Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 1.8.21

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Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

Good Friday morning. It’s only a week in 2021, and we’re exhausted.

Let’s start the day with some none-insurrection news.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney welcomed Mike Grissom and Mark Kruse to its Florida State Government Relations group this week.

Grissom joins as principal and Kruse as senior advisor.

“Mike and Mark bring decades of executive branch, legislative and policy experience, and we are thrilled to welcome them to our government relations practice. Our clients will benefit from their insight and expertise related to economic development initiatives, rural infrastructure, business relocation incentives and more,” said Mike Harrell, who chairs Buchanan’s Florida State Government Relations practice.

Congratulations to new hires at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Mike Grisson and Mark Kruse. 

Grissom has nearly two decades of local, state and federal election and policy experience, including a stint as executive vice president of Enterprise Florida, where he led legislative and external affairs efforts on behalf of the organization.

“I’m excited to collaborate with Buchanan’s teams in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. as we advocate for our clients in Florida and get the state’s economy back on track,” he said.

Kruse comes to Buchanan from Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ Office of Policy and Budget, Transportation and Economic Development Unit, where he served as a Policy Coordinator. He also served in several positions in former Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.

The Florida State University College of Law graduate has also served on staff in various capacities in the state House and the Senate Commerce Committee.

“As I transition back to private practice, I am looking forward to using my law degree and legislative knowledge to help Buchanan’s clients meet their policy goals in Florida,” added Kruse.

___

Axios hires Capitol Gazette survivor for Tampa Bay reporterSelene San Felice was one of several Time magazine People of the Year in 2018 after surviving the tragic Annapolis newsroom shooting. She’s also a Pulitzer Prize special citation winner. In a sense, San Felice will be returning home after graduating from the University of Tampa before her journalism career. She’ll co-author Axios’ new Tampa Bay newsletter with former Tampa Bay Times investigative reporter and author Ben Montgomery.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@MarcoRubio: The 2020 election process is complete & no matter who we voted for, it’s time to turn the page @JoeBiden is now officially the President-Elect of the United States May God bless & protect our country & our next President

@sbg1: The reason that it’s so important to show the images of looting and destruction and terror in the Capitol yesterday is because the campaign to lie about what happened and rewrite history has already begun.

@Jelani9: Cabinet members resigning only compounds the cowardice that enabled [Donald] Trump. By leaving, they avoid having to decide about the 25th Amendment.

@WillJawando: For those unfamiliar with the term or who doubted #whiteprivilege existed, we saw it in corporate form yesterday at the #USCapitol. white Privilege = Violently storming the #Capitol, going home with no consequences & waking up this morning like it’s a regular day.

@MetalGearObama: To not even wear a mask when it would protect your identity while committing crimes is so fucking funny

@DavidHogg11: There should be a public list of companies that hire the Trump enablers after this so we can all boycott them.

@ShevrinJones: Every public official from Florida who participated in #TrumpCoupAttempt yesterday should be suspended w/out pay.

@SeungminKim: This will mark the first time in 20 years that there has been no AAPI secretary in the Cabinet — even after Asian voters helped Biden win key states such as Georgia. AAPI lawmakers lobbied hard for Julie Su for Labor.

@EWErickson: To Whom It May Concern: I have had a trial subscription to 2021 for seven days. I would like very much to cancel my subscription and seek a refund. I am no longer interested in it and think I’d like 2020 back.

— DAYS UNTIL —

NHL season begins — 5; WandaVision premieres on Disney+ — 7; the 2021 Inauguration — 12; Florida Chamber Economic Outlook and Job Solution Summit begins — 20; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 30; Daytona 500 — 37; “Nomadland” with Frances McDormand — 43; “Coming 2 America” premieres on Amazon Prime — 57; “The Many Saints of Newark” premieres — 63; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 84; Children’s Gasparilla — 92; Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest — 99; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 104; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 119; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 175; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 183; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 196; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 203; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 228; “Dune” premieres — 266; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 298; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 301; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 343; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 336; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 441; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 483; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 637.

TikTok video of the day:

@lubalin

that escalated quickly… #sodramatic #humor #oldpeoplefacebook #boomer #musician #producer

♬ original sound – Lubalin

— AFTERMATH —

Protesters leave trail of damage throughout U.S. Capitol building” via Jorge Fitz-Gibbon of the New York Post — Images from the Capitol show a trail of vandalism and destruction after the building was stormed by Trump supporters — including a shattered mirror inside the office of House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi. A photo of the Bush family sits under the mirror. The furious mob that breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing the Washington D.C. into a lockdown, left shattered windows throughout the historic legislative chamber, the photos show. One video shows protesters smashing a window and pulling out furnishings, including a lamp and a chair. In other footage, media equipment is being smashed by the crowd. One rioter is seen carrying a podium out of the Capitol Rotunda before police cleared the building.

Now it’s time to clean up. Image via AP.

Inside the assault on the Capitol: Evacuating the Senate” via Paul Kane of The Washington Post — The officer stood dead smack in the middle of the floor of the United States Senate. Across his chest, an orange POLICE sash. Hanging from his right shoulder, a semiautomatic weapon. He said barely a word, just stared straight ahead at the backdoor entrance to the Senate Chamber. It was 2:15 p.m. Wednesday and the U.S. Capitol was under assault, the most brazen attack on Congress since terrorists hijacked an airplane and attempted to slam it into the building more than 19 years ago. On Wednesday, a pro-Trump mob crashed into the building in a historic first that sent Washington into lockdown.

Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob” via The Associated Press — Three days before the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U.S. Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower. And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents. According to a defense official and two people familiar with the matter, the police turned them down both times. Despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration. Officials intended to avoid any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans.

Pentagon put significant restrictions on D.C. Guard ahead of pro-Donald Trump protests” via Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne of The Washington Post — The Pentagon placed significant restrictions on the D.C. Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests this week, putting the District’s military force in a back-seat role ahead of events that resulted in an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In memos issued on Jan. 4 and 5, the Pentagon prohibited the District’s guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s explicit signoff, according to officials familiar with the orders. The need for higher-level approval appeared to have slowed the military response when the Capitol Police requested backup from 200 troops during a call with top Pentagon officials early Wednesday afternoon.

Dead at Capitol storming include Air Force vet shot by police, founder of Trump social media site” via Elliot Spagat of The Associated Press — The woman who was fatally shot when a mob supporting Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol was identified by authorities Thursday as Ashli Babbitt, whose family described her as an Air Force veteran and avid supporter of Trump and his efforts to stay in office. A U.S. Capitol Police officer on Wednesday shot Babbitt, who later died at a hospital. The shooting occurred as thousands of rioters forced their way into the House chamber, where members of Congress were hiding. District of Columbia police later identified the three people who had medical emergencies and died during the storming of the Capitol. They are 55-year-old Kevin Greeson, of Athens, Alabama; 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland, of Kennesaw, Georgia; and 50-year-old Benjamin Philips, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania.

