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House Sets Impeachment Vote to Charge Trump With Incitement

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WASHINGTON — House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump on Monday for his role in inflaming a mob that attacked the Capitol, scheduling a Wednesday vote to charge the president with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” if Vice President Mike Pence refused to strip him of power first.

Moving with exceptional speed, top House leaders began summoning lawmakers still stunned by the attack back to Washington, promising the protection of National Guard troops and Federal Air Marshal escorts after last week’s stunning security failure. Their return set up a high-stakes 24-hour standoff between two branches of government.

As the impeachment drive proceeded, federal law enforcement authorities accelerated efforts to fortify the Capitol ahead of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The authorities announced plans to deploy up to 15,000 National Guard troops and set up a multilayered buffer zone with checkpoints around the building by Wednesday, just as lawmakers are to debate and vote on impeaching Mr. Trump.

Federal authorities also said they were bracing for a wave of armed protests in all 50 state capitals and Washington in the days leading up to the inauguration.

“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” Mr. Biden said Monday, referring to a swearing-in scheduled to take place on a platform on the west side of the Capitol, in the very spot where rioters marauded last week, beating police officers and vandalizing the building.

Mr. Biden signaled more clearly than before that he would not stand in the way of the impeachment proceeding, telling reporters in Newark, Del., that his primary focus was trying to minimize the effect an all-consuming trial in the Senate might have on his first days in office.

He said he had consulted with lawmakers about the possibility they could “bifurcate” the proceedings in the Senate, such that half of each day would be spent on the trial and half on the confirmation of his cabinet and other nominees.

In the House, a vote was scheduled for Tuesday evening to first formally call on Mr. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Republicans had objected on Monday to unanimously passing the resolution, which asked the vice president to declare “president Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”

The House is slated to begin debate on the impeachment resolution on Wednesday morning, marching toward a vote late in the day unless Mr. Pence intervenes beforehand.

“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said, outlining a timetable that will most likely leave Mr. Trump impeached one week to the day after he encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol as lawmakers met to formalize Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr. Trump met with the vice president on Monday for about an hour in the Oval Office, the first time since their falling out last week over the president’s effort to overturn the election and the mob assault on the Capitol that also put Mr. Pence in danger. A Trump administration official who declined to be identified speaking about the delicate situation said the two had “a good conversation” but would not say whether the issue of the 25th Amendment came up.

The vice president had already indicated that he was unlikely to act to force the president aside, and no one in either party expected Mr. Trump to step down. With that in mind, Democrats had already begun preparing a lengthier impeachment report documenting the president’s actions and the destruction that followed to accompany their charge.

They were confident they had the votes to make Mr. Trump the first president ever to be impeached twice.

The impeachment article invoked the 14th Amendment, the post-Civil War-era addition to the Constitution that prohibits anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding future office. Lawmakers also cited specific language from Mr. Trump’s speech last Wednesday riling up the crowd, quoting him saying, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

The Republican Party was fracturing over the coming debate, as some agreed with Democrats that Mr. Trump should be removed and many others were standing behind the president and his legions of loyal voters. They were also fighting among themselves, with many Republicans furious over what took place a week ago and blaming their own colleagues and leaders for having contributed to the combustible atmosphere that allowed a pro-Trump rally to morph into a deadly siege.

Unlike Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, in 2019, few Republicans were willing to muster a defense of Mr. Trump’s actions, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican, privately told his conference that the president deserved some blame for the violence, according to two people familiar with his remarks. Mr. McCarthy remained personally opposed to impeachment and tried to hold his conference together during a lengthy call on Monday afternoon.

But as many as a dozen Republicans were said to be considering joining Democrats to impeach, including Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican.

“It’s something we’re strongly considering at this point,” said Representative Peter Meijer, a freshman Republican from Michigan, told a Fox affiliate in his home state. “I think what we saw on Wednesday left the president unfit for office.”

