Pelosi reportedly resisted Democrats’ effort to impeach Trump on January 6 – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian

9.09pm BST

Closing summary

The federal government once again avoided a shutdown hours before it was to start after the House passed a short-term funding bill, which now goes to Joe Biden ’s desk. The president is back at the White House after attending the investiture of justice Ketanji Brown Jackson , who joins a supreme court that a poll indicates is losing its public trust.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • Ginni Thomas spoke to the January 6 committee, but two of its members say the wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas doesn’t appear to be involved in a wider plot to overturn the 2020 election.

  • You might think Joe Manchin would enjoy all the power the 50-50 split in the Senate gives him, as a pivotal Democratic vote. You would be wrong , apparently.

  • The White House hit back against Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, describing it as illegal and announcing new sanctions.

  • Nancy Pelosi nixed an effort to impeach Donald Trump the evening after the January 6 insurrection, according to a new book that suggests a more immediate effort could have resulted in his conviction by the requisite two-thirds of the Republican-held Senate.

  • Barack Obama worried about the justice department under Trump, but was convinced the country could make it four years with him in the White House, according to a meeting transcript obtained by Bloomberg .

8.53pm BST

For a fee of $3 million, Donald Trump hired a former Florida solicitor general to help him deal with the justice department’s investigation into government secrets at Mar-a-Lago, but has ended up squabbling with the attorney instead.

That’s the conclusion reached by a piece in The Washington Post that looks into the work of Christopher Kise , whom since joining Trump’s legal team has counseled him that the justice department just wanted to make sure no classified documents were at his Florida resort, and he’d be wise to try to reach a deal with them.

Kise has found himself frustrated, the Post reports, as other lawyers on Trump’s team advocate a more aggressive approach that may get all involved into trouble. Here’s more from the story :

A Wednesday night court filing from Trump’s team was combative, with defense lawyers questioning the Justice Department’s truthfulness and motives. Kise, whose name was listed alongside other lawyers’ in previous filings over the past four weeks, did not sign that one — an absence that underscored the division among the lawyers. He remains part of the team and will continue assisting Trump in dealing with some of his other legal problems, said the people familiar with the conversations, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private talks. But on the Mar-a-Lago issue, he is likely to have a less public role.

It is a pattern that has repeated itself since the National Archives and Records Administration first alerted Trump’s team 16 months ago that it was missing documents from his term as president — and strongly urged their return. Well before the May 11 grand jury subpoena, and the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, multiple sets of lawyers and advisers suggested that Trump simply comply with government requests to return the papers and, in particular, to hand over any documents marked classified.

Trump seems, at least for now, to be heeding advice from those who have indulged his desire to fight.

8.32pm BST

Eight years of Trump would be bad, but four manageable. The justice department should be watched like “white on rice”. And despite his insults and bombast, Donald Trump had been nothing but polite to him in person.

That was some of what Barack Obama told a group of columnists in an off-the-record conversation three days before he left the White House in 2017. Such conversations between an American president and the press are rare and intended never to be made public, but Bloomberg got their hands on a transcript through a Freedom of Information Act request , which they published today.

The discussion touched on a number of topics. Here’s what Obama had to say about whether Trump would do lasting damage to the country:

I think that four years is okay. Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay. Eight years would be a problem. I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode.

Whether Trump would be inclined to start any new wars:

I think his basic view - his formative view of foreign policy is shaped by his interactions with Malaysian developers and Saudi princes, and I think his view is, I’m going to go around the world making deals and maybe suing people. But it’s not, let me launch big wars that tie me up. And that’s not what his base is looking from him anyway. I mean, it is not true that he initially opposed the war in Iraq. It is true that during the campaign he was not projecting a hawkish foreign policy, other than bombing the heck out of terrorists. And we’ll see what that means, but I don’t think he’s looking to get into these big foreign adventures.