Siege by pro-Trump mob forces painful new questions across government, resignation of U.S. Capitol Police chief” via Lisa Mascaro and Matthew Daly of The Associated Press — The violent siege of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters forced painful new questions across government Thursday — about his fitness to remain in office for two more weeks, the ability of the police to secure the complex and the future of the Republican Party in a post-Trump era. The rampage that shocked the world and left the country on edge forced the U.S. Capitol Police chief’s resignation over the failure to stop the breach. It led lawmakers to demand a review of operations and an FBI briefing over what they called a “terrorist attack.” And it is prompting a broader reckoning over Trump’s tenure in office and what comes next for a torn nation.

Trump’s remarks before Capitol riot may be investigated, says acting U.S. attorney in D.C.” via Devin Barrett of The Washington Post — U.S. attorney Michael R. Sherwin, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that Trump was not off-limits in his investigation of the events surrounding Wednesday’s riot, saying “all actors” would be examined to determine if they broke the law. Asked if federal agents and prosecutors will look at the incendiary statements made by speakers at Trump’s rally shortly before the mob breached security and wreaked havoc in the Capitol, he said: “Yes, we are looking at all actors here, not only the people that went into the building, but … were there others that maybe assisted or facilitated or played some ancillary role in this. We will look at every actor and all criminal charges.”

Jan. 6 was 9 weeks — and 4 years — in the making” via Tim Alberta of POLITICO — For the past nine weeks, I’ve had a lot of highly unusual conversations with administration officials, Republican lawmakers and conservative media figures. I describe these conversations as highly unusual because what I was trying to glean from them, more than gossip or inside information, was a sense of integrity and discernment. Based on my reporting, it seemed obvious the President was leading the country down a dangerous and uncharted road. I hoped they could see that. I hoped they would do something — anything. My fears were not assuaged. Some of them expressed mild concern. Others laughed off the trepidation altogether. More than a few told me I was being “hysterical,” at which point things got heated.

Justice Department warns of national security fallout from Capitol Hill insurrection” via Natasha Bertrand of POLITICO — The mob that rampaged inside the halls of Congress on Wednesday might have taken a lot more than Americans’ illusions of invulnerability. “National security equities” may have been among the records stolen from the Capitol on Wednesday when pro-Trump insurgents stormed the building and looted several congressional offices, the Justice Department said in a briefing Thursday. Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., said it will likely take “several days to flesh out exactly what happened, what was stolen, what wasn’t.”

No, there’s no substantive evidence that the Capitol riot was spurred by antifa” via Philip Bump and Dalton Bennett of The Washington Post — One sure sign that the violence that wracked the Capitol on Wednesday was broadly unacceptable to Trump’s usual allies was how quickly some pivoted to blame people other than the President and his base of supporters. From the House floor, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Trump ally, cited “pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company” that he claimed showed “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters.” Instead, they were “masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Several state lawmakers from across the country joined, observed U.S. Capitol mob” via Cuneyt Dil of The Orlando Sentinel — A West Virginia lawmaker who filmed himself and supporters of Trump storming into the U.S. Capitol is being widely condemned as federal prosecutors step up their pursuit of violent perpetrators. State Del. Derrick Evans was among several lawmakers from across the country who traveled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations rooted in the baseless conspiracy theory that Biden stole the presidential election. Wearing a helmet, Evans ultimately joined a screaming mob as it pushed its way into the Capitol building, and livestreamed himself joyfully strolling inside.

West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans livestreamed his participation in the U.S. Capitol riot.

Larry Hogan details panicked call from House leader Steny Hoyer asking for Maryland’s help” via Ovetta Wiggins of The Washington Post — Hogan offered new details Thursday about the delayed response to assist law enforcement at the Capitol, saying the Maryland National Guard was ready to help but was “repeatedly” told they did not have the authorization needed to join the effort. Hogan received a panicked call from House Majority Leader Hoyer, who pleaded with him to send in troops from Maryland, the governor said. Hoyer told him that he was calling from a secure location with House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Yesterday was CNN’s most-watched day ever” via Tony Maglio of The Wrap — The coverage of the siege on the U.S. Capitol building drove CNN to record ratings. In fact, Wednesday was the most-watched day in the network’s history. In addition, more TV viewers got their news via CNN than on any other TV channel. Yes, that includes broadcast television as well as cable and it holds true for any part of the day. From 8 to 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, CNN averaged 8.203 million total prime-time viewers to competitor MSNBC’s 7.382 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. Fox News finished in third place among the cable news networks with an average of 4.577 million total viewers across those three hours.

— AMERICA IN CRISIS —

Race double standard clear in rioters’ Capitol insurrection” via Aaron Morrison of The Associated Press — Black Lives Matter protests, 2020: Overwhelming force from law enforcement in dozens of cities. Chemical dispersants. Rubber bullets and hand-to-hand combat with largely peaceful crowds and some unruly vandals and looters. More than 14,000 arrests. The U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021: Barely more than a few dozen arrests. Several weapons seized, improvised explosive devices found. Members of a wilding mob were escorted from the premises, some not even in handcuffs. The key difference? The first set of protesters were overwhelmingly Black Americans and their allies. The second group was overwhelmingly White Americans who support outgoing Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Some people believe protesters and rioters are treated differently by police based on race. Image via AP.

Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi slams security failure in Capitol assault” via Ari Natter and Todd Shields of Bloomberg — House Speaker Pelosi called for the resignation of the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, joining a chorus of lawmakers criticizing the agency’s failure to thwart an assault by a pro-Trump mob on Wednesday. The rioters’ ability to access the building, including her office, represented “a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police,” she said. The House sergeant-at-arms had submitted his resignation, she said, calling for U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund to do the same. Senate Republican Leader McConnell said the attack, which briefly interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory, reflected “shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture” and vowed an investigation.

Trump faces mounting pressure and calls for resignation, removal” via Josh Wingrove, Saleha Mohsin, and Erik Wasson of Bloomberg — Trump came under mounting pressure Thursday after inciting a mob of protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, facing calls to resign, talk of impeachment and a push for Vice President Mike Pence to undertake extraordinary constitutional moves to oust the President from office. The top Democrats in Congress, Pelosi and Schumer, called for Pence and the Trump cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides an avenue for the President to be removed. Pence hasn’t responded, and Democrats floated impeachment proceedings as an alternative.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigns, saying she is ‘deeply troubled’ by violence at the Capitol” via Ian Duncan and Michael Laris of The Washington Post — After spending four years working to enact Trump’s agenda of lifting government rules on industry, Transportation Secretary Chao announced her resignation Thursday, saying she was left “deeply troubled” following the assault on the Capitol by a mob acting on her boss’s behalf. Chao, sworn in during Trump’s second week in office, is the first member of the Cabinet to quit after Wednesday’s violence. “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao wrote in an email to staff members Thursday. “As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

Elaine Chao says ‘ciao.’ Image via AP.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos submits resignation” via Alayna Treene and Jacob Knutson of Axios — DeVos submitted her resignation to Trump Thursday night, a day after “March for Trump” protesters invaded the U.S. Capitol building, a senior White House official with direct knowledge of her letter said. DeVos is the second Cabinet secretary to exit the administration in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot. “Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us,” DeVos said in her letter. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”

Trump’s grip on GOP grassroots holds fast” via David Siders of POLITICO — The recriminations came swiftly after Wednesday’s deadly insurrection at the Capitol, in calls for Trump’s impeachment and White House resignations that spilled over into Thursday. But if the President was finally losing his grip on Washington, there were few signs the base was anywhere close to leaving Trump behind. At least a half-dozen GOP state legislators were part of the crowd at the Capitol Wednesday. A West Virginia lawmaker, dressed in a helmet, filmed himself rushing the building with other siege participants. And in Arizona, Republicans were expressing such fealty to the President that they were openly discussing the possibility of forming a new party around him.

Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says” via Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin of The Washington Post — Zuckerberg said Facebook is banning Trump indefinitely, marking a dramatic escalation of the conflict between Silicon Valley and the White House after Trump weaponized the web to help stoke a riot at the U.S. Capitol. Facebook’s suspension marked the most aggressive penalty that any social media company has meted out to Trump over his four-year term, a period in which he has repeatedly peddled falsehoods, attacked critics and spread divisive rhetoric online. Twitter on Wednesday evening also suspended Trump for 12 hours for the first time, but the company’s blockade lifted Thursday morning and the President had not yet tweeted.

‘Nothing can stop what’s coming’: Far-right forums that fomented Capitol riots voice glee in aftermath” via Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, Razzan Nakhlawi and Harrison Smith of The Washington Post — Men wearing camouflage shirts began building a makeshift defensive camp outside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. They moved barricades and green fencing into a circle, and then pulled helmets from a crate and donned goggles in preparation for a clash that had been brewing for weeks and, arguably, for years on far-right forums devoted to Trump. “TheDonald.win, that’s where it’s at,” said one of the men, referring to the website where defiant talk, conspiracy theories and tips on how best to lay siege to Washington have grown since Trump lost. The comment underscored the potent, interactive role between the online and offline worlds in Wednesday’s breach of the Capitol.

Mob violence at the Capitol underscores risks of lengthy presidential transitions” via Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post — Seven weeks have passed since Biden was elected to be the next President of the United States. Trump has spent most of that time attempting to overturn that result in something akin to a coup. He and his Republican allies have made spurious allegations of voter fraud and pressured state and local officials to throw away Democratic ballots and appoint alternative slates of electors. Then he inspired a violent mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol. The President spent weeks cultivating the conspiracy-driven grievances that boiled over Wednesday, time typically not available during transfers of power in other countries.

A facial recognition company says that viral Washington Times “antifa” story is false” via Craig Silverman of POLITICO — A facial recognition company says a viral Washington Times story claiming it identified antifa members among the mob that stormed the Capitol is completely false. XRVision said it had asked the conservative outlet for a retraction and apology over the story, which was cited in the House of Representatives after the riot late Wednesday by Florida Republican Rep. Gaetz, an ardent Trump supporter. The Washington Times published a story that claimed XRVision “used its software to do facial recognition of protesters and matched two Philadelphia Antifa members to two men inside the Senate.” The story was published with the headline “Facial Recognition Firm Claims Antifa Infiltrated Trump Protesters Who Stormed Capitol” and quickly went viral.

No, Matt Gaetz, antifa was not behind the protests.

Josh Hawley blames ‘woke mob’ for cancellation of book day after actual mob stormed Capitol” via Jonathan Shorman of the Miami Herald — Missouri Sen. Hawley called Simon & Schuster a “woke mob” for canceling his upcoming book on Thursday, the day after an actual mob loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol. Simon & Schuster said in a statement it had decided not to release the Republican Senator’s book. Hawley was the first Senator to sign on to an objection to the certification of Biden’s victory. “As a publisher, it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: at the same time we take our larger public responsibility seriously as citizens, and cannot support Sen. Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,” the statement said.

‘Sit down!’ ‘No, you sit down!’ Democrat’s speech nearly triggers fistfight on House floor” via Timothy Bella and Lateshia Beachum of The Washington Post — An impassioned speech from Rep. Conor Lamb nearly sparked an early morning fistfight between two other House lawmakers during the debate over Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. Rep. H. Morgan Griffith took exception to Lamb’s words. Moments later, Griffith raised a point of order and attempted to have his colleague’s words struck from the record. Then, as Lamb continued to talk, a scrum reportedly broke out between a few Republicans and Democrats, away from cameras’ view.

Trump supporters, other passengers in shouting bout on plane” via The Associated Press — Supporters of Trump got into an angry shouting match with other passengers on a Washington-bound American Airlines plane after they projected a “Trump 2020” logo on the cabin ceiling and walls. The Trump supporters said a passenger threatened to kill them, and there was yelling back and forth. A flight attendant intervened, telling one passenger in the aisle to sit down. The incident occurred on Tuesday night after American’s flight 1291 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and was taxiing to the gate. The scene was posted on Twitter by Maranie Staab, a Portland, Oregon-based independent journalist who says on her website that she focuses on human rights and social justice issues.

— FLORIDA ANGLE — 

Trump’s insurrection and Rick Scott’s acquiescence” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — With fiery words, unmistakable in their purpose, Trump incited a mob to attack and invade the U.S. Capitol, pillaging offices, breaching the Senate chamber and disrupting the session of Congress that was counting the electoral votes for his successor. Four deaths were attributed to the riot. If Trump and his hoodlums meant to prevent the certification of his successor, they not only failed; the violence backfired on them. There were fewer votes than expected for the challenges. But most of Florida’s Republican lawmakers were on the wrong side of those votes and the wrong side of history. In the Senate, only seven Republicans took Trump’s side. Among the villains from Florida was U.S. Sen. Scott.

If there is a villain in this story, it could be Rick Scott. Image via AP.

How Matt Gaetz spread a falsehood about antifa infiltrating the mob that attacked Congress” via Steve Contorno of The Tampa Bay Times — To anyone watching television Wednesday, the identity of the violent mob that overtook the U.S. Capitol was unmistakable: Overzealous supporters of Trump. What with all the Trump flags, MAGA hats and attire carrying the Republican’s campaign insignia, their loyalties were obvious. Yet later that night, as Congress returned to work, Republican U.S. Rep. Gaetz attempted to sow doubt. Citing a loosely sourced report from the Washington Times, Gaetz pronounced from the House floor that there was “pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters.”

After running as a moderate, Carlos Giménez votes to overturn electoral college result” via Alex Daugherty, Douglas Hanks and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — In his final speech as Miami-Dade mayor, Congressman-elect Giménez offered some words of advice to the county commissioners he was leaving behind on his way to Washington. “It’s all about collaboration and results,” Gimenez said during the Nov. 6 farewell ceremony at a PortMiami terminal. “People want their elected leaders to work together for the greater good. They don’t want us to get stuck in partisan, broken potholes.” But in the first consequential votes of his nascent career in the U.S. Representatives, Gimenez voted to support Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of Biden’s victory in several battleground states — taking a position that even some members of his own party have cast as an overtly partisan attack on democracy.

