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The Latest – Thursday, January 21

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Collect, share, and discuss the daily news, updates, and events pertinent to the daily shock and awe, this is The Latest.

:warning: This thread has ended. The discussion continues: The Latest – Monday, January 25

What we’re talking about



A day after President Biden took office, the powerful Democrat left little doubt that she plans to quickly transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, a move that will trigger a trial of Trump.

It will be soon and I don’t think it will be long,” Pelosi said. “And it must be done.

Pelosi repeatedly refused to give a timetable for the impeachment trial, which is a delicate subject given Biden’s hopes to move quickly on fighting the coronavirus pandemic and turn around the anemic economy.


FBI Head stays


Biden being cautious with Russia.

President Biden is seeking a five-year extension with Russia on the only remaining treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals just days before it expires, said two senior U.S. officials.

At the same time, his administration is preparing to impose new costs on Russia pending a newly requested intelligence assessment of its recent activities. The officials said Biden is ruling out a “reset” in bilateral relations with Moscow as many new U.S. presidents have done since the end of the Cold War.

“As we work with Russia, so, too, will we work to hold Russia accountable for their reckless and aggressive actions that we’ve seen in recent months and years,” said a senior U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive security matter.

The decision to seek a five-year treaty extension, which Russia supports but the Biden administration hadn’t settled on until now, reflects the rapidly approaching deadline for Washington to renew the New START pact Feb. 5, the officials said.


Going after Parler…checking for foreign influence and gettng the FBI looking into it.

The chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday asked the FBI to conduct a “robust examination” of the alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege of Parler, the now-disabled social media site that bristled with violent chatter before and after rioters stormed the Capitol in a rampage that left five people dead.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman, said the request is a step toward opening a formal committee investigation into sites that may encourage violence, including Parler. It became prominent last year as a freewheeling alternative to Twitter, gaining popularity in particular among conservatives.

She said the committee will begin its own formal investigation of Parler and similar sites, and that it was a “top priority” for her to learn answers to a range of questions about Parler, including its alleged ties to Russia, as documented in news reports. Her letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray Thursday singled out Parler’s use of a Russian-owned Web services company, DDoS-Guard, that also has Russian government clients and may leave Parler vulnerable to data requests by Russian agencies.


Many of Donald Trump’s most notorious appointees, including his Cabinet secretaries, resigned shortly before Joe Biden took office. But myriad officials whom Trump installed in the executive branch remained in spite of their antagonism toward the new president’s agenda. Hours into his presidency, Biden has already ousted three of his predecessors’ most unqualified and corrupt appointees. This clean break sends a clear message that Biden will not tolerate hostile Trump holdovers in his administration, including those with time remaining in their terms.

First, Biden terminated Michael Pack, who was confirmed to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June. Pack sought to transform the agency, which oversees the international broadcaster Voice of America, into a propaganda outlet for Trump—despite a statutory mandate that prohibits such political interference. He purged the staff of VOA and its sister networks, replaced them with Trump loyalists, demanded pro-Trump coverage, and unconstitutionally punished remaining journalists who did actual reporting on the administration. In a perverse move, he refused to renew visas for foreign reporters who covered their home countries, subjecting them to retribution by authoritarian regimes. Pack also illegally fired the board of the Open Technology Fund, which promotes international internet freedom, and replaced them with Republican activists.

Following whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found a “substantial likelihood” that Pack had violated federal law and engaged in “gross mismanagement.” He was eight months into his three-year term when Biden demanded his resignation shortly after taking the oath of office. In his resignation letter, Pack complained that his termination “will long be viewed as a partisan act” without any apparent sense of irony.

Second, Biden sacked Kathleen Kraninger, who was confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. Kraninger, who had no previous experience in consumer protection, immediately tried to undermine the agency’s role as a watchdog for the financial sector. She scrapped a landmark rule that restricted predatory payday lending, pressuring staff to downplay the resulting harm to consumers. And she refused to enforce a federal law that protected military personnel against a broad range of predatory lending. Her decision yanked federal support from military families who were defrauded by lenders. In the midst of the pandemic, Kraninger also approved a rule that allows debt collectors to harass Americans with limitless texts and emails demanding repayment.

Through the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress gave the CFPB’s director significant independence by barring the president from firing her over political disagreements. In 2020, though, the Supreme Court found this protection unconstitutional. Kraninger supported that decision, which paved the way for her termination on Wednesday. Had the court upheld the agency’s independence, Kraninger could have remained in office through the end of 2023.

Third, Biden demanded the resignation of Peter Robb, who was confirmed as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel in 2017. The NLRB was created to enforce federal laws that guarantee workers the right to form a union and bargain collectively. Yet Robb is vehemently anti-union; during his tenure, he tried to limit employees’ free speech, give managers more leeway to engage in wage theft, hobble unions’ ability to collect dues, and prevent employers from helping workers organize. He also tried to seize near-total control of the agency by demoting every regional director and consolidating power in his office. If successful, this gambit would’ve given him unprecedented authority to bust existing unions and prevent new ones from forming.

Robb’s term is set to end in November, but Biden has authority to fire him before then. On Wednesday evening, Robb announced that he would not step down voluntarily, stating that his resignation “would set an unfortunate precedent.” (In reality, the precedent has already been set: President Harry Truman demanded the resignation of NLRB general counsel Robert N. Denham in 1950 over political disputes.) Biden fired him shortly thereafter.

Pack, Kraninger, and Robb are the tip of the iceberg: Trump spent his presidency packing the federal government with Republicans eager to undermine the missions of the agencies they led. But Biden’s aggressive action upon taking office should be encouraging for progressives, since it indicates that the new president will move swiftly to fire Trump allies with high positions in the executive branch. Moreover, Biden should not have much trouble replacing these holdovers with Democrats in control of the Senate. (Republicans cannot filibuster nominees to the executive branch.) The new president undoubtedly faces legislative challenges ahead. But in the meantime, he can rapidly erase the legacy of the Trump administration by simply replacing Trump’s lackeys with qualified civil servants eager to do the job right.


That so does not seem right at all.

Thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds on Thursday and are now taking their rest breaks outside and in nearby parking garages, after two weeks of sleepless nights protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of the violent Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said.

“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said.

POLITICO obtained photos showing the guard members packed together in the parking garage, sleeping on the ground.

All National Guard troops were told to vacate the Capitol and nearby congressional buildings on Thursday, and to set up mobile command centers outside or in nearby hotels, another Guardsman confirmed. They were told to take their rest breaks during their 12-hour shifts outside and in parking garages, the person said.

Guardsmen who spoke with POLITICO were not given a clear reason why they were asked to vacate the buildings. The first Guardsman said it may have been due to a complaint that some troops were not wearing masks, but denied that was the case.

Wait…CNN reporter making calls…getting responses.

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