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Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol

 January 8, 2021 at 9:29 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 A dark day for American democracy, president Trump instigates a failed and deadly insurrection at the us Capitol. Now there are growing calls for him to resign or be removed. Social media is blamed for being the straw that stirred this toxic drink, Facebook and Twitter blocked Trump. As we examine how our online culture played into the shocking scene in Washington. And if that wasn't enough, the COVID-19 pandemic is at its deadliest point. Yet as hospitals struggled to get the vaccine out, I Mark sour, the KPBS round table starts. Now Speaker 2: 00:41 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 00:45 Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. I'm Mark Sauer and joining me on this remote edition of the KPBS round table today. KPBS investigative reporter Amica Sharma who co-hosted election coverage on KPBS TV, Andrew Dyer, military affairs reporter for the San Diego union Tribune and KPBS health reporter Taren mento. It was never a question of whether Donald Trump would accept defeat graciously. It was whether he would accept defeat at all. He plainly answered that before Joe Biden was elected on November 3rd and an everyday since Wednesday, January 6th was circled in red. Trump invited his Legion of supporters to Washington, lathered them in lies about the stolen election and sent them down Pennsylvania Avenue to quote, take back America. This was some of his message before the violence started, Speaker 3: 01:32 We will never give up. We will never concede it doesn't happen. You don't concede that our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore. And that's what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with. We will stop the steel because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. Speaker 1: 02:07 Soon. After a 35 year old air force veteran from San Diego was shot dead inside the Capitol draped in a Trump banner for others, including a police officer also died in the riots. Aftermath writers occupied the halls of Congress, overwhelming police and leaving lawmakers cowering in the basement. The terrible images reverberated across the globe in 24 hours later, the disgraced president struck a much different tone in an apparent long overdue concession. Speaker 3: 02:33 Now Congress has certified the results and new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation Speaker 1: 02:50 Reporter Amica Scharmer co-hosted coverage of the election on KPBS television. And she joins me now. Welcome ether. It's good to speak with you, Mark. Well, Amelia, there were plenty of warnings of potential violence. The past two months as Trump and his faithful kept pushing his lies about election fraud. Uh, what happened on Wednesday was that as inevitable as it was shocking. Speaker 4: 03:11 Yeah, absolutely. As you said in your intro, you know, throughout the campaign, president Trump said, if he didn't win the election, it would be because it was rigged. He refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power. If he lost, he falsely declared victory on election night. This is a man who launched his political career with the birtherism lie that former president Barack Obama, wasn't born in the United States. And in the past two months, since the November election, he has peddled the lie that he won in a landslide, but his victory had been stolen from him through massive voter fraud and, uh, voter fraud, uh, that had been committed primarily in black and Brown communities. Emit has been debunked dozens of times in courts and by state officials across this country. And many of these state officials were Republican state officials, but president Trump didn't appear to care. Speaker 4: 04:10 And he successfully sold that narrative to some of his supporters for weeks and encourage them to raise Cain saying in December that it was going to be wild on January 6th. And then as you, you know, you brought up that quote earlier, uh, saying that he told his supporters for 70 minutes, like we won't give up. We won't concede, you know, you can't concede where there's death involved. His supporters heated that call, they March to the Capitol building where they broke glass windows got in. And some of these folks had Confederate flags. One guy wore an Auschwitz shirt, some were dressed in Infor as, as Vikings. Um, and after all that, as you also brought up, uh, Trump agreed after all of that. Trump agreed to smooth transition of power after four people died Wednesday during the ride. Speaker 1: 05:06 Yeah. That looked like a hostage video in, in many ways. That's what some people are calling it. Now several white house staffers have resigned. Couple of cabinet members have also resigned. Others are considering at, uh, Trump. Uh, you know, he seems to concede in this video here, but it seems way too little too late. Uh, Democrats, business leaders, even the wall street journal editorial page. Want him gone now, is that likely how would that come about? Speaker 4: 05:31 I really don't know. I think that the presidents, um, well it does come across that video does come across as a hostage video. I also think that things have suddenly gotten a little bit