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— Publisher’s Note —
There have been days in my life where the events have been so large and so overwhelming that it seems impossible to wrap my head around them. Yesterday was one of those days.
I had two appointments that took up most of my morning and part of the afternoon. I had planned to post new stories on the pandemic and on KYGA21 once I got home, but by then the terrorist attack on the nation’s Capitol building was in full swing. I spent the rest of the day and late into the night watching events unfold, alternating between MSNBC and Twitter.
So, today’s Forward Five is different. There are no links out to stories, on either Forward Kentucky or elsewhere. Instead, I have tried to cover the details of the various stories from yesterday in bulleted lists.
I apologize in advance for the length, and for the overwhelming blocks of text. But frankly, grouping things into sections and putting everything in lists helped me turn the swirl in my head into something semi-coherent. I hope you find it does the same for you.
And stay engaged with your news outlets. Someone who had lived through coups and attempted coups in other countries said yesterday that “Things move really slowly for a while, and then they move really fast.” I am not at all predicting that that applies to us today. But it might … so stay engaged.
I’ll get back to posting things on the site later today. Let’s hope some level of normal returns.
Today’s Things to Know
Trump-inspired mob storms Capitol in attempted insurrection
- Thousands of Trump supporters came to Washington on Wednesday for a “Stop the Steal” rally. It was scheduled to happen on the same day that Congress was going to take the last step in the 2020 presidential election: counting and certifying the electoral votes from each state (an act that is normally a formality).
- The rally started with numerous speakers, all telling the crowd that Trump had actually won and the election was being stolen. Rudy Guiliani said “trial by combat” was needed.
- President Trump spoke at the end of the rally, saying many of the same things he has said since the election. At the end of his 70-minute speech, he said his supporters should “walk down to the Capitol,” supposedly to “cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” noting that “you will never take back our country with weakness.”
- The crowd of thousands then walked to the Capitol, which was seemingly very lightly guarded. At some point, people in the crowd started moving up the steps. Even though some Capitol Police tried to stop them, the protesters-turned-terrorists broke through the doors and swarmed the Capitol, breaking windows, rummaging through offices, and taking pictures of themselves at the dais in the House chamber and in various offices. The office of the House parliamentarian was ransacked, and one terrorist took things off of Nancy Pelosi’s desk.
- The invasion caused Congress to stop the counting of electoral votes, as VP Pence (who was presiding) was rushed off the dais by security, and members of Congress were first told to “shelter in place.” Once the terrorists began breaking the windows of the doors into the chamber, which had been hastily barricaded with furniture, Capitol Police and others told the members to move to more-secure locations, which they did.
- One woman was shot after crawling into the building through a window. There is no word on who shot her. (The various law-enforcement organizations involved in dealing with the attack have been mostly silent, with no press briefings.) The woman was later taken to a hospital, where she died. One of her social media accounts was located, on which she has posted she was on her way to DC, saying “they can’t stop us.”
- Three other persons died as a result of the attack, from “other medical issues.”
- Eventually, Capitol Police were joined by other law enforcement personnel and National Guard units from Virginia and Maryland, and they began securing the building. Once the interior of the Capitol was deemed secure, they began very slowly pushing the terrorists away from the outside of the building. By midnight, they had established a perimeter around the building, with any remaining crowd members outside the perimeter.
- The mayor of Washington declared a curfew starting at 6 PM. Some persons were arrested after that for disobeying the curfew.
Many questions arise over law enforcement response
- It was obvious at the beginning of the attack that the Capitol Police were seriously outmanned. The primary question was: Why? They had known for weeks that this rally was planned and that numerous people were calling for violence.
- There is video of some CP members actually taking selfies with the invaders. There is also video of some CP members moving barricades so attackers can enter.
- Questions have been raised asking if the Capitol Police were trying to prevent casualties that would be caused by a shoot-out (thus the lack of a strong response at the beginning), or if at least some of them were in on the attack and supported it.
- Whatever information and analysis is eventually gathered and reported, everyone with security or law enforcement experience agreed that this was a “massive security failure.”
- The other point that was raised all throughout the incident was the lack of arrests. All told, there were about 50 arrests. Given the number of people that took part in the invasion, this number seems ridiculously low. More than one commentator pointed out the invaders were almost uniformly white, and that the situation would have been handled very differently if the invaders were black and brown.
Congress reconvenes, counts the votes, and certifies Biden/Harris at 3:14 this morning.
- When the invasion happened, Congress had just started the process of counting the electoral votes from each state. As expected, Republicans objected to the very first state, Arizona. At that point, the invasion began, and the session was adjourned as members tried to protect themselves.
