The latest on Biden's inauguration and security threats

By Fernando Alfonso III and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:50 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021
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2:32 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Top Senate Democrat says Senate has a "responsibility" to act quickly on impeachment

From CNN's Ali Main

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin on January 17.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin on January 17. CNN

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin told CNN he doesn't think there is "any promise to date" on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate and trigger the beginning of a trial, adding "we have a responsibility to act as quickly as possible."

The Illinois Democrat expressed confidence on CNN today that Republicans will be on board with conducting Senate business like confirming President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet while a trial is ongoing, saying he thinks passing more coronavirus relief legislation is a bipartisan "priority" and moving forward with these things is "the American way."

Sen. Cory Booker said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he expects a trial to begin "as quickly as possible," noting there have been some "frustrations" with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not bringing the chamber back sooner. 

Booker said he talked to Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, who will become the majority leader soon when Democrats attain control of the chamber, about his concerns in delaying Biden's agenda, which he again put squarely on McConnell, saying the GOP leader needs to commit to time agreements for the trial.

CNN had reported that Biden called McConnell last Monday to discuss the possibility of “bifurcation” – doing impeachment proceedings alongside confirming his nominees and approving a sweeping Covid relief package.

When asked about the potential opposition from GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, Durbin said there will be "resistors," but "if the overwhelming majority is ready to move, we can get it done."

Watch Durbin's interview with CNN's Jake Tapper:

3:34 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

House impeachment managers won't say if they plan to call witnesses during Senate trial

From CNN's Sam Fossum

House impeachment managers Joaquin Castro and Jamie Raskin both sidestepped when asked this morning on the timing of the Senate trial, how long they expect it to take and whether they will be pushing for witnesses as they look to prosecute President Trump after the House impeached him last week.

"All of us on the impeachment manager are ready to go when the trial does start," Castro told ABC. "Of course, all of us are very anxious to get started."

On witnesses, Castro said: "We're going to do whatever it takes to lay out the case." Pressed later, he added: "We're still discussing strategy, obviously, and how we're going to handle the witnesses and so forth." 

Lead House Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said on CNN that the team is continuing to put together their trial plan, adding that it will ultimately be up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi as to when the articles will be sent to the Senate and thus kickstart Trump's second impeachment trial.  

"We're putting together a trial plan, which is designed to get the truth of all of these events out," Raskin said.

Watch Raskin's interview with CNN's Jake Tapper:

12:04 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Sen. Graham on pardoning Capitol rioters: "I hope we don't go down that road"

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on January 7.
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on January 7. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, urged President Trump on Sunday to not pardon anyone charged in connection with the Capitol Hill insurrection, noting Trump has received pressure to use his pardon power for the growing number of his supporters facing prosecution for storming the Capitol.

“There are a lot of people urging the President to pardon the folks” involved in the insurrection, Graham said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“To seek a pardon of these people would be wrong,” he said. “I hope we don’t go down that road.”

Graham also encouraged Senate Republicans to reject the impeachment of Trump, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Wednesday, arguing the prospect of impeaching Trump after he leaves office is unconstitutional.

“It will destroy the party,” Graham said of what would happen if the GOP supported impeachment. “The Republican Party wants to move forward.”

Graham also said directed that message at President-elect Biden, claiming if Biden allows impeachment to proceed, it would “ruin the start of your presidency.”

12:16 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

DC mayor raises concerns about possible attacks in Washington neighborhoods

From Lindy Royce-Bartlett

Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, DC, holds a press conference on January 11 in Washington, DC.
Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, DC, holds a press conference on January 11 in Washington, DC. Lenin Nolly/Sipa

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser made a brief appearance on Meet the Press Sunday morning and discussed her concern about possible attacks in the residential areas of the District. 

“I’m not only concerned about other state capitols. I’m also concerned about other parts of Washington, DC,” Bowser said.

She referenced Capitol Hill and the surrounding areas in lockdown, which has been widely reported by many news outlets saying “what you’re showing is really the federal enclave of Washington, DC – not where the 700,000 of us live.”

The mayor said there is a plan in place, should an attack of that nature occur.

“Our police department, working with our federal law enforcement partners and the United States army, quite frankly, also has a plan to pivot if we have any attacks in our neighborhoods," she said. 

12:48 p.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Maine senator says Trump should be cut off from classified intel when he leaves office

From CNN's Austen Bundy

Sen. Angus King on January 17.
Sen. Angus King on January 17. CNN

Sen. Angus King, and Independent from Maine, said there is "no upside... no reason" for President Trump to continue to receive classified briefings once he is out of office, citing "a grave danger of him inadvertently or willfully revealing classified information that would compromise sources and methods."

King said Trump's "history of being fast and loose with intelligence data" should make it "an easy decision" for President-elect Joe Biden to bar his predecessor from what is traditionally a "courtesy" read-in. 

This comes in the aftermath of Wednesday's historic second impeachment of the president by the House of Representatives for allegedly inciting the Capitol insurrection on Jan 6.

The Senate is expected to begin their trial after Biden is sworn in Jan. 20 but King believes two key pieces of evidence are still needed to convince enough Republicans to vote to convict.

"If... two things are validated, that he knew that there was a danger of violence and he willfully and consciously refrained from stopping it, I think that could change some minds," he said.

