Calls To Remove Trump, Identifying Capitol Rioters, Biden's Vaccine Rollout Plan : Up First There are growing voices for the President to resign or face impeachment or removal via the 25th amendment. Hundreds of law enforcement officials are combing through images to try to identify and arrest those who attacked the Capitol. With COVID-19 surging, President-elect Joe Biden reveals his plan to release more doses of the vaccine.
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Calls To Remove Trump, Identifying Capitol Rioters, Biden's Vaccine Rollout Plan

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Calls To Remove Trump, Identifying Capitol Rioters, Biden's Vaccine Rollout Plan

Calls To Remove Trump, Identifying Capitol Rioters, Biden's Vaccine Rollout Plan

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Calls to resign or another impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

So this is the question. Can Donald Trump hang on for the final 11 days of his presidency until Joe Biden is sworn in?

I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

SIMON: And I'm Scott Simon. And this is UP FIRST from NPR News.

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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joe Biden didn't call for a second impeachment, but he did say this about the outgoing president.

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JOE BIDEN: He's exceeded even my worst notions about him. He's been embarrassment to the country.

SIMON: Meanwhile, hundreds of law enforcement officials are trying to identify and arrest the rioters who laid siege to the U.S. Capitol this week.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And with COVID-19 numbers surging, the president-elect wants to accelerate the shipment of vaccine doses.

SIMON: Please stay with us. We've got the news you need to start your weekend.

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SIMON: Lawmakers are furious about this week's deadly attack on Capitol Hill by a mob of Trump supporters, with Democrats and some Republicans directing that anger at the president and his role in fueling the deadly riot.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A growing chorus led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now demanding President Trump resign or be removed from office by impeachment or other means.

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NANCY PELOSI: In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We're joined now by NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Good morning.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Claudia, I mean, let's recap a stunning last few hours. President Trump's account is now permanently suspended from Twitter, where he had over 80 million followers. And now Democrats are trying to remove Trump from office as soon as possible. Talk us through what moves they're making and how likely they are to work.

GRISALES: They are moving quickly on considering these moves. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had an hours-long virtual meeting with her colleagues in the House Democratic caucus yesterday. And she instructed the Rules Committee to move forward with legislation, establishing a commission related to evaluating the president's fitness for office. As for articles of impeachment, those are now expected to be filed as early as Monday. And this could kick off a process to initiate an impeachment vote in the coming days. A second impeachment of this president was a last resort if Trump didn't resign or wasn't removed by the 25th Amendment. And neither of those appear to be viable options right now.

Pelosi told her colleagues that the president chose to be an insurrectionist. And so far, sources tell NPR that about 150 members have signed on. But it remains to be seen if more do. The Senate is out until January 19. So even if articles were brought and passed in the House, it's very unlikely the Senate could come back, hold a trial and remove him in the remaining 11 days of his presidency.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, Claudia, as you know, impeachment is a political process, but it is also a legal one. So what are lawmakers saying about the grounds they want to use to impeach or otherwise remove him from office?

GRISALES: They say he directly incited the mob ahead of the attack on Wednesday, building up on that comments he had made on that Twitter account that is now permanently shut down and then telling them just moments beforehand at a rally that, quote, "we're going to have to fight much harder." NPR obtained a draft of the four-page document outlining these articles of impeachment, and it states that, quote, "Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Where's the president's party on this? Because we've been hearing a lot of statements from Republicans, both for and against removing the president. Run us through their positions.

GRISALES: Yes. Just last night, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski joined calls today for his resignation, and she wants to see that happen immediately. And this is remarkable. She's the first GOP senator to do so. And she is facing a reelection fight in 2022. She spoke to Alaska Public Media. Let's take a listen.

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LISA MURKOWSKI: People who were there to riot and who were encouraged that very morning by their president. Yes, yes. I think he was responsible.

GRISALES: This change of heart was first reported by the Anchorage Daily News. She said she's also questioning staying in the Republican Party if it, quote, "has become nothing more than the party of Trump." So she joins a handful of Republicans. But others, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are cautioning against impeachment. He says it will divide the country. And he was one of the lawmakers who joined in these objections to the election's result. A White House spokesman echoed that and called the impeachment a politically motivated move. Meanwhile, there's a series of probes ongoing into this deadly breach of the Capitol, the death of a Capitol police officer. And hearings are expected. And while Republicans are supportive of that, those probes, by and large are signaling that there's just not enough time to go for impeachment at this point.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Thank you very much.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me.

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SIMON: As the cleanup from the attack on the U.S. Capitol continues, investigators are scrambling to try to identify those who took part in the violence and hold them responsible.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We're going to bring in now NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas. Good morning, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So basically, fill us in on the latest on what must be a massive investigation.

LUCAS: This is a big and busy investigation, yeah. The U.S. attorney's office here in D.C. is working with the FBI, the Capitol Police, the ATF, the U.S. Marshal Service and the D.C. Metro Police on this. Officials say that there are hundreds of prosecutors and agents working from three command centers on it. They're working 24 hours a day, officials say, and they describe it as a very active, very fluid and very much evolving investigation. Federal officials say no resources will be spared in finding and holding these rioters accountable. And people have been charged - at this point, more than 50, in fact. The majority of those are in superior court here in D.C. for more minor offenses. But more than a dozen individuals are facing federal charges at this point.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And who are they exactly?

LUCAS: Well, we have the names from the charging documents. One of them is Richard Barnett. You may have seen pictures of a man leaning back in a chair in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office with his feet up on the desk. That's Barnett. He was arrested in Little Rock, Ark., on Friday morning. He faces unlawful entry, disorderly conduct and theft of public property charges. Another is a man by the name of Lonnie Coffman from Alabama. Authorities say that they found 11 Molotov cocktails in his pickup truck on Capitol Hill, as well as guns. He's in custody, and he faces firearms charges. And then another one that stood out is a man by the name of Derrick Evans. And he's notable because he is a newly elected West Virginia state lawmaker. Prosecutors say that he's facing a charge of entering a restricted area.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think it's worth noting that just from those three cases that you've mentioned, we can see that people came in from all over the country for this.

