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Transition Updates: Another Cabinet Member Resigns

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 11, 2021 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 11, 2021 |


8:50 — In the last few hours we have learned that 1) Bill Belichick will not accept the Medal of Freedom on Thursday, which is a humiliating blow to Trump, although not as big a blow as the PGA pulling Trump’s golf courses from his tour (according to Haberman, he was more upset about that than being impeached again). Elsewhere, a horrible Trump supporter etched “Trump” onto a manatee; Pence and Trump have apparently spoken, mostly to talk about the week ahead; and Ivanka Trump will reportedly attend Biden’s Inaugration in order to “save” her political future. You’d need one to save it, wouldn’t you?

5:15 — Another cabinet member steps down.

Meanwhile, Facebook is now removing all content containing the term “Stop the Steal,” which is great, but would’ve been even better two months ago.

4:30 — In an op-ed for the Bangor Daily News, Susan Collins appropriately noted that the insurrection was Donald Trump’s fault, but, like, also, look: Equating terrorism with brown people is how we got here. This is a f**ked up thing to write.

Or, as Roxana puts it:

3:32 — In this hour, this is interesting news for the petty among us.

2:10 — In this hour, Parler is suing Amazon under anti-trust law for delivering what they call a “death knell” to their business. Again, like Petr, I have a lot of sympathy for the argument that Big Tech CEOs should not decide who should and should not be able to exist — hell, about 15 years ago, Google changed their algorithm and killed a very successful online business I had at the time. But again, this is not a free speech issue. This is a public safety issue. Trump wasn’t banned because of political speech. Parler wasn’t taken offline because of abhorrent views. These actions were taken because of the threat of imminent lawlessness. To wit:

Meanwhile, the National Guard is deploying 10,000 troops to D.C. on Inauguration Day to protect against Trump supporters. Twitter/Facebook had no choice.

12:57 — A 75-year-old Congresswoman has tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering in place during the Capitol insurrection. Many Republican congresspeople refused to wear masks while they were trapped in small spaces together, so we will probably continue to see more of these announcements. Many of those Congresspeople, like Watson, are probably in a high-risk age group.

11:30 a.m. — A GOP House member objected to the Democrats measure to ask Pence to invoke the 25th this morning, which just means that the full House will have to vote on it tomorrow, which also means that there will be a record of those votes from every member of the House.

The House also formally introduced an Article of Impeachment against Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection.” The House is expected to vote on that Article as soon as Wednesday (assuming that Pence does not invoke the 25th).

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee acknowledged the violence on the Capitol last week, but the GOP signaled what their approach to impeachment will continue to be: “We must come together to heal our nation.” Huh. They never called upon us to “come together to heal the nation” while they were trying to overthrow an election. It’s so weird that, after two months of beating up on Democracy, the Republicans decided to call upon us to “heal” as soon as Democracy hit back.

Speaking of which, I forgot to mention this earlier, but did you see Kellyanne Conway’s tweet this weekend? The audacity of it nearly broke my brain. Twitter should ban her purely for her unctuousness.

9 a.m. — Here’s a quick recap of the weekend’s events: On Friday night, Twitter banned Donald Trump from Twitter. By Sunday, he’d been completely de-platformed — everything from the credit card processing company responsible for Trump campaign merch to TikTok (preemptively) had banned Trump. His most likely alternative, Parler, was removed from the Apple and Google stores, and last night, Amazon shut down Parler’s servers.

Without Twitter, Trump has been creepily quiet. I’m not mad about that. Melania Trump did, however, release a statement, basically positioning herself as the victim. “I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me — from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda. This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.” Melania is upset that her staff members were the first to resign last week (specifically, her Chief of Staff) because Melania was overseeing a photoshoot in the White House during the insurrection and refused to end it.

Meanwhile, there’s a reason that all of these social networks shut down Trump, and it’s not a free speech issue. Banning political speech is a free speech issue. Banning those who would incite violence is a necessary business decision to avoid being sued into oblivion.

