House pushes for Trump's removal after deadly Capitol riot

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

Updated 0629 GMT (1429 HKT) January 13, 2021
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11:05 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

House GOP leaders won't whip Republican colleagues to vote against Trump's impeachment

From CNN's Manu Raju

House Republican leaders won't whip their colleagues and tell them to vote against the impeachment resolution tomorrow, according to leadership aides. They will let members vote their conscience.

This is a marked departure from the approach in 2019 when GOP leaders pushed their members to fall in line and no GOP lawmakers defected. It shows the splintering of the GOP and how the party is deeply divided over how to respond to President Trump after he incited last week's deadly Capitol riot.

While a vast majority of House Republicans are expected to oppose the article of impeachment tomorrow, there are expectations there could be as many as 10 — maybe more, maybe less — breaking ranks.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the number three in GOP leadership, called tomorrow's impeachment vote a "vote of conscience." She has not said how she would vote but she has been sharply critical of Trump's efforts to overturn the election.

9:37 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

At least two groups seeking to protest Biden's inauguration are waiting for permits

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Federal officials are considering whether to issue permits to at least two groups seeking to protest the inauguration of incoming President Joe Biden, or support outgoing President Trump.    

On Monday, Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she would ask the National Park Service to deny or cancel any permit requests between Jan. 10 and 26. Inauguration Day is Jan. 20. On Tuesday morning, she told ABC News that the park service has not yet done so, "and we recognize that is an extraordinary request."  

"We are the nation’s capital, people come and have done so peacefully to protest and grieve their government, but we want to make sure that at a very extraordinary time, that the appropriate limits are placed on gathering in the nation’s capital," she said in the ABC appearance.  

The National Park Service told CNN it is processing an application from a group called DC Action Lab, which is requesting permission to assemble approximately 5,000 people for a "Free speech demonstration against the inauguration."  

It is also processing an application from a group called Let America Hear Us, Roar for Trump. It described its plans as gathering approximately 300 people "to support our President."

Neither of those permits have been granted.  

The park service said it has granted two permits for events on Inauguration Day that appear unrelated to the inauguration; one is anticipating 15 participants to "Attract people to God with music and books" over two-plus weeks in January, and a second is for an ongoing worship service that began in November and continues through mid-March.  

There are seven other permit applications to use National Park Service land in the DC area on inauguration day, including a pro-environment/anti-war assembly, a request to do video recording, and several related to Martin Luther King, Jr day. 

11:15 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Congress has been briefed on new potential threats facing lawmakers and the US Capitol

From CNN's Chandelis Duster, Lauren Fox and Priscilla Alvarez 

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Members of Congress were briefed late Monday on a series of new threats against lawmakers and the US Capitol ahead of President-Elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb told CNN's New Day Tuesday.

The briefing, which comes after CNN reported Monday that the FBI has received information indicating "armed protests" are being planned at all 50 state capitols and in Washington, DC, is yet another sign that law enforcement agencies are becoming increasingly concerned that last week's siege at the US Capitol was not an isolated incident.

"Yes, what our briefing confirmed is that this is not simply an ongoing criminal investigation, which it is. We're in the midst of an ongoing series of crimes and ongoing threat to the United States capitol, to our institutions, to communities all around the United States," he told CNN's Alisyn Camerota when asked about the briefing last night from law enforcement. "And that's why what we're doing is different than the impeachment that came before and other things we've done with respect to with respect to President Trump before."

He continued: "This is an action purely taken in terms of public safely. We're trying to stop the active threat coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He is the person who ties together all of these different hate groups, White supremacy groups, whatever you want to call them. They were literally checking their phones and responding to his words and videos in realtime. I mean, he tweeted out something about Mike Pence and all of a sudden the crowd is chanting hang Mike Pence the middle of the capitol."

Asked by Camerota to confirm if there are specific, credible threats that he heard that law enforcement believes are legitimate and are taking seriously and planning for, Lamb responded "yes."

A DHS official told CNN a briefing happened with the Hill yesterday with DHS, Secret Service and FBI. This person wasn’t involved in the briefing but had been told about it.

Asked if Biden should still do a traditional outside inauguration given the information he has received, Lamb said if Biden wants to have one outside, he will be there beside him.

"I believe that Joe Biden was elected President by a huge margin because the American people trust him to exercise powers of commander in chief. And I saw him on TV yesterday say he's not afraid to do this outside. And I agree with him and I believe him," he said. "So if that's what he wants to do, I'll be right there beside him because I think the most important thing is to continue showing all Americans that no matter how impassioned and, you know, committed these people who attacked the capitol are, we are more committed."

Lamb added later: "But to go back to your earlier question, the threats we are facing are very specific. I don't want anyone watching at home to think that we're just sort of imagining the things could be bad ... We are not negotiating with or reasoning with these people. They have to be prosecuted. They have to be stopped. And unfortunately that includes the President. Which is why he needs to be impeached and removed from office."

Two Democratic lawmakers who participated in the briefing told CNN that while yes, they were walked through these scenarios on a call yesterday and officers were sober about the threats, the effort was made to emphasize how different security is right now.

“They are very strong when we are weak. That is when the mob psychology takes hold and they are emboldened, but when met with actual determined force, I think a lot of these fantasy world beliefs about what will happen when they come to Washington will melt away," one of the members said.

