A1 A1
Politics
AP
Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob

WASHINGTON – Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump rioted 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. The police turned them down both times, according to senior defense officials and two people familiar with the matter.

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.

Still stinging from the uproar over the violent response by law enforcement to protests last June near the White House, officials also were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active-duty or National Guard troops against Americans.

The result is the Capitol was overrun Wednesday and officers in a law enforcement agency with a large operating budget and experience in high-security events protecting lawmakers were overwhelmed for the world to see.

“There was a failure of leadership at the top,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Four protesters died, including one shot inside the building.

The rioting and loss of control raised serious questions over security at the Capitol for future events. The actions of the day also raised troubling concerns about the treatment of mainly White Trump supporters, who were allowed to roam through the building for hours, while Black and brown protesters who demonstrated last year faced more robust and aggressive policing.

“This was a failure of imagination, a failure of leadership,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, whose department responded to several large protests last year after the death of George Floyd. “The Capitol Police must do better, and I don’t see how we can get around that.”

Acevedo said he has attended events on the Capitol grounds to honor slain police officers that had higher fences and a stronger security presence than what he saw on video Wednesday.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that as the rioting was underway, it became clear that the Capitol Police were overrun. But he said there was no contingency planning done in advance for what forces could do in case of a problem at the Capitol because Defense Department help was turned down.

“They’ve got to ask us, the request has to come to us,” McCarthy said.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, under pressure from congressional leaders, was forced to resign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, effective immediately. The Sergeant at Arms of the House was also expected to be removed.

The Capitol had been closed to the public since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But normally, the building is open to the public and lawmakers pride themselves on their availability to their constituents.

It was not clear how many officers were on duty Wednesday, but the complex is policed by a total of 2,300 officers for 16 acres of ground who protect the 435 House representatives, 100 U.S. senators and their staff. By comparison, the city of Minneapolis has about 840 uniformed officers policing a population of 425,000 in a 6,000-acre area.

There were signs for weeks that violence could strike when Congress convened for a joint session to finish counting the Electoral College votes that would confirm Democrat Joe Biden had won the presidential election.

On far-right message boards and in pro-Trump circles, plans were being made.

The leader of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys was arrested coming into the nation’s capital this week on a weapons charge for carrying empty high-capacity magazines emblazoned with their logo. He told police that he had made statements about rioting in Washington, officials said.

Both Acevedo and Ed Davis, a former Boston police commissioner who led the department during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, said they did not fault the responses of clearly overmatched frontline officers, but the planning and leadership before the riot.

“Was there a structural feeling that well, these are a bunch of conservatives, they’re not going to do anything like this? Quite possibly,” Davis said. “That’s where the racial component to this comes into play in my mind. Was there a lack of urgency or a sense that this could never happen with this crowd? Is that possible? Absolutely.”

Trump and his allies were perhaps the biggest megaphones, encouraging protesters to turn out in force and support his claim that the election had been stolen from him. He egged them on during a rally shortly before they marched to the Capitol and rioted. His personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor known for his tough-on-crime stance, called for “trial by combat.”

McCarthy said law enforcement’s intelligence estimates of the potential crowd size in the run-up to the protests “were all over the board,” from a low of 2,000 to as many as 80,000.

The Capitol Police had set up no hard perimeter around the Capitol. Officers were focused on one side where lawmakers were entering to vote to certify Biden’s win.

Barricades were set up on the plaza in front of the building, but police retreated from the line and a mob of people broke through. Lawmakers, at first unaware of the security breach, continued their debate. Soon they were cowering under chairs. Eventually they were escorted from the House and Senate. Journalists were left alone in rooms for hours as the mob attempted to break into barricaded rooms.

Sund, the Capitol Police chief, said he had expected a display of “First Amendment activities” that instead turned into a “violent attack.” But Gus Papathanasiou, head of the Capitol Police union, said planning failures left officers exposed without backup or equipment against crowds of rioters.

“We were lucky that more of those who breached the Capitol did not have firearms or explosives and did not have a more malign intent,” Papathanasiou said. “Tragic as the deaths are that resulted from the attack, we are fortunate the casualty toll was not higher.”

The Justice Department, FBI and other agencies began to monitor hotels, flights and social media for weeks and were expecting large crowds. Mayor Muriel Bowser had warned of impending violence for weeks, and businesses had closed in anticipation. She requested National Guard help from the Pentagon on Dec. 31, but the Capitol Police turned down the Jan. 3 offer from the Defense Department, according to Kenneth Rapuano, assistant defense secretary for homeland security.

