Cheney hints at criminal probe for Trump – National & International News – MON 8Feb2021

Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney hinted at criminal investigations over Trump's role in the Jan 6. Capitol riot.

Cheney hints at criminal probe for Trump. After Trump spree, calls for federal execution ban. AZ jab disappoints on South African variant. India: 19 dead, hundreds missing after glacier fall.

NATIONAL NEWS

Liz Cheney hints at criminal probe for Trump

The second impeachment proceeding against Donald Trump is getting under way in the Senate this week. Even those who support the proceedings don’t hold out much hope for a conviction. But a the outcome of the impeachment trial will not so much indicate lawmakers’ feelings about Trump’s guilt or innocence as the willingness of GOP Senators to alienate Trump’s still-enthusiastic base. Few seem interested in doing that.

Even if the Senate doesn’t come up with the two-thirds majority necessary to convict Trump for inciting the Capitol riot, that may not be the end of the story. GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney hinted this weekend that other criminal proceedings may be in the offing for Trump. In such cases, judges and juries will be weighing Trump’s fate rather than politically-motivated Senators.

Cuffs for Trump?

Ultimately, the decision to proceed with such charges will come down to Biden’s Department of Justice. Biden’s nominee for Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has recently been lauded in the press for his prosecutions of domestic extremists. This includes his role in convicting Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. Some speculate that Biden’s choice may signal willingness to go after domestic extremists, and perhaps to hold Trump to account for his role in the Capitol riot.

Beyond charges related to the Jan. 6 riot, there are other actions for which Trump could be charged. Days before the riot, Trump created a stir by threatening Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with criminal charges if he didn’t “find” the votes that would have handed Trump an electoral victory in the state. That one phone call may have broken a slew of election laws. Conviction on any one of these could put Trump in prison for 5 years.

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After Trump execution spree, calls for Biden to abolish federal death penalty

Even many of President Trump’s supporters were taken aback by the ghoulish spree of federal executions in the months leading up to and following the November election. In all, 13 federal inmates were put to death between July 2020 and January 2021. This string of executions ended a 17-year hiatus on federal execution with breathtaking zeal. To ensure all executions would go ahead as planned, Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr even floated the idea of bringing back firing squads and the electric chair when prisons were having trouble getting the deadly injection cocktail.

Dealing death to get votes

Trump is not the first president to use executions to score political points. George W. Bush proudly touted the 154 executions in Texas during his two terms as Governor as he campaigned for the presidency. Even so, as president, Bush only executed three federal inmates, one of whom was Timothy McVeigh. During his 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton made a point of returning to Arkansas to witness the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, who was mentally disabled. Clinton executed no federal prisoners as president.

Trump’s one-term tally of 13 federal executions (in less than 6 months) leaves every other president in the dust. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower are tied for 2nd with 10 federal executions each. In fact, Trump’s last 6 months in office saw more federal executions than the last 56 years combined.

New opposition

While the spree may have won Trump some law and order points, its breakneck speed during the pandemic has galvanized death penalty opponents. President Biden is the first sitting president to openly oppose the death penalty. Many are calling on Biden to end the practice at the federal level once and for all.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

AstraZeneca jab protection for South African variant “disappointing”

South Africa has halted its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after local trials. Tests found that the jab offered only “minimal protection” against mild-to-moderate illness from the South African strain, which currently dominates the country. Experts had high hopes the AZ jab in Africa. This is in part because it can be stored in a refrigerator rather than the sub-freezing temperatures needed to transport and store the Pfizer vaccine.

While other African nations are rethinking the AZ jab, South Africa is now pinning its hopes on the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. The J&J jab has been shown to be highly effective and can also be stored in a refrigerator. It’s unclear whether it has been tested against the South African strain. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca and Oxford University are collaborating to create a new formula targeted for the strain.

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India: At least 19 dead and 200 missing after glacier disaster

Yesterday, a falling glacier seems to have triggered a catastrophic swell of water in a river in the Himalayan Uttarakhand province of India. The powerful surge took out a hydropower dam, several bridges and damaged dozens of homes. The official death toll stands at 19, but over 200 are still missing. More than 2000 members of the military and police are out searching for the missing. Most of those killed were workers at a hydroelectric facility. Some 30-35 people are believed to be trapped in a tunnel that partially collapsed due to the disaster.

Experts are at odds as to the causes of the disaster. The influence of global warming has undoubtedly destabilized numerous glaciers in the Himalayas. Others believe that the damming and road construction in the area may have contributed.

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