Saturday, January 23, 2021

January 13, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s fiery speech at a rally just before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol is at the center of the impeachment charge against him, even as the falsehoods he spread for months about election fraud are still being championed by some Republicans. A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.

What to watch as the Democratic-controlled House moves to impeach Trump for the second time in 13 months — now with just days left in the defeated president’s term.

BUT FIRST, A VOTE ON THE 25TH AMENDMENT

Before proceeding with impeachment, the House pressed Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump more quickly and surely, warning that he is a threat to democracy in the few remaining days of his presidency.

The House approved a resolution late Tuesday calling on Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to declare the president unable to serve. Pence, who was among those forced to take shelter inside the Capitol complex during the attack, said before the vote that he would take no such action, leaving lawmakers with impeachment as their only option to remove Trump from office before Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as president.

THE DEMOCRATIC CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT

Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” — after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating Wednesday. It’s a stunning end for Trump’s presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that ransacked the Capitol.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” reads part of the four-page impeachment bill. “He will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said impeachment is needed despite the limited number of days left in Trump’s term. “The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” she said.

Trump’s actions were personal for Pelosi and many other lawmakers. She was among those forced to huddle in a bunker during the Capitol riots, and armed rioters menaced staffers with taunts of “Where’s Nancy?”

HOW MANY REPUBLICANS WILL SUPPORT?

Unlike the last time Trump was impeached, when no House Republicans supported charges against Trump over a call he made to Ukraine’s new president, the current impeachment effort has drawn support from some Republicans.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and his deputy, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, are again expected to oppose impeachment, but Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said Tuesday she will support it.

Cheney, whose father, Dick Cheney, served as vice president under George W. Bush, has been more critical of Trump than other GOP leaders. She said in a statement Tuesday that Trump “summoned” the mob that attacked the Capitol, “assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” She added: “Everything that followed was his doing” and noted that Trump could have immediately intervened to stop his supporters from rioting but did not.

Reps. John Katko, R-N.Y., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., also said they would back impeachment, and some other Republicans seem likely to follow.

McCarthy, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, echoed Trump in declaring that “impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together.”

WILL HOUSE CENSURE TRUMP?

In a move short of impeachment, McCarthy and other Republicans have floated the idea of a House censure of Trump. Although it was not clear how much support the proposal has, McCarthy said censure or some other mechanism — such as a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack — would “ensure that the events of January 6 are rightfully denounced and prevented from occurring in the future.″

Democrats, with the votes to impeach in hand, aren’t buying it.

HOW WILL TRUMP RESPOND?

So far, Trump has taken no responsibility for his part in fomenting the violent insurrection, despite his comments encouraging supporters to march on the Capitol and praising them while they were still carrying out the assault. “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” he said Tuesday.

In the days leading up to the Jan. 6 certification vote, Trump encouraged his supporters to descend on Washington, D.C., promising a “wild” rally in support of his baseless claims of election fraud, despite his own administration’s findings to the contrary.

Speaking for more than an hour to a crowd assembled near the White House, Trump encouraged supporters to “fight like hell” and suggested they march down to the Capitol to encourage GOP lawmakers to “step up” and overturn the will of voters to grant him another term in office. He also said he would join them in marching on the Capitol, although he returned to the White House immediately after the speech and watched the riot on TV.

One significant difference from Trump’s first impeachment: He no longer has a Twitter feed to respond in real-time.

STEPPED-UP SECURITY

In a sign of the increased tensions in the wake of the attack, House lawmakers will for the first time be required to go through a metal detector before being allowed to enter the chamber.

This new security measure will stay in effect every day the House is in session for the foreseeable future, according to a directive by Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms. Blodgett replaced the longtime sergeant-at-arms who resigned after widespread criticism about poor security planning for the Jan. 6 certification vote.

Members of Congress have previously enjoyed nearly free roam at the Capitol, able to bypass security screening stations at most entrances to the building. In the House chamber, there have been Capitol Police officers and civilian door monitors but no screening stations.

Blodgett also told lawmakers they must wear masks during the COVID-19 crisis and that they face removal from the chamber if they fail to do so.

WILL LAWMAKERS REIN IN EMOTIONS ON THE FLOOR?

While the debate on the House is often impassioned, emotions are expected to run unusually high as lawmakers debate impeachment. Not only is it the second time they have voted on such a measure, the debate comes exactly one week after a majority of House Republicans objected to the certification of Biden’s victory, setting the stage for the hourslong siege that rocked the Capitol and the nation.

In the end, 121 House Republicans voted against Arizona’s certification of Biden’s victory — and 138 GOP lawmakers opposed Pennsylvania’s certification — even after the assault on the Capitol, an unprecedented break with tradition that has Democrats seething. A recent breakout of COVID-19 among lawmakers who were held in lockdown with others who refused to wear masks has only heightened tensions.

January 16, 2021   LOS ANGELES (AP) — True to form, Betty White has something impish to say about her birthday Sunday. “Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!” she told The Associated Press in an email. White’s low-key plans include feeding a pair of ducks that regularly visit her Los Angeles-area home. Her birthday meal will be a hot dog and French fries brought in — along with a bouquet of roses — by her longtime friend and agent, Jeff Witjas. The actor’s TV credits stretch from 1949’s “Hollywood on Television” to a 2019 voice role in “Forky Asks a Question,” with “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” among the enduring highlights.

January 15, 2021   NEW YORK (AP) — Philip J. Smith, who rose from box office treasurer at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway to chairman and co-CEO of the theatrical giant Shubert Organization, has died from complications from COVID-19, according to his daughters. He was 89. In a career that spanned 63 years, Smith worked in every department of the Shubert Organization and was named general manager of all Shubert Theatres in 1964. The Shubert Organization owns and operates 17 Broadway theatres and six off-Broadway venues. Smith “influenced every aspect of the professional theater and earned the respect and admiration of everyone from the stage doormen to the greatest performers and creative talents of our time,” Robert E. Wankel, chairman and CEO of The Shubert Organization, said in a statement.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Peter Mark Richman, a character actor who appeared in hundreds of television episodes and had recurring roles on “Three’s Company” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” has died. He was 93. Richman died Thursday at his home in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles of natural causes, publicist Harlan Boll announced. Born in Philadelphia, Richman was a pharmacist but turned to acting. He joined the Actors Studio and in 1953 he starred on stage in the play “End as a Man.” He appeared on Broadway in “A Hatful of Rain” and “Masquerade.” He also portrayed Jerry in more than 400 New York performances of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” Boll said.

January 14, 2021  -Joanne Rogers, an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the legacy of her husband, the beloved children’s TV host Mister Rogers, has died in Pittsburgh. She was 92. Rogers died Thursday, according to the Fred Rogers Center. No cause of death was given. The center called her “a joyful and tender-hearted spirit, whose heart and wisdom have guided our work in service of Fred’s enduring legacy.” Joanne and Fred Rogers were married for more than 50 years, spanning the launch and end of the low-key, low-tech “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which presented Fred Rogers as one adult in a busy world who always had time to listen to children. His pull as America’s favorite neighbor never seemed to wane before his death in 2003.