“We asked more than once and the final return that we got on Sunday the 3rd was that they would not be asking DOD for assistance,” he said.

The Justice Department’s offer for FBI support as the protesters grew violent was rejected by the Capitol Police, according to the two people familiar with the matter. They were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

By then, it was too late.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department descended. Agents from nearly every Justice Department agency, including the FBI, were called in. So was the Secret Service and the Federal Protective Service. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent two tactical teams. Police from as far away as New Jersey arrived to help.

It took four hours to evict the protesters from the Capitol complex. By then, they had roamed the halls of Congress, posed for photos inside hallowed chambers, broken through doors, destroyed property and taken photos of themselves doing it. Only 13 were arrested at the time; scores were arrested later.

In the aftermath, a 7-foot fence will go up around the Capitol grounds for at least 30 days. The Capitol Police will conduct a review of the carnage, as well as their planning and policies. Lawmakers plan to investigate how authorities handled the rioting.

The acting U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, said the failure to arrest more people is making their jobs harder. “Look, we have to now go through cell site orders, collect video footage to try to identify people and then charge them, and then try to execute their arrest. So that has made things challenging, but I can’t answer why those people weren’t zip-tied as they were leaving the building by the Capitol Police.”


Washington
AP
Trump finally concedes -- amid talk of ouster from office

WASHINGTON – With just 13 days left in his term, President Donald Trump finally bent to reality Thursday amid growing talk of trying to force him out early, acknowledging he’ll peacefully leave after Congress affirmed his defeat.

Trump led off a video from the White House by condemning the violence carried out in his name a day earlier at the Capitol. Then, for the first time, he admitted his presidency would soon end – though he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name or explicitly say he had lost.

“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Trump said in the video. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

The address, which appeared designed to stave off talk of a forced early eviction, came at the end of a day when the president stayed out of sight in the White House. Silenced on some of his favorite internet lines of communication, he watched the resignations of several top aides, including two Cabinet secretaries.

And as officials sifted through the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob’s siege of the Capitol, there was growing discussion of impeaching him a second time or invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him from the Oval Office.

The invasion of the Capitol, a powerful symbol of the nation’s democracy, rattled Republicans and Democrats alike. They struggled with how best to contain the impulses of a president deemed too dangerous to control his own social media accounts but who remains commander in chief of the world’s greatest military.

“I’m not worried about the next election, I’m worried about getting through the next 14 days,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s staunchest allies.

He condemned the president’s role in Wednesday’s riots and said, “If something else happens, all options would be on the table.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared that “the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America.” She called him “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office. This is urgent, an emergency of the highest magnitude.”

Neither option to remove Trump seemed likely, with little time left in his term to draft the Cabinet members needed to invoke the amendment or to organize the hearings and trial mandated for an impeachment. But the fact that the dramatic options were even the subject of discussion in Washington’s corridors of power served as a warning to Trump.

Fears of what a desperate president could do in his final days spread in the nation’s capital and beyond, including speculation Trump could incite more violence, make rash appointments, issue ill-conceived pardons – including for himself and his family – or even trigger a destabilizing international incident.

The president’s video Thursday – which was released upon his return to Twitter after his account was restored – was a complete reversal from the one he put out just 24 hours earlier in which he said to the violent mob, “We love you. You’re very special.”

His refusal to condemn the violence sparked a firestorm of criticism and, in the new video, he at last denounced the demonstrators’ “lawlessness and mayhem.”

As for his feelings on leaving office, he told the nation that “serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime” while hinting at a return to the public arena. He told supporters “that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

Just a day earlier, Trump unleashed the destructive forces at the Capitol with his claims of election fraud at a rally that prompted supporters to disrupt the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. After the storming of the Capitol and the eventual wee-hours certification of Biden’s win by members of Congress, Trump released a statement that merely acknowledged he would abide by a peaceful transfer of power Jan. 20.

The statement was posted by an aide and did not originate from the president’s own Twitter account, which has 88 million followers and for four years has been wielded as a political weapon.

Trump couldn’t tweet it himself because, for the first time, the social media platform suspended his account, stating that the president had violated its rules of service by inciting violence. Facebook adopted a broader ban, saying Trump’s account would be offline until after Biden’s inauguration.

