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(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 93.2 million people worldwide and killed over two million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news was developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Jan 15, 8:20 pm
7-day averages for cases down across US

There are some encouraging signs in the latest COVID-19 data.

The seven-day averages for cases are declining throughout the U.S., according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The averages are down in all four regions that the tracker compares: Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

On a national level, it appears that COVID-19 hospitalizations are also on the decline, the tracker said. Though it noted that some areas are still seeing an "overwhelming" level of hospitalizations.

The U.S. reported 243,996 new cases, 3,679 new deaths and 127,235 currently hospitalizations on Friday, according to The COVID Tracking Project's tally.

Jan 15, 4:57 pm
Biden stresses equity, transparency in vaccination plan

President-elect Joe Biden laid out a five-point vaccination plan Friday that he promised would turn the public's "frustration into motivation" and meet his goal of getting 100 million shots into Americans' arms within his first 100 days in office.

The plan includes working with states to open up more priority groups for vaccination, mobilizing a larger workforce to administer vaccines and working directly with independent and chain pharmacies to distribute them. Biden's administration also plans to set up 100 federally funded vaccination centers in school gyms, sports stadiums and mobile clinics to help reach communities that have been hit hard by the virus.

"Equity is central to our COVID response," Biden said.

Scientists in Biden's administration, like the surgeon general, will speak directly to the American people, he added, and pledged to be transparent about "both the good news and the bad" when it came COVID-19 progress. "You’re entitled to know," he said.

Jan 15, 2:07 pm
Faster-spreading variant could become dominant by March: CDC

The new COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom could increase the trajectory of the virus in the United States, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

Unless new mitigation measures are taken, the variant, known as B.1.1.7, is likely to become the predominant variant in the U.S. by March, the report warned. The CDC called for "universal compliance" with public health measures and more genomic surveillance to monitor new variants and mutations.

"Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public," according to the report. While the new variant is not more deadly than the old one, it is thought to be more transmissible, meaning that it could lead to more cases, and ultimately more hospitalizations and deaths.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Jan 15, 1:01 pm
COVID-19 deaths top two million worldwide

Deaths from COVID-19 reached a grim new milestone Friday, with 2,00,905 fatalities reported around the world since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths, with 389,581 fatalities, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Jan 15, 1:11 pm
100M doses in 100 days 'quite feasible': Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci called President-elect Joe Biden's promise to administer 100 million COVID-19 shots in the first 100 days of his term "quite feasible" during an interview with NBC's Today show Friday. He said he hopes the United States can get to 70% or 80% vaccination within several months.

Part of the distribution holdup, according to Fauci, has been careful prioritization by states.

"If you have a dose, give it," he urged states. "Don't be so rigid as to those early designations."

Reaching those goals, however, depends on vaccine uptake. 

"When a vaccine becomes available, get vaccinated,” Fauci pleaded with the public.

Jan 15, 8:31 am
Biden picks former FDA chief to help lead Operation Warp Speed

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help lead the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine initiative.

Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the FDA from 1999 to 1997 under the Bush and Clinton administrations, will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is the current chief science officer to Operation Warp Speed.

Biden also announced several other appointees who will join his incoming administration's COVID-19 response team.

"We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better."

Jan 15, 7:40 am
Moscow sees highest single-day death toll from COVID-19

There were 5,534 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a record 81 deaths from the disease registered in Moscow on Thursday, according to Russia's coronavirus response headquarters.

In total, the Russian capital has reported 882,962 confirmed cases with 12,322 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

With more than 3.4 million confirmed cases, Russia has the fourth highest cumulative total in the world, after the United States, India and Brazil, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Jan 15, 6:58 am
US marks 10th straight day of over 200K new cases

There were 229,386 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 10th consecutive day that the country has reported more than 200,000 new cases. Thursday's tally is less than the country's all-time high of 302,506 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 3,769 new deaths from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Thursday, down from a peak of 4,462 fatalities logged on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 23,314,238 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 388,705 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.

Jan 14, 9:57 pm
Dodger Stadium to open as mass vaccination site Friday

Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium will open as one of the largest mass vaccination sites in the country on Friday, officials announced.

The stadium will have the capacity to vaccinate 12,000 people a day, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said during his COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

Eligibility in Los Angeles County currently is limited to health care workers and seniors in nursing facilities.

The vaccination push comes as 1 in 3 people in LA County has been infected with COVID-19, Garcetti said. The county reported 17,323 new cases on Thursday.

"Our numbers remain very high. We remain one of the epicenters of this disease across the country," Garcetti said, though he added that there are signs that hospitalizations may be stabilizing.

Jan 14, 8:06 pm
US deaths 25% higher than any other time during pandemic

Deaths continue to surge nationwide in the weeks after the end-of-year holidays. U.S. deaths are currently 25% higher than at any other time during the pandemic, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

"For scale, COVID-19 deaths reported this week exceed the CDC's estimate of 22K flu-related deaths during the entire 2019-2020 season," the wrote.

There were 3,915 deaths reported on Thursday, well above a seven-day average that continues to rise. Cases and hospitalizations were under the seven-day average on Thursday.

The one bit of good news highlighted by The COVID Tracking Project hospitalization numbers are leveling off. However, there are still 128,947 people currently hospitalized, much more than at any other time during the pandemic.

The COVID Tracking Project singled out Alabama, Arizona, California and Florida as particularly concerning locations right now. Arizona currently has the worst per-capita case numbers in the world, according to the project.

Jan 14, 4:29 pm
Newly identified US variant may have emerged in May, study indicates

A newly identified variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 may have emerged in the U.S. in May and could be one of the predominant versions circulating now, researchers at Southern Illinois University found.
Just because a new variant has emerged doesn't mean it's inherently dangerous, experts cautioned. It’s unknown if this new U.S. variant is more transmissible and deadly, but scientists say they are monitoring and continuing to study newly emerging viral variants. On Wednesday, researchers at Ohio State reported two newly identified ones. On Thursday, researchers at Southern Illinois University said they also identified a new variant, which is likely the same as the two identified in Ohio.

Now, researchers at Southern Illinois University are sharing even more details about this U.S. variant, which they are calling 20C-US. Origins of this variant can be traced to May 2020 from a sample in Texas, they said.
The 20C-US variant appears to be widespread in the Upper Midwest and comprises roughly 50% of the samples in the U.S., said Keith T. Gagnon, coauthor of the study and associate professor at Southern Illinois University.

"Let’s not get overly excited -- but be diligent," Gagon said. "Here it was, underneath our noses, for months."
“It doesn't look like it’s going to get in the way of vaccines," Gagnon added.

