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Small protests held at heavily guarded state Capitols as Inauguration Week begins

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State Capitols were heavily guarded on Sunday as mostly small groups — numbering in the tens rather than the hundreds — showed up for demonstrations. Washington, D.C., turned into a fortress as the week of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration began, but President Trump remained out of sight in his final weekend in office, facing a second impeachment trial in the Senate.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli assured "60 Minutes" that the 25,000 National Guard troops deployed to the nation's capital "have a statutory mission we're going to perform under all circumstances" even if Mr. Trump orders them to stand down.

"We all swore an oath to the Constitution," Cuccinelli said when asked if troops would serve the president or the Constitution. "That is first and foremost. And we take homeland security very, very seriously. We deal with a lot of curveballs of all kinds. And yet, we march forward to keep the American people as safe as we possibly can."

Last week, the FBI sent a bulletin to all 50 state governments warning that extremists were planning violence at Capitols across the country starting on January 16. 

At the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on Sunday, where legislators canceled the upcoming legislative sessions due to threats, only about 20 armed protesters showed up. In Austin, Texas, demonstrators at the Capitol told CBS affiliate KEYE that they didn't want to be associated with the mob of pro-Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

"I think if January 6 hadn't happened, we'd see a lot bigger crowd out here," one demonstrator told KEYE. 

With Mr. Trump holed up at the White House all weekend, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Fort Drum, New York, to give his final scheduled speech as vice president. He spoke of the current "challenging times," but only mentioned Mr. Trump's name once.

The Senate is set to reconvene on Tuesday, less than one week after the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. Mr. Trump's allies are urging Democrats, who will take the majority in the Senate this week, to turn the page and oppose impeachment. 

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Mr. Trump's most loyal allies, accused the New York Democrat of seeking "vengeance and political retaliation" by moving forward with a trial for the president.

Capitol Breach Demonstrations Michigan
Michigan State Police troopers stand guard outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Paul Sancya / AP
 

Cowboys for Trump leader arrested over Capitol riot

A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol to "plant our flag" on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk has been arrested Sunday by the FBI.

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested on charges of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol.

According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was "caught up" in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.

On Thursday, Griffin, said he planned to travel with firearms to Washington, D.C., for Biden's inauguration.

"I'm gonna be there on January 20 ... and I'm gonna take a stand for our country and for our freedoms," Griffin said during a meeting of the Otero County Board of Commissioners.

"I'm gonna leave either tonight or tomorrow. I've got a .357 Henry Big Boy rifle lever action that I've got in the trunk of my car and I've got a .357 single action revolver, the Colt Ruger Vaquero that I'll have underneath the front seat on my right side and I will embrace my Second Amendment," he said. 

By Associated Press
 

Expert tells "60 Minutes" Capitol assault "may have been the most predictable terrorist incident in modern American history"

The FBI has spent much of the weekend identifying and hunting down more than 300 suspects from the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6th. Whipped into a seditious frenzy at a rally behind the White House, thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators marched on the Capitol to stop the electoral vote count presided over by Vice President Mike Pence. Trump true-believers, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Bois joined costumed QAnon conspiracists. There were neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Some were armed or wearing tactical gear or capes improvised from Trump flags. What was once the fringe had become a threat to American democracy.

Read more here or watch Bill Whitaker's report in the video player below:

Steven Sund on the Capitol assault 13:38


 

Armed demonstrators in Austin, Texas, say they don't want to be affiliated with pro-Trump mob

Despite some protesters being dressed like they were prepared for combat, Sunday's demonstrations at the Capitol were brief and peaceful, CBS Austin affiliate KEYE reports. Armed 2nd Amendment activists and groups that said they identify as libertarians were met by law enforcement at the Capitol grounds, which is closed to the public until at least Wednesday.

"I think if January 6 hadn't happened, we'd see a lot bigger crowd out here," Kris Hunter of McLennan County told KEYE. 

Read more at CBS Austin.

 

How DHS plans to secure the Biden Inauguration

This Sunday on 60 Minutes, correspondent Scott Pelley reported on the expansive operation to ensure President-elect Joseph R. Biden is sworn into office without incident.

The event is designated a "National Special Security Event" and security coordination across multiple government jurisdictions at the local, state, and federal level is led by the Secret Service. The agency famous for protecting presidents falls under the auspice of the Department of Homeland Security, which is absent of a Senate-confirmed secretary and whose former acting chief, Chad Wolf, resigned from the post last week.