His fears for the justice department:

I would be like white on rice on the Justice Department. I’d be paying a lot of attention to that. And if there is even a hint of politically motivated investigations, prosecutions, et cetera, I think you guys have to really be on top of that.

How Trump – who had promoted the lie that Obama was not born in the United States – had behaved around him since winning the 2016 election:

His interactions with me are very different than they are with the public, or, for that matter, interactions with Barack Obama, the distant figure. He’s very polite to me, and has not stopped being so. I think where he sees a vulnerability he goes after it and he takes advantage of it.

8.08pm BST

House passes spending bill to avert government shutdown

With hours remaining before the government would have shut down, the House of Representatives this afternoon approved a short-term spending bill that will keep it open through December 16.

The measure was approved with 230 votes in favor and 201 against. All Democrats voted for it, along with 10 Republicans. The Senate passed the bill yesterday and it now heads to Joe Biden ’s desk, where his signature is expected.

Beyond just keeping the government open, the spending measure allocates another $12 billion or so in aid to Ukraine, as well as additional money for disaster relief in a swath of US states. Had Congress not reached an agreement, the federal government would have run out of money on Saturday.

7.48pm BST

Lawmakers say no indications yet Ginni Thomas involved in January 6 plot

Ginni Thomas ’s testimony before the January 6 committee was hotly anticipated amid a cascade of reports in recent months showing her efforts to pressure officials nationwide to take conspiracy theories about the outcome of the 2020 election seriously.

As alarming as those reports were, considering they came from the wife of a sitting supreme court justice, Politico reports that committee members aren’t convinced she had much to do with the violence that unfolded at the Capitol or the legal effort to stop Joe Biden ’s win. Bennie Thompson , the committee’s Democratic chair, said Thomas’s views were “typical” of those who believe, baselessly, that Biden had stolen the vote nearly two years ago.

Jamie Raskin , another Democratic committee member, replied “I can’t say,” when asked if Thomas had given the panel any new leads. “She absolutely has a First Amendment right to take whatever positions she wants, and that means she can take as deranged a position she wants about the 2020 election,” he added.

Related: Ginni Thomas lobbied Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn 2020 election

7.28pm BST

Speaking of the January 6 committee, Fox News has some details of when it may hold its next public hearing, after one scheduled for this week was postponed due to Hurricane Ian’s approach:

7.12pm BST

Another factor fueling the decline in trust in the supreme court, at least among Democrats, may be Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative justice Clarence Thomas and promoter of conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election. As Ed Pilkington reports, she stuck to those claims during an interview with the January 6 committee yesterday:

Ginni Thomas, the hard-right conservative whose activities have raised conflict of interest concerns involving her husband, the US supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas, has told the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that she still believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the committee, told reporters following the almost five-hour private interview with Thomas that she held fast to her claim that massive fraud in the 2020 election had put Joe Biden in the White House. When asked by reporters if Thomas still believed that to be true, Thompson replied: “Yes.”

The stolen election conspiracy theory – widely propagated by Trump – has never been substantiated with evidence and has been thoroughly debunked over the past two years.

Related: Ginni Thomas still believes Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolen

6.34pm BST

Citing a US Supreme Court decision earlier this year, gun rights groups and firearms owners have launched another attempt to overturn Connecticut’s ban on certain semiautomatic rifles that was enacted in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

A new lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court by three gun owners, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League and the Second Amendment Foundation. They are seeking to overturn the state prohibition on what they call “modern sporting arms” such as AR-15-style rifles like the one used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at the Newtown school in 2012, The Associated Press reports.

We all deserve to live in safe communities, but denying ownership of the most commonly owned firearms in the country is not the way to achieve it. The recent US Supreme Court decision ... has opened the door to this challenge, and we believe Connecticut will be hard pressed to prove its statutes are constitutional,” Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said in a statement.

Connecticut attorney general William Tong hit back.

Connecticut’s gun laws save lives, and we are not going back. We will not allow weapons of war back into our schools, our houses of worship, our grocery stores, and our communities. I will vigorously defend our laws against any and every one of these baseless challenges,” Tong said.