Mr. Trump gave his party little direction or reason to rally around him. Ensconced at the White House and barred from Twitter, he offered no defense of himself or the armed assailants who overtook the Capitol, endangering the lives of congressional leaders, their staffs and his own vice president.

Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, became the latest cabinet official to resign in the aftermath of the Capitol riot, stepping down just nine days before he was expected to help coordinate the security at the inauguration.

If Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, which now seems virtually certain, he would then face trial in the Senate, which requires all senators be in the chamber while the charges are being considered. Democrats had briefly considered trying to delay an impeachment trial until the spring, to buy Mr. Biden more time without the cloud of such a proceeding hanging over the start of his presidency, but by late Monday, most felt they could not justify such a swift impeachment and then justify a delay.

Still, the timing of a trial remained unclear because the Senate was not currently in session. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Democrat, was considering trying to use emergency procedures to force the chamber back before Jan. 20, a senior Democratic aide said, but doing so would take the consent of his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

House leaders said the timing and outcome of any Senate trial was secondary to their sense of urgency to charge Mr. Trump with crimes against the country.

“Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, told reporters. “The issue is, we have a president who most of us believe participated in encouraging an insurrection and attack on this building, and on democracy and trying to subvert the counting of the presidential ballot.”

Representative Tom Reed, Republican of New York, said House Republicans would introduce a measure on Tuesday to censure Mr. Trump and “ensure accountability occurs without delay for the events of Jan. 6.”

Writing in an Op-Ed article published Monday night by The New York Times, Mr. Reed added, “We must also look at alternatives that could allow Congress to bar Mr. Trump from holding federal office in the future.”

Other accountability efforts were underway in the shadow of the drive to punish Mr. Trump. Law enforcement fanned out across the country to track down and arrest members of the mob and heavily fortified the Capitol, where National Guard troops clad in camouflage uniforms roamed the ornate corridors and patrolled the sidewalks outside.

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio said the Capitol Police were investigating roughly a dozen of their own officers and had suspended two for potentially aiding the insurrectionists. One took selfies with those laying waste to the Capitol; another donned a “Make America Great Again” cap and potentially gave them directions, Mr. Ryan said.

“Any incidents of Capitol Police facilitating or being part of what happened, we need to know that,” he said.

Progressive lawmakers called for investigations and possible expulsions of Republicans who had supported Mr. Trump’s attempt to overturn the election and helped stoke the violence. More moderate Democrats discussed plans to try to ostracize them going forward — including by refusing to sign onto their legislative efforts or routine requests — because they were likely to remain in Congress. Republicans stoking the bogus claims of election theft themselves were mostly unapologetic and insisted their actions had nothing to do with the violence done in Mr. Trump’s name.

The four-page impeachment article charges Mr. Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” when he sowed false claims about election fraud and encouraged his supporters at a rally outside the White House to take extraordinary measures to stop the counting of electoral votes underway at the Capitol. A short time later, rioters mobbed the building, ransacking the seat of American government and killing a Capitol Police officer. (At least four others died as a result of injuries or medical emergencies on Capitol grounds.)

“In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” the article read. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Modern presidential impeachments have been drawn-out affairs, allowing lawmakers to collect evidence, hone arguments and hear the president’s defense over the course of months. When the Democratic-led House impeached Mr. Trump the first time, it took nearly three months, conducting dozens of witness interviews, compiling hundreds of pages of documents and producing a detailed case in a written report running 300 pages.

It appeared this time that the House planned to do so in less than a week, with little more evidence than the fast accumulating public record of cellphone videos, photographs, police and journalistic accounts, and the words of Mr. Trump himself.

“To those who would say, ‘Why do it now, there are only nine days left the president’s term?’” said Joe Neguse of Colorado, who has been drafting messaging guidance for the party. “I would say, ‘There are nine days in the president’s term.’”

Mr. Trump’s most outspoken defenders opposed impeachment, though most did not explicitly defend his conduct. Many of them who just last week backed his drive to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory and voted to toss out legitimate results from key battleground states, argued that to impeach the president now would only further divide the country.

