Pressure Mounts on Some Trump Appointees as Biden’s Inauguration Approaches

A message that Trump supporters left in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. 
Credit…Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Two people involved in the January 6 assault on the Capitol this month turned themselves in to police on Monday — Riley June Williams, a Pennsylvania woman accused of taking a laptop from the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and Emanuel Jackson, who is accused of striking police officers with a metal baseball bat. Both were caught on video.

According to a complaint filed by the Justice Department, Ms. Williams, 22, was seen taking “a laptop computer or hard drive” from Ms. Pelosi’s office, drawing accusations of unlawful entry, disrupting the conduct of government business and disorderly conduct.

Credit…FBI, via Reuters

A former boyfriend of Ms. Williams contacted the F.B.I. to identify her in videos recorded during the attack. According to the court filing, he told the F.B.I. that she had intended to sell the laptop to a friend in Russia, who hoped to sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. He also told the F.B.I. that the sale had fallen through.

Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, has said that the break-in posed a national security risk because rioters had stolen computers, hard drives and files from the offices of lawmakers.

Local law enforcement agents in Harrisburg, Pa., told the F.B.I. that Ms. Williams’s father had told them he drove with her to Washington to protest the election results, and that they returned to Pennsylvania together after splitting up during the day.

Her mother told local law enforcement officers that she had since fled, and the police discovered that after the attack she had changed her telephone number and deleted what seemed to be her social media accounts, the F.B.I. said in the court filing.

Credit…Federal Bureau of Investigation

Mr. Jackson, one of the first people who stormed through the doorway of the Senate wing entrance of the Capitol building, was caught on video “making a fist and repeatedly striking a U.S. Capitol Police officer,” according to the complaint. At the time, uniformed police officers were trying to restrain a crowd that was breaking into the building’s windows and doors.

Two hours later, Mr. Jackson, carrying a military-style backpack while wearing a black sweatshirt and blue surgical mask, was seen on video footage again using a metal baseball bat to hit a row of police officers who were holding up Plexiglass shields. He faces five federal charges, including assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon.

When Mr. Jackson turned himself in to the Metropolitan Police Department on Monday, he identified himself in the video footage and confessed to participating in the violence, according to the F.B.I.

A lawyer for Mr. Jackson could not immediately be identified.

William P. Barr, center, the former attorney general, said in an interview that the government “cannot tolerate violence interfering with the process of government.”
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

William P. Barr, the former attorney general, said in an interview that was broadcast on Monday night that doubts raised about the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election results “precipitated the riot” at the Capitol this month. But he would not say whether he believed that President Trump had incited the mob that ransacked the building, instead blaming free-speech issues and the news media.

Mr. Barr, who stepped down last month after pushing back on Mr. Trump’s false claims that the election had been stolen from him, told the British news channel ITV that it was “unacceptable” that a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol building and disrupted proceedings to certify President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory.

The government “cannot tolerate violence interfering with the process of government,” Mr. Barr said. He called the riots that resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer, “despicable.”

But Mr. Barr did not discuss the role that he played in undermining the integrity of the election. He had spent months sowing concerns that the results would be rife with fraud because of the rise in the number of people voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In public remarks before the election, Mr. Barr was among the most vocal opponents of mail-in ballots, a voting method used disproportionately by Democrats. Rather than offering proof that mail-in ballots encouraged fraud, he justified his claims by saying they were based on “common sense.”

“I don’t have empirical evidence other than the fact that we’ve always had voting fraud,” Mr. Barr said in September.

His comments set the groundwork for Mr. Trump’s false claims that Mr. Biden was not the rightful winner.

In the days after the election, Mr. Barr was silent on the issue, and he did not correct his earlier claims about fraud or encourage the public to accept the results. By the time he acknowledged in December that the Justice Department had found no evidence of voting fraud on a scale that could have affected the outcome, his earlier theories about election interference had metastasized.

In his ITV interview, Mr. Barr was unwilling to discuss any role that Mr. Trump might have played in the mob attack. “I leave it to the people who are looking into the genesis of this to say whether incitement was involved,” he said, not naming his former boss.

Mr. Barr also seemed to back away from a stronger statement he had made the day after the riot, when he told The Associated Press that Mr. Trump’s conduct was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

“Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable,” Mr. Barr told The A.P.

