The Latest: Trump declassifies Crossfire Hurricane material
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):
In his final full day in office, President Donald Trump says he has declassified information related to the FBI’s investigation into ties between Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign.
He did not reveal what that information was Tuesday, except to say that it was included in a binder of materials that the Justice Department had provided to the White House at his request late last month.
The material being declassified relates to Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s code name for the investigation it began in 2016 into whether the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to tip the election. The declassification move is part of a continuing effort by Trump and his allies, including in Congress, to release information aimed at discrediting the Russia probe.
Trump says he has accepted redactions proposed by the FBI, which had objected to the declassification.
The practical impact of the declassification order was unclear given that Trump leaves office on Wednesday.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION:
President-elect Joe Biden appeared at a memorial for COVID-19 victims at the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday evening. He will spend the night at Blair House, the president’s official guesthouse, and will be inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president on Wednesday.
— Biden arrives for inauguration with big plans, big problems
— ‘Shameful’: US virus deaths top 400,000 as Trump leaves office
— Plunged into virus ‘dark winter,’ Biden must lead US out
— McConnell: Trump ‘provoked’ Capitol siege, mob ‘fed lies’
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
At a memorial for the lives taken by COVID-19, President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Americans to remember those lost to the coronavirus and to begin to heal.
Biden said Tuesday night, on the eve of his inauguration, that although it’s “hard sometimes to remember,” it’s “how we heal.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaking before him, emphasized a similar note of unity. While Americans have been grieving alone for most of the pandemic, Harris said, “Tonight we grieve, and begin healing, together.”
The memorial included an invocation from Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who asked that “our prayer strengthen our awareness of our common humanity and our national unity.” A Detroit nurse, Lori Marie Key, sang “Amazing Grace,” noting that the song gives her strength during hard times.
The remembrance ceremony was held at the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool, which was lit up with 400 lights in honor of the 400,000 Americans who have died from the virus. After Biden’s brief remarks, gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang “Hallelujah.”
Joe Biden’s presidential inaugural parade will feature 1,391 virtual participants, 95 horses and nine dogs.
Biden’s inaugural event planners says actor Tony Goldwyn will host Wednesday’s virtual “Parade Across America” that kicks off after Biden is sworn in as president. Goldwyn played a president on the television drama “Scandal.”
Live portions of the parade will be announced by Charlie Brotman, who has announced nearly every inaugural parade since President Dwight Eisenhower.
Well-known performers and athletes will participate, along with military bands and performers and speakers in communities across the country.
Concerns about spreading the coronavirus led the planners to drastically reimagine Biden’s inauguration, including scrapping some traditional events and making other events virtual.
President Donald Trump does not mention his successor, Democrat Joe Biden, by name in his farewell address.
Trump refers to the “next” and “new” administration in the nearly 20-minute speech taped in the White House Blue Room and released Tuesday, on the eve of Biden’s inauguration.
Trump has refused to publicly concede to Biden. He spent the weeks after the election blaming his loss on widespread voter fraud that didn’t exist. Trump’s efforts to overturn the will of the voters peaked on Jan. 6 when a violent mob of his supporters overran the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden’s victory. Five people died.
Trump acknowledged in his farewell address that he will “hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday” – when Trump’s term ends and Biden’s begins.
After leaving the White House, President Donald Trump may lose his Screen Actors Guild card, too.
The Screen Actors Guild said Tuesday that the SAG-AFTRA board voted “overwhelmingly” that there is probable cause that Trump violated its guidelines for membership.
The charges, the guild said, are for Trump’s role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, “and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members.” If found guilty by a disciplinary committee, Trump faces expulsion.
Trump has been a SAG member since 1989. His credits include “The Apprentice,” “Saturday Night Live” and many cameos in films and TV series including “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Sex in the City.”
Losing SAG membership doesn’t disqualify anyone from performing. But most major productions abide by union contracts and hire only union actors.
A White House spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence will be returning to his southern Indiana hometown after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The Indiana Republican Party says the former Indiana governor and his wife, Karen, are expected to attend Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday and then fly to Columbus Municipal Airport, where they will greeted by supporters.
Barbara Hackman, the Bartholomew County Republican Party chairperson, says that group of about 50 people is expected to include Pence’s brother, U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, and some state lawmakers.
Pence grew up in Columbus, and some family members still live there. But Pence hasn’t owned a home in Indiana for at least the past eight years. He lived in the Indiana governor’s residence before moving to the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington as vice president.
Pence hasn’t said where he plans to live when his vice presidential term ends.
Vice President Mike Pence is among those who will not be attending President Donald Trump’s sendoff event at Joint Base Andrews.
A person familiar with Pence’s schedule cited “logistical challenges” in getting from the air base to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremonies on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss scheduling decisions.
Much of Washington, D.C., is under lockdown, with thousands of National Guard troops on patrol and other security precautions in place. The caution comes weeks after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to try to stop Congress from confirming Biden’s victory. Trump and Pence’s relationship has been strained since Trump tried to pressure Pence to stop the election certification and Trump supporters roaming the Capitol chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” after the president tweeted disapprovingly of him.
Trump will be only the fourth president in the nation’s history not to attend his successor’s inauguration. He is boycotting the event and will be flying to Florida on Wednesday morning.
Aides have been organizing an elaborate sendoff, but it is unclear how many invitees plan to attend. Among them is Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director who became a Trump critic. He quipped on Twitter that he couldn’t make it because he was “having my fingernails pulled out at that time.”
