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Tucker Carlson completely loses it over the idea that the FBI should target white nationalist terrorists

Fox News' Tucker Carlson unleashed a furious screed on Tuesday night in response to California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff's argument that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security focus their efforts on white nationalist terrorism.

"Listen to America's new grand inquisitor," Carlson said on air, introducing a clip of Schiff speaking.

In the clip, Schiff, who is Jewish, explained to CNN that the concern is not new.

"We have been urging for some time that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security raise the priority to domestic terrorism, to white nationalism, as it threatens the country," he said. "And we're going to continue sounding the alarm, and make sure that they're devoting the time, the resources, the attention. Just as we did after 9/11 to the threat of international terrorism, we need to give the same priority and urgency to domestic terrorism."

They weren't surprising remarks, coming just weeks after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a violent and deadly mob, filled with racists and white supremacists, trying to overthrow the constitutional order. As the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, it's Schiff's job to oversee the conduct of the agencies in question.

But for Carlson, the remarks were completely outrageous. To convey that message to his audience, he had to completely distort what Schiff said. The way Carlson chose to misinterpret the remarks was quite telling.

"Got that?" Carlson said after playing the Schiff clip. "Vote the wrong way, and you are a jihadi. You thought you were an American citizen with rights and just a different view. But no, you're a jihadi. And we're going to treat you like we treated those radicals after 9/11. Like we treated bin Laden. Get in line, pal. This is a war on terror. Keep in mind, as you listen to people talk like this — and Adam Schiff is far from the only one — they're talking about American citizens here. They're talking about you. But nobody seems to notice or care."

It was a remarkable reaction. In the clip — the clip Carlson specifically chose because he thought it best illustrated his point — Schiff was explicitly talking about white nationalist domestic terrorists. This is indisputably a crime, not First Amendment-protected activity, and it's a threat that the Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray recently warned about as an increasing peril.

"Within the domestic terrorism bucket, the category as a whole, racially motivated violent extremism is, I think, the biggest bucket within that larger group. And within the racially motivated violent extremist bucket, people subscribing to some kind of white supremacist-type ideology is certainly the biggest chunk of that," Wray said last September. "Lately we've been having about 1,000 domestic terrorism cases each year. It is higher this year."

The attack on the Capitol only highlighted this danger. It's fair to worry that the new administration might overreact to this threat and that civil liberties might be at risk, as they were after 9/11. Those are concerns worth taking seriously.

But that's not what Carlson said. Instead, he told his audience that Schiff is arguing that people should be treated like terrorists if they "vote the wrong way." In fact, he even said that "you" will be treated like Osama bin Laden — that is, hunted down and killed — because of who "you" vote for. That's not within the same ballpark of what Schiff or anyone else has said. This a QAnon-level conspiracy theory that Carlson is spouting on primetime cable news.

Carlson also showed his own prejudice and bigotry, directly implying that "jihadis" couldn't be American citizens with all the rights that entitles them to. That's false, of course — some terrorists who commit jihadist-inspired acts of terrorism are Americans. Even foreign jihadi terrorists have many rights that ought to be recognized. But it's been people like Carlson and his allies who have consistently argued against the rights of terrorists when they happen to be Muslim. Despite his posturing now against the war on terror, he previously supported it. In fact, Carlson one called Iraqis "semiliterate primitive monkeys" who should "just shut the fuck up and obey."

So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that while overreacting to the idea that white nationalist terrorism should be targeted by law enforcement, Carlson also made clear that he thinks terrorists who are Muslim should not have any rights. He's being perfectly clear about who he stands with and who he stands against.

The 'Republican Party is imploding before our very eyes': Analyst says McConnell is digging his own grave

Speaking on MSNBC Tuesday, "The Circus'" Alex Wagner said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would weaponize the Senate gym if he was able to do it.

