White House lowers flag for Capitol officer fatally injured in riot

The White House lowered its flags to half-staff Sunday, apparently to honor Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained while responding to Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol by an angry mob.

Since Sicknick’s death Thursday night, President Donald Trump has been criticized for not contacting the fallen officer’s family or publicly acknowledging his death.

Vice President Mike Pence and President-elect Joe Biden both expressed sympathy to Sicknick’s family on Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the U.S. Capitol flags lowered on Friday.

Federal and local police continue to investigate Sicknick’s death as a homicide.

The White House has yet to release a statement on the matter.

– Devon Link

US Capitol Police officer, 51, dies; cause not released

A U.S. Capitol Police officer died while off duty on Saturday, according to a statement released by the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting federal property in Washington.

Howard Liebengood, 51, had been with the department since 2005 and was assigned to the Senate Division, police said. The department’s statement did not say the cause of Liebengood’s death.

According to the Capitol Police union, Liebengood was “among the officers who responded to the rioting at the U.S. Capitol” on Wednesday. At least one police officer was killed amid the riot; four other people also died. Dozens of other officers were injured in the attack.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues,” the department said in its statement. “We ask that his family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time.”

– Matthew Brown

Physician urges Congress members may have been exposed to COVID in Capitol riot

Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician for Congress, urged all elected officials and their staff to observe public health measures and get tested for the coronavirus after potentially being exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 while the Capitol was locked down during an armed incursion by pro-Trump rioters.

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During the attack, “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” Monahan noted in an email.

“The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others. During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection,” the physician wrote.

At least six Republican members of Congress refused to wear masks while in lockdown, even after Democratic colleagues pleaded with them. In one video, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., said “I’m not trying to get political here,” while declining a mask offered by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.

“Please continue your usual daily coronavirus risk reduction measures (daily symptom inventory checklist, mask wear, and social distancing). Additionally, individuals should obtain an RT-PCR coronavirus test next week as a precaution,” Monahan advised.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to aggressively spread across the United States. The nation has reported over 370,000 deaths and more than 22 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

– Matthew Brown

Poll: Majority wants Trump removed from office before inauguration

A majority of Americans now believe President Donald Trump should be removed from office before his term ends on Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in.

A new poll published Sunday by ABC News/Ipsos found that 56% of those surveyed want Trump to be removed before Inauguration Day. A higher figure – 67% – blame the commander-in-chief for the riots in Washington this week that left 5 people dead after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building, overpowering police and ransacking the complex.

The chaotic incident followed Trump’s “Save America Rally” in Washington, during which he told his supporters to “stop the steal” of the election he lost to Biden. Trump urged them to head to the Capitol to demonstrate against Congress certifying Biden’s victory.

House Democrats are preparing Monday to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump in connection with the riot. They accuse him of having “gravely endangered the security” of the U.S. and its institutions. It will be Trump’s second impeachment.

The ABC News/Ipsos poll found that most Democrats (94%) and a majority of independents (58%) believe Trump should be removed from office; only 13% of Republicans agree. In fact, 61% of Republicans believe Trump did nothing wrong.

– Kim Hjelmgaard

Sens. Manchin, Toomey call on Trump to resign

Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., both condemned Wednesday’s armed attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead and dozens injured and both senators said they believe President Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses.

The senators believed that Trump, who urged his supporters to “never concede,” “walk down to the Capitol” and “show strength,” encouraged the violence and should resign.

“The president’s behavior after the election was wildly different than his behavior before, he descended into a level of madness and engaged in a level of activity that was just absolutely unthinkable,” Toomey told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Toomey said Trump’s incitement of the mob last week left the “possibility that there’s criminal liability here,” though he conceded he was not sure whether there was enough evidence for a conviction.

“But there should be accountability,” he said.

Manchin condemned fellow Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., saying “I don’t know how they can live with themselves” when “people have died because of their words and actions.” Both Cruz and Hawley led efforts to contest Congress’ official counting of the Electoral College vote, a longshot move to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Toomey expressed doubt on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that impeachment would be a feasible punishment for Trump, noting it is not clear whether it can happen “after a person has left office, which is what would have to happen here.” However, the senator also hopes “that the president has disqualified himself'” from winning another election by his words and actions.