There will almost certainly be more violence. In fact, they are already threatening it in places like Fox News, where they’re basically saying, “Be nice to Trump and the insurrectionists, or they’ll do it again.”

This succinctly sums up my thoughts on that:

I don’t have much of any faith in Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, and I don’t think they wanted to do this, because Trump has been good for business. I think they had no choice; they didn’t want to provide a means for Donald Trump to incite and coordinate additional attacks. Amazon, likewise, shut down Parler for that exact reason.

This sh*t is not a joke. These people are not neckbeards behind a computer screen in their mom’s basement. They are retired soldiers, off-duty police officers, defense lawyers, and state senators, and the right response is not to be nice, it’s to make sure they know that there are consequences, not just legal consequences for the people who stormed the Capitol, but political consequences for the ones who encouraged them (and legal ones, in some case, as well). They had zip ties. They built a guillotine. They came into the Capitol to hang Mike Pence.

There’s the usual array of Republicans bleating because they’ve lost thousands of (Nazi/bot) followers, and raging about their First Amendment rights on a private platform. These are the same people, of course, who complain that private bakers ought to be able to decide whether or not to make a cake for gay couples. Even if Twitter were controlled by the First Amendment — and as a private company, it is not — there is an exception to the First Amendment for incitement. You know what else is not protected by the First Amendment? FALSE STATEMENTS OF FACT. So, two of the biggest exceptions to the First Amendment are “fighting words” and “false statements of fact,” which is to say: The First Amendment is completely useless when it comes to Donald Trump’s Twitter account. In fact, Donald Trump is lucky that people with moneyed interests kept him on their platforms as long as they did, because a public company would have shut him down a long time ago for endangering the lives of Americans.

Actually, you know what a better analogy than the baker is? Cumulus Media, which employs Dan Bongino, Mark Levin, and Ben Shapiro, among other right-wing, has told its on-air hosts to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face immediate termination. I don’t yet see Shapiro or Bongino screaming FIRST AMENDMENT about that.

Look: I’m not crazy about f**king up Biden’s first 100 days with another impeachment trial, either, but it’s necessary. Pelosi is going to give Pence another chance to invoke the 25th Amendment today, and how Mike Pence continues to go soft on Trump is astounding to me, considering that Trump sent a mob to hang his own Vice President, and Trump did absolutely nothing to stop them. He didn’t even call in to check on Pence, whose wife and family were also in the building that day. TRUMP PUT MOTHER IN DANGER.

Assuming Pence doesn’t invoke, Pelosi and the House will vote to impeach Trump Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I think — although I am not certain — that it would prevent the President from pardoning himself (at least on charges of insurrection). The earliest a trial could be held, however, is on the 19th (the day before Biden’s inauguration), so I’m kind of with Rep. Clyburn here in that Pelosi should impeach, but hold the Articles and not send them over to the Senate until after the first 100 days, because we really need to turn our focus to the vaccine effort (Also, I would add the call to the Secretary of State of Georgia to the Articles, as well as Trump’s decision to essentially fire a U.S. Attorney in Georgia for not investigating Trump’s made-up allegations).

I think the 100 days would also give a number of Republican Senators some distance from this (and from the threat of Trump’s base), which might make it more likely Trump is convicted. These days, 100 days is a lifetime. Hawley, Cruz, and Ron Johnson also need to be expelled, although they’re already pariahs (hell, Cruz was one long before any of this).

I hate it when we do that thought exercise where we say, “If Obama had done this, the Republicans would …” especially here because the thought that Obama might engage in sedition is fantasy. But also, if even one person had breached the security perimeter after being encouraged by Obama to storm the capitol, the Republicans would have had him tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by the end of the week.


In the meantime, here’s what’s on the President’s schedule for his last full week: He might give a speech on Big Tech today (ha!); he’s going to Alamo, Texas (not the Alamo) to muse about his wall; he’s probably going to pardon some more people; and on Thursday, he’s giving Bill Belichick the Medal of Freedom. I hate Bill Belichick — hate — but surely he’ll decline at this point? Right? Is he so awful that he’d actually accept a useless medal from a seditionist?

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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