The Capitol insurrection was a superspreader event

This piece was originally published in the January 12, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash

“United AGAINST white supremacist violence. That’s what this moment requires.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)

It didn’t have to be this way. But Trump and Republicans in Congress failed to take this virus seriously.

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IN THE NEWS

  • Breaking tonight: Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told associates that he thinks Trump has committed impeachable offenses. (We’ll believe it when we see it, but if true this could dramatically increase the chances Trump gets removed from office.) Here’s the full story from the New York Times.
  • At least three Democratic members of the House of Representatives have now tested positive for coronavirus after being forced to spend several hours sheltering in a room with maskless Republican representatives during last Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. According to those in the room, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) repeatedly offered masks to the maskless Republicans, only to be rejected and brushed off by one member as trying to make the situation “political.” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, tested positive yesterday, along with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). This morning, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) announced that he, too, had received a positive test after sheltering in the same room.
  • Rep. Jayapal had warned in an interview with The Cut’s Rebecca Traister last week that the lockdown would likely spark an outbreak. “I’m quarantining now,” she said on Thursday, “because I am convinced that where we ended up, in the secured room — where there were over 100 people and many were Republicans not wearing masks — was a superspreader event.” Sadly, we now know she was right.
  • The House is set to vote on multiple resolutions in the coming days in response to Trump’s incitement of the violent, conspiracy-driven mob that stormed the Capitol last Wednesday. As we write this, the House Rules Committee is preparing to vote on a resolution that would recommend invocation of the 25th amendment. This first route is not likely to yield anything, given that Mike Pence and other key players in the Cabinet have either resigned (see: Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao, Chad Wolf) or failed to indicate their willingness to participate in the process of removing Trump from office.
  • The second resolution, which will be up for a vote tomorrow, would kick off the process of impeaching Trump for a second time for “incitement of insurrection.” Even if the Senate were to stall an impeachment trial until after he leaves office, he could still be impeached and convicted post-presidency, which would bar him from ever holding federal office again. If impeached again, Trump would be the first president to have been impeached twice.

Trump incited a mob of white supremacists to attack the Capitol. Tell your member of Congress to impeach and remove him now.

  • After four years of horror and cruelty, social media platforms and major corporations are finally starting to come to terms with their huge role in enabling Trump and his lackeys in Congress. Companies and institutions from the PGA to Verizon to Marriott are halting some or all of their political contributions, which inadvertently might start to improve the broken campaign finance landscape in the process.
  • Facebook and Twitter suspended Trump’s accounts last week, although Facebook’s suspension is only guaranteed to last through the inauguration. Facebook also said yesterday that they had removed all “stop the steal” content, although some reporters said they could still find large, active “stop the steal” Facebook groups after the ban was announced. And Amazon has kicked a popular alternative social media site frequented by right-wing extremists off its web services, effectively removing it from the internet until it finds a willing host.
  • While dropping Trump from major platforms and cracking down on the further spread of conspiracies are important and necessary steps, it’s still not enough to solve the disinformation crisis. “It’s too late,” NBC’s Brandy Zadrozny said on MSNBC last night. “[Far-right Trump supporters] still believe all the things that they believe. They’re just moving to smaller platforms. They can’t infect the larger population anymore…but what you have now is a concentrated group of real extremists.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • It’s the question on all of our minds: How do we prevent another attack? Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed his desire today to get participants in last Wednesday’s attack placed on the no-fly list ahead of the inauguration, presumably to prevent them from returning to the nation’s capital. But the threat of violence isn’t limited to Washington. According to an FBI memo sent to law enforcement agencies across the country on Monday, there are similar demonstrations planned starting this Saturday in all 50 states.
  • Law enforcement officers from all across the country are being identified as participants in the Capitol siege last Wednesday. Just last night, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who oversees the Capitol Police’s budget, told reporters that at least two officers on the force tasked with protecting members of Congress have been suspended for their actions during the attack. According to Ryan, one officer took pictures with the invaders and the other wore a Trump hat while offering them directions to their intended targets.
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation that would end the federal death penalty ahead of the final executions of Trump’s presidency. If passed, the bill would bring the United States closer to international standards for humane punishment. Nearly a dozen people have been executed since now-former AG Bill Barr ordered executions to resume in 2019 following a 17-year hiatus. When he leaves office, Trump will have overseen the executions of more people than any president in history. The DOJ is set to execute Lisa Montgomery, Corey Johnson, and Dustin Higgs this week, the latter two of whom contracted COVID-19 while incarcerated.
  • As Sen. Durbin pointed out, Trump is “in a mad dash to give pardons for federal crimes committed by [his] friends, and an equally mad dash to try to execute these people who have been on death row for years.” For the most recent slew of corrupt pardons to coincide with this final push to kill people on death row — many of whom maintain their innocence — is offensive. “We are urging Congress to act immediately to pass” this bill, Pressley said in an interview with NPR. “State-sanctioned murder is not justice.”

WHAT WE’RE READING

This piece was originally published in the January 12, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg.

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