more real for him. You know, in the past there have been mutterings of invoking the 25th amendment and removing him from office, but now it's been publicly called for it by former supporters. And secondly, you know, the U S attorney in Washington has said he will not rule out charging Trump for his role in inciting the writers who stormed the Capitol, the house is working on drafting articles of impeachment data. They have the votes in the house. They likely don't have the votes to impeach, or they have the votes to impeach in the house, but they likely don't have the votes to convict in the Senate. But there is more unity now than ever before against Trump because of what happened this week, whether or not he is removed before January 20th. I don't know. I mean, to me, it seems unlikely, but I think the conversation about doing that is much louder, much stronger than we've ever heard before Speaker 1: 06:40 Now. Smart Ivy league educated people like senators, Josh Holly and Republican, Ted Cruz. They know Trump is peddling lies and whipping frenzy, but they also push this election fraud, nonsense house minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, California, and nearly two thirds of the house members I'll call them the crybaby caucus, backed it up as well. Even after this deadly riot, is there a price to pay for crass, political expediency, even when it spectacularly backfires as it has here. Speaker 4: 07:08 You know, it is so tough to tell Mark there's talk of censure or outright expulsion for those who objected. And, and it really, I think it's stunning for a lot of people that despite everything that happened Wednesday after the intrusion into the Capitol, there were two thirds of Republican lawmakers who still want to have with the objections to the vote counts in certain States, Missouri, Republican Senator Josh Holly's campaign sent a fundraising email promoting his planned objection to the Pennsylvania votes. Holly is a potential presidential candidate in 2024. Ted Cruz has presidential aspirations in 2024. He also is courting Trump voters. He also objected. Now these are two very bright men. Holly went to Yale law school. Cruz went to Harvard law school, they're thinkers, they're critical thinkers. They know the law. They know there was no evidence that Trump's legal team could assemble to convince judges of widespread voter fraud. And so the challenge for their peers and the country is how do you govern with people who are willing to commit to a massive lie that threatens American democracy? How do you combat that? How do you unify the country when 74 million people supported Trump? Speaker 1: 08:28 We've got a short time left in this segment. I wanted to look ahead. Still got, uh, uh, nearly two weeks left in the Trump presidency. Of course, the inauguration scheduled for noon on January 20th. How concerned should we all be going forward about what may develop in these last few days? Speaker 4: 08:44 It is so unclear. I think the country as a whole is very trepidatious. I think leaders are very trepidatious trepidatious, and it's very, B seemed like very unstable times. Mary Trump, the president's niece warned for months that this would be the most dangerous time for the United States. She believes her, her uncle is unpredictable capable of almost anything. There have been a lot of former supporters of the president to say, this is not the man. We want to entrust with the nuclear codes. As I said earlier, they themselves are calling for him to be removed. So it's anyone's guest, as you well know, articles of impeachment are being drafted as we speak. So we don't know where this is going to land. Speaker 1: 09:37 Well, the nation will certainly continue to be riveted as we have throughout this entire lower deal. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Amica Sharma, thanks to Martha with something like Wednesdays failed insurrection, even be possible just a generation ago. That question isn't just about Donald Trump, but the media landscape, we find ourselves in a few clicks can transform your environment into a hyper partisan echo chamber fueled by Facebook, Twitter, and now even more fringe platforms like parlor and the Donald dot when social media and the internet is a big part of this story. The union Tribune's Andrew Dyer has reported on its influence at the local level. He joins us to continue this discussion. Hi, Andrea. Very good. Thanks. Well, president Trump has replaced the press release with the tweet. It's his main mode of communication, but finally it was taken away from him after Wednesday's violence and his fuel on the fire response. Now, why did Twitter and then ultimately Facebook, which has banned Trump indefinitely. Now take these extraordinary steps. Speaker 5: 10:40 Well, Twitter says that it was due to Trump's continued violations of their civic integrity policy, which is what led to a lot of his tweets, getting a label. In fact checking label. Um, when he talked about, uh, questioning the outcome of the presidential election after what happened, you know, clearly, uh, it seems Twitter has decided that, um, that just labeling his tweets as, as disinformation, isn't going far enough and they've, uh, suspended his account Speaker 1: 11:13 And you've reacted to this on Twitter saying in part, everything that happened