The U.S. Marshals said that about 2,000 National Guard troops were sworn in as U.S. Marshals before Inauguration Day.
Chief Lamont Ruffin from D.C. District Court swore in the 2,000 National Guard troops as special deputy U.S. Marshals prior to the upcoming presidential inauguration, according to the federal law enforcement agency’s Twitter page.
The “deputation gives the guardsmen temporary, limited, law enforcement authority pertaining specifically to the safety and protection of the inauguration and related events,” said the U.S. Marshals in a caption on its Flickr page, showing the Guard troops being deputized at night.
The U.S. Marshals Service didn’t respond to a request from The Epoch Times about the duties of the newly-sworn-in special deputies.
Last week, officials confirmed that as many as 25,000 National Guard members were deployed to the District of Columbia for Inauguration Day.
A statement from the Army to news outlets said the increase in Guard troops would support the “federal law enforcement mission and security preparations” during the inauguration, and it would be led by the U.S. Secret Service. “Our National Guard soldiers and airmen are set around the city to protect our nation’s Capital,” National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson said in the statement.
Last week, the FBI sent out bulletins for the possibility of violence during Jan. 20’s events. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump called on Americans not to break the law.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking, and NO vandalism of any kind,” Trump said. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
The National Park Service has closed the Washington Monument to tours and Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked visitors to avoid the city.
In D.C., the perimeter of a fence surrounding the Capitol was pushed out to encompass the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Roads and other access points were closed, and some businesses said they would shut down.
At least 21 states have activated their National Guard troops, respectively, in capital cities. States where National Guard troops have been activated include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to a tally from The Associated Press.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on all Americans to not engage in any violent demonstrations, vandalism, or lawbreaking ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking, and NO vandalism of any kind,” Trump said. “That is not what I stand for and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the White House for comment. Trump’s statement will go out as an email from the White House press office and the White House will post the statement through the president’s social media accounts. The report also cited an advisor as saying that the president wants Big Tech companies to assist in disseminating his message of non-violence.
It came after the president was suspended from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other tech platforms.
Other Republicans and Trump surrogates have called for no violence following the U.S. Capitol breach.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stated Wednesday that “violence has no place in our politics. Period.”
“I wholly condemned last week’s senseless acts of violence, and I strongly reiterate the calls to remain peaceful in the weeks ahead,” McDaniel remarked. “Those who partook in the assault on our nation’s Capitol and those who continue to threaten violence should be found, held accountable, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
She added: “Let me be clear: Anyone who has malicious intent is not welcome in Washington, D.C. or in any other state capitol. The peaceful transition of power is one of our nation’s founding principles and is necessary for our country to move forward.”
The breach occurred during the Jan. 6 Joint Session of Congress as members were counting to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election. Critics have said Trump incited violence with his rhetoric during a speech to supporters, leading to House Democrats introducing articles of impeachment this week. A vote on impeachment is scheduled for later this week, although it’s unclear when the Senate might take it up.
McDaniel noted that “now is the time to come together as one nation, united in the peaceful pursuit of our common democratic purpose.”
Trump attorney Jenna Ellis said that “it is possible (and correct) to support election integrity, the Constitution, and free speech and also condemn violence,” adding: “We are a nation under the rule of law.”
Ellis remarked that some leftists and media outlets are attempting to create a narrative that the Trump team’s support for election integrity is supporting “violence” against and “disdain for the Constitution.”
“Some on the right are trying to build a false narrative that support for the Constitution is condemning election integrity,” Ellis remarked.
The Associated Press
January 12, 2021 – 10:43 am
According to a report in The Washington Post, the FBI had warned that extremists were preparing to come to Washington, attack Congress and engage in “war.”
The report says the warning was issued internally by the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, a day before the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The warning directly contradicts statements from the Justice Department and FBI officials that they had no intelligence to suggest a storming of the Capitol.
