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Trump expected to issue pardons on last day as president while Senate set to reconvene

Trump expected to grant up to 100 pardons, commutations on last full day in office 01:32

President Trump plans to spend his last full day in office on Tuesday issuing 100 pardons or commutations, a senior administration official and a senior White House official tell CBS News. Meanwhile, the Senate will reconvene that day for the first time since the House impeached Mr. Trump last week, and will begin confirmation hearings for some of President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees.

It's not yet known who Mr. Trump plans on pardoning, although one source said the president isn't expected to pardon himself. 

Mr. Trump stayed out of the public eye on Monday, while first lady Melania Trump issued a farewell video. She did not directly reference the January 6 assault on the Capitol, but she did say, "Be passionate in everything you do, but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified."

In a break with tradition, Melania Trump did not give a tour to incoming first lady Jill Biden. The Trumps will be the first president and first lady to skip the incoming president's inauguration in more than 150 years.

With the military focused on protecting the inauguration, Mr. Trump will not get the large military honors he wanted for his sendoff. He instead will have a scaled-back sendoff at 8 a.m. Wednesday before he heads to Mar-a-Lago.

The Pentagon has authorized more than 25,000 National Guard troops to secure the inauguration, and the FBI is vetting all Guard members. The chief of the National Guard bureau Daniel Hokanson told CBS News' David Martin that he is "absolutely not" worried about the reliability of his troops.

The FBI is also investigating the funding of the Capitol assault. Ninety people are facing federal charges, and that number is expected to go up as the FBI catches up to information sent into tip lines.

Charges were also announced against a person allegedly affiliated with the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government group, as well as the militia group the Three Percenters.

On Tuesday, the Senate will be holding confirmation hearings for five key Cabinet nominees: Janet Yellen at Treasury, Antony Blinken at State, Lloyd Austin at Defense, Alejandro Mayorkas at Homeland Security and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

President Trump Departs White House For Border Visit
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Trump expected to grant up to 100 pardons and commutations on last full day in office

President Trump is expected to issue up to 100 pardons and commutations on Tuesday, a senior administration official and a senior White House official tell CBS News. Tuesday marks Mr. Trump's final full day in office. 

Neither source disclosed any of the recipients, although the president isn't currently expected to attempt to pardon himself, one source said. CNN first reported the expectation of up to 100 acts of clemency this week. 

The White House has invited guests to an 8 a.m. Wednesday sendoff ceremony for the president at Joint Base Andrews, four hours ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. 

Read more here

Ben Tracy and Fin Gomez 


Woman investigated for allegedly stealing computer from Nancy Pelosi's office to give to Russia surrenders to authorities

An alleged Capitol rioter accused by a former partner of stealing a laptop or hard drive from Nancy Pelosi's office has surrendered to authorities, two sources confirmed to CBS News. The former partner of Riley Williams told authorities that she planned to give the device to a friend who would sell it to Russia's foreign intelligence service, a claim that authorities are investigating but have not yet confirmed. 

The former romantic partner, referred to as Witness 1, said the plan "fell through for unknown reasons," adding that Williams either still has the device or she destroyed it.

The complaint does not offer additional evidence to support the theft allegations beyond the witness' allegations, but says the claim "remains under investigation." 

According to court documents, Williams appears multiple times in footage of the assault on the Capitol, including by a staircase near Pelosi's office. She is not currently facing any theft charges, and is instead accused of "Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority and Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds." 

Read more here.

By Catherine Herridge

Anti-government militia group suspects charged in U.S Capitol attack

Anti-government militia group suspects charged in U.S Capitol attack 05:42

The FBI is closing in on alleged members of anti-government militia groups tied to the assault on the Capitol. CBS News has learned the latest suspects are affiliated with the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge joins CBSN's Elaine Quijano to discuss the latest on the investigations into the riots.


Republican Senator Roy Blunt says actions of Capitol rioters were "unpardonable"

The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will come exactly two weeks after an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. But will it be safe on Wednesday?

"CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell spoke exclusively with the senators in charge of the inauguration, Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. The senators discussed the significance of the inauguration after the violent assault, and how the country should regard those who stormed the Capitol.

Read more here or watch the full interview in the player below: 

CBS News exclusive: Senators in charge of inauguration on security and riot aftermath 03:30


Unprecedented security effort in Washington, D.C., ahead of Biden inauguration

New video shows rioters threaten members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence during the assault on the Capitol. This comes as the level of security in Washington, D.C., is at an unprecedented level. Jeff Pegues has the latest.


Giuliani denies he was paid to lobby for pardons

Rudy Giuliani, who has worked as President Trump's personal attorney, denied a New York Times report linking him to paying for pardons. "The claims that I asked for, or received, any compensation for a pardon for myself or anyone else is false, defamatory, and malicious," Giuliani tweeted.