ABC News’ Sean Llewellyn, Eric Strauss and Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Jan 14, 3:30 pm
Texas is 1st state to administer 1 million vaccines

Texas, home to about 29 million people, has become the first state to administer more than 1 million vaccine doses, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

Texas has 2,040,751 confirmed cases and at least 31,277 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Texas’ Harris County, home to Houston, ranks No. 5 in the country for highest cases, behind Los Angeles County, California; Cook County, Illinois; Marciopa County, Arizona; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

Jan 14, 2:14 pm
Brazil variant prompts UK to ban arrivals from some South American, Central American countries

The United Kingdom will ban arrivals from several South and Central American countries beginning on Friday "following evidence of a new variant from Brazil,” U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The government will ban arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Travel from Portugal to the U.K. will also be suspended given its strong travel links with Brazil, Shapps said.

Jan 14, 2:05 pm
About 1 in 3 has been infected in LA County

About one in every three people in Los Angeles County has been infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, Los Angeles County Health Department officials said Wednesday.

Los Angeles County is close to becoming the county to reach 1 million cases. As of Thursday morning, 958,497 people in the county had been infected.

Jan 14, 12:46 pm
Arizona leading US in cases per capita

The U.S. is averaging over 242,000 new cases per day, according to ABC News’ analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.

Arizona is leading the country in cases per capita.

In Virginia, Georgia and Florida, daily case numbers dwarf their respective summer peaks.

In New York, the average number of daily cases is 65% higher than during the spring surge.

Jan 14, 12:24 pm
Turkey's president gets 1st dose of China's COVID-19 vaccine

Turkish President Recep Tayyip on Thursday received a first dose of CoronaVac, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Turkey approved CoronaVac for emergency use on Wednesday. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was the first person in the country to receive a dose of the vaccine.

Jan 14, 11:28 am
Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI receive 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

"I can confirm that as part of the Vatican City State vaccination program to date, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus," Bruni said in a statement Thursday.

Francis, who turned 84 last month and had part of a lung removed when he was younger, reportedly received the shot Wednesday while Benedict, 93, reportedly got it Thursday.

Vatican City, an independent enclave surrounded by Rome that serves as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, launched the immunization campaign on Wednesday, administering doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

The tiny city-state has a population of only around 800 people but employs more than 4,000. It's unclear how many doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been procured so far.

Vatican City citizens, along with employees and pensioners, will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine as well as family members who are entitled to use of the city-state's health care system. Priority is being given to health care workers, public safety personnel, the elderly and individuals who are most frequently in contact with the public, according to Bruni.

The vaccination campaign is voluntary and people under the age of 18 are being excluded for the time being, Bruni said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Vatican City has reported at least 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Jan 14, 10:13 am
US reports over 229,000 new cases

There were 229,610 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Wednesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the ninth straight day that the country has reported more than 200,000 new cases. Wednesday's tally is less than the country's all-time high of 302,506 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 3,959 new deaths from COVID-19 registered nationwide on Wednesday, down from a peak of 4,327 fatalities logged the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 23,079,163 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 384,794 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.

Jan 14, 10:00 am
Another member of Congress tests positive

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said Thursday morning that he’s tested positive for COVID-19, one day after attending the impeachment vote on the House floor.

Espaillat said he's quarantining at home.

He tweeted, “I received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week and understand the affects take time. I have continued to be tested regularly, wear my mask and follow the recommended guidelines."

Eight lawmakers have tested positive since the Jan. 6 siege.

Jan 14, 8:46 am
965,000 workers filed jobless claims last week

A total of 965,000 workers filed jobless claims last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, an increase of 181,000 from the prior week.

The Labor Department also said that more than 18 million people were still receiving some form of unemployment benefits through all government programs for the week ending Dec. 26. For the comparable week in 2019, that figure was just above two million.

The weekly unemployment tally has fallen since peaking at 6.9 million in March but still remains elevated by historical standards.

The pre-pandemic record for weekly unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.

That record has been broken every week since late March.

As of last month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 6.7%. It was 3.5% last February.

Jan 14, 8:32 am
WHO experts arrive in Wuhan

An international team of scientists researching the origins of COVID-19 arrived on Thursday in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus was first discovered, the World Health Organization said.

“The experts will begin their work immediately during the 2 weeks quarantine protocol for international travelers,” the WHO tweeted.

Jan 14, 8:19 am
US could see up to 477,000 deaths by Feb. 6

This week’s national  released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 16,200 to 29,600 more Americans will likely die in the week ending Feb. 2.

The national ensemble estimates a total of 440,000 to 477,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by that date.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


BlakeDavidTaylor/iStockBy OLIVIA RUBIN and SOO RIN KIM, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Retired military servicemen are turning up in alarming numbers on wanted posters and in charging documents as federal agents continue their sweep of arrests tied to the deadly riot at the Capitol last week, a trend that has experts increasingly concerned about the dangerous allure of extremist and paramilitary groups.

So far at least nine of those arrested for participating in the riot have been confirmed to be former members of the U.S. military, ABC News has confirmed through court files, lawyer statements, and military records.

The actual number is likely higher. On Thursday, FBI Director Chris Wray said the bureau has made over 100 arrests in connection with the riot, with many more anticipated.

"The large number of individuals with ties to law enforcement or the military already arrested or apparently now under investigation suggests a deeper level of far-right sympathizers in these fields," said Javed Ali, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

Some experts have been sounding alarm bells about the issue for years.

Among the ex-military arrested following last week's attack was Larry Rendell Brock, who invaded the Capitol alongside Eric Gavelek Munchel, with both of them sporting military uniforms and gear, including zip ties, according to the Department of Justice. Munchel, of Tennessee, and Brock, of Texas, were among the first arrests as FBI agents sought to determine whether they could have been engaged in a plot to take lawmakers hostage.

The Air Force confirmed to ABC News that Lt. Col. Brock retired in 2014 after more than two decades of service, noting he had served as an A-10 pilot until 2007.

Brock was released to home confinement on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. In an interview with The New Yorker, Brock said, "The president asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there." He has not yet entered a plea.

Other arrested individuals include David Lester Ross, a former member of the Massachusetts National Guard, who was taken into custody on Jan. 6 near the Capitol building after he "did not obey at least three warnings" from officers to disperse, according to arrest records. Ross pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Thursday, and was released and ordered to stay away from D.C. His lawyer, Darry Daniels, declined to comment when reached by ABC News.

On Friday, ABC News confirmed the man seen on video smashing through the window of the Capitol building with a police shield is a former Marine. The man, Dominic Pezzola, was in the Marines for seven years as an infantry assault man, the Marine Corps told ABC News. He had won a National Defense Service Medal.

Pezzola was taken into custody Friday morning, according to the FBI, who said he is the same person seen in images "smoking a cigar inside the Capitol building."