 Hear Sen. King's comments:

10:04 a.m. ET, January 17, 2021

GOP Rep. Nancy Mace defends her vote against impeachment

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Freshman GOP Rep. Nancy Mace defended her vote this week against impeaching President Trump, while criticizing the actions of some of her Republican colleagues who objected to the certification of the election results on Jan. 6. 

“Even if you think the President is guilty as hell, like many do believe, there has to be due process. There has to be an investigation,” Mace said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think you would have gotten more Republicans on board if it were done with due process and with an investigation.” 

Mace said she found the number of Republicans who voted to overturn the election “enormously disappointing.”

She also defended Rep. Liz Cheney, who is facing opposition from within the GOP over her vote to impeach Trump. Mace, who represents South Carolina’s first congressional district, said she believes Cheney will survive an expected challenge to her leadership position. 

“The irony in all of this … is that the same people that were complaining and screaming about the President being silenced on Twitter want to silence a dissenting voice within our own party, and so I find that very hypocritical and very disappointing," Mace said.

11:21 a.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Raskin: "I'm not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021"

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Rep. Jamie Raskin on January 17.
Rep. Jamie Raskin on January 17. CNN

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said Sunday morning the article of impeachment will be sent to the Senate "soon," as he also passionately argued that President Trump's second impeachment was crucial for holding the President to account for his actions — even as the Maryland Democrat deals with his own family's tragedy over the loss of their son to the illness of depression.

"I'm not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021. It's not going to happen," Raskin told CNN on Sunday.

Raskin also addressed questions over the decision to pursue convicting a president of impeachment who is just days away from leaving office, arguing that Trump must be held accountable for his actions.

"I don't think anybody would seriously argue that we should establish a precedent, where every president on the way out the door has two weeks or three weeks or four weeks to try to incite an armed insurrection against the union or organize a coup against the union, and if it succeeds, he becomes a dictator and if it fails, he's not subject to impeachment or conviction because we just want to let bygones be bygones," said Raskin, a constitutional law professor.

"Everything is due to his actions. And this was the most sweeping betrayal. The most terrible betrayal of a presidential oath of office in the history of the United States," he added.

When asked if he and the House managers would seek witnesses, especially after the impeachment trial earlier this year featured none, Raskin would not answer.

"We're putting together a trial plan, which is designed to get the truth of all of these events out," Raskin said.

On the timing of when the articles would be sent to the Senate, Raskin stressed that decision would ultimately fall to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but said that he thinks it would be "coming up soon."

Raskin also described what he went through on Jan. 6.

 "When we went to count the electoral college votes and it came under that ludicrous attack, I felt my son with me, and I was most concerned with our youngest daughter and my son in law, who's married to our other daughter, who were with me that day who got caught in that room off of the House floor. In between them and me was a rampaging armed mob that could have killed them easily and was banging on the doors where they were hiding under a desk with my chief of staff Julie Tagen," Raskin said.

Rep. Raskin speaks with Jake Tapper: 

8:25 a.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Kamala Harris to resign from her Senate seat Monday

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 16.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 16. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will officially resign from her California seat on Jan. 18, ending her one-term four-year Senate career, per a Harris aide. 

It’s just two days before she’s inaugurated on Wednesday, making history as the first female, first Black, and first South Asian vice president.

Harris won her seat in November 2016 and was sworn in January 2017. At the time, Harris was Attorney General of her state. 

Aides say Harris has already started the process of her resignation, having notified California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom of her intent, and sent her formal indications that she’ll be resigning Monday. Harris will not give a farewell speech on the Senate floor, due to the schedule. 

Newsom has already named California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Harris’ seat. In a press call, he told reporters he would likely be sworn in himself on Wednesday.

The incoming vice president has spoken to her replacement Padilla before he comes into office, per a person with knowledge of the discussion.

8:02 a.m. ET, January 17, 2021

Here's what we know about Biden's inauguration 

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

A worker pulls cables as preparations take place on January 16 at the Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony.
A worker pulls cables as preparations take place on January 16 at the Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony. Patrick Semansky/AP

The invitations have been scaled back by the pandemic and the security has been heightened by the insurrection, but Joe Biden's inauguration as the 46th president of the United States next week will still have plenty of pomp.

The National Mall will be shut down to keep people away, so we will all be spared another comparison of crowd sizes, especially since Donald Trump's Twitter handle has been turned off. The threat of violent protests from election-denying Trump supporters and the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops will keep anyone from forgetting Trump's turbulent leadership, or lack thereof. The FBI has warned of armed protests in all 50 state capitals and the TSA is moving to restrict guns in checked baggage.

Instead of inaugural balls, there will be a TV special hosted by Tom Hanks.

It will be unusual, but it will still be an inauguration.

All you need to swear in a new president, now that the electoral votes have been counted, is for Biden to say these words, which are written in the Constitution, at noon on January 20:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Biden had planned to make a statement by arriving in Washington by Amtrak from Wilmington, Delaware, where the train station bears his name – a testament to the days when he was a senator and used to make the round-trip home to be with his kids. That's off. He'll stay the night before in Blair House, across from the White House, instead of a hotel.

Normally, members of Congress get a raft of tickets to distribute at will. This year they each get a +1. The public is being encouraged to stay away and the National Mall will be shut down. There will be no public parade from the Capitol to the White House, but instead a virtual parade bringing in people from around the country.

The inaugural balls – usually there are multiple and the new president makes a short appearance at several – will be replaced by a produced TV show featuring stars like Hanks along with Justin Timberlake. This will feel very much like the Covid inauguration.