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Vehicle strikes security barrier by White House, driver apprehended

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The Secret Service apprehended a driver Friday afternoon after she plowed her vehicle into a security barricade at a White House entrance.

Law enforcement sources told Fox News that the driver intentionally hit the barricade. But they did not describe it as an attack against the White House, saying the woman suffers from mental problems and the crash was not about President Trump.

The incident nevertheless caused the White House to increase security. It remained on lockdown for about an hour.

The driver was identified as Jessica Ford, a law enforcement source confirmed to Fox News. The woman is 35 years old and from La Vergene, Tennessee, according to a statement from the Secret Service.

A Secret Service officer checks a white passenger vehicle that struck a security barrier that guards the southwest entrance to the White House grounds off of 17th Street n Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A Secret Service officer checks a white passenger vehicle that struck a security barrier guarding the southwest entrance to the White House grounds off of 17th Street n Washington on Friday.

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“The Secret Service has had previous encounters with the female in the vicinity of the White House resulting in numerous arrests for a variety of criminal violations,” the statement said.

She was charged Friday “with numerous criminal violations” and turned over to the District of Columbia police department.

The incident happened as President Trump was hosting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull inside.

Witnesses saw a commotion on the White House grounds as security officers responded. 

The Secret Service later tweeted that the vehicle, a white minivan, “did not breach” the security barrier, and the female driver was “immediately apprehended.”

“No law enforcement personnel were injured during the incident involving a vehicle hitting a barrier near the White House,” the Secret Service tweeted.

The Secret Service also said no shots were fired during the incident.

In a tweet Friday evening, President Trump commended “the great men and women of the” U.S. Secret Service “for a job well done!”

Fox News’ John Roberts, Jennifer Bowman and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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Impeached twice and still no wall, Mr. Trump goes from Washington

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump did not build a wall or end American carnage or finish his term with a robust economy. His slogan was “Make America great again,” but the lasting image of his term — rioters assaulting the U.S. Capitol and the nation’s republican form of governance, in his name — was anything but great.

The failed coup — if it was organized enough to call it that — concluded a presidency that often used Orwellian tools of Newspeak and Doublethink to communicate.

“This mob was fed lies,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”

Trump’s lies, told up until the end in service of accumulating and maintaining power, were so conspicuous and dangerous that he was booted from the very social media sites that had built his base.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said that Trump shook the foundations of the country over four years.

“He proudly led a radicalized Republican Party and exposed just how extreme the party had become in pursuit of partisan power,” Zelizer said in an email exchange with NBC News. “In doing so, he stressed and strained our democratic institutions unlike any other president in recent history, breaking crucial norms of governance and giving legitimacy to extremist voices in our polity.”

Trump aides have circulated lists of what they say are his achievements in recent days, and the soon-to-be-former president will surely declare his presidency the greatest of all time for years to come. Most Americans say they disagree.

A PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll released Tuesday found that only 16 percent of all adults, and 33 percent of Republicans, think Trump will be remembered as one of the best presidents of all time. Forty-seven percent of adults said his would be seen as one of the worst presidencies ever, including 13 percent of Republicans.

For most Americans — even in an era of deep and angry partisan division — the human effects of Trump’s actions have been too obvious to ignore despite his use of the bully pulpit to distract from his struggles. More than 400,000 Americans have died of coronavirus on his watch — after he said the disease would kill tens of thousands and then just disappear — and medical experts say that quicker and more effective leadership from the White House could have done more to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Like most presidents, Trump promised to unify the country. But he proved unable to work across the aisle in Congress. Aside from emergency spending to try to counter the catastrophic economic and public health effects of the disease — and the trade deal with Mexico and Canada — his policy achievements were limited to actions he could take without Congress. That was particularly true after Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, creating a roadblock for his most extreme proposals.

It may be hard to remember, but he shut down the government for a record 35 days at the end of 2018 and start of 2019. Trump said he was “proud” to “take the mantle” of closing large parts of the federal government as he tried unsuccessfully to force Congress to give him money to build his proposed wall on the Mexico border.

