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Ocasio-Cortez demands taxpayer dollars to 'deradicalize' white supremacists: 'Their world will never exist'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) says that taxpayer funds should be used to "deradicalize" white supremacists.
Speaking with supporters during a virtual town hall Friday night, Ocasio-Cortez blamed recent violence — including the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — on white supremacy.

"The white supremacist cause is futile, it's nihilist — it will never be realized," Ocasio-Cortez said. "The path forward for all of us is a multiracial democracy that fights for the economic and civil rights of every American."
She added of white supremacists, "Their world will never exist. That's why we're seeing violence right now."

Ocasio-Cortez was speaking in response to a question about how Americans should respond to those who believe in conspiracy theories, but were not part of the violence at the Capitol. Ocasio-Cortez warned that "this is a problem that doesn't go away on Jan. 20," and said it will require "many, many, many millions of hands" to help "pick up the pieces."

Ocasio-Cortez explained that, during her time on the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, she has learned about programs that "deradicalize" white supremacists. Ocasio-Cortez blamed President Donald Trump for "pulling the plug" on funding for such programs.

But if America wants to adequately address the problem of white supremacy, Ocasio-Cortez said taxpayer funding for "deradicalization" programs should be significantly increased.

"We need to double, triple or quadruple, or increase funding for these deradicalization programs en masse," Ocasio-Cortez said.
What's the background?
Just last week, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that all of Trump's supporters, and perhaps the entire Republican Party, is guilty of white supremacy.

"I don't want to hear or see the Republican Party talk about blue lives ever again. This was never about safety for them, it was always a slogan because if they actually cared about rule of law they would speak up when people break the law," Ocasio-Cortez said. "They would speak up. They would enforce fairness and equity, but they don't give a damn about the law. They don't give a damn about order. They don't give a damn about safety."

"They give a damn about white supremacy, they care about preserving the social order and the mythology of whiteness," she added. "They lust for power more than they care about democracy."

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Where did COVID-19 come from?

As the U.S. marks one year since its first case, questions remain about the origin of the coronavirus that causes the disease. The answers matter.
Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
3:17 a.m. EST Jan. 16, 2021
The coronavirus that conquered the world came from a thumb-sized bat tucked inside a remote Chinese cave. Of this much, scientists are convinced.
Exactly how and when it fled the bat to begin its devastating flight across the globe remain open questions.
In just one year, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has infected 100 million people and killed 2 million, 400,000 of them in the U.S. Answers could stop such a calamity from happening again.
Researchers in China, under government scrutiny, have been investigating since January. This week, a World Health Organization delegation of scientists from 10 different nations finally was allowed in the country to explore the virus' origins.
"This is important not just for COVID-19, but for the future of global health security and to manage emerging disease threats with pandemic potential," Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said just after the team left for China.
A worker in protective coverings directs members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team on their arrival at the airport in Wuhan in central China's...NG HAN GUAN, AP
It's not clear how much evidence will remain a year later, and what the team will be able to learn. The Wuhan fish market, seen as a likely breeding ground for the virus, has been scrubbed and shuttered.
But the effort is worth it, infectious disease experts say. Understanding the journey of SARS-CoV-2 may provide insights into how the relationship between humans and animals led to the pandemic, as well as other disease outbreaks including Ebola, Zika and many strains of flu.
"These are emerging diseases that breach the barrier between animals and humans and cause devastation in human populations," the WHO's Mike Ryan said at a Monday news conference. "It is an absolute requirement that we understand that interface and what is driving that dynamic and what specific issues resulted in diseases breaching that barrier."
The international team is not looking to assign blame, said Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme. If it were, there would be plenty to go around.
A member of the World Health Organization team is screened on arriving at the airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, Jan....
"We can blame climate change. We can blame policy decisions made 30 years ago regarding everything from urbanization to the way we exploit the forest," he said. "You can find people to blame in every level of what we're doing on this planet."

