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August 3, 2021
Broken windows, garbage and offices torn apart at the Capitol

What Matters: Years of bad leadership from Trump, and now no leadership at all

More to come in all 50 states. CNN’s Zachary Cohen reports: The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” it says.

The bulletin, which was circulated after rioters stormed the US Capitol last week, also suggests there are threats of an “uprising” if President Donald Trump is removed via the 25th Amendment before Inauguration Day.

Justice moves slowly. Nearly a week later, I am struck by the slow roll of accountability.

The FBI and Department of Justice have promised accountability and the FBI has asked for the public’s help identifying the rioter who brought a massive Confederate flag into the building, among many others.

Hundreds could ultimately be charged, but we have not seen charges for crimes against the nation, like insurrection. At least not yet. Perhaps these more consequential charges will follow.

A leaderless country. Trump, without Twitter, is silent. Vice President Mike Pence, who will apparently not try to invoke the 25th Amendment, is running out the clock. They finally spoke Monday.

Rather than focus on any of these pressing issues, Trump is going Tuesday to Alamo, Texas — not to be confused with The Alamo — to talk about the border wall as his last stand.

Trump’s Cabinet continues to shrink. Chad Wolf, the acting Homeland Security secretary, resigned Monday, a little more than a week before the inauguration his agency is meant to secure.

After years of bad leadership from Trump, we’re learning what it’s like to have no leadership at all — and during a deadly pandemic killing thousands every day, a botched vaccine rollout and an attempt to overthrow the next government.

Finger-pointing is in full effect. Steven Sund, the Capitol Police chief who resigned after his fortress was overrun, told The Washington Post the House and Senate sergeants-at arms, who have also both resigned, didn’t want the optics of a standoff in place beforehand.
Jake Tapper pressed National Guard Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson about the allegation. He tried to explain why it took hours to mobilize the troops. This gets awkward. Watch it.

Nobody seems to agree on what happened.

The Pentagon argued Friday night in a timeline that DC and Capitol Police didn’t request enough backup beforehand and specifically didn’t want armed National Guardsmen involved.

The result was thousands of rioters swarming 1,400 Capitol Police officers and Sund said he thinks pipe bombs were set nearby to distract officers as the main assault force approached the West Front.

“As soon as they hit the fence line, the fight was on,” Sund said. “Violent confrontations from the start. They came with riot helmets, gas masks, shields, pepper spray, fireworks, climbing gear — climbing gear! — explosives, metal pipes, baseball bats. I have never seen anything like it in 30 years of events in Washington.”

This story of the Pentagon version vs. the Capitol and DC police is going to continue.

One thing is for sure: This city is going to be crawling with thousands of armed police and National Guardsmen on Inauguration Day.

A different way to bar Trump from office

I spent a good portion of the day distracted by the calls to invoke the 14th Amendment against lawmakers, and potentially Trump, for their roles inciting the insurrection.

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War to impose national standards of rights — natural-born citizenship, equal protection under the laws — the amendment also prohibits people who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution from serving in office after they’ve engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the country.

There’s an effort, led by freshman Rep. Cori Bush, to apply it against sitting members of Congress, like Rep. Mo Brooks, who spoke at Trump’s rally, or even Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz, the senators who gave objections to the Electoral College life in the Senate.

It could be invoked against Trump if he tried to run again.

It would be a novel use of the amendment, Indiana University law professor Gerard Magliocca told me. He, conveniently, has just written a paper on the amnesty from the 14th Amendment that Congress ultimately gave Confederates after the Civil War.

He said we can’t entirely separate that from what happened last week.

“It’s not totally remote from what just happened. There weren’t even people with Confederate flags that entered the Capitol during the Civil War. So there is a kind of comparison you could make — this (the 14th Amendment) is an outgrowth of the Civil War and now you see the emblems of the Civil War being used in this event on Wednesday.”

The House is moving forward with the second impeachment

Here’s the argument from Frank Bowman and Brian Kalt, the overall impeachment historical experts, in The Washington Post, that Trump can and maybe should be impeached after he leaves office, which is technically called a “late impeachment.”

“The two most important reasons to pursue a late impeachment are, first, to deter presidents’ misbehavior during their waning days in office, and second, to permanently remove them from public life if their conduct suggests they would pose a continuing danger to the country if they ever returned to a position of national authority.”

Reminder: The House can impeach the President with a simple majority. The Senate has a much higher bar to remove him from office. It would take an additional Senate vote or votes to bar him from future office and remove his pension, as Daniel Dale writes.
Even an impeached and banned Trump could have some power, writes CNN’s Fredreka Schouten. He’s still got all that money he’s been raising off the fiction of election fraud. And he could continue to do so in the future.
Toxic Trump. Trump’s avenues to bring in cash are being limited by the backlash to his behavior, writes CNN Business’ Chris Isidore. He’s lost a major golf tournament. It’s not clear if banks will lend him money. And that’s just the beginning.