She explained that while the country is facing a slate of challenges, "we're dealing with a Republican Party that's imploding before our very eyes. We talk about the fact that Mitch McConnell be is trying to weaponize an organizing resolution. Everybody should take a moment and absorb that. This is the organizing resolution is a pro forma piece of Senate parliamentary procedure. Mitch McConnell tried to weaponize it. That, to me, indicates the Republican Party will leave no stone unturned in terms of the levers of power. If they could weaponize the Senate gym, they would. Anything that there is, they will try to use as a lever of power because they understand they are dealing with an administration and a Democratic Party that is emboldened, that is scared for the future of the country and that is willing to do a lot of really big things to save what I think they see as the country on a precipice."

Wagner didn't say it but public opinion alone is working against the GOP. President Joe Biden enjoys a 66 percent job approval according to Gallup, while former President Donald Trump left office with the lowest polling of his presidency at 34 percent.

The argument over the parliamentary procedure is about the filibuster, which Mitch McConnell wants to preserve and many Democrats oppose because it has stopped majority rule in the Senate, which is outlined in the Constitution. The founding documents outline a simple majority of Senators to pass legislation, but due to the threat of a filibuster, a super-majority of 60 votes is needed to pass any legislation. It was a tactic used during the Jim Crow era to block Civil Rights legislation and it has been employed by McConnell over the past decade to stop the Senate from passing bills.

Host Ari Melber said that McConnell admitted in public that he would use whatever obstruction tactics available to him to stop the Democrats from passing any legislation.

"It's completely counterintuitive," Wagner said. "Mitch McConnell doesn't want anybody to do away with the filibuster because it's the one tool he has. It is a very, very effective tool the way the Republicans have used it. He's virtually guaranteeing the Democrats are brought to the edge of getting rid of the filibuster because his tactics to preserve it are so willfully wrong if you will. I mean, it is so plainly obvious what he -- he's laying out his agenda of obstruction and hoping that the Democrats don't fight. I think honestly if you had asked me a week ago whether there was momentum within the Democratic Party to get rid of the filibuster, the antics of the past few days have almost ensured there is going to be a real groundswell of consensus inside the Democratic caucus to do something about the filibuster because of McConnell's behavior over the last couple of days."

See the video below:

McConnell is digging his own political grave www.youtube.com

Democrats unveil bill to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour — with the party's full support

Demanding an end to the "starvation wage" of $7.25 that has prevailed at the national level since 2009, a group of top House and Senate lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025—a move that would hike the pay of an estimated 32 million workers across the United States.

Led by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) in the House and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Senate, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 (pdf) would phase in the $15 hourly minimum wage over the next four years and index it to median wage growth thereafter.

The bill, which has the backing of both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), would also gradually phase out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, teen workers, and workers with disabilities, ensuring that those workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage.

Sanders, the incoming chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said during a press call Tuesday that while he would prefer to implement the $15-an-hour floor more quickly, the legislation as is would "improve life substantially for millions and millions of workers."

"No person in America can make it on $8, $10, or $12 an hour," Sanders said in a statement. "In the United States of America a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage—at least $15 an hour."

"We can no longer tolerate millions of workers not being able to afford to feed their families or pay the rent," the Vermont senator added. "The time for talk is over. No more excuses. It is time for Congress to act to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour."

While cities and states across the nation have hiked their minimum wages in recent years in response to tireless advocacy by the grassroots Fight for $15 movement, the federal minimum wage has been stagnant for more than a decade, the longest stretch without an increase since the minimum wage was enshrined into law in 1938.

"As a longtime organizer for working people who helped draft the resolution that made Seattle the first major city to enact a $15 minimum wage, I know that raising the wage is good for workers, families, businesses, and the economy," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "It is time for the People's House to once again stand up for workers, fight for families, and pass the Raise the Wage Act so we finally have a $15 minimum wage all across America."

The Democrat-controlled House passed an earlier version of the Raise the Wage Act in July of 2019, but the then-Republican-controlled Senate refused to allow a vote on the measure.

During Tuesday's press call, Sanders expressed confidence that with Democratic control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency, the Raise the Wage Act finally has a strong chance of becoming law. The Vermont senator added that he is working on a plan to structure the minimum wage increase so it can clear the Senate through the budget reconciliation process, which is filibuster-proof and thus requires just a simple-majority vote.

