House impeaches Trump for role in deadly Capitol riot

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:54 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021
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7:00 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

House impeachment managers begin to map out prosecution against Trump

From CNN's Manu Raju

 Impeachment managers Rep. Madeleine Dean, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. David Cicilline,  and Rep. Jamie Raskin walk through Statuary Hall on Wednesday, January 13.
 Impeachment managers Rep. Madeleine Dean, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. David Cicilline, and Rep. Jamie Raskin walk through Statuary Hall on Wednesday, January 13. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House impeachment managers are just starting to lay out their strategy for the case they plan to bring against President Trump in the Senate and are wary about stepping on Joe Biden's first days of his presidency.

Several managers told CNN that decisions have not been made over whether to seek witnesses and attempt to subpoena documents for the trial; doing so could prolong the trial.

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicating he's in no rush to bring the Senate back early into session, House managers have more time to begin their strategy sessions, which will be led by Rep. Jamie Raskin.

Raskin told CNN that they are still assessing whether to seek witnesses.

One possible witness: Brad Raffensperger, Georgia secretary of state, given that the article of impeachment references Trump's pressure campaign against the official to "find" the votes necessary to overturn Biden's win in the state.

Asked if Raffensperger would be called as a witness, Rep. Madeleine Dean, the impeachment manager, said she didn't "want to preview" the case and they were only just beginning organizational meetings.

Democrats, though, seem to be wary about starting the trial on the same day Biden is sworn into office. 

"Certainly not," she said when asked if it would be a good idea to start on Jan. 20. "The president and vice president deserve [their day].. We have to restore a peaceful transfer of power which Donald Trump deliberately incited people against."

6:51 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

FBI and DHS chiefs tell law enforcement leaders they remain concerned extremists may attend planned protests

From CNN's Josh Campbell

FBI Director Chris Wray, Deputy Director David Bowdich, and other federal officials held a call Wednesday with nationwide law enforcement leaders to provide a briefing on the national threat picture relating to planned protests around the country, according to a person briefed on the call. 

The source said the FBI briefed their law enforcement partners on intelligence reporting indicating protesters planned to conduct “peaceful, armed demonstrations” in Washington, DC, and at state capitols around the country on Jan. 17 to protest the results of the 2020 election. The FBI indicated federal law enforcement is currently working to identify any suspected extremists who may pose a threat at the planned armed demonstrations. 

On the call, FBI officials said they remain concerned about the prospect of extremists appearing at planned rallies and conducting violence, the source said.

As previously reported, an internal FBI bulletin disseminated to law enforcement warned that "armed protests" were being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

An FBI spokesperson did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

10:29 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Trump isolated and wallowing in self-pity in the White House, sources say

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Jamie Gangel

As President Trump made history tonight as the only US president to be impeached twice, one White House adviser said “everybody’s angry at everyone” inside the White House, with the President being upset because he thinks people aren’t defending him enough.

“He’s in self-pity mode,” the source said.

The view among many close to Trump is “his actions led to here, no one else,” adding, “he instigated a mob to charge on the Capitol building to stop decertification, he’s not going to find a lot of sympathetic Republicans.”

During the last impeachment effort, Trump allies in and out of the White House publicly defended him and sent out talking points throughout the impeachment proceeding. 

Today, it was the President who was left to fend for himself at the White House, releasing a statement first given to Fox News denouncing further violence, followed by a five-minute video that struck a very different tone than his first message following the attack on the Capitol last week. Aides scrambled to find a way to release the video, worried that even a contrite Trump might have his videos taken down. 

Also, there was no organized effort to send out talking points, unlike his first impeachment. 

Many White House staffers have left or resigned since the riots, including Trump’s once longtime confidante Hope Hicks. Another person close to the White House said “he’s been holed up in the residence, that’s never a good thing.

"He’s by himself, not a lot of people to bounce ideas off of, whenever that happens he goes to his worst instincts. Now that Twitter isn’t available God only knows what the outlet will be," the source said.

One outlet Trump is focused on is wielding what power he has left: pardons. Multiple sources told CNN the next batch of pardons could come as soon as Thursday, in part to distract from the current narrative.

One of the sources also noted that Trump was planning to give New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom honor tomorrow, but Belichick refused. Announcing some pardons could replace that, especially if there are some high-profile ones.

Moving forward: Another question that lingers is whether Trump will pardon himself and his children. 

One person close to Trump believes it’s a bad idea for him to pardon himself and his kids in the wake of the riots, but that he wants to exercise what remaining power he has.

