House pushes for Trump's removal after deadly Capitol riot

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

Updated 1:29 AM ET, Wed January 13, 2021
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3:40 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

DOJ official says he expects they will charge "hundreds" of rioters in the coming weeks

The Department of Justice has opened 170 subject files — meaning individuals identified as persons who potentially committed crimes — on rioters from the Capitol, Acting DC US Attorney Michael Sherwin said at a news conference today.

He said they have already opened "over 70 cases" and expect the number of individuals charged "will grow to the hundreds in the next coming weeks."

On the types of cases that DOJ is charging, Sherwin said, the "gamut of cases" and misconduct that they're looking at "is really mind-blowing."

"We're looking at everything from simple trespass to theft of mail, to theft of digital devices while inside the Capitol, to assault on local officers, federal officers both outside and inside the Capitol, to the theft of potential national security information or national defense information to felony murder and even civil rights excessive force investigations," he said.

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3:37 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Congressman says he's "extremely frustrated" by lack of information from Capitol Police

From CNN's Ryan Nobles, Sarah Fortinsky and Jessica Schneider

Rep. Brad Schneider,
Rep. Brad Schneider, Pool

Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois, was among the members forced to take shelter as rioters took over the Capitol on Wednesday.

He told CNN he is extremely frustrated by the lack of information coming from Capitol Police as to what went wrong and what changes will be made as a result of the insurrection. 

"I am frustrated, extremely frustrated that we have not had those briefings, not just us but to the American people. What happened, where it broke down, what we know, what we're learning from that, you get more briefings, from a local robbery than we've gotten on this," Schneider said.

"I have been a part of conversations and reports within the Democratic caucus. We have not had a full briefing. We can't have a classified briefing, at least I'm not, I don't have the technology to be a part of a classified briefing, so I haven't been a part of that," he added.

Schneider expressed admiration for the rank and file Capitol Police officers, who he believed did the best they could under difficult circumstances, but he was quick to point out it was a position they did not need to be in.  

"What happened on Wednesday, was preventable. It was predictable first. There was reports, you just have to look at social media I saw a report today that the FBI was concerned about effectively quote unquote a war in the Capitol. It was preventable. There were steps that I believe that Capitol Police, others could have taken to keep the crowd away, and have fallback positions, so that even if they broke the first barrier, they could have stopped him at the secondary or even the third, and it should have been just managed much better. We're hearing more and more reports about slow response, poor communications," he said. 

Schneider is not alone in his concern. Many members believe they are not getting nearly the level of information they need from Capitol Police and, according to a high level Democratic aide, the frustration is growing. 

"For every suspicious package on the Hill I will get 10 emails in real time. Then when it comes to this biggest security breach in recent time, we hear very little," the aide said. 

Specifically, the complaint is that there is little real time information being shared from Capitol Police and this staff member doesn’t feel there is a level of coordination when it comes to updates and alerts – it’s basically radio silence. Aside from a briefing that was hastily arranged Monday night, there has been no chief of staff briefing from Capitol Police for the members.

Schneider also expressed concern that some Capitol Police officers may have been involved or helped the rioters. He said that radicalization in the ranks of the military and law enforcement has been a problem for some time and one that needs to be addressed. 

"I have heard about that and yes, I've been concerned about the radicalization within our law enforcement and even our military for a long time," said Schneider. He pointed to legislation he has introduced in the past to address the issue.

"We need to understand the risk, and then develop the plans and implement those plans to address and eliminate that risk. My hope is that in this new Congress, we'll be able to do that," he added.

3:37 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

House Democrats express safety concerns about some GOP colleagues they fear could bring guns to Capitol

From CNN's Jake Tapper

Multiple House Democrats tell CNN they’re worried about some of their Republican colleagues and there have been multiple conversations about the need for every member of Congress and their guests to start going through metal detectors.

“There have been increasing tensions with certain incoming freshmen for months, who have been insistent on bringing firearms in violation of law and guidelines,” one House Democrat said, in a reference to Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, and others.

A second Democratic member of Congress added, “there are concerns about the gun-toting members, but also we don’t know who they’re going to bring to the Inauguration who can bypass the metal detectors. Until there’s an investigation and until we understand our colleagues’ level of complicity in the attack we don’t know how involved they really were. Until we have answers I don’t think we should trust them – not all of them of course, but some of them.”

A second Democrat noted that some of the House Republicans went onto the floor of the House after the attack and continued to share election lies, and also that some refused to wear masks while they were sheltering in place, and now several Democrats have tested positive for Covid-19.

3:21 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

FBI and DOJ hold news conference on Capitol riot

From CNN's Jessica Schneider and Katelyn Polantz

Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin and Steven D'Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, are holding a news conference and providing updates on charges stemming from last week’s attack at the US Capitol.

"To be clear, the brutality the American people watched with shock and disbelief on the 6th will not be tolerated by the FBI. The men and women of the FBI will leave no stone unturned in this investigation. Since these events, the FBI has worked hand in hand with the United States attorney's office and our law enforcement partners here in DC and across the country to arrest and charge multiple individuals who took part in the destruction," D'Antuono said.

According to the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the FBI has received more than 100,000 digital media tips as of Tuesday morning.

The digital media tips are sent in from people who have documented the rioting and violence at the US Capitol last week.

The Justice Department on Tuesday, meanwhile, filed its first federal grand jury indictments against two defendants linked to the Capitol riot, including against an Alabama man alleged to have parked a truck filled with homemade bombs, guns and ammo two blocks from the Capitol. 

3:09 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Major interagency meeting scheduled to discuss security requirements for inauguration

From CNN's Barbara Starr

A major interagency "requirements" meeting has been scheduled this afternoon to discuss security requirements for the upcoming inauguration, along with concerns that some events in Washington, DC, could turn violent, multiple senior defense officials tell CNN.

