Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Altria – Marking the Jan. 6 ‘chaos and carnage’

Capitol riot
Associated Press/John Minchillo

 

Presented by Altria

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! 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 each morning this week: Monday, 826,064; Tuesday, 827,749; Wednesday, 830,284; Thursday, 832,148.

The indelible images from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol live larger than the narratives. 

Former President Trump’s role in mobilizing his armed supporters while wielding a lie about a stolen election resulted in his second House impeachment and Senate acquittal, triggered an ongoing House select committee investigation, led to the arrests of at least 725 accused rioters to date, and will forever be marked by the deaths of five people. 

The seat of U.S. democracy one year ago was cloaked in tear gas and hand-to-hand combat by costumed and selfie-strutting Trump believers who thought they were violently overturning a tally that certified the 45th president’s decisive loss. 

President Biden, who was inaugurated days later behind rings of security fencing and National Guard troops atop the same edifice scaled by the mob, plans a speech this morning in which he will accuse Trump from inside the Capitol of “singular responsibility” for misleading the American people and leaving behind “chaos and carnage” (The Hill). 

“Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?,” he will say in his remarks, according to the White House. “We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday defended the Justice Department’s approach to prosecuting those involved in the Jan. 6 riot, signaling potential charges for even those who never set foot in the Capitol. 

“The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last,” he said. “The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead” (The Hill).

The House select panel — now investigating who planned, funded and abetted the violence on Jan. 6 and the false information that fueled Trump and his backers — is gathering witness testimony and will issue a report for the history books, along with recommendations, even as Trump teases his interest in seeking the presidency in 2024. 

The Hill: Former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham met with the select committee on Wednesday. 

The Hill: Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) says he wants former Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the Electoral College tally that certified Biden as president on Jan. 6, to voluntarily speak with the panel. Breaking into the Capitol a year ago, rioters shouted, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Trump, unbowed by allegations that he encouraged an attempted coup and eager to wield his influence as the de facto head of the Republican Party, opted to cancel a planned press conference today at Mar-a-Lago. He encouraged supporters to attend his rally later this month in Arizona. 

As The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports, Trump’s change of plans on the one-year anniversary gave Republican lawmakers a reprieve; many fret that his vendettas and false claims distract the party from economic messaging aimed at the future. 

Niall Stanage, in his latest Memo for The Hill, writes that Trump’s future political aims will not be delinked from the events of Jan. 6 in the minds of the general electorate, should he run in 2024.  

The Washington Post: How Republicans became the party of Trump’s election lie after Jan. 6. 

The Hill: The 14th Amendment to the Constitution could be used to disqualify Trump from holding a future office, according to some constitutional scholars, Democrats and democracy advocates. 

While Trump decided against holding his planned press conference to air his grievances, some of his most ardent supporters are not following suit. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) will hold a press conference of their own to issue the “Republican response on the anniversary of the January 6th protests.” 

Others who plan to weigh in are expected to attempt a balancing act: saying that they don’t condone violence, all-the-while refusing to make any direct remarks concerning the former president’s repeated falsehoods about the 2020 election that led hundreds of his supporters to storm the Capitol in the first place.  

As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos notes, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) wrote in a letter to House Republicans that “the actions of that day were lawless and as wrong as wrong can be.” However, he then pivoted to accuse Democrats of using the events of the day “as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country,” adding that they should focus instead on improving Capitol security. 

However, many are expected to stay silent and keep out of the fray. The Senate pushed its next vote until Monday, meaning most senators will likely be out of town, including a number of Senate Republicans who are set to attend the funeral services for the late Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). The House is out of session until Monday.  

CNN: Mentioning Jan. 6 at a Trump event one year later does not go well. 

Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill: Division reins over Jan. 6 anniversary.  

The Hill: In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers remember Jan. 6 insurrection.

A must-watch video special by The Hill’s Capitol Hill team: The Jan. 6 attack: Reporting, and running from terror. 

Although much of today’s attention will be focused on the past year, debate continued in the Senate on Wednesday on election reform, with Republicans slightly opening the door to possible legislative alterations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Politico that he would be open to potential changes to the Electoral Count Act, an 1887 law that allows members of Congress to dispute election results and opened the door to challenges from lawmakers on Trump’s behalf last year. 

“It obviously has some flaws. And it is worth, I think, discussing,” McConnell said on Wednesday. 

However, the possibility was panned by the White House and Senate Democrats, who are holding out for more sweeping reforms to elections and voting rights, including an unlikely carveout to the legislative filibuster in the upper chamber to deal with the issues (Punchbowl News).  

Jordain Carney, The Hill: Lawmakers discuss changes to Electoral Count Act after Jan. 6. 

The New York Times: Biden and Vice President Harris are scheduled to speak Tuesday in Atlanta to promote stalled voting rights legislation. Georgia is key for Democrats in the midterms and in 2024. 