Earlier this week, the FBI questioned a former reserve Navy SEAL after he boasted in a Facebook video about "breaching the Capitol." The video shows Adam Newbold, 45, from Lisbon, Ohio, whom the Navy confirmed is a retired reserve SEAL special warfare operator, in a car on his return home from Washington, telling his Facebook followers that he had wanted to make lawmakers "think twice about what they're doing" and leave them "shaking in their shoes."

When reached by ABC News on Tuesday, Newbold pleaded for forgiveness for his participation, saying: "I am not a terrorist. I am not a traitor."

In the oath they take upon enlisting, U.S. military personnel and officers swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Mary McCord, a longtime national security expert who now runs Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, told ABC News that the radicalization of military servicemen and their participation in the Capitol riot last week isn't surprising to her and has long been an issue.

"Some unlawful militias specifically recruit from the military because of their expertise in firearms, explosives, and tactical skills," McCord explained. "And the idea of continuing to have a mission can be very appealing to ex-military, especially if they are predisposed ideologically with the unlawful militias."

McCord called it "a serious problem" and said it's something that the military "should be addressing" -- both with respect to active duty and former military members.

Calls for discipline against former military members who participated in the riot have been growing since last week.

"I think we should throw the book at them, to the furthest extent possible," said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. "If you're off active duty, I want to figure out a way we can bring you back and charge you."

"And if you're convicted, we should be able to take your benefits away," Gallego added.

Military personnel who retire after 20 years of service are entitled to benefits like monthly military retirement pay, access to Department of Defense medical care and health plans, and access to military commissaries. Those who leave prior to 20 years of service get no military retirement pay or access to DOD military care, but do have access to Veterans Affairs benefits like health care and home loans.

On Monday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., sent a letter to acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller requesting that the Defense Department's criminal investigative organizations work with the FBI and Capitol Police to investigate current and retired military members who may have participated in the attack. In the letter she urged Miller "to take appropriate action to hold individuals accountable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

"Upholding good order and discipline demands that the U.S. Armed Forces root out extremists that infiltrate the military and threaten our national security," wrote Duckworth.

In court, though, ex-servicemen have been citing their military backgrounds in seeking special consideration from the court -- or pardons from President Donald Trump.

"My client fought -- was in the military, served honorably. No criminal background whatsoever," said the attorney for Jacob Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, the man who was photographed during the riot wearing horns and body paint. "And he, like a lot of other disenfranchised people in our country, felt very, very, very solidly in sync with President Trump."

ABC News has confirmed that Chansley used to be a Navy supply clerk.

And Virginia police officers Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker appear to have posted a photo of themselves with their middle fingers raised, in front of the statue of John Stark in the Capitol, according to the Department of Justice's statement of facts in the case. After the riot, Robertson repeatedly defended his participation, saying he was "proud" of the photo because he "was willing to put skin in the game," according to the DOJ document.

The two officers have been put on administrative leave, according to a statement from the town of Rocky Mount, where they both work. During an interview with a local media outlet, Robertson said he and Fracker "did not participate in any violence or property damage," and suggested that Capitol Police allowed them into the building.

The Army confirmed to ABC News that Fracker is a current corporal in the Virginia National Guard, though they emphasized that he is not on duty with the Virginia National Guard troops currently in D.C.

"The Army is committed to working closely with the FBI as they identify people who participated in the violent attack on the Capitol to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army," they said in a statement.

Appearing before a federal judge following his arrest, Robertson cited what he described as 23 years of military experience as the reason he should not be detained pending trial.

The judge agreed and ordered Robertson released on bond.

ABC News' Luis Martinez, Ben Siegel and Luke Barr contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


dsmoulton/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The National Rifle Association announced that it intends to restructure as a nonprofit based in Texas and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections.

"The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA's continued success as the nation's leading advocate for constitutional freedom -- free from the toxic political environment of New York," the gun advocacy group said in a statement Friday.

The NRA added that it has been incorporated in New York for approximately 150 years.

"This strategic plan represents a pathway to opportunity, growth and progress," NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. "Obviously, an important part of this plan is 'dumping New York.' The NRA is pursuing reincorporating in a state that values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and will join us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom."

LaPierre dubbed the decision Friday a "transformational moment in the history of the NRA."

The move comes after the NRA was sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James last August in a bid to dissolve the group.

James accused the NRA of an array of "illegal conduct," according to a press release at the time describing the suit, including "[the] diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty."

The NRA has filed a counter claim, calling the initial suit politically motivated.

James on Friday responded to the bankruptcy news in a statement, saying, "The NRA's claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt."

"While we review this filing, we will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office's oversight," James added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DanHenson1/iStockBy ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Jacob Chansley, the horned helmet-wearing, painted face Capitol rioter is set for a detention hearing this afternoon in Arizona federal court, and prosecutors are requesting a judge keep him in government custody pending trial -- using some of their bluntest words yet in court to describe last week's assault on the U.S. Capitol as a "violent insurrection."

"Chansley is an active participant in -- and has made himself the most prominent symbol of -- a violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government on January 6, 2021," prosecutors wrote in a brief to the judge. "Chansley has expressed interest in returning to Washington, D.C. for President-Elect Biden's inauguration and has the ability to do so if the Court releases him. No conditions can reasonably assure his appearance as required, nor ensure the safety of the community."

Chansley is the rioter seen roaming through the halls of Congress last week wearing horns, a coyote tail headdress, face paint and a wielding a 6-foot spear.

Prosecutors describe Chansley as both a clear flight risk and a mentally unstable individual, partly due to his leadership in the QAnon movement -- which they bluntly describe in the brief as a "dangerous extremist group."

"Chansley has also previously espoused identifying and then "hanging" "traitors" within the United States government," prosecutors say. "Despite the riot on January 6, Chansley has stated his intent to return to Washington for President-Elect Biden's inauguration, and his repeated and demonstrated unwillingness to conform to societal rules suggests a pending criminal case will not stop him."

The brief also notes that Chansley's employment status contributes to his flight risk -- citing his ability to "sporadically" earn money by showing up at protests and riots with other QAnon followers around the country.

"Chansley is a high-profile leader and the self-professed shaman of QAnon, giving him the ability to raise large sums of money for travel (and other activities) quickly through non-traditional means," the brief says.

Prosecutors also point to recent reports of possible violence at the Capitol leading up to the inauguration, and note that in his interview with the FBI before his arrest, Chansley told agents he'd "still go, you better believe it."

"U.S. Capitol Police report that Chansley was among the first inside the Capitol," the brief says. "He made his way into the halls of the Senate and the Senate Chamber within minutes of the rioters breaching the building. At this juncture in our Nation's history, it is hard to imagine a greater risk to our democracy and community than the armed revolution of which Chansley has made himself the symbol."

