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Trump’s turbulent and lawless presidency will end with historic second impeachment

Trump’s turbulent and lawless presidency will end with historic second impeachment

(CNN)The fateful moment when the House of Representatives on Wednesday impeaches President Donald Trump for a second time will rank among the defining moments of America’s story long after the citizens enduring these harrowing, tragic days are gone.

Fast-moving developments in the run-up to the vote have left Trump more politically vulnerable than he has ever been.
At least a handful of House Republicans plan to vote with Democrats to impeach.
In another startling sign that Trump’s incitement of a mob assault on Congress has shattered rigid political alignments right at the end of his term, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he believes that impeachment will make it easier to rid the party of Trumpism.
By the end of the day, Trump will be saddled with a stain he will never be able to erase, as the first President to be impeached twice after his refusal to admit his election defeat shattered assumptions on the unassailability of stable government and the previously unbroken chain of peaceful US transfers of power. Save for the fracturing of the union before the Civil War, this country’s system of political checks and balances has never before been under the kind of strain imposed by an autocratic President desperate to cling to power.
A sense of unfolding history is magnified by growing evidence that America is fighting for democracy itself in a struggle that will endure after Trump leaves office next week at the latest. New warnings of violence by pro-Trump extremists in 50 states and militias on the march toward Washington are instigating the most oppressive sense since 9/11 that the homeland is under threat. But this time the danger to US freedom comes not from a foreign terrorist group but radicalized Americans.
The sole article of impeachment that the House is expected to pass Wednesday charging Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors is damning. Its simple clarity explains why this impeachment is no mere futile partisan ritual in the waning days of the most aberrant presidency in history.
“Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” the article reads
It is an extraordinary mark of turbulent times and a lawless term that Trump will become the first president to be impeached twice — only 13 months after the House first resolved that his abuses of power merited removal from office.
In a poetic twist, the vote will take place in the very same chamber that lawmakers fled a week ago in fear of their lives from an invading mob seeking to harm Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and to thwart the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.
In time, the events of this disorienting week will take their place alongside milestones — including the Declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery, Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President John Kennedy — that make up America’s sweeping narrative. But history is experienced in retrospect. Current events are lived forward in all their alarming intensity and are frightening because no one knows how they will end. And the country’s nerves were already at a breaking point nearly a year into a once-in-a-century pandemic that has brought death and sickness and further deepened stark political divides.

‘Armed combat’ in the Capitol

The formal impeachment vote in the House is far from the only barely believable twist leading up to Biden’s inauguration in seven days.
The horror of last week’s events and their grave implications are becoming even clearer as more details emerge about the day when a sitting President incited partisans to assault another branch of government in the act of finalizing his election defeat.
The idea that the rampage in which five people died was just a political outburst that got out of control was debunked Tuesday by the serious tone of a news conference held by the acting district attorney in Washington.
“I think people are going to be shocked with some of the egregious contact that happened within the Capitol,” Michael Sherwin said, referencing “mind-blowing” cases and charges including sedition and conspiracy. He said that some of those charged had military backgrounds.
One federal law enforcement official said the videos and other information viewed by investigators paint a scary picture of events inside the Capitol as police and federal agents battled to save lawmakers and staff.
“It was armed combat in that building,” the official said.
Some of the hardening of opinion among lawmakers against Trump may be attributed to briefings on those events and the pending threats to the inauguration.
After emerging from an all-senators briefing on inauguration security, Sen. Chris Van Hollen raised the specter of a “million militia march” on Washington.
“We have no idea how many will come. We need to be prepared,” the Maryland Democrat said.