Beginnings in a cave
The chain of events that led to the worst global pandemic in a century started with a tiny, insect-eating mammal with the mundane name, Intermediate Horseshoe bat.
The species is part of a family of bats that act as natural reservoirs for coronaviruses, notorious for how easily they mutate and how well they can be transmitted from species to species. The bats aren't bothered by the viruses. The animals they pass them onto aren't always so lucky.
Humans are one of those animals.
This happens all the time – a virus harmlessly infects one creature then finds its way to another, mutates and becomes something new. The newly mutated virus can be insignificant but annoying (think common colds, some of which are caused by coronaviruses) or devastating and deadly (think smallpox.)
SARS-CoV-2 is a little of both.
A Horseshoe bat hangs from a net inside an abandoned Israeli army outpost next to the Jordan River in the occupied West Bank, on July 7, 2019
As many as 40% of those who test positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms at all but 2% of people who get sick die. It’s especially deadly in the elderly. COVID-19 has killed 1 of every 66 Americans older than 85. Among those infected, some percentage — we don't yet know how many — cope with crippling long-term symptoms that plague them for months. Future health impacts remain unknown.
The group of related coronaviruses giving rise to SARS-CoV-2 has existed for decades in bats and likely originated more than 40 years ago, said Dr. Charles Chiu, a professor and expert in viral genomics at the University of California, San Francisco.
SARS-CoV-2 shares 96% of its genetic material with a sample of coronavirus taken in 2013 in Intermediate Horseshoe bats from Yunnan province in China, which suggests the Yunnan virus is its ancestor. How the virus traveled the 1,200 miles from Yunnan to Wuhan remains unknown.
Because the 2013 sample is the only one available, scientists had to undertake genetic analysis to estimate when the bat strain and the strain now circulating among humans diverged. They put the split sometime in the 1960s or 1970s, said Maciej Boni, a professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, who spent almost a decade working in Asia.
"There's really not a clear tree where we have forensic evidence to point to exactly where it came from," said John Connor, a virologist at Boston University who studies emerging infectious diseases. "It looks like it's a bat-derived virus, and there's a big question mark after that."
Scientists simply don't do enough surveillance of bats and coronavirus to tell.
"We just don't know because we don't have any data — we weren't looking," said Boni. "Over the last 20 years we haven't been doing enough sampling."
John Connor, virologist at Boston University who studies emerging infectious diseases
There's really not a clear tree where we have forensic evidence to point to exactly where it came from. It looks like it's a bat-derived virus, and there's a big question mark after that.
Boni is among those who think the virus most likely came directly from bats, possibly infecting miners who work in bat-infested caves or people exposed to bat feces. Others say it more likely spent some time infecting another animal species before leaping to humans.
The original SARS virus, identified in China in 2003, is believed to have passed through civets – a type of nocturnal mammal native to Asia and Africa – though other animals may have been involved.
SARS underwent only a few genetic changes between bats and people, which made its animal roots easier to trace, while SARS-CoV-2 has changed a lot more, Connor said.
With SARS-CoV-2, a suspect is the frequently trafficked scaly anteater, also known as a pangolin. Other possibilities include civets or ferrets or even cats.
“SARS-CoV-2 may originate from live animal markets, but it may also have emerged from any setting in which people come into contact with animals, including farms, pets, or zoos,” Chiu said.
Whatever its path, sometime before November 2019 it became a virus that could easily – far too easily – infect humans.
Not Made in China
Despite a persistent conspiracy theory that SARS-CoV-2 was developed in a lab, perhaps an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, there’s no evidence to support the claim and plenty to counter it.
In March, a group of researchers found the virus most closely resembled existing bat viruses and was not man-made.
"Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus," they wrote in the prestigious journal Nature.
No new details have emerged since to change the author minds, said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, one of the co-authors and a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
"Can we exclude the possibility that there was a virus that was present in this lab that somehow got out into either animals or people? No, we can't do that," he said. "The only thing we can say is that there's no evidence that suggests it was deliberately engineered through some sort of gain-of-function experiments."
Connor said he's also dubious the virus originated in a lab rather than in nature.
The Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where a number of people related to the market fell ill with a virus, sits closed in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.DAKE KANG, AP
"What laboratory people are really good at doing is making viruses weaker," said Connor, who is also an investigator at Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories.
Viruses, especially RNA viruses like coronaviruses, make tiny mistakes as they reproduce. One person's nose might contain 10 to a 100,000 copies of the virus, and with so many replications and so many mistakes, it's plausible chance mutations led to SARS-CoV-2, he said.
"I don't think we need to look for man-made. I think we see the viruses that we know assaulting us all the time," Connor said. "We look back to Zika. That wasn't man-made. Neither was Ebola. Flu keeps coming after us."
I don't think we need to look for man-made. I think we see the viruses that we know assaulting us all the time. We look back to Zika. That wasn't man-made. Neither was Ebola. Flu keeps coming after us.
John Connor, virologist at Boston University who studies emerging infectious diseases
It’s possible to bioengineer a virus, but it’s extremely hard. Anyone doing so would have used a pre-existing virus as the template. The virus that’s now killing millions has novel mutations, many of them, said Chiu.
“We barely know how to manipulate even a few base pairs in a single viral gene," he said. "The difference between Chinese bat coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 is more than 3,000 base pairs."
In some ways, it doesn't matter where the virus came from, said Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. What matters is how we deal with the current situation, which is at a crisis state in the United States.
"When the house is burning down is not the time to start looking for where the matches were," he said.
Investigation and prevention
If SARS-Cov-2 had been a type of bird flu instead of a coronavirus, the world would have alerted within days of the first infections. A global surveillance system was established in the 1990s and has been expanded and strengthened, Boni said.
"If a single poultry farmer in Southeast Asia comes down with severe respiratory symptoms, samples are taken and sequenced. That week you know which avian influenza virus it is," he said. "Farms in neighboring regions are immediately quarantined and the birds may be depopulated. It takes days."
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Setting up something similar for bats and coronaviruses would cost several billion a year globally, said Boni. "It's not expensive for the benefit we'd get."
To track SARS-COV-2 as it transferred among species requires analyzing blood collected from the animals, as well as samples from their airways.
Distinguishing between closely related viruses isn't always so easy