In a nod to longstanding complaints by conservatives that social media companies unfairly censor them, Mr. Barr also told ITV that “the suppression of free speech” was to blame for the riot. He said some people might resort to violence when they “lose confidence in the media.”

Steven Dillingham, the director of the Census Bureau, at a news conference in Phoenix last year.
Credit…Pool photo by Ross D. Franklin

Steven Dillingham resigned on Monday as director of the Census Bureau, bringing an early end to a tumultuous tenure that culminated this month in charges that he had allowed politics to override policy at the nation’s premier statistical agency.

Mr. Dillingham notified the White House that he would leave the agency on Wednesday, when the new Biden administration takes control of the federal government. Under federal law, his term as director had been scheduled to end in December 2021.

Mr. Dillingham, who took over the agency in January 2019 after being nominated for the post by President Trump, cast himself as a seasoned statistical expert who was committed to upholding the Census Bureau’s historically nonpartisan work. He had earlier run two other federal statistical agencies and held a range of other federal positions, from the Peace Corps to the Office of Personnel Management.

But while his principal task was to oversee the 2020 census, even that work was often overshadowed by the Trump administration’s yearslong effort to use the bureau’s population tallies to change the rules for reapportioning the House of Representatives and drawing political districts nationwide, largely to the benefit of Republicans.

The White House installed four high-level political appointees in the Census Bureau and ordered the bureau last year to produce a state-by-state count of unauthorized immigrants so that they could be deducted from population totals used to reapportion House seats later this year.

Attempting to meet that rush order, Mr. Dillingham ordered the census count itself curtailed by a month, loosing a flood of lawsuits and raising more questions about the accuracy of a population count already imperiled by the pandemic.

The bureau acknowledged this month that it would be unable to produce the immigrant count sought by the administration before Mr. Trump left office. On Friday, a federal court barred the agency from producing any data related to the order before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office.

Advocacy groups and Democrats in Congress began demanding Mr. Dillingham’s resignation last week after the inspector general at the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, revealed that it had opened an inquiry into his management of the agency. Whistleblowers claim that he and other political appointees had pressured career employees to complete a technical report on undocumented immigrants before the Trump administration ended despite deep concerns about its accuracy.

He has sought to dispute the charges, first in a response to the inspector general and again on Monday in a blog post on the Census Bureau website.

He formally announced his departure in an internal statement to Census Bureau employees, first reported by the online publication Talking Points Memo.

A sculpture of Thomas Jefferson stood over a copy of a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2012.
Credit…Andrew Councill for The New York Times

The Trump White House on Monday released the report of the presidential “1776 Commission,” a sweeping attack on liberal thought and act
ivism that calls for a “patriotic education,” defends America’s founding on the basis of slavery and likens progressivism to fascism.

President Trump formed the commission in September, saying that American heritage was under assault by revolutionary fanatics and that the nation’s schools required a new “pro-American” curriculum.

Its report, released on Martin Luther King’s Birthday, denounces the charge that the American founders were hypocrites who preached equality even as they codified slavery in the Constitution and held slaves themselves. “This charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric,” it says.

The report argues that “distorted histories” of the United States “labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil,” and that the institution must “be seen in a much broader perspective,” including “the unfortunate fact” that slavery “has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history.”

“Historical revisionism that tramples honest scholarship and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated by more discrimination, is an ideology intended to manipulate opinions more than educate minds,” the report says.

The report is the product of the 18-member commission, which is chaired by Larry Arnn, a Trump ally and president of the conservative Hillsdale College. Other members include Charlie Kirk, a conservative activist, and Mr. Trump’s former domestic policy adviser, Brooke Rollins.

The document asserts that the civil rights movement evolved into “identity politics,” which it said “teaches that America itself is to blame for oppression.”

It also said that progressives had created a “fourth branch of government” or “shadow government” which operates with no checks or balances, and likened American liberals to the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who it said “sought to centralize power under the management of so-called experts.”

The commission and its report are in part a rebuke to The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which reframes American history around the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans. The report denounces the project, as did Mr. Trump in his September speech announcing the commission.

The Trump administration ended a ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil on Monday. 
Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

President Trump on Monday ordered an end to the ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil that had been aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus to the United States, a move that was quickly rejected by aides to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said Mr. Biden will rescind the move when he takes office on Wednesday.