"Do I think we have 50 votes plus one [from Vice President Kamala Harris] to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage? I absolutely believe that we do," said the Vermont senator.

In a statement Tuesday, Ben Zipperer of the Economic Policy Institute said that the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 is "not just moral policy, it is also good economics."

"A $15 minimum wage by 2025 would generate $107 billion in higher wages for workers," said Zipperer. "Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 will help reduce poverty, narrow racial and gender pay gaps, and stimulate the economy. Minimum wage workers deserve a raise. Now is the time for Congress to give it to them."

How Fox News is now defending QAnon

Supporters of the far-right QAnon conspiracy cult were among the extremists who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, inspiring national security experts to voice concerns about QAnon possibly making inroads in the military and law enforcement. But some pundits at Fox News, including Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, don't view QAnon as a threat and are now defending the movement by equating criticism of QAnon with attacks on free speech.

Carlson, during one of his angry rants on Tuesday night, mocked the idea that QAnon is dangerous.

"The real threat is a forbidden idea," Carlson said mockingly. "It's something called QAnon."

Carlson went on to show a collage of cable news clips describing QAnon's extremism before suggesting that those attacking QAnon are promoting "tyranny."

"No democratic government can ever tell you what to think," Carlson told viewers. "Your mind belongs to you. It is yours and yours alone."

This was a non-sequitur. The clips he had showed included media figures sharing fears and concerns about the belief system, not a call for the government to "tell you what to think."

Carlson went on to denounce QAnon critics as a "mob of censors, hysterics and Jacobin destroyers, all working on behalf of entrenched power to take total control of everything."

In a rant of her own, Ingraham showed a clip of Jen Psaki — the new White House press secretary under President Joe Biden — telling reporters that the National Security Council will try to determine "how the government can share information" on efforts to "prevent radicalization" and "disrupt violent extremist networks." And Ingraham tried to spin Psaki's announcement not as an effort to prevent domestic terrorism, but as a crackdown on conservatives in general.

"Republicans need to step up in unison and demand that the Defense Department and the Biden administration clearly define what they think constitutes extremism," Ingraham declared. "Now, if a member of the military voted for Trump, does that make him an extremist? Now, what if someone complains on Facebook that the federal government wastes a lot of money? Is she an extremist? What if they say that Roe v. Wade should be overturned? Or what if they participate in the March for Life?"

Ingraham continued, "What if they're conservative Baptists — they believe that sex outside of marriage is immoral? Is that extremist? What if they have guns at home and they're lifetime NRA members? Will they now be considered extremists or even terrorists? We deserve to know. You see where this is destined to lead. And it is certainly not to a freer and more united America."

By suggesting there's no way to target the threat from violent extremist ideologies like QAnon without targeting other conventional conservatives, Ingraham, too, offered more cover for the conspiracist movement.

A former Senate insider explains how the chamber became a threat to democracy

President Joe Biden has promised swift action on the pandemic, the economic crisis and more, but much of his agenda hinges on whether he can get enough support in the Senate, where an unprecedented number of bills in recent years has required a 60-vote supermajority in order to overcome filibusters. Many progressives and civil rights groups have urged Democratic leaders to kill the filibuster, warning that if they don't, Senate Republicans will obstruct Biden's plans just as they did with the Obama administration. Former Senate aide Adam Jentleson, author of the new book "Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy," says the filibuster has historically been used to stop racial progress and thwart majority opinion. "The framers … did not want the filibuster to exist," he says. "When they created the Senate, it was an institution that had no filibuster power. It was designed to be a majority-rule body."

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I'm Amy Goodman.

Democratic lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to hold an impeachment trial of former President Trump for inciting the deadly January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. House impeachment managers are walking the single article of impeachment to the Senate today. The Senate trial will begin the week of February 8th. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke Friday.

MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER: Now, as I mentioned, the Senate will also conduct a second impeachment trial for Donald Trump. I've been speaking to the Republican leader about the timing and duration of the trial. But, make no mistake, a trial will be held in the United States Senate, and there will be a vote on whether to convict the president.

