Biden's Inauguration Week begins as DC security intensifies

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:33 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021
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2:21 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

California governor formally appoints Alex Padilla to fill US Senate seat vacated by Kamala Harris

Kirby Lee/AP
Kirby Lee/AP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office. 

Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.

"It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history," said Gov. Newsom.

"I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people," Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.

Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California's US Senators. She'll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, "Of course, I'm not saying goodbye. In many ways, I'm now saying hello as your vice president."

2:09 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Pelosi expresses support for 9/11-style commission to investigate Capitol riot

From CNN's Ali Main

In an interview with Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi detailed her experiences during and in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot and expressed her support for 9/11 commission-style investigation into what occurred during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Pelosi said Monday on Clinton's "You and Me Both" podcast that such a commission has "strong support" in Congress, but this type of investigation cannot be initiated without legislation and the Senate is out until later this week.

The Speaker pointed to the review being led by retired Lt. General Russel Honoré of the "security infrastructure" of Capitol Hill as an example of an ongoing probe.

She also hinted at suspicions raised by other lawmakers that some of their colleagues and members of law enforcement could be either directly or indirectly involved in the insurrection, saying it would be part of a potential commission's inquiry.

"We're not waiting for the commission, but the commission will have a bigger agenda and will get to the bottom of what complicity members of Congress have in all of this. And if they did, they should be prosecuted, as well as others – whether it’s in security....anybody who has anything to do with the Capitol could have been a resource for whose offices were here," Pelosi said.

As for President Trump, Clinton quipped that she would love to see her formal political rival's phone records from Jan. 6 "to see whether he was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol," referencing the Russian President.

Pelosi repeated her line on Trump that "all roads lead to Putin," saying "I don't know what Putin has on him politically, financially, or personally, but what happened last week was a gift to Putin" and calling the rioters unwitting "Putin puppets" because "they were doing Putin's business when they did that at the incitement of an insurrection by the president of the United States."

Sharing her experiences of being rushed from the House chamber amid the threat, Pelosi emphasized "it wasn't about me, because I had security; it was about my members," who she said were "traumatized" by what they had to endure that day.

Pelosi said she has asked all of her members to record in a journal what they saw on Jan. 6, and then to write another entry in a month "because this is a pain that people will carry." She says she told them that "this is history. Your perspective, your individual perspectives are a very important part of that."

Clinton noted that she and Pelosi will both attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, saying, "I know that it's not going to be like any inauguration we've ever attended."

Pelosi expressed hope that Congress can find common ground in passing Biden's agenda.

1:55 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Country singer Garth Brooks will perform at Biden's inauguration

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Kevin Mazur/BBMA2020/Getty Images/FILE
Kevin Mazur/BBMA2020/Getty Images/FILE

The inaugural committee announced Monday that country singer Garth Brooks has accepted the Biden’s invitation to perform at the inauguration. The committee indicated that Brooks will be part of the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol. 

"This is not a political statement," Brooks told reporters on a media call during the announcement. "This is a statement of unity." 

Jill Biden called Brooks on the phone to invite him to perform. "She’s very warming, very welcoming," Brooks said of his conversation with Jill. "She's very easy to talk to, and just said, 'it's your decision but we would love to have you here.'" 

Brooks stressed that he looks forward to participating because he strongly believes in the unity theme, particularly at a time when the country is so divided. 

"It’s not Republican or Democrat. It’s a leader for whom I am the civilian of the greatest country on the planet. Our job is to work as hard as we can for all of us to have a better future than we had before," he said.  

"We can't start living until we rise above the narrows of our own individualistic concerns," he added, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Brooks also performed at President Obama’s inauguration in 2008. He said has performed for every administration in some capacity since President Jimmy Carter, except for President Ronald Reagan. "This is an honor for me to serve," he stressed. 

He did not indicate which songs he will perform, only saying:

"There are plenty of songs of love and unity that you can choose from, from the greatest writers, you know, around the world. Because we're all humans, we live within the borders of United States but the truth is the message that goes out, goes out to all of us around the world." 

Asked to compare the level of nerves he anticipates to feel during this performance and how it would rank on a list of getting "butterflies,” Brooks said, "It's gonna rank really high on the butterfly list." 

1:35 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Harris releases video thanking California after resigning from her Senate seat

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris released a video on Twitter, expressing thanks to the state of California as she resigned from her Senate seat today.

Sitting in front of a framed photo of her and President-elect Joe Biden, Harris repeated many of the same lines she wrote today in her op-ed announcing her resignation.

“It has been such an honor to serve with a team that has worked so tirelessly,” Harris said. She went through a summarization of things achieved in her four years of office both responding to Californians needs directly and bipartisan work aimed at servicing the nation.

“These are some of the things that we have done over the course of my four years and you gave me the honor of being able to serve,” she said.

“Of course, I'm not saying goodbye. In many ways, I'm now saying hello as your vice president,” Harris said. “But I do want to thank you, for the honor of representing the place of my birth, as a proud Daughter of California. Thank you.”

Watch her message:

1:25 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

FBI arrest New York resident who allegedly live-streamed Capitol riots 

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

Nicolas Moncada, charged in the Eastern District of New York, posted a photo of himself within what appears to be the Capitol building, according to court documents.
Nicolas Moncada, charged in the Eastern District of New York, posted a photo of himself within what appears to be the Capitol building, according to court documents. Eastern District of New York

Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents arrested Nicolas Moncada on Monday morning for his role in the riot and assault of the Capitol building Jan. 6, officials announced.  