Manchin said during the Capitol attack, when congresspeople and aides were under secure lockdown, he persuaded Senators Steve Daines, R-Mont., and James Lankford, R-Okla., to abandon Cruz and not contest the result. Manchin urged Cruz and Hawley to do the same, with no success.

“I most certainly believe there is blood on their conscience, that is for sure,” Manchin said. “Sooner or later, someone has got to say, ‘This is not who we are.’ Someone has got to speak truth to power.”

– Matthew Brown

Ex-WH chief of staff Mulvaney: Capitol riot worse than other Trump controversies

Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” TV show Sunday that he doesn’t currently know “what’s going on inside the Oval Office now” and “inside the president’s head” following riots this week in Washington, D.C.

Mulvaney announced his resignation Thursday as President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday. Mulvaney was Trump’s former acting chief of staff.

Mulvaney said Sunday that “people took (Trump) literally” when he encouraged his supporters to “stop the steal” and to go to the U.S. Capitol building to express their dissatisfaction with the outcome of November’s presidential election, won by Joe Biden.

“I never thought I’d see that,” Mulvaney said.

He said the ensuing riot was a “fundamental threat to the United States” and recounted an episode during Trump’s impeachment hearing last year in which he told the president, who was accused of witness tampering: “‘Mr. President, this is a problem & we need to fix it.’ He pushed back a little bit but then he … he pivoted.”

In a separate interview on Fox News, Mulvaney appeared to defend the administration’s handling of earlier controversies that engulfed Trump’s White House, arguing the storming of the Capitol was of an entirely different magnitude.

“I think everybody recognizes that what happened on Wednesday is different,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. He said previous controversies “were policy differences, many of them were stylistic. Wednesday was existential.”

Mulvaney dodged a question on whether he supported the use of the 25th Amendment, used to get rid of an incapacitated or unfit president, to remove Trump from office.

“I think the 25th Amendment (is) a clumsy tool. We’ve never used it under these circumstances. We typically use it whenever a president goes through a medical procedure,” he said.

– Kim Hjelmgaard

Kellyanne Conway condemns armed riot at US Capitol

Former Senior White House Assistant Kellyanne Conway condemned the armed invasion of the US Capitol on Wednesday by pro-Trump rioters.

“Don’t avert your eyes & don’t excuse this,” Conway said on Twitter of a report compiling haunting footage of the attacks. “The more we see & learn, the worse it is.”

“The events were outrageous and inexcusable. Democracy relies on dissent, not destruction. In this nation, differences of opinions are resolved by showing up at the ballot box, not by storming the barricade,” Conway said in a statement Thursday.

Conway managed President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and was a senior White House adviser when Trump took office, sticking by the president through almost the entire tumult of his first term. Conway left the Trump administration in August 2020 after a public feud with her daughter in the media.

“Only later did it become clear that lawmakers feared for their lives; that some of the attackers were hunting for congressional leaders; that there could have been a massacre.”

Don’t avert your eyes & don’t excuse this.
The more we see & learn, the worse it is. https://t.co/S3Hnv6iZhH

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) January 10, 2021

The former aide’s comments come as the Trump administration is roiling in its last days in office. Former and current aides have expressed worry about their involvement in the administration, while others have also condemned the Capitol attack or resigned from their posts.

Conway has continued to express support for the president, despite the Capitol attack.

“The thugs from yesterday are responsible for their own actions,” Conway said. “They don’t represent the millions of Trump voters, or the massive ‘MAGA’ movement; they insult them.”

– Matthew Brown

Pence to attend Biden’s inauguration

Vice President Mike Pence will attend the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump intends to skip it.

The decision came a day after Trump announced he would decline to watch his successor sworn-in, breaking with more than 150 years of tradition. A source familiar with the decision speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed Pence’s expected attendance.

Pence is facing considerable blowback from some Trump supporters – and significant praise from others – for defying the president’s demand that he somehow reject the results of the election as Congress met Wednesday to count Electoral College votes and formalized Biden’s win. Despite Trump’s protestations, Pence noted he had no power to reject the votes.

Biden dismissed Trump’s decision not to attend the inauguration, telling reporters on Friday that it was “one of the few things he and I ever agreed on.” But of Pence, Biden said that he was “welcome to come” and that he’d “be honored to have him there.”

– John Fritze

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Congress members may have been exposed to COVID amid Capitol lockdown

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