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Highlights and analysis: House passes resolution to demand Pence invoke 25th Amendment, remove Trump

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday night told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter that he does not believe invoking the 25th Amendment "is in the best interest of our nation."
Image: illustration of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a red background that shows the Capitol exterior, with navy bubbles showing words like \"Impeachment,\" \"Congress,\" \"President\"
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The House approved a resolution on a late Tuesday night to encourage Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office before his term ends on Jan. 20, a largely symbolic gesture that precedes a vote on impeachment Wednesday.

Pence said earlier Tuesday evening that he will not heed these calls.

Then, on Wednesday morning, House Democrats are planning to take up an article of impeachment against Trump for "incitement of insurrection" in urging his supporters to march on the Capitol last week.

The planned votes come as the FBI sent a warning to law enforcement agencies across the country about possible armed protests at all 50 state Capitols starting Saturday as well the threat of an uprising in Washington that day if Congress removes Trump.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading news on the response to the Capitol riot from Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Read the highlights:

— At least five Republican House members have said they will vote to impeach Trump.

— Pence said Tuesday evening in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that he does not believe invoking the 25th Amendment "is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution."

— Trump enters final week as president with few allies, no Twitter and an impeachment effort.

— What we know about the people arrested after the Capitol riots.

— After Capitol violence, Trump brand partners eye dumping toxic asset: the president.

Extremists move to secret online channels to plan for Inauguration Day in D.C.

Right-wing extremists are using encrypted channels to call for violence against government officials on Jan. 20, the day President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, with some extremists sharing knowledge of how to make, conceal and use homemade guns and bombs.

The messages are being posted in Telegram chatrooms where white supremacist content has been freely shared for months, but chatter on these channels has increased since extremists have been forced off other platforms in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

In the days since the Capitol attack, for example, a U.S. Army field manual and exhortations to "shoot politicians" and "encourage armed struggle" have been posted in a Telegram channel that uses "fascist" in its name.

Chris Sampson, chief of research at the defense research institute Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies, said his group is focused on and concerned about users of the channel and has alerted the FBI about it. (TAPSTRI is run by Malcolm Nance, an NBC News terrorism analyst.)

Read the story.

Trump defends riot remarks as 'totally appropriate' ahead of House vote on 25th Amendment resolution

President Trump on Tuesday defended the remarks he made last week that incited a crowd of his supporters to violently storm the U.S. Capitol, hours before the House was preparing to vote on a resolution that calls on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Asked by reporters on Tuesday about whether he held any "personal responsibility" over the tragedy that beset the Capitol last week, Trump replied, "If you read my speech, and many people have done it and I've seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it's been analyzed and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate."

"Everybody to a 'T' thought it was totally appropriate," Trump said.

Trump's comments come just six days after riots in and around the Capitol by his supporters left five people dead and many others injured —shaking American democracy to its core in the process — and one day before the House was also set to impeach him for the second time over his role in inciting the riots.

Read the story.

Rep. Brad Schneider tests positive for Covid-19

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., walks up the House steps for the final votes of the week on April 4, 2019, in Washington.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said he tested positive for Covid-19 Tuesday morning, becoming the third lawmaker since Monday to receive the diagnosis since being confined with other lawmakers during the rioting at the Capitol last week. 

Schneider suggested he was likely infected during the ordeal, when he was sheltering in place with dozens of other members, including some House Republicans who chose not to wear face masks.

"Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask, as demonstrated in video from Punchbowl News, even when politely asked by their colleagues," Schneider said in a statement. "Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff."

Schneider said that he hasn't experienced symptoms yet.

Cruz's communications director resigns amid fallout from riot

Sen. Ted Cruz's communications director has resigned amid the fallout from last week's rioting at the Capitol, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. 

Lauren Blair Bianchi, who has been with the Texas Republican since 2019, confirmed that she left her post on Monday.

A source familiar with Bianchi’s decision said, “Senator Cruz deserves to have a staff supportive of his vision.”

Cruz’s office said in a statement, “Sen. Cruz and Lauren agreed that it would be best to part ways. He thanks her for her service and wishes her the best.” 

A Cruz campaign official said other staff are thinking of resigning in the coming weeks, pointing to a post from Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign chair, Chad Sweet, who denounced the senator for objecting to the Electoral College results.    

Democrats and some Republicans have said the senators who led objections to the Electoral College results are partially to blame for the violence that ensued when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. Several Senate Democrats have called for censorship and even expulsion of Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who was the first senator to announce that he would object to the electoral results. 