The former Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) student was positively identified by former faculty and students via his Instagram and Twitter posts chronicling the Capitol riots from what appears to be inside the building, according to court documents. 

FIT faculty and students reported the information to the school's Office of Public Safety which reported the social media accounts to federal authorities, the court document says. 

In the comments of one alleged video Moncada wrote he was "storming the Capitol Building." In another alleged selfie posted during the riots, Moncada claimed to be nearby House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, according to a statement of facts written by an FBI counter-terrorism special agent. 

Moncada will appear virtually in front of a magistrate judge within the Eastern District of New York Tuesday. A time for the hearing has not been set.

Moncada violated laws prohibiting the unlawful entry to the Capitol and violent entry, disorderly conduct and demonstration at the Capitol building, according to the court document.

12:57 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

Trump expected to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final day in office, sources say

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak, Jamie Gangel, Pamela Brown and Kaitlan Collins

The entrance to the West Wing is seen with a Marine standing guard, indicating President Trump was in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday, January 18, in Washington, D.C.
The entrance to the West Wing is seen with a Marine standing guard, indicating President Trump was in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday, January 18, in Washington, D.C. Leigh Vogel/Pool/Sipa USA

President Trump is preparing to issue around 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the matter. It will be a major batch of clemency actions that include white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and others but — as of now — is not expected to include Trump himself.

The White House held a meeting on Sunday to finalize the list of pardons, two sources said.

Trump, who had been rolling out pardons and commutations at a steady clip ahead of Christmas, had put a pause on them in the days leading up to and directly after the Jan. 6 riots at the US Capitol, according to officials.

Aides said Trump was singularly focused on the Electoral College count in the days ahead of time, precluding him for making final decisions on pardons. White House officials had expected them to resume after Jan. 6, but Trump retreated after he was blamed for inciting the riots.

Initially, two major batches had been ready to roll out, one at the end of last week and one on Tuesday. Now, officials expect the last batch to be the only one — unless Trump decides at the last minute to grant pardons to controversial allies, members of his family or himself.

The final batch of clemency actions is expected to include a mix of criminal justice reform-minded pardons and more controversial ones secured or doled out to political allies.

Some background: The pardons are one of several items Trump must complete before his presidency ends. White House officials also still have executive orders prepared, and the President is still hopeful to declassify information related to the Russia probe before he leaves office.

But with a waning number of administration officials still in jobs, the likelihood that any of it gets done seemed to be shrinking.

The Jan. 6 riots that led to Trump's second impeachment have complicated his desire to pardon himself, his kids and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. At this point, aides do not think he will do so, but caution only Trump knows what he will do with his last bit of presidential power before he is officially out of office at noon on Jan. 20.

11:37 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

US Capitol police give the all clear after building put on lockdown due to fire several blocks away

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

In an alert released moments ago the US Capitol Police have instructed the complex to "return to normal operations."

"All buildings within the Capitol Complex: The USCP has cleared the external security threat incident located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets SE. All checkpoints have reopened. Return to normal operations," the Capitol Police notice reads. 

A small fire at an apparent homeless encampment less than a mile away from the US Capitol Building on Monday prompted the building to enter lockdown, a reflection of the heightened state of alarm at the complex.

12:20 p.m. ET, January 18, 2021

New Radicals reuniting to perform hit "You Get What You Give" at inaugural parade

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images
Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

The band “New Radicals” will reunite for the first time in 22 years to perform a song with a personal connection to President-elect Joe Biden’s family during the virtual inaugural parade on Wednesday.

The group will perform their 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” as the part of the virtual “Parade Across America” taking place after Biden's swearing-in ceremony. In her eulogy of Beau Biden in 2015, Ashley Biden, the President-elect’s daughter, described the tune as a “theme song” for Beau, who often played it for her while he was battling brain cancer.

“In retrospect, I think Beau played that song during our mornings together – not for him, but for me,” she said. “To remember to not give up or let sadness consume me, consume us.”

“Performing the song again after such a long time is a huge honor because we all have deep respect for Beau’s military service and such high hopes for the unity and normalcy Joe and Kamala will bring our country again in this time of crisis,” Gregg Alexander, frontman of the New Radicals, said.

Doug Emhoff, the future second gentleman, also used the song as his walk-up song during the presidential campaign.

The virtual parade taking place Wednesday afternoon will be hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn and will feature appearances by Jon Stewart; DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic, including Earth Wind and Fire, Nile Rodgers and Kathy Sledge; and others.

The President-elect will also receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House, which will feature performances from drumlines from Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ alma maters – the University of Delaware and Howard University, respectively. Every branch of the military will also be represented in the presidential escort.

11:28 a.m. ET, January 18, 2021

UN Human Rights experts condemn violent attacks at US Capitol

From CNN's Richard Roth

United Nations Human Rights experts released a statement Monday "condemning the violent events at the US Capitol in Washington," on Jan. 6.

"The violent attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election at the US Capitol on 6 January was a shocking and incendiary event," the statement said in part.

"We strongly condemn the attack and the incitement to violence and hatred online and offline, and call for accountability," it continued. 

The leaders went on to say they stand with the democratic outcomes of the recent elections, and urged political leaders to "do everything in their power to de-escalate tensions and unify the country in full respect for democracy and the rule of law." 

Separately they urged the government, private sector, and other groups to ensure responses are consistent with human rights standards including "freedom of expression and due process of the law."

"We maintain our hope that the US democracy will emerge strengthened from this crisis without damage to its institutions and with renewed commitment to peaceful pluralism, rule of law and democratic governance," it said.