—“Meet the Florida Representatives and Senator who voted with the mob and against democracy” via The Orlando Sentinel editorial board

—“Pro-Trump Largo coffee shop owner recounts moment barriers gave way at U.S. Capitol” via Tony Marrero of The Tampa Bay Times

In Bradenton, DeSantis, who told Trump to ‘fight on,’ deflects blame for D.C. lawlessness” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — With many blaming President Trump and allies who encouraged him to challenge the election results for the lawlessness in the U.S. Capitol, Gov. DeSantis defended his support for the President’s unprecedented push to overturn the election. DeSantis said after the election Trump should “fight on” and “exhaust all options” in challenging the results.Trump took that approach to an extreme degree, mounting a series of unsuccessful legal challenges to the election results. Trump’s efforts culminated at a rally where he encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol and demand that Congress not certify the Electoral College votes and overturn the election.

Florida lawmaker’s wife defends Capitol rioters, says they were ‘peacefully protesting’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The cleanup is underway in Washington D.C. at the Capitol, after hordes summoned by the President of the United States marauded through the building in protest of Congress certifying the presidential election Wednesday. However, some believe it was a peaceful protest, including the politically-active wife of a state legislator who will have a key role in the 2021 Legislative Session. Esther Byrd, a former candidate for Neptune Beach City Council, is the wife of Rep. Cord Byrd, currently the Vice-Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee, a position that gives him unique power in shaping the state’s law and order agenda.

Lawrence Keefe condemns Capitol mob, vows to prosecute ‘shameless criminals’” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Keefe wants the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If any of the perpetrators live in his jurisdiction, he will do it himself. Keefe echoed many other Florida leaders’ calls, one day after pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol to object to the scheduled certification of Biden’s victory over Trump. “Our Capitol is a historic symbol of the republic and the seat of a lawmaking body that is the envy of the world. The attack on our Capitol is an assault on America’s democracy and an insult to all Americans. It cannot and will not be tolerated,” Keefe said. Keefe’s statement marks another admonishment from a Republican public official. In addition, Keefe was nominated to his post by Trump two years ago.

Parrish man caught on camera carrying U.S. House lectern during riot at Capitol” via Ryan Ballogg and Jessica de Leon of The Bradenton Herald — The man captured in a viral photo taking a lectern from the U.S. House during Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol has been identified as a Parrish resident. Adam Christian Johnson smiled and waved as he was caught on camera carrying what appeared to be U.S. Speaker of the House Pelosi’s lectern as he walked through the U.S. Capitol Building with other rioters on Wednesday. The podium bears the official seal of the speaker of the House. The image quickly circulated social media in the hours that followed, and numerous residents were swift in recognizing and identifying him. Johnson lives in Parrish with his wife and their five children. His wife is a doctor in Palmetto.

Stealing the House Speaker’s podium during a riot? Yep, it’s a Florida Man. Image via Getty.

Hernando blogger was at head of Capitol mob as it attacked” via Jack Evans of The Tampa Bay Times — Near one vanguard of the mob that formed Wednesday afternoon outside the U.S. Capitol, his back turned to the steps that rioters had yet to overrun, Tom Lemons turned his camera on himself. An “End CCP” mask covered his mouth, and his first words were swallowed by the chanting surrounding him. The end of his sentence, though, came out clear: “Storm the Capitol.” Lemons was shoulder-to-shoulder with the front line of rioters who pushed their way through barriers outside the Capitol, forced police to retreat to the building’s steps and ultimately pressed their way toward the entrance.

Collier County business owner calls D.C. trip to Trump protests ‘amazing,’ surrounded by ‘great Americans’” via Thaddeus Mast of the Naples Daily News — A controversial Collier County business owner, returning from Wednesday’s riot in Washington, D.C., said protesters were “supporting liberty and freedom” and blamed left-wing activists for the siege on the U.S. Capitol. “The trip was amazing,” Alfie Oakes stated in an email. “I have never been surrounded by so many great Americans.” Oakes, owner of Seed to Table, is an outspoken supporter of President Trump. About 100 protesters from Southwest Florida returned Thursday after a bus trip funded by Oakes to attend a pro-Trump rally.

—”Vero Beach man describes mayhem in Washington, D.C.: ‘A Daytona NASCAR race times 10’” via Corey Arwood of TC Palm

Florida’s Republican politicians indulged Trump’s whims and enabled D.C. riot. Let’s clean house” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Yes, invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. But this punitive action, essential to begin repairing the wounds embedded in America’s soul — and the nation’s tattered reputation as a beacon of democracy — won’t end the political rot that led to a day of anguish and infamy we will never forget. The assault on the Capitol by White supremacists was kindled in swaths of the Disunited States of America like Florida, where Republican politicians indulged Trump’s whims, adopted his hate speech, abandoned bipartisanship and signed on to MAGA-branded racist policy. They, too, must also pay, at least a political price, for the seditious riot.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida’s COVID-19 surge could continue for weeks, experts say” via Marc Freeman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida is in its darkest hours of coronavirus spread, as the winter’s surge of infections is not projected to let up for weeks — if not longer, health experts say. According to infectious disease specialists who have analyzed the data, the pandemic’s peak is likely to surpass the state’s one-day record of 17,783 new COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday, according to infectious disease specialists who have analyzed the data. So while Florida can’t get vaccines distributed to vulnerable residents fast enough, we haven’t even seen the expected spike of infections from gatherings to celebrate the arrival of the new year. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Dr. Marissa J. Levine, director of the University of South Florida’s Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice.

Florida braces for a wave of COVID-19 cases that could last weeks. Image via AP.

Nearly half of new COVID variant cases in the U.S. are in Florida. Experts warn of surge” via Ana Claudia Chacin and Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — The mutated and likely more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus detected in Martin County last week is growing in Florida, with 22 cases now in the state, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 42% of the 52 cases known to the CDC in the United States, and experts say the new strain is likely to continue to spread as COVID cases rise across the state and in South Florida. “We know it’s here now. Even though it’s Martin County, we have to assume it’s in Miami-Dade as well,” said Mary Jo Trepka, an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor at Florida International University.

‘They weren’t prepared.’ Delayed funds, shifting strategy created a perfect storm for Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout” via Skyler Swisher and Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A shifting strategy, delayed federal help and years of cuts to public health budgets contributed to a rocky rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to the oldest and most vulnerable Floridians, turning the lifesaving arrival of shots into a 65-and-up scramble resembling a Black Friday dash for marked-down televisions. For months a vaccine has been seen as the endgame for the pandemic. Yet, health officials across the state received little advance notice, and Florida’s only published vaccine plan lacked details on exactly how leaders would handle the onslaught of demand. Meanwhile, people most at risk of dying of the virus couldn’t get through to get even basic questions answered, despite their leaders having had 10 months to prepare for a vaccine arrival.

