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Friday, August 19, 2022

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Wisconsin Democrats: Ending coronavirus emergency order will literally ‘kill our neighbors’

(The Center Square) – Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate approved a resolution that rolls back Evers’ latest emergency order extension on a largely party line vote.

The resolution prompted Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol on Tuesday to paint a dark picture of what will happen in the state without Gov. Tony Evers’ latest emergency order and mask requirement

Gov. Evers has issued several emergency orders since last March dealing with the coronavirus. State law limits his emergency powers to just 60 days, though the Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering that question right now.

Last week, Evers issued another extension that would carry the state’s emergency coronavirus restrictions and mask requirement into mid-March.

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said Wisconsin has been under one emergency order or another since last March.

“There is no such thing as a perpetual emergency,” Stroebel told senators. “Reissuing emergencies every 61 days is transparently attempting to circumvent the law.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said earlier on Tuesday that lawmakers want to check the governor rather than decide who should wear a mask.

“I don’t think the Constitution envisioned a single person being able to make rules forever by himself,” Vos told reporters. “I’m going to say people should still wear a mask, especially if you’re in a group of people that you don’t know.”

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said the vote is not about face masks or even coronavirus restrictions. Nass said the question is about the balance of power in state government.

“This is not about face masks, Nass said. “This is about repeatedly issuing emergency orders, contrary to what the law allows. This is about the rule of law.”

Nass said lawmakers must act to “protect the governed from an abusive government.”

Republican Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, and Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, voted against the resolution.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said Tuesday during the Senate debate over the governor’s order he is annoyed "because my neighbors are dying,” adding: “This will shut down our state. Moving this forward will shut down our state and hurt even more. And maybe you’ll feel great and pat yourself on the back. But the rest of society will say ‘What the hell are you doing?’'"

“I know you can work things out,” Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, said, addressing Republicans favoring a new round of negotiations with the governor. “I know you’re going to alienate your base. People are going to be mad at you. People will be mad enough that they will storm the Capitol, kill people, break windows, think they are taking over the U.S. Capitol.”

Carpenter didn’t stop there. In a 20-minute speech from the Senate floor, Carpenter blamed former President Trump for a lack of a national mask requirement, too few vaccines, an angry political culture, and thousands of deaths.

Carpenter also said the same people who oppose masks in Wisconsin are the same people who wanted to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

After the Senate vote, the Wisconsin Assembly scheduled a vote on the resolution to roll back the governor’s order on Thursday.

Trump issues pardon, waves to Florida supporters in last presidential motorcade

(The Center Square) – In the last hour of his presidency, Donald Trump pardoned Al Pirro, the ex-husband of Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, and waved to thousands of supporters in Palm Beach from inside a black armored Escalade during a slow-motion south Florida motorcade to Mar-a-Lago.

After a sendoff Wednesday morning at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington that included a 21-gun salute from four Army cannons, Trump arrived aboard Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport at 10:54 a.m., more than an hour before Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

Trump; first lady Melania; youngest son, Barron; and Trump's adult children – Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany – were greeted by cheers from hundreds of supporters at the airport with "The Star-Spangled Banner" playing on loudspeakers.

Without taking questions from reporters, the Trumps left the airport in a motorcade that slowly crawled down Southern Boulevard through West Palm Beach and was captured by local TV news crews.

The outgoing president responded with double thumb-ups to red-white-and-blue-clad supporters who were waving Trump flags and displaying more of a party atmosphere than anger over his election defeat.

Crowds along Trump’s motorcade route to Mar-a-Lago grew as it neared the causeway to Palm Beach Island, with many holding “THANK YOU” and “TRUMP WON!” signs.

As the motorcade wound into Mar-a-Lago, just as Biden was entering the Capitol to be sworn in, Trump – in what may have been the last act of his presidency – announced he was pardoning Pirro, who had been convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion and sentenced to more than two years in prison in 2000.

Besides leaving behind an uncertain legacy in the wake of his four years as president and facing questions about his continued influence and potential 2024 presidential run, Trump also faces questions at home – literally.

Most notably: Can the former president legally live in his revenue-generating, members-only club under a 27-year-old agreement?

When he turned the private residence purchased in 1985 into a private club in 1993, Trump agreed with the town of Palm Beach to limit membership to 500 and to restrict stays to no more than seven consecutive days and three weeks annually, including for Trump and his family.

Some Palm Beach residents say they will take legal action to ensure the town enforces the agreement, which the Trump Organization says doesn’t exist.

Attorney Reginald Stambaugh called on the Palm Beach Town Council in December to protect property values and relieve anxiety over security, traffic and noise.