In a proclamation issued late Monday, Mr. Trump said that the travel restrictions, which applied to noncitizens trying to come to the United States after spending time in those areas, would no longer be needed on Jan. 26, the date on which those passengers will be required to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.

Mr. Trump wrote that Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, had recommended ending the restrictions on travel from most parts of Europe and Brazil, while maintaining restrictions on Iran and China, which Mr. Trump said had not been cooperative.

“I agree with the secretary that this action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from Covid-19 while enabling travel to resume safely,” the president said in the proclamation.

But Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary for Mr. Biden, said the new administration would not allow Mr. Trump’s directives to take effect.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” Ms. Psaki tweeted shortly after the White House issued Mr. Trump’s proclamation.

“On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” she said. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”

Mr. Trump’s attempt to alter policy related to the pandemic just two days before he leaves office is in keeping with the unorthodox
way he has conducted the transition to a new administration. Normally, departing presidents refrain from issuing new executive orders without consulting with the incoming president.

But Mr. Trump has refused to abide by those norms. On Monday, he also issued several other executive orders that will most likely be rescinded or reversed by Mr. Biden, including one that would allow federal agencies to issue new regulations only at the instigation of political appointees.

He also issued an executive order directing the federal government not to purchase drones “that present unacceptable risks and are manufactured by, or contain software or critical electronic components from, foreign adversaries.”

The proclamation on the travel restrictions appeared to be an effort to help the airlines and the hospitality industries, which have been hard hit by the ban. In the proclamation, Mr. Trump said that the ban was no longer needed because unrestricted travel into the United States “is no longer detrimental to the interests of the United States” and added that it was “in the interest of the United States to terminate the suspension of entry into the United States of persons who have been physically present in those jurisdictions.”




Scenes of Washington Ahead of Inauguration

The nation’s capital has been secured with checkpoints, tens of thousands of National Guard troops and miles of fencing and barricades.

Cash a check —.

Video player loading
The nation’s capital has been secured with checkpoints, tens of thousands of National Guard troops and miles of fencing and barricades.CreditCredit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

President Trump exits stage right this week, dethroned, denounced and, most painful to him perhaps, de-platformed.

But his unfinished business will outlast his physical presence, in the boot-falls of National Guard troops, the drumbeat of dark coronavirus news and in a proliferation of questions about his second impeachment and how his absence will change the power dynamics in the newly Democratic-controlled Washington.

As inauguration week dawned, one set of worries dissipated, while others intensified: The feared mobs engulfing state capitals on Sunday did not materialize.

But anxieties flared dramatically at around 10:15 a.m. Eastern on Monday when a lockdown order was issued after a small fire broke out at a homeless encampment near the Capitol grounds, illustrating both the long-term societal problems, and short-term logistical challenges, faced by the incoming administration.

Despite the presence of thousands of National Guard troops in Washington, there was a jolt of panic, with cellphone footage showing workers evacuating the site of a run-through of Inauguration Day plans on the side of the Capitol, as brown smoke rose into blue sky beyond the dome.

Lawmakers are set to return to a militarized Capitol this week, with a number of serious questions remaining about the course of Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial, and the future of a new Democratic-controlled Senate that will be quickly tested during confirmation hearings for five of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s cabinet appointees.

For several lawmakers, it will be their first trip back to Washington since the joint session on Jan. 6 where they were temporarily forced to flee the chambers as a mob stormed the Capitol.

It remains unclear when Speaker Nancy Pelosi will formally send to the Senate the article of impeachment charging President Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” Once the House sends the article to the Senate, the chamber has to immediately move to begin the trial.

Three new Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the two newly elected senators from Georgia, and Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, who is set to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — could be sworn in as early as this week, cementing a majority enabled by Ms. Harris’ tiebreaking vote.

On Sunday, Representative Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who will lead the prosecution of Mr. Trump in the Senate trial, and Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, declined to offer details about when the impeachment article against Mr. Trump would be brought to the Senate or whether Democrats would push to call witnesses in the trial.

Mr. Biden has said he hopes the Senate can pursue a dual walk-and-chew-gum strategy that would allow the chamber to hold an impeachment trial while also processing both his administration nominations and pandemic relief legislation, although that would most likely require consent from both parties.