Does 'deplatforming' work? Trump's most extreme fans will find him, research says

President Donald Trump’s rabid online following will be smaller from now on, but it may be more extreme. 

That’s the takeaway from researchers who study “deplatforming,” the name for the sweeping form of digital banishment that Trump received from Twitter and much of the tech industry after a mob of his supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, leading to the deaths of five people, including a police officer. 

Trump joins a growing list of high-profile personalities — mostly on the far right — who have been banned from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter or YouTube after repeatedly breaking the sites’ rules. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is banned from most of them, as is far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos

The past examples have given researchers a window into whether such moves are effective. But as a soon-to-be-former president, Trump presents a unique case that may shatter expectations. There’s anecdotal evidence that banished figures receive less web traffic and attention than they did before being banned, and research says that followers who regroup on other social media networks after a ban do so in smaller numbers.

Read the full story here.

GOP rep. booted from Harvard Institute of Politics advisory committee

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., has been removed from the Harvard Institute of Politics' senior advisory committee because of her role in endorsing false claims of election fraud, according to the university

Stefanik, a vocal ally of President Donald Trump, was asked by Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf to resign from the committee, but "she declined to step aside, and I told her that I would therefore remove her from the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee at this time," he wrote.

Elmendorf said Stefanik made public statements endorsing baseless election fraud conspiracy theories that "do not reflect policy disagreements but bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen." He noted that the lawmaker, a Harvard alum, has been involved with the nonpartisan institute, which was founded to encourage Harvard students to pursue careers in politics, for "a long period, beginning with her role as a student leader (she was in the class of 2006) and continuing to her mentoring students and strengthening the IOP’s programming in many ways." 

Before the Capitol riot, Stefanik endorsed Trump's baseless claims of election fraud, and she proceeded to vote to disqualify electors from the state of Pennsylvania after the pro-Trump mob's violent attack.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Stefanik said it is a "badge of honor to join the long line of leaders who have been boycotted, protested, and canceled by colleges and universities across America."

White House set to get deep-cleaning ahead of Biden move-in

The White House, which has been a Covid-19 hot spot during the pandemic, is set to receive a thorough deep-cleaning ahead of the Bidens moving in on Jan. 20.

Government contracts and purchase orders reviewed by NBC News show additional inaugural cleaning totaling nearly half a million dollars. It includes:

  • A $127,249 contract for "2021 Inaugural Cleaning."
  • $44,038 for carpet cleaning  
  • $29,523 for “curtain cleaning” in the East Wing, West Wing and Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
  • $115,363 for "2021 Presidential Inauguration and Transition Carpet Replacement and Installation to correct the current floor condition of selected interior floors for various offices" within the East Wing, West Wing and the EEOB.

This top-to-bottom cleaning is above and beyond what typically occurs during the well-choreographed residence changeover conducted by White House ushers, butlers and housekeepers.

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to NBC’s request for comment.

CNN first reported the additional cleaning contracts.

Michigan's attorney general warns state Capitol is 'not safe'

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned Tuesday that her state's capitol building in Lansing, Michigan is not safe.

In a series of tweets, Nessel said that a new rule passed by Michigan State Capitol Commission banning the open carry of firearms doesn't require a mechanism to confirm that people carrying a concealed firearm are licensed to do so. 

"That means anyone-irrespective of criminal history, membership with an anti-government org, or stated intention to harm government employees-can still enter the Capitol fully locked and loaded with firearms or explosive devices hidden by clothing, backpacks, etc.," she said. 

Nessel said her job is not to provide people with a false sense of security, and the situation is not safe. This comes after the FBI issued a bulletin warning about violence at Capitols across the country, as well as in Washington, D.C. 

Army investigating officer for attending pro-Trump rally in D.C.

An Army officer is under investigation for joining last week's rally in support of President Donald Trump and the subsequent deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to an Army spokesperson.

The woman, Capt. Emily Rainey, 30, a psychological operations officer stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, told The Associated Press that she led 100 members of a conservative advocacy group in North Carolina to Washington on Wednesday "to stand against election fraud."

"I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights," Rainey told the AP on Sunday.

The Army spokesperson, Maj. Dan Lessard, said the Army had opened a new investigation into her participation. "We are aware of her presence at the event, and we are investigating her involvement to determine the exact extent," Lessard said. "It's not clear at this time that she has violated any laws or regulations by her presence or actions. That's why we investigate to determine the facts."

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