A warning to the troops

In another unfathomable moment on Tuesday, America’s most senior military leaders warned there was no place for extremism in the ranks and that the troops must support and defend the Constitution. The statement was remarkable in itself. But that the Joint Chiefs decided it needed to be issued in the first place was one of the more frightening events of recent days.
In a simultaneous political earthquake, McConnell, who tethered his now-destroyed Republican majority to the bucking bronco of Trump’s presidency, made it known he was glad the President would be impeached.
McConnell’s unexpected move, first reported by The New York Times, came amid his disgust at the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters and in the belief that another impeachment would help Republicans purge the stain of this presidency from the party.
McConnell didn’t say how he would vote in a Senate trial. But his shift keeps open the long-shot chance that sufficient Republicans could join a two-thirds majority to secure the first-ever conviction in a presidential impeachment.
In the House, Wyoming’s Rep. Liz Cheney, a staunch conservative, announced that she would vote for Trump’s impeachment, enshrining the split with her fellow members of the GOP House leadership.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney said.
Two other Republicans, Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and John Katko of New York, also said they would vote to impeach, with a number of their GOP colleagues expected to follow suit in a vote that will echo through history, sources told CNN.
In another development that exacerbated the feeling of history unspooling at a breakneck pace, Pence wrote to the House to formally refuse to join the Cabinet in invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump no longer able to fulfill the duties of his office.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence wrote, after Democratic leaders had warned that an intervention by the vice president would be the only step that could hold off Wednesday’s impeachment vote.

Trump delivers an ominous warning

Action inside the Capitol came as security forces poured into Washington to secure Biden’s inauguration and Trump noticeably dodged an opportunity to cool tensions.
While he said he never wants violence, the President used a trip to his border wall in Texas on Tuesday to reinforce the falsehoods and inflammatory language that ultimately led to his second impeachment.
He branded the process “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics” and warned it was “causing tremendous anger” and was “dangerous” for America at a “very tender time.”
In more ominous comments, Trump said talk of using the 25th Amendment to oust him from office bore no peril for him but could come back to haunt Biden.
“Be careful what you wish for,” the President warned.
Trump also defended his remarks last week at a rally close to the White House that ended with his crowd marching on the Capitol.
With only seven days left in office, the President’s mind is also turning again to a controversial raft of pardons that would constitute yet another abuse of power.
CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Pamela Brown and Kara Scannell reported Tuesday that the President is continuing to discuss pardons for himself and his adult children. One source said such a move was considered even more likely since last week’s events, although there was concern among some aides and allies about the public perception of pardons after the deaths of five people in the riot.
Such a move by the President would be seen in the United States and around the world as yet another insult to democracy. The historic damage that Trump has already inflicted upon America’s reputation in this regard is incalculable.
But the stakes surrounding Wednesday’s vote and what will be a prolonged struggle during the Biden administration to bolster US political institutions can be seen in remarks coming out of authoritarian Russia — the American adversary that interfered in the 2016 election in a bid to help Trump.
“Following the events that unfolded after the presidential elections, it is meaningless to refer to America as the example of democracy,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian Parliament and a supporter of President Vladimir Putin.
“We are on the verge of reevaluating the standards that are being promoted by the United States of America, that is exporting its vision of democracy and political systems around the world. Those in our country who love to cite their example as leading will also have to reconsider their views.”
Late-Week Snowmaker to Bring Strong Winds, Colder Temperatures to Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes

Late-Week Snowmaker to Bring Strong Winds, Colder Temperatures to Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes

At a Glance

  • Far-above-average temperatures are gripping parts of the Plains and Midwest right now.

  • A cold front will bring snowfall, gusty winds and somewhat colder temperatures to these areas.

  • The snow might contribute to travel delays Thursday into Friday.

A January reality check is headed for portions of the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes later this week as a cold front brings blustery conditions and snowfall to areas currently experiencing far-above-average temperatures.

Arctic cold commonly grips the north-central United States this time of year, but so far in January, those shivering temperatures have been nonexistent. That includes through the middle portion of this week with high temperatures so mild, they’ll threaten daily record highs in parts of the Dakotas on Wednesday.

(The orange and red contour shows how much warmer than average high temperatures are forecast to be on Wednesday.)

Temperatures will fall back closer to average in the Plains and Midwest late this week after a front passes through, but it still won’t be terribly cold by January standards. That front will also be accompanied by the return of snowfall and gusty winds in many areas.

Here’s the latest timing and how much snow to expect.

Forecast Timing

Thursday

The front will charge into the upper Midwest Wednesday night into Thursday with snow or rain changing to snow spreading from the northern Plains into the upper Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes. This changeover from rain to snow will advance eastward toward the rest of Lower Michigan, northern Indiana and Ohio overnight.

