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Trump impeached after siege

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with "incitement of insurrection" over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president's calls for them to "fight like hell" against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a "clear and present danger" if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration Jan. 20.

Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation's history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign "and domestic."

She said of Trump: "He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden's inauguration.

"Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week," he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity "to move forward" and said, "Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. ... No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement."

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership "will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation."

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell's office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats' impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president's hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell's conversations.

In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had "not made a final decision on how I will vote."

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the "high crimes and misdemeanors" demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump's own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden's election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden's victory.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump's actions summoning the mob that "there has never been a greater betrayal by a President" of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced by the social media company, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren't authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

From the White House, Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators to resist, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The president's sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers' constituents still had some sway, and most House Republicans voted not to impeach.

Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rioters.

"We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

During the debate, some Republicans repeated the falsehoods spread by Trump about the election and argued that the president has been treated unfairly by Democrats from the day he took office.

Other Republicans argued the impeachment was a rushed sham and complained about a double standard applied to his supporters but not to the liberal left. Some simply appealed for the nation to move on.

Rep. Tom McClintock of California said, "Every movement has a lunatic fringe."

Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to "go away as soon as possible."


Government-and-politics
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City of Orangeburg
City of Orangeburg: 3 seek administrator’s position

Orangeburg City Council is preparing to interview three finalists for the position of city administrator.

The three finalists are Interim City Administrator John Singh, Orangeburg County Community Development Division Director Richard Hall and Attorney Sidney Evering.

Former City Administrator John Yow announced his retirement in August 2020 after serving in the capacity for 29 years. City officials began the search for Yow’s successor immediately after his retirement.

Singh has been serving in the interim capacity since Yow’s retirement in September.

Singh has served as the assistant city administrator for the city since 2009.

Prior to working for the City of Orangeburg, Singh served as town administrator for the Town of Elloree from 2003 to 2009.

Singh has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Carolina.

Hall has been working for Orangeburg County since 2013. Hall served as the county’s planning director for three years before beginning in his current role in 2016.

Prior to working for Orangeburg County, Hall worked for the City of Orangeburg from 2005 to 2013. Hall served as a building inspector until 2010 when he became a building official/zoning administrator.

He has an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American Intercontinental University.

Evering has been a practicing attorney with Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP since 2006. He served as the director of diversity and inclusion from 2010 to 2017.

He also worked as a law clerk for the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2000 to 2001, and staff attorney/lobbyist for the South Carolina Association of Counties from 2002 to 2006.

Evering has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina, as well as his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

City officials will hold a special called council meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday. They will enter executive session to interview the finalists.


Local
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Updated: T&D Region counties awaiting vaccination locations; Bamberg County taking appointments

Officials in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties are waiting to be able to provide the general population with vaccinations against the coronavirus, but challenges remain.

Meanwhile, Bamberg County is planning a coronavirus vaccination drive on Friday.

“The number of locations currently able to schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccine is limited because South Carolina, like all states, has limited doses of vaccine,” S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesperson Laura Renwick said in an email.

“As the federal government is able to distribute more and more doses to our state, more and more locations will begin to have doses available and be able to schedule more appointments for those 70 and older,” she said.

DHEC’s online map showing locations accepting appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine went live Wednesday at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator. It provides contact information for scheduling appointments.

There are two sites in Orangeburg. Neither are currently accepting appointments from the general population. There is no site in Calhoun County.

While the state has included individuals age 70 and older with health care workers in the first phase of the vaccination rollout, the Regional Medical Center has announced that it has no plans to vaccinate the general population right now.

Interim CEO and President Kirk Wilson says RMC is instead focusing on inoculating health care workers across Orangeburg and Calhoun counties.

Doctors Care Orangeburg at 1748 St. Matthews Road is the only other site included on the map for Orangeburg County and is also not accepting any appointments.

Renwick said the information in the locator map is provided to DHEC with assistance from the South Carolina Hospital Association and other vaccine providers and its status can change based on vaccine availability.

“The status of facilities on the map can change daily, and more locations will be added to the map in the coming days and weeks. DHEC is also working to ensure locations are able to provide vaccine in rural and underserved communities,” she said.

Individuals are asked to check the vaccine locator map regularly for updated information.

DHEC has also set up a Care Line at 1-855-472-3432 for assistance in locating the contact information for scheduling an appointment, one which “is expected to continue to experience high call volume,” Renwick said.

