What Happened Was...
A lightning fast recap of the week's biggest events for Jan. 11th - Jan. 17th, 2021
Below is a catch-up of the major events of the week of January 11th, 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.
The attempted coup last Wednesday and the massive security response in preparation for the Inauguration this week, have overshadowed a lot of this week’s events, so I will primarily reference all of the other important happenings in today’s recap, and for a more comprehensive look at the fallout and response, you can read my series: The Coup at the Capitol — Part 1; Part 2 and Part 3.
Five months after a near-fatal poisoning, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow today, where it’s very likely he will be immediately detained by Russian authorities. Navalny and his supporters say the poisoning this summer was ordered by President Vladimir Putin, but the Kremlin denies the accusation. Navalny is hoping that the overwhelming public support in his home country will elevate his image enough to keep him safe until Western governments can apply more pressure, such as sanctions.
The New York Times is reporting today that a lucrative market for pardons for Trump allies has opened up within the administration, as many close to the president have been collecting fees in the range of tens of thousands of dollars from wealthy felons or their associates to lobby the White House for clemency. Over a month ago, I published an article here at SHERO, that detailed all of the ways in which Jared Kushner was using his proximity to Trump to financially benefit — from millions in PPP Loans during the pandemic, to a possible pardon bribery scheme.
The Washington Post has released a video timeline of the critical aspects of the attack on the US Capitol Building, that spans 41 minutes of the siege, and runs for just under 20 minutes. I warn you that it is difficult to watch, but the comprehensive aspect makes it a valuable resource.
Sixty-eight Colorado state elected officials have written to House leaders to condemn Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) based on her association with right wing groups that attacked the US Capitol. The group has asked for an investigation into Boebert’s actions saying, "there is deep concern about her actions leading up to and during the protests that turned into a violent and deadly mob."
The House Judiciary Committee has announced that Barry Berke and Joshua Matz have been retained as counsel to the House Impeachment Majority Staff, to assist with issues relating to the Senate impeachment trial. Both men were House Counsel for the first impeachment and will be joined by other senior staff, whose names were revealed at the same time.
On Saturday, Loews Hotels issued a statement on Twitter saying they would no longer allow a fundraiser for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to go forward that was booked at their facility for February. The move is the latest fallout from the Missouri Republican's widely criticized decision to object to the results of President-elect Joe Biden's win and the subsequent insurrection at the US Capitol that followed.
Ben Goldey, communications director for newly elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), has quit after less than two weeks on the job. Goldey said in a statement: "Following the events [at the US Capitol on] January 6th, I’ve decided to part ways with the office. I wish her and the people of Colorado’s Third District the best."
On Friday, the Capitol Police arrested a Virginia man at a Washington, DC, checkpoint near the Capitol with an "unauthorized" inauguration pass, a gun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition. Ultimately, it was determined that the man appeared to be a security contractor who had illegally brought his personal gun into the District, where it was not registered.
President-elect Joe Biden has elevated the Office of Science and Technology Policy to a Cabinet-level status for the first time in history, and plans to appoint pioneering geneticist Eric Lander, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, who helped lead the Human Genome Project, as the director of the federal agency.
Jenna Ryan, a Frisco, Texas, real estate broker and life coach, who took a private jet to the Capitol last week and called it “one best days of my life,” was charged on Friday with “knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority” and “disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds,” after documenting her two-day excursion to D.C. on social media.
President-elect Joe Biden revealed his ambitious plan on Friday to deploy FEMA to administer Covid-19 vaccines to people across the country, saying the goal is to distribute 100 million doses of vaccine within the first 100 days of his presidency, which is by the end of April.
The far-right website 8kun, previously known as 8chan, that has long been one of the preferred platforms of QAnon followers, was shut down after the platform’s hosting site was terminated. The 8kun platform was used by rioters ahead of the 6 January attack to mobilize other “patriots” to “help storm the Capitol,” with some on the message board even debating which politicians to kill once they got inside. You can find more background on 8chan, QAnon and the genesis of this movement here.
Chris Grisafe, an associate administrator for resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has been assisting in preparations for the Biden Inauguration next week, attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally (see video above) on Jan. 6, where Trump urged his followers to “fight” and march to the Capitol building and launch an attack. Grisafe denies going to the Capitol Building that day.
According to former prosecutors, officers and lawmakers who interacted with the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol last week could face criminal charges, and will almost certainly come under close scrutiny in the burgeoning federal investigation into the assault. “This is incredibly serious,” said Ron Machen, a former U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC, “Although you would need compelling evidence before charging a member of Congress with anything related to the breach of the Capitol that day, this has to be investigated.”