Thursday’s Forecast

Strong northwesterly winds will also howl through the Plains from the Dakotas to parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

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Where gusty winds overlap with snowfall in open areas of the Northern Plains, there could be reduced visibility and poor travel conditions into Thursday night.

A widespread area from the Northern Plains into the upper and mid-Mississippi valleys and Great Lakes could see periods of snow during the day on Friday. Gusty winds will also continue in much of the Plains as well as parts of the Midwest.

Widespread, heavy snowfall totals are not expected. However, even light snowfall can impact travel, especially where stronger wind gusts combined with the snow produce lower visibility in open areas of the Plains. That could include the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota into parts of Iowa.

By Friday night, rain changing to snow will push eastward into the interior Northeast and Appalachians, from northern Maine southward into West Virginia. The Interstate 95 corridor from Boston to Washington D.C. will receive rain from this system.

Friday’s Forecast

Saturday

The weekend will begin with lingering snow showers and lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Rain is expected along the immediate Northeast coast, with snow possible from upstate New York into northern Maine.

Saturday’s Forecast

How Much Snow?

Snowfall totals from this system won’t be heavy in most areas.

A broad area from the eastern Dakotas into Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and northern and central parts of Illinois and Indiana could see at least light accumulations.

Some of the largest snowfall totals in this region might pile up from parts of Minnesota into the northern Great Lakes. But that will depend on where any bands of prolonged snowfall set up for a period of time Thursday into Friday.

Farther east, generally light snowfall totals are forecast from the Appalachians into northern New England, with the exception of heavier totals over the Adirondack, Green and White mountains.

Trump’s disastrous end to his shocking presidency

Trump’s disastrous end to his shocking presidency

(CNN)President Donald Trump is leaving America in a vortex of violence, sickness and death and more internally estranged than it has been for 150 years.

The disorientating end to his shocking term has the nation reeling from a Washington insurrection. The FBI warned Monday of armed protests by pro-Trump thugs in 50 states, which raise the awful prospect of a domestic insurgency. Health officials fear 5,000 Americans could soon be dying every day from the pandemic Trump ignored. Hospitals are swamped and medical workers are shattered amid a faltering rollout of the vaccine supposed to end the crisis.
It took 200 years for the country to rack up its first two presidential impeachments. Trump’s malfeasance has led the country down that awful, divisive path twice in just more than a year. With House Democrats expected to formally impeach the President for inciting a mob assault on Congress on Wednesday, he will rely on the Republican enablers who refused to rein in his lawlessness to save him from conviction again.
Millions of Americans have bought into the delusional, poisoned fiction that an election Trump lost was stolen, and there are signs that some police and military forces have been radicalized by the grievance he stokes.
The city Trump has called home for four years is being turned into an armed camp incongruous with the mood of joy and renewal that pulsates through most inaugurations. In a symbol of a democracy under siege, the people’s buildings — the White House and the US Capitol — are caged behind ugly iron and cement barriers.
This is the legacy President-elect Joe Biden will inherit in eight days when he swears to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — an oath that Trump trampled when inciting the Capitol attack last week from behind a bulletproof screen while buckling the cherished US chain of peaceful transfers of power.
With unintended irony, Biden’s team has picked “America United” as the inaugural theme — a motto that is now more apt in defining Biden’s hoped for destination rather than the splintered land he will begin to lead.

Trump’s pattern of violence

It is becoming ever more obvious that the horrific scenes on Capitol Hill on Wednesday were not a one-off. Instead, they now look part of a pattern including the White supremacist marches in Charlottesville that Trump refused to condemn, and the gassing of peaceful anti-racist protesters in the square outside the White House so he could hold an inflammatory photo-op.
In a chilling new warning, the FBI revealed the possible next stage in this now nationwide wave of radicalization, saying armed protests were planned at state Capitols in all 50 states between January 16 and Inauguration Day, January 20. Even as a nationwide sweep widens for the perpetrators of last week’s outrage, the bureau said new protests were planned for Washington for three days around the inauguration.
There are threats of an uprising if Trump is removed by way of the 25th Amendment. The FBI said it was also tracking threats against Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In Washington, two Capitol Police officers were suspended and more are under investigation for allegedly helping the mob.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was shocked by the magnitude of the bureau’s intelligence on possible new violence.
“I don’t think in the entire scope of my career working counter terrorism issues for many, many years, I don’t think I ever saw a bulletin go out that concerned armed protest activity in 50 states in a three- or four-day period,” McCabe said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Biden told reporters that despite the warnings, he was not afraid of taking the oath of office outside next week — but the combination of a massive security effort to protect him from Trump’s supporters and social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic mean his will be the most hollowed out inauguration in years.
Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned on Monday, in a yet another sign that the country lacks effective government at a moment of stark danger. By contrast, senior officials from the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration worked closely together in the Situation Room on January 20, 2009, when there was concern about the authenticity of terror threat to the inauguration.
So far, after a massive domestic terror attack on the citadel of US democracy, there has been no major public briefing by any major federal law enforcement agency or the White House, an omission that fosters a sense of an absent government.
The current atmosphere of fear and wild political insurrection are a lesson in what happens when a figure as powerful as a President deliberately tears at America’s deep racial and social fault lines as a tool of his own power. Trump’s presidency revealed a new insight about the all-powerful modern presidency — the character of the person in the Oval Office chair really matters.

A Congress that can’t constrain a President

Momentum towards impeachment is now all but unstoppable in the House after Pelosi rejected a suggestion from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of some kind of censure motion.
McCarthy did acknowledge to Republican caucus members Monday that the President bore some responsibility for last week’s insurrection, according to a person familiar with the call. But some of his other responses to the outrage — an overhaul to the electoral certification process and legislation to promote voter confidence — hinted at the insincerity of the Republican approach.
With a few exceptions, Republicans — who indulged and in many cases supported Trump’s blatantly false claims of electoral fraud for weeks — have responded to the uproar over last week’s Capitol attack by complaining that by pushing impeachment, Democrats are fracturing national unity. It’s as if the last four years never happened.
There are also questions over whether Republicans understand the seriousness of last week’s events. Remarks by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt are still reverberating through the Capitol.
“My personal view is that the President touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again,” Blunt said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
His comment eerily recalled the rationalizations of Republicans who declined to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial after he tried to get Ukraine to interfere in the election to damage Biden.
America has emerged from many dark periods since the Civil War. The country was torn by resistance to the Civil Rights movement. And the Vietnam War turned generations against one another. But the fact that millions of people now appear to deeply mistrust the electoral system that is the basis of US democracy means that the country’s internal political cohesion is now being tested as it has rarely been in the last century-and-a-half.
And the Republican indulgence of the President’s repeated political arson has revealed a massive constitutional blind spot. When one party’s lawmakers are in thrall to a strongman leader, their duty to ensure checks and balances to constrain presidential power is soon forgotten.

Trump to reemerge

rump has not appeared in public for days. And the suspension of his social media accounts amid concern that he could stir up more violence mean the country has been unable to assess his mood.
But the President is due to make a trip to visit the border wall that he said Mexico would pay for but instead saddled the taxpayers with the bill. White House sources said that the President is determined to spend his last full week in office touting his achievements and is expected to release another round of controversial pardons. CNN reported Monday that former Attorney General William Barr and White House counsel Pat Cipollone have advised the President not to attempt what would be yet another epic abuse of power — an attempt to pardon himself.
The virus is meanwhile running rampant. Eleven states and Washington, DC, just recorded their highest 7-day average of new cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. For the first time, the country is averaging over 3,000 deaths from the pandemic per day. Trump’s outgoing head of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield warned in a recent interview with McClatchy newspapers that the pandemic would get worse for the rest of January and parts of February and that the country could see 5,000 deaths a day.
And hopes that the nation could soon turn a corner are being tempered by the glitches in the vaccine roll out. Just as with the early stages of the crisis, poor coordination between federal and local and state authorities and the overall lack of a broader distribution plan are hampering the effort.
Like everything else, it will be up to Biden to fix it.
A historic percentage of Americans want Trump removed from office

A historic percentage of Americans want Trump removed from office

(CNN)The potential removal of President Donald Trump from office starts out more popular than any other removal process of a president in recent American history. Removing Trump from office remains quite unpopular among Republicans, however.

A look across polls conducted since riots at the Capitol on Wednesday shows that a clear plurality of Americans overall want Trump out of office, even as President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on January 20.
You can see that well in an ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday. The majority (56%) say Trump should be removed from office, while just 43% believe he should not be removed.
An average across polls since Wednesday (in which no pollster is counted more than once) shows that 50% of Americans want Trump to either be impeached, for the 25th Amendment to be invoked or for Trump to resign from office. The minority (43%) say that none of these should occur.
The high percentage of Americans who want Trump out of office comes as House Democrats are already planning to introduce an impeachment resolution against Trump as soon as Monday.
When Democrats began an impeachment inquiry against Trump in September 2019, removing him from office wasn’t anywhere near as popular. Before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that inquiry, only about 40% of Americans were for impeaching and removing Trump. About half the electorate was against it.
The fact that so many Americans want Trump out of office is, indeed, historically unprecedented this early in the process.
The percentage of Americans who wanted Bill Clinton impeached after his affair with Monica Lewinsky never climbed higher than 40%.
Likewise, the percentage of Americans who thought Richard Nixon should be removed or should resign from office was at about 40% when the House voted to formally start an impeachment inquiry in February 1974.
Eventually, the plurality of Americans wanted Nixon and Trump out of office, but it took impeachment proceedings for support to outrun opposition.
At this point, it’s not clear whether more Americans want Trump out of office than after the impeachment and removal proceedings against him began and took place in late 2019 and early 2020. The percentages between now and then (about half the electorate) are close.
Trump, of course, was impeached by the House, but he was not removed by the Senate.
Like last time around, there does not seem to be much of an appetite among Republicans for Trump to be booted from office. In order for Trump to be found guilty by the Senate this time around, at least 34% of Senate Republicans would have to vote yes.
Support among Republicans stood at just 13% in the ABC News/Ipsos poll. And an average of all polls since Wednesday puts that percentage at about 15%. About 10% to 15% of Republicans were in favor of impeaching and/or removing Trump during the last Trump impeachment proceedings.
What happens to these percentages in the coming weeks is very much up in the air. Biden’s going to be president in less than two weeks. He will be president and Trump will likely be gone from office by the time the Senate votes on any impeachment issues regarding Trump.
It’s possible that Trump leaving office will leave Americans wanting to forget about the issue of impeachment all together. (Scholars are split on whether you can impeach and remove a president who is no longer in office.) It’s also conceivable that Trump being out of office will make the stakes less high on impeachment proceedings and more Americans more likely to want to punish him.
What is clear cut is that Americans are very unhappy with Trump after the events and aftermath of Wednesday. The mere idea of removing a president from office is a big step. A lot of Americans look ready to take it again.
Trump tweets he is skipping Biden’s inauguration

Trump tweets he is skipping Biden’s inauguration

(CNN)President Donald Trump said he would not attend his successor’s swearing-in, a day after his top aides cajoled him into releasing a video conceding he would soon be departing office.

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump tweeted, making formal what many had long assumed: that Trump would eschew the traditional step of personally demonstrating the peaceful hand-off of power to President-elect Joe Biden. He’ll be the first outgoing president to skip his replacement’s inauguration in more than 150 years.
It came as Trump faces an uncertain final stretch in office. His top aides delivered a blunt warning to him Thursday as he sat sullenly in the West Wing and watched as his Republican allies, Cabinet secretaries and former senior staffers criticized or denounced him one by one.
His daughter Ivanka Trump, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, chief of staff Mark Meadows and others told Trump there was a real chance he would be removed from office — whether by his own Cabinet or lawmakers — if he did not more forcefully denounce the actions of his supporters who attacked the US Capitol the day before.
Trump did not initially want to issue a video decrying the loyalists whose actions he largely supported — and whom he said he “loved” a day earlier — but he told aides to prepare a speech and then he would decide.
Once he read over the brief script they had prepared, Trump agreed to record it Thursday evening — a relief to the senior staff, though concerns lingered he could backtrack during his final days in office given his actual position has remained unchanged: that he lost the election unfairly.
The next morning, Trump was back to offering a starkly different message on his Twitter account, which has been restored after the social media firm suspended him.
His announcement he would not attend Biden’s inauguration did not come as a surprise, though Trump had been polling people recently about whether he should go and seemed open, at least to some, to appearing.
It puts him even further at odds with Vice President Mike Pence, who has expressed a willingness to attend the ceremony if invited.
Traditionally, the outgoing president welcomes the incoming one to the White House in the morning before riding together in the same vehicle to the Capitol building for the swearing in. Trump himself rode with then-President Barack Obama to his own inauguration four year ago.
In 1869, the last time a still-living president boycotted his successor’s swearing-in, incoming President Ulysses S. Grant refused to share a carriage with his predecessor Andrew Johnson. Johnson said he would remain behind at the White House.
Three former American presidents do plan to be in attendance for the inauguration, officials say: Bill Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush have all made plans to be in Washington for the official transfer of power.
Speaking later in the day, Biden said Trump made the right choice and said his decision to forgo attendance at the inauguration was one of the few things they could agree on.
“He’s been an embarrassment to the country,” Biden said during remarks in Wilmington, Delaware.

Tradition out the door

Three White House advisers told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Friday that Trump has no intention of resigning. “None,” one adviser said of the chances of a resignation.
“Zero,” said another, adding: “He doesn’t think he did anything wrong.”
With a traditional departure from Washington now off the table, Trump must also decide soon when and how he wants to leave the White House. At this point, Trump is expected to go to his Mar-a-Lago members-only resort in Palm Beach, Florida, after leaving the White House for the final time, despite his displeasure at recent renovations to his private apartment there. It is possible he leaves for Florida on January 19, the day before the Inauguration, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump’s reluctance to demonstrate the peaceful hand-off of power, despite declaring there would be an “orderly transition” this week, came as he contends with the political and legal fallout of inciting rioters who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Even after denouncing the violence in his video on Thursday evening, the next morning he lent voice to his supporters, who he said would not go quietly.
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future,” he wrote. “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
He made no mention of a Capitol Police officer who died overnight from injuries sustained while engaging rioters.
Having now conceded he will no longer serve a second term, Trump has begun contemplating how he will spend his final days in the White House, according to people familiar with the matter.
It’s won’t necessarily be a placid stretch. Democrats appear to be rushing to impeach him for a second time. While talk of removing him from office through the Constitution is deflating, Trump’s administration is still shedding officials who are resigning in protest, including the secretaries of transportation and education.
One of Trump’s closest confidantes and top aides, Hope Hicks, is also discussing resigning from her role before the President leaves office, according to two people familiar with her thinking. She has told people if she does, she would leave within the next 48 hours. It’s not clear she has made a final decision.
On Friday, word emerged Cipollone is also considering resigning, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Since the election, he had considered resigning multiple times but has been urged to stay for the good of the country by members of the Senate and the Cabinet.
Despite being at loggerheads with Trump in recent weeks, he has been influential behind the scenes this week in encouraging Trump to be more forceful in his statements. “He’s there out of a sense of duty,” one source said.
His services could be required in Trump’s final days as furious Democrats quickly build momentum to move on impeachment, potentially as soon as the middle of next week.

