House pushes to impeach Trump after deadly Capitol riot

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:26 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021
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4:23 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

FBI says it has received information indicating "armed protests" are planned at all 50 state capitols

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Whitney Wild

The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC, in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN.

"Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” it says.

The bulletin continues:

“On 8 January, the FBI received information on an identified group calling for others to join them in ‘storming’ state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event POTUS is removed as President prior to Inauguration Day. This is identified group is also planning to ‘storm’ government offices including in the District of Columbia and in every state, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump, on 20 January.”

The bulletin, which emerged after rioters stormed the US Capitol last week, also suggests there are threats of an “uprising” if President Trump is removed via the 25th Amendment before Inauguration Day.

Additionally, the FBI is tracking reports of “various threats to harm President-Elect Biden ahead of the presidential inauguration,” the bulletin states.

“Additional reports indicate threats against VP-Elect Harris and Speaker Pelosi,” it adds.

ABC News was first to report the FBI bulletin.

 

4:19 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

Acting Homeland Security secretary instructs Secret Service to begin special security ahead of inauguration

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf  Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images/FILE

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Monday said he has instructed the US Secret Service to begin the National Special Security Event operations for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration effective, Jan. 13 instead of Jan. 19.

Wolf said in a statement that he instructed the measure in "light of events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration" and at "the recommendation" of Secret Service Director James Murray.

"Our federal, state, and local partners will continue to coordinate their plans and position resources for this important event," Wolf said in the statement.

4:09 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

Google will freeze and "reassess" political contributions

From CNN's Brian Fung

Google told CNN it is reassessing its political donations in the aftermath of last week's Capitol riots. 

"We have frozen all NetPAC political contributions while we review and reassess its policies following last week's deeply troubling events," Google spokesperson Julie McAlister said in a statement Monday.

The company joins a growing list of tech companies suspending political donations. Earlier today, AT&T, Microsoft and Facebook announced similar measures.

3:54 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

AT&T joins growing list of companies halting political donations

From CNN’s Brian Fung

AT&T said it will withhold political contributions from US lawmakers who voted against the certification of the 2020 election results. 

"Employees on our Federal PAC Board convened a call today and decided to suspend contributions to members of Cngress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes last week," AT&T tweeted from its public policy Twitter account on Monday. 

AT&T owns WarnerMedia, CNN's parent company. 

3:53 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

Biden hopes Senate can hold impeachment trial and simultaneously pursue his agenda

From CNN's Sara Mucha

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Image
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Image

After receiving his second dose of coronavirus vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden told a reporter that he hopes the Senate can hold an impeachment trial while simultaneously confirming his Cabinet nominees and passing a stimulus package.

Asked if he's worried that impeachment could potentially delay trying to pass the coronavirus stimulus package, Biden replied that it is his "hope and expectation" that both can be done at the same time. He added that his priority was to first pass a stimulus bill and rebuild the economy and mused whether it would be possible to split the schedule in half. 

"The question is whether... can you go half day on dealing with the impeachment and half day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate as well as moving on the package," he said. 

Biden said that he had a conversation about whether it would be possible, but is unsure because he has yet to receive an answer from the parliamentarian. 

3:51 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

Microsoft suspends political donations, citing "last week's events"

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Microsoft told CNN its political action committee will suspend donations "until after it assesses the implications of last week's events."

The decision was reached on Friday, the company said in a statement. 

"The PAC regularly pauses its donations in the first quarter of a new Congress," Microsoft said, "but it will take additional steps this year to consider these recent events and consult with employees."

3:43 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

Former Capitol Police chief says Army more concerned about "optics" of sending National Guard to Capitol

From CNN’s Mark Morales

Steven Sund, the now former head of the US Capitol Police, said he asked for help on the day pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, and was told that putting National Guard troops in front of the building in response to the mayhem was more about optics than it was about keeping the grounds safe.

In a brief interview with CNN on Monday outside his home in Reston, Virginia, Sund offered his version of events of what happened on Wednesday. He recalled requesting National Guard and speaking to the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Monday. 

On the day of the riots, Sund said he was frustrated while on a conference call with a Pentagon official and other high-ranking law enforcement and emergency management officials, including Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee. Sund said he wanted help but was met with resistance from the Army.

“The Army had a concern with providing officers just to form a line,” Sund said. “I needed boots on the ground, immediate assistance, right then and there, helping to form police lines to help secure up the foundation of the United States Capitol building. They were more concerned with the optics.”  

Sund told the Post in an interview that Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff, said on the call that he could not recommend that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy approve the request because he didn’t “like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background.” A DC official gave CNN a similar description of the comments.

In a statement to CNN, Piatt said: “As soon as Sec. McCarthy received the request for assistance on the phone call at 2:22 p.m., he ran to the Secretary of Defense’s office to request approval to assist the Capitol Police. While the two secretaries were meeting, I made clear to the participants of the conference call that I was not the approval authority. I told the assembled group on the call that we need to work together to develop a plan on how to use National Guard Soldiers if their participation was approved. I did not make the statement or any comments similar to what was attributed to him by Chief Sund in the Washington Post article.”   