The Post says the memo described how people had been sharing maps of the Capitol’s tunnels and discussing rallying points to meet up to travel to Washington. The newspaper reported that the document detailed posts calling for violence, including that “Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Antifa slave soldiers being spilled.”
It also said to “go there ready for war.”
The Associated Press has not obtained the document. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Charged & uncharged
The U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia has brought federal charges against about 20 people so far, while 40 others have been charged in D.C.’s Superior Court. The people charged in Superior Court are mainly accused of things like curfew violations and gun crimes. Those being tried in federal court, where prosecutors can generally secure longer sentences, are charged with offences such as violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, assaulting a federal law enforcement officer and threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On Sunday, federal authorities arrested two men who were photographed with plastic restraints inside the Capitol. Investigators said they used social media and livestream videos to identify Eric Munchel of Tennessee as the masked person seen in photos shared widely over social media carrying plastic hand restraints in the Senate chamber.
Retired Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Texas was photographed on the Senate floor carrying zip-tie handcuffs and wearing a military-style helmet and vest, authorities said. Brock’s ex-wife helped authorities identify him, according to court documents. He confirmed to The New Yorker that he was the man in the photographs and claimed he found the zip-tie handcuffs on the floor. “I wish I had not picked those up,” he said.
Authorities are working to identify more suspects and more charges are expected.
Many people were allowed to leave the Capitol freely the day of the attack, so investigators have to sort through a sea of photos, video, social media posts and tips from the public to see who was there and track them down.
Federal prosecutors across the U.S. have also said people could face charges in their home states if they traveled to Washington and took part in the assault.
Latest developments: 2:35 p.m. EST
Vice President Mike Pence has told governors on a call about the coronavirus that “our time” is coming to an end and a “new administration” is taking over.
Pence said Tuesday that the administration is in the middle of the transition and is working “diligently” with President-elect Joe Biden’s team. He thanked the governors for their leadership on the coronavirus and promised them a “seamless transition.”
He says the objective “is that there is no interruption in our continuous efforts to put the health of the American people first.”
Pence’s comments come as the U.S. House moves forward toward impeachment or other steps to forcibly remove Trump from office after a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol last week to stop Congress from affirming Biden’s victory. Trump has falsely claimed widespread voter fraud cost him the election
Within a span of about 24 hours, three House Democrats have announced they tested positive for COVID-19, prompting concern that last week’s insurrection at the Capitol has also turned into a super-spreader event threatening the health of lawmakers and their staffs.
Those who have tested positive were among the dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period.
While it’s not certain where and when lawmakers caught the illness, the Capitol’s attending physician notified all House lawmakers of possible virus exposure and urged them to be tested. Dr. Brian Moynihan said that members who were in protective isolation last Wednesday “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
The three Democratic lawmakers directed their anger toward some House Republicans who were also in the secure room and declined opportunities to wear a mask, despite their role in blocking the spread of COVID-19. Video surfaced of multiple Republican lawmakers refusing to wear a face mask even when they were offered one.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the violence at the Capitol shows the need for the Senate to swiftly confirm Joe Biden’s national security team on the first day of his administration.
Schumer said in a letter to colleagues that the deadly Capitol riot by a mob loyal to President Donald Trump last week was “one of the darkest days in all of American history.”
He said Biden will need “key national security positions on Day One.”
The Senate often confirms some nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, but this year the Senate will also likely be convening Trump’s impeachment trial. The House is set to impeach Trump this week on a sole charge of inciting insurrection in the violent riot.
Schumer wants the chamber to swiftly take up those nominees for secretary of defense, secretary of homeland security, secretary of state, attorney general, and others.
Schumer outlined the party’s agenda, vowing to push ahead on Democratic priorities.
A total of 15,000 National Guard members have now been activated and will deploy to Washington, D.C., to help provide security in the run up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The number of Guard members coming in from other states has been growing, amid escalating fears of more violent protests in the wake of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, was given the authority to tap up to 15,000 Guard, but he has said that requests for assistance from the Secret Service, the U.S. Park Police and the Capitol Police have been increasing this week.