“We ask all South Carolinians to please be patient as we work to make certain the limited doses of COVID-19 vaccine that's available in our state are provided first and foremost to those most vulnerable to this deadly disease.

“South Carolina receives weekly shipments of vaccine from the federal government, typically at the beginning of each week. The most current vaccine allocation information for South Carolina is available at scdhec.gov/vaxfacts,” she said.

In the meantime, county officials are awaiting direction from the state on when and where they will receive the vaccine.

Orangeburg County

Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said, “What's on the radar right now is them getting enough vaccine in to the state. I know of at least one pharmacy that is in the mix to try and get the vaccine and administer it when it comes in.

“We're just waiting on DHEC to release it. They're just waiting on getting enough in to do it.”

He said he has been working with a local pharmacy to handle vaccine distribution for individuals 70 and older.

“We want to get the vaccine as fast as we can here for the people who are in the phase to get it. We've been working through Phase 1a, getting the EMS responders, hospital staff and people like that vaccinated. We're getting the vaccine down for that and getting that done,” Staley said.

He said he has been coordinating with DHEC officials to try to get more pharmacies up and able to provide the vaccine locally to the general population of those age 70 and older.

“We're working it. I'm pushing it and trying to get the vaccine here for that age group. The key to some of that is going to be monitoring the DHEC website. They'll bring sites on as they get enough vaccine to distribute to the sites,” Staley said.

“We're trying to work with some of our pharmacies to make sure they're geared up and in place and ready to start doing whenever it comes in,” he said.

Bamberg County

Bamberg County has announced that DHEC will host a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Bamberg County from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15

Individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated in DHEC’s vaccination phase 1a or individuals 70 or older can pre-register to receive the vaccine. To pre-register, fill out the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/NVF763K

The deadline to complete the survey is 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14.

All vaccines are first-come, first-served and individuals must provide proof of eligibility under phase 1a requirements or have identification that validates an age of 70 or older.

An email will be sent to confirm appointments.

For questions, call Bamberg County Emergency Services at 803-245-4313, option 1, or email bryantt@bambergcounty.sc.gov.

Calhoun County

Dave Chojnacki, director of emergency management in Calhoun County, said, “We have submitted our application for EMS to be a provider. It has been approved, and now we're waiting for the application to be activated. When that happens, then we should be able to receive the vaccine and start offering it.”

“Currently our employees in EMS and law enforcement and fire, those that are eligible to receive the vaccine as medical first responders, are receiving it through RMC,” he said.

He said once the county's application has been approved, then the county can begin vaccinating those in the local community age 70 and older.

“We've got everything we need to do that, all of the supplies and equipment and everything. It's just a matter of DHEC getting us activated in their system,” Chojnacki said.

He said does not know how long that process will be, but that it is important to be able to provide the vaccine locally.

“It's going to certainly help the residents of Calhoun County so that they can get it locally in the county. That's what we're looking to do, service the citizens of Calhoun County so that they don't have to go outside of the county to receive it. It might be a hardship for some of our residents to do so. So we're just looking to make life as easy for them as possible,” Chojnacki said.


Local
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Orangeburg mayor, council: Stay safe

Orangeburg Mayor Michael C. Butler and members of city council are reminding residents of what they can and should do to prevent a spread of the coronavirus and to remain safe and healthy.

“There is convincing proof that face covering, washing of hands and social distancing aid in the prevention of the virus,” Butler said in a release.

“We cannot let up because this is a relentless virus. We must follow the guidance of public health officials to reduce infections as much as possible,” he said.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Wednesday that Orangeburg County had 128 new cases of the coronavirus. Since DHEC started tracking the virus, Orangeburg County has had 5,859 total cases, a total of 160 deaths and 1 probable death.

The Regional Medical Center announced Monday it is limiting visitation and reviewing elective surgeries as coronavirus cases surge, filling up the hospital.

152 new cases of coronavirus in T&D Region

An additional 128 Orangeburg County residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to figures released Wednesday by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Butler said it is imperative that citizens take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them.

“The vaccine is our major defense against the virus and the benefits outweigh the risk,” Butler said

“Our hospitals are stretched to the limit, health care providers are under extreme stress and we may have a long way to go to get to a safe place. So we must do all that we can to prevent the spread and to lower the positive rate of infection,” he said.


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