"He loved Trump, every word. He listened to him. He felt like he was answering the call of our president," Chansley's attorney Al Watkins told CNN in an interview Thursday. "My client wasn't violent. He didn't cross over any police lines. He didn't assault anyone." Watkins said Chansley also hopes for a presidential pardon.

During his court appearance on Jan. 11, Chansley's court-appointed attorney, Gerald Williams, told the judge that Chansley has been unable to eat since he was arrested, The Associated Press reported. He said his client has a restricted diet, though it was unclear to Williams whether Chansley's food issues were related to health concerns or religious reasons.

The judge ordered Williams to work with the U.S. Marshals Service to address the issue.

Chansley's mother, Martha Chansley, told reporters outside the courthouse that her son needs an organic diet, The Arizona Republic reported.

"He gets very sick if he doesn't eat organic food," she said. "He needs to eat."

So far, approximately 80 cases have been charged in federal court and 34 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, the Department of Justice said Thursday. Additionally, the FBI has opened approximately 200 subject case files and received roughly 140,000 digital media tips from the public.

Chansley's detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine is set for Friday 4:30 p.m. ET via teleconference.

ABC News' Ivan Pereira and Meredith Ferrell contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


krblokhin/iStockBy ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The danger to the public and to law enforcement officers from explosive devices during expected upcoming protests "is substantial," the FBI warned in a new awareness bulletin obtained by ABC News.

The document includes photos of devices used in the last eight months against civilian and law enforcement targets during public protests.

"Devices targeting infrastructure also increased following violent activity during this time period," the document said.

The FBI now wants to make first responders aware of what has been deployed in the past and what they might encounter during demonstrations linked to the inauguration.

"The danger posed to law enforcement officers and the general public from the all the tactics listed is substantial," the bulletin reads. "If a suspicious item is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an IED, or other hazardous material, DO NOT touch, tamper with, or move the item. Only bomb disposal personnel should handle any suspected devices that are located."

An internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News earlier this week stated that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol at least through Inauguration Day, in the wake of a pro-Trump siege on the Capitol last week.

During that riot last week, suspected pipe bombs were found outside of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, a few blocks from the Capitol. U.S. Capitol Police later said they were "hazardous" and could have caused "great harm." A federal law enforcement source told ABC News the suspected weapons were active and not fake devices.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


turk_stock_photographer/iStockBy HALEY YAMADA, JASMINE BROWN and MATT GERMAN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Demands for accountability in the Flint water crisis may soon be answered nearly seven years after people first began reporting the devastating side effects of the city's lead-poisoned water.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Wednesday that former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and eight other state officials would be charged in connection to the drinking water crisis, during which at least 12 people died and 79 people became ill from Legionnaires' disease which was connected to the contaminated water.

Snyder is charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty, each carries a penalty of one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, according to court documents. Snyder pleaded not guilty via a Zoom hearing on Thursday.

The state's former director of health and human services, Nicolas Lyon, and former chief medical executive, Eden Wells, are each facing nine counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Snyder, as well as the former emergency manager of Flint's Department of Public Works, Howard Croft, who has been charged with two counts of willful neglect, will be back in court on Jan. 19. The other defendants are due back in court on Feb. 18. No other pleas have been entered yet.

Flint has a population of about 100,000 people, the majority of whom are Black. To save money, in 2014, the state switched the city's water supply to come from the Flint River. An investigation later found there were highly toxic levels of lead in the water and that the cases of Legionnaires' over the course of two outbreaks between 2014 and 2015 also coincided with the water source switch, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Pure and simple. This case is about justice, truth, accountability. Poisoned children [and] lost lives," Nessel said during a press conference Thursday. "We may never know all the names of those who had their lives and livelihoods destroyed by this man-made crisis."

Flint resident LeeAnne Walters has largely been credited with being the first to sound the alarm on the crisis. The mother of four testified in 2016 about how much her children suffered from drinking the water contaminated with lead.

"[My son] would scream and cry about how bad his skin burned," Walters said to the Michigan Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency. "These are my kids. These are everybody's kids."

Snyder had apologized for the crisis during his 2016 State of the State address.

Nearly 9,000 children drank lead-contaminated water over the course of 18 months. Walters said Thursday that the charges are just the beginning of the community's healing.

"There are huge victories that have [been] accomplished, but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done," said Walters. "I think the fact that we've had to go through it, it's opened our eyes to, 'Yes, there needs to be some community involvement and a check-and-balance system when it comes to a governmental system to make sure that things are being done properly.'"

"I would say, in my opinion, about 95% of people still distrust the water," she added. Since 2016, the water is regularly tested and has been considered safe since 2018.

Although the tap water has been deemed safe, people like Shirley Drake say they still rely on bottled water.

"I don't trust the water in the pipes," said Drake. "So, for cooking and drinking, I get bottled water."

Michigan state Sen. Jim Ananich, a Flint resident, said he doesn't like when his 5-year-old son drinks the tap water. He thinks accountability will begin to rebuild trust within the community.

"Some people, I don't think, will ever feel there's justice," said Ananich. "But, I think criminal convictions of folks will be a start."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- When a violent mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, it was law enforcement officers who put their lives at risk to protect Congress and secure the area.

Robert Contee, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, let three of his officers who were on the front lines speak to D.C. ABC affiliate WJLA about their experiences.
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"They have a heroic story and I think the world really needs to know," Contee told WJLA.

Officer Daniel Hodges, 32, whose platoon had been on duty since 7 a.m., said he feared for his life multiple times that day, including when he was "surrounded" by pro-Trump rioters outside the Capitol building and beaten.

"That was one of the three times that day where I thought: Well, this might be it," Hodges, a patrol officer in the 4th District, told WJLA. "This might be the end for me."

Another time, Hodges said, was when their police lines broke on the dais and they had to fall back to the Capitol building.

"We were battling, you know, tooth and nail for our lives," he said. "We held the line there in that doorway, and I guess I got pinned through the small back-and-forth we had fighting for, you know, every inch. And I had my arms pinned at that point, I wasn't able to defend myself."

In a now-viral video that was shared on social media, a bloodied Hodges is seen screaming for help as he is being crushed against a metal door frame inside the Capitol building.

Hodges said one rioter ripped off his gas mask and beat him with his own baton, while another tried to gouge his eye.

"At that point, I was also, you know, sucking in OC and CS gas, so I was pretty disabled at that point," he said. "I thought, you know, this might be it, I might die and there's nothing I can do to defend myself at this point. So I just started screaming at the top of my lungs for them to give me a way out, get me a line of retreat. Thankfully someone was able to do that and I was able to extricate myself."

