The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 610,891; Tuesday, 610,952; Wednesday, 611,288.
It was an emotional scene on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as four police officers issued gut-wrenching testimony from their experience defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, launching the House select committee’s first day of work.
The four officers detailed their accounts of what took place during the deadly riot nearly seven months ago as they brushed aside tears and slammed the actions of some House Republicans for their attempt to whitewash the incident from memory. Along with the gruesome accounts, the committee also watched on as footage from the day was played, showing officers crunched inside doors and being beaten with items by supporters of former President Trump as they attempted to stop the siege (The Hill).
“On Jan. 6, for the first time, I was more afraid working at the Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6,” said Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant and Army veteran.
Gonell appeared alongside fellow Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, with the four visibly upset at what took place and the aftermath, with some of them going to counseling following the attack.
“My law enforcement career prepared me to cope with some of the aspects of this experience,” said Fanone, who detailed being shocked repeatedly with his own stun gun during the incident. “Nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day and in doing so, betray their oath of office.”
In recent months, Republicans have moved to rewrite the history of what took place that day, including the attempt at outing the officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to break into the House chamber, with one going so far as to liken the deadly insurrection to a “normal tourist visit.”
At one point, Dunn, who is Black, told lawmakers that after he told some pro-Trump rioters that he voted for President Biden, they responded by calling him a racial slur, adding that it was the first time he’d ever heard that term uttered in his direction while in uniform (video here). When pressed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on how that made him feel, Dunn said that he carried on with his work that day, but after the incident sank in later, he labeled it “overwhelming” and “disheartening.”
“Those words are weapons,” Dunn said (The Hill).
The Hill: Capitol Police chief praises officers who testified before Jan. 6 panel.
The Associated Press: “This is how I’m going to die”: Officers tell Jan. 6 stories.
Throughout the hearing, the four officers and the nine lawmakers on the dais (seven Democrats and two Republicans) were seen visibly weeping. The testimony drowned out any attempt by Republicans to counterprogram the event, which was limited to an early morning press conference during which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who notably said he didn’t watch the hearing ― and others tried to pin blame on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), not the former president, for what played out on Jan. 6 (The Hill). However, even House Republicans were forced to admit the comments made by the officers in uniform were gripping.
“These officers deserve to have their stories told. It was compelling. It was heart-wrenching. Their heroism was absolutely on display. We appreciate everything they did,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), one of the members McCarthy named to the panel who was not nixed by Pelosi last week, told NBC’s Chuck Todd (NBC News).
The Washington Post: Jan. 6 hearings open with visceral accounts of Trump supporters’ assault on police.
The Hill: Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony.
Jonathan Allen: What will Republicans defend if not themselves, the Constitution and Capitol?
The Hill: Officer Hodges repeatedly calls Jan. 6 rioters “terrorists.”
With no GOP-appointed members on the panel, Republicans are also facing issues pushing back against what is said during the committee’s hearings, and no person will be more upset by this than Trump himself.
“He would hate that no one stood up to push back. It could be a big issue for McCarthy if he isn’t driving a different narrative,” one Trump World source told the Morning Report. “I don’t think it’s a mistake [to yank members from the panel], but I do think he needs to have something outside of pulling them.”
Thompson told reporters after the hearing that the panel will likely hold one hearing during the August recess and will release a round of subpoenas “soon” (The Hill).
Mike Lillis and Scott Wong, The Hill: GOP up in arms over Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.).
The Hill: Cheney faces political storm in Wyoming.
The Hill: Senators reach $2 billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill.
The Hill: McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel.
> Infrastructure: Senate negotiators expressed optimism on Tuesday that a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal could be nailed down sooner rather than later, reversing pessimism that permeated Capitol Hill on Monday. Lawmakers indicated that some of the issues that have hung up a final deal are nearing a resolution, giving them hope that a deal could be struck in the near future.
“We’re getting close, and I’m hopeful we can get this done soon,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters. “We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress. The number of issues has been narrowed significantly” (The Wall Street Journal).
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, the group of 22 senators is facing increasing pressure from Senate Democrats amid a time crunch ahead of a potentially truncated August recess and questions about a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that hangs in the balance.
The Hill: Biden and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) meet as infrastructure talks hit rough patch.
Politico: Can Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) seal the big bipartisan deal?
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LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: Biden is expected to announce on Thursday that federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19, or submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, CNN reports (The New York Times describes the change as under consideration). The president will not apply the requirement to the U.S. military but is expected to outline how the Department of Defense is preparing, CNN adds. The U.S. Army has said it is taking steps to require vaccination beginning Sept. 1, pending Food and Drug Administration regular approval of vaccines currently in emergency use, according to Stars and Stripes.
The president’s sweeping mandate to try to get more Americans vaccinated would go beyond a decision announced Monday by the Veterans Affairs Department to require its health care employees to be vaccinated. His decision tracks this week’s announcements by New York City and the state of California to require that public workers get vaccinated within weeks or submit to testing if unvaccinated as a way to limit the spread of the delta variant, which accounts for nearly all new U.S. infections.
