First Thing: More Republicans join anti-Trump rebellion as impeachment looms

Molly Blackall
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Good morning.

Donald Trump is facing a growing rebellion from Republicans over his role in inciting the violence at the Capitol last week, as Democrats press on with impeachment proceedings. Late on Tuesday night, the Democrats formally called on the vice-president, Mike Pence, to invoke the 25th amendment and remove Trump from power, in a vote that was largely symbolic as Pence had already rejected the call. But if Pence won’t try, Nancy Pelosi will. After bringing forward an article of impeachment over the “incitement of insurrection” yesterday, the Democrats will today move to the next stage of the process, debating whether Trump committed the “high crimes and misdemeanors” needed to impeach him.

The third highest ranking Republican in the House, Liz Cheney, said she would vote to impeach the president, while the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, also reportedly believes Trump committed impeachable offences. Even the military are weighing in: in a rare joint statement, the joint chiefs of staff said the attack on the Capitol was an illegal assault on America’s constitutional process.

Despite widespread condemnation of the attack, members of Congress have been warned there is still a credible threat against their security at Biden’s inauguration. Social media sites are continuing to clamp down on violent rhetoric before the event, with YouTube temporarily banning Trump’s channel from uploading new videos or livestreams over concerns about “the ongoing potential for violence”. Social media sites including Facebook and Twitter have also banned his account, but rightwing supporters have been turning to smaller “alt tech” sites with far fewer restrictions on what can be posted.

  • Mike Pompeo cancelled his trip to Europe at the last minute after EU officials criticised Trump for his role in inciting the storming of the Capitol. The official reason given was for the need to coordinate with the Biden transition team, but reports said Luxembourg had called off the meeting.

  • The US Olympian Klete Keller was reportedly among the Trump supporters inside the Capitol last week. A swimming news website said at least a dozen people within the sport had identified Keller, who won two gold medals as a teammate of Michael Phelps, as being inside the building during the riot.

The supreme court has reversed a policy allowing women to receive abortion drugs at home during the pandemic

Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett
Trump’s supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in October 2020. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

The supreme court has ruled that women must visit hospitals or clinics to get a drug for medically induced abortions, lifting a court order that allowed the drugs to be mailed or delivered during the pandemic. The request for the change was made by the Trump administration. The court’s three liberal justices said they would have denied the request while litigation over the dispute continues in lower courts, but since the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, the court has swung to the right with a majority of conservative judges.

  • Disneyland in California is set to be turned into a mass vaccination site as the state grapples with surging coronavirus cases that are overwhelming its hospitals. California’s coronavirus death toll reached 30,000 this week, with 10,000 deaths in one month alone.

  • Three lawmakers who sheltered for safety during the Capitol riot have tested positive for coronavirus. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, announced her result yesterday and criticised Republicans who had refused to wear a mask while waiting in a secure room for several hours.

US carries out first federal execution of a woman in seven decades

Lisa Montgomery
Lisa Montgomery was pronounced dead at 1.31am after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Photograph: AP

The US put a woman to death on federal death row for the first time in nearly seven decades, when Lisa Montgomery was executed early this morning. A stay had been granted on the grounds of mental illness on Tuesday but was lifted after hours of wrangling in the supreme court.

Montgomery murdered Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, in Missouri in 2004, and cut her baby daughter from her womb. Montgomery’s legal team said she was not mentally fit for the execution to go ahead and had serious mental health problems after years of “sexual torture”.

Scientists have issued another stark warning about the future of the planet

Planet Earth is facing “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals”, posing a threat to human survival, according to an international group of scientists. The challenges have come about because of inaction over the climate crisis and are likely to be more serious than most people, including scientists, know. The report, co-written by Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University, author of The Population Bomb, referenced more than 150 studies on the world’s environmental challenges.

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”

  • A former governor of Michigan is being charged over the Flint water scandal, according to the Associated Press. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been handed the charges following a new investigation into the scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and is thought to have been responsible for a deadly outbreak of legionnaires’ disease six years ago.

In other news …

Elise Stefanik
Elise Stefanik speaks on the third night of the Republican national convention on 26 August 2020 in support of Trump and Pence. Photograph: AP
  • A Republican congresswoman accused Harvard University of “caving to the woke left” after she lost her role on an advisory committee for peddling baseless claims of voter fraud in the US presidential election. Hundreds of students and alumni called on Harvard to cut ties with Elise Stefanik after last week’s siege on the Capitol.

  • A New York police officer who led anti-discrimination efforts has left after posting racist messages online, choosing to retire rather than face a 30-day unpaid suspension. Deputy inspector James Kobel led his workplace anti-discrimination office while posting comments that the department’s commissioner called “utterly disgusting”.

Stat of the day: 56% of Americans at risk of water shutoffs

More than 600 environmental, rights and religious groups are calling on the incoming Biden administration to ban water shutoffs in the US until at least a year after the end of the coronavirus pandemic. At present, 56% of Americans – 183 million people – are at risk of losing their water supply if they cannot keep up with bill payments, despite hand-washing being essential to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Don’t miss this: Our oceans are hitting record temperatures. What can we learn?

The world’s oceans reached their hottest level in recorded history in 2020, consuming more than 90% of all extra heat emitted from greenhouse gases. John Abraham, a professor of thermal sciences at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, discusses why the oceans are so important in the battle against the climate crisis, and what their rising temperatures can tell us about the state of planet Earth.

Last Thing: Internet waxes lyrical over bizarre sculptures

Photographs of startling wax sculptures of international celebrities have gone viral. The sculptures by Arlindo Armacollo in Brazil, of international figures including Nelson Mandela and Marilyn Monroe, are strangely disfigured. Along with the images, a local television report has also been widely circulated in which a reporter gushes over Armacollo’s ability to “capture the character as well as the soul of each person”.

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