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Final days: Trump, a pariah president, tries to run out the clock

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump. Credit: Composite: AFP via Getty Images / Mandel Ngan and Saul Loeb

'Deranged, unhinged, dangerous'

Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, can't come fast enough for Democrats and a few Republicans who fear that incitement of last Wednesday's deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol isn't the last damage President Donald Trump can do.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will put a resolution before the House to give Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet officials 24 hours to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, reports Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez. Under House procedures, she will introduce the resolution Monday and likely call for a vote Tuesday on that ultimatum plan. That would start the clock for Pence. If the amendment hasn't been invoked by the time is up, the House would move forward with Trump's impeachment process.

"The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action," Pelosi's Sunday letter to colleagues said. In an interview aired Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," she warned Trump is "a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president."

Evicted from his social media platforms but hunkered down for a fourth consecutive day in the White House, Trump was defiant, accepting no responsibility for the violence that terrorized the Capitol after he whipped up supporters who swallowed his false election-fraud claims to "fight like hell" or "you're not going to have a country anymore," The Associated Press reported. Trump is planning to lash out against the companies that silenced him on Twitter and Facebook. On Tuesday, he will go to the border town of Alamo, Texas, to brag about his incomplete border wall.

CNN reported that Pence has not ruled out an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment and wants to preserve the option in case Trump becomes more unstable. They have not spoken to each other since Pence and lawmakers had to flee from the mob, which included chants of "Hang Mike Pence," after Pence rejected Trump's impossible demand to stop Congress from affirming Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

The Senate would not take up impeachment before Biden's inauguration, and with a two-thirds vote required, it would likely still be an uphill struggle to get 17 Republicans to agree. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat, favored a 100-day delay in sending impeachment articles to the Senate, to keep that chamber's attention on Biden's priorities. Why do impeachment if Trump will be gone? Because an impeachment conviction would provide grounds to permanently ban Trump from federal office.

But some in the GOP said Trump should get out now. On Sunday talk shows, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania raised the prospect of Trump facing "criminal liability" for his role in Wednesday's rioting, saying, "I think the best way for our country is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible." Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Friday that Trump should resign immediately. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has said he would consider impeachment.

Trumpers cry: Tech trying to erase us

Trump has now been silenced on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Twitch and Snapchat. But the crackdown by social media and tech companies to keep incitement of violent insurrection off their platforms didn't stop there.

Google and Apple removed Parler from their app stores, and Amazon booted the social media app popular with conservatives and the far-right off its web hosting service. Parler was launched in 2018 with backing from Rebekah Mercer, who with her father, Long Island hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, are longtime donors to right-wing causes.

Parler has promoted itself as a haven for social media users who ran afoul of Twitter's rules. Google said Parler allowed postings that seek "to incite ongoing violence in the U.S." Those included posts Parler belatedly removed from Lin Wood, a QAnon-following lawyer who filed election lawsuits for Trump, in which Wood called for Pence to be executed by firing squad. The Secret Service is investigating that threat, Fox News reports.

Parler also was used to coordinate the assault on the Capitol.

Reaction on the right to the bans was swift. "Free Speech Is Under Attack! Censorship is happening like NEVER before! Don’t let them silence us," Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Friday after his father's Twitter account was suspended permanently.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) complained, "Republicans have no way to communicate." He made his remarks on Fox News, a national cable network.

In a statement Friday on the official presidential Twitter account, before that too was suspended, the elder Trump said: "We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future."

High anxiety for Biden inauguration

Far-right extremists are vowing in online forums to return to Washington — armed — before Biden's inauguration at the Capitol. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday he has pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray "to remain highly proactive and extremely vigilant to defend our democracy," reports Newsday's Jesse Coburn and Figueroa.

The specter of further violence — and of Trump stoking it — was cited by Twitter officials on Friday in their decision to permanently suspend the president.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, in a Sunday interview with CBS’ "Face the Nation," said she had reached out to the Department of Homeland Security to take "additional steps" to bolster security ahead of Inauguration Day. "Given the events of last week," Bowser said, "this inauguration preparation has to be different than any other."

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said he asked Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy for background checks on National Guard called up for the inauguration "to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists," reported military.com.

Trump mob warred on the blue

More video has emerged in recent days of the Trump mob's brutal beatings of police officers trying to defend the Capitol. One shows the marauders drag a police officer, face down, along steps and beat him with fists, flagpoles and crutches while supporters chant "USA" and "take him out."

Another video shows an officer with a bloodied face screaming in agony as he is pinned and crushed in a doorway. In a third, Trump rioters attacked police with a hockey stick, a baseball bat and wooden furniture looted from the building.

A quick-thinking Capitol Police officer, facing down one group of intruders and alone, realized there was nothing between him and an entryway to the Senate, shoved their leader back, then ran up a stairway and away from the Senate floor. The white mob pursued the Black officer, Eugene Goodman, who bought the precious seconds needed for officers inside the Senate chamber to seal the entrances and keep the violent horde from attacking those inside, allowing lawmakers to flee to safety. See video from the confrontation. CNN said the leader of that crowd was QAnon booster Doug Jensen, 41, of Des Moines, Iowa, who was arrested on federal charges; Des Moines TV station KCCI reported he has been fired from his job at a masonry company.