Rep. Lamb: We're trying to stop an active threat:

9:28 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

There are new concerns among Trump's top staff about job prospects after Capitol riot 

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

There is a new concern among President Trump's senior staff about their job prospects as his time left in office dwindles. 

Several of his top aides were already struggling to find positions before the violent assault on the US Capitol, but now multiple people have voiced concern privately that it will be almost impossible to land a job in the private sector, given the current environment and their boss's toxicity, according to several of those staffers and people who spoke with them. 

Two senior officials to Trump recently expressed anxiety about their limited options with outside advisers and said they have been unable to find positions so far. Others are planning to stay under the radar for a few months until things calm down. 

"They're freaking out," one of the outside advisers who spoke with the aides told CNN. 

As CNN has reported, Trump spent the weekend largely in isolation because a lot of people are avoiding him, with the exception of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino and the head of the White House personnel office Johnny McEntee. 

11:05 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Health secretary says he won't resign — but won't discuss 25th Amendment

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was pressed repeatedly Tuesday on whether President Trump is capable of fulfilling his duties and whether he would invoke the 25th Amendment in his role as a member of the Trump Cabinet, and though he said he’d “wrestled” with his own role in the administration, he would not weigh in. 

“The rhetoric last week was unacceptable. I'm not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here. I'm committed — I've wrestled with this – I'm committed to see this through in my role as Health Secretary during a pandemic, to ensure that vaccines and therapeutics get out to the American people and to ensure a smooth handoff to President-elect Biden's team,” he said during an appearance on “Good Morning America.”

Pressed again on whether he had had conversations on the 25th Amendment, he said it would “not be appropriate” to discuss and would not get into private conversations. 

He called the Capitol insurrection “an assault on democracy” and expressed concern about reports of future protests at the Capitol and at state capitols around the country, calling for a “peaceful and orderly transition.”

11:05 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Impeachment article co-author: Trump is "clear and present danger"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who co-authored the article of impeachment against President Trump, said Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud incited the Capitol riots.

“We will demonstrate unequivocally that the President's language, the statements he made, the promotion of the big lie made violence at the Capitol inevitable. He's responsible for it. He needs to be removed from office immediately. He's a clear and present danger to the United States,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Cicilline said they will file a report today detailing the legal basis for impeachment. 

“We were all witnesses to this or victims of this. We all publicly saw the President's statements and his tweets. So this will lay it out in more detail, but it is absolutely sufficient to sustain the burden of proof for impeachment,” he said.

Cicilline said he hopes there will be “a dozen at least” Republican lawmakers who will join House Democrats to vote in favor of impeachment. 

Cicilline also said that he thought it was important to reference a provision of the 14th Amendment, which bars any officeholder from federal or state office who takes part in insurrection or rebellion against the US.

“It's a classic case of insurrection,” Cicilline said.

Hear the full interview:

8:40 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Washington Post: Secret Service officer put under investigation over Facebook comments about Biden's win

From CNN's Christina Carrega

A Secret Service officer was put under investigation stemming from comments on a Facebook post in which she accused lawmakers who formalized President-elect Joe Biden’s win of treason and shared conspiracy theories about rigging the Presidential election.

USSS declined to comment about the matter. When asked about the investigation, which was reported by the Washington Post, a spokesperson for the Secret Service told CNN:

"The U.S. Secret Service carries out its law enforcement mission in an objective and apolitical manner. Any allegation that an employee is not carrying out their duties in that manner will be investigated. As this is a personnel matter, the agency will not be further commenting."
11:05 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

GOP Rep. Cheney calls impeachment a "vote of conscience"

From CNN's Manu Raju with DJ Judd

Rep. Liz Cheney speaks during an event on the House steps of the Capitol on September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Rep. Liz Cheney speaks during an event on the House steps of the Capitol on September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney, the number three House Republican, told colleagues on a conference call Monday evening that Wednesday's impeachment vote is a “vote of conscience,” a source tells CNN. The House plans to vote to impeach President Trump tomorrow.

Cheney is one of the handful of outspoken critics of Trump’s disinformation surrounding the November election results and Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. 

Cheney has not said how she would vote. Republican leaders have not planned to whip the votes at the moment, in stark contrast to 2019’s impeachment, where Republican leadership pressured members not to break ranks.

It’s not known yet how many Republicans will vote to impeach President Trump, though speculation could be around ten — maybe more, maybe less.

10:54 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Despite inauguration security concerns, Biden says he's "not afraid" of taking oath of office at Capitol

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen theater on January 6 in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen theater on January 6 in Wilmington, Delaware. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he was "not afraid" of taking his oath of office on the West Front of the US Capitol, after supporters of President Trump breached the building in a deadly riot.

"I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside, and we've been getting briefed," Biden told reporters on Monday after receiving the second dose of his Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on camera.

"I think it's critically important that there be a real, serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatened people's lives, defaced public property, caused great damage, that they be held accountable," Biden said.

The riot last week at the US Capitol left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and has raised concerns there could be more violence and rioting over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

The Pentagon has authorized up to 15,000 National Guard troops for the inauguration, according to Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado said in a statement Sunday that the Department of Defense is aware of "further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day."

President Trump, who incited the riot at the Capitol, has said he will not attend Biden's inauguration. He will be the first outgoing president to skip his successor's swearing-in in more than 150 years. Vice President Mike Pence, however, will attend the inauguration, according to a source familiar with the plans.