"We have a special test that can do this if we could get samples out of China," said Lipkin. He's been trying for months to do so, and when he attempted to send his own sampling tools into the country the U.S wouldn't allow it.
"We now have obstruction on both sides," said Lipkin, who's been working to get into China himself since early in the outbreak. "I don't know when that's going to let up. I'm hoping the Biden administration will feel differently."
Lipkin's March paper explored key features of the new virus but nothing more has been learned since about SARS-CoV-2's earliest days, he said.

Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020.DAKE KANG, AP
"We still haven't had a full post-mortem on what went wrong in China," said Lipkin, who caught COVID-19 in March in New York and was recently vaccinated.
The U.S. has a very good system of reporting outbreaks, and rapidly publishes information in the CDC's journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. The Chinese are not as transparent at reporting their public health information.
Increased transparency is one of several changes Lipkin recommends to avoid a repeat of the 2020 disaster.
Wild animal markets and consumption of wildlife continue to pose dangers, he said.
And the world needs to have the ability to respond faster to novel viruses like SARS-CoV-2. Global surveillance would help, as would drugs that can treat a wide spectrum of viruses – maybe one that can address all coronaviruses and another to tackle influenzas.
"These drugs might not be ideal but we should think of them as a finger in the dike," Lipkin said, so outbreaks won't get out of hand, the way this one did.
Connor, at Boston University, agrees that effective and transparent public health systems around the world are essential for detecting and preventing outbreaks like COVID-19.
In this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 file photo, people wearing face masks walk down a deserted street in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province.AREK RATAJ, AP
While Wuhan may have had a good health care system, that was not the case in West Africa, where a 2014-2016 epidemic of Ebola infected more than 28,000, killed over 11,000 and terrified the world.
"It would be nice for all people to have good health care, not just because it would be nice for them ... but for everybody else," Connor said. "It would be nice to be able to identify: Oh, all of a sudden, five people in one area got sick with something we didn't know what it was."
Connor said it's pointless to try to predict all the ways in which a virus now infecting animals could make the leap to humans. A much better approach, he said, is to focus on the viruses that do emerge.
"What matters is how good we are at responding quickly," he said.
The race is now between the speed of mutations and the speed of vaccination, said Chiu.
Even for a typically slow Sunday afternoon Grand Central Terminal in New York City was quieter than usual March 15, 2020 as Coronavirus concerns kept...SETH HARRISON, THE JOURNAL NEWS/ USA TODAY NETWORK
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says it may take up to 85% of Americans being vaccinated to protect the population. Reaching those numbers will be challenging considering pervasive vaccine hesitancy and a slow, complicated roll out.
In the meantime, public health measures to stop the spread – masking, social distancing and handwashing – are essential, experts repeat.
“We have to reduce the number of infections before the virus has a chance to mutate in such a way that it can evade drugs and vaccines," said Chiu. "That’s what keeps me up at night.”
Contact Elizabeth Weise at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Karen Weintraub at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
3:17 a.m. EST Jan. 16, 2021

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DC, statehouses urgently beef up security as potential for violence looms ahead of inauguration

 

After the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, law enforcement and elected officials are bracing for the potential of more violence across the United States.