— By AP writer Jill Colvin
Joe Biden is making his return to the Washington area on the eve of his inauguration as the nation’s 46th president.
Biden touched down at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon, taking a brief flight from his home state of Delaware down to the District of Columbia. In contrast to his predecessor, Biden flew on a chartered plane. President Donald Trump arrived at the base in 2017 on a government plane.
Biden’s decision to fly came as a response to growing security concerns surrounding his inauguration. The Democrat had originally planned to travel to Washington by Amtrak, which he rode to and from Washington throughout his Senate career, but the option was scrapped amid threats of violence against the president-elect.
Biden is slated to deliver remarks with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at a COVID-19 memorial later Tuesday, before spending the night at Blair House, the president’s official guesthouse.
He will be inaugurated on Wednesday.
In his farewell address, President Donald Trump says he will pray for the success of the next administration.
The White House released excerpts of the video address ahead of its planned release Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In the video, Trump will say, “This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous.”
Trump will also address the storming of the Capitol building by his supporters after he directed them to “fight” the election results showing he lost.
He will say that “all Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol” and that “political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans” and “can never be tolerated.”
Trump will also trumpet what he sees as his top achievements in office, including efforts to normalize relations in the Middle East.
He’ll say: “We did what we came here to do — and so much more.”
Pentagon officials say 12 Army National Guard members have been removed from securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday’s event.
There was no specific threat to Biden.
Two U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties to right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe group the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, confirmed Tuesday that the Guard members had been removed and sent home but said only two were for inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. The other 10 were for other potential issues that may involve previous criminal activity, but not directly related to the inaugural event.
The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.”
It’s unclear whether they will face discipline when they return home.
— By AP writers Lolita Baldor and James LaPorta
In an emotional farewell, President-elect Joe Biden promised that even as he departs for Washington, D.C., to be sworn in, “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware.”
Speaking Tuesday at an event at the National Guard headquarters in Delaware named for his late son, Beau, Biden’s voice became thick with emotion as he told the crowd that “when I die, I’ve got Delaware written on my heart.” He said that “it’s deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here — the place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans.”
Biden gave farewell remarks to about 100 people, including numerous Delaware elected officials and members of Biden’s family.
He’s leaving Wilmington via plane Tuesday afternoon and will appear at a memorial for COVID-19 victims at the Lincoln Memorial in the evening. Biden will spend the night at Blair House, the president’s official guesthouse, before moving into the White House after he is sworn in Wednesday.
Ten additional U.S. Army National Guard members are being removed from the security mission for the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a U.S. Army official briefed on the matter. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity citing Pentagon regulations.
Early Tuesday morning, the FBI sent a list of names to the National Guard Bureau who were identified as having ties to fringe right-wing groups or had posted extremist views. No active plots against Biden were found. The information was passed from the National Guard Bureau to the D.C. National Guard.
Earlier, the AP reported that two other National Guard members had also been pulled from the security mission in Washington ahead of Wednesday’s presidential inauguration, bringing the total number so far to 12.
— AP writer James LaPorta
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is explicitly pointing his finger at President Donald Trump for helping to spur the attack on the Capitol by the outgoing president’s supporters.
The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday on the Senate floor, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
McConnell spoke six days after the Democratic-led House impeached Trump on charges of inciting the Jan. 6 attack. A Senate trial on whether to convict Trump and perhaps bar him from ever again holding federal office is expected to begin in coming days.
After years of supporting Trump with little criticism of him, the influential McConnell has said he’s not decided whether he would vote to convict him. His decision may prove critical because in a Senate that will be divided 50-50 between the two parties, it would take 17 Republicans to join all Democrats for the two-thirds margin needed for conviction.
Joe Biden replaces Trump as president at noon on Wednesday.
Three new Democratic senators are set to be sworn into office after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.
The arrival of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California will give Democrats a working majority in the Senate — split 50-50, with the new vice president, Kamala Harris, as the tie-breaking vote.
A person granted anonymity to discuss the planning tells The Associated Press that Harris is set to deliver the oath of office to the three Democrats after she is sworn in during the inauguration as vice president.
Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican senators earlier this month. The Georgia secretary of state is expected to certify those results Tuesday.
Padilla has been tapped by California’s governor to fill Harris’ remaining term in the Senate.
— By AP writer Lisa Mascaro
Two U.S. Army National Guard members are being removed from the security mission to secure Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration. A U.S. Army official and a senior U.S. intelligence official say the two National Guard members have been found to have ties to fringe right group militias.
No plot against Biden was found.
The Army official and the intelligence official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity due to Defense Department media regulations. They did not say what fringe group the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in.
Contacted by the AP on Tuesday, the National Guard Bureau referred questions to the U.S. Secret Service and said, “Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.”
The Secret Service told the AP on Monday it would not comment on if any National Guard members had been pulled from securing the inauguration for operational security reasons.
— By AP writer James LaPorta
Joe Biden will strike a unity theme before his inauguration as president on Wednesday by worshipping with Congress’ top four Republican and Democratic leaders.
The Democratic president-elect has talked throughout the campaign and the post-election period about his goal of uniting a sharply divided country.
Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, on Tuesday retweeted a post that said Biden had quietly extended invitations to Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and to Republicans Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy to accompany him to a Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.
Spokespeople for Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell and McCarthy confirm they are accompanying Biden.
Sen. Chris Coons tells CNN the church service is “an important part of respecting tradition.”
Coons is a Democrat from Biden’s home state of Delaware. He says the service is a “reminder of who Joe is and who we are as a nation that’s hopeful and optimistic.”