— CORONA LOCAL — 

MorseLife investigated after COVID-19 vaccine was offered to Palm Beach jet set” via John Pacenti and Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — MorseLife Health System, a pricey elder care center in West Palm Beach, is now in the crosshairs of the Department of Health and Florida’s inspector general, accused of doling out COVID-19 vaccine to members of Palm Beach Country Club and wealthy donors, DeSantis said. The vaccines the West Palm Beach facility received were to be given only to residents and staff. He said that for benefactors to sign consent forms as if they lived or worked at a facility is wrong. The donors to MorseLife and the Palm Beach Country Club members were often one and the same when it came to getting the vaccine.

Blaise Ingoglia pushes back at ridiculous story on vaccinations in father’s community” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Ingoglia is responding to an article suggesting he pulled strings to get family vaccinated. He insists the newspaper knew he did no such thing and sensationalized the story for attention. “They are clearly misleading their readers with biased and unreliable reporting,” he said. Controversy arose when the Times reported Wellington at Seven Hills was receiving nearly 650 out of 2,000 vaccines distributed to the Hernando County Health Department. The article mentioned Ingoglia’s father lives in the gated community, and mentioned Ingoglia previously served as Republican Party of Florida Chair. There’s no further mention of Ingoglia beyond the eyebrow-raising fourth paragraph, and the state lawmaker isn’t quoted and says he was never called. 

Blaise Ingoglia pushes back on ‘ridiculous’ accusations he pulled strings to get his father a vaccination.

Outside vendor still running Hillsborough County vaccination sites after being fired from registration duties” via Mahsa Saeidi of News Channel 8 — Hillsborough County officials said Wednesday they fired the company in charge of registering seniors for coronavirus vaccinations after the outside vendor bungled the rollout. By all accounts, Hillsborough’s coronavirus vaccine rollout was rough. Seniors like Joe McDonald wasted hours trying to make an appointment. “When given an opportunity to sign up and not being able to get through, that was pretty frustrating,” said Mr. McDonald. Hillsborough County said OnSite Safe, the vendor hired to run the call center and registration website failed. They were fired on Wednesday, but 8 On Your Side kept digging and found more to this story.

— CORONA NATION —

U.S. sets COVID-19 death record as researchers point to asymptomatic cases as a major source of infections” via Brittany Shammas and Ben Guarino of The Washington Post — As the United States marked another grim milestone Thursday with more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths reported in a single day, federal disease trackers said research suggests that people without symptoms transmit more than half of all cases of the novel coronavirus. The findings, which came from a CDC model, demonstrate the importance of following the agency’s guidelines about wearing a mask and maintaining social distance, officials said. The emergence of a more contagious variant of the virus places the federal agency’s conclusion about how it is spreading in even starker relief. “Those findings are now in bold, italics and underlined,” said Jay C. Butler, the CDC deputy director for infectious diseases.

Anthony Fauci says he thinks that January will get worse, and that the vaccination effort needs more time.” via Karen Zraick and Rebecca Robbins of The New York Times — Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, predicted on Thursday that the daily death toll from the coronavirus would continue to rise for weeks to come, and counseled patience with the vaccination program gearing up across the nation. Health officials in the United States reported nearly 4,000 virus-related deaths on Wednesday, a record, and the pandemic’s total surpassed 360,000. In an interview with NPR, Dr. Fauci said the continued high toll would probably reflect increased travel and gatherings over the holidays. “We believe things will get worse as we get into January,” he said.

Anthony Fauci says the bodies will pile up, while the vaccination program picks up the pace. Image via AP.

U.S. is blind to contagious new virus variant, scientists warn” via Carl Zimmer of The New York Times — With no robust system to identify genetic variations of the coronavirus, experts warn that the United States is woefully ill-equipped to track a dangerous new mutant, leaving health officials blind as they try to combat the grave threat. The variant, which is now surging in Britain and burdening its hospitals with new cases, is rare in the United States. But it has the potential to explode in the next few weeks, putting new pressures on American hospitals, some of which are already near the breaking point. The United States has no large-scale, nationwide system for checking coronavirus genomes for new mutations, including the ones carried by the new variant. About 1.4 million people test positive for the virus each week, but researchers are only doing genome sequencing on fewer than 3,000 of those weekly samples.

Wear a maskPeople without symptoms spread virus in more than half of cases, CDC model finds” via Ben Guarino of The Washington Post — People with no symptoms transmit more than half of all cases of the novel coronavirus. Their findings reinforce the importance of following the agency’s guidelines: Regardless of whether you feel ill, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay socially distant, and get a coronavirus test. That advice has been a constant refrain in a pandemic responsible for more than 350,000 deaths in the United States. Fifty-nine percent of all transmission came from people without symptoms. That includes 35% of new cases from people who infect others before they show symptoms and 24% from people who never develop symptoms at all.

The U.S. paid a Texas company nearly $70 million for ventilators that were unfit for COVID-19 patients. Why?” via Reed Albergotti and Aaron Gregg of The Washington Post — This spring, amid a panic over a shortage of ventilators to treat the anticipated surge in coronavirus cases, the Pentagon announced the purchase of $84 million worth of breathing machines from four companies. One of the ventilators, the SAVe II+, made by a small Plano, Texas-based company called AutoMedx, stood out from the rest. In a research study conducted for the Pentagon years earlier, the SAVe II had been declared unfit for use in a respiratory pandemic. It’s unclear why AutoMedx, which had emerged from bankruptcy about six months earlier, received the no-bid emergency contract worth nearly $70 million for ventilators that, by every measure, were not suitable for COVID-19 patients. Who precisely authorized the contract remains unknown.

— MORE CORONA —

Amazon now sells at-home COVID-19 testing kits as cases continue to rise in the US” via Coral Murphy of USA Today — Amazon is now selling COVID-19 tests for customers to use at home as cases continue to rise in the U.S. The DxTerity COVID-19 Saliva at-Home Collection Kit detects the presence of the virus but does not confirm immunity or detect antibodies. DxTerity’s molecular-based PCR test received approval from the FDA last month. The test differs from the quicker and less expensive antigen tests, which use a nasal swab or throat swab to detect the virus. A single COVID-19 testing kit is listed for $110, and a 10-pack bundle is available for $1,000.

Amazon is now selling $110 FDA-approved COVID-19 test kits.

Holland America, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises cancel U.S. cruises into late spring” via Morgan Hines of USA Today — Princess Cruises has announced it will cancel all cruises from U.S. ports through May 14, more than a year after the industry came to a standstill in the middle of March last year. Holland America Line has also canceled all of its departures through April 30 as it prepares to meet the CDC’s guidelines. The cancellations come as the U.S. sees a continued upward trend in COVID-19 cases, reaching 21 million cases on Tuesday night, just over four days since reporting 20 million cases. And Georgia became the fifth state to report a case of the more contagious virus strain first identified in the United Kingdom, joining Colorado, California, Florida and New York.


— PRESIDENTIAL —

Trump acknowledges ‘a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20’” via Amy B Wang of The Washington Post — In a video message released Thursday evening, Trump denounced and tried to distance himself from the attack in his name. “America is and must always be a nation of law and order,” Trump said. “The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction: You do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law: You will pay.” Trump also claimed his attempts to overturn the election results were simply his efforts to “ensure the integrity of the vote.” Nevertheless, the video appeared to be the closest Trump has come to concede to Biden formally.

To watch the clip, click on the image below:

Wall Street Journal editorial board urges Trump to resign to avoid second impeachment.” via Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times — The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, the American flagship of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire, denounced Trump on Thursday for inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol, declaring his behavior “impeachable” and encouraging Trump to resign his office to prevent a second impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House. In an unsigned article titled “Donald Trump’s Final Days,” the Journal’s editorial page excoriated the President for “an assault on the constitutional process of transferring power after an election” and said, “this week has probably finished him as a serious political figure.”

Mike Pence expected to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration” via Gabby Orr and Anita Kumar of POLITICO — Pence is expected to attend Biden’s presidential inauguration later this month after overseeing Wednesday’s chaotic certification of the President-elect’s Electoral College win. Three sources close to Pence said he would likely make an appearance at the Jan. 20 event in a show of support for the peaceful transition of power. They said that the decision to attend became easier after Trump publicly criticized Pence leading up to, and following, his refusal to stop the certification. “It was a much more difficult decision days ago, but less difficult now,” said a person close to Pence.

Pence is said to oppose invoking 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his duties.” via Maggie Haberman The New York Times — Pence is opposed to a call by Democrats in Congress and some Republicans to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his powers before his term ends, a person close to the Vice President said. It is unclear when Pence will alert Congress of his position. But the decision by Pence is said to be supported by several Trump cabinet officials. Those officials, a senior Republican said, viewed the effort as likely to add to the current chaos in Washington rather than deter it. 

Mike Pence wants nothing to do with the 25th Amendment. Image via AP.

An insurrection sets an ugly stage for 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday morning brought an end to what should be the last real challenge to Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, albeit not before supporters of that effort stormed the U.S. Capitol in a historic and ugly scene. But as one presidential election finally, mercifully lurched to its ultimate conclusion, the GOP’s fault lines were laid for the next race in 2024. Yes, it’s ridiculous to talk about the presidential race four years from now this early, but it was inextricably tied to what we saw transpire Wednesday.

Even after he leaves White House, Trump could bring trouble for Marco Rubio, Scott and Ron DeSantis” via Steven Lemongello and Mark Skoneki of The Orlando Sentinel — With less than two weeks left in office, Trump is creating a sharp divide in the Florida Republican Party between loyalists who backed his baseless claims of fraud and those trying to distance themselves from him after the violent attack on the Capitol he helped incite. But the biggest question over the next few years will be how deep a shadow Trump will continue to cast over politics in Florida, his adopted state. Susan MacManus, a professor emeriti of political science at the University of South Florida, said it might be the GOP’s turn to see the kind of disarray that Democrats have been known for in Florida.

— TRANSITION —

Inauguration planners reassessing security after Capitol siege” via Christopher Cadelago and Tyler Pager of POLITICO — President-elect Biden’s inaugural planning team was already challenged with the unprecedented task of hosting a swearing-in ceremony amid a global pandemic and violent unrest fanned by Donald Trump. Then came the “unprecedented assault on our democracy,” as Biden put it Thursday. Wednesday’s violent melee at the U.S. Capitol is prompting a reassessment of plans for Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Biden’s inauguration team held a leadership call Thursday to discuss safety issues. But neither inauguration officials nor others in government are suggesting they need to overhaul the event, altogether.

Biden denounces racial inequities in blasting Capitol riot” via Annie Linskey, Chelsea Janes and Amy B Wang of The Washington Post — Biden on Thursday denounced what he described as an unequal justice system reflected in the lenient response to the mostly White rioters who assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, suggesting a stark contrast with the treatment of racial justice demonstrators across the country last summer. “You can’t tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said in Wilmington before beginning to hammer his fist against the lectern. “We all know that is true. And it is totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view.”

Joe Biden sees the racial inequality in reactions to the BLM protests and Capitol riot. Image via AP.

Biden tax-increase agenda revived as Democrats win Senate” via Richard Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — During his presidential campaign, Biden proposed raising taxes on corporations, estates and high-income households, reversing key parts of the 2017 tax cuts passed by Republicans and reprising policies that the Barack Obama administration couldn’t get through Congress. Democrats had spent the time between November’s election and this week’s runoffs looking at bipartisan compromises and examining what the administration could do unilaterally. Now, some of Biden’s ideas are much more likely to become law, said Steve Wamhoff of the progressive Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, who said that the President-elect’s plans are less far-reaching than some Democratic alternatives and are broadly popular with the public.

Biden to name Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for labor” via David J. Lynch, Jeff Stein, Eli Rosenberg and Andrew Freedman — Biden has selected two prominent New England politicians with sharply different profiles to run the principal Cabinet agencies handling business and labor issues. Biden intends to name Raimondo to be his secretary of commerce, choosing the former venture capitalist to helm the agency at a time when the nation’s business community is struggling to adjust to an economy reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a person familiar with the matter. And he has picked Walsh, a self-described “lifelong champion of working people,” to be the next Secretary of Labor, the same person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced.

Biden taps intelligence veteran for new White House cybersecurity role” via Natasha Bertrand of POLITICO — Biden plans to pluck a career intelligence official from the National Security Agency to serve in a newly created cybersecurity role on his National Security Council. Anne Neuberger, who joined the NSA more than a decade ago and has been serving as the agency’s director of cybersecurity since 2019, will be named deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity in the incoming NSC, according to two people familiar with the plans. Neuberger’s hiring indicates that the Biden White House intends to reelevate cybersecurity as a key national security priority after Trump eliminated the role of cybersecurity coordinator in 2018.

Trump White House asks political staff to resign by Biden’s inauguration” via Megan Cassella of POLITICO — The Trump administration asked all of its political appointees to submit resignation letters by Inauguration Day, taking a step initially expected months ago that will clear the way for President-elect Biden to start filling the government with his own staff as soon as he enters the White House. In a memo addressed to presidential appointees, White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell asked staffers to submit a letter of resignation no later than noon on Jan. 20.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida touts its civics education. How will it teach the Trump-inspired riot?” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of The Tampa Bay Times — Teachers face a challenge as they discuss events with their students. They say they need to allow the discourse to take place, and teach the important context, without letting their political biases seep in. It’s a real-life lesson they have to respond to in real-time. A Duval County private school coach was suspended over his social media reactions to the mob activity. He wrote that he was “ready to see some White bodies drop,” WJXT reports. Leaders across Tampa Bay urged USF officials to rethink plans to shutter the school’s undergraduate education programs. The university acquiesced after months of criticism.

— DATELINE TALLAHASSEE —

During Capitol chaos, Florida Republicans push rioting bill. Critics question timing” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Hours after Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, Republican lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate filed legislation that would create harsher penalties for people involved in “riots.” The proposal, which critics call “un-American” and politically motivated, is a top priority of DeSantis. The Governor first rolled out the idea last summer in the wake of police-brutality protests and the 2020 presidential election’s heat as he tried to deliver Florida to Trump. But after violence overtook the Capitol on Wednesday, DeSantis and Republican leaders decided to expedite the filing of the proposed legislation, with the Governor saying there is “no time to waste to uphold public safety.”

Sen. Danny Burgess files an oddly timed anti-riot bill.

Lawmakers seek reforms after report of abuse at women’s prison” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — A group of female legislators hope other lawmakers are receptive to changes in Florida’s correctional system after a federal investigation found the state failed to protect inmates from sexual abuse by staff at the state’s largest women’s prison. Democratic Reps. Susan Valdés, Diane Hart, Anika Omphroy and Yvonne Hinson legislators called for removing some upper-level administrators and for mental-health evaluations of staff at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, which was the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and Florida federal prosecutors. The lawmakers also want to meet with Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch to review Lowell’s conditions before the Legislative Session begins March 2.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Jacksonville City Council votes to keep $65.5 million loan in Lot J deal” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jaguars owner Shad Khan and City Hall took a step closer on Thursday to striking an agreement on the Lot J development after a supermajority of the City Council defeated several changes to the proposed deal that were designed to make the deal more favorable to taxpayers but were strongly opposed by Khan’s development team. The council struck down an attempt to allow the city to claw back up to $152 million if the Jaguars were to leave Jacksonville, as well as an attempt to remove a $65.5 million interest-free loan the city will provide the developers. Representatives for Khan told the council that they wouldn’t agree to a deal that contained either provision.

Shad Khan gets a sweet deal from Jacksonville with no commitment to keep the team there. Image via Dawn.com (Pakistan).

State AG sues Tampa Bay area veterans nonprofit, alleging deceptive practices” via Luke Torrance of The Tampa Bay Business Journal — A Palm Harbor-based nonprofit is facing a lawsuit from the Florida Attorney General’s office over deceptive practices, with the state claiming that the organization used donations to pay salaries, rent and other expenses rather than its intended purpose: providing medical care to recent war veterans. In the lawsuit, which was filed in the 6th Circuit Court in Pinellas County on Jan. 4, the state Attorney General’s office brought two counts against the Healing Heroes and its officers Dr. Allan Spiegel, Stacey Spiegel and Neal Spiegel. The attorney general is bringing two counts against the defendants, both violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The state is seeking a claim between $75,000 and $100,000.

State Attorney clears prominent political treasurer Eric Robinson of wrongdoing” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An investigation into Robinson, a prominent Florida campaign treasurer, found no wrongdoing. And now he plans to sue a political opponent he believes to be behind accusations. “I am exploring my legal options,” he said. State Attorney Andrew Warren informed Robinson that his office reviewed facts surrounding a complaint made by George Thurlow. Complaints had been filed with the Florida Ethics Commission and the State Attorney’s Office in Sarasota. The matter became public when 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Ed Brodsky, a Republican who uses Robinson as his own campaign manager, recused himself from the case. DeSantis reassigned the matter to the 13th Judicial Circuit under Democratic State Attorney Andrew Warren.

— TOP OPINION —

Trump caused the assault on the Capitol. He must be removed.” via The Washington Post editorial board — Trump’s refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes. Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the President, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed. Mr. Trump encouraged the mob to gather on Wednesday, as Congress was set to convene, and to “be wild.” After repeating a panoply of absurd conspiracy theories about the election, he urged the crowd to march on the Capitol.

— OPINIONS —

Don’t let them pretend this didn’t happen” via David A. Graham of The Atlantic — Remember what yesterday’s attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol was like. Very soon, someone might try to convince you that it was different. Maybe someone already has. This has been a leitmotif of the Trump administration: Trump does something outrageous and inappropriate, maybe even illegal. There are horrified reactions from across the political spectrum immediately, but pretty quickly, the anger fades. Republican officials test the political winds and decide to keep their heads down. Maybe they even say that what Trump did was just fine. Democratic officials rage but shrug and say there’s just not much they can do. Don’t let the events of January 6 get memory-holed or excused in the same way.

This is when the fever breaks” via David Brooks of The New York Times — Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio once took me on the Senate floor and showed me how generations of Senators had carved their names in the drawers of the desks, ancient hands with their penknives scratching away in the wood, a centuries-long parade of lives dedicated in their imperfect ways to our country. That is why the Capitol, not the White House, is the altar of our democracy, the sacred gathering spot of those who served, strove and died building this nation. The thousands of people who work in the Capitol complex were chased from their chambers or barricaded in their offices by the furies that are ravaging this nation. The shock of this atrocity is bound to have a sobering effect.

Trump’s America becomes one of those ‘shithole countries’” via John F. Harris of POLITICO — The capital was consumed by talk of “insurrection,” a tense standoff with police guns drawn at the doors of the national legislature, a fatality, a curfew enforced by soldiers in the streets. What country are we talking about? This one, of course, and if it had happened elsewhere it might well have merited citation from Trump himself the next time he updates his notorious almanac of “shithole countries.” But it didn’t happen elsewhere. It happened in the world’s oldest democracy. Just two weeks before the transfer of power on Jan. 20, the day was historic in multiple ways. But one milestone was especially noteworthy: It turns out even Trump can find himself rudely splattered by the muck of Trumpism.

Trump has always been a wolf in wolf’s clothing” via Ezra Klein of The New York Times — For years, there has been a mantra that Republicans have recited to comfort themselves about Trump, both about the things he says and the support they offer him. Trump, they’d say, should be taken seriously, not literally. The coinage comes from a 2016 article in The Atlantic by Salena Zito, in which she complained that the press took Trump “literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” For Republican elites, this was a helpful two-step. If Trump’s words were understood as layered in folksy exaggeration and shtick then much that would be too grotesque or false to embrace literally could be carefully endorsed at best and ignored as poor comedy at worst.

Trump, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz will each wear the scarlet ‘S’ of a seditionist” via George F. Will of The Washington Post — Trump lit the fuse for the riot in the weeks before the election, with his successful effort to delegitimize the election in the eyes of his supporters. But Wednesday’s explosion required the help of Hawley and Cruz. Hawley announced his intention to object to the certification of some states’ electoral votes. By organizing support for Hawley among other Republican Senators and Senators-elect, Cruz gave Hawley’s grotesque self-promotion an ersatz cloak of larger purpose. The Trump-Hawley-Cruz insurrection against constitutional government will be an indelible stain on the nation. They, however, will not be so permanent.

Trump is deranged, dangerous and ‘incapacitated.’ Invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office” via the Miami Herald editorial board — It is time to invoke the 25th Amendment. It is time for Trump — as he told the violent, radical thugs who support him no matter what; who crawled over the U.S. Capitol like spiders; who breached House and Senate chambers; who brazenly confronted overwhelmed, ill-prepared law-enforcement officers; who forced lawmakers to take shelter — to “go home.” But here’s what the President said first: “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side.”