Officer Christina Laury, 32, who is assigned to the narcotics and special investigations division, said the crowd of rioters was "immediately" aggressive and had already taken over the Capitol grounds when she arrived on scene.

"I don't think we even understood the magnitude and the amount of people that were actually there," Laury told WJLA. "By the time I got there, officers were already getting, you know, sprayed with whatever these individuals had, which I believe they had bear mace which is literally used for bears. They're spraying it at us -- human beings -- which is, you know, putting us out of service for a while. I mean, I got hit with it plenty of times that day and it just seals your eyes shut."

"You just would see officers going down, trying to, you know, douse themselves with water, trying to open their eyes up so they can see again," she added. "And at the same point, these people are still trying to push and gain access to the Capitol."

Laury said she also witnessed officers on the front lines of the Capitol building getting beaten with metal poles, in addition to be sprayed with bear mace and other chemical irritants.

"They did everything in their power to not let those people in," she said. "And this was going on for hours."

Laury said she doesn't get scared often but admitted, "That was probably one of the scariest days."

"When you can't open your eyes and you're in the middle of what we would call a fight essentially, you know, that's scary," she said. "The bravery and the heroism that I saw in these officers -- the second they were able to open their eyes, they were back up front and they were just trying to stop these individuals from coming in."

Officer Michael Fanone, 40, who is part of the crime suppression team in the 1st District, said he and his partner joined the front lines after relieving some of the fatigued and injured officers, even though he said none of them volunteered to leave. He recalled being tased "half a dozen times" and rioters grabbing gear off his vest, ripping away his badge, taking his ammunition magazines and trying to get a hold of his gun.

"I remember guys chanting, like, 'Kill him with his own gun,'" Fanone, who previously served for the U.S. Capitol Police, told WJLA. "I remember trying to retain it and the thought did cross my mind like, 'OK, people are trying to kill you and I think this has crossed the threshold of you, you know, defending yourself.' I thought about killing people."

Fanone said he told the mob that he has children and some of the rioters began to shield him from others until his partner was able to get him out of the area. Fanone, who said he's generally in good health, was later hospitalized and learned that he had suffered a mild heart attack.

"I've never experienced anything quite like this," he said. "I don't think I would have had a heart attack other than getting physically assaulted on Jan. 6."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- A strong storm system is producing lots of wind and snow in the Central U.S., with a blizzard warning issued for five states, from Minnesota to Missouri.

Already Friday morning up to half a foot of snow has fallen in Iowa and winds have been gusting at 60 to 80 mph from the Dakotas to Oklahoma.

As the storm is expected to move into the Northeast, snow alerts have been extended into upstate New York and New England.

Friday morning, 20 states are on alert for wind and snow from the Dakotas down to Texas and east to New York.

This Friday, the storm system is sitting in the western Great Lakes and throwing wind and snow from Minnesota to northern Missouri, with wind effects extending all the way to Texas.

Friday night, part of the same storm system hitting the Midwest now will move into the Northeast with heavy rain for the I-95 corridor, from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston.

One to two inches of rain are expected along the I-95 corridor and some road flooding is possible.

Further north, in upstate New York and into New England, a winter storm watch has been issued. Heavy snow (6-8 inches) is expected Saturday and Sunday.

The heaviest snow over the weekend will be in the Northeast, where a foot of snow is possible in upstate New York and northern New England.

In the Southwest, the issue is not snow but dry, gusty winds that actually helped spread a brush fire Thursday night near Los Angeles.

The brush fire was burning near Thousand Oaks, where some evacuations had to be issued.

The fire burned 250 acres, but firefighters were able to contain it overnight.

More gusty Santa Ana winds are expected in Southern California, where red flag warnings and wind alerts have been issued.

Winds could gust at 40 to 50 mph, with isolated gusts near 60 mph in the mountains.

Humidity will be at less than 10% in some areas, which will only fuel the fires.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


LeoPatrizi/iStockBy ROSA SANCHEZ, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Various people were injured after a passenger bus veered off the road and was left hanging off an overpass in New York's Bronx.

The New York Police Department told WABC that the incident happened at 11:10 p.m. Thursday on the Cross Bronx Expressway at University Avenue.

WABC confirmed at least seven to eight people, including the bus driver, were injured in the accident. Most injuries were minor, though the driver suffered the most severe injuries and is in serious condition.

The New York City Fire Department tweeted Friday night that there were nine total injuries, but in a statement they later said only eight people were treated for injuries.

"FDNY units are on scene of a motor vehicle accident at University Ave and the Cross Bronx Expressway in the Bronx where a tandem bus has crashed through the barriers and is hanging off the overpass onto the roadway below. There are nine civilian injuries reported at this time," the FDNY wrote on Twitter.

FDNY units are on scene of a motor vehicle accident at University Ave and the Cross Bronx Expressway in the Bronx where a tandem bus has crashed through the barriers and is hanging off the overpass onto the roadway below. There are nine civilian injuries reported at this time.

— FDNY (@FDNY) January 15, 2021

"While responding to this incident, I began discussing the information we were receiving, picturing a bus hanging off the edge. We had two scenes here where #Rescue3 began securing the bus up-top while #Engine43 made their way around to begin treatment of the civilian patients. Currently we are making sure all the fuel and other hazardous materials within the vehicle is secured until the bus can be pulled onto the roadway," FDNY Acting Battalion Chief Steven Moore said in a statement later Friday morning.

Officials said the bus fell approximately 50 feet onto the access road.

FDNY Deputy Chief Paul Hopper, who oversaw emergency medical treatment and transport at the scene, said: "We assessed and treated a total of eight patients from this accident. The bus fell approximately 50 feet onto the access road. The patients suffered injuries consistent with a fall from such a great height."

All those injured have been transported to an area hospital.

Authorities said the operator of the MTA Articulated Bus may have experienced some sort of brake failure or didn't properly navigate the turn.

The bus went over the rail to the ground below, where it had to be secured by the FDNY.

Photos shared on social media show it dangling from the overpass.

In an audio recording from the FDNY obtained by ABC News, a dispatcher is heard saying, "Continue rescue. We have a tandem bus over the bridge, half of it is hanging off the bridge, there's people inside."

The intersection is now shut down and the bus is waiting to be towed.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

"The MTA's goal is to have the safest transportation system in the nation, and when an incident like this occurs we take it very seriously," MTA Chief Safety and Security Officer Patrick Warren said in a statement Friday morning. "We are conducting a full investigation and will implement lessons learned in order to prevent it from happening again. We are certain this was a terrifying incident for those customers on the bus. Our hearts go out to them with hope that they can recover quickly."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- More than a week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, federal authorities continue to charge people who allegedly participated in the riot, often relying on video taken at the scene to identify suspects.