Giuliani on Monday also confirmed that he will not be joining Mr. Trump's impeachment legal team, because he spoke at the January 6 rally. "Due to the fact that I may be a witness, the rules of legal ethics would prohibit me from representing the president as trial counsel in the impeachment trial," he said in a statement to CBS News. 

 — Sara Cook and Kristin Brown


Source tells CBS News pipe bombs found at DNC, RNC did not require professional training to build

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that the pipe bombs did not require professional or military training to build and could have been fashioned from the internet. 

Both pipe bombs found near the RNC and DNC used kitchen timers. Investigators are focused on likelihood timers were incorrectly set, or the electrical connection was poorly executed.

Pipe bombs have long been the most common type of IED in the U.S., according to data maintained by the U.S. bomb data center. The most common type of pipe bomb uses a fuse with some sort of energetic powder. Using a mechanical timer makes the devices recovered near the RNC and DNC somewhat more complex.

By Catherine Herridge

Melania Trump delivers farewell message: "Violence is never the answer"

In a nearly seven-minute-long video posted to her Twitter account, Melania Trump reflected on her four years as first lady, calling it the "greatest honor of my life" to serve in the role.

"The past four years have been unforgettable," she said. "As Donald and I conclude our time in the White House, I think of all of the people I have taken home in my heart, and their incredible stories of love, patriotism and determination."

Trump honored members of the military and law enforcement, and looked back on her visits with children during her four years as first lady, including meetings with mothers and babies impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as the accomplishments of "Be Best," her initiative addressing issues facing children.

"When I think about these meaningful experiences, I'm humbled to have had the opportunity to represent a nation with such kind and generous people," she said.

The first lady also extended gratitude to health care and front-line workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged Americans to take steps to protect others.

"Every life is precious and I ask all American to use caution and common sense to protect the vulnerable as millions of vaccines are now being delivered," she said.

While Trump did not explicitly mention the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 perpetrated by a mob of the president's supporters, she did encourage Americans to remain peaceful. 

"Be passionate in everything you do, but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified," she said.

The first lady did not mention Dr. Jill Biden, who will become first lady Wednesday.

By Melissa Quinn

Alleged member of "Three Percenter" group charged, official says more to come

A law enforcement official confirmed to CBS News that federal prosecutors are bringing charges against individuals allegedly associated with the groups known as the "Three Percenters" and the "Oath Keepers" for alleged involvement in the Capitol riots.

Both are radical anti-government militia groups and the official said they recruit heavily among military and law enforcement. The official said the evidence goes to questions of coordination and premeditation.

Among the first to face charges is Robert Gieswein, who is accused of assault on a federal officer; aiding and abetting destruction of federal property; obstruction of a federal proceeding; violent entry or disorderly conduct; and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. Charges against more alleged members of the groups are coming.

Gieswein is 24 years old and from Woodland Park, Colorado. An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that Gieswein runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, and wore a patch for the group on his military-style vest during the January 6 assault. 

The affidavit said Gieswein wore distinctive military gear, including "a camouflage shirt underneath a reinforced military-style vest; an army-style helmet marked with orange tape and patches; goggles; and a black camouflage patterned backpack."

According to the affidavit, he forcibly entered the Capitol through a broken window and carried a baseball bat once inside.

By Catherine Herridge

White House sends out invitations to Trump farewell ceremony

The White House has distributed invitations to President Trump's farewell ceremony at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning at Joint Base Andrews, before he departs for Florida on his last flight as president on Air Force One. 

It's unclear how many people have received invitations, but each person invited is allowed to bring five guests, despite the ongoing pandemic. Guests are asked on the invitation to wear a mask for the duration of the event. 

CBS News obtained a copy of the invitation. 

"The White House cordially invites you to a Ceremony featuring President Donald J. Trump at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 at 8:00 AM," the invitation reads. 

Mr. Trump is flying to Florida, where he will reside following his presidency. He is the first outgoing president in modern times not to attend the inauguration of his successor.

By Sara Cook

Acting defense secretary says it's "normal" for Pentagon to vet National Guard troops

FBI vetting troops stationed in Washington ahead of Inauguration Day 09:19

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller issued a statement Monday saying it's "normal" for the Pentagon to vet military support, and the Defense Department will vet National Guard members stationed in Washington, D.C.

Miller said there is no intelligence suggesting that those members of the military present an "insider threat." More than 20,000 members of the National Guard are already in D.C. to save off any unrest surrounding the inauguration.

"As is normal for military support to large security events, the Department will vet National Guardsmen who are in Washington, D.C.  While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital," Miller said in a statement. "This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique. The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command."

Miller said the Pentagon "appreciate[s] the support of the FBI in assisting with this task" and thanked the National Guard troops who have deployed to Washington.

A perimeter surrounding the Capitol, National Mall and White House has effectively shut down downtown Washington ahead of Mr. Biden's inauguration Wednesday. 

David Martin and Kathryn Watson


What to expect from Biden's inaugural address

Mr. Biden spent the weekend working through a major homework assignment: The first speech of his presidency, an inaugural address set to be delivered on the West Front of the United States Capitol amid an unprecedented crush of security at a time of deep divisions and uncertainty about the country's future.

Aides are sharing little specific in advance, knowing from experience that the former vice president is likely to continue reworking his remarks up until shortly before the big moment. He's joined in the writing and thinking about the speech by family members, especially his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, plus his longtime senior counselor, Mike Donilon, and Vinay Reddy, the president-elect's speechwriting director who held a similar role during his vice presidency.

"This will be a moment where President-elect Biden will really work to try to turn the page on the divisiveness and the hatred over the last four years and really lay out a positive, optimistic vision for the country, and ... lay out a path forward that really calls on all of us to work together," incoming White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." 

The general themes of the most high-profile speech of Mr. Biden's decades-long political career are likely to be extended or loftier riffs on some of his more familiar lines over the course of his campaign and presidential transition. Statements that speak to unity or that attempt to buck-up a country withering from a pandemic, a reckoning on race relations and the violence that played out in the same spot from which the new president will speak.

Read more here.

By Ed O'Keefe

Garth Brooks to perform at inauguration

Country superstar Garth Brooks will join the lineup of performers at Mr. Biden's inauguration Wednesday, he announced.

Brooks told reporters in a Zoom press conference his decision to accept the invitation to perform was not political, but rather about "unity."

"You must rise about red and blue. You must rise above Black and White,"  he said.

Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga are also set to perform during the inauguration.

By Melissa Quinn

All-clear given at Capitol

Capitol Police announced on overhead loudspeakers that the lockdown at the complex has been lifted, roughly an hour after staffers were told to remain in place. 

"The external threat has concluded. Return to normal operations," the announcement said.

D.C. Fire and EMS said the fire involved a homeless person's tent and was "quickly extinguished."

By Zak Hudak

Harris officially resigns Senate seat

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally notified California Governor Gavin Newsom she will resign from the Senate, effective at 12 p.m. EST on Monday. 

"As I assume my duty as vice president of the United States, I would like to thank the people of California for the honor of serving them in the U.S. Senate over the past four years," Harris wrote in a brief letter to Newsom obtained from an aide to the California Democrat.

Newsom has already selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve the remaining two years of Harris's term.

By Tim Perry

Secret Service, National Park Service close access to MLK Memorial through inauguration

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is closed to the public through Thursday, the Secret Service and National Park Service announced on the holiday observing the civil rights icon's birthday.

The memorial is the latest landmark in Washington, D.C., that will now be off-limits to the public as security in the nation's capital tightens ahead of the inauguration. The National Mall and the Washington Monument are also closed, while streets from the Capitol down to the White House are closed.

By Melissa Quinn

Pence reached out to U.S. Capitol Police officer who led mob away from Senate chamber

CBS News has confirmed that Vice President Mike Pence reached out to Eugene Goodman, an officer with the U.S. Capitol Police who was filmed leading violent rioters who broke into the Capitol building on January 6 away from the Senate chamber. It was not immediately clear whether the two have spoken.

Goodman has been hailed as a hero for his actions January 6, in which he confronted the pro-Trump mob as they made their way closer to the Senate chamber, where members and Pence were debating before they were eventually evacuated. A group of lawmakers has also introduced legislation to award Goodman with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Ben Tracy and Sara Cook


Capitol Police say fire under highway prompted lockdown

Capitol Police said a nearby fire several blocks south of the Capitol prompted the security scare.

"In an abundance of caution following an external security threat under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets, SE, Acting Chief Pittman ordered a shutdown of the Capitol Complex," police said. "There are currently no fires on or within the Capitol campus. Members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident is being investigated."

By Stefan Becket

Capitol on lockdown due to "external security threat"

The Capitol is on lockdown due to an "external security threat," according to a notice issued by Capitol Police. The West Front of the Capitol is evacuating.

"All buildings within the Capitol Complex: External security threat, no entry or exit is permitted, stay away from exterior windows, doors. If outside, seek cover," a text alert sent to staffers said. 

The announcement was also heard over loud speakers at the Capitol.

Zak Hudak, Ariana Freeman and Arden Farhi


National Guard troops being vetted as they arrive to guard Capitol

U.S. defense officials say they're worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the inauguration, prompting the vetting of all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.

The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance.

General Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin the Guard has been meeting with its troops as they arrive in D.C.

"In coordination with the Secret Service and the FBI, they're screening all the personnel that are coming in," Hokanson said.

Read more here.


"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 The Associated Press

How DHS plans to secure the Biden Inauguration

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 (DHS), 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 against potential violence at the Biden Inauguration 01:18
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