Until his supporters laid siege to the Capitol, that was the most clear evidence of his inability and unwillingness to work with Congress.

Still, as Zelizer noted, Trump was able to put in place stringent immigration restrictions, pass a tax cut when Republicans held both chambers of Congress early in his term, roll back regulations on industry and fill the federal judiciary with conservatives.

“He advanced core conservative goals,” Zelizer said.

From a historical perspective, Trump’s legacy will be marked by one record he set at the end of his term: he was the only president ever impeached twice by the House of Representatives, and he lost the highest number of his own party’s members ever in the second impeachment vote. Ten House Republicans voted to ask the Senate to ban him from holding office in the future.

His first impeachment, which ended in acquittal by the Senate in February 2020, revolved around his withholding of $400 million in congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine as he tried to get that country to announce an investigation into Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. In other words, he was impeached once for using the power of his office to try to help his re-election campaign and a second time for sending a mob to the Capitol to prevent his defeat at the ballot box.

He will relinquish power against his will, in a cloud of disgrace uncommon to presidents, having failed to deliver on his most oft-repeated and loudly pronounced promises, and in an ongoing state of denial about the nature of the pandemic and about his legitimate defeat at the ballot box.

“He, in every respect, was unworthy to be president,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told MSNBC’s Joy Reid in an interview broadcast Tuesday. “It’s not ‘lessons learned,'” Pelosi said of Trump, “because it was so evident all along what a disgrace he was.”



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From the Women’s March to the Capitol riot

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Trump during the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, on June 9, 2018.

The gathering, which included Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also with folded arms, and French President Emmanuel Macron, next to Merkel, was marked by sharp disagreements over Trump’s decision to impose higher import taxes on aluminum and steel imports. After leaving, Trump tweeted that he would instruct U.S. officials not to endorse the G-7 statement, after objecting to comments from Trudeau, the summit’s host.

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Washington hotels weigh inauguration profits against safety

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It used to be that inauguration was the cash cow for the Washington hotel industry. But this year, given the recent riot on the Capitol and the ongoing pandemic, hotel executives and workers are torn between catching up on lost revenues and staying safe

In the past week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser all asked visitors not to travel to the nation’s capital for the 59th presidential inauguration. But because hotels have suffered so much from a lack of tourists due to Covid-19, some hotels have tried to remain open and recover some losses.

“Inauguration is typically a shot in the arm for the D.C. economy,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of the marketing group Destination D.C., who noted that business has declined $522 million in the past year since 49 conventions and large-scale events that were booked have been canceled. “Given the current pandemic and security threats, as well as indoor dining and museums and attractions closed, we expect hotel availability to remain and a smaller economic impact in comparison to previous years.”

Mixed response

The inauguration comes at a time when many Washington businesses, especially hotels, are desperate to recover from the past year’s losses and have suffered far more than hotels in other cities, according to the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. Angela Franco, interim president and CEO of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, said the group lobbied for hotels to remain open throughout the inauguration. She pointed to a report from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer showing that each inauguration brings about $3 million in sales tax revenue. “The impact of Covid has been difficult … and now with everything that’s happening, I think it makes it a little more complicated,” she added.

Still given the safety concerns, some companies have come out forcefully against hosting guests. Airbnb announced it was canceling all reservations in the Washington metro area for the week and preventing any new reservations from being booked during that time. It added that all hosts and guests affected by the measure would be reimbursed at the company’s expense. VRBO told NBC News that it was not following competitors in the development of its plan, but that it instead “created a comprehensive refund policy” for any traveler to Washington who cancels a trip and will credit the host after BuzzFeed reported how some of its customers no longer felt safe visiting the Capital. On Tuesday, Expedia Group tweeted it would cancel new VRBO reservations in and around Washington through Friday.