That said, there is a much better feeling among these officials that preparations are organized and being put into place correctly because the Secret Service is in charge, and as one official said "they don’t mess around."

There should be more clarity after this meeting on how many additional National Guard troops may be needed beyond the 15,000 troops already earmarked, as well as any possible circumstances in which National Guard may possibly be armed for self-defense. 

The officials would not address detailed security threats but said broadly, the planning is to assume perpetrators will come with high "aggression" one senior defense official said. 

"Their intentions are very serious" the official said.

3:22 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Law enforcement concerned US Capitol attack could embolden more attacks

From CNN's Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz

Federal investigators are chasing thousands of leads in twin efforts to try to prosecute people involved in last week’s attack on the US Capitol and to try to prevent feared follow-up attacks in Washington and around the country. 

In recent days, concern has grown that violent mobs’ success in breaching the Capitol has increased the potential for attacks because people may be emboldened to carry out violence, another federal law enforcement official said.

“The chatter is off the charts right now,” the official said. 

The sprawling probe spanning all 50 states in some ways is unprecedented, even in comparison to the investigations after the 9/11 attacks. That’s because federal investigators are grappling with a domestic radicalization problem, that presents complications due to First Amendment protections of political speech, different from radicalization tied to foreign terrorist groups. 

Some of the intelligence the FBI, ATF and other agencies shared before last week’s attack has taken new importance, and has prompted federal investigators to conduct visits with people already on their radar and who have raised concerns about violence. Much of the online threats found in social media and other forums is thought to be aspirational, but the FBI and other agencies now are treating them more seriously, officials said. 

Some of that occurred before the Jan. 6 Trump rally, federal officials have said. The FBI worked with Washington’s Metropolitan Police to arrest a leader of the Proud Boys in the days before the Trump rally on a relatively minor charge, and then added charges when they found him carrying extended ammunition magazines that are illegal in the city. Prosecutors monitored hotels where some attendees were staying. 

But, there were efforts by some of the groups of concern to try to evade detection. On the day of the rally, members of the Proud Boys ditched their normal yellow and black attire and donned orange hats, and they were seen gathering near the Capitol grounds to coordinate their march to the building, according to a federal law enforcement official and video from the day. 

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2:54 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Top military officials preparing rare message to US forces in the wake of the Capitol attack

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Oren Liebermann

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley Michael Reynolds/POOL/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are preparing to send a message to the entire military force reiterating a tone of reassurance given recent violence in Washington, according to two defense officials. 

The message will remind the force that their obligation is to support and defend the Constitution and reject extremism, the sources said. The decision to issue the message was agreed upon by the chiefs on Tuesday, one of the officials said.

It is considered a significant step because the chiefs have sought to stay out of anything that may have political overtones. But given what has happened, they all felt it was important to make a statement given the gravity of events surrounding the inauguration.

2:33 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Schumer urges McConnell to reconvene Senate for impeachment trial

From CNN's Alex Rogers

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene the Senate and hold an impeachment trial at a news conference in New York on Tuesday, arguing that a 2004 resolution allows the two of them to avoid the requirement for unanimous consent during an emergency.

“We could come back ASAP and vote to convict Donald Trump, and get him out of office now before any further damage is done,” said Schumer.

“The bottom line is that Leader McConnell has the ability to call us back into session,” added Schumer. “And we can then move to convict Donald Trump in the impeachment trial and try him. And that's what we hope McConnell will do.”

Schumer said that Trump’s comments today taking no responsibility for the attack on the Capitol were “despicable.”

“What Trump did today, blaming others for what he caused, is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators,” said Schumer. “Trump causes the anger. He causes the divisiveness. He foments the violence and blames others for it. That is despicable.”

“Donald Trump should not hold office one day longer,” he added. “If he won't resign, and Vice President Pence and the Cabinet won't invoke the 25th amendment, he will be impeached by the House, and as the law requires, tried by the Senate.”

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1:32 p.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Senior Republican staffer resigns in letter condemning GOP colleagues for role in Capitol riot

From CNN's Jamie Gangel

Jason Schmid, a widely respected and senior Republican staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, resigned Tuesday following the Jan. 6th insurrection at the US Capitol.

In a strongly worded resignation letter, he condemned members of his own party who "chose to put political theater ahead of the defense of the Constitution and the Republic."

"The sad, incontrovertible truth is that the people who laid siege to the Capitol were and continue to be domestic enemies of the Constitution of the United States. A poisonous lie that the election was illegitimate and should be overturned inspired so called 'patriots' to share common cause with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists to attack the seat of American government," Schmid wrote in his resignation letter.

He continued: "Anyone who watched those horrible hours unfold should have been galvanized to rebuke these insurrectionists in the strongest terms. Instead, some members whom I believed to be leaders in the defense of the nation chose to put political theater ahead of the defense of the Constitution and the Republic."

Members of the committee have been very moved by Schmid's resignation letter, according to a source familiar with those conversation. This person added that it speaks to the concerns being talked about amongst Republicans following the Capitol Hill attack. 

In his letter Schmid directly condemned House and Senate Republicans who objected to the legally certified electoral college votes of several states. 

"The decision to vote to set aside legitimate electors harmed the ability of every service member, intelligence officer, and diplomat to defend the nation and advance American interests," Schmid writes. "Congressional enablers of this mob have made future foreign conflict more likely, not less."

He also calls on the committee to hold the Department of Defense accountable.

"It is vitally important that the Committee hold the Department of Defense accountable for bringing any participants to justice. These extremist influences are a grave threat to our ability to defend the nation, and they must be expelled from the force immediately. I deeply regret some members may no longer have the credibility needed to accomplish this work," Schmid writes.