Mitt Romney rebuked some of his Republican Senate colleagues, calling January 6 Capitol riots an ‘insurrection against the Constitution’

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney speaks during a news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on December 1, 2020.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney rebuked some of his Republican colleagues after a hearing about the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
  • Romney reiterated the riots at the Capitol amounted to “an insurrection against the Constitution.”
  • Several Republicans at a hearing on Wednesday downplayed the insurrection, which resulted in five deaths.
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Sen. Mitt Romney called the Capitol attack “an insurrection against the Constitution” following remarks from fellow Republicans trying to downplay the events of January 6.

The Republican senator from Utah was responding to a question from HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic about a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday regarding police preparation during the attack.

Several Republicans spoke out during the hearing to downplay the riots with dismissive comments and baseless claims. GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde said accurately describing the insurrection as such constituted a “bold-faced lie” and compared the pro-Trump mob to tourists.

Hundreds of rioters stormed the Capitol building while Congress was trying to certify the 2020 presidential election results forcing lawmakers, including Romney, to evacuate the building to safety. Footage shows Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman directed Romney away from the rioters during the insurrection.

Five people died in the insurrection and more than 470 people are facing related federal charges.

Bobic on Thursday asked Romney for his response to Republicans “trying to rewrite history” about the January 6 riot.

“Well, I was there,” Romney said. “And what happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president, and as such it was an insurrection against the Constitution, it resulted in severe property damage, severe injuries and death.”

The comment marks the latest instance where Romney openly rebuked Republican lawmakers in the aftermath of January 6. The Washington Post reported that Romney erupted at Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, telling the Missouri lawmaker during a fiery confrontation that he “caused” the riot.

Romney posted on Twitter in the hours after the insurrection to label it as such, in addition to squarely placing blame on then-President Donald Trump.

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Oklahoma just passed a law providing protections to some drivers who hit protesters with a car

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In this Feb. 11, 2021 file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City.

  • Oklahoma just passed a bill that would provide immunity to some drivers who hit or kill protesters.
  • The legislation would also punish demonstrators who block the use of a public street or highway.
  • A surge of “anti-riot” bills have been introduced by Republican state lawmakers since summer 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new law in Oklahoma will penalize protesters who block public roadways, while offering protections to drivers who may unwittingly hit or even kill them with a car.

The bill would make obstructing the use of a public street or highway during a demonstration a misdemeanor carrying a possible sentence of a year in jail as well as a $100 to $5,000 fine.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the legislation, which takes effect November 1, into law Wednesday.

Under House Bill 1674, motorists who are “fleeing from a riot” and have “reasonable belief” they are in danger, cannot be held criminally or civilly responsible for injuring or killing demonstrators.

Critics of the bill say it is meant to limit legal protests after a summer of nationwide demonstrations against police violence and racism, following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Rob Standridge said in a video statement that the law sets a high standard. “It has to be unintentional, first and foremost,” Standridge said, and the driver must feel they are in “imminent harm,” “like people are trying to break open the windows, and trying to drag someone out of the vehicle.”

The legislation was introduced primarily as a response to an incident in Tulsa last May, in which a driver in a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer drove through a crowd of George Floyd protesters on a freeway, injuring three people and leaving one of them paralyzed from the waist down.

The driver, who was not charged, said he sped up because he was afraid for his family’s safety.

“This is an important protection for citizens who are just trying to get out of a bad situation,” state Rep. Kevin West said in a statement last week. “When fleeing an unlawful riot, they should not face threat of prosecution for trying to protect themselves, their families, or their property.”

Data shows that the majority of Black Lives Matter protests have been peaceful, NPR reported. A report conducted by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that protesters in 93% of such demonstrations last summer did not engage in violence or destructive activity.

The Oklahoma bill passed the House and Senate along party lines earlier this month.

A group of people protesting the passage of the legislation entered the House Chambers inside the Oklahoma State Capitol briefly on Wednesday, according to CNN, but the session continued on after demonstrators had left.

The Oklahoma bill is part of a larger movement of legislation Republican state lawmakers are calling “anti-riot” bills, aimed at punishing rioters and absolving the drivers who may hit them.

A proposed law in Indiana would bar those convicted of unlawful assembly from holding state employment, while a Minnesota proposal would prohibit those people from receiving student loans, unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation earlier this week that cracked down on public disorder, and Republican legislators in Iowa passed a bill similar to Oklahoma’s, that grants immunity to such drivers.