On Thursday, Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-CA) request for a waiver to serve on the Financial Services Committee and other committees simultaneously, was rejected by House Democratic Leaders. The Financial Services Committee is one of five House panels deemed “exclusive” by Democratic leaders under caucus rules adopted in July 2020 and Porter was forced to chose between maintaining her seat on the Oversight Committee and joining the Natural Resources Committee this year, or letting both go to continue with Financial Services. Given her stellar performance during hearings, and the way that she was able to hold corporations to account, this will be a big loss.
Video and photos taken during the US Capitol riots have revealed that a former marine, who had served as a helicopter mechanic on an amphibious assault ship in the Persian Gulf, was among those who attempted to take over the federal government last week. It has also been confirmed that off-duty police, firefighters, state lawmakers, teachers, municipal workers, at least one active-duty military officer and dozens of public servants from across the United States joined the protests in Washington that turned into a siege on the US Capitol.
The Washington Post released a moving account of the heroic actions of the DC Metro Police, who responded to the call from Capitol Police without a moment of hesitation, and suffered major physical injuries to hold off the mob for hours.
US Congressional Intelligence and Homeland Security oversight committees are opening investigations into why federal and local law enforcement agencies did not pay closer attention to a warning the day before pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, congressional aides confirmed on Thursday.
On Thursday, Trump sent lawmakers in Congress a sweeping package totaling $27.4 billion in proposed cuts, known as a rescission request. In it, he demanded that billions in funding for a global health and vaccine distribution involved in the Covid fight, be re-assessed and placed on hold. The total rescission package targets several federal departments, smaller agencies and foreign aid programs, specifically hitting areas of funding that previously enjoyed broad bipartisan support.
Biden administration officials revealed an extensive plan on Thursday to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, that includes a request for $1.9 trillion in funding. Biden’s plan directs roughly $400 billion to fighting the public health crisis, including through a national vaccination program, that includes ramping up testing and contact tracing, and providing paid sick leave to contain the virus’s spread. The initiative also includes more than $1 trillion in direct aid to struggling families through stimulus checks totaling $2,000, extended unemployment insurance, rental protections and nutrition assistance, as well as $440 billion to small-businesses, local communities and transit systems on the brink.
Former Michigan Director of Health and Human Services Nick Lyon has been charged with nine felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with his alleged role in a water crisis in the City of Flint. Lyon pleaded “not guilty to all counts” during a live-streamed court hearing Thursday morning. Under Michigan law, involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $7,500 fine.
Here is a comprehensive list of all of President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks so far, complete with quick bios and work history.
Biden has announced the new DNC leadership team and the impressive list includes Jaime Harrison as the next Chair and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senator Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Filemon Vela Jr., as Vice Chairs.
Donald Trump, Jr. got hit with two legal whammies this week. The Attorney General for Washington, DC, announced that Trump, Jr., along with Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), were officially under criminal investigation for inciting the riot at the US Capitol last week (see video below). Additionally, Trump, Jr., was notified by the DC Attorney General’s Office that it would like to interview him as part of its investigation into misuse of his father's inaugural funds.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) revealed this week that all of the panic buttons in her office in the US Capitol had been ripped from the wall at some point before or during the insurrection. Pressley also confirmed that her husband, who was sheltering with her during the Capitol attack, has tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed for hours to many Republicans in their shelter room who refused to wear masks.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for his actions that incited and led to the violence at the US Capitol. This is the first time a sitting president has been impeached twice. You can read the Article of Impeachement here and find more details here. For more video and live tweet coverage of the process that took several days, please visit my twitter feed here.
On Tuesday, late at night and under the cover of distraction from the recent insurrection at the US Capitol, the US Supreme Court made its first ruling on abortion since the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, by reinstating a federal restriction that women must pick up medication in person.
The National Guard began to descend to many places all over the nation on Monday, with many heading to Washington, DC, to support US Capitol security ahead of the Inauguration, and is deploying a total of 15,000 troops. The Army has been reviewing whether Guardsmen should be armed with lethal or nonlethal weapons.
SHERO of the Week
The SHERO of the Week is Chef Jose Andres, who has brought his team at the World Central Kitchen to Washington, DC, to prepare meals for National Guardsmen and first responders ahead of the inauguration.
Andres is known for traveling to places impacted by natural disasters and emergencies in order to feed the people who are hit hardest, and to keep community spirits up in the worst of times. The fact that he is able to provide thousands of boxed lunches and hot meals to National Guard troops, who have been forced to sleep on building floors, is inspiring and uplifting in this troublesome time.
Chef Jose Andre is an immigrant to the United States who does more for this country than most and has fed over 20 million Americans during the Covid-19 crisis alone. You can join me in donating to the World Kitchen today, to say “thank you” to our troops in addition to Chef Andres and his extraordinary staff.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.
Paid subscriptions and one-time tributes embedded in each article, allow me to keep publishing critical and informative work that is sometimes made available to the public — thank you. If you like this piece and you want to further support independent journalism, you can forward this article to others, get a paid subscription or gift subscription or donate once, as much as you like today.