Impeachment?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team ran through their options Thursday night and the overwhelming sentiment was impeachment was the way forward, according to multiple sources. The process is unlikely to resemble the drawn-out proceedings of Trump’s first impeachment; instead, Democratic officials said they expected it to move rapidly.
A simple majority is enough to impeach the President. If the House does, it would make Trump the first President to be impeached twice. Some Republican sources have even told CNN they want Trump removed before January 20, and two GOP members have told CNN they would consider voting for impeachment if the articles of impeachment seem reasonable.
So concerned are Democrats at the potential for destruction in Trump’s final days that Pelosi said Friday she’d discussed “available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike” during a phone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues during a call Friday that she has gotten assurances there are safeguards in place in the event the President wants to launch a nuclear weapon, according to sources on the call.
Still, with Trump ending, for now, his false bid to overturn the results of the election, hope among advisers is that he will focus, finally, on his post-presidency.
Aides still have a long list of executive actions they are hoping he will sign in his waning days, including one teed up on buy-American provisions. There is talk of a trip next week to view progress on the border wall, one of Trump’s proudest achievements. And a raft of pardons, including potentially for himself and his family, are expected in the coming days.
Aides are still discussing a farewell address or interview, but acknowledge the video Trump released Thursday saying a “new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” is as close to a concession he will get.
“My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” he said, speaking in monotone and reading from a teleprompter. “This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
Trump’s highly scripted video acknowledging he will be leaving the White House is the tone his advisers hope he will stick with as he leaves office. Thursday’s video was staid, taped indoors and appeared heavily edited. Trump demonstrated little emotion as he admitted his time as president was nearing its end.
Earlier in the day, Trump called off a visit to Camp David scheduled for this weekend, according to a source familiar with the planning, which would likely have been his final time at the presidential retreat. He had been planning to go before the riots but decided Thursday, amid questions about resignations and Cabinet defections, to remain in Washington. Other “lasts” are still up in the air, such as his final flight aboard Air Force One.
As he contested the results of the election, Trump refused to engage in discussions about how he wanted to spend his final days in the White House, or what he wanted to do afterward.
Officials are eager those conservations can now begin, hopeful to spend some time focusing on Trump’s “legacy,” even though many inside the building believe it will be irrevocably tarred by his behavior that led to this week’s riots.
Weaker Polar Vortex Just One Ingredient to an Interesting Pattern for Winter Storms Into February

Weaker Polar Vortex Just One Ingredient to an Interesting Pattern for Winter Storms Into February

At a Glance

  • There are several weather patterns that have grabbed our attention in recent days.

  • One of these is a weaker polar vortex, which could have an impact on the winter pattern.

  • These factors could lead to a colder, snowier central and eastern U.S. into February.

Three interesting features in the weather pattern, including a weaker polar vortex, could combine to make the rest of January and February more active for winter storms and cold in the eastern United States.

Interestingly, one of those features is not La Niña, the periodic cooling of water near the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which intensified in the fall and can have impacts on winter weather in the U.S., including snowier winters for some.

The borderline strong La Niña is still there, but its influence on the atmosphere may be overridden by a trio of weather patterns that could have important consequences on the rest of winter’s weather.

1. The Greenland Block

The Greenland block is a relatively warm bubble of high pressure about 17,000 to 20,000 feet above the ground that can set up, as its name suggests, near Greenland.

Meteorologists monitor the strength, or lack of, a Greenland block by examining an index called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which can oscillate over the course of days or weeks. When this index is more strongly negative, blocking high pressure near Greenland is stronger.

When this negative NAO pattern sets up, winter weather fans in the eastern U.S. salivate.

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That’s because this nose of high pressure aloft acts like a rock in a stream, forcing the polar jet stream to plunge southward across the central and eastern U.S., pulling cold air from Canada.

Nosediving jet streams can spawn strong storms with heavy snow. The Greenland block can force these storms to crawl slowly up the East Coast rather than simply sweeping quickly from west to east across the U.S. or Canada and out to sea.

This Greenland block is currently quite strong and expected to linger a while. More about that a bit later.

The upper-level pattern as of the week of Jan. 4-8, 2021, includes a prominent Greenland block, with some upper-ridging extending west into Canada.

However, there’s a monkey wrench in this pattern.

In a YouTube video recorded earlier this week, Michael Ventrice, a meteorological scientist at The Weather Company, an IBM Business, pointed out warm air aloft, and at the surface, extends westward into much of Canada and the northern tier of the U.S.

So although this negative NAO pattern is bringing some colder air into the South, it’s not very cold by January standards.

High temperatures near the U.S.-Canadian border are topping out in the 20s or 30s, well above average nearing what is typically the coldest time of year.

But that might change later this month.

Longer-range models suggest this Canada ridging could retreat northward closer to – you guessed it – Greenland during the last half of January, according to Ventrice.

This could open the door to more of the East Coast and Midwest for more winter storms from late January into at least early February.

2. The Pacific-West Coast Ridge

In recent weeks, the Pacific jet stream has delivered a series of wet, windy storms to the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, and delivered relatively mild, Pacific air to much of the rest of the country.

That pattern is expected to change next week.

