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Political Notebook

National Mall closed for Inauguration Day

The entire National Mall will be closed for Inauguration Day, accessible only by media and security personnel, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security issues.

The extraordinary closure is the latest in a series of security measures to harden the city against the type of violence that rocked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Local and federal officials had already established a downtown security zone and called up more than 20,000 National Guard troops to protect the presidential swearing in on Jan. 20.

The move is significant because the Mall has been the traditional site where much of the general public has gathered to view the inauguration at the Capitol in person and on large jumbotrons.

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“That means no one will be able to get into the Mall,” one of the officials said. “I would think about it as if you are going to watch, you are not going to be able to see anything. You would maybe be able to see the top of the Capitol.”

Washington area officials have warned the public to stay away from the District in the week leading up to the inauguration as right-wing groups plan armed protests on Sunday and Inauguration Day, and threats of violence have surfaced on social media.

Metro said Wednesday it will close 13 rail stations within the downtown security perimeter and alter bus routes in the area. Airbnb also announced it would cancel and block reservations in the D.C. area in the days leading up to the inauguration.

Meanwhile, airlines and airports said they are stepping up security before next week’s presidential inauguration, with Delta and other major airlines saying they will prohibit passengers flying to the Washington area from putting guns in checked bags.

Delta was the first to announce Thursday that it will prohibit checking guns to Washington-area airports and was soon followed by United, Alaska, and American. All said their bans will start Saturday and run through Jan. 23.

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Washington Post and Associated Press

McCarthy doesn’t support ousting Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, moved Thursday to forestall a messy internal leadership fight, making clear he did not support calls to oust Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, as the No. 3 GOP leader in the House after her vote to impeach President Trump.

Several Trump loyalists, including Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, have called on Cheney to resign or be removed from her post as Republican conference chairwoman, suggesting that she cannot effectively lead a group whose members voted overwhelmingly against Trump’s impeachment.

Cheney issued a scathing statement ahead of her impeachment vote — one that was quoted by Democrats several times during the floor debate Thursday: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Cheney was one of 10 Republicans to break with the GOP and join Democrats in voting for Trump’s impeachment.

A McCarthy aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal political matters, said the leader “does not support efforts to remove her as conference chair.” The statement was first reported Thursday by the Washington Examiner.

While Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, has circulated a petition seeking to oust Cheney, the daughter of former vice president Richard B. Cheney, other House Republicans publicly backed her continued service as chairwoman — including several members who opposed impeachment. Cheney told reporters Wednesday she was “not going anywhere.”

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Washington Post

Biden names chair of Democratic committee

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former Senate candidate Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, as he moves to remake the national party infrastructure to better compete with Republicans.

Harrison, 44, a former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, raised more than $130 million in his effort to defeat Republican Senator Lindsey O. Graham last year, making himself a well-known name among Democrats nationwide. His candidacy for the DNC chairmanship had been promoted by Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, a close Biden ally who played an instrumental role for Biden during the Democratic primary contest. Harrison’s selection was confirmed by two Democrats familiar with Biden’s decision.

Harrison, who is not expected to face an internal challenge, will arrive as the Biden transition effort has begun planning for a renewed focus on party building at the national level in the coming years. Former president Barack Obama had initially housed his own political operation at the committee, a decision that many Democrats now blame for allowing a weaker party structure that made it possible for Republicans to catch up, and in some cases pull ahead, in the race for data and organizing.

Washington Post

Girl Scouts seek to break lease at Trump building

Since the attack on the US Capitol last week, President Trump’s company has lost three of its banks, two of its real estate brokers, its e-commerce site, its chance to host a major golf championship, and its contracts to run a golf course, two ice rinks, and even a children’s carousel.

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Now, it is losing the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts of Greater New York, which leases office space in Trump’s building at 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, said this week that it is seeking “as a matter of very high priority” to move out. The Girl Scouts’ lease, signed in 2014, was supposed to last 15 years.

“Our organization has been exploring options for getting out of the lease and the building,” Meridith Maskara, the group’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We continue to investigate our options and work to find an office space that would best serve the girls of New York City.”

The Girl Scouts group rents 14,000 square feet on the seventh floor of Trump’s building, according to the real estate database firm CoStar. The rent has not been disclosed, but — at current market rates — a space that size would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. The Girl Scouts’ decision was first reported by Business Insider.

The loss of so many key customers and business partners could make it far harder for the Trump Organization to pull itself out of a daunting financial predicament. Many of its hotels and resorts have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, the company is facing at least two long-term investigations of its financial practices, and it has more than $400 million in unpaid loans coming due in the next few years.

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Washington Post

QAnon-supporting lawmaker plans to seek Biden impeachment

Hours after the House voted to impeach President Trump, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, launched another impeachment push — directed at President-elect Joe Biden.

Appearing on the conservative network Newsmax on Wednesday night, Greene, the first open supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory to win a seat in Congress, said she would introduce articles of impeachment against Biden on Jan. 21, the day after he is sworn in.

Greene cited business controversies involving Biden’s son Hunter during Biden’s tenure as vice president, and suggested without citing evidence that Biden would be implicated.

Washington Post