 

Capitol riot

 

Here’s what else we’re watching in Congress: The Democratic agenda is in limbo and showing very few signs of life as lawmakers attempt to bounce back from a stretch that saw the Build Back Better agenda put on a gurney last month and COVID-19 continue to present issues for the party.  

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton notes, the other big accomplishment by Senate Democrats — the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act — is stuck in the House, giving them limited options to “put points on the board,” which they argued was their way back politically after their poor electoral showing in November. Adding to the problems, there are also concerns over whether appropriations bills can be cobbled together to comprise a viable omnibus package by the Feb. 18 deadline. 

The Hill: Climate advocates hopeful after Manchin spending comments. 

The Hill: U.S. lawmakers weigh new COVID-19 stimulus funding for businesses.

 

A MESSAGE FROM ALTRIA

 

Altria is working to create a more sustainable future — aligned with the expectations of society and our stakeholders. Learn about the goals we’ve set and the progress we’re making at Altria.com.

 

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: California on Wednesday announced that it would extend its indoor mask mandate until Feb. 15 as the omicron variant surges across the state. 

The order, which was reintroduced in mid-December, was originally in place until Jan. 15. State officials cited the case totals as well as a 21.3 percent positivity rate on Wednesday as reasons for the extension (Los Angeles Times).  

However, the move could have unintended consequences in the sports and entertainment sectors. Shortly after the mask directive was extended, news emerged that the NFL is looking into the possibility of moving Super Bowl LVI away from SoFi Stadium, the home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is among the facilities that have been examined if it is moved.   

“We plan on playing Super Bowl 56 as scheduled at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday. “As part of our standard contingency planning process that we conduct for all regular and postseason games, we have contacted several clubs to inquire about stadium availability in the event we cannot play the Super Bowl as scheduled due to weather-related issues or unforeseen circumstances” (ESPN). 

 

SoFi Stadium

 

Earlier in the day, the Grammy Awards announced that they had postponed their ceremony that was slated for Jan. 31 at Crypto.com Arena — also in Los Angeles — after consultation with local and state officials. The event was not rescheduled, with organizers saying a future date would be announced soon (The Associated Press).  

The New York Times: For the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky, a steep learning curve on messaging. 

The Wall Street Journal: Biden, in shift, prepares Americans to see COVID-19 as part of life.

Emily Oster for The Atlantic: Universities need to catch up to the post-vaccine reality.

The Wall Street Journal: Inside a COVID-19 school closing: A Pennsylvania superintendent agonizes over going remote. 

The Associated Press: Omicron surge vexes parents of children too young for shots. 

COVID-19 and the sporting world also collided in Australia as tennis star Novak Djokovic was denied entry into the country when his visa to compete in the Australian Open was revoked over a failure to meet the prerequisites to receive an exemption to vaccination rules. Djokovic, who won the tournament last year and is ranked No. 1 in the world, landed in the country around midnight on Wednesday, but was not allowed through, as he received the wrong type of visa. 

Djokovic has long been a critic of COVID-19 vaccines and has refused to acknowledge his vaccination status ahead of the Australian Open. The tournament is set to begin on Jan. 17.  

“Mr. Djokovic’s visa has been canceled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted. “No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.” 

Djokovic is reportedly appealing the visa cancellation (Reuters). He is seeking a record setting 21st Grand Slam title. 

The Associated Press: British authorities ease COVID-19 testing requirements amid surge. 

Bloomberg News: Hong Kong bans flights from the U.S., United Kingdom and six other nations. 

CNN: Rio de Janeiro cancels Carnival for a second year because of rising COVID-19 infections.  

 

Novak Djokovic

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: Biden is expected to soon nominate three people to the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, filling out a seven-seat board with appointments intended to appeal to Democrats who want stronger Wall Street oversight and more diversity in the top ranks of the powerful central bank. 

The Washington Post reports that Biden is considering nominating Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chairman of supervision, the Fed’s top banking cop, and Lisa Cook, who would be the first Black woman on the Fed board, if confirmed. Philip Jefferson would be the fourth Black male board member, according to sources familiar with Biden’s anticipated picks. 

Raskin was a Fed governor from 2010 to 2014 and was confirmed in 2014 to be deputy Treasury secretary in the Obama administration. She is married to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who filled a lead role in Trump’s second House impeachment. 

> The nation has more than twice the number of abandoned oil and gas wells as originally believed, according to a preliminary analysis by the Interior Department. In a memo Wednesday, the department said there are currently more than 130,000 documented abandoned wells. Comparatively, a 2019 report documented a total of 56,600 so-called orphaned wells across 30 states (The Hill). Why is it important? Because states will soon seek federal grants to restore or close abandoned wells, vying for $4.7 billion available to do the job. The funding is part of the long-debated infrastructure bill enacted in November.