The Army also said Tuesday that officials are working with the Secret Service to determine which Guard members may need additional background screening. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Co., had asked Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to have the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command screen Guard members coming in to ensure they were not “sympathetic to domestic terrorists.”
The Army said CID will not be reviewing all the Guard, but some members may be subject to additional background screening. Traditionally, those who get within close proximity to the president — or in this case the president-elect — are checked more closely.
So far, officials said they have not yet identified any Guard members who participated in the protests, but investigations are ongoing.
In a statement, the Army said the D.C. National Guard is also giving troops additional training as they arrive in the city, so they know to identify and report any extremist behavior to their commanders.
The Army also said it is working with the FBI to identify people who participated in Capitol attack, adding, “any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the FBI to add anyone identified breaching the Capitol during last week’s violent riot to the federal no-fly list.
Schumer sent a letter Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, saying the attack on the Capitol as Congress was voting to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win was “domestic terrorism.” He said those who stormed the Capitol should qualify as “insurrectionists for the No-Fly List.”
Schumer told Wray that they must also be fully prosecuted to the full extent of federal law. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
The federal no-fly list is part of the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Database and prohibits anyone who “may pose a threat to civil aviation or national security” from boarding a commercial aircraft. Generally, in order to be placed on the list, the government must have information that the person presents “a threat of committing terrorism” to the aircraft or the U.S. homeland or U.S. facilities.
The no-fly list is one of the government’s most controversial post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism programs.
President Donald Trump is taking no responsibility for his role in fomenting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.
A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot a woman during the violence. Three others died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.
Speaking to reporters before traveling to Texas on Tuesday, Trump says his remarks to supporters last week were “totally appropriate.”
Minutes before his supporters stormed the Capitol, Trump encouraged them to march on the seat of the nation’s government where lawmakers were tallying Electoral College votes affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Trump, for months, had also spread baseless claims that the November election was fraudulent, despite his own administration’s findings to the contrary.
As rioters were still in the Capitol, Trump released a video seemingly excusing the events, saying of the rioters: “We love you. You’re very special.”
President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday at the White House that the prospect of impeachment is causing “tremendous anger” in the nation. But he said he wants “no violence.”
The president spoke as he left for Texas to survey the border wall with Mexico. His remarks were his first to reporters since the Capitol attack.
On impeachment, Trump said it’s “a really terrible thing that they’re doing.” But he said, “We want no violence. Never violence.”
Trump will travel to the town of Alamo, Texas. He will mark the completion of 400 miles of border wall and his administration’s efforts to reform what the White House described as the nation’s broken immigration system.
The border wall was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises in 2016, with the president hailing the measure as one that would both curb the inflow of illegal immigrants and cut down on crime.
President-elect Joe Biden had vowed to halt border wall construction.
While most of the wall went up in areas that had smaller barriers, the Trump administration has built hundreds of miles of fencing as high as 30 feet in a short amount of time—most of it last year.
Border Patrol officials said the new fencing, much of which has replaced much smaller vehicle barriers, provides more deterrence against human smugglers and people trying to elude capture.
“We are shutting down illegal border crossing points with the new border wall system,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott last year. “For too long, the smugglers had the upper hand in choosing where and when they smuggle their contraband, and that will no longer be the case.”
Twitter has disabled the account of President Donald Trump after deleting recent posts made by the president, including a video of him calling on protesters who had gathered on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington to go home in peace.
“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” a Twitter announcement reads.
“This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked,” the announcement continues. “Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”
Both Facebook and Twitter have removed a video of the president calling on protesters to go home. “You have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order,” Trump said in the deleted video.
Facebook was first to remove the video, which was up for just a few hours on late Wednesday afternoon.
