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Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook directs his team in December at UW Field House in Madison, Wis., during preparations for the Huskers' NCAA regional match against Hawaii.


Washington
AP
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  • Updated

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with "incitement of insurrection" over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president's calls for them to "fight like hell" against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a "clear and present danger" if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration Jan. 20.

Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation's history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign "and domestic."

She said of Trump: "He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden's inauguration.

"Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week," he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity "to move forward" and said, "Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. ... No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement."

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership "will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation."

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell's office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats' impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president's hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell's conversations.

In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had "not made a final decision on how I will vote."

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the "high crimes and misdemeanors" demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump's own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden's election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden's victory.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump's actions summoning the mob that "there has never been a greater betrayal by a President" of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to "go away as soon as possible."


Health
editor's pick topical alert top story
Nebraska pushing people 65-plus up on vaccination priority list
  • Updated

OMAHA — Nebraska will start vaccinating anyone 65 years and older as part of its next phase in administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

But a top official in Nebraska’s vaccine effort cautioned that the shifting priority will add some 300,000 to 400,000 people to the next vaccine group.

And one UNMC expert warns that the expanded rollout might not speed the effort and even could create more confusion.

Nebraska’s move comes after federal officials shifted guidance on the vaccine Tuesday.

The Trump administration urged states to open up vaccines beyond the previously stated priority of people 75 years and older.

The new recommendation calls for vaccinating people 65 and older, along with younger people with documented medical conditions.

Asked about the changing guidance early Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts declined to sign off on the change locally. He said the state would examine the guidance, but wanted to be sure Nebraska had its necessary supply to get people their recommended second doses.

Then later Tuesday, Angie Ling, incident commander with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said Nebraska will move the 65 and older group up on its priority list.

Gary Anthone, the state’s chief medical officer, said: “Things are changing by the hour here.”

Ling and Anthone spoke during a tele-town hall organized by U.S. Rep. Don Bacon to address the vaccine rollout.

Ricketts, speaking on CNBC on Wednesday morning, noted the shift on the 65-and-older group: "Obviously, with the CDC change in the guidelines yesterday, we are going to be looking at accelerating the 65-year-olds as part of our vaccine program."

The second part of the shifting advice involves people with medical conditions. Ling said the state will work with health care officials to determine which high-risk medical conditions would qualify younger residents to move up on the priority list.

With a significant increase in the numbers, Ling said it could take four months to vaccinate the group that now includes those 65 and over, those with medical conditions and essential workers.

Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s infectious diseases division, said he understands the reasons for opening up the categories. But he added: "I don’t know that it’s going to solve much."

Rupp said health officials are coming under increasing pressure because more vaccine is being sent out than is getting into people’s arms. In all, the new guidance added another 53 million people across the country to the vaccine priority, he said.

Behind the scenes, officials are still shaping Nebraska's upcoming vaccination campaign. It's unclear exactly how the next phase of vaccinations will go.

In parts of western Nebraska, public health districts and health care professionals already are vaccinating the very first of the 75-plus group — as the vaccination of health care workers wraps up and a separate effort to reach long-term care facilities makes steady progress.

Part of the challenge ahead is that the current vaccines are not simple to administer and the logistics of putting together a mass vaccination program are complex and difficult.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be stored at colder temperatures than most shots, with the Pfizer vaccine requiring ultra-cold storage. Because of rare incidences of severe allergic reactions, vaccinators are observing those who get the shots for 15 minutes. Those with a history of allergies are observed for 30 minutes. Those receiving the shots are being kept socially distant, which adds to space requirements in vaccination locations. Drugs that can reverse an allergic reaction also must be on hand.

For all of those reasons, public health officials are trying to roll out the vaccine very carefully.

“I would just plead with folks to continue to have patience,” Rupp said. “We’re working through this as quickly as possible. And overall, the public health services are doing a really good job with this.”

PHOTOS: BRYAN STAFF WHO CARE FOR COVID-19 PATIENTS

Photos: Bryan staff who care for COVID-19 patients

Govt-and-politics
editor's pick topical alert
Constitutional amendment would require full state funding for public education in Nebraska
  • Updated

Some big proposals landed in the laps of state senators Wednesday during another round of bill introduction.

Among the proposals were a proposed constitutional amendment offered by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion that would provide full state funding of classroom education in Nebraska's public schools, a fundamental change that would result in substantial property tax reduction.

Currently school districts in Nebraska levy property taxes at the local level to supplement state aid distributed through a complicated formula.

"The stark reality is the failure of the state to properly fund K-12 education has created a property tax crisis in Nebraska," Briese said.  

"This constitutional amendment would end that crisis."

Another proposed constitutional amendment authored by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha would allow senators to serve three consecutive four-year terms rather than the current limit of two terms.

Those proposals would require voter approval in 2022 if placed on the ballot by the Legislature. 

In another proposal, Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha sponsored a bill that would appropriate $52 million to fund construction or expansion of a community corrections facility with 300 new beds in the Omaha metropolitan area.

Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings introduced a bill that would allow voters to designate an agent to deliver their early ballots to the county election commissioner or county clerk once they have voted, a proposal that would appear to authorize a practice that has become described as ballot-harvesting. 

