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The Hill's Morning Report - Trump finally concedes; 25th Amendment pressure grows

The Hill's Morning Report - Trump finally concedes; 25th Amendment pressure grows
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is the second Friday in 2021. Quite a year so far. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

 

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 351,590; Tuesday, 353,621; Wednesday, 357,385; Thursday, 361,279; Friday, 365,317.

Fallout from the breach of the Capitol by rioters continued on Thursday amid calls for the Cabinet and Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE as unfit to carry out his duties. 

Under intense bipartisan pressure Thursday, the president acknowledged his defeat in the 2020 election one day after vowing he would continue to contest the results. In a nearly three-minute video taped at the White House, Trump decried the mob he had encouraged, which swarmed the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress confirmed President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE’s electoral victory. 

“We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high. But now tempers must be cooled and calm restored,” Trump said. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.” 

The president’s sudden conciliatory outreach took place following a persuasion effort through Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpMelinda Gates tapped divorce lawyers in 2019 after Epstein links to husband: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot MORE, steered by White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Stephen Miller launching group to challenge Democrats' policies through lawsuits A year with the coronavirus: How we got here MORE and counsel Pat Cipollone, according to multiple outlets. It took place as at least 200 House lawmakers advocated expelling Trump from office (NBC News). 

Early on Thursday, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Inflation jumps at fastest pace since 2008 | Biden 'encouraged' on bipartisan infrastructure deal Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response Biden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) advocated his removal, saying Trump’s final days in office posed a danger to the nation. 

“This is an urgency of the highest magnitude,” Pelosi said. “While there are only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America” (The Hill).

Invoking the 25th Amendment, however, has been dismissed by Pence and ignored by the Cabinet, both necessary under the Constitution to proceed. According to The New York Times and Business Insider, the vice president opposes the idea of moving to declare Trump unfit to serve, despite his concerns about events he witnessed on Wednesday.  

Biden on Thursday said in a statement through an aide that any invocation of the 25th Amendment would be up to the vice president and the Cabinet, not him. He avoided questions about impeaching Trump a second time (The Associated Press). 

Most lawmakers approach discussions about removing Trump as a form of public censure rather than as a viable procedural option as Biden’s inauguration draws near. 

Despite the president’s sudden embrace of “healing,” he is contemplating travel next week to the southwestern border to tout his controversial immigration policies, according to The New York Times. He’s also mulling the idea of a media exit interview. The president and his family have discussed departing the White House on Jan. 19, the Times reports, and sources tell Politico that Trump favors the idea of being able to use Air Force One, which is possible only while he’s president, to make his exit from Washington. Where he will go is unclear; a South Florida party or rally among friends and supporters is a possible destination, according to reports.  

The Hill: Calls grow louder to remove Trump under 25th Amendment.

The Hill: Pelosi, Schumer say they haven't heard from Pence on invoking the 25th Amendment.

CNN: What is the 25th Amendment and how does it work? 

Politifact: Using the 25th Amendment or impeaching Trump: Could they happen?

The Hill: Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE says Trump Cabinet should discuss the 25th Amendment. 

Two House Republicans on Thursday offered their support for a procedure to remove Trump. Illinois Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerTrump critics push new direction for GOP Democrats fundraise off of vote to remove Cheney from GOP leadership Kinzinger on Cheney removal: History will call this 'low point of the Republican Party' MORE became the first, with Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Ohio sets special election to replace retiring Rep. Steve Stivers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict MORE (Ohio) adding he would “not be opposed.” 

 

 

Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyMore than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan Republicans' 'marriage bonus' is social engineering at its worst MORE (R-Mo.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzYang: Those who thought tweet in support of Israel was 'overly simplistic' are correct CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump MORE (R-Texas), the two foremost objectors to the Electoral College count on Wednesday, joined Trump in feeling the wrath of some of their peers. 

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBiden to go one-on-one with Manchin US, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks How the United States can pass Civics 101 MORE (D-Del.), a top Biden ally, called on Hawley and Cruz to resign. Book publisher Simon & Schuster announced it canceled the publication of a pending book by Hawley about Big Tech, withdrawing publication “after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”

Hawley fired back in a statement, calling the company’s decision a “direct assault on the First Amendment” (The Hill). 

The Kansas City Star: “The biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” said former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), who promoted Hawley at the outset of his political career. 

The Hill: Donor who gave millions to Hawley urges Senate to censure him for “irresponsible” behavior.

Peggy Noonan: Bring the insurrectionists to justice.

Governors weigh in: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has not discounted making a future bid for the White House, said he supports Trump’s removal from office or his resignation (The Hill). … Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts echoed that position, calling on the president to “step down” in response to his behavior and the mob violence seen in Washington (The Hill). … North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), who repeatedly clashed with Trump last year as the pandemic worsened, tweeted, “This president has betrayed our country and is therefore unfit to lead it. He should resign or be removed from office.”  

> Trump & Republican lawmakers: The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that GOP senators say they feel a sense of growing regret over not standing up to the president sooner in retrospect following Wednesday’s attack. One Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss his conversations with GOP colleagues acknowledged GOP lawmakers should have served as a stronger check on the president over the past four years. 