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to new outlets, “The violent protests in the Capitol today are a disgrace. We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform. We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.”
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said in a statement, “This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video. We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
Trump had not called for violence in his speech.
Prior to the removal of the video, Facebook applied a label to the president’s video that linked to its “Voting information center,” which shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as the winner of the November 2020 election. The Facebook label at the time read: “The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the integrity of our elections. Get Accurate Election Info.”
The Epoch Times has yet to call the race.
Twitter removed the same video from its platform within an hour later of Facebook’s video removal, replacing the post with the message, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules,” and linked to the platform’s “enforcement options” page.
Twitter also removed a message from the president posted at 6:01 p.m. ET that read, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!
“I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side,” the president said in the now-removed video.
“We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us—from me, from you, from our country,” he added.
“This was a fraudulent election but 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. You’ve seen what happens, you’ve seen the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.”
The U.S. House and Senate temporarily halted the joint session of Congress on Wednesday after protesters breached the Capitol building, which interrupted concurrent debates in the two chambers over an objection to the counting of a slate of presidential electors from Arizona for Biden. The session has since resumed.
A six-person team that included Rudy Giuliani and Peter Navarro on Saturday briefed hundreds of state lawmakers on evidence of election irregularities.
The Zoom meeting included hundreds of legislators across Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, said during an appearance on Fox News.
“These legislators, they’re hot, they’re angry, they want action,” Navarro said. “We gave them the receipts. We explained exactly how the Democrat Party, as a matter of strategy, stole this election from Donald J. Trump.”
According to Got Freedom?, a nonprofit election integrity watchdog, the meeting included an address by President Donald Trump. Nearly 300 legislators heard from the president, Navarro, and Trump’s lawyer, Giuliani.
John Eastman and John Lott were also part of the briefing. Eastman represented Texas in the now-dismissed interstate challenge to the outcome of the election. Lott, a senior adviser for research and statistics for the Department of Justice, authored a recently released report on election theft.
“This information should serve as an important resource for state legislators as they make calls for state legislatures to meet to investigate the election and consider decertifying their state election results,” Phill Kline, who heads the Thomas More Foundation’s Amistad Project and who hosted the call on behalf of of the group, said in a statement.
“The integrity of our elections is far too important to treat cavalierly, and elected officials deserve to have all relevant information at their disposal as they consider whether to accept the reported results of the 2020 elections, especially in states where the process was influenced by private interests,” he added.
Navarro released a report on Dec. 21 that summarized and categorized evidence of election theft. In the Jan. 2 interview, he said he will be releasing another report on Monday. Navarro said Saturday the report “shows beyond a shadow of a doubt this election was stolen.”
Trump’s legal team and a handful of third parties are litigating challenges to the election in court in six battleground states. Dozens of U.S. Senators and House members have committed to lodging objections to electoral slates from those states when Congress counts the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.
Democrats have criticized the efforts and say the election ran smoothly, apart from a small number of voter fraud cases.
Navarro also suggested that a special counsel may be appointed to investigate if fraud had occurred.
“I would not be surprised to see a special counsel on this,” Navarro said.
Trump’s legal team testified before several panels and committees from state legislatures, including in Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia. The team argued that the mounting evidence of election theft and malfeasance necessitated that the legislatures assert their constitutional right to appoint presidential electors. None of the legislatures have so far followed the team’s advice.
Trump has called on his supporters to descend on Washington when Congress counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Some of the senators who committed to objecting to the Electoral College votes that day said they will do so unless Congress appoints a special commission to conduct a 10-day emergency audit of the election. Individual state legislatures would then vet the findings and have the opportunity to convene and vote on a new set of electors.
Vice President Mike Pence said he welcomes efforts by lawmakers to challenge Electoral College results in the upcoming congressional joint session on Jan. 6, when the votes are formally counted, according to a statement sent by his chief of staff to reporters.