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Vice President Mike Pence pleaded with the acting defense secretary to ‘clear the Capitol’ as pro-Trump rioters overran the building, report says

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President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a coronavirus briefing in February 2020.

  • The Associated Press obtained an internal Pentagon document about the Capitol riot on January 6.
  • According to the outlet, Vice President Mike Pence placed an urgent call to the acting defense secretary.
  • “Clear the Capitol,” Pence said after the mob had been in the building for hours.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After a group of former President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol on January 6, forcing lawmakers to evacuate and leaving multiple people dead, questions have lingered about the timeline of events.

Some of those details have emerged in an internal Defense Department document that was obtained by the Associated Press.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the building when the Capitol riot began, made an urgent call amid the chaos.

“Clear the Capitol,” Pence told Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, the Associated Press reported. Pence was in a “secure location” when he made the call, but the Capitol had already been overrun by rioters for two hours.

The Associated Press pieced together the timeline of the siege based on the document and previously known details.

Read more: Donald Trump is facing legal jeopardy on multiple fronts. Here are the lawyers in his corner.

According to the outlet, the timeline “lays bare the inaction by then-President Donald Trump” and “shows that the intelligence missteps, tactical errors and bureaucratic delays were eclipsed by the government’s failure to comprehend the scale and intensity of a violent uprising by its own citizens.”

Pence was at the Capitol on January 6 to oversee the counting of electoral college votes and certify President Joe Biden’s victory. Trump encouraged his supporters to come to Washington, DC, to “stop the steal,” a reference to his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

Before the siege, Trump addressed a crowd of his supporters and told them to march to the Capitol. He also lashed out at Pence for not blocking the count of the electoral college, despite the vice president’s role being largely ceremonial.

Some of the rioters were captured on video chanting “hang Mike Pence.”

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump tweeted as his supporters closed in on the Senate chamber, just minutes after Pence was evacuated at around 2:13 p.m.

An hour later, Trump tweeted again, urging his supporter who had already overrun the building and attacked police officers to “remain peaceful.”

Pence’s call to Miller urging him to clear the Capitol came at 4:08 p.m., according to the Associated Press.

At 4:17 p.m., Trump first urged his supporters to leave, tweeting a video of himself repeating false statements about the election and saying “go home, and go home in peace.”

The Capitol was not declared secure until 8 p.m., and law enforcement was heavily criticized for its response to the day’s events.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Cryptocurrency-mining stocks could continue to outperform bitcoin amid a ‘modern-age gold rush,’ Fundstrat says

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  • Cryptocurrency-mining stocks have outperformed bitcoin and could continue to beat its gains, Fundstrat said.
  • Shares of Riot Blockchain have jumped 8,000% over the past year, compared with bitcoin’s 525% gain.
  • But investing in mining companies may magnify gains and losses, the firm said.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Shares of the largest public cryptocurrency-mining companies have outperformed bitcoin in the past 12 months and could continue to do so as bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency market represent the “modern-age digital gold rush,” Fundstrat’s Leeor Shimron said.

In a recent note, Shimron, the vice president of digital asset strategy, said the purest way to gain exposure to bitcoin mining was to invest directly in mining farms, like Riot Blockchain, Hive Blockchain, Marathon Digital Holdings, and Hut 8.

“Over the past year, they greatly outperformed Bitcoin, which accelerated when the $20,000 all-time high was breached,” Shimron said. “We expect this dynamic to continue as the bull market plays out.”

Riot Blockchain, for example, has gained roughly 8,000% over the past year, while bitcoin has rallied about 525%.

Shimron also said the mining companies had taken steps to capture the growth of the bitcoin bull run, such as investing in efficient hardware and upgrading machines to increase operating leverage and hashrate capacity.

However, investors should be aware that buying shares of mining companies may be risky, with massive upside potential but also the potential for magnified losses during bitcoin’s bear markets.

“Although there is not enough historical data to confirm, mining company equities may serve as a high-beta play on Bitcoin,” Shimron said. “This would magnify performance to the upside and downside for these types of stocks. Clearly their performance is tied to the price of Bitcoin, but they may deliver amplified returns during a bull market. We are seeing this play out in the current market cycle. When Bitcoin enters a bear cycle, we would expect mining equities to have greater downside volatility than Bitcoin.”

