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Today’s Headlines: Trump’s grip on the GOP weakens

Donald Trump outside the entrance to an airplane.
President Trump boards Air Force One in Harlingen, Texas, after visiting a section of the border wall with Mexico in Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Some senior House Republicans have joined the effort to impeach President Trump.

TOP STORIES

Trump’s Grip on the GOP Weakens

As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on impeaching President Trump today for a second time and the FBI vows to prosecute hundreds of his supporters who took part in last week’s deadly U.S. Capitol assault, the president’s hold on the Republican Party is weakening.

Several House Republicans — including the No. 3 GOP leader, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — announced they would vote for impeachment. The New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks Trump committed an impeachable offense and is glad Democrats are moving against him.

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“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” Cheney said in statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Vice President Mike Pence — responding for the first time to Democratic calls that he take constitutional steps to remove Trump from office — declined to do so, but that didn’t stop the House from passing a resolution calling him to invoke the 25th Amendment anyway.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump, making his first public appearance since the Jan. 6 attack that left five people dead, denied inciting his supporters and denounced the move to impeach him a second time. He insisted his speech shortly before the melee was “totally appropriate.

‘You Will Be Charged’

Federal prosecutors have opened a broad investigation of possible sedition and conspiracy in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol, officials said in their first public briefing on the status of the case.

FBI investigators so far have opened more than 170 individual case files and charged more than 70 people, and “the numbers are going to geometrically increase,” said Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington. He likened the effort to the sort of probe that officials would conduct after an attack by foreign terrorists and said the public is “going to be shocked with some of the egregious conduct” that took place during the riot by pro-Trump extremists.

Until Tuesday’s news conference, officials had released little information about the rapidly expanding investigation — a sharp departure from normal practice in which the Justice Department typically briefs the public frequently on the status of major cases. The Justice Department’s top officials, including acting Atty. Gen. Jeffrey Rosen and FBI Director Christopher Wray, were not present.

The news conference came amid mounting concern about additional violent attacks in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in next week.

More From Washington

— According to a report in the Washington Post, the FBI had warned that extremists were preparing to come to Washington, attack Congress and engage in “war.”

— Amid worry about renewed violence on Inauguration Day, the military’s top leaders issued a written reminder to all service members that the deadly insurrection at the Capitol was an anti-democratic, criminal act, and that the right to free speech gives no one the right to commit violence.

— Within a span of about 24 hours, three House Democrats announced they tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting concern that last week’s insurrection at the Capitol has also turned into a super-spreader event.

— What to tell kids about the Capitol riot? Here are five ways parents and teachers are explaining.

Deathbed Stories

As hospitals across California brace for a surge in COVID-19 patients who got infected over Christmas, some painful stories of dying victims’ last moments with their families — experienced not at bedside, but over a phone or tablet — are emerging.

“One of the more heartbreaking conversations that our healthcare workers share is about these last words when children apologize to their parents and grandparents for bringing COVID into their homes for getting them sick,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

Dr. Mark Lepore, intensive care unit physician at Ventura County Medical Center, said last week that too many families were bringing their gravely ill loved ones to the hospital too late. He said it was imperative that people seek medical care if they have shortness of breath. “Even if hospitals are full, you have to go seek care or call your doctor,” he said.

Los Angeles County is fast approaching 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, a massive milestone that means 1 out of every 10 Angelenos has been infected at some point during the pandemic.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Despite repeated assurances that corrections officials have made progress in controlling spread of the coronavirus, California prisons are in the midst of a deadly surge. At least 46 inmates, including one of America’s most prolific serial killers, have died from COVID-19 since Dec. 25, along with two staff members, including a respected guard.

— Barely a month into a mass vaccination campaign to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration unexpectedly shifted gears to speed the delivery of shots.

— California is lifting the stay-at-home order for Greater Sacramento effective immediately, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced, making the region the first to emerge from the additional restrictions on businesses and activities.

Leaving Los Angeles

Before the COVID-19 pandemic had begun, people were leaving California in greater numbers than those moving in. Now, experts say, the exodus is even bigger.

In the fiscal year that ended in July, L.A. County had by far the greatest net loss due to migration of any California county — more than 74,000 people, according to state demographers. Some moved to nearby areas with lower costs of living; others ventured farther or left the state altogether.

