Senators yesterday voted to proceed with the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump after watching dramatic videos of last month’s insurrection. Democrats will begin presenting formal arguments later today.
Meanwhile, Lloyd Austin, the first black secretary of defense, is trying urgently to curtail right- wing extremism in the military ranks. But first the Pentagon needs to figure out how to track the problem.
And lastly, a small group of Inuit hunters in remote northern Canada has blockaded an iron mine that threatens their food supply. It’s an inspirational story that should also make you feel relatively warmer this winter, wherever you are.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Let’s get up to speed on Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, via the New York Times. Yesterday the Senate voted to proceed with the trial. The vote was a rejection of Trump’s defense team’s claim that it would be unconstitutional to prosecute a president after leaving office. But the final tally signaled that his Republican allies could muster enough support to potentially block the two-thirds necessary for conviction. The fifty six-to-forty four vote, with six Republicans joining all fifty Democrats, paved the way for House Democrats to formally open their arguments this afternoon. They are seeking to prove that Trump incited an insurrection by encouraging supporters who stormed the Capitol last month.
According to the Times, yesterday’s vote came after House managers moved immediately to their most powerful evidence: the explicit visual record of the deadly Capitol siege, juxtaposed against Trump’s own words encouraging members of the mob at a rally beforehand. On the screens, senators saw extremists storming barricades, beating police officers, setting up a gallows and yelling, Take the building, Fight for Trump and Pence is a traitor! Traitor Pence! Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado, a House impeachment manager, told senators QUOTE Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened ENDQUOTE.
Trump’s lawyers argued that his words at the rally on January 6th constituted free speech akin to typical political language and hardly incited the violence, the Times reports. They condemned the violence but rejected the suggestion that Trump was responsible for it. They maintained that the Constitution did not permit an impeachment trial of a former president because it was meant to lead to removal, which is now moot. If he committed a crime, they said, he could be prosecuted criminally. Excellent suggestion – let’s do that next.
Pentagon Tackles Soldiers' Extremism
How do we prevent the next insurrection? Among the one hundred and ninety people charged in the Capitol siege, at least thirty are veterans, the Washington Post reports. Now Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is facing an early test as he races to advance a major initiative targeting far-right extremism in the ranks. The military is slated to pause normal operations in coming weeks so troops can discuss internal support for extremist movements. Austin’s highly unusual order for a military-wide stand-down underscores the urgency of the task ahead.
Even as they seek to get the effort off the ground, the Post says, Pentagon officials are grappling with legal and institutional issues. First among the challenges for Austin and his aides is the lack of centralized means of tracking incidence of extremism. Last month, Pentagon officials said the FBI had informed them about sixty-eight domestic extremism cases in 2020 involving current or former troops. Little other data exists. One reason for the military’s limited understanding of the problem is that current rules permit troops to join extremist organizations, so long as they don’t become active members who fundraise, recruit or take part in other prohibited activities. While the distinction is rooted in troops’ First Amendment rights, it means supporters of extremist causes can go undetected.
What’s more, the Post reports, some extremism experts say the military’s screening procedures for recruits are insufficient. Lawmakers including California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier are calling for stronger screening of social media for service members. Speier chairs the House Armed Services’ military personnel subcommittee. Under her proposal, recruits would be required to provide social media handles when they apply for security clearances. Wait, they don’t check those already? Crazy.
Inuit Hunters Blockade Mine
Here’s a remarkable tale of community organizing. A group of Inuit hunters have braved nearly a week of freezing temperatures to blockade a remote iron mine in northern Canada, the Guardian reports. The hunters are protesting an expansion plan they say will harm local wildlife. The blockade has prompted solidarity rallies in other Nunavut communities. Since February 5th, seven hunters have created a makeshift barrier of snowmobiles and sleds to block the airstrip and service road of the Mary River ore mine, halting operations. Temperatures in recent days have dipped to twenty degrees below zero, Farenheit.
At issue are controversial plans drawn up by the mine’s operator, Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, to double output, the Guardian reports. To bring twelve million tons of iron ore to market, the mine has said it needs to build a railway to a port near the community of Pond Inlet. But hunters have pushed back over fears that the expansion could threaten the populations of caribou and narwhal – two key sources of food – if approved.
As the standoff entered its fifth day, seven hundred workers were stranded at the Mary River site, according to the Guardian. The company claims the blockade on the airstrip means food supplies cannot be delivered. Residents of Clyde River plan to bring supplies to the Mary River protesters in the coming days, a journey that could take three days by snowmobile and requires travellers to brave mountain valleys and perilous sections of ice. Jerry Natanine, mayor of Clyde River, said QUOTE We’ve been clearly and repeatedly telling the mine that their plans were unacceptable. And they haven’t listened to any of our suggestions. So now we’re left fighting for our culture and way of life ENDQUOTE. Solidarity with the Inuit hunters.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Joe Biden, along with vice president Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, met with corporate executives at the White House yesterday. It was an attempt to rally support for Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Those invited included Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce, and Doug McMillon of Walmart. What a diverse crew. I guess the Monopoly Man wasn’t available.
It is extremely unlikely that the coronavirus leaked from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where Covid-19 first emerged, NBC News reports. The new assessment comes from the head of a team of experts that yesterday released details of its fact-finding mission into the virus's origins. Doctor Peter Ben Embarek from the World Health Organization said it was more likely that the virus had jumped to humans from an animal – possibly bats. Take heed and don’t cuddle up with those those furry, winged fiends.
The Biden administration yesterday asked the remaining US attorneys appointed by Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate to submit their resignations, the Washington Post reports. The request applies to fifty-five federal prosecutors and spared only two, who are conducting politically sensitive probes, including of President Biden’s son. One way or another, Hunter Biden is going to stay in the news.
German prosecutors have charged a one hundred-year-old man with three thousand, five hundred and eighteen counts of accessory to murder, the Guardian reports. The man served during the second world war as a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin. His name was not released. The prosecutor called him QUOTE part of the functioning of [a] machinery of death ENDQUOTE. Old fascists are still bound to lose.
FEB 10, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn