Philly DA’s Office detective has his gun taken away after saying he’s ‘ready to go to war’ over ‘rigged’ election
A detective in the major crimes unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has been placed on restricted duty and had his gun taken away after posting on social media that he’s “ready to go to war” over the false claims that the presidential election was rigged.
“I’m unfortunately ready to go to war. There’s no negotiating when it’s believed the election was rigged,” Detective Vincent Rotondi wrote in a recent Facebook post obtained by The Inquirer in which he used the name Vinny Ro. “Unfortunately only war will change this outcome as is was needed for then revolutionary war and first civil war. I’m done debating, just waiting now.”
District Attorney Larry Krasner said Thursday that a detective in his office had been placed on restricted duty for making inflammatory remarks on social media but would not confirm the detective’s identity.
“We take very seriously any post in which a law enforcement officer appears to be advocating violent crime,” Krasner said. “And we take very seriously any post in which a law enforcement officer appears to be giving the same talking points that are given by white supremacists.”
Pa. to activate National Guard as state prepares for possible unrest
Pennsylvania will activate 450 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist police in securing Harrisburg and other potential targets across the commonwealth following threats of far-right, armed demonstrations in the next week.
Capitol Police Superintendent Joseph Jacob said police expect guardsmen to back up several agencies that are providing security to government buildings. The FBI on Monday warned that supporters of President Donald Trump are planning armed demonstrations at all 50 state capitols ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
More than 1,000 members of the Pa. National Guard are already stationed in Washington, D.C. to provide security in anticipation of the inauguration Wednesday.
Authorities in Harrisburg have not identified a specific threat, but State Police Lt. Col. Scott Price said analysts are “scouring various platforms incessantly.” Police have erected barricades in front of the Capitol building and plan to shut down streets and monitor the area around the complex with helicopters and drones in the coming days. They specifically mentioned Sunday as a day they’re monitoring for potential demonstrations.
Wolf orders Pa. Capitol closed for 2 days next week
Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday ordered the Pennsylvania Capitol closed for two days next week around the swearing-in of three statewide officials and the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The complex is already closed to the general public because of the coronavirus pandemic, and most Capitol employees under Wolf’s jurisdiction currently work remotely. But the new order advises employees who report to work in person to take the days off.
“While we are not aware of any specific threats at this time, we want to act with an abundance of caution to keep employees safe,” Wolf’s Office of Administration said on its website.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (@AP) _ Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday ordered the Pennsylvania Capitol closed for two days next week around the swearing-in of three statewide officials and the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Philly will deploy additional officers ahead of Biden’s inauguration
Philadelphia officials said Thursday that local and federal authorities will be collaborating and deploying additional officers around the city in the coming days in an effort to guard against any possible threat of political violence ahead of the presidential inauguration — following a national effort by law enforcement to be proactive in the wake of last week’s attack on the Capitol in Washington D.C.
Still, at a news conference featuring remarks from city government and law enforcement leaders, officials said they had no indication of a targeted demonstration or action planned for Philadelphia. And they were not expecting any major street closures, disruptions to routine city services, nor were they advising businesses to board up or close windows in advance of Wednesday’s ceremonies in Washington, which will mark the beginning of Joe Biden’s term as president.
“At this particular point in time, we do not have any credible or specific threats to Philadelphia,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
Outlaw and District Attorney Larry Krasner, and Michael J. Driscoll, special agent in charge of the FBI Philadelphia Field Office, said local and federal law enforcement would be working together to investigate and quell any possible unrest as they had before Election Day in November, when large demonstrations on the street passed peacefully as votes were being counted in a close and contentious presidential contest.
Krasner was among those who urged anyone thinking of demonstrating this weekend or next week to do so without resorting to violence, vandalism, or other other behavior that would require criminal charges.
“This city, this team, is going to make sure that there is federal accountability, or there is state accountability, or there is both,” he said.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) also said that officials were working in Harrisburg to ensure that the Pennsylvania Capitol building remained secure, after the FBI this week warned of possible violence at all 50 state capitols.
“We [have] a very secure building,” Hughes said. “All eyes are open, and all preparations are made, and all pre-work is being done....All the research is coming together to make sure that nothing happens to our state capitol.”
Trump impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day
President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day, just as Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office in an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure in the White House.
The timing is not set and depends heavily on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides to transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate. Democrats hoping to avoid interrupting Biden’s inauguration have suggested holding back until the new president has a chance to get his administration going.
Pelosi has not said when she will take the next step to transmit the impeachment article, a sole charge of incitement of insurrection.
Under Senate procedure, the trial is set to start soon after the House delivers the article of impeachment. That could mean starting the trial at 1 p.m. on Inauguration Day. The ceremony at the Capitol starts at noon.
Man who carried Confederate flag through Capitol during riot arrested in Delaware
A Delaware man photographed carrying the Confederate flag through the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot surrendered himself Thursday to federal authorities in Wilmington, investigators said.
Kevin Seefried and his son, Hunter, were both arrested, according to FBI officials. The men are expected to make their first appearance in federal court later this afternoon.
Investigators say the elder Seefried was identified from a widely-circulated photo of him carrying the flag on his shoulder while rioters tore through the building around him.
Lawmakers seek investigation of possible Republican ‘accomplices’ in Capitol riot
Even as Democrats on Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump, they turned their attention to allegations that Republican members of Congress encouraged last week’s insurrection, possibly providing help that enabled the mob that stormed the Capitol.
In the week since the Jan. 6 attack, immediately preceded by Trump’s remarks at a rally, a number of Democrats have pointed to speeches, tweets, and videos that they have said raised questions about whether the attackers may have been inspired or helped by Republican members of Congress.
Sherrill did not identify the Republicans, and she did not respond to a request for comment.
She and other Democrats sent a letter Wednesday asking congressional security officials to investigate what they called “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” the day before the attack.
The letter said Democratic lawmakers and staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol, which was unusual because the building has restricted public access since March, when pandemic protocols were enacted. Since then, tourists have been allowed to enter the Capitol only when brought in by a member of Congress.
Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden dropped the gun charges against Joshua Macias, 42, a co-founder of Vets for Trump, because he had a gun permit in Virginia. Prosecutors said they disagreed and intended to re-file those charges.
But Hayden upheld the gun charges against co-defendant Antonio LaMotta, 61, a bodyguard who had no permit. Both men were held for trial on new charges that include attempting to interfere with an election.
Macias and LaMotta drove up from Virginia, in a Hummer displaying the insignia of the QAnon conspiracy movement, with handguns, an AR-15-style rifle, 160 rounds of ammunition, and a samurai sword, to allegedly interfere in the vote counting process in Philadelphia, prosecutors allege.
A video played in court Thursday shows Macias referring to “ballot stuffers” in “back rooms” shortly before his arrest near the Convention Center.
LaMotta’s attorney Lauren Wimmer declined to comment Thursday. Macias’ attorney, William J. Brennan, said Macias committed no crime.
”He certainly is not on the same side politically as the District Attorney, but to charge him criminally for exercising his right of free assembly and right of free speech, that’s a very dangerous thing,” Brennan said outside the Criminal Justice Center.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock said after the hearing that prosecutors have evidence that LaMotta and Macias were planning to disrupt the election, and wanted to stop the vote count.
The entire National Mall will be closed for Inauguration Day, only accessible by media and security personnel, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security issues.
The extraordinary closure is the latest in a series of security measures to harden the city against the type of violence that rocked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Local and federal officials had already established a downtown security zone and called up more than 20,000 National Guard troops to protect the presidential swearing in on Jan. 20.
The move is significant because the Mall has been the traditional site where much of the general public has gathered to view the inauguration at the Capitol in person and on large jumbotrons.
“That means no one will be able to get into the Mall,” one of the officials said. “I would think about it as if you are going to watch, you are not going to be able to see anything. You would maybe be able to see the top of the Capitol.”
Washington area officials have warned the public to stay away from the District in the week leading up to the inauguration as right-wing groups plan armed protests on Sunday and Inauguration Day, and threats of violence have surfaced on social media.
Metro said Wednesday it will close 13 rail stations within the downtown security perimeter and alter bus routes in the area. Airbnb also announced it would cancel and block reservations in the D.C. area in the days leading up to the inauguration.
Retired Delco firefighter accused of lobbing fire extinguisher that injured officers during Capitol attack
A retired firefighter from Delaware County was arrested Thursday for lobbing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers during the insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, federal authorities said.
Robert Sanford, of Boothwyn, faces federal felony charges including assaulting a police officer. The projectile he is accused of throwing was not the one that killed Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also struck in the head by a fire extinguisher during the melee and later died from his wounds, authorities said.
Investigators said Sanford was identified from video taken at the scene showing him throwing the fire extinguisher around 2:30 p.m. as the pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol building’s west side.
Sanford is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon and will later be transferred to Washington, where his case is being prosecuted.
It was not immediately clear whether he had retained an attorney.