Groups tracking right-wing extremist organizations have said preparations for more violence are underway, and the FBI was warning of possible armed protests at state capitol buildings beginning Jan. 17 and through the inauguration, an official with knowledge of a bulletin told USA TODAY.

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said authorities also have been circulating a poster publicizing the events with the words, "When democracy is destroyed refused to be silenced." The poster for Jan. 17 calls for "ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS."

At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was fatally shot by police, died Wednesday after a mob incited by President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify the election results for President-elect Joe Biden. 
Democrats have called for Trump's removal in the wake of the violence pushing Vice President Mike Pence to trigger the 25th Amendment and introducing a new impeachment article against the president.

What is the Insurrection Act? And how could Trump use it? Here's what to know

While it remains unclear how many people will show up for these protests, "people don't have the luxury to downplay it," said Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism. "People don't have the luxury to ignore it."

"The president hasn't backed down on the concept that this a stolen election," he said. "Narratives like that, of something being taken away from you, are so powerful."

Capitol Police have faced sharp criticism for its response to the riots last week, prompting the resignation of Chief Steven Sund. He told The Washington Post that he requested the National Guard be placed on standby in the days before the riot, but House and Senate security officials turned him down.
On Monday, district Mayor Muriel Bowser asked Americans not to come to Washington for Biden's inauguration, fearing violence and the spread of COVID-19.

"Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District to Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on Jan. 6," Bowser said at a news conference.

Bowser said her administration requested the federal government declare a pre-emergency disaster declaration. In a letter to acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, Bowser also asked that the department extend the period for special security for the inauguration to include Monday through Jan. 24.

Wolf said in a statement Monday that he instructed the U.S. Secret Service to begin the the special security event period on Wednesday, instead of Jan. 19, citing "events of the past week and the evolving security landscape."

Bowser said she encouraged the department to coordinate with the Justice and Defense departments, Congress and the Supreme Court on a plan to protect federal property. The district's police department would focus on the areas it has jurisdiction over in the rest of the city, she added.

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the national Guard Bureau, said Monday that there will be 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington on Jan. 20 for the inauguration. An additional 5,000 troops could be called up if needed, he added.

Bowser also said she requested that the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service, cancel and deny any public gathering permits through Jan. 24.
Nicholas Goodwin, a spokesperson for the Department of Interior, told USA TODAY that the department was in regular communication with the mayor's office and that the secretary would be talking with Bowser on Monday.

According to the National Park Service's list of First Amendment, Special Event and inauguration permit applications that it has received through the end of January, only one permit, which was still being processed, was explicitly pro-Trump.

The applicant, "Let America Hear Us, Roar For Trump," requested space around the White House for an expected 300 participants, arriving Jan. 18 and leaving Jan 20. Under the heading "purpose of proposed activity," the group listed "Inauguration Day, to support our President. 1st Amendment Rights Gathering."

'It could have been much, much worse':Video, witness accounts reveal darker intent of some Capitol rioters

Elsewhere around the U.S., state capitals were beefing up security amid concerns of potential violence.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated hundreds of National Guard troops to help state police near its Capitol. State patrol SWAT officers were at Georgia's Capitol on Monday. Idaho locked doors to its House and Senate chambers as state troopers sat at the entrances. In Michigan, a state commission voted Monday to ban the open carrying of weapons in the Capitol building.

In its warning to local authorities, the FBI described evidence of credible threats related to events planned for Jan. 17 at the state Capitol buildings in Michigan and Minnesota, Yahoo News reported.

Yahoo News reported that it had obtained an FBI document produced by the Minneapolis field office based on information provided by “collaborative sources” issued a week before a mob of Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol. The document focused on rallies planned by the far-right "boogaloo movement."
The report warned that “some followers indicated willingness to commit violence in support of their ideology, created contingency plans in the event violence occurred at the events, and identified law enforcement security measures and possible countermeasures.”

"They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur," ABC News reported the FBI bulletin as saying. Courthouses and administrative buildings were also potential targets, ABC News reported.

More:Startled by US Capitol attack, local police review plans, increase local security

Democrats officially introduce impeachment article: Republican forces vote on 25th Amendment resolution

ADL, formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League, said last Thursday that extremists' preparations were taking place on social media forums, including Twitter and YouTube, and on fringe forums popular with extremists.

“Reminder that the U.S. Presidential Inauguration day is on January 20th. That is the next date on the calendar that the Pro-Trump and other nationalist crowds will potentially converge on the Capitol again,” a white supremacist Telegram channel posted.

