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Pelosi once again plays politics with impeachment – The Washington Post

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is, once again, playing politics with impeachment. On CBS News’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, she warned that President Trump has to be removed because he poses an imminent threat to the country. We have a “deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States, and we’re only a number of days until we can be protected from him,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

Well, if Trump is that dangerous, why didn’t she call the House back immediately to pass articles of impeachment, and then challenge the Senate to come back into session and hold a trial this week? Instead, she is waiting until Wednesday — a full week after the Capitol riot — to hold a House vote. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested this weekend that Pelosi could wait until well into the Biden presidency before sending impeachment articles to the Senate. “Let’s give President-elect [Joe] Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn said. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”

Pelosi is politicizing what are very serious and weighty questions: Did the president of the United States engage in impeachable conduct? And is it prudent to impeach him when the Constitution will remove him from office in a matter of days?

On the first question, the answer is clearly yes. It is true that, as some legal scholars have pointed out, Trump would never be convicted of incitement in a criminal court. As former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman for incitement, told me, “an incitement case is very difficult in criminal court. … You have to intend that a violent crime take place.” McCarthy points out, however, that the issue in impeachment is not criminal liability, but whether the president committed what Alexander Hamilton described as political offenses that call into question his fitness for office. And by that standard, McCarthy says, what Trump did was “clearly an impeachable offense” and “a deep betrayal of his obligations as president … to protect our elections, rather than undermine them, and to protect Congress.”

For more than six weeks, Trump ginned up anger among his supporters, telling them they had reelected him in a landslide and that their victory was being stolen from them. He then brought a massive crowd to Washington on the day that Congress was meeting to confirm Biden’s electoral college victory, and urged them to march on the Capitol. He might not have intended for his supporters to storm the building, but he recklessly stoked a throng of people who did just that — and five deaths occurred.

Instead of immediately rushing to the cameras to call off his supporters, Trump sat back and watched them ransack the Capitol. An hour after they had overwhelmed police barricades, Trump poured gasoline on the fire, tweeting “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country.” (Indeed, Trump never even bothered to call to see whether the vice president was safe.) Only at 2:38 p.m. did Trump feebly tweet urging the already violent mob to “Stay peaceful!” It was not until 4:17 p.m. — nearly three hours into the assault — that Trump finally posted a video telling his supporters “you have to go home now.” Even then, he spent more time claiming his “landslide” election was “stolen” than calling for calm.

Early on Jan. 6, The Post’s Kate Woodsome saw signs of the violence to come hours before thousands of Trump loyalists besieged the Capitol. (The Washington Post)

And while Trump might not have intended to provoke violence, he intended to send a crowd to coerce Pence into committing an unconstitutional act by invalidating electoral votes cast for Biden. That is an abuse of power. Trump told the crowd that “all Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president.” They swarmed into the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence” when he refused. Trump played with matches and started a forest fire — that makes him culpable for the death and destruction that ensued, even if he didn’t intend to set the fire.

The second question is more difficult. If Trump had nine months left in office, rather than nine days, there is no doubt that he should be removed from office. It is unclear, however, whether at this late date, an impeachment trial is in the country’s best interests. It would divide the country, turn Trump into a martyr, and keep him front and center for months into Biden’s term. There is also the risk that he might be acquitted, because some Republicans might decide they cannot convict a president who has already left office, while others fear alienating constituents who just voted to give Trump a second term. Trump could then claim vindication. The best thing might be to let him simply leave in ignominy. But Pelosi seems to care more about politics and retribution than what is best for the country.

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Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence says ‘no place’ for politics in agency – Global News

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President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the intelligence community, Avril Haines, promised Tuesday to “speak truth to power” and keep politics out of intelligence agencies to ensure their work is trusted.

“When it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics — ever,” she told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Haines, a former CIA deputy director and former deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, would enter the job as director of national intelligence, or DNI, following a Trump administration that saw repeated pressure on intelligence officials to shape intelligence to the Republican president’s liking.