Sund said while he was on the call, the mob had already taken over, charging barricades and hitting officers with anything they could get their hands on, including fire extinguishers, flag poles and even the barricades that were supposed to keep them out. As many as 60 officers, who Sund said had been fighting for hours, were hurt. One, Brian Sicknick, would later end up dying from his wounds.

Sund said the fence line started at First Street but as soon as rioters “hit that fence, they tore it apart. There were thousands of them. Like eight to 12,000,” Sund said. 

He estimated he had about 1,500 Capitol Police officers there on Wednesday. There are about 2,300 officers on the Capitol Hill police force, according to agency’s website.

Sund said he wanted the Army to get the National Guard to the Capitol, “as quickly as possible.”

He added that the USCP has policed other large scale events, and was anticipating a large scale event, but did not count on the violence. 

“We didn’t expect a mob…riotous violent mob we got on that day,” Sund said.

He also addressed allegations that some officers let the Trump supporters into the grounds by opening gates. The now former agency head said the USCP did not allow them in.

“These officers take their mission extremely seriously to support and defend the building, to support and defend the legislative body, the leadership. I don’t think there’s any truth to that,” Sund said. 

Sund also said that as the head of the agency, he took ownership for what happened. 

“I’m responsible and I really feel bad that I saw the my men and women of the Capitol police go through what they went through,” Sund said. 

3:26 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

Hallmark requests two GOP Senators return donations following Capitol riot

From CNN's Richard Davis

Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall
Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall Getty Images/FILE

Hallmark has requested Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall – who voted against the Electoral College results last week – return campaign contributions to its PAC in light of last week's Capitol violence.

"Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind," Hallmark spokesperson JiaoJiao Shen said in a statement. 

Shen went on to say that the company supports elected leaders from a wide variety of viewpoints, but Sens. Hawley and Marshall "do not reflect our company’s values."

Hawley, from Missouri, and Marshall, from Kansas, were among 147 Republicans who voted against certification of the electoral votes in a joint session of Congress last Wednesday evening. 

2:50 p.m. ET, January 11, 2021

White House counsel and former Attorney General Barr warned Trump not to self-pardon

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Jamie Gangel

Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images/FILE
Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images/FILE

White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former Attorney General William Barr have warned President Trump that they do not believe he should pardon himself, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

Barr conveyed this position to Trump before resigning last month, sources say. 

Trump has in recent weeks raised the idea of pardoning himself, as well as members of his family, though it is not known if he has done so since Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.

Trump has been heavily criticized for his role inciting the attack. Over the weekend, the acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia told NPR that top prosecutors will follow every investigative lead they can to determine people’s roles in the attack, even if that involves scrutinizing government officials.  

White House officials are also contemplating how the federal investigation into the insurrection impacts other pardons Trump has discussed, such as for his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who called for "trial for combat" at Wednesday’s rally before the Capitol was stormed. 

"The situation in DC has raised issues within the White House even on the pardons," one person close to the White House says.

Additional pardons are expected from the White House before Trump leaves office next week. 

CNN did not immediately hear back from the White House and Barr did not immediately provide a comment to CNN. 

Some context: Presidential pardon power is untested and sources say both Barr and Cipollone thought it would be a bad idea for Trump to try to pardon himself. 

Barr believes a 1974 Justice Department legal memo finding that the President cannot pardon himself should stand, and that Cipollone has not asked the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel for a re-examination of the issue, according to two sources. 

The memo does say, however, that a sitting president can resign the office and then be pardoned by his vice president once that person assumes the presidency. That is what happened when President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974.

Two separate sources close to Vice President Mike Pence say it is highly unlikely that Pence would issue a pardon to Trump in this scenario. Pence had been a loyal supporter of the President, but now feels frustrated and disappointed with Trump for his behavior around the insurrection and not calling to check on him during and after the riots, multiple sources say. 

Trump could still pardon himself even if his administration officials don’t approve of the action. A self-pardon would only extend to federal crimes, and not protect Trump from state actions, including an investigation by New York state prosecutors into Trump’s personal and corporate finances.  

Typically, the White House counsel's office would ask the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to issue an opinion on weighty legal issues. This office is responsible for giving opinions on executive branch power, and in general tends to take an expansive view of presidential power. 

Barr and Cipollone's opposition to Trump pardoning himself is notable because both have been staunch defenders of Trump wielding an expansive executive authority during both the Russia probe and the 2020 impeachment proceedings over his call with the Ukrainian president. 

Both men have recently been at odds with the President over his election lie. Barr left his post in December after publicly stating there was no widespread election fraud and Cipollone has considered resigning in recent weeks after strongly disagreeing with the President and his desire to use his office to overturn the election results. 

CNN's Pam Brown reports: