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Wednesday February 24th, 2021 9:56PM

The Latest: Biden calls on Senate to quickly confirm Cabinet

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the fallout of the storming of the Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump loyalists (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is calling on the Senate to move to immediately confirm his slate of Cabinet picks.

Biden said Friday from Wilmington, Delaware, that “we have no time to lose” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to inflict pain on the nation’s health and economy.

He says, “Given what our country’s been through the last few days ... they should be confirmed as close to Jan. 20 as possible."

Two days ago, a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop Congress from affirming Biden's election victory. Trump called them “very special” people. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

Biden rounded out his economic team by announcing the nominations of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as labor secretary, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary and Isabel Guzman as administrator of the Small Business Administration.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AFTER PRO-TRUMP FORCES BREACHED CAPITOL:

The rampage that has shocked the world and left the country on edge has forced the resignations of three top Capitol security officials over the failure to stop the breach. It’s also led lawmakers to demand a review of operations and an FBI briefing over what they called a “terrorist attack.” And it’s prompting a broader reckoning over President Donald Trump’s tenure in office and what comes next for a torn nation.

Read more:

— Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob

— Inside account: The day my ‘second home,’ the Capitol, was overtaken by mob

— Mob at U.S. Capitol encouraged by online conspiracy theories

— EXPLAINER: Breaking down the uncertainty after Capitol siege

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

1:05 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is telling fellow Democrats that the nation’s top military officer has told her there are steps in place that would prevent President Donald Trump from firing nuclear weapons.

Pelosi is holding a conference call with House Democrats about what they should do about Trump doing his waning days in office, including the possibility of impeachment. Democrats and many Republicans blame Trump for this week’s deadly assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, and many say they are worried that Trump might try something irrational.

Before Friday’s conference call, Pelosi told her colleagues that she had asked Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about preventing Trump from initiating a nuclear strike. A person familiar with Friday’s call says Pelosi has told them that Milley has told her there are precautions in place that would prevent such an action by Trump.

The president has sole authority in the U.S. government to order the launch of a nuclear weapon. But if a military commander were to determine, on advice of his lawyers, that such an order was illegal, then the order could be refused.

It would be illegal to launch a nuclear attack for no reason or as a disproportionate response to a military provocation.

The person described Friday’s conference call on condition of anonymity because the call was limited to House Democrats.

—Alan Fram

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12:45 p.m.

A leading centrist Democratic senator says it seems unlikely that President Donald Trump can be quickly removed from office. But West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin isn’t ruling out action against GOP senators who led the effort to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s win because he says that helped encourage pro-Trump rioters to attack the Capitol.

Manchin says in an interview that he’s heard Vice President Mike Pence is not likely to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. He also says he’s seen no evidence of enough Senate GOP support to oust Trump if the House impeaches him.

Manchin says that while he favors removing Trump as soon as possible, “We don’t need any more theater.” He says lawmakers should defer to President-elect Joe Biden’s need for the Senate to focus on confirming his Cabinet. And he says Twitter should bar Trump from its platform.

Manchin says GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas both knew they had no chance of persuading Congress to nullify Biden’s electoral votes this week. He says their efforts “facilitated” rioters who swarmed the Capitol. And he says other Republicans who voted with them should also be held responsible.

Manchin stopped short of saying Hawley and Cruz should be expelled from the Senate.

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12:10 p.m.

Three House Democrats are planning to introduce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Monday, meaning the chamber could potentially vote on his removal from office by midweek, according two people familiar with the planning.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet said whether the House will vote on impeachment, and the caucus is meeting at noon to discuss the idea after pro-Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol on Wednesday. But if leadership does decide to move forward, they could vote on articles of impeachment drafted Wednesday by Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California. They are expected to be introduced Monday, said the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss the planning.

The articles say Trump “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”

—Mary Clare Jalonick

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11:50 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing President Donald Trump from initiating military actions or a nuclear strike.

Pelosi said in a statement to colleagues that she spoke with Gen. Mark Milley “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

She said, the situation of “this unhinged President could not be more dangerous.”

Pelosi is meeting with the House Democratic caucus Friday to consider impeachment proceedings against the president.

She and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer have called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to to force Trump from office. It’s a process for removing the president and installing the vice president to take over.

Trump is set to leave Jan. 20 when Democrat Joe Biden is to be inaugurated.

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11:30 a.m.

The family of the slain Capitol Police officer says they want the public to remember him for being a hero.

Brian Sicknick died Thursday night of injuries sustained during the riot at the Capitol. His brother, Ken Sicknick, issued a statement through a family spokeswoman Friday.

A native of South River, New Jersey, Brian Sicknick served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and went on to a law enforcement career, which his family said was his lifelong dream. He joined the Capitol Police in 2008.

His family said it did not want to make Sicknick’s death a “political issue” as many questions remain about what happened. The statement says, “Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember.”

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11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is casting himself as the defender of those who voted for him as he begins his Friday on Twitter.

Trump wrote Friday that the “75,000,000 great American Patriots” who voted for him “will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

He followed that up shortly with a tweet that he would not be attending the inauguration on Jan. 20th of President-elect Joe Biden.

The tweets did not include any reference to the news overnight that U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick had died after being injured while physically engaging with protesters during the Wednesday riot. He is the fifth person to die because of the violence.

A 12-hour lockdown of Trump’s account ended Thursday and the president used his restored account to post a video in which he acknowledged for the first time that his presidency will end soon.

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10:30 a.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is rejecting suggestions that the United States is a “banana republic” following the assault on the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. It’s a highly unusual defense to criticism that hasn’t previously warranted an riposte from America’s top diplomat.

Pompeo is one of Trump’s strongest supporters in the Cabinet and has unstintingly defended him since Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in November’s election.

He denounced criticism of the U.S. in the wake of the attack on the Capitol as “slander” and decried questions about its democracy in a series of tweets from his personal account late Thursday. He followed up on Friday from his official account, calling the United States the “greatest country on earth” and extolling “American goodness."

Pompeo wrote that the comparison "reveals a faulty understanding of banana republics and of democracy in America.”

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10:20 a.m.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff says President Donald Trump is a “danger to the Republic” and should be removed from office immediately by impeachment, resignation or invoking the 25th Amendment.

Schiff said Friday that Democrats warned during Trump’s impeachment that he would “try to cheat” to remain in office.

Now, he said Trump “lit the fuse which exploded on Wednesday at the Capitol” as a mob loyal to the president stormed the Capitol. Five people died from the mayhem, including a Capitol police officer.

“Every day that he remains in office, he is a danger to the Republic, and he should leave office immediately, through resignation, the 25th Amendment or impeachment,” Schiff said in a statement.

Schiff called Trump “the worst president we have ever had.”

Schiff was the leading manager of the House Democrats’ impeachment of the president in 2019. Trump was later acquitted by the Senate on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine.

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10 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says those responsible for police officer Brian Sicknick’s death from the siege at the Capitol by a mob loyal to President Donald Trump “must be brought to justice.”

Pelosi said Friday she was lowering flags at the Capitol in his honor.

Sicknick died “after defending the Capitol complex and protecting those who serve and work here. The perpetrators of Officer Sicknick’s death must be brought to justice,” she said.

Pro-Trump supporters were urged on by the president Wednesday to the Capitol where Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

Five people are now dead from the violent melee.

“The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history,” Pelosi said.

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9:10 a.m.

House Democratic leaders say the House could take up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump as soon as next week if Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s Cabinet don’t act to remove him.

Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts says the House “can use procedural tools to get articles of impeachment to the House floor quickly,” as early as the coming week, if Pence doesn’t invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, says he can confirm that “we have had discussions about it.” The South Carolina Democrat says he hopes Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “would move forward if the vice president refuses to do what he is required to do under the Constitution. Everyone knows that this president is deranged.”

The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare a president unfit for office. That section of the amendment has never been invoked.

On Thursday, Pelosi said the House could move on impeachment if Pence and the Cabinet don’t remove Trump before his term ends on Jan. 20.

Pence hasn’t publicly addressed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment. But that possibility may have faded after two Cabinet members resigned Thursday in protest after Trump egged on protesters who then mounted an assault on the Capitol the day before.

Clark and Clyburn spoke Friday on CNN.

___

8:40 a.m.

A police officer has died from injuries he suffered when President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

And his death is intensifying questions about the defeated president’s remaining days in office and the ability of the U.S. Capitol Police to secure the area.

The Capitol Police say in a statement that Officer Brian D. Sicknick died Thursday.

During Wednesday’s melee, Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials said.

Those officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The officer is the fifth person to die from the attack on the Capitol.

Discussions are underway about Trump’s fitness to remain in office

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