Man seen carrying Confederate flag in Capitol

A man whom authorities identified as carrying a Confederate flag while walking through the Capitol halls during the Jan. 6 siege was arrested Thursday morning in Delaware, a law enforcement official confirmed to ABC News.

Kevin Seefried was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and one count of depredation of government property, the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. announced.

His son, Hunter Seefried, faces the same charges, authorities said. ABC News could not immediately reach them or their attorneys for comment.

The FBI had put out several bulletins over the past week seeking to identify the elder Seefried. Both men were identified after the FBI received a tip from Hunter Seefried's coworker that he "bragged about being in the Capitol with his father" on Jan. 6, according to an FBI affidavit.

Both men allegedly entered the Senate building through a broken window, soon after which Kevin Seefried was spotted walking through the halls with a Confederate flag, according to the affidavit.

FBI agents interviewed the men on Tuesday, during which they confirmed they participated in the riot, according to the affidavit. Kevin Seefried "explained that he brought the Confederate Battle flag ... from his home in Delaware where it is usually displayed outside," the FBI said.

Kevin Seefried told law enforcement they traveled with their family to see Trump speak, and then he and Hunter participated in the march to the Capitol, according to the affidavit.

Retired firefighter who allegedly threw fire extinguisher at police

Robert Sanford, a retired firefighter from Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, was arrested Thursday morning on three federal charges for allegedly hurling a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol police officers at the riot last week, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

The assault is separate from the ongoing investigation into the death of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, the official told ABC News.

Sanford, 55, was charged with four federal offenses -- knowingly entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder and assaulting officers engaging in their official duties.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania Thursday afternoon ordered Sanford to remain in government custody pending his next hearing in Washington, D.C., saying his alleged actions show he presents a danger to the community.

During the detention hearing, a Department of Justice attorney accused Sanford of traveling across multiple state lines "as part of a group" that attended President Trump's speech and then subsequently marched to the Capitol for "purposes of basically participating in a riot that was an insurrection against the United States government."

Rejecting the defense's argument that Sanford's long service as a firefighter should count in favor of his release pending further proceedings, the judge described his actions as "clearly ... a danger to the community," adding the riots were "a danger for the Capitol, it was a danger to our democracy, and our legislators."

Authorities identified Sanford from two videos that captured the attack on the Capitol, stills of which were included in the FBI affidavit.

Sanford allegedly threw an object, which from the video appeared to be a fire extinguisher, at a group of police officers, according to the affidavit.

"The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head," the affidavit stated. "The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head."

One of the officers was evaluated at a hospital before being cleared to return to duty, according to the affidavit.

Sanford was identified after a longtime friend of his contacted the FBI in Pennsylvania and said they recognized Sanford from photos put out by the FBI, the affidavit stated. The friend said Sanford traveled to DC "on a bus with a group of people" who "had gone to the White House and listened to President Donald J. Trump's speech and then had followed the President's instructions and gone to the Capitol," according to the affidavit.

Sanford had recently retired from the Chester Fire Department in Chester, Pennsylvania, authorities said. The man identified as Sanford in the videos can be seen wearing a stocking cap with the logo for the fire department.

In a statement released Thursday, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland said Sanford served as a member of the fire department from January 1994 to February 2020.

"While Robert Sanford adorned a hat with a Fire Department logo, he is not a current employee of the city of Chester," Kirkland said.

Man who allegedly beat officer with American flag

A man seen in a viral video beating a police officer with a flagpole that had an American flag attached to it has been charged, the Department of Justice said Thursday.

Authorities identified Peter Stager of Arkansas as the man in the video. Stager allegedly repeatedly struck an officer with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on the steps of the Capitol building with the flagpole, according to the criminal complaint.

A confidential source tipped the FBI off to Stager's identity from two videos posted on a Twitter thread, according to the FBI affidavit.

In one of the videos, the source identified Stager as saying, "Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what's in that building."

"That building" was believed to be a reference to the U.S. Capitol building, and "everybody in there" a reference to the congresspeople inside at the time, according to the affidavit.

Stager allegedly told a separate individual in touch with the confidential source that he thought the cop was "Antifa," despite the officer's jacket identifying him as police.

It was not immediately clear whether Stager had been arrested. ABC News was unable to reach him for comment.

Man who filmed fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt

John Sullivan, the leader of activist group Insurgence USA who followed rioters throughout the Capitol and taped the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt, has been charged with multiple federal offenses -- entering a restricted building, civil disorder, violent entry and disorderly conduct -- authorities said.

Sullivan, 26, was arrested Thursday in Provo, Utah.

The complaint alleged that Sullivan, while wearing a ballistics vest and gas mask, entered the Capitol through a window that had been broken out.

The affidavit for the charges is based almost entirely on a 50-minute video Sullivan taped as he filmed rioters attacking the U.S. Capitol, as well as an interview Sullivan gave to an FBI task force officer last week.

In the video, Sullivan can be heard saying, "It's our house motherfu*****" and "We are getting this sh**," according to the affidavit.

The agent also cited interviews Sullivan gave to both CNN and ABC's "Good Morning America" in which he described the situation inside the Capitol.

According to the affidavit, Sullivan told investigators he is an activist and journalist "but admitted that he did not have any press credentials." He told investigators he was willing to provide a copy of all his footage from within the Capitol, the affidavit stated.

In July, Sullivan was charged with rioting and criminal mischief in connection with a protest in Provo, authorities said. The case is still pending.

ABC News has reached out to Sullivan for comment.

Former Texas mayoral candidate who posted selfie videos from Capitol

A former Midland, Texas, mayoral candidate was arrested and charged with two federal offenses Wednesday after she posted multiple selfie videos of her participating in last week's riot in the Capitol, authorities said.

In one Facebook video cited in the FBI affidavit, Jenny Cudd made statements "indicating her admission of entering the U.S. Capitol," the affidavit stated, including allegedly being a part of the crowd that stormed the Capitol and broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.

According to the affidavit, Cudd said in the video, "We did break down Nancy Pelosi's office door and somebody stole her gavel and took a picture sitting in the chair flipping off the camera."

"I am proud of my actions, I f****** charged the Capitol today with patriots today. Hell yes, I am proud of my actions," Cudd allegedly said.

The Facebook livestream video has since been removed.

Cudd was charged with entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. Her attorney told the Midland Reporter-Telegram she plans to plead not guilty at her court appearance next week.

Cudd ran for mayor of Midland in 2019 and lost to Patrick Payton. Following her arrest, Payton's office released a statement to ABC News Austin affiliate KVUE: "The mayor will reserve any further comment for much later and would encourage us all to reserve any further speculation or judgment on these matters until more is known and the federal authorities progress in their work on this matter."