But there is one area, potentially, where there will be less drama and more certainty.

The Democrats’ control of the Senate takes away some, if not all, of the fretting for the Biden team over the confirmation of appointments. Senators are scheduled to begin initial confirmation hearings this week for a number of Mr. Biden’s cabinet nominees.

To do so, they will file past a phalanx of heavily armed National Guard troops, some standing at the ready to protect, others sleeping in cots i
n their new marble barracks.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at her weekly news conference at the Capitol on Friday.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the acting secretary of defense demanding that he not install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency, her office announced Monday.

The action by Ms. Pelosi increases the pressure on the Pentagon to change course and not install Michael Ellis in an important Civil Service job within the intelligence community. It also increases the likelihood that the Biden administration will move Mr. Ellis out of the job, if the Pentagon pushes through with their plans to swear him in on Tuesday.

In the letter, which was sent Sunday after a phone call between Ms. Pelosi and Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary, the speaker said that Mr. Ellis was not qualified for the position of general counsel of the National Security Agency. She requested an investigation of his appointment by the Pentagon inspector general.

“The circumstances and timing — immediately after President Trump’s defeat in the election — of the selection of Mr. Ellis, and this eleventh-hour effort to push this placement in the last three days of this administration are highly suspect,” Ms. Pelosi wrote.

The White House in November pressured the Pentagon general counsel to select Mr. Ellis for the job. He was one of three finalists, but was not the most highly ranked of the candidates, according to people familiar with the process.

The National Security Agency was moving forward getting the proper authorizations for Mr. Ellis, and new security clearances. But Mr. Miller, frustrated by what he saw as the agency’s slow-rolling of the process, ordered Mr. Ellis installed on Saturday.

On Sunday, the National Security Agency announced they had given Mr. Ellis his final job offer. He is set to begin his position Tuesday, the final full day of the Trump administration. Because he has Civil Service protection, Mr. Ellis cannot be easily fired by the Biden administration, although he could be moved to another, less important position.

The National Security Agency on Monday referred questions to the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesman said they would not comment on communication between members of Congress and department leaders. A senior defense official said that Congressional interest in a hiring decision is not justification to delay placing a qualified person in a post.

Ms. Pelosi said Mr. Ellis is a relatively recent law school graduate and does not have enough experience for the job. In addition to his selection over more qualified career officials, Ms. Pelosi wrote that his work as a lawyer for the National Security Council troubled her.

“Mr. Ellis has been reportedly involved in highly questionable activities that are disqualifying,” Ms. Pelosi said.

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline in Gascoyne, N.D., in 2017.
Credit…Terray Sylvester/Reuters

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit on his first day in office, quickly reversing his predecessor’s approval of a project to move oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, according to a person familiar with Mr. Biden’s plans for his first days in office.

Environmentalists have long targeted the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline as both a contributor to climate change and a physical symbol of the country’s unwillingness to move away from an oil-based economy. Many Republicans, including President Trump, argued the pipeline would create jobs and help local economies.

In late-2015, former President Barack Obama rejected the permit for the project, arguing it would undermine American leadership on the transition to sustainable fuels. Mr. Trump’s administration reversed that decision in early 2017, giving a green light for construction of the project to begin.

Construction has hit other economic and legal roadblocks since then, but environmentalists were pleased when Mr. Biden said during the presidential campaign that he intended to once again cancel the permit.

That is expected to happen on Jan. 20, amid a flurry of other executive actions that Mr. Biden plans to take to demonstrate his determination to reverse Mr. Trump’s legacy. Ending the Keystone project would send just such a signal.

Had it been completed, the pipeline was designed to take as much as 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian and North Dakota crude to refineries in Texas and Louisiana for processing into oil that could be exported overseas or used to enhance domestic supplies.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden, left, and daughter Ashley Biden, right, volunteering during a National Day of Service at Philabundance in Philadelphia on Monday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Two days ahead of his inauguration, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. spent about 45 minutes on Monday morning volunteering at a Philadelphia food bank to mark the national day of service and Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

Mr. Biden worked a conveyor belt assembling food boxes at Philabundance, an organization founded in 1984 that distributes food to pantries and emergency shelters across nine counties in Pennsylvania, according to Mr. Biden’s transition team.

