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Today’s Headlines: Preparing for impeachment, again

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) takes questions on Jan. 7, 2021, a day after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Citing President Trump’s “assault on our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for him to be removed by Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet — and if not, impeached.

TOP STORIES

Preparing for Impeachment, Again

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House would move to impeach President Trump after last week’s ransacking of the U.S. Capitol, unless Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet agree to remove him under the 25th Amendment.

Pelosi’s plan, disclosed in a letter to colleagues, came as a second Republican senator — Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania — joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in calling on Trump to resign over his incitement of the mob that attacked the seat of Congress on Wednesday. It’s part of an intensifying push by lawmakers to force Trump from power before his term ends at noon on Jan. 20.

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“We are calling on the vice president to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote Sunday. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor. In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both.”

With administration officials showing little appetite to remove Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment — and more than 210 Democrats already signed on to proposed articles of impeachment — he appears more likely to be impeached by the House for the second time, potentially making him the first U.S. president to hold that unwelcome distinction.

With Trump’s term ending in just 10 days, Toomey and several other Republicans argued that if the House impeached the president, a Senate trial would not occur until after Trump had already left office and was a private citizen. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina raised the possibility of delaying the Senate trial for up to several months so that President-elect Joe Biden could focus on securing confirmation for key Cabinet nominees and taking steps to rein in the coronavirus that is killing Americans at a record pace.

The California Connections

Californians voted overwhelmingly for Biden in the presidential election, but Trump also received more than 6 million votes in California — the most of any state. And the kind of anger and distrust of the government that Trump has fomented is on full display in California’s rural, conservative northern counties.

A day before the siege of the Capitol in Washington, dozens of people vented their fury at the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting. “When the ballot box is gone,” said one man in remarks directed at the supervisors, “there is only the cartridge box. You have made bullets expensive. But luckily for you, ropes are reusable.”

To the south, the unfounded belief that the election was stolen from Trump has for months been festering in San Diego, which was also home to the Air Force veteran who was shot and killed by Capitol Police while trying to climb through the broken glass of a barricaded door leading to the chamber where the House of Representatives was certifying Trump’s presidential defeat.

Meanwhile, some Southern California officials who rallied that day in Washington are now facing calls to resign.

A Watchdog Speaks

It almost seems like ancient history at this point, but when Trump was impeached in December 2019 over his pressuring of Ukraine to investigate Biden, it started with a whistleblower complaint.

Michael Atkinson, the top internal watchdog for the U.S. intelligence community, found the whistleblower’s allegations credible and of “urgent concern”; he was required by law to send the complaint to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, who then would forward it to Congress. But as it turned out, there was no guarantee that complaint would see the light of day.

Now, speaking for the first time, Atkinson describes the behind-the-scenes story of how the complaint became public.

More From Washington

— Despite ample warnings about pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington, the U.S. Capitol Police did not bolster staffing on Wednesday and made no preparations for the possibility that the planned protests could escalate into violent riots, according to several people briefed on law enforcement’s response.

— In a highly unusual move, American diplomats have drafted two cables condemning Trump’s incitement of the deadly assault and calling for administration officials to possibly support invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

— As some Republicans continued to back Trump’s doomed effort to overturn the election, critics — including Biden — accused them of violating their oaths and instead pledging allegiance to Trump.

Arnold Schwarzenegger likened last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol to Nazi attacks on Jews in Europe ahead of World War II in a scathing video in which the former California governor also called Trump “the worst president ever.”

— House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone testing positive for the coronavirus while they sheltered at an undisclosed location during the Capitol siege by a violent mob loyal to Trump.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

Inside L.A.'s Hospital ‘War Zone’

These are dark days for Los Angeles County doctors, nurses and EMTs, marked by levels of death once unimaginable in the United States, despite tireless efforts to treat patients. Already, so many people are dying that hospital morgues and funeral homes are often full. In the last week in the county, 200 people were dying every day of COVID-19 — more than the number of deaths from all other reasons combined, which average 170 a day.

“It’s a war zone,” said a doctor at an L.A. County public hospital. “The way most people leave is by dying.”

But amid the exhaustion and anguish of the last several weeks is something worse: fear that the next few weeks will be even more dire. Another COVID-19 surge, fueled by the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, is beginning to swell, and the looming question is how big an uptick hospitals will face. Officials say even small increases in demand could trigger grim measures that would compromise care even further.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— How likely is it that Trump will face criminal prosecution after he leaves office?