On Wimkin, another platform, a group calling itself “Million Militia March” issued this call: “IF OUR COUNTRY DIES on 1/20, it won’t be the only thing that dies. President Trump will die, they will hang him, if not by a rope they will end him in some way. Don Jr. too. Eric too. Ivanka. Barron. The First Lady. They will not leave ANY Trump free to avenge what they have done to their father. THEY FOUGHT FOR US. What are WE going to DO?”
Segal, of the ADL, said that many of the plans for the Jan. 6 mob were similarly happening in plain sight, calling it "the most predictable terrorist incident in modern American history."

However, what happened Jan. 6 was not just the plotting of extremist groups, Segal said. Many average Americans who believe in the narrative of a stolen election took part, too, after Trump called on his supporters to come to the district, he said.

Election security experts, state officials, judges and independent observers across the U.S. have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

"Even if we have relative quiet," in the coming weeks, Segal said, "this is something that this country is going to be dealing with for a long time." 

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Muzzled on Twitter, Trump rails against the platform the old fashioned way

President Trump railed against Twitter Friday night, blasting the social media giant for “banning free speech” and hinting that he “will have a big announcement soon” in which he’ll designate some other platform to carry his messages.

“We will not be SILENCED!” he said — resorting to an old-fashioned press release to get the statement out.

“Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH,” he wrote.

“They are all about promoting a Radical Left Platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely.”

Trump had to release the statement directly to reporters covering the White House.

Earlier Friday, Twitter banned his civilian, @RealDonaldTrump account entirely.

And when he tried to issue Friday night’s statement on his government @POTUS account, Twitter censored it, while leaving the account online.

Muzzled on one account and censored on the other, Trump’s statement lasted about the length of three of his formerly beloved tweets:
“As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me. Twitter may be a private company, but without the government’s gift of Section 230 they would not exist for long.

“I predicted this would happen. We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!

“Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely.

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Democratic congressman says US justice system — which 'feasts on black folks' — should treat Trump, Republican lawmakers like 'negroes'

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said he believes that President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers supporting his bid to dispute the results of the 2020 presidential election should be treated like "negroes" have been treated by the criminal justice system in the United States.
Those lawmakers, according to Johnson, include Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo).

He also said that the Democratic Party ought not turn the other cheek to the perceived misdeeds of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party at large.

What is he talking about?
According to a Tuesday report from Mediaite, Johnson made the inflammatory race-related remarks Monday on SiriusXM's "The Dean Obeidallah Show."

Obeidallah told Johnson that he believed it would be "detrimental to our party" that for the sake of unity, the Biden administration simply said, "'Trump did some bad things, but look forward.'"

"It would be so destructive to our party if that is the way we go," he added.
Johnson responded, "You can't let this behavior slide, you can't ignore it and hope that it's not going to happen again. You see what's shaping up for the future with guys like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz who are looking to turn the Trump Republican Party into the Trump Republican Party on steroids."

The Georgia Democrat added that conservative Republican lawmakers will be certain to quickly learn that they "will not be allowed to get away with what Donald Trump did."

"We have got to make sure that those who come after Donald Trump know that they will not be allowed to get away with what Donald Trump did, that they will be held accountable," he insisted. "They will be treated, yes, like 'negroes' — they will be perp-walked to the jail, handcuffed not in front of them, but behind them. They will be booked, fingerprinted, have to make bond, and have to hire a lawyer just like everyone else and go through the system."

Johnson explained that the U.S. justice system "feasts on black folks."

"[F]or once it needs to turn its attention to what this man has done to turn our country into something that we just don't need to let it get to," he explained. "He can't be allowed to get away with it because if we allow him to get away with it, there will be others who will try to do the same thing, and we don't even want them to think about doing what Trump has done."

What's a brief history on his remarks?
Johnson's remarks come on the heels of introducing a resolution to censure Trump over his call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The president in recent days has come under fire for a recently published phone call with Raffensperger.

In a reported hourlong phone call, Trump appeared to repeatedly urge the Georgia secretary of state to "find" enough votes to help reverse the state's election results.

In the measure, Johnson has called on Trump to "retract and disavow this unlawful and unconstitutional behavior" and to recognize President-elect Joe Biden as winner of the 2020 presidential election.

"President Trump's actions and statements on this call demonstrate an attempt to willfully deprive the citizens of Georgia of a fair and impartial election process in direct contravention of both federal law and the laws of the state of Georgia," Johnson's resolution added.

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