Hey Scott, you should find out who that traitorous scoundrel and enabler of lies was in your Senate seat when you voted” via Frank Cerebino of The Palm Beach Post — I’d like to help our very own U.S. Sen. Scott, who put out a call on Twitter for information from the general public to identify the bad actors at the Capitol. “If you saw something or have any information about yesterday’s attack, please contact the authorities,” Scott posted on Thursday. OK, I did see something, Sen. Scott. And it was really shameful and disturbing. There was a roll-call vote in the U.S. Senate on whether to deny Electoral College electors’ certification in Pennsylvania. When it got to the letter “S” in the alphabet, the clerk called out “Sen. Scott from Florida.” And some QAnon, Proud Boys, neo-Nazi, stop-the-steal validator answered, “Yes.”

White conservatives gave violent White radicals a pass. Now they’re about to destroy the country” via Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald — In the end, it wasn’t “antifa.” It wasn’t Black Lives Matter. No, it wasn’t any of the boogeymen White conservatives have imagined, exaggerated and bloviated into national threats. Rather, it was a mob of White conservatives themselves, unrestrained by law, unfettered by patriotism, fueled by resentments, racial and otherwise, who stormed the very Capitol building of the United States. Who broke its windows and fought with police. Who forced Representatives and Senators to shelter in place. Who brought Congress to a halt. All of it egged on by Trump, the pathetic excuse for a President with which this country has been saddled for four years that feel like 40.

The Capitol riot was an attack on multiracial democracy” via Adam Serwer of The Atlantic — The chaotic scene in Washington was familiar to American history but foreign to many living Americans — an armed mob seeking to nullify an election in the name of freedom and democracy. The violence was a predictable consequence of the President’s talent for manipulating dark currents of American politics he does not fully comprehend. What transpired yesterday was not simply an assault on democracy. It was an attack on multiracial democracy, which is younger than most members of the Senate.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida’s Department of Health reports 170 fatalities and almost 20,000 new cases in a single day. That’s the second day in a row setting a record for new cases.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

DeSantis held news conferences in Bradenton and Vero Beach Thursday to talk about COVID vaccinations and never mentioned the rising number of casualties … but he did confirm the state is investigating reports that a posh nursing home in Palm Beach County gave vaccines to rich people who don’t live there but made big donations to the company that owns the home.

— In the aftermath of the failed coup by Trump supporters, DeSantis calls for swift action against the people who stormed The Capitol in D.C.

— One person DeSantis did not blame for inciting the riot was the President. And he takes no responsibility for his role as Trump’s top enabler in the Sunshine State who encouraged challenges to Biden’s election.

— Instead of distancing himself from Trump, DeSantis uses the violence in Washington to justify his idea to slap new limits and penalties on protesters … which was his response to the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer.

— Florida Man also made an appearance at the coup. A resident of Manatee County was identified as one of the protesters who was photographed walking through The Capitol after stealing a lectern adorned with the House Speaker’s official seal.

— Today on Sunrise in-depth, you’ll hear from some women who serve in the legislature who are horrified by a new Department of Justice report about the treatment of inmates at Lowell Correctional Institution, the state’s largest prison for women.

— And finally, an Illinois resident became an honorary Florida Man after mailing a dead rat to his ex-wife in Tampa.

To listen, click on the image below:

— WEEKEND TV —

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Florida Politics Publisher Peter Schorsch; veteran political consultant Mac Stipanovich and freelance journalist Karla Mastracchio.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring Stipanovich, attorney and activist Sean Shaw, independent journalist and Florida State University professor Diane Roberts and Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee reporter Lawrence Mower.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A conversation with newly elected Republican state Reps. Webster Barnaby and Fred Hawkins about their agendas as they prepare for their first Legislative Session.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A one-on-one interview with Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on her take about the vaccine rollout in Florida, what could be done differently, and her response to Florida GOP criticism.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: State Rep. David Smith will discuss the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; and a look at the 2021 Florida budget process and perspective from state Representatives.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with pollsters Steve Vancore and Ryan Tyson.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville City Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney, Florida Times-Union staff writer Christopher Hong and Mike Mendenhall, a staff writer for the Jacksonville Daily Record.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez and Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya.

— LISTEN UP —

Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper, and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. The hosts discuss our 15 most intriguing people of Tampa and the 15 most intriguing people nationally, as well as quick reflections on 2020.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: Supporters of Trump stormed past police and overran the U.S. Capitol, forcing it into lockdown. Journalists Zac Anderson, John Kennedy and Antonio Fins discuss how Florida Republicans in Congress reacted to the lawlessness, which lawmakers supported the attempt to overturn the election results and the state’s rocky coronavirus vaccine rollout.

podcastED: Stand Up for Students President Doug Tuthill interviews American Federation for Children President and CEO Tommy Schultz, who discusses how education choice impacted him and shares his belief that the COVID-19 pandemic has awakened many people to inequities in the modern public education system. Schultz proposes these inequities create an uneven playing field for many families that must be addressed by robust legislation to assist families in customizing their children’s education to serve their needs best.

Tallahassee Business podcast from the Tallahassee Chamber presented by 223 Agency: Sue Dick welcomes Rodney Lewis, AIA. Lewis is the principal and founding partner for Architects Lewis + Whitlock, a local architecture firm celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: After inciting a mob of followers to sack the Capitol, Trump proved he’s too dangerous to hold office, even if it’s just for another two weeks. But don’t count on his cabinet to do the right thing, not even after the first attack on the Capitol since 1814. “These people are gutless, spineless, chicken-shit, horrifying, bootlick traitor scum,” Wilson says. “Even if Donald Trump had his finger on the trigger and was saying, I’m going to nuke Peoria,’ … these people would not pursue the 25th Amendment. Everyone’s just fooling themselves.” This was a day that was stupid and pointless as it was dangerous.

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Michael Beltran, Joe Wicker, Anibal Cabrera and Torres discuss Trump’s call on The Washington Post, Georgia’s runoff elections, the COVID vaccine rollout, and the 2021 Legislative Session.

— ALOE —

After leading NBA’s social justice movement, Raptors frustrated by lack of change” via Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times — Months before the Toronto Raptors arrived in Tampa, they were one of the NBA’s most vocal teams in campaigning for social change. Throughout that push, veteran guard Kyle Lowry was front and center. And given the events of Wednesday, when pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the U.S. Capitol, he arrived at his postgame news conference focused on making a point. “Honestly, the basketball doesn’t matter,” Lowry said. “(Wednesday), what happened on Capitol Hill was disturbing, and the fact that people were allowed to basically rush and take over a federal building without any enforcement, to not do that and just do whatever they want, if they were people of color, I think it would have ended in a whole different situation.”

For the Toronto Raptors, social justice is not moving fast enough. Image via AP.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to state Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, Ron Bilbao, Evan Ross, and Meagan Salisbury of Blue Ticket Consulting.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • Karol McFarland

    January 8, 2021 at 8:57 am

    I have read this disgusting biased leftest Marxist diatribe and there is nothing in your narration I find honest
    or contains anything other than twisted truth. Very sad that people would continue willingly read your propaganda. The future in your hands and people of your devious kind looks very dark indeed.

Comments are closed.


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