Hugo Lowell reports for the Guardian:
Top security officials in Congress are expected to reinstall fencing around the Capitol and authorize the use of deadly force ahead of a planned rally by far-right Trump supporters next weekend demanding the release of rioters arrested in connection with the 6 January insurrection.
The officials, however, had no plans so far to request the national guard, and were not pushing for such a request, principally because the threat assessment did not warrant their deployment, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The Justice for J6 rally on 18 September is being organized by the Trump operative Matt Braynard and his organization Look Ahead America. It is being held to demand that the justice department drop charges against nearly 600 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack which the group calls “non-violent protesters”, despite widespread violence and five deaths during the insurrection.
The Senate sergeant-at-arms, Lt Gen Karen Gibson, House sergeant-at-arms, Maj Gen William Walker, and US Capitol police chief, Thomas Manger, are expected to approve fencing to form the backbone of their security response, the sources said.
The top four congressional leaders — House speaker Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell — are now receiving a briefing on security preparations for this Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally, per CNN.
The briefing had been scheduled before the US Capitol Police announced officers had arrested a man carrying illegal weapons near the Democratic National Committee headquarters early this morning.
Hugo Lowell reports for the Guardian:
The House select committee investigating the 6 January attack on the Capitol has instructed telecom and social media companies last week to preserve records of Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The move positions the select committee on the doorstep of the Oval Office as it pursues a far-reaching inquiry into whether Trump and his White House helped plan or had advance knowledge of the insurrection perpetrated by the former president’s supporters.
House select committee investigators signaled their intention to examine potential involvement by the Trump White House and House Republicans when they last week made a series of records demands and records preservation requests for Trump officials connected to the Capitol attack.
In the records preservation requests, the select committee instructed 35 telecom and social media companies to avoid destroying communications logs of several hundred people, including the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, and 10 House Republicans, in case it later issues subpoenas.
There appeared to be more cameras going up around the Capitol this morning, as law enforcement officials prepare for the “Justice for J6” rally on Saturday.
An NBC News reporter shared a photo of the increased security measures on Capitol Hill:
Donald Craighead said he was “on patrol” after US Capitol Police officers discovered illegal weapons in his vehicle, according to the USCP statement.
Craighead also began talking about white supremacist ideology. His pickup truck was painted with a swastika and other white supremacist symbols.
The USCP said it was unclear whether Craighead planned to attend the upcoming “Justice for J6” rally, which is being held in support of the insurrectionists who carried out the Capitol attack.
Capitol Police arrests man near DNC headquarters amid concerns over far-right rally
The US Capitol Police arrested a man early this morning near the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington.
According to a statement from the USCP, 44-year-old Donald Craighead of Oceanside, California was arrested for possession of prohibited weapons after officers found multiple knives in his truck.
An officer noticed Craighead’s pickup truck while on patrol around midnight. The vehicle had swastika and other white supremacist symbols painted on it, and it did not have a license plate.
When officers looked inside the vehicle, they saw a bayonet and machete, which are illegal in DC.
“This is good police work plain and simple,” USCP chief Tom Manger said. “We applaud the officers’ keen observation and the teamwork that resulted in this arrest.”
The news comes amid intensifying concerns over the upcoming “Justice for J6” rally, an event being held in support of the rioters who carried out the Capitol insurrection. The rally is scheduled to take place in Washington on Saturday.
Melania Trump refused to condemn Capitol rioters, book says
Melania Trump declined her chief of staff’s suggestion she condemn rioters who attacked the US Capitol on 6 January, according to a new book by the spurned aid who also says the former first lady believed her husband’s lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud.
According to Politico, reporting the first details of the hotly anticipated book, I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw in The Trump White House, Stephanie Grisham also compares Melania Trump to Marie Antoinette.
The first lady was like “the doomed French queen”, Grisham reportedly writes. “Dismissive. Defeated. Detached.”
Politico reported that on 6 January, as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn the election, Grisham texted Melania Trump: “Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence?”
A minute later, “Melania replied with a one-word answer: ‘No.’”
Biden heads to Idaho and California for wildfire briefing and recall event
Joe Biden has just boarded Air Force One to travel to Boise, Idaho, where the president will receive a briefing on wildfire preparedness and response efforts.
After the briefing, Biden will fly on to Sacramento, California, where he will receive an update on how recent wildfires have affected the region.
“During the trip, President Biden will see firsthand the significant physical, human, and economic costs of wildfires,” a White House official told the press pool.
“As one in three Americans are impacted by the increasing frequency of ferocity of extreme weather events, he will reiterate the message he shared on the east coast last week: the climate crisis is code red.”
This evening, the president will participate in a campaign event with California governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing the threat of a recall election.
The election will be held tomorrow. Recent polls indicate the Democratic governor has mitigated the threat of being removed from office.
The cloud-based software giant Salesforce is offering to help relocate employees out of Texas following the state’s enactment of its extreme new abortion law.
Referring to the “incredibly personal issues” that the law creates, a message to the company’s entire workforce sent late on Friday said any employee and their family wishing to move elsewhere would receive assistance.
“Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice,” the Salesforce chief executive, Marc Benioff, said in a tweet featuring a CNBC article about the offer, and using a term common in Hawaii for “family”.
In its message to workers, Salesforce, which is headquartered in California, did not directly mention Texas, where about 2,000 of its 56,000 global workers are based, or take a stance on the law. But its intention was clear.
“These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us – especially women,” it said.
Supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett spoke on Sunday at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, a venue created by and named for Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate.
In 2016, McConnell ruthlessly blocked Barack Obama’s final pick for the court, Merrick Garland, claiming it was too close to an election and the next president should decide.
Between 2017 and 2020, McConnell shepherded through three picks made by Donald Trump. Barrett was the last – in place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a heroine to US liberals – shortly before an election Trump lost.
McConnell, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported, praised Barrett for not trying to “legislate from the bench” and for being from “Middle America”. Barrett is from Indiana and, unlike the other eight justices, did not attend Harvard or Yale.
Barrett defends integrity of the court after widely criticized abortion ruling
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett defended the integrity of the country’s highest court yesterday, almost two weeks after she and four of her conservative colleagues allowed a six-week abortion ban to go into effect in Texas.
“My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” Barrett said during a Sunday event at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.
“Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties,” she added. “And here’s the thing: Sometimes, I don’t like the results of my decisions. But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want.”
Barrett was confirmed to the supreme court just days before the 2020 presidential election, even though Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had refused to consider Barack Obama’s supreme court nominee in 2016 because it was an election year.
Barrett’s confirmation shifted the ideological balance of the court, given that she replaced the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That shift enabled the 5-4 ruling in the Texas abortion case.
Barrett’s Louisville appearance was picketed by protesters who expressed outraged over the abortion decision. One of the protesters told the Louisville Courier Journal, “With what’s been happening in Texas, I don’t want it to spread to Kentucky. … And so, we’re just coming to let Mitch know how a lot of citizens feel about this issue.”
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.