OPINION

I fear for our democracy, by former President Carter, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3331vrp  

Political violence is in our DNA. Can we avoid more of it? By James Hohmann, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3zuonwa  

We survived Jan. 6 locked in the House chamber. Will our democracy survive, too? By Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Susan Wild (D-Pa.). https://wapo.st/3mXQZcg

 

A MESSAGE FROM ALTRIA

 

Altria is working to create a more sustainable future — aligned with the expectations of society and our stakeholders. Learn about the goals we’ve set and the progress we’re making at Altria.com.

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House returns to work on Monday. At noon, lawmakers will be called into session for a statement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Jan. 6 riot. 

The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m., and will hold its next vote on Monday.

The president and Harris will speak from the Capitol’s Statuary Hall at 9 a.m. to mark a year since violent attacks on the Capitol. 

The vice president at 5:30 p.m. will ceremonially swear in Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón to be U.S. ambassador to Spain. 

First lady Jill Biden will travel to Kentucky to highlight state and local response efforts tied to tornado destruction last month. Joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks, the first lady will travel to Bowling Green to join Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and wife, Britainy Beshear, to survey recovery efforts at 10:45 a.m. local time. They will visit a Bowling Green FEMA recovery center at 11:30 a.m.  

Economic indicators: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on filings for unemployment benefits during the holiday week ending Jan. 1. … The Commerce Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on the U.S. trade deficit in November.    

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.

ELSEWHERE

INTERNATIONAL: Russia sent paratroopers into Kazakhstan today to quell a countrywide uprising after deadly violence spread across the tightly controlled former Soviet state, which gained independence three decades ago (Reuters). Protesters on Wednesday were reacting to a hike in fuel prices (CNN). The Washington Post reports that Russian troops arrived in Almaty, the largest city, and video from Russia’s Tass state news agency showed armed security forces engaged in a shootout near the city’s main square. “Dozens of attackers have been eliminated, their identities are being established,” said spokeswoman Saltanat Azirbek, according to Russian news agency Interfax. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked for “peacekeeper” help from a security alliance made up of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Associated Press reports that 12 Kazakh police are dead in addition to protesters. One police officer was reportedly found beheaded. 

STATE WATCH: Michigan‘s first stab at an independent congressional redistricting committee has left both Democrats and Republicans grumbling. A new lawsuit filed by Black lawmakers shows the inherent tension in balancing competing and sometimes contradictory priorities in drawing fair maps for all, reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson. … And speaking of redistricting, The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman reports that the GOP continues to have the election-year advantage this year but not necessarily because of redrawn congressional maps. “The surprising good news for Democrats: on the current trajectory, there will be a few more Biden-won districts after redistricting than there are now — producing a congressional map slightly less biased in the GOP’s favor than the last decade’s. The bad news for Democrats: if President Biden’s approval ratings are still mired in the low-to-mid 40s in November, that won’t be enough to save their razor-thin House majority (currently 221 to 212 seats),” he wrote this week

➜ ELECTRIC VEHICLES: One of the most obvious market assumptions is that the internal combustion engine is rapidly going the way of the horse-drawn carriage (especially in the luxury market), meaning investors and consumers are speeding toward electric vehicle leaders, from Tesla to major U.S. automotive names, such as GM. Sony wants in, too (The Wall Street Journal). Electric vehicle sales nearly doubled in the U.S. and worldwide in 2021. Car watchers expect trade-in and resale values of gasoline powered vehicles eventually to fall, especially on the lower end of the automobile market. One caveat: Gas-fueled cars earned some kudos on Monday during the cold, snowy gridlock on I-95 in Virginia (electric vehicles wrestle with battery-debilitating freezing temperatures and no place to recharge when stuck in massive overnight traffic jams, as The Washington Post’s columnist Charles Lane noted). Bloomberg News reports that the titans of carmaking are now plotting the overthrow of Elon Musk.

 

Tesla recharging

THE CLOSER

And finally … The Morning Report Quiz will be back next week, but in the interim, we sought some upbeat inspiration to close out this newsletter. We found it. 

Any driver who has the misfortune of crashing through an interstate guardrail in winter while being thrown out of a vehicle as it rolls down an embankment wants a canine hero like Tinsley to save the day.

The New Hampshire State Police shared an incredible good-news dog tale that careened across social media and onto television starring a year-old German shepherd who led state police on Monday night to an accident scene where his human, Cam Laundry, and a passenger were hurt (CBS News). 

“It quickly became apparent that Tinsley led Trooper Sandberg and the Lebanon Police to the crash site and injured occupants,” police posted on Facebook

 

Dog saves owners after crash
Tags australian open Bennie Thompson Biden Capitol attack COVID-19 Donald Trump Elon Musk Jamie Raskin Jan. 6 anniversary Jan. 6 Committee Jason Crow Jill Biden Joe Biden Johnny Isakson Kevin McCarthy Marjorie Taylor Greene Matt Gaetz Merrick Garland Mike Pence Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi omicron Rochelle Walensky Stephanie Grisham Susan Wild The Morning Report

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