US Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob; Police officer’s death intensifies siege questions; Racial double standard clear in rioters’ insurrection
As the fallout from one of America’s darkest days continues to grip the nation, and the world, serious questions are being asked of how this could have been allowed to happen?
Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U.S Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower. And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents.
They told the AP that the Capitol Police had planned for a free speech demonstration and didn’t need more help.
But the Capitol ended up being overrun.
A Capitol police officer injured in the melee has died, the fifth death related to the riot. The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that he died from injuries sustained “while physically engaging with protesters.”
The Racial Double Standard: The violent breaching of the halls of power by mainly white pro-Trump insurrectionists represents one of the plainest displays of a racial double standard in modern U.S. history. Broad and bipartisan condemnation of the violent mob came swiftly as they had a nearly unhindered, hours-long run of the Capitol building complex. But the display is consistent with a long pattern of how society coddles racists and downplays the violent white supremacist ideology that routinely places the grievances of white people above those of their Black, often disenfranchised and downtrodden countrymen and women, reports Aaron Morrison.
“When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation said in a statement.
“When white people attempt a coup, they are met by an underwhelming number of law enforcement personnel who act powerless to intervene, going so far as to pose for selfies with terrorists,” it said.
Inside Account: The U.S. Capitol is my second home. I have been covering the occupants of the building for an absurdly long period of time, the last 15 years spent mostly at a workspace just steps from the Senate gallery, AP’s Andrew Taylor writes. Wednesday was supposed to be a busy, historic day on Capitol Hill, but it quickly turned into something entirely different when a mob struck and the Senate was evacuated. Taylor and other reporters were spirited away along with senators for safety for a few hours. This is his inside account of the day of turmoil.
Trump finally faces reality — amid talk of early ouster; Biden blames Trump for violence at Capitol that’s shaken nation
“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”
With 12 days left in his term, President Donald Trump finally bent to reality, acknowledging his electoral defeat in a video amid growing talk in Washington of trying to force him from office early.
His statement came at the end of a day when the cornered Trump stayed out of sight in the White House, silenced on some of his favorite internet lines of communication, while watching the resignations of several top aides, including two Cabinet secretaries.
As officials sifted through the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, there was growing discussion of impeaching him a second time or invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him from the Oval Office, Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller report.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that “the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America.” She called him “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office. This is urgent, an emergency of the highest magnitude.”
Neither option to remove Trump seemed likely, with little time left in his term to draft the Cabinet members needed to invoke the amendment or to organize the hearings and trial mandated for an impeachment.
There is a steady stream of Trump administration officials beating an early path to the exits as a protest against the deadly siege, Aamer Madhani, Zeke Miller and Kevin Freking report.
Some of Trump’s critics don’t give those in the early-exit caucus much credit for walking away from their jobs with less than two weeks left in the administration, seeing it as little more than a face-saving effort.
“Nobody is fooled by these last-second, come-to-Jesus conversions,” said the co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans fiercely critical of Trump.
Biden Condemnation: President-elect Joe Biden denounced the rioters as “domestic terrorists” and he blamed Trump for the violence that has shaken the nation’s capital and beyond. Biden said the riot by Trump supporters who breached the security of Congress on Wednesday was “not dissent, was not disorder, was not protest. It was chaos.” Alexandra Jaffe reports.
Inauguration Security: Biden’s inauguration was already going to be scaled back and slightly surreal, with the pandemic wiping out the typical large crowds and Trump poised to become the first commander-in-chief in 152 years to skip his successor’s swearing-in. But after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, questions arose about whether having a presidential ceremony on the steps of the same building could also pose a serious security risk. Biden insists that he never felt concerned about his safety or the security of the inauguration, and organizers didn’t consider postponing or moving the event, Will Weissert reports.
US registering highest deaths yet from the coronavirus; Brazil’s deaths top 200,000 amid a return to beaches; Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant
The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the very day the mob attack on the Capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic.
The virus is surging relentlessly in virtually every state, Carla K. Johnson and Lisa Marie Pane report.
California is particularly hard-hit, with skyrocketing deaths and infections threatening to force hospitals to ration care. The same day that Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, the nation recorded nearly 3,900 deaths. Trump and his followers have resisted efforts to social distance or wear masks to slow the spread.
Brazil Deaths: South America’s largest nation has seen its virus deaths surpass 200,000, pushing the second highest toll in the world higher even as its citizens are again crowding their beaches. Many Brazilians have been straining against quarantine for months, going to bars or small gatherings with friends, though big blowouts had been few and far between since the pandemic began. But while many countries imposed new restrictions to limit the spread of the virus in mid-December, Brazil’s government gave its blessing for holiday fun in the sun. Festivities kicked off after the Southern Hemisphere’s summer started Dec. 21. Mauricio Savarese and Diane Jeantet report from Sao Paulo.
Czech Crematorium Full: The biggest crematorium in the Czech Republic has been overwhelmed by mounting numbers of pandemic victims. With new confirmed infections around record highs, the situation looks set to worsen. Authorities in the northeastern city of Ostrava have been speeding up plans to build a fourth furnace but, in the meantime, have sought help from the government. These days, the crematorium receives more than 100 coffins daily, about double its maximum cremation capacity. Karel Janicek reports.
Vaccine Variant: New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus. Two highly contagious new variants of the virus have the world on edge. One was first discovered in Britain, the other in South Africa, but they share one common mutation. Pfizer researchers say laboratory testing shows that mutation doesn’t block the vaccine. But more tests are needed to see if an additional mutation is cause for concern, Lauran Neergaard reports.
- America’s employers likely cut back again on hiring last month — and might even have shed jobs — with the economy under pressure from a resurgent virus that has led many consumers to reduce spending and states and cities to reimpose business restrictions. Economists have forecast that employers added just 105,000 jobs in December.
- Japan has begun its first day under a coronavirus state of emergency with much of life as usual, including morning commuter trains shuttling crowds of mask-wearing people at bustling stations.
Social platforms flex their power, lock down Trump accounts; Facebook bans him through Biden inauguration, maybe indefinitely
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
After years of treating Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric with kid gloves, Facebook and Instagram are silencing his social media accounts for the rest of his presidency, David Klepper and Matt O’Brien report.
The move, which many called long overdue following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is also a reminder of the enormous power that social-media platforms can wield when they choose to.
Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing Trump to use the platform is too great; his account could be locked indefinitely. Twitter also temporarily locked Trump’s accounts after he repeatedly posted false accusations about the integrity of the election.
Twitter, Facebook and Google-owned YouTube all said they removed the Trump video in which he told supporters that “you have to go home now.” In it, he also repeated false claims about voter fraud affecting the election. He then added: “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Online Conspiracy Theories: Far-right social media users for weeks openly hinted in widely shared posts that chaos would erupt at the U.S. Capitol while Congress convened to certify the election results. Some pro-Trump and QAnon social media accounts used hashtags like Storm the Capitol and Hold The Line to spread conspiracy theories or violent rhetoric on the platforms while urging Trump supporters to show up at the Capitol on Wednesday.
And Trump encouraged his Twitter and Facebook followers to attend the rally, at times using warlike imagery. Disinformation experts say that although Twitter and Facebook temporarily blocked Trump, the tech companies haven’t taken enough action against some of the accounts that encouraged chaos at the Capitol, Amanda Seitz reports.