- Once the building had been secured and deemed safe, Congress reconvened in their separate chambers to begin the debate over the Arizona objection. A number of the Senators who had originally been part of the Overturn-the-Election caucus decided, after the events of the day, to pull their objections and vote to confirm. However, Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first senator to say he supported the objections from the House (thus opening the door for others to join the effort to overturn the results), maintained his objection. In the end, the Arizona objections failed in both chambers, and the joint session resumed to count the remaining votes.
- Other states were objected to by members of the House, but no Senators would join them, so their motions failed. Before the day began, there had been indications that as many as six states would be objected to by Republicans, with each objection causing a two-hour debate to happen, thus potentially causing Congress to stay in session for many, many hours in order to finish a process that normally takes under an hour.
- Eventually the count came to Pennsylvania, where Hawley again joined the House members in objecting. The two chambers began their separate debates, but this time the debate was shorter. The objections overwhelmingly failed again in the Senate, while in the House, about two-thirds of the Republicans voted in support of the objection. Nevertheless, it failed there as well, and Congress came back into joint session to finish counting the electoral votes.
- Kentucky rep Hal Rogers voted to throw out both Arizona and Pennsylvania. None of the other Kentucky electeds voted in favor of any of the objections.
- A little after 3 AM this morning, VP Mike Pence gaveled home the finding that the Biden/Harris ticket had 306 electoral votes, as expected, and had won the election. Pence had earlier told Trump that he (Pence) did not have the authority to “throw out” any votes, and thus couldn’t steal the election for Trump.
- To the end, many Republicans maintaned that the election was stolen, or that there were “massive” problems with the voting.
- It is well known that Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is planning on running for president in 2024. His announcement that he was going to be the senator that was needed to join in the objections was seen by many as having contributed to the hope among Trump supporters that the election could be overturned. Since the Dems control the House, this was never going to happen; Hawley did it purely to grab Trump’s base as part of his strategy for 2024. In response, his hometown paper in St. Louis ran an editorial saying he had “blood on his hands.”
Other events and rumors of events
- Three White House staff members resigned, effective immediately, in response to the day’s events. They included the First Lady’s chief of staff and a deputy press secretary.
- There were rumors that other persons were considering resigning, including Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Transportation (a Cabinet position) and the wife of Mitch McConnell.
- Supposedly, White House counsel Pat Cipplioni had advised staffers earlier in the day to have nothing to do with Trump’s rally or subsequent events, as they could be opening themselves up to charges of treason.
- There were also rumors that there were discussions between Pence, other cabinet members, and Congressional leadership about invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office.
- Seventeen Democratic House members released a statement calling for Trump to be immediately removed. Rep. Omar also tweeted that she was drawing up articles of impeachment.
- The New York Times posted an editorial calling for either impeachment or criminal prosecution of Trump.
- Supposedly, McConnell has reached out to White House staff and asked them to wait a day before resigning. Why? No one is sure.
- Some state capitols across the country were the scene of demonstrations and violence yesterday. Most of the protesters at these events did not wear masks, and some carried guns. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but in Georgia, the Secretary of State and his staff evacuated due to the presence of armed protesters. And in Washington state, protesters broke through the gates of the governor’s mansion, causing Governor Inslee and his family to move to a “secure location.”
- Numerous U.S. Attorneys across the nation said that if they could identify people from their district who had stormed the Capitol, those people would be prosecuted. Robert Duncan, the USA from the eastern district of Kentucky, released this statement: “I join with my colleagues who have pledged the same in their districts: if we can prove you travelled from EDKY to DC to commit violent criminal acts, then you will be prosecuted by the @USAO_EDKY. We are sworn to protect the Constitution and uphold the law.”
Ossoff declared winner in other Georgia runoff, flipping control of the Senate to Democrats
- As expected, Jon Ossoff’s lead in the Georgia runoff for U.S. Senate continued to grow through the day on Wednesday as more votes were counted. By mid-afternoon, he was declared the winner, thus giving Democrats 50 seats in the Senate and making Chuck Schumer the majority leader instead of Mitch McConnell, once Warnock and Ossoff are sworn in.
- The margins of victory for both Warnock and Ossoff are beyond the threshold that would trigger a recount.
Kentucky reports most COVID cases in a single day, by far
- Governor Beshear announced 5,742 new cases of the virus, far above the state’s prior single-day record of 4,325 on Dec. 10.
- The record day followed a day with an unusually low number of cases.
- Beshear said that it would take some time to know whether this was a temporary spike caused by reporting delays, or if the virus was actually increasing across the state.
- Republican bills to limit the governor’s ability to deal with the virus continue to advance rapidly through the legislature.
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