Happy Valentine’s Day: here is a precious video of the Bidens walking around the White House lawn that Dr. Biden insisted on filling with giant candy hearts — enjoy! Below is a catch-up of the major events of the week of February 8th, 2021. You can check in with a minimal time commitment, read about the big stuff and stay in the know before we’re on to the next. Also, I would encourage you to scroll through my Twitter feed for the week for more detail. Some important stories that didn’t make the cut can be found there, and the topics I discuss in quick snippets here will have links attached, if you are looking for more information on the topic.
If you would like access to important moments that happened this week during the Trump Impeachment Trial, I would recommend my article, Will the Chilling Video Evidence Do it for the GOP? For more detail on the performance of both sides, you can review this week on my Twitter feed, where I was live-tweeting a majority of the trial. If you only have a short time to watch some of the proceedings, I will tell you that ‘Day 2’ was the most pivotal.
We were introduced to new security footage from inside the Capitol Building, and for the first time we saw how much danger former Vice President Pence was in during the riot on Jan 6th. Democrats also showed, through a timeline, that Trump was aware of this danger and sent out a tweet to his followers, that was aimed at attacking Pence, after he knew of the risk. The entire day was jam-packed with damning evidence and arguments that proved House Democrats’ case, and you can watch the entire eight hours here or you can watch a 12-minute version of highlights here.
I also had a great time appearing on the live podcast, “We’re Talking,” with Lisa Senecal and Maya May on Wednesday night. We talked about everything from why we should bother to impeach, to the post-Trump exhaustion state we are all in, to an honest assessment of how Biden is doing so far. Disclaimer: I am still new to these appearances so I promise my head will not be so prominent next time. Also, here’s a fun fact: I had every lamp in my home, with the shade off, surrounding me on my living room floor and it was not only toasty, but hysterical. You can watch it here:
Last Sunday, Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) died from Covid-19 after being admitted to the hospital — he advocated for the re-opening of public schools despite the safety issues, and is the first sitting member of Congress to die from the virus.
On Monday, the attorney for Thomas Caldwell, a leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group that helped to organize a ring of other extremists and led them in the attack last month at the U.S. Capitol, confirmed that his client has held a top-secret security clearance for decades and previously worked for the FBI.
The Senate Judiciary Committee panel confirmed on Tuesday that it will schedule Feb. 22-23 for the confirmation hearing of Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland — the panel will then vote on advancing his nomination on March 1st.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department confirmed that the Biden administration will continue to seek to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the United Kingdom to the United States to face hacking conspiracy charges.
Fulton County’s top prosecutor, District Attorney Fani Willis, has launched a wide-ranging criminal investigation into Donald Trump that centers on his Jan. 2nd call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump pleaded for him to “find” more votes to overturn the election. Willis sent formal letters to state officials on Wednesday confirming the initiation of the investigation.
A memo from federal prosecutors, opposing the release of suspects with ties to the Oath Keepers militia group, revealed that the right-wing paramilitary group had actively planned to transport “heavy weapons” in a boat across the Potomac River and provide weapons training sessions in anticipation of an impending “coup.”
President Biden confirmed on Thursday that the US will have secured enough of a supply of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July to inoculate 300 million Americans. Biden has contractual commitments from Moderna and Pfizer, who are now set to deliver 600 million doses of vaccine by the end of summer— more than a month earlier than initially anticipated.
Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year old who is accused of killing two people during a police brutality protest in Wisconsin last summer — and who is currently out on bail — was charged with a bail violation after failing to update his address, pursuant to his release agreement. In a shocking ruling, Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder refused to take Rittenhouse into custody or raise his bail further, citing the failure by the DA to charge everyone for the same violation, and the need to protect the suspect’s safety by keeping the address confidential — even from the Kenosha Country District Attorney.
On Thursday, former Trump Advisor Carter Page lost a defamation lawsuit in Delaware against Yahoo News and Huffington Post concerning articles that discussed the federal investigation into his connection to the “Stele Dossier,” and potential contacts with Russian officials.
On Thursday evening, following the day’s trial events in the US Senate, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mike Lee (R-UT) openly violated their sworn oath to maintain impartiality as a jurors by meeting with Trump’s defense counsel to assist with their closing presentation.
A group of former elected Republicans, including past administration officials, ex-Republican ambassadors and Republican strategists, have started discussing the option of forming a center-right breakaway party to stand up to Trump. More than 120 prominent members of the GOP held a Zoom call last Friday to discuss a new organization that would directly contrast Trump’s leadership and would focus on a platform of “principled conservatism” and adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law.
On Thursday, President Biden issued sanctions against the military regime in Burma (Myanmar) that will prevent generals from accessing $1 billion in US assets. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also confirmed that the UK was “urgently looking” at further measures it can apply to Myanmar under its own sanctions regime, as the UN Human Rights Council prepares to debate the issue.
On Friday, it was revealed that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is preparing to put all of the mail onto a single delivery track and eliminate the first-class mail designation altogether. This would mean that all mail would then be lumped into the same three-to five-day window, which would prove to be much slower and more costly for both consumers and commercial mailers. For reference, the process of replacing the Postmaster General is controlled by the USPS Board of Governors, which currently has a majority of Trump appointees.
The Biden administration announced a significant change to the Medicaid protocols, specifically that they would be notifying 10 states on Friday of the plan to revoke Medicaid work requirements of a 20 hour work/school/volunteer week minimum, established under Trump.
