Jan 4, 2022 - Podcasts

The latest on the Jan. 6 investigations

It's been almost a year since supporters of former President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and tried to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Since then, federal prosecutors have charged more than 700 people in connection with the deadly insurrection. We catch you up quick on where things stand now with both the congressional and federal investigations.

  • Plus, wireless providers vs. the FAA over 5G.
  • And, Florida’s record-breaking COVID case count.

Guests: Axios' Andrew Solender, Selene San Felice and Margaret Harding McGill.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Sabeena Singhani and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected] You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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Transcript

INTRO

NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Tuesday, January 4th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s how we’re making you smarter today: wireless providers vs the FAA over 5G. Plus, Florida’s record breaking covid case count.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: the latest on the Jan. 6 investigations.

If you can believe it, it's been almost a year since supporters of former President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and tried to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Since then, federal prosecutors have charged more than 700 people in connection with the deadly insurrection. We wanted to catch you up quick on where things stand now with both the Congressional and federal investigations. Andrew Solender covers Capitol Hill for Axios. Hey Andrew.

ANDREW SOLENDER: Hey, how's it going?

NIALA: Andrew, hundreds of people were charged with various crimes. Can you tell us what those crimes range from?

ANDREW: So the vast majority of people who have been charged for their role in the Capitol attack have been charged with trespassing on federal property. That is a charge that's been levied against roughly 650 of the 720 people who have been charged so far. The second most common charge is assaulting a police officer. That's a charge that has been made against around a third of the Capitol rioters. Various other charges involve bringing a deadly weapon onto federal property, assaulting a police officer with a federal weapon. And so far, the consequences for those have ranged from probation to fines to five years in prison for one Florida man who was charged with assaulting a police officer and various other crimes.

NIALA: So Andrew, there's actually two federal investigations going on here. Can you explain that?

ANDREW: Yes, so the DOJ investigation is primarily focused on prosecuting the individual rioters. And that narrow scope led members of Congress and others to call for a more comprehensive investigation that would cover issues like the events surrounding the attack, the allegations of election fraud, and, you know, the role that the federal government played, that former president Donald Trump and his allies played, and that potentially members of Congress played in the run-up to the attack.

NIALA: What we've actually seen from this committee is that it's actually used subpoenas to gather a lot of this information. Who have they gone after and what have we learned from that?

ANDREW: So they've subpoenaed a few dozen witnesses. The list includes former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has been referred to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress and could potentially face prison time because he refused to comply with the subpoena. Same goes for Mark Meadows, who was just referred last year. The subpoenas are basically an effort by the committee to sort of expediently get as much testimony as they can as fast as they can. I think a big takeaway of that is that if Republicans win the House in 2022, it's very likely that they would shut down this committee and the committee is trying to get as much as they possibly can before November 2022, so that they can have as comprehensive a report as possible before then.

NIALA: Andrew Solender covers Capitol Hill for Axios. Thanks Andrew.

ANDREW: Thank you.

NIALA: In 15 seconds we’re back with the latest on COVID in Florida.

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NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. Florida broke its single day record for new COVID cases on New Year's Eve with almost 76,000 cases. I'm in my hometown of Miami right now. I'm going to be working from Florida all this month and helping out family. And, in Miami, I've seen people lined up for COVID tests at sites all across the city. But, as things worsen across Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has been pretty quiet about the pandemic. He did speak yesterday, and Axios Tampa Bay reporter Selene San Felice has been watching this all. Hey, Selene.

SELENE SAN FELICE: Hey!

NIALA: Selene, what's going on with governor Ron DeSantis right now?

SELENE: So a few things have happened over the holidays. I mean, he's a really controversial leader, so eyes are always on him nationwide. And he was criticized for not giving press conferences and talking to the media or making any public appearances during the holidays. In that time, you know, cases really ramped up with Omicron and testing shortages started. Monday was actually the first day he spoke in almost three weeks to the press about coronavirus and what he's doing right now.

NIALA: And what did he say?

SELENE: So he was actually mostly focused on the shortage of monoclonal antibody treatments, which Governor DeSantis is demanding that the government provide more of those treatments to Florida. Moreso on those treatments than things like vaccination. I mean, I don't think vaccination was mentioned almost at all. Uh, and in terms of the testing shortages, Governor DeSantis blamed the federal government and said that it is not in his control. And so he is essentially waiting for the federal government to release more tests.

NIALA: What are local leaders saying about this? What are you hearing, for example, about what's happening in Tampa both on the ground, as well as what local political leadership says they want from the governor.

SELENE: Testing in Tampa has definitely been an issue. The Associated Press reported that three people collapsed while waiting in line for testing right before New Year's Eve. And people like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running against DeSantis for governor, have criticized him and, and said, you know, that he's not doing enough. What I think we really need to watch right now is hospitalization rates. I mean, obviously cases in Tampa are surging, but life here is pretty much, the way it's always been. People are still out celebrating, doing things. Uh, the only difference is, you know, if you need a test, you're going to find a hard time getting one.

NIALA: Selene San Felice is an Axios Tampa Bay reporter. Thanks Selene.

SELENE: Thank you so much.

NIALA: Cell phone companies and airlines have been in a big fight lately over 5G network deployment. It had been planned to start last month, but the FAA says this next generation of wireless networks could cause signal interference and result in canceled flights. Axios’ Washington-based tech policy reporter, Margaret Harding McGill is here to explain all of this.

Margaret, this sounds serious if it involves air-crafts. What specifically are these safety concerns around interference?

MARGARET HARDING MCGILL: Basically, for 5G, there's this new swath of airwaves that the carriers are very excited about because they're valuable. They can carry a lot of data over good distances very quickly. Now, the issue is, they're on a frequency band that is close to a frequency band that is used by some aircraft equipment which help planes land. And so the concern is will those signals somehow interfere with the radio equipment that the planes are using.

NIALA: And that actually led transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to ask Verizon and AT&T to postpone deployment of 5G?

MARGARET: Yes. So AT&T and Verizon were planning to light up 5G using this particular band of airwaves on December 5th. And there were concerns about it, so they held off for 30 days. And then on New Year's Eve, Pete Buttigieg and the FAA administrator asked AT&T and Verizon for another two-week delay and to create these kinds of buffer zones around priority airports.

NIALA: So Margaret you reported initially AT&T and Verizon refused to delay beyond January 5th, but last night it sounds like they finally agreed?

MARGARET: That's right. Late Monday night, both AT&T and Verizon said that they would in fact, delay deployment of their 5G services and this ban's for two weeks as the Secretary Buttigieg had requested. Now, they also said that they intend to create these protection zones around airports.

That it's not exactly what the secretary wanted but what their plan would do is not light up their signals along the runway. And the idea there would be that this would protect against any possible interference. And they agreed to do that for the next six months as the FAA will study this issue.

NIALA: Margaret Harding McGill covers tech policy for Axios from Washington DC. Thanks Margaret.

MARGARET: Thank you.

NIALA: One last story for you today: A California jury yesterday found Elizabeth Holmes guilty of four out of eleven counts of conspiracy and fraud. Holmes is the founder and former CEO of the blood-testing company Theranos, at one point valued at more than 9 billion dollars. She was accused of misleading investors about what her technology could actually do. In Silicon Valley, cases and convictions like this are rare, and Holmes could face 20 years in prison when sentenced.

And that’s all we’ve got for you today! I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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