been arrested and charged, the Justice Department said on Saturday.

Adam Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Fla., was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Friday night after a widely circulated photograph showed him sporting a wide smile as he waved to the camera with one hand and hauled off Ms. Pelosi’s lectern with the other. On his head he wore a Trump knit hat, with the number 45 on the front.

Jail booking records from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office provide scant details about the arrest of Mr. Johnson but show that he was arrested on a federal warrant. He was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of theft of government property, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The office of Michael Sherwin, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, said on Saturday that it had also charged Jake Angeli, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was photographed in the Capitol on Wednesday.

Mr. Angeli entered the building shirtless, with his face painted red, white and blue, and wearing a fur headdress with horns. He also carried a spear, about six feet long, with an American flag affixed just below the blade, according to Mr. Sherwin’s office.

Nicknamed “Q Shaman” for his propagation of baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, Mr. Angeli was a fixture at pro-Trump rallies in Arizona after the 2016 election. He was arrested on Saturday.

Early Saturday morning, the F.B.I. arrested Doug Jensen, who was captured on a video taken by Igor Bobic of HuffPost that showed him pushing far into the Capitol, ignoring the warnings of a law enforcement officer.

On his Twitter account, Mr. Jensen posted a photo of himself during the raid with the captions “You like my shirt?” and “Me… .”

Mr. Jensen is in custody in Polk County, Iowa, and is facing charges including obstructing a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder, according to a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The authorities also arrested Richard Barnett, 60, on Friday, the man pictured with his feet kicked up on a desk in Ms. Pelosi’s office during the Capitol siege. Mr. Barnett, who was arrested in Bentonville, Ark., will appear in federal court on Tuesday and will ultimately be extradited to Washington.

Parler is one of several upstarts that have courted President Trump’s supporters with promises of “unbiased” and “free speech” social networks.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Parler, a social network that pitches itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter and Facebook, is suffering from whiplash.

Over the past several months, Parler has become one of the fastest-growing apps in the United States. Millions of President Trump’s supporters have flocked to it as Facebook and Twitter increasingly cracked down on posts that spread misinformation and incited violence, including muzzling Mr. Trump by removing his accounts this past week. By Saturday morning, Apple listed Parler as the No. 1 free app for its iPhones.

But, by Saturday night, Parler was suddenly fighting for its life.

First, Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores because they said it had not sufficiently policed its users’ posts, allowing too many that encouraged violence and crime. Then, late Saturday, Amazon told Parler it would boot the company from its web-hosting service on Sunday night because of repeated violations of Amazon’s rules.

Amazon’s move meant that Parler’s entire platform would soon go offline unless it was able to find a new hosting service on Sunday.

“Big tech really wants to kill competition,” John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, said in a text message. “And I have a lot of work to do in the next 24 hours to make sure everyone’s data is not permanently deleted off the internet.”

A day earlier, Parler appeared poised to capitalize on growing anger at Silicon Valley in conservative circles and was even a logical choice to become Mr. Trump’s next megaphone after he was kicked off Twitter.

The actions against Parler were part of a wider crackdown by tech companies on Mr. Trump and some of his most extreme supporters after Wednesday’s deadly riot in Washington.

Several upstarts have courted Mr. Trump’s supporters with promises of “unbiased” and “free speech” social networks, which have proven to be, in effect, free-for-all digital town squares where users hardly have to worry about getting banned for spreading conspiracy theories, making threats or posting hate speech. The tougher enforcement from the tech companies could preclude such apps from becoming realistic alternatives to the mainstream social networks. They now face the choice of either stepping up their policing of posts — undercutting their main feature in the process — or losing their ability to reach a wide audience.

Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff, predicted that Republicans would look at a second impeachment of President Trump differently than they did the first.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that President Trump’s conduct that encouraged a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol should be viewed differently from the behavior that had drawn criticism throughout his presidency.

“You could go down the long litany of things that people complained about with Donald Trump and I could probably defend almost all of them,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday,” describing many of those differences as about policy or style.

“But Wednesday was different,” he continued. “Wednesday was existential. Wednesday is one of those things that struck to the very heart of what it means to be an American, and it was wrong.”

Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, served as Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff for more than 14 months. In March, Mr. Trump replaced him with Mark Meadows, who was then a House member from North Carolina. Mr. Mulvaney became a special envoy for Northern Ireland, a position he resigned from last week after the riot.

When the host of “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace, asked what prompted the resignation, Mr. Mulvaney said, “I think everybody recognizes that what happened on Wednesday is different.”

Mr. Mulvaney implied that the public and the press were not aware of how Mr. Trump acted in private, and the ways that members of his administration were able to redirect the president from some of his destructive impulses.

“We saw the real President Trump who had that ability to pivot when he knew something had gone off the rails,” he said of his time as chief of staff.

He predicted that many Republicans would not view a second impeachment of Mr. Trump the same as they did the first, which ended with the Senate voting to acquit him in February.

“I can assure you, there will be members of both parties who would look at it very very differently than they did last year,” Mr. Mulvaney said.

As for whether he would vote to impeach if he were still in the House, Mr. Mulvaney said, “I think it isn’t fair to sit here and say yes or no, but I would take it really, really seriously.”

“I’m not trying to dodge your question, but that’s probably the most serious question you can ask any member of Congress,” he added.

Federal agents said Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. sent a text message threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying he would put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

A man who had an assault rifle was charged with threatening Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, after he traveled to Washington for the pro-Trump rally on Wednesday and sent a text message saying he would put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV,” the federal authorities said.

Federal agents said the man, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., had been staying at a Holiday Inn in Washington and had weapons in his camper-style trailer, including a Glock handgun, a pistol, a Tavor X95 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Mr. Meredith was charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, according to court records. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The Justice Department said on Friday that he was one of 13 people who had been charged in federal court after a violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday and disrupted Congress as it was certifying the results of the presidential election.

Those charged included conspiracy theorists, members of the far-right Proud Boys group, elected officials and everyday Americans.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mr. Meredith had erected a billboard in 2018 in Acworth, Ga., that read, “#QANON” along with the name of his business, Car Nutz Car Wash.

The QAnon conspiracy theory, which the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat, accuses Democrats and some Republicans of being beholden to a cabal of bureaucrats, pedophiles and Satanists. Many followers believe that President Trump is secretly battling a criminal band of sex traffickers.

Mr. Meredith told The Journal-Constitution in 2018 that he had put up the QAnon billboard because he was “a patriot among the millions who love this country.”

Mr. Meredith, whose current hometown was unavailable, told federal agents that he had been traveling from Colorado and had arrived too late for Wednesday’s rally in Washington.

“I’m trying but currently stuck in Cambridge, OH with trailer lights being fixed,” he wrote in one of several text messages to friends, according to the F.B.I.

In another text message, accompanied by a purple devil emoji, he said he had “a ton of 5.56 armor piercing ammo.” In other text messages, he referred to Ms. Pelosi with misogynistic slurs and threatened to run her over, the F.B.I. said.

“I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die,” Mr. Meredith wrote, according to the F.B.I.

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