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Biden plans to roll back a lengthy list of Trump policies. Here’s what may happen

The committee’s lead Republican, Marco Rubio of Florida, and its ranking Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, both indicated they expect Haines to win confirmation. Her hearing kicked off a series of Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday, including those for Biden’s picks to lead the State Department, the Pentagon, and the departments of Homeland Security and Treasury. While most of those nominees are unlikely to be confirmed by the time Biden takes the oath of office at noon Wednesday, some could be in place within days.

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A former director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who served in the Trump administration, introduced Haines with an emphasis on her commitment to de-politicizing the job. He called her an “exceptional choice” for the position.

Also testifying Tuesday at his confirmation hearing was Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the agency.

In opening remarks, Mayorkas addressed the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He said in prepared remarks released ahead of the hearing that the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot is “horrifying” and the authorities still have much to learn about what happened that day and what led to the insurrection.






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Inauguration of U.S. president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday


Inauguration of U.S. president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday

The Senate typically confirms some nominees, particularly the secretaries of defence, on Inauguration Day, though raw feelings about President Donald Trump four years ago led to Democratic-caused delays, except for James Mattis at the Pentagon. This year, the tension is heightened by Trump’s impeachment and an extraordinary military presence in Washington because of fears of extremist violence.

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Putting his national security team in place quickly is a high priority for Biden, not only because of his hopes for reversing or modifying Trump administration policy shifts but also because of diplomatic, military and intelligence problems around the world that may create challenges early in his tenure.

The most controversial of the group may be Lloyd Austin, the recently retired Army general whom Biden selected to lead the Pentagon. Austin will need not only a favourable confirmation vote in the Senate but also a waiver by both the House and the Senate because he has been out of uniform only four years.

The last time a new president did not have his secretary of defence confirmed by Inauguration Day was in 1989. President George H.W. Bush’s nominee, John Tower, had run into opposition and ended up rejected by the Senate several weeks later.

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Also facing confirmation hearings were Biden confidant Antony Blinken to lead the State Department, and Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, another first for a woman.

In prepared remarks, Blinken said he is ready to confront challenges posed by China, Iran, North Korea and Russia and is committed to rebuilding the State Department after four years of atrophy under the Trump administration.

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Ahead of the Blinken hearing, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, said he expects the committee to vote on the nomination on Monday.

Blinken will tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that he sees a world of rising nationalism and receding democracy. In remarks prepared for his confirmation hearing, Blinken will say that mounting threats from authoritarian states are reshaping all aspects of human lives, particularly in cyberspace. He’ll say that American global leadership still matters and without it rivals will either step in to fill the vacuum or there will be chaos _ and neither is a palatable choice.


Click to play video '‘Let’s get to work’: Harris thanks supporters ahead of inauguration'



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‘Let’s get to work’: Harris thanks supporters ahead of inauguration


‘Let’s get to work’: Harris thanks supporters ahead of inauguration

Blinken also promises to bring Congress in as a full foreign policy partner, a subtle jab at the Trump administration and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who routinely ignored or bypassed lawmakers in policy-making. He called the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill “senseless and searing” and pledged to work with Congress.

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Austin was testifying later Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, but the panel will not be in position to vote until he gets the waiver. Republicans are expected to broadly support the Austin nomination, as are Democrats.

Biden’s emerging Cabinet marks a return to a more traditional approach to governing, relying on veteran policymakers with deep expertise and strong relationships in Washington and global capitals. Austin is something of an exception in that only twice in history has a recently retired general served as defence secretary — most recently Mattis.

Austin, who would be the first Black secretary of defence, retired from the military as a four-star general in 2016. The law requires a minimum seven-year waiting period.

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Doubts about the wisdom of having a recently retired officer running the Pentagon are rooted in an American tradition of protecting against excessive military influence by ensuring that civilians are in control. When he announced Austin as his pick in December, Biden insisted he is “uniquely suited” for the job.

Lindsay P. Cohn, an expert on civil-military relations and an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, said at a Senate hearing on the subject last week that an Austin waiver raises worrying risks.

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“Choosing a recently retired general officer and arguing that he is uniquely qualified for the current challenges furthers the narrative that military officers are better at things and more reliable or trustworthy than civil servants or other civilians,” she said. “This is hugely problematic at a time when one of the biggest challenges facing the country is the need to restore trust and faith in the political system. Implying that only a military officer can do this job at this time is counterproductive to that goal.”