On Friday, following the conclusion of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings in the US Senate, Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA) issued a statement about a phone call between Trump and McCarthy during the riot, that confirmed Trump knew exactly how dangerous it was for everyone at the Capitol. The statement was issued by Herrera-Beutler in response to Trump attorney Michael van der Veen telling the jury earlier in the day that Trump had never been informed of the danger posed to Vice President Pence (watch video in tweet below).
Following the statement by Rep. Herrera-Beutler, another Republican lawmaker confirmed that Trump had an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) while the US Capitol was under attack, where Trump dismissed McCarthy’s pleas for help. After McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s own supporters, Trump told McCarthy:"Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."
In a rare display of camaraderie, the US Senate awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Capitol Hill Officer Eugene Goodman and gave him a standing ovation for his outstanding courage in defending the US Capitol and protecting top officials from the mob.
The Senate erupted into a bit of chaos on Saturday morning, as the Senate surprisingly passed a vote to call witnesses in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Not only did the move threaten to elongate the process that had been headed toward a swift conclusion, but the dramatic reversal of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s vote in favor of calling witnesses, was a shock to everyone (watch video in tweet below). The vote came as a response to the public statement issued on Friday night by Rep. Herrera Beutler, that directly contradicted statements made by Trump’s attorneys.
After the Senate voted to hear from witnesses, Trump’s counsel began to threaten everyone involved and depose anyone they could think to name, including Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi “in his office in Philidelphia.” Michael van der Veen, who is a personal injury lawyer, seemed to be at a complete loss as to how to respond and eventually the chamber erupted into laughter at his statements. You can watch the video, which is embedded in the tweet below.
When asked by New York Times reporter, Emily Cochrane, about her reaction to the move by House Democrat Impeachment managers to hear testimony from witnesses during Saturday’s impeachment trial, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) replied: “Total s*** show.” Ernst called the move “a tool of revenge” against Trump, and added: “if they [Democrats] want to drag this out, we’ll drag it out. They won’t get their noms, they won’t get anything.”
The Senate voted to convict former President Donald Trump on Saturday, on the charge of incitement of insurrection, by a vote of 57 to 43 — this was 10 votes short of the 67 needed for a conviction. Seven Republicans voted to convict Trump, which is by far the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history, but a two thirds majority vote threshold was not met.
On Saturday, an announcement was made that White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo had resigned, one day after being suspended without pay for harassing and threatening a female reporter from Politico earlier this year.
SHERO of the Week
Without question, this week’s “SHERO of the Week” goes to Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD) for his tireless leadership, particularly this week. His steadfast guidance over a brilliant impeachment team was clear for everyone to see this week, as was his passion for protecting our democracy and holding those who attacked the US Capitol responsible. Despite the odds being stacked so heavily against them, the House Impeachment Managers did their jobs to the highest level, and represented us all with dignity, intelligence and conviction. The credit for setting the bar so high, and maintaining standards to which every legal professional should aspire, rightfully belongs to Representative Jaime Raskin.
Rep. Raskin has been tested recently with some of the most profound challenges a human can face. In addition to surviving a mob attack while his family was also at risk in the Capitol, Raskin has recently lost his beloved son, whom he called, “A radiant light in this broken world.” If you have not read his loving tribute yet, where he describes Tommy as someone who struggled with depression, but nevertheless had a “perfect heart, a perfect soul, a riotously outrageous and relentless sense of humor, and a dazzling radiant mind,” you can read it here.
Before the trial began, Raskin was asked in an interview how he would handle all of the pressures of leading an impeachment after suffering such great personal tragedy. He simply responded with: "I'm not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021." Raskin carried this heavy emotion with him and looked to be using it as fuel for the daunting task ahead of him. He began opening statements for the House by talking about Tommy and what the experience was like when his daughter told him she was never returning to the Capitol after the riot.
After this moving moment, Rep. Raskin immediately focused his attention on proving his case, and he showed a shocking but effective montage video that presented all of the events of Jan. 6, that were happening simultaneously with the insurrection. This video summarized the entire case perfectly and made a profound impact on the jury, even some Republicans, who later told the press how impressed they were with the presentation.
Raskin was a source of steady leadership throughout the week, and seemed to make the most impact with his poignant statements when he would begin and end the day. This delicate skill of bookending the strongest legal arguments with persuasive narratives was exquisite to watch — Raskin was always maneuvering to tie a bow of sentiment onto each and every package of evidentiary support that was presented by his team. As a lawyer, it was a thrill to watch — as someone who has suffered similar personal loss, it was an inspiration.
I was honored by the job that Rep. Jaime Raskin and his entire team did for us, for themselves and for the country. During the brief mourning period following Trump’s acquittal, we can afford today to lament the total lack of courage and integrity shown this week by Republicans — the contrast given to us from Raskin and the other House Managers was a saving grace. The proper arguments were put forward — the righteous battle ensued — and the record has been made.
History will judge what really happened here this week, and it will not look kindly on those who cowered, fearing an impotent has-been. What I will take from this experience is the lesson we learned from Professor Raskin, that ironically was not about Constitutional Law, but perseverance and using love to propel you through the hardest times. Thank you, sir.
For more detail on the events of the last few weeks, please check out the following articles listed below:
Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.
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