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Ex-NYPD officer charged with using a flagpole to assault a cop during the US Capitol riot

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A pro-Trump mob clashes with police on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

  • Thomas Webster appeared in court Tuesday over charges he assaulted a police officer.
  • Webster is a former member of the New York Police Department.
  • Prosecutors accuse him of using a flagpole to attack an officer at the January 6 US Capitol riot.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A former member of the New York Police Department appeared in court Tuesday to face charges that he assaulted a police officer with a dangerous weapon during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

According to a criminal complaint, Thomas Webster, who was arrested Monday, was carrying a metal flagpole with a US Marine Corps flag on it when he began verbally harassing a member of the Metropolitan Police Department, declaring him a “commie” and a “piece of shit.”

Then, prosecutors say, Webster shoved a metal gate into the man and then lunged at him, “striking at the officer with the flagpole numerous times.”

He is at least the second man to be charged with using a flagpole to attack a police officer during the insurrection.

“You can see him ripping the officer’s protective gear off, the gas mask or the helmet that he was wearing at the time, which … caused the police officer to choke. It cut off his air at least for a short period of time,” Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Gianforti said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

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A man is seen attempting to rip a face mask off a police officer outside the US Capitol

The actions were caught on body camera footage. Prosecutors say Webster can also been seen on a YouTube video in restricted grounds at the US Capitol. “Send more patriots,” the man in the video states. “We need some help.”

Webster, who runs a landscaping company, was identified with screenshots from the video by an administrator at his children’s high school, according to the complaint.

If convicted, he could face more than a decade behind bars.

Webster is currently being held without bail until his next court appearance on March 3, with US Magistrate Judge Andrew E. Krause calling the video footage he reviewed “disturbing” and “well beyond First Amendment speech.”

His lawyer, James Monroe, said he intends to plead not guilty.

More than 250 people have now been charged in connection with the violence on January 6.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Trump supporter and alleged Capitol rioter says ‘we proudly take responsibility’ and erupts over allegations that antifa protestors stormed the building

jonathan mellis
Jonathan Mellis.

  • A Trump supporter who allegedly took part in the Capitol riots has rejected claims that antifa perpetrated the attack.
  • “Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM,” Jonathan Mellis said.
  • Some Republicans have tried to blame other groups for carrying out the attack.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A Trump supporter who said he participated in the January 6 Capitol riot expressed frustration over allegations that other groups were responsible for the insurrection, according to legal documents first reported by the Huffington Post on Tuesday.  

“Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM,” a man named Jon Gennaro, identified by the FBI as Jonathan Gennaro Mellis, wrote on Facebook, referring to the anti-far right movement known as “antifa” and Black Lives Matter protestors. They are “too p—-,” he added.

“We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle,” Mellis continued. “We are fighting for election integrity.”

Since a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the Capitol last month, some Republicans have attempted to cast blame elsewhere, elevating theories that antifa and Black Lives Matter protestors had disguised themselves among the former president’s supporters and carried out the siege. The FBI has said that there is no evidence to support the claims.

Mellis’ social media posts, documented in an affidavit, also push back on the GOP talking point. 

The FBI revealed several photos of Mellis at the riot and pointed to video evidence of him wielding a stick and striking police officers guarding the Capitol complex. Mellis faces multiple charges, including for assault of police officers, obstruction of law enforcement and Congress, disorderly conduct, and forced entry of restricted grounds. The FBI has made over 250 arrests in relation to the Capitol riot thus far.

Former President Donald Trump, at the time, had also told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a phone call that antifa perpetrated the attack, according to an account of the conversation by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. McCarthy, a top Republican, has dismissed the conspiracy theory.

The Huffington Post reported that at least three other Capitol rioters have rejected claims that antifa and Black Lives Matter groups were involved.

“It was not Antifa at the Capitol,” Brandon Straka, who was charged last month, said per the Huffington Post. “It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them.”

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Florida man arrested after Facebook posts appear to show him entering the US Capitol, including a photo of broken furniture with a ‘US SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS’ sticker

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In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. In dozens of cases on social media, Trump supporters downright flaunted their activity on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos, and comments and sent them to the FBI.