Some Democrats have already said they will oppose a waiver. They argue that granting it for two administrations in a row makes the exception more like a rule. Even so, a favourable vote seems likely.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., on Friday introduced waiver legislation for Austin.

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Associated Press writers Ben Fox, Eric Tucker and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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How President Trump's Rhetoric Has Affected U.S. Politics – NPR

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NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric, about how President Trump has changed the way Americans talk about politics, the government and each other.

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'Very mesmerizing': Canadians eye Biden inauguration with relief, anxiety – Toronto Star

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Katie Thompson noticed a pattern emerging with appointments made at her chiropractic clinic for Wednesday afternoon that’s usually typical of big sporting events: patients wanted to schedule sessions around the U.S. presidential inauguration.

“We have never experienced this before,” said Thompson, who co-owns the Barrie, Ont., clinic with her husband. “It’s clear that as Canadians, we are paying greater attention to the political climate of the United States now more than ever.”

The clinic has decided it will livestream the Washington, D.C., ceremony so patients and staff can “watch history be made” as president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris take office.

The move felt natural for Thompson after months of speaking with patients about their thoughts and fears in the build-up to the November election that saw Democrat Biden win the presidency over Republican President Donald Trump.

“It would be a shame to miss this transition take place,” she said.

Canadians have found themselves especially glued to American politics over the last four years since Trump was elected president of the United States.

Trump embraced a combative, populist leadership style and cast doubt on the legitimacy of his own government with frequent scandals that saw him impeached by Congress an unprecedented two times.

Earlier this month, his consistent disputing of the election results culminated with his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot aimed at blocking the transition of power.

Images from the barricaded streets of Washington this week, showing hordes of fatigue-clad National Guard members taking up position ahead of inauguration day, have raised the stakes of Wednesday’s ceremony, stoking anxiety for Americans and concerned observers around the world about potential violence.

Simon Cumming of Surrey, B.C., said he hopes the transition to a Biden presidency brings more stability to the politically divided nation, where he has friends on both sides of the political spectrum.

He’ll be watching on Wednesday with “a combination of relief and a little bit of anxiety,” especially after the violence of the last few weeks.

“I think that the country is so fractured right now and it’s so polarized that you never know what’s going to happen, so there’s a bit of trepidation,” Cumming said by phone this week.

He plans to tune in while working from home.

“I’ll have one eye on the TV and one eye on my computer screen,” he said. “I’ll just turn it on and watch and keep my fingers crossed that nothing bad happens.“

Retired realtor Louise Zieffle was also planning a quiet, pandemic-friendly viewing of the Wednesday ceremony.

She’s taken a closer interest in U.S. politics during Trump’s presidency, which she said has laid bare how the political system works – and how it doesn’t.

“It was very mesmerizing, really,” she said by phone from her Calgary home.

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“I’ve been watching American politics, not my whole life, but certainly the last few years because there’s such an influence in our country, and especially in our province.”

She’s observed populism creep into provincial politics in Alberta since Trump took office, especially with the election of United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney in 2019, a leader for whom conflict is also signature part of his brand.

Zieffle said she’s hopeful the U.S. administration change-over can have an impact on politics north of the border.

“I’m very hopeful that will have influence on how Canadian politicians do business,” she said.

Political science and history student Keegan Gingrich, who’s studying at Wilfred Laurier University from his home in Waterloo, Ont., also expressed hope that political watchers in Canada can relax once Biden takes office, after years of waking up with anxiety about the international ripple effects from Trump’s latest tweets.

“It might just be boring politics again, which would be kind of nice at this point,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich plans to watch a Twitch livestream of the inauguration hosted by U.S.-based gamer Hutch, an online figure who’s become more politically engaged in the last few years of Trump’s presidency, streaming live commentary of Trump’s impeachment hearings and the presidential debates.

Gingrich said watching the livestreams and comments from viewers, some of them without much evidence backing up their claims, gives him a sense of the debates and divisions that have defined American politics over the last four years.

“It’s kind of fun to watch,“ he said. ”But at the same time it’s terrifying.“

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020.

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