Among the agency's leadership who remains is Ken Cuccinelli. The Acting Deputy DHS Secretary, also unconfirmed by the Senate, told Pelley the deployment of National Guard troops around the capital is a preemptive and preventative security measure.

"A lot of what you see, Scott, is confidence building," Cuccinelli said.  "Secret Service's plan was already very resilient for any threat like January 6th and many times it."

Read more here or watch in the player below:

Protecting the inauguration 01:18


 

Pence gives final official speech as VP at Fort Drum

Vice President Mike Pence addressed soldiers at Fort Drum on Sunday in his final scheduled speech as President Trump's vice president. He teared up as he told soldiers it has been the "greatest honor of my lifetime" to serve as vice president.

As with his speech on Saturday, Pence touted the administration's foreign policy, although he only mentioned Mr. Trump's name once. 

"We've all been through a lot this past year, but through it all, I've seen the strength and resilience of American people shine forth," Pence said toward the end of the speech.  He added that the "day will come" when "we put these challenging times in the past and emerge stronger and better than ever." 

He did not specifically mention the Capitol assault or the transfer of power. 

Kristin Brown and Caroline Linton 

 

Small protests mostly fizzle out at heavily protected state Capitols

Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday as National Guard troops and police kept watch to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol.

There were no immediate reports of any clashes.

Capitol Breach Demonstrations Michigan
Michigan State Police troopers stand guard outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Paul Sancya / AP

Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

A few people demonstrated in some capital cities, with crowds of only a dozen or two, while streets in many other places remained empty. Some protesters said they supported President Trump. But others said they weren't backing Mr. Trump and had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or oppose government overreach.

Some statehouses were surrounded by new protective fences, had boarded-up windows and were patrolled by extra police. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend. 

By Associated Press
 

Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's Twitter account has been temporarily locked, Twitter confirmed on Sunday. A Twitter spokesperson said she had violated the company's rules regarding "civic integrity."

Greene, a Republican who has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories in the past and joined other GOP House members in objecting to the results of the presidential election in several states on January 6, had been tweeting inaccurate information on Sunday morning about the Georgia election results. The Georgia representative called the state's top elections official a "moron" and repeated President Trump's fraudulent claims about the election being "stolen."

Greene pounced on the suspension, sending out a statement immediately afterward repeating the inaccurate information. She also used it as an opportunity to criticize "big tech" for "censorship." 

By Caroline Linton
 

Graham calls for Senate to vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the president's top allies in Congress, said Sunday that the Senate should vote to dismiss the article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with incitement of insurrection once it is received from the House.

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Graham accused the New York Democrat, who will soon take over as majority leader, of seeking "vengeance and political retaliation" by moving forward with a trial for the president. The trial in the Senate will take place after Mr. Trump has left office.

"The Senate's attempt to disqualify a president from future office who is no longer in office, would be an unconstitutional act of political vengeance, not a righteous constitutional act to protect the nation by removal of an incumbent president," Graham wrote. "Such a gratuitous, meaningless effort by the Senate of the United States is neither worthy of our great institution, nor a service to the nation and the American people. It will incite further division."

Graham said proceeding with the "spectacle of impeachment of a former president is as unwise as it is unconstitutional."

"The impeachment power exists to protect the nation from the harm that an incumbent president might inflict upon the nation were he to remain in office, not to vindicate political grievances after a president has left office," he said. 

While Graham asserts that the Constitution precludes trying a president after they are no longer in office, a January 15 report from Congressional Research Service states the Constitution "does not directly address whether Congress may impeach and try a former president for actions taken while in office."

"Though the text is open to debate, it appears that most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office," the Congressional Research Service found.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Harris thanks supporters at event kicking off inaugural festivities

The first official Presidential Inaugural Committee event for the Biden-Harris inauguration on Saturday night was a virtual 90-minute affair where a diverse group of supporters — including actress Whoopi Goldberg, musician Darren Criss,musical groups and national labor and civil rights leaders —  lauded the victory of Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. 

Harris, on the precipice of history, welcomed and thanked the audience to the event "to celebrate and mark the start of a new administration," while emphasizing that the country was still in the midst of an ongoing public health crisis.

"Of course, even as we celebrate, we must remember the work, the fight that lies ahead. The fight to save lives and beat this pandemic," Harris said.

The event, Harris said, was also to honor the work of their supporters "from the primaries to the general election, right up to this very moment."

"From Zoom grassroots fundraisers to union meetings on Google Meet to our drive-in rallies, you were there every step of the way," she said in the concluding segment of the livestreamed program. "And on the eve of this inauguration, the president-elect and I thank you for all you have done for our country. We would not be here without you."