Here are the stories of six people who left L.A. in 2020: a teacher, a retired aerospace engineer, a cellist, a pair of filmmaker-musicians and a voice actress.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Like father, like sons and daughter. This stand-alone staff photo of Harpo Marx and his children appeared in the Jan. 13, 1954, Los Angeles Times with the caption: “Children of Harpo, the silent Marx brother, don wigs and demonstrate that they too have the happy gift of pantomime. From laugh to riot are Alec, Jimmy (who couldn’t help peeking), Minnie and father Harpo himself.” Two days later, another Bruce Cox photo of Harpo Marx appeared promoting a youth concert he performed.

Jan. 12, 1954: Harpo Marx and his kids.
(Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— The California Democratic Party is facing backlash for calling the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom a “coup” nearly a week after the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

— A top bullet train contractor has sent a scorching 36-page letter to state officials, contradicting their claims that the line’s construction pace is on target, warning the project could miss a key deadline and citing many problems it says have gone unresolved for years.

— L.A. has struck a tentative deal with civilian city employee unions to avoid layoffs and furloughs for six months by postponing raises for clerks, gardeners, mechanics, custodians and other workers until summer 2022.

— Now that the University of California is permanently phasing out the SAT, will another standardized test take its place as an admissions requirement? Not if two expert panels have their way.

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NATION-WORLD

— A divided Supreme Court has granted an appeal from Trump administration lawyers and restored an abortion rule that requires women who want medication to end an early pregnancy to travel to a hospital or clinic to pick up the pills, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

— By spotlighting climate scientists who are mothers, a $10-million ad campaign is targeting moms in political battleground states, in one of the most sophisticated and well-funded efforts in a decade to broadcast the urgency of climate change.

— Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, whose faux Venetian palaces drew gamblers eager to beat the odds and GOP candidates eager to win campaign jackpots, has died. He was 87.

— Michigan’s Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder and other ex-officials have been told they’re being indicted after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority-Black city with lead-contaminated water.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— As the competition in the streaming wars intensifies, Disney+ is gaining ground on Netflix.

— Maybe the future of theater isn’t inside a theater. L.A.'s Fountain Theatre just got city approval for a pandemic-friendly outdoor stage in its parking lot, with well-ventilated bathrooms and with theatergoers seated six feet apart.

— After a six-year absence, soul singer Jazmine Sullivan found her voice on her new album, “Heaux Tales,” in the inner lives of Black women.

— In an emotional speech accepting a tribute to Chadwick Boseman at the Gotham Awards, his widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, said, “Keep shining your light on us.”

BUSINESS

— One of the nation’s biggest labor unions has mounted the first legal challenge to Proposition 22, arguing that the law — which lets gig companies treat workers as independent contractors, after lawmakers passed a labor law that barred it — unconstitutionally limits the power of the Legislature to govern.

— The U.S. will require proof of a negative coronavirus test before letting people fly into the country from other nations in an effort to help airlines regain at least some of their most lucrative international travel — a rule for which carriers had lobbied.

SPORTS

— In Southern California, a growing number of club and private groups are defying state rules and holding or organizing youth sporting events, with parents and others posting videos on social media highlighting the activities.

— Now that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has just won his seventh title, the rest of college football should be terrified.

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OPINION

— We should not punish everyone who broke into and vandalized the Capitol to the fullest extent of the law, as some have suggested, but rather we should apply criminal sanctions in a measured, carefully targeted and just way, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— The House shouldn’t rush an impeachment vote this week, writes UC Berkeley law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky. That would send the wrong message about how impeachments should be handled.

Bill Belichick’s commendable rejection of the president’s offer of the nation’s highest civilian honor epitomizes the damage done to some of our most sacred traditions and customs during the Trump administration, columnist LZ Granderson writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— A Voice of America White House reporter was reassigned hours after pressing Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on whether he regretted saying there would be a second Trump administration after Biden’s victory was apparent. (NPR)

— This oral history of the Xbox unravels how one of the most boring companies turned an ungainly, over-budget project into an American video game empire. (Bloomberg)

ONLY IN L.A.

Tommy Lasorda. Tom LaBonge. Tom Bradley. All of them had a profound effect on L.A. as we know it today. “Connect these three Toms and you have the three magi attending the birth of a new Los Angeles, an ecumenical place, a confident place, a city no longer a Hollywood coat-holder or New York also-ran,” writes columnist Patt Morrison. Have a question about L.A.? Ask Patt here.

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


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