6:44 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Trump releases video condemning violence, doesn't comment on his impeachment

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

The White House
The White House

President Trump in a video message Wednesday did not acknowledge his second impeachment, instead calling for peace and claiming that those who mobbed the Capitol last week are not his “true” supporters. 

“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for,” Trump said in the video, without taking any responsibility for his own actions that led to last week’s events.

“No true supporters of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans. If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement- you are attacking it. And you are attacking our country. We cannot tolerate it,” Trump said of those who mobbed the Capitol last Wednesday wearing his name on their shirts and waving MAGA flags.

Trump also claimed there was an “unprecedented assault” on free speech, referencing social media companies that have banned him in recent days.

Some context: The video comes in stark contrast to his first message about the riots which he released hours after the incursion.

He addressed the protesters in that video saying, "We love you" and "You're very special."

Later, he seemed to justify the actions in a tweet, writing, "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away."

Many social media companies have since banned the President from using their platforms and his personal Twitter account has been taken down permanently. 

Watch:

6:31 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Republican lawmaker who voted to impeach urges his colleagues to tell their constituents the truth

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Rep. Peter Meijer
Rep. Peter Meijer CNN

Rep. Peter Meijer, just one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach President Trump a second time, said it's not too late for his colleagues to come clean with their constituents about President Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election. 

"It's never too late to have folks tell their supporters, people who trusted them, tell them the truth," Meijer told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. 

"We need to get past this big lie that this was a stolen election," he continued.

"This wasn't a landslide re-election for Donald Trump. This wasn't a stolen election. None of those claims played out in court and it's time we settle that once and for all because unless we come to that shared reality then we're not going to be able to fully heal from this moment," Meijer said.

6:16 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

"No one is above the law": Pelosi signs article of impeachment against Trump

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Pool
Pool

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi briefly addressed reporters before she signed the article of impeachment against President Trump, for a second time, following the bipartisan House vote.

"Today, in a bipartisan way the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States. That Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country and that once again we honor our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help us God. And now, I sadly and with a heart broken over what this means to our country, of a president who would incite insurrection, will sign the engrossment of the article of impeachment," Pelosi said.

Watch:

6:06 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

House Democratic impeachment manager uncertain how long Senate trial will be

From CNN's Manu Raju and DJ Judd 

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, told CNN it was still uncertain how many witnesses they would seek and how long of a trial it would be.

House Democratic impeachment managers are now meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We’re still just getting organized, but if it comes to it, we'll get you answers as soon as we've got some answers," Raskin said.
6:06 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Former FBI Director James Comey says the Capitol attack was a "planned assault"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Former FBI Director James Comey today said the evidence he has seen so far suggests the attack on the Capitol was an organized conspiracy.

"There's no doubt there were at least some conspiracy," Comey told CNN's Jake Tapper this afternoon. 

"People wandering around exercising First Amendment rights don't bring ropes and ladders and sledgehammers to a spontaneous event," continued Comey. "This was a planned assault like going after a castle."

Comey's remarks came just moments after CNN reported emerging evidence was leading law enforcement officials to believe the attack was premeditated rather than a protest that spiraled out of control.

Among the evidence the FBI is examining are indications that some participants at the Trump rally at the Ellipse, outside the White House, left the event early, perhaps to retrieve items to be used in the assault on the Capitol.

Watch more:

5:52 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Investigators pursuing signs US Capitol riot was planned 

From CNN's Evan Perez

Evidence uncovered so far, including weapons and tactics seen on surveillance video, suggests a level of planning that has led investigators to believe the attack was not just a protest that spiraled out of control, a federal law enforcement official says. 

Among the evidence the FBI is examining are indications that some participants at the Trump rally at the Ellipse, outside the White House, left the event early, perhaps to retrieve items to be used for the assault on the Capitol. 

A team of investigators and prosecutors are focused on the command and control aspect of the attack, looking at travel and communications records to determine if they can build a case that is similar to a counterterrorism investigation, the official said. 

The belief, early in the probe, will demand significant investigation. 

The presence of corruption prosecutors and agents is in part because of their expertise in financial investigations. 

“We are following the money,” the official said. 

By Wednesday morning, the FBI reported that it had received more than 126,000 digital tips from the public regarding the attack on the Capitol – more than three times the number of tips received on Monday.  

Among the thousands of tips the FBI received are some that appear to show members of Congress with people who later showed up at the Capitol riot, two law enforcement officials said. This doesn’t mean members of Congress and staff are under investigation, but the FBI is checking the veracity of the claims, the officials said. 

At least some of the arrests already made are part of a strategy used in counterterrorism investigations, to find even a minimal charge and try to take a person of concern off the streets. That helps ease the possible threat amid concern about possible attacks on the Inauguration, officials believe.