Instead of the Pacific jet plowing into the West Coast, high pressure aloft, similar to the Greenland block, is expected to strengthen near the West Coast and nose its way northward toward Alaska.

This pattern fluctuation is known to meteorologists as the negative phase of the Eastern Pacific Oscillation (EPO).

When this upper ridge pokes northward, it can dislodge cold air in Alaska and western Canada and send it careening into the central and eastern U.S.

In fact, a 2019 study published in Geophysical Research Letters found a pattern with an Alaskan ridge of high pressure was most important for widespread severe cold in North America.

So this is another pattern on the way that could eventually deliver more cold into the U.S. in the coming weeks.

The upper-level pattern beginning the week of Jan. 10 is expected to evolve to a stronger nose of high-pressure aloft near the West Coast, potentially nosing toward Alaska. This positive PNA pattern generally works to tap colder air from Alaska and Canada into the central and eastern U.S.

3. Weaker Polar Vortex

You’ve likely heard the term “polar vortex” virtually every winter since it first entered into popular culture during a bitter cold January 2014.

The polar vortex is a whirling cone of low pressure over the poles that’s strongest in the winter months due to the increased temperature contrast between the polar regions and the mid-latitudes, such as the United States and Europe.

This isn’t like a storm you might think of in the lower atmosphere, with cold and warm fronts producing rain or snow. Instead, the polar vortex occurs primarily in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere about 6 to 30 miles above the ground – above most of the weather with which you’re familiar occurs.

Strangely, when this polar vortex is strong, cold air is less likely to plunge deep into North America or Europe. Picture this strong vortex fencing off the coldest air from the U.S. and Europe. This was in place much of last winter.

In December, however, the atmosphere threw a curveball.

A sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event originating over Siberia sent temperatures rocketing 50 degrees Celsius warmer over the North Pole stratosphere in just a few days.

These temperature spikes are actually quite common, occurring on average once every other winter, according to data compiled by Amy Butler, an atmospheric scientist and expert on SSW events at NOAA.

This sudden warming weakened, stretched and displaced the polar vortex off the North Pole, as you can see in the animation below from Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), a Verisk Business.

When that happens, the weaker polar vortex and stratospheric warmth can drip down to affect the jet-stream patterns in such a way to enhance the previous two blocking patterns mentioned above, opening the floodgates for colder air into the U.S. and Europe.

And those blocking patterns could have staying power.

“All we really know is that the AO/NAO are predominantly in the negative phase for up to two months following an MMW (major mid-winter warming, an extreme case of an SSW),” wrote Cohen in a Jan. 4 blog.

That means the Greenland block pattern could persist in some form into February or even March.

“It’s typical one week or so after the SSW event peaks over the North Pole to see upper-level ridging build over Alaska,” Ventrice told weather.com, referring to the pattern discussed earlier.

What Does This Mean for the Rest of Winter?

Cohen cited the two most recent SSW-polar vortex disruption events, each with far different outcomes.

The February 2018 event triggered a pair of “Beast From the East” March cold outbreaks in Europe – where impacts from polar vortex weakening typically first occur. That was then followed by a parade of four nor’easters that hammered the U.S. East Coast in March and prolonged April cold in the nation’s midsection.

Visible satellite image composite of the four nor’easters of March 2018.

(Individual image source: NOAA/RAMMB/CIRA)

But the most recent SSW case was a cautionary tale against taking a stormier outlook as a slam dunk.

After the January 2019 SSW event, much of the eastern U.S., Europe and Siberia remained mild, as the Greenland block was absent.

“I think the background state of the atmosphere preceding and during the SSW currently is more like 2018 than 2019,” Cohen told weather.com referring to more blocking, a warmer Arctic and colder weather in Eurasia.

A study lead by Cohen coincidentally published during that same March 2018 plague of nor’easters found a warmer Arctic can lead to more severe winter weather in the eastern U.S.

But, Cohen likened this outlook to the NBA Draft: “Great potential doesn’t always translate into commensurate reality.”

Regardless of how the pattern evolves, we’re also headed for what has historically been the peak time of year for East Coast snowstorms, from late January through February.

So fasten your seatbelts – the rest of winter may be a wild ride in the U.S. and Europe.