Wearing a black face mask, a Philabundance baseball cap and his trademark aviator sunglasses, Mr. Biden placed canned goods, two at a time, into each food box. And Jill Biden, who will become first lady on Wednesday, added packages of rice to the boxes while disco music played over loudspeakers.

Mr. Biden’s participation at the food bank was part of several days of inauguration activities that will lead up to his swearing-in at just after noon on Wednesday. Mr. Biden is expected to arrive in Washington on Tuesday.

His first stop, according to officials with the presidential inaugural committee, will be at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, where he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their spouses will participate in an event featuring 400 lights marking the lives lost because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Biden’s decision to volunteer at the food bank on Monday was consistent with many of his predecessors in both parties who frequently engaged in a public service event on the holiday. Mr. Trump largely ignored the service component of the holiday. In 2018, he drew criticism for going to play golf instead.

Mr. Trump’s public schedule for Monday indicated, as it has on most days for the last several weeks, that he planned to “work
from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaking in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is now officially the former United States senator from California, after resigning from her seat on Monday, two days before her swearing-in as the No. 2 official in the executive branch.

“Today, as I resign from the Senate, I am preparing to take an oath that would have me preside over it,” Ms. Harris wrote in a farewell post to the citizens of her state before handing in her resignation paperwork on Monday and heading to a food bank, Martha’s Table, with her husband to fill bags of food for neighbors.

“As Senator-turned-Vice-President Walter Mondale once pointed out, the vice presidency is the only office in our government that ‘belongs to both the executive branch and the legislative branch.’ A responsibility made greater with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate,” she added.

During this time of national crisis and political rancor, Ms. Harris is transitioning into a far more important role in the upper chamber than she ever occupied as a representative of California — she has the tiebreaking vote in a Democrat-controlled Senate deadlocked at 50-50 with Republicans.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a fellow Democrat, will appoint a successor to Ms. Harris, who was elected in 2016. Mr. Newsom said last month that he intended to tap Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, for the seat. Mr. Padilla’s Senate term will expire in 2022, and he could seek re-election.

Ms. Harris continued to attend Senate sessions after her November election, and was in the Capitol for the certification of the election results this month when the building was stormed by a violent mob of Trump supporters.

Ms. Harris will be sworn in as vice president on Wednesday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a ceremony in which the first woman of color to become vice president will take her oath from the first woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court.

Ms. Harris chose Justice Sotomayor for the task, according to a Harris aide who was confirming a report by ABC News. The vice president-elect and Justice Sotomayor have a shared background as former prosecutors. And Ms. Harris has called the justice a figure of national inspiration.

“Judge Sonia Sotomayor has fought for the voices of the people ever since her first case voting against corporations in Citizens United,” Ms. Harris wrote on Twitter in 2019. “As a critical voice on the bench, she’s showing all our children what’s possible.”

Justice Sotomayor, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009, swore in Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his second term as vice president in January 2013 (first in a private ceremony and again in public the next day because of a quirk of the calendar).

Members of the Oath Keepers are seen among supporters of President Trump at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Credit…Jim Bourg/Reuters

The Justice Department has charged suspected members of the Three Percenters, a militia group that emerged some years ago from the extremist wing of the gun-rights movement, and of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group founded by law enforcement and military veterans, as it works to determine whether the extremist groups conspired to attack Congress.

The charges include unlawful entry, assault on a federal officer, disorderly conduct, destruction of federal property, obstruction of an official proceeding and obstruction of justice.

On Sunday evening, Donovan Crowl, 50, a former U.S. Marine, and Jessica Watkins, 38, an Army veteran, turned themselves in to authorities in Ohio after they published photos of themselves on social media wearing combat gear and saying that they had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in order to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The F.B.I. said that Ms. Watkins’s group is a unit of the Oath Keepers and that she and Mr. Crowl were wearing Oath Keepers patches.

The recent arrests of veterans and former law enforcement personnel underscore the Justice Department’s worry that some of the attackers may have been part of more coordinated efforts to attack Congress and that they employed specialized skills in the assault. Videos and photos have revealed chilling scenes of rioters weaving through the mobs inside the Capitol in tight formation, wearing tactical gear, carrying restraints, and using hand signals to communicate.

Michael R. Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, said on Friday that his prosecutors were working to build more serious sedition and murder cases against such groups if the evidence permits, and that focusing on militia members and other extremists would be a top priority.