The idea of a mandate applied to federal workers is tied to a separate, revised recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday encouraging all individuals to return to wearing masks indoors in public spaces in areas of high infections, regardless of their vaccination status. Currently, states in the South and West where vaccination rates are lowest are experiencing some of the most significant transmissions of COVID-19, including to some people who are fully vaccinated (The New York Times and The Hill).
Biden, who won the presidency in part based on boasts he could ably manage a public health crisis, acknowledged America’s frustration and fatigue with evolving science about COVID-19 and the bewildering U.S. patchwork of federal, state, city and corporate mitigation responses that have stirred a national debate about public responsibility and personal freedoms.
“More vaccinations and mask wearing in the areas most impacted by the delta variant will enable us to avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures, and disruptions we faced in 2020,” the president said in a statement. “Unlike 2020, we have both the scientific knowledge and the tools to prevent the spread of this disease. We are not going back to that.”
Nearly two-thirds of all counties in the United States have “high” or “substantial” transmission rates because of the delta variant and because more than half the country is not vaccinated, according to the CDC’s tracker. People who are fully vaccinated are least likely to become seriously ill or die, but those who have been vaccinated can also contract COVID-19 and experience no symptoms or mild symptoms. Like unvaccinated people, they run the risk of spreading the virus to others, including children, seniors and individuals with weakened immune systems.
The CDC also recommended on Tuesday that local jurisdictions encourage universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status (CNN). In a related announcement on Tuesday, Montgomery County, Md., outside Washington, D.C., said it would mandate masks for all students and staff in public school buildings, regardless of vaccination status (WTOP).
Biden conceded that asking students to wear masks indoors is “inconvenient,” but he said it is necessary to safely reopen schools this fall.
More U.S. coronavirus headlines: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is self-isolating after exposure to an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 (Politico). … Hotel operators, gym owners and bus operators argue they cannot economically recover without COVID-19 relief funding from Congress that they missed in the first go-round (The Hill). … Understanding the unvaccinated (with data from more than 5,200 Americans) (Axios). … The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has dealt with more than 2,400 incidents of non-compliance by travelers with requirements for face masks and other mitigation steps during the pandemic. Only two people have agreed to pay the fines issued for their bad behavior (The Hill). … White House journalists are again required to wear masks inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. because of the current significant spread of the coronavirus in D.C. White House staff, who are otherwise regularly tested for coronavirus infections, will also wear masks again indoors, based on federal guidance (The Hill). … House lawmakers will also officially resume wearing masks in the Capitol in compliance with CDC recommendations (The Hill).
More coronavirus headlines abroad: For U.S. experts who look to the United Kingdom’s experience with the delta variant for clues about how the situation may turn out in the United States, COVID-19 infections dropped 31 percent in the last week in Great Britain. … In the European Union, 70 percent of adults have been jabbed with at least one dose of vaccine and 57 percent are fully vaccinated as of July, according to a statement by the European Commission. … It is part of the reason countries in Europe are frustrated that the United States won’t open its borders to European travelers, citing coronavirus risks (The Washington Post). … Confirmed virus cases in Tokyo are setting records following the start of the Summer Olympics (The Associated Press).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
ADMINISTRATION: The White House is elevating the issue of rising violent crime, reports The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant. The administration is making recommendations to states and cities about using funding from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law to boost public safety and has convened a group of mayors, law enforcement officials, and philanthropic leaders as part of a new collaboration to strengthen community violence intervention programs.
> Cyber: A recent string of damaging cyber and ransomware attacks against critical U.S. targets, including Colonial Pipeline in May, prompted lawmakers on Tuesday to grill federal officials during multiple hearings about the national security risks. The FBI advised the Senate against banning ransom payments to hackers by victimized companies (The Hill).
> U.S. economy: The Commerce Department on Thursday morning will release an estimate of gross domestic product between April and June, the first official yardstick measuring the strength of the economy under Biden’s tenure. The Federal Reserve today concludes a two-day policy meeting, and analysts are listening for updates on inflation and monetary policy (The Hill).
> Crypto: A team of watchdogs led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is interested in Tether and Facebook-backed Diem, and the financial risks posed by stablecoins, a fast-growing corner of the cryptocurrency industry that purports to be a reliable blockchain network for payments and asset issuance (Bloomberg News).
> Anniversary of 9/11 attacks: The president is expected to visit the 9/11 memorial site in New York City in September to mark the 20th anniversary of terror strikes that killed nearly 3,000 people and injured 6,000 others (Politico).
POLITICS: Hours after the House select committee hearing wrapped up, Trump was dealt a second blow thousands of miles away as Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R) defeated Susan Wright, the widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas) who sought to succeed her husband. Wright was endorsed by Trump and supported by outside GOP money ahead of Tuesday’s special election runoff in the state’s 6th Congressional District.