“We should have done more to push back, both against his rhetoric and some of the things he did legislatively,” said the lawmaker. “The mistake we made is that we always thought he was going to get better. We thought that once he got the nomination, and then once he got a Cabinet he was going to get better, he was going to be more presidential.” 

> The president’s party: National Republicans interviewed by The Hill say Trump may have permanently alienated millions of center-right voters who were disgusted by Wednesday’s ugly scene in Washington. But they acknowledged that the president retains enormous political power for the time being, despite bipartisan calls that he resign or be ousted from the Oval Office immediately (The Hill). 

> Legal jeopardy: The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie HabermanMaggie Lindsy HabermanThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Biden's next social safety net push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Pence sets the stage for 2024 Trump frustrated with pace of super PAC MORE: Trump in recent weeks is said to have discussed with aides the prospect of pardoning himself. The president has long maintained he has such power and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign he is poised to act. Trump has expressed concern that he will be a target of law enforcement after leaving office.

"His legal risks increase immeasurably come Jan. 21, both on the civil and the criminal side," Danya Perry, a former state and federal prosecutor in New York, told NPR in November.

LEADING THE DAY

REPERCUSSIONS: Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoTop Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Gingrich on Trump-McConnell feud: GOP 'better off' focusing on Democrats MORE, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal McConnell: 'Good chance' of deal with Biden on infrastructure MORE (R-Ky.), and Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosBiden administration reversing Trump ban on pandemic aid for undocumented students Biden taps ex-consumer bureau chief to oversee student loans Tomorrow's special election in Texas is the Democrats' best House hope in 2021 MORE resigned on Thursday in reaction to Wednesday’s tumultuous events in Washington (The Associated Press). … U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, resigned (CNBC) . … Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian Affairs at the White House, also quit (Bloomberg News), as did Tyler Goodspeed, the acting chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Mark Vandroff, senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council (The New York Times and Defense News).

At least nine senior administration officials have announced their resignations (The Associated Press). At the same time, lawmakers and others are urging administration personnel to remain in place to help ensure an orderly transition.  

“No matter what course of action is taken against President Trump in 13 days, Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States. Until then, I urge the good men and women honorably serving at all levels of the federal government to please stay at their post for the protection of our democracy,” West Virginia Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinIs the Constitution in the way of DC statehood? Biden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Joe Manchin is wrong — D.C. statehood is constitutional MORE, a Democrat who represents a red state, said in a statement. “The actions of a rogue president will not and should not reflect on you. Instead, your patriotism and commitment to the greater good of our country will be reaffirmed.”

Politico: Former White House communications director Alysa Farah: “I stepped down because I saw where this was heading.”

> Capitol security: Hours after Pelosi on Thursday called for the resignation of U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, he submitted his resignation with barely seven months on the job (The Hill). Pelosi also announced the resignation of the House sergeant-at-arms after the shocking breach of the Capitol by rioters. 

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Tim Ryan touts labor support in Senate bid Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay MORE (D-Ohio), the top House appropriator charged with funding the Capitol Police, joined the Speaker on Thursday in promising an investigation or review of security planning and police responses, including the fatal shooting by an officer of a 35-year-old woman inside the Capitol. "There were some strategic mistakes from the very beginning," Ryan said (The Hill and Politico).  

The Hill: Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at the Capitol.

The Hill: Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick collapsed after being injured while confronting rioters on Wednesday and died on Thursday night. He became the fourth fatality tied to the Capitol clashes. 

 

 

During a news conference, Pelosi said her focus remains on what she called the “danger” Trump and his supporters pose between now and the administration of the oaths of office to Biden and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMcConnell: 'Good chance' of deal with Biden on infrastructure Democrat Nikki Fried teases possible challenge to DeSantis Pavlich: The border crisis Biden said we could afford MORE as vice president.  

"If there's anything learned about [Wednesday's violence], is that we have to be very, very careful. Because these people and their leader, Donald Trump, do not care about the security of people, they don't care about our democracy, they don't care about the peaceful transfer of power," she said (The Hill). 

The Associated Press reported that the Capitol Police turned down two offers of federal help — one from the Pentagon three days before Wednesday’s mayhem and another from the Justice Department on Wednesday with an offer of FBI assistance. The Capitol Police planned in advance only for a free speech demonstration, despite detailed news accounts (see The Washington Post) about extremist, pro-Trump groups that intended to rally in Washington to oppose Biden’s victory, with excitement about Trump’s invitation on Twitter: “Be there, will be wild!” (The New York Times). 

Earlier in the day, Sund, a former D.C. police officer, defended his team’s response. The assault on the Capitol was “unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,″ he said. ”Make no mistake: these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior. The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced″ (The Associated Press).

D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserMaryland to lift remaining COVID capacity restrictions Transgender inmate sues DC over incarceration in men's unit Ocasio-Cortez has a Taco Tuesday with Buttigieg MORE (D) on Thursday added to the day’s criticism. “Obviously it was a failure or you would not have had people enter the Capitol by breaking windows and terrorizing the members of Congress who were doing a very sacred requirement of their jobs,″ she said.