“All of these extremist groups are being looked at in terms of their participation at the Capitol,” Mr. Sherwin said.

Federal prosecutors also unsealed charges this weekend against Robert Gieswein, 24, of Woodland Park, Colo., who they say is affiliated with the Three Percenters. The group’s name is a reference to the purported 3 percent of the U.S. colonial population who rose up to fight against the British Army.

Mr. Gieswein, who runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, was among the early wave of invaders to breach the building, court papers say. Photographs from the attack show him clad in a military vest, goggles and an Army-style helmet, wrestling with Capitol Police officers to remove metal barricades and brandishing a baseball bat. In a criminal complaint, prosecutors cite a video that shows Mr. Gieswein encouraging other rioters as they smash a window at the Capitol with a wooden board and a plastic shield, and then climbing through the broken glass into the building.

The F.B.I. also arrested Guy Wesley Reffitt of Texas and charged him on Saturday with obstruction. The F.B.I. said he belonged to the Texas Freedom Force, a militia extremist group, while Mr. Reffitt’s wife said he was a member of the Three Percenters.

The deadly assault on the Capitol is expected to be a “significant driver of violence” for armed militia groups and racist extremists in the days ahead, federal authorities have said in recently issued intelligence bulletins.

Mike Lindell, the chief executive officer of MyPillow and a staunch supporter of President Trump, waited outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on Friday.
Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Officials with Dominion Voting Systems have sent Mike Lindell, the C.E.O. of MyPillow, a legal letter warning of pending litigation over his baseless claims of widespread fraud involving their machines.

“You have positioned yourself as a prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign,” the letter said, referring to his continued false claims that their systems were rigged by someone to effect the outcome.

“Litigation regarding these issues is imminent,” the letter said. Mr. Lindell is only the latest to get a warning letter from Dominion officials about potential litigation, after he and Sidney Powell, the right-wing lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani and others have continued to spread false claims about the integrity of the results the machines showed.

Mr. Lindell visited Mr. Trump at the White House briefly on Friday, before the national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, steered him away.

In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Lindell said he welcomed a lawsuit from Dominion.

“I would really welcome them to sue me because I have all the evidence against them,” he said. “They sent this letter a couple of weeks ago. They’re lying, they’re nervous because I have all the evidence on them.”

Melania Trump, the first lady, announced her “Be Best” initiative in 2018.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Melania Trump defended her legacy as first lady in a video posted on Monday, asked Americans to “lead by example” in caring for others, and name-checked her Be Best platform, which over the years never grew into a comprehensible policy effort.

“Use every opportunity to show consideration for another person,” Mrs. Trump said in the video, which was labeled a farewell. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us, to always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others above yourself.”

Mrs. Trump’s last message as first lady was like so many that have come before: It was completely at odds with the behavior of her husband, President Trump, who was impeached last week for a second time for his role in inciting a violent riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“As I say farewell to my role as first lady, it is my sincere hope that every American will do their part to teach our children what it means to be best,” Mrs. Trump said.

Over the past few days, Mrs. Trump has posted several farewell messages detailing her work in the White House, and asking Americans to be kind to one another. Last week, as the nation reeled from the aftermath of the Capitol riot, Mrs. Trump used her platform to lament that gossip had been spread about her — most likely a nod to a former aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who recently published an unflattering tell-all about their relationship.

In the end, Mrs. Trump’s most lasting contributions could likely be the aesthetic changes she oversaw, updates meant to make life in the White House more functional for the first family and their visitors over the visiting public.

In a message posted to the White House website on Monday, Mrs. Trump said that during her time at the White House, she ordered the restoration of an elevator, the repair of wallpaper in the Family Dining Room, and — in the midst of the pandemic — the revamping of the White House Rose Garden.

The goal, Mrs. Trump said, was to “balance the needs of the present with the continuity of overall architectural tradition of the White House.”

Though she demonstrated a respect for the historic nature of her home for the past four years, Mrs. Trump paid little attention to traditions that did not interest her.

She is currently without a chief of staff, a social secretary or a press secretary. Junior White House aides have scripted her farewell messages. And she has not reached out to the incoming first lady, Jill Biden, about transition matters. There are no plans for that to change before Inau
guration Day.