AMY GOODMAN: As senators prepare for the impeachment trial, lawmakers are also debating how to move forward on President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. The Senate is split 50-50, but the Democrats control the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaking vote.

Schumer and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are locked in negotiations over how the Senate will be run over the next two years. McConnell is pushing to preserve the filibuster, which allows any senator to block a bill's passage unless it's supported by 60 senators. Critics say the filibuster is a relic of the Jim Crow era that preserves minority rule. A group of civil rights and social justice groups are pushing Democrats to eliminate the filibuster to limit McConnell's power and give Biden a chance to enact his agenda.

On Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders, who's the incoming Senate Budget Committee chair, appeared on CNN and promoted using a process known as reconciliation to quickly pass part of Biden's COVID relief plan.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months and months to go forward. We have got to act now. That is what the American people want. Now, as you know, reconciliation, which is a Senate rule, was used by the Republicans, under Trump, to pass massive tax breaks for the rich and large corporations. It was used as an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And what we are saying is, "You used it for that. That's fine. We're going to use reconciliation — that is, 50 votes in the Senate plus the vice president — to pass legislation desperately needed by working families in this country right now. You did it. We're going to do it. But we're going to do it to protect ordinary people, not just the rich and the powerful."

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the state of the Senate, we're joined by Adam Jentleson, the public affairs director at Democracy Forward, former deputy chief of staff to Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. Jentleson's new book is titled Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.

So, let's start with what's happening in the Senate right now. You say it's the most unequal body in the U.S. federal government. Explain why, and how that impacts everything from reconciliation to the filibuster.

ADAM JENTLESON: That's right. And thanks for having me here. It's great to join you today.

So, you know, the Senate was created to provide a counterbalance to the House, which was supposed to be — the House was supposed to be sort of the direct body that represented the people. And the Senate was always designed to provide sort of an elite counterweight. And it was designed to be a little bit anti-democratic, in its inception.

You know, in the House, apportionment is determined by population, so every district is about the same size, and every state has about the same number of House members proportional to their population, so the bigger states have a lot more representatives. California has many more representatives in the House than, say, Wyoming, which has one representative.

In the Senate, every state gets equal representation. So, Wyoming has two senators, and California has two senators. California's population is about 39 million people. Wyoming's population is about 600,000 people. So, by that proportionate representation, it actually creates a disproportionate voting power. So, every citizen in Wyoming has many more times the voting power than a citizen in California.

This was something that the framers were aware of when they created it, but some of them decried it at the time and said this is a big problem. Madison, who's often cited as the chief framer and constructor of the Senate, actually strongly opposed this kind of equal representation. And when I say "equal," I mean the same number of senators; the way it plays out is actually, you know, dramatically unequal representation for the actual voters. Madison, at the time, said that it would be a great source of — he used the word — "injustice" to give states equal representation. At the time that he called this an injustice, the biggest state was Virginia, and it was about 10 times as big as the smallest state, Delaware. Madison was right that it creates an injustice, but that injustice is several orders of magnitude bigger now than at the time. You know, Virginia was 10 times the size of Delaware in 1789. Today, California is about 70 times the size of Wyoming. So, it is an unequal body. The way this —

AMY GOODMAN: Seventy times the size. And for people who listen to this globally, each of them, because they're each a state, have two senators, have equal representation in the Senate.

ADAM JENTLESON: That's right. And because a lot of — and, you know, the way this plays out is that what that translates to is not just disproportionate representation geographically, but disproportionate presentation in terms of racial, ethnic, minority voting power. California, obviously, is an incredibly diverse state. Wyoming is an incredibly monolithic state demographically. But Wyoming has equal voting power to California. And this continues throughout, if you go down the chamber, because the general pattern is that the more rural states, the lower-population states, tend to be overwhelmingly white. And so, what that translates to in our modern era is a dramatically disproportionate amount of voting power to white conservatives in America.

AMY GOODMAN: So, take this to the history of the filibuster. I want to play just a clip of President Obama speaking about the filibuster at the funeral of the late Georgia Congressmember John Lewis.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that's what we should do.