Pa. Congresswoman gets ready to prosecute Trump’s impeachment in the Senate
Now that the House has impeached President Donald Trump for a second time, it’s partly up to a Montgomery County congresswoman to prosecute the case against him.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D., Pa.) will be one of nine impeachment managers — essentially the prosecutors of a Senate trial — chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to present the House’s argument on why Trump should be convicted. A Senate trial isn’t expected until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office, but a conviction can still render a damning judgment for the history books, and also lead to another vote to bar Trump from ever holding federal office again.
“The first impeachment was serious and grievous and amounted to high crimes and misdemeanors against our country, but this one is so much worse,” Dean said in an interview Wednesday evening after the vote. “So it’s ... an extraordinary solemn honor. I feel it is a duty to our country. It’s a responsibility to do the job well.”
Dean, a second-term Democrat from Jenkintown, represents Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District, which includes most of Montgomery County. She was el
ected as part of a blue wave in 2018 that brought several Pennsylvania female Democrats to Capitol Hill. Dean was a lawyer before going into politics. She sits on the powerful House Judiciary Committee.
The House impeached President Donald Trump Wednesday for inciting the violence at the Capitol last week, but they’ll need at least 17 senators to join them to convict.
Two-thirds of the Senate — 67 senators — are needed to convict the president. There are 50 Republicans in the Senate, and so far nine have announced publicly or told news organizations they don’t support impeachment — some on procedural grounds and some because Trump will be out of office when the trial begins.
Those nine Republican senators who have said they don’t support impeachment are:
Notably, current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Wednesday he is open to considering voting against Trump, but said he will hear the evidence first.
Republicans Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have both called on Trump to resign. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial, said the attack on the Capitol was the result of “a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.”
10 Republicans joined Democrats in impeachment vote against Trump
On Wednesday night, 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in inciting a mob of insurrectionists to overrun the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wy.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump where:
With less than seven days remaining in his presidency, Trump’s inner circle is shrinking, offices in his White House are emptying, and the president is lashing out at some of those who remain. He is angry that his allies have not mounted a more forceful defense of his incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol last week, advisers and associates said.
Although Trump has been exceptionally furious with Vice President Mike Pence, his relationship with lawyer Rudy Giuliani, one of his most steadfast defenders, is also fracturing, according to people with knowledge of the dynamics between the men.
Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees, two officials said, and has demanded that he personally approve any reimbursements for the expenses Giuliani incurred while traveling on the president’s behalf to challenge election results in key states. They said Trump has privately expressed concern with some of Giuliani’s moves and did not appreciate a demand from Giuliani for $20,000 a day in fees for his work attempting to overturn the election.
As he watched impeachment quickly gain steam, Trump was upset generally that virtually nobody is defending him — including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to a senior administration official.
Following the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a quick trial in the Senate, essentially assuring it takes place after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
McConnell issued a statement saying Congress and the government should spend the next week “completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power” to Biden.
He suggested Trump’s Senate trial would begin no earlier than Jan. 19 — in effect rejecting a drive by the chamber’s Democrats to begin the proceedings immediately so Trump could be ousted from office.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said that unless McConnell reverses himself and agrees to quickly start the trial, it would begin after Jan. 19. That’s a day before Biden is inaugurated as president and about the time Democrats take over majority control of the Senate. The timetable essentially means McConnell is dropping the trial into Democrats’ laps.
Biden forgoing Amtrak trip to Washington over security fears
President-elect Joe Biden will no longer be taking an Amtrak train to Washington for his inauguration because of security concerns, a person briefed on the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The president-elect’s decision reflects growing worries over potential threats in the Capitol and across the United States in the lead-up to Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Security in Washington has ramped up considerably in preparation for the inauguration after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, and the FBI warned over the weekend of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to the event.
The person briefed on Biden’s decision spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. The news was first reported by CNN.
Trump now faces the possibility of becoming the only president ever convicted in a Senate trial. There is far more uncertainty than last year, when Senate Republicans firmly rejected impeachment charges centered on Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukrainian leaders to tar Biden.
Now, after Trump has lost the presidency, Senate Republicans will again hold the decisive votes on whether to convict him and effectively purge him from their party — five years after he crashed in to become the dominant figure in American politics.
A conviction could result in barring Trump from holding office again (that would require a second vote, which would need only a simple majority).
“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) wrote to colleagues, notably leaving the door open to a conviction.
Yet Trump, despite losing the White House and, many Republicans believe, harming their efforts to hold the Senate, also retains fervent support from many GOP voters, and the party’s elected officials have almost uniformly rallied behind him through years of controversy. It will take at least 17 Republican votes in the Senate to reach the two-thirds majority required to convict Trump at trial.