It is customary for incoming and outgoing first ladies to meet for a tour of the White House, but on Monday, a person familiar with Dr. Biden’s thinking said that since Mr. Trump had still not conceded to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. it would not make sense for the two to meet.

That person added that Dr. Biden knew her way around, anyway.


Video player loading
Virginia’s State Capitol building was surrounded by police officers and news reporters, who outnumbered the small knots of heavily armed gun-rights supporters.CreditCredit…Brent McDonald/The New York Times

Small knots of heavily armed gun rights supporters were vastly outnumbered by police officers and news reporters outside of Virginia’s State Capitol building on Monday. Authorities shut down the square around the Capitol, closed downtown streets and ordered a state of emergency in an attempt to discourage the kind of violent mob that surged through the nation’s Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.

State capitals across the country were on high alert this weekend following an F.B.I. bulletin warning of planned violence against the government, but tensions were particularly high in Richmond, where a major gun rights protest drew about 22,000 people to the state Capitol on Martin Luther King’s Birthday last year, most of them armed.

The authorities had braced for the possibility of violence last year, fueled by reports that white supremacists, armed militia groups and other extremists planned to attend, though in the end, the police reported no major incidents.

The organizer of last year’s rally, Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, urged gun rights supporters to show up in Richmond again on Monday, but because of the pandemic, this time as part of a rolling caravan of vehicles driving through the city’s streets.

State legislators are not convening at the Capitol for this year’s General Assembly session because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, the State Senate is meeting at the Science Museum of Virginia, where there is room to spread out their desks, and the House of Delegates has opted for a fully remote session.

Buses, cars and trucks covered with pro-gun slogans and with “Don’t Tread on Me,” Confederate and American flags passed outside the Capitol perimeter and along other downtown streets, including around the Science Museum, on Monday. Vehicles continued to arrive late into the afternoon, with streets becoming more crowded throughout the day.

At one point, some demonstrators began pulling into a parking lot near the Robert E. Lee Memorial, where Black Lives Matters supporters had gathered for a barbecue. But Richmond police officers moved in quickly to disperse the caravan, preventing a potential clash.

About 100 people still showed up near the Capitol on Monday, including heavily armed members of the Boogaloo Boys, a loose affiliation of right-wing antigovernment extremists, and the Original Black Panthers of Virginia. But a spokesperson for the Virginia Division of Capitol Police said there were no violent incidents, and no arrests were made.

“A lot of people were kind of nervous and scared about coming out here,” said Mike Pain, a member of the Original Black Panthers, which supports gun rights, “but if we don’t stand up, nothing is going to change.”

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri sitting in the House Chamber before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.
Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Regnery Publishing, a conservative publishing house, said Monday that it had picked up a book by Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, after Simon & Schuster ended its contract to publish it in the wake of the assault on the Capitol.

Mr. Hawley had come under criticism for challenging the results of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and was accused of helping incite t
he mob
that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. His book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” is scheduled to be published this spring, Regnery said.

Thomas Spence, the president and publisher of Regnery, said in a statement that the publishing house was proud to stand with Mr. Hawley. “The warning in his book about censorship obviously couldn’t be more urgent,” Mr. Spence said. His company’s statement said that Simon & Schuster had made Mr. Hawley a victim of cancel culture.

Most major publishers, including Simon & Schuster, one of the “Big Five” book publishers in the United States, publish books across the political spectrum. But Simon & Schuster said it called off its plan to publish Mr. Hawley’s book after the Capitol attack.

“As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat,” Simon & Schuster said in a statement. The company declined to comment on Regnery’s accusations.

After his book was dropped, Mr. Hawley described it as “Orwellian.”

“Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition,” he wrote in a post.

In recent years, Regnery’s best-selling authors have included Ann Coulter, the conservative pundit, and Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Mr. Hawley’s book is about technology corporations like Google, Facebook and Amazon and their political influence.

While Simon & Schuster will not publish the book, it will still handle its selling and shipping to international markets, since Regnery is a distribution client, said Adam Rothberg, a Simon & Schuster spokesman.

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, spoke to Trump supporters before rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, will not be taking part in the president’s defense in the Senate trial for his second impeachment, a person close to Mr. Trump said on Monday.