Ellzey, who was endorsed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), won an extremely low-turnout contest by more than 6 percentage points (2,500 votes) to fill the former congressman’s seat six months after he contracted COVID-19 and died (The Hill).
Susan Wright was the heavy favorite heading into Tuesday, having secured Trump’s backing in April, but there were signs of trouble, despite Trump’s fundraising help and backing during a tele-town hall on Monday night and campaign spending for Wright by the Club for Growth in a last ditch effort to rally voters. As The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek notes, the Club spent $1.2 million on Wright’s behalf ahead of Tuesday while criticizing Ellzey for what it said was spotty attendance in the Texas House and for voting for a tax hike. Ellzey denied the swipes.
“One of the things that we’ve seen from this campaign is a positive outlook — a Reagan Republican outlook for the future of our country — is what the people of the 6th District really, really want,” Ellzey told supporters at a victory event on Tuesday.
One GOP strategist argued that the Club’s messaging, coupled with the low-turnout nature of the race, backfired for Wright ahead of the election.
“This election became about Texas versus the east coast elite who were funding a shadow campaign that focused on the former President. Texans sided with the navy fighter pilot who was born and raised in Texas,” one Texas GOP operative told the Morning Report. “The negative attacks were over the top and they became unbelievable. The Club overplayed their hand.”
Wright’s loss also marks the first contest of the year in which Trump has weighed in, handing him an 0-1 record for his endorsed candidates after touting for months his strength in intra party affairs. He will have a chance to even his 2021 scorecard in the Ohio special election primary to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio). Trump has endorsed Mike Carey.
The Washington Post: Texas voters brush aside Trump endorsement and name Ellzey the winner in a House special election in Texas.
The Hill: Trump says he’d like to see New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
The heroes of Jan. 6 expose the lies that Republicans keep telling us, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2UMrzU5
To mandate or not to mandate vaccines, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3zGFqtD
School meals should remain free for all children today and always, by Richard Besser, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3lawby9
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 11 a.m. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m.
The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Gwynne Wilcox to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Biden will travel to Lower Macungie, Pa., a town near Allentown, Pa., to visit Mack’s Lehigh Valley Operations manufacturing facility at 1:25 p.m. and deliver remarks at 2 p.m. (WGAL 8 points out that Macungie is near the home of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who recently voted against opening debate on a bipartisan infrastructure framework the president supports). Biden plans to propose a rule to strengthen buy-American requirements (The Hill). He will return to the White House at 4:30 p.m.
Federal Reserve Chairman Powell will take questions from the news media after the central bank releases a statement at 2 p.m.
INVITATION: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event, “Latina Leaders Summit,” TODAY at 1 p.m., with a group of accomplished Latina leaders in government and business including Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), co-chair of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus; Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.); Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.); Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.); Topeka, Kan., Mayor Michelle De La Isla; Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the Small Business Administration; and Nanette Cocero, global president of vaccines for Pfizer. Information is HERE.
INVITATION: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event, “Energy Efficiency, Climate and Justice,” on Thursday at 1 p.m. Speakers include Brenda Mallory, White House Council on Environmental Quality chair; Kim Foreman, Environmental Health Watch executive director; Ben Passer of Fresh Energy; Jacqueline Patterson, The Chisholm Legacy Project founder and executive director; and Adrianna Quintero of the Energy Foundation. Information is HERE.
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.
➔ FREE COLLEGE: Walmart will begin offering free college tuition and books to its 1.5 million U.S. employees, the latest effort by the country’s largest private employer to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market. The retail giant said Tuesday that it will invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career training and development programs for workers who want to pursue majors in high-demand fields such as business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity. The company had previously required its Walmart and Sam’s Club workforce to pay $1 a day to participate in the program. “We are creating a path of opportunity for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart,” said Lorraine Stomski, the company’s senior vice president of learning and leadership (The Washington Post).
➔ INTERNATIONAL: The application of Hong Kong’s national security law was in full view for the first time on Tuesday as the first person tried under it was found guilty of secessionism and terrorism on Tuesday. Tong Ying-kit was convicted of those charges after he drove a motorcycle into a group of police officers in 2020 while carrying a flag reading, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Tong faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, with his legal team fighting for a lighter punishment (The Associated Press).
And finally … The Morning Report Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage today continues with a big headline, some great photos and a medal leaderboard.
*** JUST IN *** U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, considered by many to be the greatest in her sport, withdrew from Thursday’s individual all-around competition and will not defend her Olympic title. She said she is focused on her mental well-being. She will be evaluated daily before deciding if she will participate in next week’s individual events, according to the USA Gymnastics organization (The Associated Press).
As of this writing, the United States leads in medals with 30, of which 10 are gold. China has captured 24 (11 gold) while Japan piled up 20 medals (11 gold). Russia, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, has 19 (seven gold), and Australia has 16 total so far, of which six are gold. Check out medals, competitions and details at NBC Olympics.
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