AMY GOODMAN: "Another Jim Crow relic," says Obama. You take this back, Adam, to slavery.

ADAM JENTLESON: That's right. And Obama is 100% right. He's been consistent on the filibuster. He's always wanted to get rid of it. In his new memoir, he says he wishes he had started his first administration by rallying Democrats to get rid of it, so that he could have passed more and bigger things. But, yes, he's absolutely right about the history.

The history, you know, it's important to understand that the framers, for all their own racism and slaveholding status, even they did not want the filibuster to exist. When they created the Senate, it was an institution that had no filibuster power. It was designed to be a majority-rule body. It was designed to discourage obstruction. They were very clear about this; this wasn't just sort of a coincidence or sort of a gray area. The reason they were clear about it was that they created the Constitution in the shadows of the Articles of Confederation, and the widespread view at the time was that the reason the Articles of Confederation failed was that its Congress required a supermajority threshold to pass most major legislation. And so, the framers saw that that had been a disaster, and they created a Senate that was majority rule.

And they wrote very clearly in The Federalist Papers, in their own correspondence and other sources that they believed that a minority, a numerical minority, in the Senate should not be given the power to obstruct what the majority wanted to do. By all means, the Senate was supposed to be deliberative. It was supposed to be thoughtful. It was supposed to take things a little slower than the House. But there was a certain point at which debate was considered to have run its course. And at that point, a majority was allowed to end debate, bring the bill up for a vote and pass or fail it on a majority vote.

What happened was, over the course of several decades, after all the framers had passed away, other senators did use some obstructive tactics over the early decades, but it was very rare. John C. Calhoun came along, the "Great Nullifier," senator from South Carolina, sort of a grandfather of the Confederacy, and he innovated some of the tactics that became known as the modern filibuster. And he did it for the express purpose of increasing the power of the slaveholding class. What he saw at this time — this was around the 1830s and 1840s — was that slaveholders and slave states were becoming steadily outpowered in Congress. And so, he knew that if majority rule was allowed to continue, slavery was going to end. And they needed to — he felt a very compelling desire, from his perspective, to increase their power in the Senate.

And so, what he did was innovate what we would describe as the modern talking filibuster, the sort of Jimmy Stewart-style holding the floor, joining with allies, to delay a bill that he opposed, and, at the same time, doing it all in the service of this lofty principle of minority rights. And what he — the minority that he sought to protect was not a vulnerable population, by any means. It was the planter class, the slaveholders. And so, that was the origin of this essential principle of minority rights being tied to the filibuster. It was a desire to protect not a vulnerable minority, but the minority of the planter class against the march of progress, that Calhoun thought would progress under a majority-rule system.

AMY GOODMAN: So, take that to today and this battle over the filibuster in the Senate, the trajectory you see from slavery to Jim Crow to the new Biden administration and the Democratic majority, and what they're trying to do —

ADAM JENTLESON: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: — whether we're talking about COVID relief or talking, for example, about impeachment.

ADAM JENTLESON: Sure. So, the key development in the history of the filibuster, from the time of Calhoun to now, is the transition from this talking filibuster, you know, the Jimmy Stewart-style holding the floor, into a supermajority threshold that can be applied to block any bill. And just to underscore, for the first 200 years of its existence or so, the Senate was majority rule. Even as the filibuster started to develop in Calhoun's time, all that senators could do was delay a bill. They had to talk on the floor, and eventually they had to give up. There was no ability to impose a supermajority threshold.

That didn't arise until after 1917, when the Senate put a rule on the books that, ironically, was designed to end filibusters. It implemented a supermajority threshold under the principle that after debate had gone for long enough, two-thirds of the body would be able to come together and say, "You know what? This is enough. Let's cut this off. Let's move to a final debate — a final vote on the bill."

It took a long time for this to happen, but Southern senators, in the Jim Crow era — and this gets back to what President Obama was talking about — started to reverse the purpose of that rule, and instead of using it to end debate, as it had been designed to do, started using it as a higher threshold for civil rights bills to have to clear. And it's important to underscore how transformative the power of racism was in this evolution. The only category —

AMY GOODMAN: And then, we just have a minute.