"Palm Beach has many lovely estates for sale,” Stambaugh wrote. “Surely (Trump) can find one which meets his needs.”

That, apparently, is an option Trump is considering.

Meanwhile, his club could be facing sanctions for failing to comply with COVID-19 protocols pending an investigation by Palm Beach County.

Rep. Omari Hardy, D-Lake Worth, has called on Palm Beach County to shut down Mar-a-Lago after its New Year’s Eve party, citing many widely circulated videos showing dozens of people dancing and drinking without masks as rapper Vanilla Ice performed.

“Mar-a-Lago is a club. A club is a business. Businesses must comply with Palm Beach County’s mask order,” Hardy wrote.

House Democrats introduce article of impeachment against President Trump

(The Center Square) – Democrats in the U.S. House took steps Monday to once again try to remove President Donald Trump from office, introducing a single article of impeachment and a resolution that would ask Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, thereby displacing Trump and assuming power over the nation’s executive branch.

The resolution, seen as a procedural step before the House moves to consider impeachment, immediately drew an objection from House Republicans. The chamber then went into recess until Tuesday, and it’s expected the 25th Amendment resolution will go before the full House for a vote later this week.

Reports suggest Pence is not inclined to invoke the 25th Amendment, even if the resolution ultimately passes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said in that scenario, the House would move forward with impeaching the president over Wednesday's events that led to the U.S. Capitol being breached by crowds of Trump supporters.

An impeachment vote is seen as likely to succeed in the Democrat-controlled House, which would make Trump the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Less certain is the outcome in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans but due to change hands. Even after Democrats take control – when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the winners of last week's Georgia runoffs, are sworn in – it’s considered unlikely the supermajority needed to actually remove the president would materialize.

The Capitol incursion caused five deaths and led to members of Congress fleeing the House and Senate chambers – interrupting the process of recording the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Critics of Trump argue his remarks at a rally earlier in the day sparked the events that took place at the Capitol.

If the 25th Amendment was invoked, Pence would take over as acting president. Trump would be given an opportunity after several days to challenge the assertion he was incapable of performing his duties; if Pence again invoked the clause, the matter would be settled by Congress.

With President-elect Joe Biden due to be sworn in Jan. 20, some observers have questioned why Congress is spending its time trying to remove a president who will leave office in a little more than a week. Others have pointed to continued chatter online, by those who feel the Nov. 3 election was decided fraudulently, seeking to interfere with the inauguration ceremony and prevent Biden from becoming president. Still, others have expressed concern Trump might misuse his pardon powers on his own behalf, to benefit his close friends and allies, or even on behalf of the individuals who stormed the Capitol.

Trump was impeached in December 2019 over allegations he improperly sought to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden. The Senate voted in February 2020 to acquit Trump without hearing any additional witnesses.

U.S. House moving toward beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump

(The Center Square) – House Democrats could begin formal impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump next week, seeking again to initiate the process to remove him from office, this time during the final two weeks of his term in office.

Multiple media outlets were reporting Friday afternoon that U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; and David Cicilline, D-R.I., had drafted a single article of impeachment against Trump over the events that led to Wednesday’s violent incursion of the U.S. Capitol, which led to five deaths.

According to a four-page draft of the impeachment resolution, the president would be accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that would necessitate his removal from office.

The resolution points to Trump’s remarks during a rally near the White House on Wednesday at which he exhorted his supporters to go to the Capitol and register their displeasure over the imminent votes to certify the Electoral College results formally making Joe Biden the president-elect.

JUST IN: 4-page draft article of impeachment against President Trump that Reps. Raskin, Lieu, Cicilline are planning to introduce Monday: "Incitement of insurrection" pic.twitter.com/KdQrzQy6pf— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 8, 2021

“He … willfully made statements that encouraged – and forseeably resulted in – imminent lawless action at the Capitol,” the resolution reads. “Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”

NBC News was among the outlets reporting that Raskin, Lieu and Cicilline intend to introduce the resolution Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a letter to the House of Representatives on Friday, indicated that impeachment proceedings would move forward unless the president resigns “immediately.”

She noted Republicans had called for the resignation of former President Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal, and she said they need to do so again.

“Today, following the president’s dangerous and seditious acts, Republicans in Congress need to follow that example and call on Trump to depart his office – immediately,” she wrote, according to The New York Times. “If the president does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action.”

If the House does impeach Trump, he would become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. The Democrat-controlled House voted to approve three articles of impeachment against him in December 2019, but the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of all three charges in February 2020.

Biden hasn’t endorsed the idea of impeaching the president, saying Friday it was a “judgment for the Congress to make,” according to Politico.

The White House, in a statement, argued a move toward impeachment would be a futile effort.