— Trump is gone from Twitter. So are his claims that “California is going to hell.” A look at our Trump tweet archive.

— Lawmakers want accountability from Capitol Police. But for years, they also rebuffed transparency efforts.

— “Tommy Lasorda didn’t die,” writes former Times sports columnist and editor Bill Dwyre. “They just turned down the volume. The world of sports will now be quieter, and much less fun.”

— L.A. also lost former L.A. City Councilman and four-decade public servant Tom LaBonge. Columnist Steve Lopez says the city won’t be the same without Lasorda and LaBonge.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

While Southern California would be lucky to get rain during this dry winter, it was a different story in 1949. For four consecutive days, snow fell in Los Angeles. From Jan. 9 through Jan. 12, much of the area received measurable snowfall.

In 1999, on the 50th anniversary of the snowfall, Times writer Cecilia Rasmussen took a look back at the sledding, snowball fights and unexpected difficulties that ensued.

Snow falling in Los Angeles in 1949
Jan. 10, 1949: Snow falling on Santa Barbara Avenue near Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles. In 1983 Santa Barbara Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
(Frank Brown / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— California continued to see a dramatic surge Sunday in its number of COVID-19 deaths, with the state reaching another milestone: 30,000 fatalities.

— L.A. plans to turn its massive coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium into a vaccination distribution center this week, with officials hoping to vaccinate up to 12,000 people a day when the site is fully operational, city and county officials announced.

— L.A. County health officials said they will stop providing a commonly used coronavirus test after federal regulators raised questions about its accuracy. The decision affects only a small number of county-supported mobile testing sites.

— Sheriff’s deputies in Merced were searching for six inmates who used a homemade rope to escape from the county jail late Saturday, authorities said.

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NATION-WORLD

— President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday that he has chosen veteran diplomat William Burns to be his CIA director.

China’s state media lashed out at the latest move on Taiwan by the departing Trump administration, accusing U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo of “seeking to maliciously inflict a long-lasting scar on China-U.S. ties.”

— Authorities in Indonesia said they determined the location of the crash site and “black boxes” of a Boeing 737-500 after the aircraft crashed into the Java Sea with 62 people on board.

— The president of Honduras was supposed to be a drug war ally, but U.S. prosecutors allege he helped traffic drugs.

— Three Sri Lankan nationals were charged in federal court in L.A. with supporting an Islamic State cell that killed hundreds of people in a string of coordinated suicide bombings that shook Sri Lanka in 2019.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Vogue is being criticized on social media for a cover photo of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, with people calling the images disrespectful, unflattering and even racist.

— Before Hollywood, actor Javicia Leslie worked for the government in Washington. Now she’s the first Black Batwoman.

— In a year largely defined by isolation and displacement, “Nomadland,” which explores those themes, was named best film of 2020 by the National Society of Film Critics.

— In the historical novel “The Island of Sea Women,” Lisa See explores a unique culture where women go to the sea daily while men stay home to care for children.

BUSINESS

— A new round of Paycheck Protection Program money will start becoming available to select lenders and borrowers today, according to senior administration officials.

SPORTS

— Sunday night’s Lakers game began with shoves and flagrant fouls — and ended with a rout of the Rockets.

— The myth of Tigermania has lasted 25 years. A new HBO documentary takes a swing at it.

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OPINION

American exceptionalism is a myth. Our Constitution is the only thing keeping us from authoritarianism, columnist George Skelton writes.

— Rep. Ted Lieu on why he intends to impeach Trump a second time.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Inside the Capitol siege: How lawmakers and their aides sounded urgent alarms as police lost control. (Washington Post)

— A review of the insurrection at the Capitol found several hard-core nativists and white nationalists who also participated in the 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Va. (ProPublica and Frontline)

ONLY IN L.A.

The 101 Coffee Shop in Hollywood was known for celebrity spotting and its appearances in “Swingers,” “Entourage” and an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” But for many, including columnist Nita Lelyveld, it was the diner around the corner. Like so many businesses, it has closed permanently amid the pandemic. What made it so special? “More than the food, it came down to the vibe, which in large part came down to the staff,” writes Lelyveld, who interviews some of them in this piece.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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