In a letter to colleagues, Mr. McCarthy wrote that impeachment would “have the opposite effect of bringing our country together when we need to get America back on a path towards unity and civility.” He tried to point Republicans toward possible alternatives, including censure, a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack, changing the law that governs the electoral counting process that rioters disrupted and electoral integrity legislation.

“Please know I share your anger and your pain,” he wrote. “Zip ties were found on staff desks in my office. Windows were smashed in. Property was stolen. Those images will never leave us — and I thank our men and women in law enforcement who continue to protect us and are working to bring the sick individuals who perpetrated these attacks to justice.”

Some moderate Democrats were growing uneasy about the implications of such fast and punitive action, fearful both of the consequences for Mr. Biden’s agenda during his first days in office and of further igniting violence across the country among Mr. Trump’s most extreme supporters. They tried to cobble together support for a bipartisan censure resolution instead, but it appeared it might be too late to stop the momentum in favor of impeachment.

Ms. Pelosi shut the idea down during her private call with Democrats, saying that censure “would be an abdication of our responsibility,” according to an official familiar with her remarks.

Credit: NYTimes

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ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

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ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered the Guinean military to restore democracy in the country after its coup against the civilian government.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this yesterday while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states on the political situation in the Republics of Guinea and Mali, which held in Accra, Ghana.

According to the communique issued at the end of the extraordinary summit, ECOWAS leaders have resolved to freeze the financial assets of members of the military junta, place a travel ban on them, while also demanding that the junta return Guinea to constitutional rule within six months.

READ ALSO: ECOWAS Suspends Guinea Over Military Coup

At the last summit of ECOWAS leaders which held virtually on September 8, Nigeria, also represented by VP Osinbajo, condemned the coup de‘tat in Guinea, calling for an unconditional release of President Alpha Conde, and for stringent measures on Guinea’s military junta.

At the Accra summit, Prof. Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s position, urging the unconditional release of President Condé and calling for more pressure to be put on the country’s military leaders to return the nation to democratic rule.

The vice president said : “It is also important that ECOWAS should simply insist that there should be an immediate return to civil rule.”
Calling for more stringent measures to be taken by the sub-regional body, Prof. Osinbajo said “we must make sure that sanctions by ECOWAS achieve the intended objectives.”

The vice president restated the call to engage global bodies and Africa’s development partners in taking steps to prevent such unconstitutional change of government in countries on the continent.

He said: “In this connection, I think we should engage all well-meaning stakeholders including the Africa Union, European Union, United Nations, developmental partners, and financial institutions to join in taking more stringent measures by imposing travel bans and freezing of offshore financial assets of the coupists and their collaborators to ensure that they do return the country to democracy immediately.”

 

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UN Asks Taliban Leaders Not To Intimidate Aid Workers

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UN Asks Taliban Leaders Not To Intimidate Aid Workers

Deborah Lyons, the head of the United Nations envoy has met Afghanistan’s new interior minister who was for years one of the world’s most wanted Islamist militants.

On Thursday, Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan met Sirajuddin Haqqani to fashion ways for the country to head off soaring humanitarian crisis.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Twitter.

“(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people,” he said.
Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month.

The plight of the Afghan people has been aggravated with the disruption of aid, with the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers chiefly instigating the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing “perhaps their most perilous hour”.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the “absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people”.

The Taliban repeatedly targeted the United Nations during the two-decades-long U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan that ended last month with the rout of the Western-backed government by the Taliban.

READ ALSO: Voters’ Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

In one of the bloodiest incidents, Taliban militants killed five members of UN foreign staff in an attack on a guest-house in Kabul in 2009.

More recently, gunmen attacked a UN compound in the city of Herat in July with rocket-propelled grenades killing a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2011 killed seven UN members of staff.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Taliban and for years based on the border with Pakistan, was held responsible for some of the worst militant attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency.

The United States designated the group a terrorist organisation in 2012.