  • Adam Honeycutt was arrested Thursday at his girlfriend’s house in Florida.
  • The government alleges he unlawfully entered the US Capitol on January 6.
  • Honeycutt boasted of his involvement on Facebook, according to a criminal complaint.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A Florida man who posted videos on social media that appear to show him entering the US Capitol was arrested by federal agents on Thursday over his alleged role in the January 6 insurrection

Adam Honeycutt was arrested after two people tipped off the FBI. Both alerted the bureau to the man’s Facebook page, which one of the tipsters said showed “multiple videos and photos apparently taken by [him] at the US Capitol,” according to a criminal complaint.

One tipster said they were “not friends with him” on Facebook but said, according to the complaint, that there was sufficient enough evidence on his public feed, “Including a picture of him holding a broken piece of a desk from within the Capitol.”

That photo is included in the government’s complaint, the broken furniture having a prominent sticker that reveals its owner: “US SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS.”

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Photo from criminal complaint.

Days after the riot, Honeycutt appeared to grasp that there could be legal consequences. In one private post, provided to the FBI by a confidential informant, he insisted that he had not been inside the US Capitol at all.

“Hell, I was at the food truck when the shit hit the fan,” he wrote on January 10, asserting that he would have said so sooner but he did not have reception. “Then got put in [Facebook] jail so I couldn’t let yall know that I wasn’t with the rioters.”

He also changed his profile photo from one of him outside the Capitol to another featuring him and a small child.

Videos posted the day of the riot, reviewed by the FBI, however, suggest otherwise, according to the criminal complaint.

In one, he appears to be outside the Capitol as rioters clash with police, the complaint alleges. “It’s about to go down!” he yells, according to the court documents. In another, the complaint alleges, he appears on camera and states, “Well, made it in.”

His still-active Facebook page shows him to be a fan of Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. On January 28 he updated his profile photo again to a meme that depicts President Joe Biden as a character from “The Avengers,” Thanos, snapping his fingers and eliminating oil industry jobs, a reference to the canceling of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Adam Honeycutt’s most recent profile photo on Facebook.

Honeycutt is charged with entering restricted grounds, violent entry, and disorderly conduct. He was arrested at his girlfriend’s house in Orange Park, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville, according to local NBC News affiliate News4Jax. He faces up to six months in prison.

His lawyer, Lee Lockett, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. However, he told News4Jax that his client is cooperating with authorities.

Prosecutors are seeking to prevent Honeycutt from being released on bail, alleging that they found marijuana and improperly secured guns when they arrested him.

Honeycutt is himself a bail bondsman, the complaint says, a LinkedIn page stating that he has worked as one since August 2018.

A hearing, at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville, is set for Tuesday morning.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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US Capitol insurrection

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Trump is now more isolated than ever as his administration is in its last gasps, but the wheels of the democracy he sought to destroy keep turning

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump.

  • The violence and disruption that ensued in Washington, DC, on Wednesday was unlike anything seen in modern US history: crowds of people marching through the halls of Congress, waving Trump flags, ransacking lawmakers’ offices, and planting MAGA hats on historic statues.
  • It was, though, in some ways a natural consequence of President Donald Trump’s chaotic four years in office, and a manifestation of his relentless attacks on American democracy.
  • The violence that erupted at the US Capitol was unprecedented and disturbing, but also entirely predictable — and ultimately won’t stop Trump’s term from coming to an end. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

One of the central pillars of American democracy withstood a devastating blow on Wednesday when an angry mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters converged on the Capitol building in Washington, DC, and, in relatively short order, breached its barricades, shattered its windows, and stormed in.

The violence and disruption that ensued was unlike anything seen in modern US history: crowds of people fanning out and marching through the halls of Congress, waving Trump flags, ransacking lawmakers’ offices, and planting MAGA hats on historic statues.

One intruder took a seat at the dais where Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been conducting the business of certifying the electoral votes that will confirm President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the next administration to assume the White House. He stood with a clenched fist, in a stance that’s become common amongst hardcore Trump acolytes. 

The unrest followed a rally at a DC park where thousands of people supporting Trump and his crusade to delegitimize Biden’s victory showed up to hear the president speak. Trump has stubbornly rejected the reality that he lost the election to Biden, and he only leaned further into that rhetoric Wednesday morning, even as the House and Senate prepared to execute their duties under federal law, just two miles away.