Vice President Chief of Staff Marc Short issued the statement on Saturday saying that Pence, who will be presiding over the Jan. 6 session as president of the senate, is open to considering planned objections by Republican House members and senators to Electoral College votes cast for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Short added that the vice president also welcomes efforts by lawmakers to present evidence of election irregularities and alleged voter fraud before Congress during that session.
“Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” Short said in the statement sent to media outlets.
This comes after a group of 11 Republican senators announced their intention to challenge the electoral college votes from contested states earlier on Saturday. The group, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said the 2020 election “featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations, and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.”
The allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election “exceed any in our lifetimes,” they said, adding that this “deep distrust” of U.S. democratic processes “will not magically disappear” and “should concern us all,” whether or not elected officials or journalist believe the allegations.
“It poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations,” the senators wrote in their statement, while calling on Congress to appoint an electoral commission to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election results.
They added that they intend to object to the votes unless and until the emergency 10-day audit is completed.
The group includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). Meanwhile, Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also plan on joining. They’ll be sworn in on Sunday, several days before the joint session.
Their announcement means 12 senators intend to object to the contested electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the first senator to announce his plans to object earlier this week. Forty House members plan on objecting to electoral votes, according to a tally by The Epoch Times.
Objections during the joint session must be made in writing by at least one House member and one senator. If the objection for any state meets this requirements, the joint session pauses and each house withdraws to its own chamber to debate the question for a maximum of two hours. The House and the Senate then vote separately to accept or reject the objection, which requires a majority vote from both chambers.
If both candidates receive less than 270 electoral votes on Jan. 6, then a contingent election is triggered in which each state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, while the vice president is decided by a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Democrats and several Republican senators have opposed the plans to challenge the electoral college results. Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) issued statements on Saturday to reaffirm their support that they would back the electoral college votes that were cast for Biden.
Similarly, Senate Democrats rebuked efforts by their Republican colleagues.
“Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th, and no publicity stunt will change that,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement.
“This pathetic, opportunistic stunt is an attack on our democracy. It’s un-American & unconscionable. Votes have been counted, recounted, certified, & all challenges totally discredited. Time to govern & get things done,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a separate statement.
The Republican senators acknowledged in their statement on Saturday that they expect Democrats and a few Republicans to vote against them but they added that “support for election integrity should not be a partisan issue.”
“A fair and credible audit-conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20 would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People,” the Republican senators said.
This comes after many President Donald Trump allies called on Pence to reject electoral votes from disputed states. A judge on Friday rejected a lawsuit filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and other Republicans against Pence requesting that the court grant the vice president “the exclusive authority and sole discretion in determining which electoral votes to count for a given State” on Jan. 6.
Attorney Sidney Powell, who filed third-party lawsuits on behalf of President Donald Trump, said that Republicans in Congress should back Trump’s election challenge if the Republican Party hopes to survive.
“[Trump] won more than 305 electoral votes & the popular vote as well. You won in the greatest landslide in history,” Powell wrote on Twitter, suggesting that if election fraud was dealt with properly in the courts or in state legislatures, the president would have at least 305 Electoral College votes.
“If the [Republican National Committee] hopes to survive, every Republican should stand up for you now,” she said, adding that “a multi-billion-[dollar] donor told me there’s no point donating at all when [the] election is rigged.”
Later, the former federal prosecutor said that the upcoming Georgia runoff election for seats held by Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) could be tainted as well.
“Maybe they already won outright. Maybe someone else won? How do you have a runoff from a failed and fraudulent first election? Get the first one right first,” Powell, a lawyer who successfully represented retired Army Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, asked on Twitter.
It comes as President Trump recently criticized GOP members of the Senate and House for not taking up his $2,000 stimulus check proposal, saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies have a “death wish.”
“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2,000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!” Trump wrote on Twitter. McConnell blocked an attempt to pass the $2,000 CASH Act after Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a request for unanimous consent.
Several Republican senators expressed their support for the bill.
