Trump’s narcissistic detachment from the grief and fear gripping the nation, while all too familiar, was no less breathtaking in his final days after four years in which he has shirked the most solemn duties of the presidency. After these last days characterized by incompetence, poor planning, negligence and Trump’s utter lack of contrition for the mob he incited to attack the Capitol, America finally seems ready to see him head for the exits.
Frightening new details of the Capitol Hill siege
As Trump makes little effort to quiet the nerves of a rattled nation, details of what unfolded during last week’s Capitol siege have become more unsettling by the day as federal authorities have raced to apprehend the most dangerous rioters while warning of plots for more violence next week when President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated.
Friday also brought unnerving new accounts from the police officers of the attacks they endured as they faced down the mob. DC Metropolitan Officer Michael Fanone recounted to CNN how rioters grabbed for his gear as he was down on the ground injured after being Tasered several times in the back of the neck.
Officer Daniel Hodges, who was captured on camera during the riot getting crushed by a door as rioters surrounded him, described how a guy ripped off his mask, wrested his baton away and beat him with it.
“He was practically foaming at the mouth so just, these people were true believers in the worst way,” Hodges told CNN.
In response to DOJ’s initial assertion, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska called on the American people Friday to pay attention to the dangers that the insurrectionists posed, noting that “rage-peddlers” are trying “to whitewash the attack on the Capitol, saying that a few bad apples got out of control.”
“These men weren’t drunks who got rowdy — they were terrorists attacking this country’s constitutionally-mandated transfer of power,” Sasse said in a statement. “They failed, but they came dangerously close to starting a bloody constitutional crisis. They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The FBI is investigating widespread calls for violence across the country and every American has an obligation to lower the temperature.”
Promise of a vaccine reserve evaporates
While Americans are still trying to come to terms with the terrifying attack on their democracy, hopes of quickly stamping out the coronavirus pandemic are fading as governors across the country struggle to get the vaccine to those who need it most, hamstrung by the absence of a national plan, an insufficient number of doses to meet the demand, and a lack of resources from the federal government to distribute it.
But several governors said they were furious Friday after learning that the federal government has no reserve of additional Covid-19 vaccine doses to distribute — days after Trump administration officials announced with much fanfare that they planned to release a reserve of second doses to make more vaccine available to those 65 and older.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said on Twitter that governors were told repeatedly by the Department of Health and Human Services that there was “a strategic reserve of vaccines, and this week, the American people were told it’d be released to increase supply of the vaccine.”
“It appears now that no reserve exists. The Trump administration must answer immediately for this deception,” Inslee tweeted.
During a news conference, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown — also a Democrat — said she was “shocked and appalled” that the Trump administration set an expectation earlier this week, knowing that they could not deliver on it.
“Their empty promises are literally playing with people’s lives,” Brown said. “While the Trump administration pulled the rug out from under us like a cruel joke, let me assure you that Oregon’s priorities, and my priorities have not changed. … I remain committed to vaccinating our seniors quickly. But this failure by the Trump administration will unfortunately cause a two-week delay in beginning vaccinations for seniors quickly.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, noted at a news conference that he has “been frustrated at times beyond belief” at the Trump administration during the course of the pandemic, but the revelation about the lack of a reserve is “so far beyond the pale” that it is “almost unimaginable,” he said.
“Where did they go?” he said of the doses that were to be held in reserve. “Who is going to be prosecuted for this?”
“I have 2.1 million of you in line, and they gave us 60,000 (vaccine doses),” Walz said Friday. “I can’t go and buy (vaccine doses) somewhere. I can’t beg them from somewhere. I can’t even have them shipped directly to me.”
“It’s a catastrophe — what they’ve done,” he said.
“We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we’re not sitting on a reserve anymore,” Azar said. “We’ve made that available to the states to order.”
Pfizer has told CNN it has vaccine doses on hand to ship when they are requested by the federal government. “We are working around the clock to produce millions more each day,” the company said in a statement.