More high-profile arrests

Dozens of arrests have been made around the country in recent days in connection with the Capitol attack.

Among them, on Wednesday, a man who authorities identified as the rioter wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" hoodie during the Capitol siege was arrested in Newport News, Virginia. He faces charges of unlawful entry into the U.S. Capitol and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller was charged Wednesday with obstructing law enforcement engaged in official duties, unlawfully entering Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The man who was photographed inside the Capitol wearing fur pelts and a bulletproof police vest while holding a Capitol Police riot shield was arrested Tuesday in Brooklyn and faces four federal charges.

Over the weekend, Capitol riot suspects who allegedly brought zip ties and wore tactical gear were arrested in Texas and Tennessee.

The man seen carrying Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern through the Capitol halls and the shirtless man dressed in horns, a bearskin headdress and red, white and blue face paint were arrested on Friday in Florida and Arizona, respectively.

ABC News' Alexandra Svokos and Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Official White House Photo by Andrea HanksBy JOHN SANTUCCI, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- As New York officials make aggressive moves to cut ties with President Donald Trump, planning has been underway for the president and some of his adult children to ditch the Empire State.

The president and first lady Melania Trump have made no secret of their impending move to Florida after Jan. 20, but they won't be alone.

The president's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle have been on the house-hunt in the Palm Beach area and are expecting to sell their home in the Hamptons for a more welcoming neighborhood, a source familiar with their moves told ABC News.

Sources familiar with the plans confirm that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, plan to relocate to the Sunshine State in the coming weeks, having recently purchased a plot of land to develop a home in the Miami area as first reported by Page Six and confirmed by ABC News.

The planning by the Trumps comes as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that he was canceling the city's contracts with the Trump Organization, estimated to be worth $17 million.

"This is nothing more than political discrimination, an attempt to infringe on the First Amendment, and we plan to fight vigorously," Eric Trump, the president's son and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in response to the move.

A source close to the family said, "They need to go dark for a bit, reassess what's next for each of them."

Donald Jr. and Ivanka have been the most politically active of Trump's adult children, and sources believe Donald Jr. will remain active within the Republican Party, fundraising for down-ballot races as he did in the 2018 midterm and 2020 election cycles.

Ivanka, according to a source familiar with her thinking, "has not ruled anything out," but had been discussing ways to remain active in politics prior to the riots on Capitol Hill last week.

"This has complicated everything," a separate source close to the family acknowledged.

Despite the Florida migration, two investigations by prosecutors in the Empire State are ongoing. The state attorney general has been investigating Trump's finances and whether his company inappropriately received tax benefits at properties in Westchester County. The Manhattan district attorney, who has already won one Supreme Court battle seeking the president's tax returns, is awaiting a decision on a second as he investigates the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Allies of the president speculate there could be more of a departure of the Trump orbit from New York, citing Trump's animosity toward state and city officials, some believe it is possible that more of the company's operations could follow the family to Florida -- though nothing has been decided to this point.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ViktorCap/iStockBy MINA KAJI, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will begin handing down stricter punishments to unruly airline passengers without a warning, including "fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment."

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed the order Wednesday directing the agency to take a "zero-tolerance policy" in unruly passenger cases after the agency saw a "disturbing increase in incidents" of passengers disrupting flights with "threatening or violent behavior."

"The order that I signed yesterday directs my safety inspectors and our attorneys and our chief counsel office to exercise all enforcement authority that we have," FAA Chief Dickson told ABC News Thursday. "Traditionally what we will do as we work through these situations, there are times when, every situation can be a little bit different, and there may be warnings, there may be counseling. But in this particular case, for the time being, up until March 30, we are going to go straight to enforcement."

Dickson said he noticed an uptick in flight disturbances in the wake of the U.S. Captiol riot.

"These incidents have stemmed both from passengers' refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol," the agency said.

United Airlines told ABC News it has banned 60 people for mask violations in the last week alone, which is higher than their previous week averages.

Alaska Airlines banned 14 passengers on a single flight from D.C. to Seattle one day after the riot at the U.S. Capitol. The airline said the passengers were not wearing masks and were harassing crew members.

Two days after the riot, videos showed passengers on an American flight en route from D.C. to Phoenix chanting "USA" and "Fight For Trump," eventually causing the pilot to threaten to divert the plane to Kansas if passengers didn't "behave."

The pilot was "emphasizing the importance of following crew member instructions and complying with mandatory face-covering policies," American Airlines said in a statement to ABC News.

On Sunday, federal air marshals had to intervene when a a woman flying from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., refused to wear a mask and was shouting in the aisle about "tyranny." American Airlines confirmed the woman is now banned from the airline pending further investigation.

"First strike, and you're out," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said. "We applaud FAA Administrator Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security. This will help serve as a deterrent to unruly passengers who had been bucking the rules of aviation safety. We continue to work with our airlines, the FAA, the TSA and law enforcement to keep our skies safe."

The FAA's new policy will remain in effect through March 30.

"We can always make it a longer time period," Dickson added.

The agency said it has "initiated more than 1,300 enforcement actions against unruly passengers" within the last decade, "including recent cases for allegedly interfering with and assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to wear masks."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- As social media companies mount an unprecedented crackdown in the wake of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol -- deleting the accounts and posts of users they say are pushing rhetoric that could drive individuals to violence -- a Department of Homeland Security official has told ABC News there is new concern that such dramatic action could hurt efforts to gather intelligence on certain extremist groups.

"The pro, obviously is, you're removing that content from that and that ability for people to coordinate on these public platforms like Parler or Twitter or Facebook," a DHS official who requested anonymity, said. "But the con is that you're driving those folks that are intent on committing violence into more encrypted channels which limit the government's ability to track those."

This official added that just because accounts are taken down from a platform doesn’t mean people will stop communicating and coordinating their efforts.

In some cases, law enforcement officials have already social media posts against those who allegedly took place in last Wednesday's assault.

"They're just going to do it in a way where we have less visibility. And certainly, I think from our perspective that just and we're already dealing with a needle in a haystack," this official said, adding that when folks switch to an encrypted channel they lose visibility on them.

State homeland security officials echo the concern that the reduction in the social media presence for some radical elements may make them more difficult to track.

This official also said that it "wouldn’t be surprising" to see attacks directed at places that aren’t state capitals, adding that they see this threat lasting beyond the issues driving the current threats.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


duha127/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday escalated her criticism of the New York Police Department in a lawsuit against the NYPD over its handling of Black Lives Matter protests this past spring.

The lawsuit also names Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terry Monahan.

