First Thing: Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice

Molly Blackall
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the violent insurrection at the Capitol last week, making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans supported the move, which also made it the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history.

The House debate was emotionally charged, with lawmakers returning to the floor where they cowered last week as Trump supporters stormed the building, looting artefacts and smashing windows. For many lawmakers, the incident was personal. Nancy Pelosi was among those forced to hide in a bunker when armed rioters taunted staff, asking “where’s Nancy?”, while Alexandria Ocasio Cortez revealed she thought she was “going to die” during a “very close encounter” in the siege.

This is the inevitable conclusion of the Trump era, writes Washington bureau chief David Smith, but the case is no means closed. Many Republicans hit back against impeachment proceedings yesterday, warning that Trump’s movement “will grow stronger”.

So what’s next? The impeachment case must now go to a trial at the Senate, but the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has said that the earliest the Senate could consider the case would be 19 January – a day before Biden is inaugurated. While Democrats are trying to find a way to reconvene the body early, it seems likely any vote to convict Trump would happen after he has left office. Impeachment needs to be passed by a two-thirds majority (67 votes) which means 17 Republican senators would need to vote with the Democrats. This seems unlikely, but it seems in 2021 that nothing is impossible. Martin Belam shares what you need to know about the impeachment process.

  • An Olympic swimming champion has been charged over the siege on the Capitol. Klete Keller, who won two gold relay medals as a teammate of Michael Phelps, was identified as being inside the Capitol during the invasion, in part because he was wearing his US Olympic team jacket – perhaps not his most sensible decision.

  • Twitter’s CEO said the ban on Trump sets a “dangerous precedent” but he believed the ban was the right thing to do. Speaking out for the first time since Trump’s permanent suspension, Jack Dorsey said he thought the ban was “a failure of ours, ultimately, to promote healthy conversation.”

The White House allegedly asked the DoJ to share dirt on the woman who accused Trump of sexual assault

E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of assaulting her in the 1990s, and brought a defamation suit against him for his response to her allegations.
E Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump of assaulting her in the 1990s, and brought a defamation suit against him for his response to her allegations. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

The White House liaison to the Department of Justice sought out derogatory information from a justice department official about a woman who accused Trump of sexual assault, a Guardian investigation has revealed. Heidi Stirrup last year asked the Department of Justice if it had uncovered any derogatory information about E Jean Carroll that they could share with her or the president’s private counsel. The revelation suggests that allies of the president were attempting to dig out damaging information to discredit Carroll – and using a governmental department to do so.

The US lost 4,300 lives to coronavirus on Tuesday alone

A patient is transported outside of Tisch hospital in New York on 13 November
A patient is transported outside of Tisch hospital in New York on 13 November. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

The US marked another record for the daily number of deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday, reporting the loss of 4,327 lives. The total death toll has passed 380,000 in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, rapidly approaching the number of Americans killed in the second world war. On average, a quarter of a million new cases are recorded in the US every day.

Despite the shocking figures, quarantine rules in some states appear to be collapsing, with restaurants defying public health measures to reopen. Less than 3% of the US population have been vaccinated against coronavirus, leaving hundreds of millions still to be inoculated before herd immunity can be achieved.

  • China has recorded its first coronavirus death since May, the 4,635th death from the virus in the country. The individual died in Hebei province, which is the site of China’s worst outbreak in months. The loss came as a team of experts from the WHO landed in Wuhan to investigate the origins of the virus.

Kamala Harris: How will America’s next vice-president wield her power? Join the Guardian and Pulitzer prize-winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson for a live digital conversation exploring Harris’s historic rise on 18 January at 4pm ET/1pm PT. Register here.

In other news…

Samantha Power was also foreign policy and human rights adviser to Obama.
Samantha Power was also foreign policy and human rights adviser to Obama. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
  • Former UN ambassador Samantha Power will lead the Agency for International Development under Joe Biden, the president-elect announced yesterday. Power is a Pulitzer prize-winning author who covered war zones as a journalist, before becoming a diplomat and serving on Obama’s national security council.

  • Israeli airstrikes on east Syria have killed 57 people, the deadliest such strikes since the beginning of the conflict. Syrian regime forces and allied Iran-backed fighters were among the dead, less than a week since the last wave of strikes.

  • Police are three times more likely to use force on leftwing protesters than rightwing protesters, according to a new report from a non-profit monitoring global political violence. Over the past 10 months, police officers in the US used methods including teargas and rubber bullets at a much higher percentage on Black Lives Matter demonstrations that at pro-Trump rallies.

Stat of the day: more soldiers are stationed in the Capitol than in Afghanistan

Members of the National Guard rest in the Capitol Visitors Center on Capitol Hill yesterday, ahead of an expected House vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
Members of the National Guard rest in the Capitol visitors center on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, ahead of the vote to impeach Donald Trump. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It was an odd setting for congressional debates on Trump’s impeachment yesterday: thousands of National Guard troops were stationed in the Capitol with many off-duty soldiers sleeping on the building’s floors during the day. They are on 24-hour guard following last week’s violence, as threats to the security Joe Biden’s inauguration remain credible. Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts noted in his speech that there were more US soldiers patrolling the Capitol than stationed in Afghanistan.

Don’t miss this: Why isn’t coronavirus being put on death certificates of patients, and what does this mean for families?

Coronavirus is not always being put on death certificates of those who died of or with the disease, threatening to undercut the toll of the pandemic and denying grieving families coronavirus relief programmes. The issue arises from the recording of deaths: when coronavirus patients die, the immediate cause is something else, like respiratory failure or cardiac arrest, and it is not compulsory to put Covid-19 as a “contributory cause”.

Last thing: The CIA just released all of their records on UFOs

The CIA released thousands of documents on UFOs this week, which the agency claims is all of their records on the objects. While the documents provide reading not unlike a sci-fi novel, some have said that the documents have been recorded in a way that makes them deliberately difficult to read. And it isn’t just UFO enthusiasts who are interested – Congress recently passed a bill instructing the director of national intelligence to release a report on UFOs in six months’ time.

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