In June, the Supreme Court broadly expanded gun rights in a 6-3 ruling by the conservative majority that overturned a New York law restricting carrying guns in public and affected a half-dozen other states with similar laws.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong speaks outside the Connecticut Supreme Court during a news conference in 2020. Photograph: Chris Ehrmann/AP

6.02pm BST

The day so far

President Joe Biden has had a busy one, bouncing from the supreme court, where he attended the investiture of new justice Ketanji Brown Jackson , then back to the White House, where he celebrated the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah and is set to give an update about the damage done by Hurricane Ian. While it was a day for ceremony at the supreme court, a new poll reaffirmed that the court’s rightward shift has taken a toll on public trust.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • You might think Joe Manchin would enjoy all the power the 50-50 split in the Senate gives him, as a pivotal Democratic vote. You would be wrong , apparently.

  • The White House hit back against Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, describing it as illegal and announcing new sanctions.

  • Nancy Pelosi nixed an effort to impeach Donald Trump the evening after the January 6 insurrection, according to a new book that suggests a more immediate effort could have resulted in his conviction by two-thirds of the Republican-held Senate.

5.44pm BST

The supreme court has released a photo of its new lineup, which includes Ketanji Brown Jackson:

5.29pm BST

Speaking alongside vice-president Kamala Harris at a White House ceremony to celebrate the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, Joe Biden made a prediction: Harris may be the first female vice president, but she won’t be the last, and a woman may succeed him in the presidency as well.

The speech just wrapped up, and you can watch it here:

The president changed his schedule up a bit, and decided to speak at the new year ceremony before his planned speech on Hurricane Ian.

5.10pm BST

While Joe Biden didn’t speak publicly at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s investiture to the supreme court, he offered a brief comment about it on Twitter:

While running for president, Biden pledged to nominate a Black woman to the court, and Jackson satisfied that promise. As for the 84 federal judges appointed, that’s a nod to the rapid clip of judicial confirmations Democrats have achieved in the Senate, where they have prioritized leaving their mark on the federal judiciary.

4.48pm BST

President Joe Biden will soon deliver remarks on Hurricane Ian, which did terrible damage to Florida earlier this week, and now threatens Georgia and South Carolina.

Here’s the White House’s live stream of the speech:

For the latest news on the devastating storm, check out The Guardian’s live blog:

Related: Hurricane Ian: death toll in Florida rises as storm bears down on South Carolina – live

4.33pm BST

For all the supreme court’s pomp and ceremony, a new poll finds Americans increasingly are holding it in low regard.

According to Monmouth University , a majority of Americans find it out of touch with their beliefs:

Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute Patrick Murray puts it this way: “The Supreme Court was not on the radar for many Americans until this summer. Recent decisions have moved some from being on the fence to having a negative opinion of the court.”

Monmouth’s poll was released a day after Gallup reported trust in and approval of the supreme court had hit historic lows, driven by a dramatic loss of faith among Democrats disapproving of the court’s rightward shift.

4.18pm BST

The newest supreme court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had a star-studded investiture ceremony today, featuring president Joe Biden, who appointed her to the bench, vice-president Kamala Harris, attorney general Merrick Garland and the rest of the supreme court.

The event was ceremonial, since Jackson had already been sworn in by Harris. It feature brief remarks from chief justice John Roberts , who administered an oath to Jackson. While cameras were not allowed inside the court during the ceremony, the pair later strolled down its front steps, where Jackson was greeted by her husband:

Jackson is expected to join the court’s three-member liberal bloc, which often ends up in the minority in decisions written by the six-member conservative majority.

3.59pm BST

Russia showing 'its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere' after annexing Ukrainian regions: Biden

The White House has strongly condemned Russian president Vladimir Putin ’s annexation of four regions of Ukraine, saying the move is “phony” and illegal under international law.

