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2021 kicks off with a historic — and tragic — week

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Trump supporters clash with police as they storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police as they storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — After an already a turbulent two months since November’s election, this week took a dizzying, unforgettable and tragic turn that will end up defining the Trump Era.

On Tuesday, Georgia held its twin Senate runoffs, both of which Democrats would win — allowing them to take control of the U.S. Senate.

On Wednesday, as Congress was set to confirm the Electoral College results and Joe Biden’s victory, President Trump addressed his supporters who had gathered in Washington; many of those supporters stormed the Capitol to interrupt the proceedings; and Facebook and Twitter locked Trump’s accounts after he praised the rioters.

On Thursday, Congress completed its Electoral College count and Vice President Mike Pence declared Biden the winner; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Trump’s removal from office, either through the 25th Amendment or impeachment; two members of Trump’s Cabinet — Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — announced their resignations; Trump finally acknowledged there would be a new administration as he condemned the rioters; and we learned that five people had died from the violence at the Capitol, including one member of the U.S. Capitol Hill Police.

And on top of it all, more than 4,000 Americans died from the coronavirus on Thursday – the deadliest day to date in the pandemic.

They knew all along

NBC’s Benjy Sarlin recalls the GOP warnings in 2015 and 2016 about Trump.

Here was Rick Perry comparing Trump to the Know-Nothing movement, whose members led an assault on the nation’s capital in 1854. “These people built nothing, created nothing. They existed to cast blame and tear down certain institutions. To give outlet to anger,” Perry said. “Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the Know-Nothing movement.”

Perry became Trump’s Energy secretary.

Here was Ted Cruz during the ’16 campaign: "When a candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that it escalates.”

Cruz helped lead this week’s GOP objectors to the Electoral College count.

And here was Marco Rubio, who predicted a reckoning: “You mark my words, there will be prominent people in American politics who will spend years explaining to people how they fell into this.”

They knew. All along.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

More than 200: The members of the House and Senate who have called for Trump’s removal from office, either through impeachment or of the 25th amendment.

2: The number of Trump Cabinet secretaries who have resigned in the last 24 hours over Wednesday’s violence

21,727,511: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 269,734 more than yesterday.)

366,044: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 4,045 more than yesterday.)

132,370: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

262.04 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

12: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Tweet of the day

Biden’s Cabinet is now set

On Thursday, Biden announced his pick to lead the Commerce Department is Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo; his selection for Labor secretary is Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; and his nominee for Small Business administrator is Isabel Guzman, who served as the SBA deputy chief of staff and senior adviser during the Obama administration.

While Biden has now announced his full slate of Cabinet nominees, he will likely be starting work on Jan. 20 without any of them being Senate confirmed. Unlike Presidents Trump, Obama and Bush, none of Biden’s Cabinet nominees are scheduled to have confirmation hearings prior to inauguration. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate early Thursday morning until Jan. 19.

So even though it’s likely that most of Biden’s nominees will have little trouble getting through the Democratic-controlled Senate, Biden will have to wait until after inauguration for his nominees to even get a confirmation hearing date.

Biden Transition Watch

Filled Cabinet positions

State: Tony Blinken

Treasury: Janet Yellen

Defense: Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin

Attorney General: Merrick Garland

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas

HHS: Xavier Becerra

Agriculture: Tom Vilsack

Transportation: Pete Buttigieg

Energy: Jennifer Granholm

Interior: Deb Haaland

Education: Miguel Cardona

Commerce: Gina Raimondo

Labor: Marty Walsh

HUD: Marcia Fudge

Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines

EPA: Michael Regan

SBA: Isabel Guzman

OMB Director: Neera Tanden

U.S. Trade Representative: Katherine Tai

Other top Biden staffers

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan

Climate Envoy: John Kerry

Domestic Policy Council Director: Susan Rice

National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese

Surgeon General: Dr. Vivek Murthy

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr. Rochelle Walensky

Covid-19 Czar: Jeff Zients

White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield

White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki

VP Communications Director: Ashley Etienne

VP Chief Spokesperson: Symone Sanders

The Lid: No exit

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at what beliefs about the election in Georgia could tell us about Wednesday’s violence

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A Capitol Police officer has died from his injuries after clashing with rioters Wednesday.

Trump supporters are leaving DC with new conspiracy theories and lots of confusion and anger about Mike Pence.

Law enforcement is trying to track down rioters, but it’s a heavy lift.

Most see tragedy in Wednesday’s events, but America’s foes see opportunity.

One of Democrats’ first targets after the violence: Social media companies.

Biden may have no confirmed Cabinet secretaries on his first day in office.