"As President Trump said yesterday, this is a time for healing and unity as one Nation," the statement read. "A politically motivated impeachment against a President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country."

Congress affirms Biden as next president; Trump agrees to ‘orderly transition’

(The Center Square) – A joint session of Congress, completing its work in the early morning hours of Thursday after lawmakers had been forced to flee their chambers by a violent invasion of the Capitol, affirmed that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

The proceedings concluded shortly after 3:30 a.m. EST, drawing to a close an chaotic day in the nation’s house of laws that saw one person shot dead inside the building after supporters of President Donald Trump breached its security.

Prior to the interruption caused by protesters rampaging through the halls of the Capitol, it had been expected pro-Trump lawmakers would lodge objections to the slates of electors from six states. The House and Senate had exited the joint session shortly before the hiatus to separately debate an objection to Arizona’s election results – an objection that was always bound to fail when a number of Republicans in the Senate and the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives expressly indicated they wouldn’t support it

But following the resumption of the legislators’ work, shortly after 8 p.m. EST, it became clear that the violent scenes played out on the nation’s TV screens had sapped much of the appetite of even fervent Trump supporters for pursuing the objection strategy. After the Arizona objection was voted down in the House and Senate, only one other objection was pursued – Pennsylvania – before Congress wrapped up its work, certifying the Electoral College’s report that Biden had collected 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

Trump, who had vowed Wednesday during a rally in Washington that he would never concede the election, acknowledged in a statement that there will be a transfer of power.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” he said in a statement posted to the Twitter account of social media director Dan Scavino.

...fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) January 7, 2021

Trump’s own Facebook and Twitter accounts were suspended Wednesday evening amid accusations that his postings had encouraged the invasion of the Capitol.

Twitter, Facebook suspend Trump from posting; Twitter threatens permanent ban

(The Center Square) – President Donald Trump saw his Facebook and Twitter account suspended Wednesday evening after the nation’s two dominant social media platforms accused him of inciting violence through his posts.

Twitter was the first to act, issuing a minimum 12-hour ban with a threat that it could become permanent if Trump didn’t delete three offending Tweets.

“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” the @TwitterSafety account posted. “This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.

As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. https://t.co/k6OkjNG3bM— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021

“Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account,” Twitter added.

A little over an hour later, Facebook followed suit, slapping Trump’s account with a 24-hour ban.

“We’ve assessed two policy violations against President Trump’s Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time,” the Facebook Newsroom account posted on Twitter.

We've assessed two policy violations against President Trump's Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time.— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) January 7, 2021

The three posts that Twitter objected to featured Trump’s statements about the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday by his supporters following a rally at which he spoke. One tweet featured a video in which he came close to praising those who forced their way into the building through smashing windows, saying “We love you, you're very special. … I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace."

In a followup Tweet, Trump said of the violence: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

The moves by Twitter and Facebook to sanction Trump were likely to inflame his ongoing fury against them. Twitter especially has drawn the president’s ire over the past few months as it began to apply warning labels to his tweets that disputed the result of the Nov. 3 election.

The spat between Trump and the social media giants led him to demand the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which provides some protections for internet-based companies so that they’re not automatically liable for the content posted by their users.

Trump had demanded the repeal of Section 230, arguing that such a move would stop Facebook and Twitter from censoring conservatives. He vetoed a defense authorization bill in December after Congress refused to insert a repeal of Section 230 into the bill; the House and Senate later overturned his veto, the first time both chambers had done so during his presidency.

Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, halting ratification of Electoral College vote by Congress

(The Center Square) – Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday afternoon, interrupting the congressional session that was meeting to confirm the Electoral College votes.

Hundreds of protesters were shown on television news coverage walking through Statuary Hall without having gone through any security checkpoints. Debate was halted, and lawmakers were ordered to return to their offices and shelter in place. Legislators were told they may need to hide under their chairs and to be quiet and not draw attention to themselves.

The protesters appeared to have come from a rally earlier in the day in which Trump condemned, as he has repeatedly since November, the results of the Nov. 3 election that made former Vice President Joe Biden the president-elect.

Capitol Police put out calls to several other agencies to provide assistance after getting overrun, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has put in place a 6 p.m. curfew and asked for the Washington, D.C., National Guard to be called up.

Trump didn't directly address the actions of the protesters but he did ask them to avoid violence, tweeting "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"

The sight of massive crowds halting the democratic process in the nation's capital city was jarring to observers, some of whom laid the blame for the crowd's actions at the president's feet.

"This is a coup attempt," tweeted U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. Then, addressing Trump, he wrote, "You are not protecting the country. Where is the DC guard? You are done and your legacy will be a disaster."

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