ADAM JENTLESON: Oh, OK.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have a minute, but I wanted to take this forward to what's happening now and play a clip of the incoming Senate Budget Committee chair, Bernie Sanders, speaking on CNN, defending his call for using reconciliation to pass the COVID relief bill, and then ask how that fits into this paradigm you're describing.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: And I criticized the Republicans, yeah, for using reconciliation to give tax breaks to billionaires, to create a situation where large, profitable corporations now pay zero in federal income taxes. Yes, I did criticize them for that. And if they want to criticize me for helping to feed children who are hungry, or senior citizens in this country who are isolated and alone and don't have enough food, they can criticize me. I think it's the appropriate step forward.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Bernie Sanders, yes, Senator Mittens, for those who have been following the, to say the least, viral meme of him wearing his Vermont mittens at the inauguration. But, Adam Jentleson, if you could end by talking about what this means for the COVID relief bill, who gets helped, and who doesn't?

ADAM JENTLESON: Sure. So, what Sanders has done is accurately identify a process called budget reconciliation, that is an end run around this supermajority threshold that I was describing. That threshold has gone, from the Jim Crow era, from being only applied to civil rights bills to today being applied to every bill. And this is the primary source of gridlock in the Senate.

As the budget chair, Sanders can use reconciliation to go around it. That can be used for the COVID relief bill. He's absolutely right about that. That may be where we go. It will enable us to pass COVID relief over the objections of Republicans and not have to clear a 60-vote threshold.

Long term, though, the filibuster will rear its head, because anything involving civil rights, democracy reforms or those types of reforms cannot go through reconciliation. Reconciliation is a restrictive process that has tight rules. They have to be budgetary items to conform with its rules. So, ultimately, we're going to have to face this question of the filibuster, if we want to do things like D.C. statehood, Puerto Rico statehood, any kind of civil rights expansions, automatic voter registration. All of that stuff can't go through reconciliation. If we don't reform the filibuster, it will die by the filibuster. So, that's where this issue will really come to a head for Democrats.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Adam Jentleson, I want to thank you for being with us, public affairs director for Democracy Forward, former deputy chief of staff to the Democratic majority leader, Senator Harry Reid. His new book, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.

Next up, as the number of U.S. COVID cases hits 25 million, we'll speak to the Reverend Barber about the challenges ahead. He gave the homily at the post-inaugural prayer breakfast. We'll talk about inequality. And what does unity really mean? Stay with us.

Historian declares Trump definitively 'disgraced' as the House delivers impeachment article

Michael Beschloss has sealed Donald Trump's fate for the rest of time, passing judgment on him as House Democrats presented the Article of Impeachment against the former president to the U.S. Senate.

"A President of the United States, indicted by the House of Representatives for incitement of insurrection. This is the definition of 'disgraced,'" Beschloss said on Twitter.

Beschloss is NBC News's Presidential Historian.

He also posted this tweet earlier this evening:

Here's the reading of the Article of Impeachment for incitement of insurrection.

White House press secretary shuts down Fox News' bogus attack on Biden

When Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary under President Joe Biden, held a briefing on Monday, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy accused Biden of having a double standard when it comes to travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And Psaki quickly laid out the flaws in Doocy's argument.

Doocy told Psaki that when former President Donald Trump imposed travel restrictions on people entering the U.S. from China in 2020, Biden "called it xenophobic and fear-mongering." But now, Doocy added, "President Biden is putting travel restrictions on people coming in from other countries."

Psaki told Doocy, "I don't think that's quite a fair articulation. The president has been clear that he felt the Muslim ban was xenophobic; he overturned the Muslim ban. He also, though, has supported…. travel restrictions in order to keep the American people safe, to ensure that we are keeping the pandemic under control. That's been part of his policy."

The White House press secretary added, "But he was critical of the former president for having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions, and he conveyed at the time — and more recently — the importance of having a multi-faceted approach: mask-wearing, vaccine distribution, funding in order to get 100 million shots in the arms of Americans in the first 100 days. Not just travel restrictions."

