1/19 One Day More

The nation anxiously awaits Inauguration Day, hoping that America’s revered tradition of the peaceful transfer of power continues. As President Trump finishes his last full day in office, law enforcement officials and state leaders across the country are nonetheless preparing for potential violence from extremist groups tomorrow.

The Voter Protection Program hosted a briefing on Friday detailing the types of threats law enforcement officers across the country might face in the lead-up to and on Inauguration Day. The Washington Post covered the briefing, noting state leaders’ warnings about a potentially volatile mix of extremist groups. As Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison explained, “[t]hese extremist groups, and these right-wing groups, they are a spectrum in terms of ideology and they have different motivations.”

State leaders are also working around the clock to hold accountable those involved in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and have committed to prosecuting anyone who might participate in Inauguration Day violence. Former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and VPP advisory board member Joyce Vance explained to The Hill that prosecutors and law enforcement will play a significant role in helping the country piece together the events of January 6th. “We need our prosecutors and our law enforcement people to do their job and tell the country definitively what happened,” she said. On MSNBC with Ali Velshi, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine reiterated his commitment to bringing those who incited the mob– including the President– to justice. See his full statement on potential post-presidency charges against Trump here.

National Update

Inauguration Day Protests: Law enforcement officials across the nation are heeding the FBI’s warnings about the possibility of armed protests tomorrow. Wary of the possibility of an insider attack, the FBI vetted National Guard troops assigned to protect Washington, D.C. during the inauguration. Following the review, 12 National Guard members have been removed from duties related to the inauguration, two of them for possible links to right-wing extremist movements. Protests over the weekend by small groups in Ohio, Texas, Oregon, and Michigan did not culminate in widespread violence, a testament to law enforcement preparedness.

Senate Agenda: The Senate faces a jam-packed schedule as they return to session this week, rushing to confirm President-elect Biden’s Cabinet picks as an imminent impeachment trial looms overhead. The Senate started hearings for five of Biden’s picks today —Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security, Antony Blinken for Secretary of State, Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin for Secretary of Defense, and Avril Haines for Director of National Intelligence.

McConnell Hints: Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell placed part of the blame for the Capitol attack on President Trump, saying the mob was “provoked” by Trump. McConnell’s indication that he finds Trump at least partially responsible for the attack places him in line with the other GOP Senators who suggested they might consider impeachment: Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Pat Toomey (R-PA). McConnell’s comments have opened the door for other Republican Senators to indicate support for impeachment and have boosted Democrats’ hopes of securing the 2/3 majority of Senate votes needed to convict Trump.

Trump Pardons: To mark his last full day in office. President Trump is expected to issue a wave of pardons. Pardon seekers outside the immediate Trump circle have sought to ignore the Justice Department’s extensive pardon evaluation system, instead offering thousands of dollars to Trump’s advisors in exchange for clemency. If these bids for pardons are successful, it will mark yet another norm that the Trump Administration has broken, but perhaps one of the last.

State Updates

Pennsylvania: In response to inquiries from Popular Information, several major corporations say they are also freezing political contributions to some or all members of the Pennsylvania legislature. At least 79 members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate sought to use their elected positions to advance baseless voter fraud claims and overturn the results. On December 4th, 64 Republican members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate, including Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler, wrote to Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and asked them to subvert the will of Pennsylvania voters and reject Pennsylvania’s slate of electors.

Ahead of her testimony on Thursday in front of the state legislature, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar penned an op-ed applauding the Commonwealth’s safe, secure, and accurate election. In the piece, Secretary Boockvar also calls out state lawmakers for planning a series of hearings this session to rehash the debunked theories and lies about the 2020 election that helped incite the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Michigan: As the Michigan State Capitol braced for Inauguration Day protests, Attorney General Dana Nessel continued to emphasize the need to take hate group threats seriously, calling for enhanced security measures to prepare for these credible threats. After Michigan GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey advised these dangerous militias on their messaging, Nessel called on her colleagues to stop encouraging and aiding domestic terrorists as such groups actively endanger the lives of Michigan lawmakers.

In response to the SCOTUS case King v. Whitmer, in which litigants attempt to overturn the Nov. 3 election results in Michigan, AG Nessel continues to rebuff lies about election fraud. Nessel’s efforts to emphasize election integrity come as other state lawmakers continue to sow mistrust and retaliate against those who speak the truth; most recently, the Michigan Republican Party attempted to remove a GOP canvasser who certified Michigan’s election results.

New York: Yesterday, the New York City Police Department arrested dozens of peaceful protesters who had gathered to participate in a Martin Luther King Day march. Yesterday’s scene of hundreds of police officers equipped with batons, helmets, and zip ties re-ignited the scrutiny law enforcement has faced over the discrepancy in reactions to protesters speaking out against racial injustice as compared to the treatment of violent pro-Trump protesters at the Capitol riots. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed a lawsuit against the NYPD for its excessively violent treatment of peaceful protesters last week, pointed to the MLK Day arrests as evidence of a pattern of concerning behavior. Georgia:Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s U.S. Senate runoff elections were certified today, a significant moment in a state that has endured baseless allegations of election fraud for months. The certification brings Democrats one step closer to officially becoming the Senate majority. In one of her first acts as Vice President, Kamala Harris will swear in both incoming Georgia senators as well as Alex Padilla, who will take her place as the junior senator from California.

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