was predictable, organized online in plain sight and encouraged by several elected officials, including the president. This information is an existential threat to democracy and a new administration. Isn't changing that. We've got hashtags like storm the Capitol, stop the steal on conservative, online networks like parlor and gab, and they Telegraph this plans on how to lay siege and smuggle guns into Washington have been fomented on the site that Donald dot wins since Trump's loss in November. Do you think this would have happened even without Trump inciting that riot on Wednesday, Speaker 5: 11:52 This specific action? Um, it's hard to separate it from the president, um, because, uh, he, he called his supporters to Washington. He told them it would be wild. So it's really hard to separate this specific incident from the president, the overall atmosphere of misinformation and disinformation among, uh, the, the far right, is really nothing new. This has been going on for a very long time, going all the way back to like, you know, the conspiracy theories about the Clinton body count in the nineties and going through the two thousands. Um, you know, the president was one of the early promoters of the false birther conspiracy about president Obama. What we're seeing right now is kind of the end result of years and years and years of seeding the ground with this, with this stuff, Speaker 1: 12:43 Of course, it's just grown and grown as a social media platforms. And some of these radical websites have grown and more people have access and more people are taking part over the time. Over the years, over over time. Now this week you reported on the American Legion and Escondida removing a leader for his ties to the proud boys. That's a violent gang of Trump supporters. Is this an example of just how far and deep this ideology has spread under Trump? Speaker 5: 13:07 So one thing that Trump's election did was it mainstreamed a lot of extreme ideas that, you know, 10 years ago, most mainstream Republicans would not entertain. Whereas now you have a Republican congressmen, even after the storming of the Capitol, getting up on the floor of the house and repeating the same lies about this election that got us here in the first place. So the, the mainstreaming effect of, of this, and it is a false information. This is the, when I talk about an existent existential threat, this is the result. And, uh, you know, I don't have an answer about what to do about it, but, um, it, it's really hard. It's hard not to draw that connection there. Speaker 1: 13:58 Some things are, uh, are being done. We mentioned at the outset about, uh, Twitter and Facebook, uh, blocking Trump here at least temporarily and you've reported in recent months on the defend East County group that sprouted in response to the racial justice protests. How did Facebook take action against them? Speaker 5: 14:15 Well, initially, um, I want to say it was about a week before the election. They banned the main defenders County group. It had about 22,000 people. It's unclear what led to that ban. I'm told that, you know, local activists were, you know, reporting posts and comments in the group to Facebook for violations. Um, you know, there was a ton of stuff in that group, you know, cause for violence against protestors and things like that, that they do violate Facebook's terms of service on Facebook, never came out and said why they did what they did. But, um, on election day, uh, the, the leader of defendant's County, Justin Haskins, uh, tweeted a comment along the lines of, you know, lock and load prepare for war. And, um, it, it appears that that was a bridge too far for the platform because his personal account was taken down. And as well as several defenders County branded community groups that were, you know, separated or offshoots of the, of the main group now they've, you know, since, you know, they're back on Facebook with, with different groups and, and you know, much smaller, they've had to kind of find new platforms to try to, to regrow their numbers so far haven't been successful. Speaker 1: 15:33 And are you monitoring social media for reaction by Trump supporters? I'm wondering if they're more energized or some drawing align enough is enough, uh, any sense of taking the pulse of those folks? Speaker 5: 15:43 You know, I've been keeping an eye on some of the groups, you know, it's, it's tough to say because mostly what you see are, are the kind of the true believers, um, in the movement. And they're absolutely, uh, emboldened, you know, maybe some people are starting to accept that the Q Anon storm might not actually be coming, but that doesn't mean that they are disheartened in any way. They might accept a new president, but it doesn't look like they're any less invested in the narrative of the president that this election was somehow stolen from him. I, I don't see the LLC, at least among the, the true believers, um, any real inclination to change their minds. Speaker 1: 16:30 Oh, you'd be watching. Or what do you anticipate in the, in the days coming now, will this bubbling hatred continue with Trump finally going off stage? Speaker 5: 16:38 You know, it's really tough to say, um, I try to avoid predictions, but from where I sit and what I've seen January 6th was kind of this date that people were leading