Mr. Trump met with Mr. Giuliani on Saturday night at the White House, and the next day the president began telling people that Mr. Giuliani was not going to be part of the team. It is unclear who will be the defense lawyer for Mr. Trump, given that many attorneys have privately said they won’t represent him.

Mr. Giuliani himself at first said he was taking part in the trial and then a day later said he had no involvement.

He told ABC News on Sunday that he would not be part of the defense, noting that he is a potential witness since he gave a speech at the rally on Jan. 6 of Trump supporters who went on to storm the Capitol complex, overtaking it for hours.

Yet a day earlier, Mr. Giuliani told ABC News that he would in fact be involved in the impeachment defense, and left open the possibility of Mr. Trump showing up for the trial. That interview infuriated Trump advisers and was a bridge too far for the president himself, according to the person close to the president, who described personal conversations on condition of anonymity.

While the president has a decades-long relationship with Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s advisers blame him for the events surrounding both of the impeachments that the president has faced.

Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Laura Cox during a “Trump Victory” news conference in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., in November.
Credit…Elaine Cromie/Getty Images

Aaron Van Langevelde, a lawyer and legal counsel for the Michigan House of Representatives’ Republican caucus, made national headlines in December when he broke with President Trump and his allies in the Republican Party and voted to certify the election results that showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. winning Michigan by more than 154,000 votes.

Now the Michigan Republican Party is looking to replace him on the State Board of Canvassers.

As one of two Republican members of the canvassing board, he came under intense pressure before the vote, and criticism from the G.O.P. after, when he was part of a 3-0 majority that voted to certify the results. The fourth member, Norm Shinkle, also a Republican, abstained from the vote.

At the time, Mr. Van Langevelde said that while any allegations of voter fraud should be taken seriously and investigated, “the state law is clear that we don’t have the authority to do that. John Adams once said, ‘We’re a government of laws, not men.’”

Mr. Van Langevelde’s term on the board ends on Jan. 31 and Laura Cox, the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, has the authority to recommend someone to replace him. On Monday she sent a list of three potential replacements to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, who will make the appointment.

The three choices are either strong loyalists to Mr. Trump or fierce critics of Ms. Whitmer.

In a statement released Monday, Mr. Van Langevelde said he’s not surprised that the state party wouldn’t want to extend his term on the canvassing board.

“I upheld my oath of office, told the truth and did what I could to defend the rule of law,” he said. “My conscience is clear and I am confident that my decision is on the right side of the law and history.”

Members of the Park Police patrolling the Lincoln Memorial last week.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who ran on a platform of addressing the pandemic with competence and compassion, will preside over a national memorial honoring the nearly 400,000 people who have died of the coronavirus shortly after arriving in Washington on Tuesday, his inaugural committee said Monday.

Mr. Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their families plan to participate in the lighting of 400 lights to illuminate the perimeter of the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in their first stop in the city ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration, the committee said.

Each light is meant to represent the approximately 1,000 Americans who will have perished related to the virus at the time of his swearing-in.

Tuesday’s ceremony will kick off “a national moment of unity” at 5:30 p.m. Eastern that will include similar memorials at the Empire State Building in New
York, the Space Needle in Seattle and other landmarks across the country, with events also planned for Mr. Biden’s hometowns of Scranton, Pa., and Wilmington, Del.

The inauguration “represents the beginning of a new national journey — one that renews its commitment to honor its fallen and rise toward greater heights in their honor,” the committee’s chief executive, Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, said in a statement.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, will deliver the invocation at the Lincoln Memorial event. The gospel singers Yolanda Adams and Lori Marie Key will perform at the commemoration.

In recent days, the committee’s staff has reached out to church and civic leaders around the country to participate in the memorial, with a particular focus on involving Black and Latino communities, which have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.

On Sunday, Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, had a dire forecast for the course of the coronavirus outbreak in the new administration’s first weeks, predicting that half a million Americans will have died from the coronavirus by the end of February. The current death toll is nearing 400,000 and on Monday, the United States surpassed 24 million cases of the virus.

“The virus is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Klain said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month, will add to the death toll in late February, even March, so it’s going to take awhile to turn this around.”

On Friday, federal health officials warned of a fast-spreading, far more contagious variant of the virus that is projected to become the dominant source of infection in the country by March, potentially fueling another wrenching surge of cases and deaths.