Politifact has addressed Biden's use of the words "fear-mongering" and "xenophobic" in connection with Trump's travel policy last year. Despite the fact that it has become conventional wisdom in right-wing media that Biden attacked travels bans as xenophobic, the fact checker determined such claims are "mostly false." On Jan. 31, Biden said, "This is no time for Donald Trump's record of hysteria, xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science." And on March 18, 2020, Biden tweeted:

According to Politifact, "Biden has not directly said that the restrictions were xenophobic. Around the time the Trump administration announced the travel restriction, Biden said that Trump had a 'record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering.' Biden used the phrase 'xenophobic' in reply to a Trump tweet about limiting entry to travelers from China and in which he described the coronavirus as the 'Chinese virus.'"

Dr. Birx finally shares her real take on working in the Trump administration

Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Deborah Birx faced intense pressure and scrutiny from both President Donald Trump and the scientific community. Now, she is revealing how she mulled over dealing with the pressures of her job. According to The Washington Post, the infectious disease expert has admitted that she "always" considered leaving her post.

A clip of Birx's recent appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation" has been released and during the segment, she told Margaret Brennan, "I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day?"

Birx, who was also publicly lambasted and deemed "pathetic" by the disgraced former president on Twitter, admitted that the Trump administration's polarization and politicization of the coronavirus are largely responsible for the hundreds of thousands of COVID-related deaths in the United States.

The former White House official went on to detail the daily personal battle she faced each day while working under the Trump administration.

"Colleagues of mine that I'd known for decades — decades — in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever," Birx said. "I had to ask myself every morning, 'Is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic?' And it's something I asked myself every night."

Birx also admitted what many have speculated: she had been censored by Trump's White House but insists she refrained from intentionally withholding pertinent information about the pandemic. Her latest interview comes after her months-long battle working with the Trump administration.

While she admitted that the job was always challenging and she had "mounting concerns" about the administration's handling of the pandemic, Birx noted that it grew particularly worse the closer it got to the presidential election. Around that time, Birx released detailed communications, obtained by The Washington Post, warning of the dangers the United States could face during the winter months if proper measures were not taken to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

"When it became a point where I wasn't getting anywhere — and that was like right before the election — I wrote a very detailed communication plan of what needed to happen the day after the election and how that needed to be executed," she said. "And there was a lot of promise that that would happen."

As of Saturday, Jan. 23, the United States has reported more than 25.3 million coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The nation's death toll is now over 424,000.

'Keep your nose out of our business': Ted Cruz's attack on the Paris climate deal backfires spectacularly

When President Joe Biden announced his intent to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was one of the first Republican lawmakers to publicly slam the newly-elected president's decision. Echoing a line from former President Donald Trump, Cruz claimed to be protecting the interests of Pittsburgh over Paris. Almost immediately after he shared his statement via Twitter, critics began firing back.

Now, according to CBS-Pittsburgh, local official Rich Fitzgerald has a message for the embattled Texas senator. When asked about Cruz's remarks, Fitzgerald did not mince words when he expressed his level of disdain for the Republican lawmaker. He also offered a clear message to Cruz: stay out of Pittsburgh business.

"Outrageous. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He's been a climate denier. He was a COVID denier. We believe in science around here," Fitzgerald told KDKA. "We'll run what we need to do here, Senator, and keep your nose out of our business."

Fitzgerald's remarks come just one day after Cruz released a full statement about Biden rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Cruz tweeted, "By rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, President Biden indicates he's more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh. This agreement will do little to affect the climate and will harm the livelihoods of Americans."

On Thursday, Cruz tweeted another message that suggested he was standing by his previous remarks.

However, Fitzgerald argued that Biden made the right decision by rejoining the accord as he explained the benefits of addressing environmental issues.

Fitzgerald added, "We have green initiatives that have happened around here, not just with our governmental side of things, but our private sector."

He continued, "It is also improving our quality of life here. So companies continue to grow here."

"Extremists who don't want to do anything, Senator Cruz, who have their head in the sand. The flat-earth society that basically doesn't believe in science," Fitzgerald said, adding, "You have other people who want to shut everything down tomorrow."