Here’s the full statement from president Joe Biden:

The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere.
Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy. The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically, including through the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced this week. In response to Russia’s phony claims of annexation, the United States, together with our Allies and partners, are announcing new sanctions today. These sanctions will impose costs on individuals and entities -- inside and outside of Russia -- that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory. We will rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor. And I look forward to signing legislation from Congress that will provide an additional $12 billion to support Ukraine. I urge all members of the international community to reject Russia’s illegal attempts at annexation and to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Washington responded to the move with a fresh battery of sanctions targeting hundreds of people and companies. The Guardian’s live blog has the latest on Russia’s decision, and the ongoing war in Ukraine:

Related: Russia-Ukraine war live: Kyiv applies for Nato membership after Putin annexes Ukrainian regions

3.40pm BST

Pivotal Democrat Manchin grows weary of evenly split Senate

If you paid even a slight amount of attention to American politics over the past two years or so, you probably heard one name come up repeatedly: Joe Manchin .

The Democratic senator representing West Virginia has become a one-man chokepoint for much of the legislation proposed by his party, whose control of the Senate is so slim they can’t afford a single defection on bills that Republicans refused to support. One of the party’s most conservative senators, Manchin is known for his opposition to changing the filibuster to make it easier to pass legislation in the chamber – a stand on which he was joined by Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema – and for opposing several proposals to fight climate change, which earned him the ire of activists who said he was beholden to the fossil fuel industry .

Democrats also control the House, but it is the even 50-50 split in the Senate that gives Manchin so much power. One might think he enjoys it, but NBC News reports today that is apparently not the case. “I’m just praying to God it’s not 50-50 again,” he told the network when they spoke to him in the run-up to the 8 November midterms, where voters could widen Democrats’ majority in the chamber, or return it to Republican control. “I’d like for Democrats to be 51-49. But whatever happens, I hope it’s not a 50-50.”

Manchin didn’t open up much about why he felt this way, saying only, “It is what it is. You’ve got to do your job.”

Related: U-turn as Manchin agrees deal with Democrats on major tax and climate bill

3.14pm BST

Speaking of the midterms, The Cook Political Report has a good summary of where things stand in the race for control of the House, which Republicans are generally seen as having a good chance of retaking:

2.56pm BST

The aftershocks from the January 6 insurrection extend far beyond Trump.

In Arizona, Mark Finchem , a Republican running for the post of secretary of state overseeing elections, was on the defensive last night when his Democratic opponent accused him in a debate of being an insurrectionist for attending the rally preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

“The last time I checked, being at a place where something’s happening is not illegal,’’ replied Finchem, The East Valley Tribune reports . Finchem attended Trump’s speech before the crowd attacked the building, but there’s no proof he entered the Capitol itself.

The Tribune reports that Finchem had earlier said he “went to Washington to deliver a ‘book of evidence’ to federal lawmakers about claimed irregularities in the 2020 vote in Arizona – material that came out of a hearing in Phoenix involving attorney Rudy Giuliani and other Trump supporters.” He also posted a photo of the Capitol rioters, writing, this is “what happens when people feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.’’

His Democratic opponent Adrian Fontes rejected Finchem’s explanation, saying, “What he did is engage in a violent insurrection and try to overturn the very Constitution that holds this nation together.”

Arizona voters will decide the race in the 8 November midterm elections.

2.34pm BST

A judge appointed by Donald Trump delivered a ruling in his favor yesterday amid the ongoing investigation of government secrets found at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Hugo Lowell reports:

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Donald Trump would not have to provide a sworn declaration that the FBI supposedly “planted” some of the highly-sensitive documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort, as he has suggested, until his lawyers have reviewed the seized materials.

The order from US district court judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the special master case and is a Trump appointee, also pushed back several key interim deadlines that consequently extends the review’s final date of completion from the end of November to mid-December.

Cannon’s ruling means Trump does not have to confirm under oath his insinuations that the FBI manufactured evidence – one of several assertions he has made, without evidence, in recent weeks that could be used against him should he be charged over illegal retention of government documents.