Deprived of that social media lifeblood, Trump remained silent and ensconced in the executive mansion until Thursday evening. But around him, loyalists headed for the exits, their departures – which were coming in two weeks anyway – moved up to protest the president’s handling of the riot.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy De Vos were the first Cabinet members to resign. Others who resigned in the wake of the riot: Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger; Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council; and first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff-turned-special envoy to Northern Ireland, told CNBC that he had called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to let him know I was resigning. ... I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”

Mulvaney said that others who work for Trump had decided to remain in their posts in an effort to provide some sort of guardrails for the president during his final days in office. “Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney’s predecessor in the chief of staff job, retired U.S. Marine Corps general John Kelly, told CNN that “I think the Cabinet should meet and have a discussion” about Section 4 of the 25th Amendment – allowing the forceful removal of Trump by his own Cabinet.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined Pelosi in declaring that Trump “should not hold office one day longer” and urged Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to act.

Staff-level discussions on the matter took place across multiple departments and even in parts of the White House, according to two people briefed on the talks. But no member of the Cabinet has publicly expressed support for the move – which would make Pence the acting president – though several were believed to be sympathetic to the notion, believing Trump is too volatile in his waning days in office.


News
Ball Corp. plans to build plant in Transpark, bring 200 jobs
  • Updated

Aluminum continues to add fuel to the southcentral Kentucky economy.

Colorado-based Ball Corp., ranked among the world’s largest manufacturers of recyclable metal beverage and food containers, announced plans Thursday to build a 450,000-square-foot plant on a 40-acre site in the Kentucky Transpark, where it will eventually employ about 200 people making tops for aluminum cans.

Ball’s announcement comes less than a year after Crown Holdings Inc. announced plans to build a 327,000-square-foot, $147 million aluminum can manufacturing plant in the Transpark.

Other aluminum-related companies such as Logan Aluminum, Constellium and Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products have in recent years made large investments in the region.

Founded in 1880 and best known as the company that once produced glass jars and lids used for home canning, Ball was approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for tax incentives totaling $7.3 million over 10 years.

KEDFA documents said Ball subsidiary Ball Metal Beverage Container Corp. is investing $305 million to build the plant and equip it.

In a news release, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch called Ball’s investment the largest project the region has seen since 2004. Ball will also be the first tenant in the recently acquired 300-acre expansion of the industrial park.

“This project will have an enormous economic impact,” Bunch said. “We are grateful to Ball not only for investing in our economy after several months of site considerations in multiple states, but also for bringing great jobs and future opportunities to our community.”

Scott McCarty, director of strategic communications for Ball, said in an email that the company plans to start site preparation right away. The plant is expected to start production in early 2022.

A news release said Ball will ramp up to nearly 200 jobs over the next five years. Positions will include production technicians, industrial electricians, machinists, material handlers and leadership and support staff roles.

Colin Gillis, Ball’s president of beverage packaging for North and Central America, said the Bowling Green plant will join the company’s network of more than 20 North American plants, including two new beverage can manufacturing plants now being built in Arizona and Pennsylvania and scheduled to start up later this year.

“These investments ... are supported by numerous long-term customer contracts to serve the unprecedented demand for sustainable aluminum packaging,” Gillis said in a news release.

Ball, which spun off its home canning business in 1993, is riding a wave of growth in aluminum manufacturing as demand for the lightweight metal increases.

The Allied Market Research firm said the global aluminum market was valued at $147.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $189.8 billion by 2026.

Ball produced and shipped about 48 billion recyclable aluminum beverage containers across North America in 2019, accounting for nearly 42% of all aluminum beverage containers produced on the continent.

Ball Corp. and its subsidiaries employ more than 18,300 people worldwide and reported 2019 net sales of $11.5 billion.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.


News
Med Center expanding vaccination effort

The Medical Center at Bowling Green is now the site of mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine for area health care workers.

In conjunction with other health care entities such as Graves Gilbert Clinic, the hospital has been administrating the Pfizer vaccine. An estimated 500 health care workers have received vaccinations since the program started.

Med Center Health Vice President of Corporate Support Services Dr. Melinda Joyce said the vaccine distribution will resume Sunday at the WKU Health Sciences Complex after pausing Friday.

“This is really our first real hope of getting back to our real way of life,” Joyce said. “Seeing more vaccines come in is really so positive. I wish everyone can see the smiles that workers have had when they come in knowing they are about to get the vaccine. I’m honored to be a part of this.”

Dr. Mark Knoll, a physician with McPeak Vision Partners, received his vaccination Wednesday and urged others to do the same.

“The risk of having a negative reaction to it is incredibly low. I’m not a high-risk individual, but I work with older patients. It would give them more confidence and a higher feeling of safety if they knew I got the vaccine,” Knoll said.