Harris also again expressed her gratitude to those who came before her, paving the path for to become the next vice president.

"I also would not be here without the generations of Americans who struggled and sacrificed to open up opportunity in our country. I stand on their shoulders," she said. "And as I've said before, while I may be the first woman to serve as vice president, I will not be the last."

"So to all of the young people watching this dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves as future leaders, as the very best of our country, because that is who you are," she continued.

The program included speakers from Latino advocacy groups, civil rights and labor organizations, part of the broader national coalition that helped Mr. Biden win.

Janet Murguía, president of UnidosUS, the country's largest Latino advocacy group, was one of the few to mention the current president by name during the program, when discussing "groundbreaking and decisive" turnout by women of color.

"That is why it was so deeply disheartening and enraging to see a mob of violent extremists incited by President Trump attempt to overturn a fair and certified election," Murguía said. "It was an ugly day and low moment for our country."

By Fin Gómez
 

Schiff says Trump "can't be trusted" to continue receiving intelligence briefings

Schiff: Trump shouldn't receive intel briefin... 06:08

Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday he doesn't believe President Trump should receive intelligence briefings after he leaves office, as he "can't be trusted" with the nation's secrets.

"There is no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing — not now, not in the future," Schiff said in an interview with "Face the Nation." "I don't think he can be trusted with it now, and in the future he certainly can't be trusted."

Schiff's concerns about whether the president should continue to have access to intelligence come after Sue Gordon, the former principal deputy director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019, said in a Washington Post op-ed that Mr. Trump should not receive intelligence briefings after January 20, as he poses a "potential national security risk" as a private citizen.

"[I]t is not clear that he understands the tradecraft to which he has been exposed, the reasons the knowledge he has acquired must be protected from disclosure, or the intentions and capabilities of adversaries and competitors who will use any means to advance their interests at the expense of ours," Gordon wrote.

Schiff noted that in the course of his presidency, Mr. Trump has politicized intelligence, which is "another risk to the country."

"Indeed, I think there were any number of intelligence partners of ours around the world who probably started withholding information from us because they didn't trust the president would safeguard that information, to protect their sources and methods," he said. "And that makes us less safe."

Read more here.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Security challenges as a new president is sworn in

Heightened security for the Biden inauguratio... 04:18

The nation's capital is an armed camp — police, Secret Service, FBI everywhere, backed by a staggering number of National Guard troops under the command of Major General William Walker.

"To have 25,000 Guardsmen here to support the federal law enforcement should tell everybody that we're prepared for pretty much anything," he told CBS news national security correspondent David Martin.

That's 25,000 troops – many of them armed – compared to the 340 unarmed Guardsmen on duty when the Capitol was stormed, and 9,500 at Barack Obama's first Inauguration.  But here's the most telling comparison: 25,000 is five times the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Since 9/11 we've been focused on the threat of Islamist terror, which is still a threat," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. "But we need to recognize that in this country the challenge we have is one of homegrown terror."

Read more here.

By David Martin
 

Harris to resign Senate seat Monday

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the U.S. Senate on Monday, aides to the incoming vice president said. The California Democrat has already begun the process of her resignation and notified Governor Gavin Newsom. A formal announcement is expected Monday, aides said.

Newsom has already selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Harris's seat for the final two years of her term. Padilla will be California's first Latino senator.

The Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until January 19, just before the inauguration, so Harris will not be able to deliver a goodbye address. However, with the upper chamber split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, with each controlling 50 seats, Harris will cast tie-breaking votes.

By Tim Perry
 

Far-right personality "Baked Alaska" arrested in riot probe

Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself "Baked Alaska," has been arrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

Gionet was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Gionet faces charges of violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller said in an affidavit filed in the case that Gionet streamed live for about 27 minutes from inside the Capitol and could be heard encouraging other protesters not to leave, cursing and saying "I'm staying," "1776 baby," and "I won't leave guys, don't worry." 

By Associated Press
 

Trump mulling sendoff while refusing to attend Biden inauguration

Trump mulling sendoff 02:08

With just four days left in his presidency, President Trump is considering a final military sendoff on the morning of Biden's inauguration. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing for his impeachment trial. Nikole Killion has more. 

 

Washington, D.C., fortifies security ahead of Biden inauguration

D.C. fortifies security ahead of Biden inaugu... 03:15

The nation's capital is on lockdown as it prepares for the upcoming Biden inauguration. Kris Van Cleave reports on the unprecedented enhancement of security for an inauguration.

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