Now, Democrats in Congress are highlighting McConnell’s move in light of the Georga Senate runoff elections.
“Mitch McConnell, Kelly Loeffler & David Perdue are standing between your family and a $2,000 survival check Georgia,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, saying Georgians should vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both Democrats. Loeffler and Perdue have said they support the $2,000 stimulus payments.
McConnell later Tuesday introduced a bill that combines the $2,000 payments with a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—although Democrats have said the bill is designed to fail.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN on Tuesday that McConnell is attempting “throw a few poison pills in there” to discourage senators from voting on the package this week.
“Let me throw in a reform of the internet while we’re at it here. Let’s do some work here and investigate the last election. For goodness sakes, stop looking for poison pills, Sen. McConnell, pass this right now. America needs it,” he said.
President Donald Trump’s campaign adviser said the team is aiming to present evidence during a potential congressional debate on Jan. 6 if lawmakers in the House and Senate object to states’ Electoral College votes.
As of Wednesday, it appears that at least one member of the Senate, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and a number of House lawmakers will object to the electoral votes during the Joint Session of Congress. Hawley announced he would object to the electoral vote, pointing to previous Democratic efforts to do so during the 2004 and 2016 presidential elections. After the objection, an hours-long debate will occur.
Miller said that evidence could be presented in Congress, which would differ from what the Trump campaign presented in courts over the past several weeks.
“We will have a chance in front of the American people, next week to present these cases, all these evidences of fraud,” Miller told Newsmax, pointing to a lawsuit filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) against Vice President Mike Pence earlier this week to prevent him from confirming Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Miller told the outlet that the 1887 Electoral Count Act allows the vice president, who is the president of the Senate, to preside over the Joint Session of Congress.
Then, Miller told Newsmax that he hopes at least one senator and representative join together to object to the Electoral College vote, allowing for two hours of debate.
Should that happen, Miller said President Donald Trump’s team is seeking to present alleged evidence of voter fraud or irregularities in the Nov. 3 election, including law changes regarding mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, “suitcases of ballots” in Georgia being wheeled out late at night on Nov. 3 in Atlanta’s State Farm Center, and being blocked in Arizona and Michigan from inspecting voting systems, alleging that ballots were counted several times.
“These are the specific types of evidence we want to present to the American people on the national stage and not allow local politicians to sweep it under the rug,” Miller said.
Weeks ago, Trump’s team led by Rudy Giuliani presented a surveillance video from the State Farm Center that showed suitcase-like boxes being wheeled from under a table. It came after election officials allegedly told other workers and poll observers that counting was done for the night.
The Georgia GOP said they received conflicting and incorrect answers and statements from Fulton County officials about what happened on Election Night, and officials later acknowledged that vote-counting went on until the early-morning hours. State election officials, in response to the video, said nothing unusual occurred with the ballot boxes and vote-tabulation process in Fulton County.
Elaborating on Wisconsin, he said, “Article II of the Constitution makes it very clear, the state legislatures, and state legislatures alone, set up the voting systems for each state, the codes and the way they are conducted.” He said, “And what we have here is we have over 20,000 ballots that were cast without actually having an application on file, the mail ballots. Wisconsin’s very clear, very specific you got to have an application on file.”
At 1 p.m. local time on Jan. 6, members of Congress will gather in the chamber of the House of Representatives to observe the formal certification of Electoral College votes for president of the United States.
While it’s usually a formality, nothing has been usual so far about this year’s election amid numerous allegations of voter fraud in key swing states.
The situation is complicated by a lack of clarity on the legal and constitutional guardrails for the process. The joint session of Congress may well result in gridlock, in which a clear winner of the race isn’t announced at all.
Based on current election results, former Vice President Joe Biden has received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 votes. Meanwhile, Republicans in seven states where Biden claimed victory have sent their own sets of electoral votes to Washington, and some members of the House have indicated that they will object to Biden electors in some states. Any objection would require support from one House member and one senator to be considered, and at least one senator has has left open the possibility he would join the effort.