The lawsuit accuses the department and the individuals of failing to address what it calls a long-standing pattern of abuse evident in the tactics used to quash the demonstrations that raged over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

"There is no question that the NYPD engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal, and unlawful force against peaceful protesters," James said. "Over the past few months, the NYPD has repeatedly and blatantly violated the rights of New Yorkers, inflicting significant physical and psychological harm and leading to great distrust in law enforcement."

James' suit cites dozens of examples of allegedly blatant misuse of power, including unlawful arrests of medics and lawyers, excessive force and kettling, a maneuver in which officers corralled protesters, closed in and made arrests.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said the attorney general’s lawsuit "doesn't seem to meet the standard of a federal monitor. It doesn't seem to illustrate a pattern of practice, which is required under the law."

"But we will, as with most civil lawsuits, address those assertions in court," Miller told reporters in response to the suit.

The protests have already led to new state laws banning aggressive tactics and making police records more transparent. City Council shifted nearly $1 billion from the department's budget.

In July, James issued a report saying the protests had shaken public confidence in the NYPD, and she recommended an independent panel – not the mayor – appoint the police commissioner and handle officer discipline.

James now seeks, through her lawsuit, injunctive relief to include court-ordered reforms enforced by an independent monitor.

The lawsuit comes amid growing calls in some political corners to rein in police powers and hold officers accountable for abuse. In her news conference Thursday, James is also expected to echo the contrast that has been made about the treatment of BLM protesters versus the Capitol rioters, as voiced during Wednesday's impeachment debate by Rep. Jerry Nadler.

"We have a duty to observe, Madam Speaker, that racism played a direct role in this incitement," he said. "The president's violent rhetoric is always at its most fevered pitch when he is talking about the civil rights and civic aspirations of Black Americans and other minority communities."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Jacob Blake says he "didn't want to be the next George Floyd," that he "didn't want to die."

The 29-year-old Black father of six is speaking out for the first time since being shot seven times by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, almost five months ago. The shooting left him partially paralyzed and led to days of protests, renewing calls nationwide to end police violence against people of color.

"I was counting down my breaths and my blinks," Blake recalled in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Michael Strahan that aired Thursday on Good Morning America.

It was Aug. 23, 2020, and Blake was at the home of Laquisha Booker, the mother of three of his children. They were celebrating their son Israel's eighth birthday when an argument erupted between Booker and a neighbor, according to Blake.

"I was like, I'm going. I'm going to take them to the store again, make them forget about all this," he said. "I just wanted to get them, I wanted to leave."

Booker called 911 as Blake was getting ready to leave with two of his sons.

"Jacob Blake is here, and he has the keys to a rental that I purchased that I need to take back, and he's not trying to release it," Booker can be heard telling the 911 dispatcher in an audio recording of the call.

The dispatcher sent three officers from the Kenosha Police Department to respond to the incident and alerted them that there's a warrant for Blake's arrest on charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and third-degree sexual assault, stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident earlier that summer. Prosecutors later dropped the sexual assault charge, and Blake pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct and was sentences to two years of probation.

Blake said he was putting one of his children in the car when he felt someone grab his arm.

"I took -- took my arm away," he recalled. "Human reaction."

"After I did that, I realize that it was the police and it was like, 'Uh-oh,'" he said. "Cause when I did that ... he slammed me up against the truck."

According to an investigative report by the Kenosha County District Attorney's Office, the police officer -- identified as Rusten Sheskey -- recalled approaching Blake on the street and telling him, "Let's talk about this." Sheskey said he then grabbed Blake's arm to arrest him and mentioned the warrant, according to the report.

Blake, however, claimed the officers didn't say anything to him.

A struggle ensued and Sheskey alleged that Blake reached for his waistline area, leading police to believe that he was reaching for a weapon. Sheskey deployed his Taser multiple times, but Blake pulled the prongs out of his skin, according to the report.

"At that point, I'm rattled," Blake recalled. "I realized I had dropped my knife, had a little pocket knife. So I picked it up after I got off of him because they tased me and I fell on top of him."

Blake always told investigators that he had a knife at the time of the incident, but it’s a detail that his lawyers initially denied based on eyewitness accounts.

Blake said he walked to the front of his vehicle toward the driver's side door so he could put the knife in the car. He said he intended to then surrender to police.

"I shouldn't have picked it up, only considering what was going on," he said. "At that time, I wasn't thinking clearly."

Sheskey told investigators he feared Blake was going to stab him. As Blake headed for the car, Sheskey said he grabbed onto Blake's shirt. Sheskey said Blake then turned toward him with the open knife in hand, moving toward the officer's torso -- which Blake denied.

Sheskey told investigators he fired his weapon until he saw Blake drop the knife.

"He just kept shooting, kept shooting," Blake recalled.

A witness captured video of some of the incident on their cellphone.

Sheskey told investigators that he had given Blake numerous verbal commands to "stop resisting." But Blake said he couldn't hear anything.

"All I heard was screaming," he said. 'My ears was ringing, so it was all muffled."

Blake said he wasn't trying to leave or run away but that he "resisted to getting beat on."

"And what I mean by that is not falling, not letting them put they head on my neck," he added. "That's all I was thinking, honestly."

Sheskey’s attorney, Brendan Matthews, said, "the officers acted according to their training," and that Blake was given every opportunity to comply but he chose not to.

Blake's shooting happened less than two months after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck as three other officers stood by. Floyd's death sparked widespread outrage, anti-racism protests and calls for police reform across the United States and around the world.

Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. He has had 36 surgeries. His mother, Julia Jackson, has organized a GoFundMe titled "Justice for Jacob Blake" to help pay for his growing medical and rehab expenses.

During a press conference last week, Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley announced that no police officers will be charged in Blake's shooting. He said Sheskey, who was placed on administrative leave, was justified in his use of force because Blake was armed with a knife, refused orders to drop it and made a motion as if he was going to stab Sheskey. Graveley said evidence showed Sheskey fired in self-defense.

Graveley noted that Blake admitted to investigators that he was armed with a knife throughout the entire encounter, and that Sheskey stopped shooting when he saw Blake was no longer a threat and then immediately started giving first aid. There were 10 bullets left in Sheskey's gun, according to Graveley.

Blake recalled the bullets hitting him as two of his children -- his "babies" -- watched from the backseat of the car. When the shooting stopped, Blake said he told them, "Daddy love you no matter what."

"I thought that was going to be the last thing I say to them," he said. "Thank God it wasn't."

When his children later saw him on a FaceTime call from his hospital bed, Blake said, "they couldn't believe I was alive."

"I've explained it to them and broke it down to them," he said, "like, 'Daddy can die, but for some reason I didn't that day.'"

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