Two Black officers speaking to BuzzFeed described a harrowing day in which they were forced to endure racist abuse — including repeatedly being called the N-word. One described coming face to face with police officers from out of town, some flashing their badges, telling him to let them through, and trying to explain to him that this mayhem was all part of a pro-cop movement. The other said some fellow officers were "catering to the rioters," and what upset him the most was when he later saw images of a white colleague taking a selfie with the attackers.

House Democrats have called for an investigation of whether the invaders had any inside help from sympathizers. The Associated Press reported that Capitol Police did not bolster staffing and made no preparations for the possibility that the planned pro-Trump "wild" rally could escalate into massive violent riots. The department had the same number of officers in place as on a routine day.

Honor was way overdue

Three days after Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of injuries inflicted by the mob, Trump finally acknowledged his death. The president ordered the flag above the White House to be lowered to half-staff Sunday. Flags at the Capitol went to half-staff Friday, the morning after Sicknick died, on orders from Pelosi.

Trump said he ordered the tribute "as a sign of respect for the service and sacrifice of United States Capitol Police Officers Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, and all Capitol Police Officers and law enforcement across this great Nation." Liebengood, who was on duty during the Wednesday riot, committed suicide over the weekend, according to The Washington Post.

Sicknick's father, Charles Sicknick, said Pence and Pelosi called his family Friday to offer condolences. Apparently Trump has not, Reuters reported.

The elder Sicknick said his son was a Trump supporter, but the political views of the retired National Guardsman never interfered with his duty to protect and serve. "He just got along real well with everybody because he was a gentleman," his father said.

A GoFundMe for Sicknick's family had raised more than half a million dollars as of late Sunday.

Melania's self-pity

Making it all about yourself runs in the family. On Monday First Lady Melania Trump had her staff issue a statement in which she expresses regret and condolences for those killed in last week's Trump-inspired riot at the Capitol but prominently added: "I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me..."

Predictably, she makes no mention of the salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks and false misleading accusations issued by her husband that spawned the violence.

"I want to thank the millions of Americans who supported my husband and me over the past 4 years and shown the incredible impact of the American spirit. I am grateful to you all for letting me serve you on platforms which are dear to me."

COVID in the safe room

House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 while they sheltered for hours in a committee hearing room during the Capitol siege. The Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers Sunday of the potential coronavirus exposure and urged them to be tested.

Several Republican House members in the room were maskless. When a Democrat, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, offered masks to them, they smirked and mocked her. (See the video.) The mask refusers included QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Michael Cloud of Texas and Doug LaMalfa of California.

Rochester told CNN Friday she was "very concerned we were sitting in a superspreader event."

Bye bye birdies

The PGA of America will strip Trump of the 2022 PGA Championship, which was scheduled to be held at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The professional golf association's CEO, Seth Waugh, told The Associated Press that the move was necessary to "protect" the PGA brand.

A statement from the Trump Organization sounded like Trump's Twitter voice, bemoaning the loss of "a beautiful partnership."

More ominously for Trump, it’s a sign that he has made his own business brand more toxic than ever.

One can literally only imagine what he would have tweeted about the cancellation.

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments by Newsday's Lisa L. Colangelo. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • A 56% majority of Americans believed Trump should be removed from office before his term ends on Jan. 20, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll, and 67% blame him for the riot. Among those who say Trump should not be removed immediately, nearly half — 45% — nevertheless say his actions last week were wrong. The partisan divide endures: 94% of Democrats and 58% of independents support Trump's removal, but only 13% of Republicans do.
  • Trump factotum Rudy Giuliani, the subject of numerous complaints, is under scrutiny for possible ouster by the New York State Bar Association after trying to foment a power putsch in Washington D.C. Usually a court disbarment precedes such action.
  • The most famously polarized political couple of the Trump era are on the same side about the insurrectionists. Never-Trump leader George Conway retweeted a post from his wife, former Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, who just two days before the riot was with Trump at a rally for Georgia's since-defeated Republican senators. "There could have been a massacre," Kellyanne Conway quoted from a story in her weekend tweet, adding her own note: "Don't avert your eyes & don't excuse this. The more we see & learn, the worse it is."
  • Marriott International Inc. said it will suspend donations to Republican senators who voted against affirming Biden's state-certified electoral votes even after the "destructive events" on Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported. Politico writes that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association did likewise.
  • Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. plan to pause all political contributions. "We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law," Candi Wolff, Citi’s head of global government affairs, said in a memo to employees.
  • Stripe Inc., a company that handles card payments, will no longer process donations for Trump’s campaign website and online fundraising apparatus because of the firm's policies against encouraging violence, The Wall Street Journal reported. Trump has been raising hundreds of millions of dollars to bankroll future political plans.
  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has rewritten the State of the State address he will deliver Monday to reflect increased hope that Biden in the White House and an incoming Democratic Senate majority will mean more federal help for New York, reports Newsday's Michael Gormley.
  • Biden is due to get his second of two doses of coronavirus vaccine on Monday.
  • How's morale in what's left of the Trump White House? "Everyone’s … defeated and honestly just want the next two weeks to just go by," one official there told Reuters.

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