Mr Haqqani, head of the eponymous network founded by his father, is one of the FBI’s most wanted men with a reward of $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

U.S. officials and members of the old U.S.-backed Afghan government for years said the Haqqani network maintained ties with al Qaeda.

The Taliban have promised not to let Afghanistan be used for militant attacks on other countries.

(Reuters/NAN)

 

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Voters’ Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

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Voters' Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

An attempt by angry voters to unseat a Californian governor through a recall over his stand on COVID-19, masks and lockdowns failed on Tuesday.

Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, handily survived a confidence vote that could have seen him replaced by a Republican with only minority support in one of the most liberal parts of the United States.

With more than 60 percent of the votes tallied, NBC, CNN and Fox News said Newsom was set to prevail, with two thirds voting against the effort.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” a triumphant Newsom said moments after the race was called.

“I want to focus on what we said yes to, as a state. We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic.”

Newsom acted quickly as the pandemic took hold of California, ordering people to stay home and shuttering schools, in moves praised by scientists.

But entrepreneurs blamed him for suffocating their businesses, and parents chaffed at keeping their children home.

The vote had been eagerly watched by politicians across the deeply-divided country as a possible indicator of how incumbents who listened to doctors — instead of angry constituents — would fare at the ballot box.

Newsom’s main opponent was Larry Elder, 69, a right-wing talk radio star who has spoken proudly of his support for ex-president Donald Trump.

Before polls even closed, Elder took a page out of Trump’s 2020 election playbook, launching a website alleging voter fraud and demanding state officials “investigate and ameliorate the twisted results” of the election.

But at what he had previously billed as a “Victory Party”, he urged his supporters to be “gracious in defeat”.
“We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” he told an audience sprinkled with red “Make America Great Again” hats.

Tuesday’s ballot was in two parts, with the first asking if 53-year-old Newsom should stay in office.

The second, which only came into play if a majority wanted him out, asked which of 46 candidates should take his place.

Traditional politicians vied with a YouTube star, a “Billboard Queen” and Caitlyn Jenner for the spoils.

The recall initiative, which has cost the state some $280 million, is one of 55 such efforts to depose a governor in state history.

Mostly they have gone nowhere, but pandemic measures Newsom imposed gave this attempt legs.

READ ALSO: China Supports Taliban Govt In Afghanistan

The petition to remove him gathered pace after he was snapped having dinner at a swanky restaurant, seemingly in breach of his own Covid-19 rules, fueling a perception he was an out-of-touch hypocrite.

Mary Beth, a 63-year-old business owner who cast her ballot Tuesday in Los Angeles, said she voted to “get rid of Newsom” because “the virus created chaos in our economy but he made it even worse with his lockdowns.”

“There were other ways to handle that and he should have made businesses the priority,” she said.

Another pro-recall voter told AFP he wanted someone who would not impose vaccine mandates — a hot button issue throughout the divided United States.

“I feel very strongly that we need to get rid of our governor because I think he’s just a corrupt Democrat, like the people we have in the federal government and we need them out,” said Farid Efraim.

“We need somebody who really represents the people.”

Democrats complain the Republican-led recall was an attempt to hijack the state’s government: seizing power in extraordinary circumstances when they could never do it in a regular ballot.

A poll by Spectrum News and IPSOS published before results were announced found two-thirds of registered voters viewed the recall as a political power grab.

California’s electoral rules set the recall bar low.

Malcontents need only gather signatures equivalent to 12 percent of the number of people who voted in the last election — in this case, 1.5 million.

California’s population is around 40 million.

READ ALSO: Woman Pleads Guilty To Plan To Kill US VP Harris

“This whole recall is ridiculous,” said Jake, a 38-year-old tech industry worker, who preferred not to give his last name.

“I did the math and even if every registered voter turns out, it would cost more than $12 per vote,” he said.

“A lot of people could have had a breakfast with that this morning.”

The only successful California recall brought bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to office in 2003.

“The Governator,” who ended up running the state for more than seven years, was California’s last Republican chief executive.

AFP

 

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