So what will happen?
The counting of votes is primarily governed by the 12th Amendment of the Constitution and the amended Electoral Count Act.
The Constitution simply states that electors of each state have to meet, make a list of their votes, “which they shall sign and certify,” and send those to the president of the Senate, meaning Vice President Mike Pence.
“The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted,” the 1804 amendment says.
The Electoral Count Act of 1887, currently known as 3 U.S. Code Section 15, establishes a procedure for how the votes are counted, how to raise objections, and how to resolve disputes. First, it says that the vice president indeed presides over the proceedings. Then, it says the House and Senate leaders each designate two tellers. The VP opens the envelopes with the vote certificates and hands them to the tellers for counting. The tellers then read them out loud, count them, and hand them back to the VP to announce the results.
Then, in rather convoluted language, the law says that Congress members can object. At least one objection from each chamber is needed to trigger a separate vote by both House and Senate on the objections. If both chambers agree, the objected voters are rejected. That’s virtually out of the question given the Democrats’ majority in the House.
If two sets of electors are presented for counting, the House and Senate need to separately vote on which set is legitimate and which should be rejected. If each chamber votes differently, the set certified by the state’s governor should count. That would hand the victory to Biden.
The problem is, there’s a voluminous body of legal analysis arguing that the Electoral Count Act is unconstitutional. Congress has no business granting itself the authority to decide which slate of electors is the correct one and which votes should be rejected. Nor does Congress have the power to designate state governors as the final arbiters, a lineup of legislators and legal scholars have argued.
There are two arguments for who has the constitutional power to decide which electors to choose.
Some jurists say it’s the VP who has the sole discretion to decide which votes to count. The argument is that the framers intended for the VP to be the sole authority over the counting of the votes because the unanimous resolution attached to the Constitution said that the Senate should appoint its President “for the sole Purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the Votes for President.”
Moreover, before the adoption of the Electoral Count Act, it was always the VP counting the votes, sometimes despite major objections from Congress. Thomas Jefferson did so as the VP in the 1800 election, counting Georgia’s constitutionally deficient votes and de facto securing his own presidency.
Arizona state lawmakers and GOP electors, together with Rep. Louie Gohmert, have filed a federal suit asking for the court to clarify the law to the effect that the Electoral Count Act is unconstitutional and the VP’s power is paramount.
Not everybody agrees, though.
University of Virginia professsor John Harrison, an expert on constitutional history, says the VP doesn’t have “any constitutional power to make decisions” over which votes to count.
He argued that the law is deficient to the effect that “Congress doesn’t have the power to make the announcement [of its decisions regarding the vote count] conclusive.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t prescribe any rules at all.
“The Constitution does call for counting the votes with both houses present, so I think that setting up procedures for a count is within Congress’s power,” he told The Epoch Times via email.
The second argument is that the Constitution grants the authority to determine how electors are picked to state legislatures. As such, any disputes over which votes should be counted should be resolved by state legislatures.
The problem is, state legislatures aren’t in session and they can’t assemble in a special session without a call from the governors, who have refused to do so. Meanwhile, the legislatures have usually delegated the power to certify electors to the Governors and Secretaries of State, undermining their own authority on the matter.
The conservative Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the power of the legislatures is both “exclusive and non-delegable,” and thus any state and federal statutes to the contrary are unconstitutional and void.
That would not only knock down some provisions of the Electoral Count Act, but also render electoral votes that haven’t been certified post-election by state legislatures illegitimate.
Regardless of what the courts will say, the core question is what will take place in the House chambers on Jan. 6? Will Pence refuse to follow the Electoral Count Act? Will some of the tellers dissent? If things go wrong for the Democrats, will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) try to end the session prematurely?
There’s no way to tell. Pence hasn’t let his intentions be known.