Knoll said he felt normal after receiving the vaccine but had a little soreness.

“It feels like a light at the end of the tunnel with that first dose,” Knoll said. “Hopefully, enough people get it and we will be back to normal again soon.”

Barren River District Health Department Public Health Services Coordinator Chip Kraus touted the importance of the vaccine being administered on a large scale.

“It’s really important for the community because it ensures our safety,” Kraus said. “It’s also important that our health care workers get the vaccine in order to fight this pandemic.”

Dr. Debra Sowell, a pediatrician at Graves Gilbert Clinic, has helped monitor those who received the vaccine.

“This is a full community effort,” Sowell said. “So many people have been so appreciative of this opportunity. Some have cried with joy.”

Health care workers who meet the state’s phase 1A criteria can make an appointment by emailing their full name, cellphone number and the name of their health care employer or clinical education program to vaccine@mchealth.net.


News
Guthrie discusses Capitol riot, aftermath

The smell of tear gas – familiar to him from his time in the military – greeted U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie as he walked through the halls of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night.

The Bowling Green Republican hours earlier had left the Capitol and was set to return to vote to certify presidential election results when a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building.

Because space in the House chamber was restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic as deliberations began Wednesday on certifying results, “I came back to my office to watch the Senate” on television, Guthrie told the Daily News in a phone interview from Washington on Thursday morning.

Guthrie’s office is in a separate building from the Capitol.

“I was getting ready to go back” when the TV screens went blank. Then he received a message advising him to shelter in place.

While he was not witness to the looting and destruction in the Capitol, “we could see out our window” the Republican National Committee headquarters, where a bomb was found.

There were large groups milling about.

“We were concerned, as we should be,” said Guthrie, who distinguished the many peaceful protesters from the “violent mob” that stormed the Capitol.

Guthrie noted that many in the mob were taking selfies as they looted and vandalized the Capitol. Law enforcement “should be able to find them,” Guthrie said, “and hopefully they will be prosecuted.”

He said he was perplexed in the first place by the call for the protesters to come to Washington to fight against a set outcome.

“Since Democrats control the House (the effort to not certify the election results) would never succeed,” he said.

Trump “brought them here to get an outcome that couldn’t happen. ... Everyone knew the outcome, but he chose to bring people here.”

As a result, there are images and videos of the storming of the Capitol being shown around the world that “plays right into China and Russia,” Guthrie sad.

When the Capitol was finally cleared, Guthrie and his fellow legislators returned to the Capitol late Wednesday night.

“You could smell the tear gas,” said Guthrie, a West Point graduate and Army veteran.

Windows were broken and there were other signs of the vandalism and looting, but the House chamber was in relatively good condition.

“It was absolutely amazing,” he said of the hasty cleanup effort.

Guthrie said having legislators return that night and continue deliberations was important to show “you can’t stop the Constitution. I’m so glad we did convene.”

Early Thursday, Congress certified the election of Joe Biden as the next president.

It was the Constitution that also led Guthrie to vote to certify the results, and not join some Republicans who objected to the election results from certain states.

“The 12th Amendment is pretty clear” that the role of Congress is to only count and certify results, Guthrie said.

“If yesterday had prevailed, Congress will always elect a president,” he said. “It would amount to a federal takeover of state elections.”

He also noted that five of the six state legislatures in contested states have Republican legislatures that signed off on the results.

Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell joined all but one of Kentucky’s eight-member congressional delegation in voting against the election challenge. Rep. Hal Rogers of the 5th District was the lone representative from Kentucky to vote to challenge the election results.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s events, some legislators have called for Trump’s impeachment or removal from office using the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows for the removal of a president found to be unable to do his job.

“I don’t think we need to go down that path,” Guthrie said, noting that to accomplish either in “13 days is impractical.”

Instead, Guthrie said the focus should be on keeping government operational until Trump leaves office.

Amid a rash of people resigning from the White House in the wake of Wednesday’s events, Guthrie said it is critical that “everybody doesn’t resign” and government continues to operate amid a pandemic that has killed more than 360,000 Americans.

Guthrie was traveling back to Bowling Green on Thursday as Congress is in recess. He said he believes what should now happen is that representatives work with the executive branch staff on keeping governmental operations going.

Guthrie said he will specifically be focusing on vaccine rollout for the next few weeks.

In that effort, Guthrie said he hopes to work with state officials.

“Whatever Gov. (Andy) Beshear needs me to do,” he said.

– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdaily news.com.


Back