Michigan commissioner flashes gun during meeting when asked to denounce the Proud Boys

Keli MacIntosh presented the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners with one question during their virtual meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20: "Would the board openly denounce the Proud Boys after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol?"

Since members of the far-right extremist group confronted the Michigan body in 2020 amid concerns about gun rights and, most recently, found themselves at the center of controversy after storming the U.S. Capitol, MacIntosh sought transparency about the positions of the elected officials in her county.

But instead of receiving straightforward answers from all of the commissioners on the board, Commissioner Ron Clous (R), stepped out of the camera view and returned with his semiautomatic rifle.

During an interview with The Washington Post, MacIntosh expressed concern about the message Clous wanted to convey through his actions as she questioned his ability to govern with the community's best interests in mind as she questioned his ability to govern with the community's best interests in mind.

"He is supposed to be looking out for the best interests of the community," she said of Clous. "What is the message he's trying to convey? That if someone speaks out against us, we'll just threaten them with a gun?"


While Clous did not respond to The Washington Post's request for comment, he did reach out to the Traverse City Record-Eagle to explain his stance. According to Clous, his action was a response to MacIntosh's request.

"I was just going to show the rifle and show that I fully support the Second Amendment, but then I opted not to," he told the newspaper. Clous also made it clear that he would not denounce the Proud Boys as he described them as "decent guys" who "treated us with respect."

Clous also argued that he does not see the extremist group as a hate group.

He added, "I am not a member of Proud Boys. But I do know a few Proud Boys. I've met Black Proud Boys, I've met multiracial Puerto Rican Proud Boys and they inform me they also have gay Proud Boys. I don't see how that's a hate group."

Why even some conservatives are thrilled with Biden so far

During the final weeks of Donald Trump's presidency, conservative pundit Charlie Sykes made no secret of the fact that he was anxious to see him go. The Never Trumper weighs in on Joe Biden's inaugural address and his first actions as president in his column for The Bulwark, and Sykes' commentary is generally positive.

"Joe Biden's speech may not have been, as Chris Wallace suggests, the greatest inaugural address ever, but it met the moment," Sykes argues. "Biden's address was not focused on policy and had an apolitical aura, but it also was built around a coruscating critique of Donald Trump and the toxic post-reality culture of Trumpism."

Sykes adds that the "contrasts" between the end of Trump's presidency and the beginning of Biden's have been "stark" — and those contrasts, according to Sykes, include "petulance vs. graciousness, mendacity vs. decency, narcissistic sulks vs. empathy."

Although Sykes is right-wing politically, he has been a blistering critic of Trump and was happy to see Biden defeat him in the 2020 presidential election.

"Trump's stage-managed exit managed to make this small, bitter man, even smaller," Sykes comments. "His absence from the inauguration, while undoubtedly welcome to all concerned, had the effect of air-brushing himself out of our political life. The scene of the ex-presidents at Arlington — while Trump sulked at Mara Lago — was a powerful symbol of his isolation and coming irrelevance. Basically, Trump himself declared that he didn't belong there. And he didn't."

The conservative columnist writes that the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building "made the symbolism of" Inauguration Day "seem more important."

"The drama of a routine ceremony seemed suddenly urgent and fresh, because we knew it all represented something more fragile that we had ever imagined," Sykes writes. "Biden made the point explicitly and forcefully: 'Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever."

Sykes takes a jab Fox News' Sean Hannity in his column, noting that Hannity described the Democratic president as "the weak, the frail, the cognitively struggling Biden" — a statement that, Sykes notes, "reminds us that Hannity remains a retromingent propagandist, and a silly, unserious man."

Sykes stresses that Biden has been setting a very different tone from Trump since entering the White House on Wednesday.

"We now have a president who wears a mask. Imagine," Sykes comments. "We now have White House press briefings that actually involve the transfer of information. Imagine. A Black preacher, a Jew, and an Hispanic walk into the Senate. And they were sworn in by the first African-American/Asian-American female vice president. That transition of power was obviously more than just symbolic."