House impeaches Trump as Capitol riot probe continues

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT) January 15, 2021
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10:33 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Delta Air Lines to ban firearms in checked bags on DC-bound flights

From CNN's Gregory Wallace and Chris Isidore

A Delta airlines plane parked at a gate at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on September 22, 2020.
A Delta airlines plane parked at a gate at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on September 22, 2020. Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

Delta Air Lines announced it will not accept firearms as checked baggage on flights bound for Washington, DC.  

"We’re going to not allow anyone to check a firearm into any of the metro DC airports starting this weekend and carrying through the next week, unless you’re law enforcement and you’re authorized to be carrying one," CEO Ed Bastian said in an appearance on CNBC Thursday.  

The measure is the latest attempt by airlines and government agencies to address concerns that the rioters who stormed the US Capitol last week may return for incoming President Joe Biden’s inauguration.  

Law enforcement agencies and the Transportation Security Administration have stepped up their efforts, including in some cases a second screening of DC bound passengers as CNN reported on Wednesday. American Airlines said it will suspend alcohol service on flights to and from the DC area around the inauguration.  

"We’re all on high alert, based on the events over the past couple of weeks up in Washington," Bastian said. "We are doing an awful lot in terms of gathering information and talking to the intelligence agencies both federal and local as well as FAA and TSA. We’ve increased the amount of security, both at airports and in the skies, seen and unseen." 

For context: Passengers, with a few law enforcement-related exceptions, are prohibited from carrying firearms, ammunition and other weapons onboard a plane. But the Transportation Security Administration does allow the transportation of an unloaded weapon in a locked and hard-sided container as checked baggage in a passenger plane belly. 

9:29 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

What key GOP senators are saying about impeachment as Senate prepares for trial

From CNN's Lauren Fox and the hill team 

Over the next several days, some Republicans senators will make it very clear where they stand on impeachment.

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen.Tim Scott, both Republicans from South Carolina, have done that. Last night, Sen. Tom Cottona Republican from Arkansas, did it too. Cotton said that after Trump leaves office, “the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former President.”

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio who is up for reelection in 2022, said his decision will be based off of not only the evidence he hears, but “among my considerations will be what is best to help heal our country rather than deepen our divisions.”

Remember: Republicans must have 17 members vote "yes" to convict Trump in the Senate. All eyes have been on what McConnell decides.

CNN is told by multiple GOP aides that McConnell’s decision will certainly have an impact on the conference. But, it’s also important to remember that while McConnell has a lot of influence, he’s not going to be whipping members on a vote like this.

And, for members in states where Trump is popular, McConnell’s vote may not sway them at all. That doesn’t mean members are not obsessing about where McConnell falls on this.

In fact, multiple Republican members and aides CNN has spoken to in recent days have wondered why McConnell has stayed as quiet as he has. Members are asking each other what their leader is thinking.

CNN asked a series of Republican senators if they’d heard from McConnell in recent days on this topic and aside from the conference-wide note he sent yesterday, all of the members and aides CNN talked to said McConnell has been giving members their space to think through this on their own.

9:06 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

House impeachment manager says plans for Senate trial in "very preliminary stages" 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Rep. Diana DeGette.
Rep. Diana DeGette. Susan Walsh/AP

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, a House impeachment manager, said she and her fellow managers are in “very preliminary stages” of planning for a Senate trial.

“We're going to have to figure out what kind of evidence we need to present to the Senate to prove our article of impeachment,” which could include TV footage and witnesses, she said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

Impeachment managers are expected to meet again today and over the weekend, she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not plan to bring the Senate back before President-elect Joe Biden in sworn in, and the timing and length of the trial is still unknown.

Responding to GOP Sen. Tom Cotton saying he would not vote to convict the President after Trump has left office, DeGette said “they could prevent him from ever holding office again [and] they could prevent him from getting all of the perks of a retired president.”

“And it seems to me, that given the egregiousness with which he acted, then we should take this kind of a step,” she said. 

Watch the interview:

9:20 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Trump's video address yesterday came only after aides talked him into taping it, source says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House/Youtube
The White House/Youtube

Just as his last two videos came after cajoling from aides, President Trump's Oval Office speech on Wednesday night came only after advisers talked him into taping it, according to a person familiar with the matter.

CNN also reported Wednesday that Trump agreed to the video after a briefing from Secret Service officials about potential threats surrounding the inauguration, which one official described as "sobering."

Trump had seemed reluctant to tape the videos, in part because he believes they make him look like he's caving to pressure to tone down his stance on the election. 

His first video on the day of the insurrection came partly at the urging of his daughter Ivanka Trump, but the President threw out the script his team had prepared and ad-libbed most of it, including the line telling the rioters "we love you."

The subsequent videos have been more tightly scripted, with heavy input from the White House counsel's office on the text. Trump has read them from teleprompters set up by the White House Communications Agency as senior officials look on, ensuring he does not diverge from the words as written.

Advisers have repeatedly urged him to tape the spots, citing both the potential legal implications of inciting the riot and the desire from fellow Republicans that he show a willingness to lower the temperature among his supporters.

Watch:

8:41 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

How states are preparing for potential unrest ahead of Biden's inauguration

States across the country are increasing security at their capitol buildings ahead of what the FBI warned are “armed protests” being planned in all 50 states from Jan. 16 through at least Jan. 20 in the wake of the US Capitol riot.

Federal officials reiterated this in a call with law enforcement leaders across the country Wednesday, saying they remain concerned about the prospect of extremists appearing at planned rallies and conducting violence.

