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Morning Reads: The Inauguration and the Dissent; In Five States, GOP Moves to Criminalize Protest

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Morning Reads: The Inauguration and the Protests

People gather on the National Mall prior to Donald Trump's presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Today’s the day –> May you live in interesting times. Welcome to the beginning of what is sure to be a turbulent period in American history. At noon today, businessman and reality TV star Donald J. Trump will become president of the United States and rule over the first fully unified Republican government in years. The swearing-in will be followed by an inaugural parade. According to The Huffington Post, members of Trump’s team were hoping to include missile launchers and tanks — “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” a source told The Huffington, referring to shows of force in Moscow and Pyongyang. But the US military steered them away from that idea, worried that these weapons’ treads would destroy the capital city’s roads, and that the optics wouldn’t be great. Trump was, however, granted a 20-plane flyover.

Some 900,000 people are expected in DC this weekend for the Inauguration (about half of the 1.8 million Obama drew in 2009), and a significant proportion of them will be there to protest. “About 30 groups totaling 270,000 people have received permits to stage demonstrations, both for and against the New York businessman in Washington around the inauguration,” Andrew Buncombe and Amrita Khalid report for The Independent. “That number includes some 200,000 people who police say they expect to attend Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, an anti-Trump protest.” Mic has a list of some of the groups organizing protests, and, in a separate Mic article, Jack Smith reports that a number of these anti-Trump organizers have been deluged with attempts at infiltration by the right wing, hate mail, harassing phone calls and threats of violence.

Last week, the head of the Washington, DC, National Guard, Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, was asked to resign from his post at 12:01 p.m., immediately after Trump becomes president. “My troops will be on the street,” Schwartz told The Washington Post last week. “I’ll see them off, but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.” In response to negative press, the Trump administration asked him to stay on for a few days more, but Schwartz had already started packing his things and announced that he would indeed be out the door the moment after the swearing-in. Brig. Gen. William J. Walker, Schwartz’s replacement, told The Washington Post that everything would go smoothly. “We execute the mission regardless,” he said.

Trump’s team and the Russians –> A New York Times investigative team reports, “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.”

Criminalizing protest –> Five states are considering laws that could slap peaceful protestors with fines or jail time, and, in one state, potentially make protesting more deadly. All five states saw Black Lives Matter or environmental protests over the last few years, Spencer Woodman reports for The Intercept. “In North Dakota, for instance, Republicans introduced a bill last week that would allow motorists to run over and kill any protester obstructing a highway as long as a driver does so accidentally,” Woodman writes. “… Although the bill ostensibly requires drivers to have acted ‘negligently’ or accidentally in killing a protestor, the bill’s co-sponsor, Republican state Rep. Keith Kempenich, has said that some accidents might occur if motorists ‘punched the accelerator rather than the brakes,’ according to the Bismarck Tribune.”

Meanwhile, two missile launchers appeared, briefly, on a hill overlooking the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline encampment at Standing Rock. “These systems have observation capabilities and are used strictly in the observation role to protect private property and public safety,” a North Dakota Guard spokesman told The Daily Beast earlier this week. Yesterday, following a wave of negative press, the missile launchers withdrew.

Rewriting local DC laws –> “Congressional Republicans are making an aggressive push to gut the District’s progressive policies, introducing bills in recent days to repeal the heavily Democratic city’s gun-control measures, undo its new law allowing physician-assisted suicide and ban the District from using local tax dollars to provide abortions for poor women,” Aaron C. Davis and Jenna Portnoy report for The Washington Post. “The bills have begun arriving on the eve of President Obama’s departure from the White House, where he has stifled repeated attempts to pass similar measures with a veto threat.”

Two nominees could be confirmed today –> Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats were willing to confirm Trump’s choice of retired Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense and retired Gen. John Kelly as secretary of homeland security. But on other picks for other cabinet posts, Schumer said he wanted a “full and rigorous debate.”

Below the top level, many Obama officials will stay on for a whileThe New York Times reports. “In all, Mr. Trump has named only 29 of his 660 executive department appointments, according to the Partnership for Public Service, which has been tracking the process. That is a pace far slower than recent predecessors, falling far short of the schedule originally outlined by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was Mr. Trump’s transition director before Mr. Trump ousted him 10 weeks ago.” The jobs do not require Senate confirmation.

Beware the lukewarmers –> Mashable’s climate reporter, Andrew Freedman, writes that by not outright denying climate change — by acknowledging that it is happening and humans have something to do with it — many of Trump’s Cabinet nominees who will work on climate change sounded more grounded than the soon-to-be president. “Lukewarmers say they see a problem, but they’re not exactly jumping at the chance to solve it,” Freedman writes. “… Each of Trump’s nominees moved themselves from the climate denier column to the fuzzier land of climate non-denial denial. They may no longer be as easy to classify or dismiss with one phrase, but for the climate, they’re no less dangerous than they were before they began the confirmation process.”

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.