Political worlds collide

Lawmakers tasked with counting the electoral votes for each state had only managed to get through two of them, Alabama and Alaska, before a handful of Republicans launched into their planned objections to the states Biden won. But the digression didn’t last long before the Capitol went into lockdown. Secret Service agents swept Pence out of the room; Pelosi, other lawmakers, and congressional aides were rushed away to secure locations.

At least four people died, including a woman who was shot inside the Capitol. Residential neighborhoods surrounding the riot were placed on lockdown. A suspected pipe bomb was found near a building occupied by the Republican National Committee. The DC National Guard was deployed, and National Guard troops from Virginia were sent to help.

In the ensuing hours, the culmination of Trump’s four years in office unfolded in a dramatic, and yet ultimately unsurprising way. Years of the president’s unapologetic rhetorical attacks against democratic institutions and governance were manifested in the explicit and destructive actions of his supporters.

Trump’s Republican colleagues have long tolerated and appeased his bombast in the name of partisan expediency, but after the insurrection on Wednesday, the strong rebukes Trump received from some people within his own party may signal the true end to his grip on power.

A disparate law-enforcement response

The standoff between pro-Trump agitators and police stretched into the night in the District of Columbia, even after a 6 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser went into effect. Protesters lingered and shouted at the police as they moved the crowds away from the Capitol building.

Police said they made at least 30 arrests, according to the Associated Press, prompting comparisons to the law-enforcement response seen months earlier during Black Lives Matter protests where peaceful demonstrators were tear gassed, brutalized, and arrested in far greater numbers.

At the end of the day, the picture was clear. Years of Trump’s allies insisting that his divisive rhetoric be taken seriously but not literally, and the argument that his fiercest supporters are patriots who are simply passionate about America, came unglued. And police did not appear as ready or eager to douse the flames.

World leaders react in dismay, the president punts

Reactions to the unrest on Wednesday were swift, and they stretched far beyond Washington’s political bubble. Top Republicans and Democrats rejected the savagery. Vice President Mike Pence said, “We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms … We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls, as well as the injuries suffered by those who defended our Capitol today.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, once a strong ally to Trump, went further: “The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats.”

Former President Barack Obama said the violence at the Capitol was “incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election,” calling Trump’s actions “a great dishonor and shame for our nation.” Former President George W. Bush called the insurrection “sickening and disheartening,” and added, “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic.”

Trump’s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered a bleak assessment of the soon-t0-be former president’s future: “Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country,” he said.

World leaders lamented the scenes playing out on screens around the globe. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “disgraceful.” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “I think the American democratic institutions are strong, and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly.”

Ireland’s minister for defense and foreign affairs, Simon Coveney, said: “We must call this out for what it is: a deliberate assault on Democracy by a sitting President & his supporters, attempting to overturn a free & fair election.”

In contrast, Trump tweeted hollow pleas for peace to his 88 million-plus followers, asking them to “remain peaceful,” and “respect the law.” The messages were seen as lukewarm, with Trump weaving platitudes like, “We love you,” and “You’re very special” into his remarks.

Members of Trump’s own inner circle publicly urged him to go further, but he resisted, staying true to his refusal to strongly condemn anyone who supports him, even if there is violence and bloodshed. One of the first examples of this came in 2017, in the midst of the deadly Charlottesville riots.

Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pleaded with him on Twitter at the height of Wednesday’s chaos: “The President’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”

It didn’t work. Trump followed up his Twitter statements with a video that rehashed his lies that he won the 2020 election. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pulled down the president’s video and the social media outlets temporarily locked his accounts.

The wheels of the US government keep turning, but Trump’s future is uncertain

Despite the relentless chipping away of democratic norms during the Trump presidency, the wheels of the US government kept turning, as lawmakers reconvened on the Senate floor late Wednesday night to continue counting electoral votes that will inevitably certify Biden’s clear victory in the presidential election.

But the last two weeks of Trump’s presidency are less clear. Multiple news reports of internal deliberations about how to deal with the outgoing president circulated in the hours following the attempted coup.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar said she would draw up new articles of impeachment. Rep. Cori Bush called on the House of Representatives to investigate whether lawmakers had “violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution” and should face sanctions or removal.

And the specter of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office loomed larger than ever, one of the clearest signs yet that Trump is an imminent threat to the country he was elected to lead.

In a presidency that has prided itself in its appetite for chaos, Trump is getting what he wanted, but the long-term damage to America’s standing in the world may be costlier than anyone can quantify.

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