Related: Trump not required to provide sworn declaration that FBI ‘planted’ evidence

2.19pm BST

Here’s a revelation from “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America”, another forthcoming book on his presidency, about how Trump came up with his reason for keeping his tax returns secret. Martin Pengelly reports:

According to a new book, Donald Trump came up with his famous excuse for not releasing his tax returns on the fly – literally, while riding his campaign plane during the 2016 Republican primary.

Every American president or nominee since Richard Nixon had released his or her tax returns . Trump refused to do so.

In her eagerly awaited book , Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman describes the scene on Trump’s plane just before Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.

Trump, she says, was discussing the issue with aides including Corey Lewandowski, then his campaign manager, and his press secretary, Hope Hicks. The aides, Haberman says, pointed out that as Trump was about to be confirmed as the favourite for the Republican nomination, the problem needed to be addressed.

Related: Trump made up audit excuse for not releasing tax returns on the fly, new book says

2.03pm BST

On January 6, “Republican tempers were running so hot against Trump that forcing them to choose sides in the Senate that week could easily have resulted in his impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from any future run for the White House,” The Intercept reported , based on the forthcoming book “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump.”

It would have been a massive break if it happened. GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate had generally grinned and beared it through the four years Trump had been in the White House, even when he said or did things that went against their stated beliefs. But the up-close violence of the insurrection changed things, according to the book written by two reporters from The Washington Post and Politico. Had the House gone through with impeaching Trump that very evening, a vote to convict may have won the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to succeed, removing Trump from office and barring him from running again.

Reality was much more tepid. The Democrat-controlled House did vote to impeach Trump a week after January 6, and a month later, when he had already left the White House, the Republican-held Senate took a vote on whether to convict him. While 57 senators, including seven Republicans and all Democrats, voted to do so, that was 10 votes short of the supermajority needed, meaning Trump escaped punishment for the insurrection – at least for now.

1.49pm BST

Trump was at his most vulnerable on January 6 – but Pelosi nixed impeachment

Good morning, US politics blog readers.

Things could have gone very differently on January 6, a forthcoming book by journalists from Politico and the Washington Post reports. Enraged at Donald Trump ’s apparent incitement of the mob that attacked the Capitol, a group of House Democrats moved to impeach him that very evening at a moment when enough Republicans in the Senate may have voted to convict and remove him from office.

But according to a report in the Intercept , which obtained Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump before its release, House speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed moving immediately against the then president, and the push to convict ultimately failed.

The anecdote is the latest from the many books released since Trump left the White House exploring what went on behind closed doors during his presidency, but stands out for bringing to light a true turning point in American history, when one consequential course of action won out over another.

Anyway, here’s what’s going on in politics today:

  • Nancy Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 11am eastern time today in the Capitol, and you can bet she’ll be asked to comment on the Intercept’s report.

  • Hurricane Ian is moving towards South Carolina after ravaging Florida. Follow the Guardian’s live blog for the latest on the storm.

  • President Joe Biden is attending the investiture ceremony for supreme court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson at 10 am eastern time, then will make a White House speech about the response to Hurricane Ian at 11.30am.

Comments / 817

Jennifer Petronio

I'm a Trump supporter 100% I don't agree with what happened on January 6th.. But there were what 2 or 3,000 people there. One person died. In 2021 there were at least 20,000 people who died due mostly to BLM and Antifa, not all but since the defund the police movement which is backed up by are own leaders. We should really start focusing on crime on our streets now. But actually they don't care. They wanna take our guns away when we need them the most.

Tammy Burt

thats a lie she wanted it more then anyone their trying to make her look better but it's not gonna work. get on your broom grab your booze and fly away far away

Della Hasbrouck

pelosi is a disgrace to America. wish we could vote her out.Was probably her that was behind it all.she needs to be retired, she's to old.


Comments / 0