up to. And between now and the inauguration. I don't know if there is that galvanizing moment for this movement, the movement to overturn the election. They're kind of out of moments to, to coalesce together. So unless they can quickly organize, I don't know whether we'll see something like this again, although of course I would not discount that or discount the, the opportunity for stochastic acts of terrorism or of people I'm inspired by, by what's happening to, to kind of act, act down on their own. Speaker 1: 17:30 Yeah. It's hard not to stay on high alert these days. I've been speaking with Andrew Dyer reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks a lot, Andrew. Speaker 5: 17:38 Thank you for having me Speaker 1: 17:41 As pro Trump rioters raged in the Capitol this week, COVID-19 continued raging through cities across America, in San and Los Angeles case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths have risen to alarming rates as the calendar turned to 2021 KPBS health reporter Terra mento joins me to explain welcome back to the round table. Terran. Speaker 6: 18:01 Thanks Mark. Happy 20, 21 Speaker 1: 18:03 And happy new year to you. We'll start with the situation here in San Diego County. What do the numbers look like now? Speaker 6: 18:09 The numbers are still very high, but they have been that way for a little while now. So it may not seem as shocking, but we're seeing days with more than 3000 cases reported in a day. There was one day this week when that dipped down to 1800, but that could have been because of reporting delays over the new year's holiday. And, you know, w we're almost a year into the pandemic. And the largest amount of positives reported in a day was just the last week of December with 4,400. And officials are worried about more cases from possible gatherings over the holidays. You had Christmas and then quickly after new year's Eve and people weren't supposed to be gathering with non-household members, but the County does expect to see an increase from that. You know, governor Newsome has said, um, a surge, uh, expected surge on top of a surge. We do know that there is a lag between exposure than signs of infection than a person going to get tested, then getting that result. And then it being reported back to the County. So they're still expecting tallies to remain high and even grow. Speaker 1: 19:08 And that would be what for the next couple of weeks, until we see that whole thing play out that pig and the Python coming after the holidays, Christmas and new year's Speaker 6: 19:16 Sure the incubation period is about two weeks. And then you can extend some time because maybe it takes person a little while to go get tested and get that result. And then that took it communicated back to the County because we know that the numbers that they produce every single day are just reported daily cases. They are not cases that actually occurred on that day or even tested for that day. And just to kind of put this in perspective back when we were worried about our case rate, which, you know, decided the level of reopening we could be in that four-color tier system. We were trying to keep our daily case totals in the two hundreds. The goal was to keep our case rate at, or below seven per 100,000 people. Last time I checked our case rate is about 53 per 100,000 people. Speaker 1: 19:56 Wow. So way up above what we were just a few months back now, our big hope of course is getting vaccine shots into the millions of arms out there. How many doses of COVID vaccine have arrived in San Diego County so far? Speaker 6: 20:08 Right? So there has been a little bit of confusion about this, and it's just because there are so many different avenues that the vaccine is taking to get to various facilities. Some, some places are getting it, healthcare centers are getting it directly. Some places it needs to go to maybe the County for storage help before it gets to other facilities. Then you've got long-term care facilities that are working directly with retail pharmacies that contract with the federal government. And so it's going right from there, not through the County. So this does make it difficult for County officials to get an accurate count. But last, uh, the best information we have is that there are about 200,000 doses allocated to the County, about 120 of them have actually been received and about 51,000 have been administered. But again, it's difficult to get a full tally of what has been here and administered because we don't have those numbers from the retail pharmacies working on long-term care facilities. And also any military sites receiving vaccines. We don't have those numbers as well. The County isn't including those numbers and what they provided us as well. Speaker 1: 21:11 Okay. And governor Gavin Newsome admitted California's lags so far overall and getting shots out to people vaccinations in arms, what's his plan to speed things up, Speaker 6: 21:20 Right? So at the state level, it was about a third of received doses had actually been in ministered. Um, so that, that was earlier this week, maybe a little bit more now he obviously governor Newsome said that was the too low. Um, and part of the problem is actually having people to do the vaccinations. So he is now allowing dentists to administer vaccinations. Now they do