Security is also ramping up in battleground states crucial to President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential victory, with governors activating the national guard, closing capitols, erecting fences and barriers, and boarding up windows. 

Here's a look at what steps states are taking to prepare for potential unrest:

  • Multiple state governors are activating the National Guard to secure their capitols, including in Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Washington state and Wisconsin. 
  • A number of states are deploying heavy fencing and additional crowd control measures around their capitol buildings, including in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia and Washington state. In Pennsylvania, authorities have erected barriers and increased security.
  • In Michigan's capital city of Lansing, the mayor has asked the governor to call up the National Guard to protect the capitol. The attorney general said that the state's new open-carry firearms ban there is not enough, tweeting: "The state capitol is not safe." This comes as armed militia members plan to protest at the capitol Sunday. 
  • In Florida and Oklahoma, lawmakers and staff are being told to work from home this weekend due to the likelihood of protests. 
  • In Virginia, a state of emergency has been declared in Richmond and Capitol Square will be closed ahead of anticipated protests at the state capitol building. Utah is also closing its capitol building due to planned protests. 
  • In Wisconsin, workers at the Capitol in Madison have boarded up their first-floor windows ahead of potential protests. 
  • Several big states are also on high alert. In New York, state police have taken steps "to harden security in and around the State Capitol in Albany" ahead of Biden's inauguration. And in California, the governor says the capitol is on a “heightened, heightened level of security” and the national guard could be deployed as needed. 
8:27 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Here's what we know (and what we don't know) about the impeachment trial

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Pelosi signs the article of impeachment after Wednesday's vote.
Pelosi signs the article of impeachment after Wednesday's vote. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The House voted to impeach President Tump for a second time yesterday, and all eyes now turn to the Senate, where lawmakers will hold a trial and eventually vote to either convict or acquit the President.

So far, we know a Senate impeachment trial is not going to start until Jan. 20 — the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated — at the earliest.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not bringing the Senate back. In his note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said "while the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote, and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate."

The list of what we still don't know about the trial is a long one. Some key details that are still unclear include:

  • We don't know when the trial will start.
  • We don't know how long it is going to be.

As CNN reported last night, House managers met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday night to begin laying out the way the trial could go, but no decisions have been made about whether they would collect evidence or bring witnesses: two things that could extend when a trial would begin in the Senate. In other words, the next few days are going to be about trying to get clarity on those two questions.

While Democrats pushed hard to impeach Trump in the House, the reality of what a trial could mean for the opening days of Biden's presidency is just sinking in.

Senate Democrats are still all over the map, according to several members and aides. And, Biden isn't talking much to rank-and-file members about what he wants to see. So much of the timing of the trial will be based on whether McConnell and Schumer can work out an agreement that gives Biden time in the mornings to get some of his nominees. Again, anything in the Senate can move swiftly with agreement. Without it, the Senate is an excessively deliberate body.

8:16 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Democratic congresswoman says threats won't end with inauguration

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Virginia Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, says she is concerned about threats to national security beyond Inauguration Day.

“The real issue that I think we need to focus on as an American people is that there is a violent and extreme ideology that has taken hold, that has been given safe harbor, if you will, in the political space. And we saw the results of what happens when that is able to fester and come to the forefront. We saw those results on Jan. 6,” Spanberger said on CNN’s “New Day.”

She said insurrectionists like those in the mob that stormed the Capitol “are not just going away.”

Spanberger said lawmakers who continued to refuse to accept the results of the presidential election over the past two months allowed lies around the election to “fester.”

“Every step along the way, when they had the ability to tell the truth to their constituents, when they had the ability to say there was no steal…they didn't do it,” she said.

“Bit by bit, this is the problem — is when we have people in positions of leadership, who do not use their voice, this is what happens. We allow people the space to fester and foster these conspiracy theories that there was some steal that they need to rise up to,” she added.

Watch:

8:09 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Here's why McConnell does not plan to start the Senate trial before Biden is sworn in

From CNN's Manu Raju and Clare Foran

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is rejecting Democratic calls to bring the Senate back immediately to convict President Trump, a decision that is likely to allow the President to serve out his final days in office.

McConnell's office made that clear to Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's aides on Wednesday, according to Republican officials. The majority leader also sent a note to Republican senators telling them the chamber won't return until Jan. 19, according to a person who has seen it, meaning an impeachment trial won't begin until the early days of Joe Biden's presidency.

In a statement released after the House voted to impeach, McConnell said:

"Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week."

The House impeachment vote on Wednesday over Trump's incitement of the riot at the Capitol last week stands as a swift and bipartisan condemnation that makes Trump the first president in United States history to be impeached twice.

McConnell has privately indicated that he believes impeaching Trump would be the way to rid him from the party, a dramatic break between the top Republican who has worked in tandem with the Republican President over the last four years.

In the note to his Republican colleagues Wednesday afternoon on impeachment, he wrote that "while the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate."

8:09 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Yesterday's impeachment vote was bipartisan. These 10 GOP members supported the measure.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday afternoon charging him with "incitement of insurrection." Among those who voted to impeach were 10 House Republicans. That includes:

  1. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
  2. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming
  3. Rep. John Katko of New York
  4. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan
  5. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington
  6. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington
  7. Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan
  8. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
  9. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina
  10. Rep. David Valadao of California

Four Republicans meanwhile did not vote: Reps. Kay Granger (TX-12), Andy Harris (MD-1), Gregory Murphy (NC-3) and Daniel Webster (FL-11).

Here's how each member in the House voted on Trump's second impeachment.