1/25 New Admin, Same Divisions

Today marks the start of the new Administration’s first full week in office. The Senate’s power-sharing agreement remains unfinalized, but Senators are still pushing to confirm Cabinet picks before the impeachment trial, set to begin the week of February 8. As time passes, new information continues to be unearthed about efforts to undo the results of the 2020 election, and about the events of January 6th. Even as the new administration calls for unity, state and federal officials are continuing to spread election misinformation and introducing retaliatory voting restrictions.

National Update

Trend Alert in the States: The aftermath of the 2020 election is playing out across the country with anti-democracy legislators preparing a slew of new voting restrictions. In states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas, members are citing Trump’s meritless claims of voter fraud in 2020 as part of their push for reforms like voter ID laws and eliminating no-excuse absentee voting — efforts that would make voting more difficult in future elections.

Impeachment Round 2: The timeline for the impeachment trial was confirmed this weekend. This evening, the House formally sent the article of impeachment to the Senate and the Senate trial will commence the week of February 8th. Senator Patrick Leahy, President pro tempore of the Senate, is expected to preside over the impeachment instead of Chief Justice Roberts.  As some senators have voiced their opposition to conviction, claiming the Constitution does not permit the conviction of a former president, the prospect of 17 Republicans joining the Democrats to vote for conviction remains unclear. Senate supporters of the former president have coalesced around this messaging, even as the majority of Americans support impeaching and convicting Trump. Meanwhile, federal law enforcement officers are investigating credible threats aimed at lawmakers relating to the second impeachment trial. While details about these threats are still unclear, law enforcement has emphasized the need to take them seriously, especially in the wake of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

DOJ Under Fire: Trump’s efforts to pressure the U.S. Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election are even more concerning than previously thought. New reporting shows he pushed then-acting U.S.  Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to directly ask the Supreme Court to invalidate President Biden’s victory. After Rosen refused, Trump plotted to oust him from office. Pennsylvania lawmaker Rep. Scott Perry played a role, urging Trump to fire Rosen and replace him with a DOJ official sympathetic to Trump’s false claims of fraud: acting chief of the Civil Division Jeffrey Clark. Multiple senior DOJ officials threatened to resign if Rosen was fired, squashing the plot. The Biden Administration has responded in full, launching an investigation to identify any DOJ official who abused the agency’s resources to try to overturn the election.

Giuliani Faces Consequences: Today, Dominion Voting systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Guiliani for carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion.” The suit seeks over $1.3 billion in monetary damages for the false claims Giuliani spread while representing the Trump campaign in its efforts to invalidate the 2020 election results. Dominion has already filed a defamation suit against Sidney Powell, another Trump-allied lawyer who parroted misinformation and conspiracy theories to undermine trust in the voting system. An ethics complaint has also been filed against Giuliani to disbar him in New York.

Extremist Ties on the Inside: More than 130 people have been arrested over their involvement in the mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th. After investigations revealed that off-duty law enforcement officers were involved in the attack, police chiefs across the nation have ramped up their efforts to identify members of the police force that have ties to extremist groups. Additionally, at least a dozen officers in the Capitol Police force are being investigated for potentially aiding the rioters by either “assisting or encouraging the mob.”

State Updates

Arizona: Extreme partisans in Arizona have taken the extraordinary step of censuring three top-ranking members of the Arizona Republican party:  Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey, and former Sen. Jeff Flake.  McCain and Flake have consistently spoken out against the former President and all three were vocal in their condemnation of Trump’s role in inciting the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The censure —largely symbolic — coincides with state lawmakers’ latest efforts to restrict voting in the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss. Some lawmakers have introduced legislation that would audit more votes, require automatic recounts, and abolish the state’s permanent early voting list, under which a supermajority of voters are currently registered.

Georgia: The battle to protect voting rights in Georgia is on, as state lawmakers threaten to restrict voting access as a response to the Trump Administration’s false claims of 2020 election fraud.  With both the governorship and the legislature in firm one-party control, voting advocates have a steep climb to block these proposed voting restrictions, which include ending no-excuse absentee voting, limiting dropboxes, and voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots. The tight control of Georgia’s state government also limits the possibility of passing pro-voting legislation, like the’ newest bill to reinstate voting rights for former felons.

Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania state legislature is continuing its hearings to review nearly all aspects of state voting laws. The push comes after Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar testified to the security and integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election last week. Boockvar’s call to leave the lies behind and proceed with unity has gone unheeded, as some legislators instead signaled their intention to introduce harsh voter ID laws and other voting restrictions. Meanwhile, some Pennsylvania legislators have called for Rep. Scott Perry to resign over his involvement in the push to oust the acting Attorney General from the DOJ and install a Trump loyalist who believed the unsubstantiated election fraud claims instead.

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