LUCAS: It is. And there were a couple more from Florida and Illinois. So they really did come in from all over the country. And some people who took part in the rioting have, of course, already gone back home. But the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, Steve D'Antuono, said that doesn't mean that they're getting off scot-free. He said even if you have left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if the FBI finds out that you took part in the violence at the Capitol.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And one thing that's been really interesting is on social media, people really sleuthing to find out who was involved in this because they left such a big social media trail. Another aspect of this investigation involves the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Have authorities provided details on that?

LUCAS: Well, Sicknick was injured while protecting the Capitol during this rampage. He was taken to a local hospital. He died there on Thursday night. Prosecutors and the FBI have refused at this point to provide any details or clarity on Sicknick's injuries or the circumstances that led to his death. All that they are saying publicly at this point is that the FBI is investigating, along with the Metro Police Department here in D.C.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So where does this go from here?

LUCAS: Well, the FBI and others are - as you mentioned, they're combing through social media photos and videos, of which there really is an astounding amount, to identify who these individuals were. The FBI has set up a tip line and a portal on its website for the public to submit tips. The FBI says it has received a ton of tips from the public. They say they are going through all of them.

Now, one question that looms over all of this, of course, is whether there was an organized effort by, say, right wing or self-styled militia groups in the storming of the Capitol. There has been public reporting suggesting as much. Officials say that they are aware of those reports. They say they're looking at every single angle, but they had nothing to confirm on that front at this point. But, of course, it is something that we will be keeping an eye on in the days and weeks to come.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas. Thank you very much.

LUCAS: Thank you.

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GARCIA-NAVARRO: The rollout of the coronavirus vaccines in this country has been slow and chaotic, but there are a number of steps the U.S. government could take to accelerate the vaccination campaign and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

SIMON: Yesterday, the Biden transition team announced a plan to try to do just that in a week in which, for the first time, more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on just a single day in the United States. The vaccines just can't come soon enough. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin has more on this.

Selena, thanks for being with us.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning.

SIMON: What did the Biden people announce?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: OK, so you know how both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots? Well, Operation Warp Speed, which is the federal effort managing vaccine distribution, has been holding back millions of second doses and not sending them out to the field. Yesterday, President-elect Biden's incoming press secretary, Jen Psaki, said they plan to change course.

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JEN PSAKI: The president-elect supports distributing most but not all of the currently reserved doses and will take action to make that change when he takes office.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: She said this will allow more people to get those first doses and that Biden would use the Defense Production Act if needed to ensure manufacturers can keep up making second doses on time.

SIMON: Selena, how is this different from the one dose idea that was getting talked about this week? And the FDA warned against it, didn't they?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Right. So this is not the same thing. They're - Biden team is not suggesting that you can just forget about the second dose. And Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health emphasized that point to NPR yesterday. He is, of course, a member of President Trump's COVID-19 task force. And he's been advising the incoming Biden administration.

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ANTHONY FAUCI: They're not talking about withholding and not giving the second dose. They are completely committed to giving the second dose on time, but they feel that the importance of getting as many people as possible is worth the risk. Hopefully the companies will get the doses back there in time.

SIMON: And, Selena, what's been the reaction to this idea?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Well, public health officials and experts that NPR talked to yesterday by and large said that this is a good move. It is a bit of a gamble. One official I talked to called it aggressive. And here's Claire Hannan, who runs the Association for Immunization Managers. And those are the people in charge of each state's vaccination plans.

CLAIRE HANNAN: I think it's probably a good thing to get more doses flowing.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: She says with so many people dying every day, this may be better than keeping vaccine in a freezer somewhere. Of course, there are problems that more doses won't solve, like finding willing people to get shots because of vaccine hesitancy and just general disorganization and chaos that we've heard about in different places.

SIMON: What are some of the other ideas that you've heard that might help the vaccine campaign be more successful and go faster?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Well, money is the No. 1 thing that health officials say they need right now. And the good news is that it's coming. Three billion dollars from CDC is finally on its way after Congress' year-end relief bill. Many officials say they plan to use some of that money for big-scale communications campaigns, to try to combat hesitancy and misinformation. And other suggestions include using bigger venues. We saw New Jersey and Texas and other states announced mega sites opening up where 1,000 or more people can get vaccinated every day. And there's also excitement about some new vaccine candidates on the horizon that aren't as complicated to handle, including a one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Officials are hoping they'll ask FDA for emergency-use authorization really soon.

SIMON: And we're only a few weeks into this whole campaign, Selena. What might be next?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Oh, boy, yes. In some ways, this is the easy part. Right now, frontline health workers and long-term care residents are the group CDC advises should get the vaccine. We've heard reports that that's not always what's happening, but that is the federal guidance. But in a few weeks, it'll be the turn of essential workers and people over 75. And those are much bigger, more diverse groups. So public health officials really have their work cut out for them.

SIMON: NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin, thanks so much.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Thank you.

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GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that's UP FIRST for Saturday, January 9, 2021. I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

SIMON: And I'm Scott Simon. UP FIRST is back Monday with news you need to start your week. You can follow us on social media. We're @UpFirst on Twitter.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And for more news, interviews, books, music...

SIMON: And, even in these times, just plain fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's true. That, too. You can find us on the radio.

SIMON: Weekend Edition, Saturday and Sunday mornings. You can find your NPR station at stations.npr.org.

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