But at hotels that wavered about closing, workers — especially ones who served guests who visited Washington during the capitol riot — expressed concerns. Based on feedback from its members, Unite Here Local 25, a labor union that represents employees from approximately 40 hotels, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, requested hotels in the metropolitan area to close and “permit their staff to opt out of reporting to work” on Inauguration Day.

Members of the National Guard stand outside the Capitol on Jan. 14, 2021.Stefani Reynolds / Getty Images

“No worker, union or nonunion, should have to risk their life to go into work,” John Boardman, executive-secretary treasurer of Local 25, said. “Unfortunately, that is the situation we are not faced with.”

The hotel workers’ union representing more than 7,000 employees in the Washington area asked hotels to shut down unless they are hosting the National Guard or security personnel. On Dec. 30, 2020, Black Lives Matter D.C. asked hotels and other businesses to refuse service to white supremacists in advance of the Jan. 6 riot. Since then, that group has said that continuing reservations only puts people of color and D.C. residents at risk.

“We stand in solidarity with these employees,”said Nee Nee Taylor, a core organizer of BLM D.C. who shared concerns for hotel workers who had to deal with drunk rioters and people who refused to wear masks.

Despite activists like BLM calling on hotels to shut down operations, plenty of hotels like the Capital Hilton remain open. “We have no plans to cancel hotel reservations and look forward to welcoming the many inauguration-related suppliers, government officials, medical professionals, media representatives, military and law enforcement who are traveling to Washington, D.C.” Capital Hilton wrote in a statement. While most hotels like the Hyatt Regency Washington welcomed visitors for the inauguration, they still did not hum with the typical flow of visitors received during most inaugurations.

Other hotels will not take the risk. In an attempt to minimize harm on Inauguration Day, the independently owned Line Hotel in Adams Morgan, D.C. is closed to the public from Jan. 16 through Jan. 20. “All of us at LINE D.C. stand unequivocally against the violent insurrection that took place last week at the Capitol,” the hotel wrote in a statement.

Disappearing revenues

In past years, hotels have counted on inaugurations as some of their most profitable weeks. According to the hotel data research company STR, the average daily rate on the night of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013 was $251.26 and $362.32 in 2017 for Donald Trump’s inauguration. In a typical inauguration season, prices of hotel rooms can increase up to 927%,MarketWatch reports. During the 2017 inauguration, Airbnb said that more than 15,100 booked housing and estimated that it generated more than $10 million in economic activity for the area.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, visitor spending in the nation’s capital was down 80 percent, translating to a loss of $375 million in local tax revenue. According to STR, hotel revenue was down by $1.5 billion.

But with the National Mall closing and Bowser extending a citywide ban on indoor dining and other Phase 2 activities until 5 a.m. Jan. 22, hotel industry experts predict many rooms in the metropolitan area will remain empty.

Anxious workers

Last week, the riot against the Capitol stirred fear and forced many hotel workers to feel unsafe.

Bloomberg reporter William Turton tweeted a video that went viral showcasing visitors at a Hyatt lobby near Capitol Hill that weekend dressed in Trump gear, defying Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelinesand not wearing masks. In response, The Hyatt said guests who did not comply with company policies would be “asked to leave the premises” or be “given the option of remaining in their guestroom for the duration of their visit.” But the hotel faced backlash on Twitter for letting guests violate CDC guidelines.

In another area hotel, hotel workers faced similar challenges with guests who refused to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“It was definitely scary,” said Emma Bowers, a manager at a Washington area hotel who did not provide the specific hotel name because she was not authorized to speak by her employer. She worked the 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift on the day before the Capitol riot began. “I kept my pepper spray near by and one of my male co-workers spent the night in a room just in case I needed some help.”

Out of precaution, Bowers has requested Inauguration Day off and will have additional people at the front desk on duty. Several of her workers, including a worker whose husband is in chemotherapy, are afraid of contracting the virus from anti-maskers and have expressed their concerns about working on Inauguration Day.

“It’s disappointing that we have to put up with it and just, you know, take these people’s crap,” the hotel manager said as she expressed concerns over her staff’s safety. “Who knows what some of these people are capable of.”



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