 

 

> Megaphones: In one of the most consequential reactions to Wednesday’s violence and Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday initially took steps to temporarily suspend Trump’s accounts, despite howls of protest from the president’s base (The  Washington Post). A day later, Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook), extended the suspension indefinitely — at least through the remainder of Trump’s presidency (The Washington Post).  

Twitter, for years a powerful Trump megaphone, ended a 12-hour suspension of the president’s account on Thursday, noting that the platform might take further action while it tracks “activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter” (The Associated Press). The president had immediately deleted some of his tweets in an effort to release Twitter’s suspension (Fox News).  

The social media behemoths have spent much of Trump’s term tiptoeing around objections that the president uses the platforms to spread false information and drive news media coverage while also employing divisive, bullying language akin to hate speech to assail people who do not have equivalent social media clout to fight back. Facebook and Twitter are under intense regulatory and congressional scrutiny as Democrats prepare to control both the executive and legislative branches this month. 

 

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

NEW ADMINISTRATION: Biden on Thursday filled out his major Cabinet vacancies with his announcements in Wilmington, Del., that he chose Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Watch live: Garland testifies before Senate panel on domestic extremism The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE to lead the Justice Department; Boston Mayor Marty WalshMarty WalshOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Former AFL-CIO official tapped to lead Labor Department division Biden: Workers can't turn down job and get benefits MORE to be secretary of Labor; Rhode Island Gov. Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoPentagon removing Chinese tech giant from blacklist after court loss Biden administration approves major offshore wind project The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (D) to lead the Commerce Department; and former Obama administration official Isabel Guzman to head the Small Business Administration (Axios). He also selected former Obama administration official and KeyBank executive Don Graves to be deputy secretary at Commerce. 

The Associated Press: Biden introduces Garland as attorney general.

 

 

Biden also is expected to nominate veteran diplomat Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of State and Victoria Nuland to be under secretary of State for political affairs, which is an influential, No. 3 position in the department. Sherman helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 and Nuland previously served as the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman (Politico and Reuters). 

> IRS: Democratic lawmakers, encouraged by narrow majorities in the House and Senate this year, are expected to work with the incoming Biden administration to try to enact $2,000 direct payments to eligible Americans as part of an economic response to the pandemic (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 

 

OPINION

Trump’s Final Days: The best outcome would be for him to resign, The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3s5cCs4

Trump’s political career is over, by Liz Peek, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2LwOLQY

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet Monday at 11 a.m. for a pro forma session and will return to legislative business after Inauguration Day. 

The Senate is out of session until Jan. 19.

The president has no public events on his schedule. 

The vice president has no public events. 

Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on unemployment in December. The data are expected to appear bleaker as 2020 ended with consumer caution, rising COVID-19 infections and new restrictions imposed by state and local officials, which impacted commerce.

Biden will make an announcement about the presidential transition in Wilmington, Del. He and Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with transition advisers. Harris will also participate in a virtual thank you event for campaign supporters. 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube.

ELSEWHERE

CORONAVIRUS: The total number of Americans who have received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine rose to 5.9 million on Thursday in a nation with 330 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States has not yet hit a preliminary threshold of 1 million inoculations per day (The Associated Press).  … Tensions have escalated between state and federal officials over priority groups designated to receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccinations. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, responding to criticisms that administration of inoculations to Americans by hospitals, nursing homes and health facilities has been too slow, implored governors not to ignore scientific guidance or micromanage the process (The Hill). 

> COVID-19 & travel: Carnival Corp. on Thursday announced additional cancellations and delayed cruise travel this year because of the coronavirus (Orlando Sentinel).   

POLITICS: The historic election in Georgia on Tuesday of two Democratic senators, one of whom is a Black Baptist minister, relied on heavy turnout among Black voters in urban counties. Local activists and organizers who mobilized and registered voters for years in a state long known for voter suppression are credited with a strategy that made a difference (The Hill). … How Warnock and Ossoff painted Georgia blue and flipped the Senate (Politico)… Republican lawmakers in Georgia want restrictions on absentee voting following record-setting voter turnout in November’s elections. The era of widespread absentee voting would end if the state’s General Assembly enacts laws this year to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, ballot drop boxes and unsolicited absentee ballot application mailings (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). 

➔ LOBBYING: Business groups and lobbying firms were upended this week with the surprise results of Georgia’s two Senate runoff contests, which tipped the balance of power to Democrats. Lobbyists allied with McConnell and other top Republicans are shifting gears (The Hill).

THE CLOSER

And finally … Imagine being a state legislator and working desk-to-desk with a familiar colleague: your mother. A political development on Tuesday in Harrisburg, Pa., caught our attention.  

Six-term Republican Rep. Ryan Mackenzie took the oath of office, along with his 70-year-old mother, an interior designer and former schoolteacher, who was sworn in as a GOP newcomer in the state legislature. Rep. Milou Mackenzie sits next to her son on the House floor during votes and expects to carpool with her offspring from their Lehigh County districts, which share borders (The Associated Press). 

She swears this will not affect their relationship.