Among proposals introduced Wednesday: 

* HISTORY LICENSE PLATES: Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha proposed legislation (LB317) to allow motor vehicle owners to purchase a new category of license plates designed to reflect Nebraska history.

* FINANCIAL LITERACY REQUIREMENT: High school students would be required to pass a personal finance or financial literacy course before they could graduate high school under a bill (LB327) from Sen. Julie Slama of Peru.

* COMMUNITY WORK RELEASE CENTERS: Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha sponsored a bill (LB334) to empower the state's Division of Parole Supervision to contract with private providers to establish community work release and treatment centers at various locations throughout the state.

* MEDICAID NURSING SERVICES: Sen. John Stinner of Gering introduced a bill (LB340) to create a separate program to fund providers of nursing facility services for Medicaid beneficiaries.

* MALCOLM X DAY: May 19 would become Malcolm X Day, a state holiday, under a proposal (LB349) entered by Omaha Sen. Terrell McKinney. 

* YOUTH-IN-CARE BILL OF RIGHTS: A bill of rights for youths in community care would be created in a proposal (LB357) from Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt.

* MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION: Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks would change the law (LB359) to add a multicultural education requirement for all public elementary, middle and secondary schools, and require the Nebraska Department of Education to hire a full-time multicultural education consultant.

* GAMES OF CHANCE AT FAIRS: The Nebraska State Fair or county fairs could have games of chance in a bill (LB371) brought by Sen. Ray Aguilar of Grand Island.

Meet the state senators making laws in 2021

National
AP
Second impeachment: Trump stands largely silent, alone
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — His place in the history books rewritten, President Donald Trump endured his second impeachment largely alone and silent.

For more than four years, Trump has dominated the national discourse like no one before him. Yet when his legacy was set in stone Wednesday, he was stunningly left on the sidelines.

Trump now stands with no equal, the only president to be charged twice with a high crime or misdemeanor, a new coda for a term defined by a deepening of the nation's divides, his failures during the worst pandemic in a century and his refusal to accept defeat at the ballot box.

Trump kept out of sight in a nearly empty White House as impeachment proceedings played out at the heavily fortified U.S. Capitol. There, the damage from last week's riots provided a visible reminder of the insurrection that the president was accused of inciting.

Abandoned by some in his own party, Trump could do nothing but watch history unfold on television. The suspension of his Twitter account deprived Trump of his most potent means to keep Republicans in line, giving a sense that Trump had been defanged and, for the first time, his hold on his adopted party was in question.

He was finally heard from hours after the vote, in a subdued video that condemned the insurrection at the Capitol and warned his supporters from engaging in any further violence. It was a message that was largely missing one week earlier, when rioters marching in Trump's name descended on the Capitol to try to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory.

"I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week," Trump said. He added that "no true supporter" of his "could ever endorse political violence."

But that message, partially motivated to warn off legal exposure for sparking the riot, ran contrary to what Trump has said throughout his term, including when he urged his supporters to "fight" for him last week. Trump said not a word about his impeachment in the video, though he complained about the ban on his social media.

With only a week left in Trump's term, there were no bellicose messages from the White House fighting the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and no organized legal response. Some congressional Republicans did defend the president during House debate in impeachment, their words carrying across the same space violated by rioters one week earlier during a siege of the citadel of democracy that left five dead.

In the end, 10 Republicans voted to impeach.

It was a marked change from Trump's first impeachment. That December 2019 vote in the House, which made Trump only the third president ever impeached, played out along partisan lines. The charges then were that he had used the powers of the office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political foe, Biden.

Trump was acquitted in 2020 by the GOP-controlled Senate and his approval ratings were undamaged. But this time, as some members of his own party recoiled and accused him of committing impeachable offenses, Trump was isolated and quiet. A presidency centered on the bombastic declaration "I alone can fix it" seemed to be ending with a whimper.

For the first time, Trump's future seemed in doubt, and what was once unthinkable — that enough Republican senators would defy him and vote to remove him from office — seemed at least possible, if unlikely.

But there was no effort from the White House to line up votes in the president's defense.

The team around Trump is hollowed out, with the White House counsel's office not drawing up a legal defense plan and the legislative affairs team largely abandoned. 

Trump and his allies believed that the president's sturdy popularity with the lawmakers' GOP constituents would deter them from voting against him.

The president was livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney and has been deeply frustrated that he could not hit back with his Twitter account, which has kept Republicans in line for years. Trump watched much of the day's proceedings on TV from the White House residence and his private dining area off the Oval Office.

His paramount concern, beyond his legacy, was what a second impeachment could do to his immediate political and financial future, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing. They were not authorized to discuss private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The loss of his Twitter account and fundraising lists could complicate Trump's efforts to remain a GOP kingmaker and potentially run again in 2024. Moreover, Trump seethed at the blows being dealt to his business, including the withdrawal of a PGA tournament from one of his golf courses and the decision by New York City to cease dealings with his company.

There's the possibility that if the Senate were to convict him, he also could be barred from seeking election again, dashing any hopes of another presidential campaign.

One campaign adviser, Jason Miller, argued Democrats' efforts will serve to galvanize the Republican base behind Trump and end up harming Biden. He blamed the Democrats' swift pace for the silence, saying there wasn't "time for mounting a traditional response operation." But he pledged that "the real battle will be the Senate where there'll be a more traditional pushback effort."


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