have to do some COVID-19 vaccine training through the CDC and, and, and follow all of the, um, reporting requirements for when they give doses. Um, but the governor is also on top of that proposing 300 million in the state budget to help with tracking and transporting vaccines and in doing a public education campaign. Speaker 1: 21:57 Now, there are memory reports of healthcare workers declining, the vaccine what's going on there. And what indications are there about how many members of the public will choose not to get vaccinated? Speaker 6: 22:07 We did ask some of the bigger hospitals, um, about healthcare workers that may be declining. D health said about 3% of its staff declined. The vaccination sharp health care said about 66% of its highest risk staff have opted to receive it. But, um, that doesn't necessarily mean the other 34% have actually declined. They just may because of scheduling or availability reasons, haven't actually gotten it. They do have some walk in client, um, clinics. So they don't have clear answers on who was seeing no and who was actually just unable to, to make time to get it. Um, and as far as, um, you know, members of the public, whether they will get vaccinated, I do recall there's been a number of different kinds of polls or surveys out there. And it's been, I believe like about two thirds or up to 75% of people have indicated that they're they're uncertain about what they would do. Um, and so, but like, it's just going to have to be something that we see play out. And I know that a lot of, um, jurisdictions are doing their best to kind of, um, publicize when they themselves members of Congress, et cetera, are getting their vaccinations to make it something that, um, the general public is more conscious. Speaker 1: 23:14 And there's been news of the more contagious variant of the virus spreading in San Diego. What does that mean? Uh, Speaker 6: 23:20 It is pretty new. So we did have to clarify that like, you know, information is limited, uh, but initial data suggests that yes, it is more contagious because it can easily more easily attached to the human body. Um, and it's, it's known that this kind of virus does mutate as it infects people that transmits to other people. So it's not unexpected that there would be, um, a different mutation. Um, but this one just happens to be better at infecting people so far. It doesn't look like that it causes severe illness, but because it does seem to be more infectious that does mean people who are already vulnerable to getting very sick or even dying from it are at an increased risk. And in it's unclear so far where the variant came from, we do know it was found in the UK, but the individuals that tested positive initially here didn't have any history of travel. And so one expert I talked to said, it's sort of, there's a chance that it actually could have evolved here the same exact way it could have evolved in the UK. So that's unclear, but at the moment there doesn't seem to be, um, evidence that vaccines wouldn't work, but we do need to get more data to make sure that is the case. Speaker 1: 24:24 Certainly keep an eye on that one. No, finally, we're again, living with restrictions, restaurants, bars, gyms, Harris, lawns, other places off limits for the time being. What's your sense of how well people are following guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks, et cetera. Speaker 6: 24:38 Yeah, I mean, it's hard to get a real sense because enforcement of the rules are kind of based are based on complaints right now, the public phones them in County staff, look into them to verify accuracy. And then they may proceed with sending a notice to the business that they are in violation and need to stop supervisor Nathan Fletcher. Um, like did say it has been a little bit difficult to enforce this, but about 60% of those who received that notice to stop Ark in compliance, he said, and those who don't, depending on which jurisdiction they're in the issue was forwarded to local law enforcement and they would go out and then issue a citation on the city of San Diego's numeric. Todd, Gloria recently, you know, announced his commitment to enforcing those restrictions. But other cities have said that they wouldn't put that much effort behind it. And we know that there are businesses that have remained defiant, um, because if they said they closed, they would close for good. And others recently decided to open up, um, as what they said was a peaceful protest against the rules. Speaker 1: 25:31 Well, all of us wish those COVID numbers start dropping and dropping dramatically. Soon. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter turned mento. Thanks. Terren thanks, Martin. That wraps up our discussion of the week's top stories I'd like to thank my guests, Amica Sharma and Taren, mento of KPBS news and Andrew Dyer of the San Diego union Tribune. You can find all of the stories we discussed today on our website, I'm Mark Sauer. Thanks for listening and join us again next week on the round table.

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Calls grow for President Donald Trump's removal from office after deadly protest by supporters at the U.S. Capitol, the role social media played in organizing this week's chaos in Washington, and the worsening COVID-19 situation in San Diego County.