UPDATED 2:33 PM: Texas electors secured for Donald Trump the Electoral College win, with all but two votes going his way putting him over the 270 vote threshold. Despite pleas to electors from some Hollywood celebrities, and Michael Moore’s offer to pay the fines of any jumping ship, it was a day of few surprises on the domestic front, though much drama and violence on the international stage.
“It’s a relief tonight, certainly. Rep Chris Collins/Trump Transition Team surrogate told CNN. “It’s a shame it’s overshadowed by all the tragedy in Germany. Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those. But we are going to be moving on now. Donald Trump’s cabinet is all but full.”
Collins did mention the other big news that had pushed Trump’s victory lap to the wings in today’s news cycle. But, after hitting the 270 threshold, Trump issued a statement:
Today we offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated by a radical Islamic terrorist. The murder of an ambassador is a violation of all rules of civilized order and must be universally condemned.”
Previous: Electors in Texas were poised to push Donald Trump over the threshold to officially be named our next POTUS, but bloody developments internationally pushed Trump’s headline into the TV news cycle side wing.
At 12:42 PM PT, NBC News broke in to its network schedule with a special report when a truck that plowed into a Christmas crowd in Berlin, killing at least nine and injuring at least 50 more. That mass killing had followed by a few hours the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey at an art gallery in Ankara by an off-duty police officer. Video of the incident showed the gunman shouting, “Do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria!” after shooting Ambassador Andrey Karlov multiple times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said of the attack, per Reuters’ translation, “A crime has been committed and it was without doubt a provocation aimed at spoiling the normalization of Russo-Turkish relations and spoiling the Syrian peace process which is being actively pushed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and others,”
Berlin authorities quickly told U.S. cable news outlets the truck slaughter was being investigated as a terror incident, though they cautioned it had not yet been officially classified as such. A suspect believed to be the driver quickly was apprehended, cable news networks began reporting at 12: 52 PM PT. TV news networks bailed on other stories to focus on the scene, which was packed with ambulances and holiday shoppers. By 12:30 PM PT, CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer already was describing it as a “Nice-like attack.”
In July, France extended its state of emergency for three months after what French President François Hollande said “was obviously a terrorist attack” in Nice, perpetrated by a driver in a truck. That attack left at least 84 people dead and hundreds injured, 52 of those critically, per French prosecutors, after a truck smashed through barriers and accelerated into a crowd gathered for a fireworks show to celebrate Bastille Day.
Meanwhile, at least three others were injured in the art-gallery assassination in Ankara. The assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement calling it a “despicable attack, which was also an assault on the right of all diplomats to safely and securely advance and represent their nations around the world.”