President Biden on Friday signed two executive orders to boost economic relief for Americans struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. “We cannot, will not let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves. … We have to act,” he said in remarks at the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced late Friday that the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will be held the week of Feb. 8. The House impeached Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol in Washington by a violent mob.

Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin won Senate confirmation Friday as President Biden’s defense secretary, becoming the first Black American to hold the post.

Here’s what to know:
  • Biden is pushing to significantly increase federal food assistance for millions of hungry families as part of executive actions intended to stabilize a deteriorating economy weighed down by the raging coronavirus pandemic.
  • Up to 100 sites run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency could begin offering coronavirus vaccinations within the next month, part of a Biden strategy that would dramatically expand the federal government’s role in the effort to corral the pandemic.
  • The White House announced that Biden is commissioning “a comprehensive threat assessment” on domestic violent extremism as part of the White House’s response to the Jan. 6 takeover of the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob.
  • Biden signed an order mandating masks in airports and on many planes, trains, ships and intercity buses. His action follows an order — his first as president — requiring masks on federal property.
11:21 p.m.
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Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

The second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump is set to begin in the Senate the week of Feb. 8, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday evening.

“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us, but healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability,” Schumer said. “And that is what this trial will provide.”

The deal was hashed out between Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), according to two congressional aides familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe it ahead of its announcement. McConnell had proposed delaying the trial to mid-February.

“Both the House managers and the defense will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Schumer said Friday. “Once the briefs are drafted, presentation by the parties will commence the week of Feb. 8.″

Earlier Friday, Biden had signaled that he would be open to delaying the Senate impeachment trial until mid-February, as McConnell proposed.

“I haven’t heard the details of it, but I do think that having some time to get our administration up and running … the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better,” Biden told reporters at the White House, shortly after signing two executive orders aimed at bolstering relief for American families.

In his comments, Schumer said the delayed schedule would allow for the Senate to “continue to do other business for the American people,” including confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees and continuing negotiations on coronavirus relief.

11:18 p.m.
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Harris, Emhoff to stay at Blair House while vice president’s residence undergoes repairs

Although they’ve had to put off their move into the official vice president’s residence, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are in very good hands.

As temporary residents of Blair House, the president’s elegant guesthouse, they have access to historical, antique-filled rooms (120 of them) and the gracious hospitality and amenities that the guesthouse extends to visiting heads of state.

And you can’t beat the commute: It’s right across the street from the White House complex and the vice president’s offices.

Harris and Emhoff must wait for some maintenance to be completed at the official vice president’s residence about two miles away — an 1893 Victorian on the wooded grounds of the Naval Observatory — before they can move in. Crews are working on new liners for the chimneys and other tasks in the 33-room home, according to an aide in the Vice President’s Office.

10:40 p.m.
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Biden administration to review whether Taliban is living up to peace agreement, national security adviser says

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told his Afghan government counterpart that the administration plans to review the agreement the United States signed with the Taliban nearly a year ago to assess whether the Taliban is living up to its commitments.

In a phone call with Hamdullah Mohib, Sullivan pledged that the United States would support the peace process “with a robust and regional diplomatic effort” to attain a political settlement and a permanent cease-fire, according to a White House statement.

But Sullivan also made clear that the administration plans to determine whether the Taliban is cutting ties with terrorist groups, reducing violence and engaging in meaningful negotiations, the statement said. Stuttering talks between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government that have made little progress since they began last fall resumed earlier this month.

Far from decreasing, violence has increased sharply, with dozens of Afghan security-force members killed in Taliban attacks over the past two days alone, according to Afghan media reports. At the same time, President Ashraf Ghani is under domestic political pressure to agree to step down in favor of an interim government.

Under the U.S.-Taliban accord, the militants agreed not to attack U.S. forces, a pledge they largely complied with as the Trump administration brought the number of U.S. soldiers down to 2,500 just before Biden took office. The agreement, which the Trump administration negotiated independently without coalition allies in Afghanistan, including NATO, calls for a complete U.S. withdrawal this year.

During the campaign, Biden made no commitment about keeping the deal. He said he wanted to end U.S. involvement in the war but keep a U.S. counterterrorism force in Afghanistan to continue fighting the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The White House statement said Sullivan also “discussed the United States’ support for protecting the extraordinary gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process.” It said Sullivan committed to “consulting closely” on a “collective strategy” with NATO, regional partners and the Afghan government.

9:35 p.m.
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Senators join House members in proposing Congressional honor for Capitol Police officer who led rioters away

A bipartisan group of senators is proposing awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led rioters away from the Senate chamber when an angry pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.

The Senate measure is a companion to a House bill introduced earlier this month.

“Officer Goodman is a hero. He protected our democracy by holding off and then diverting a violent mob away from the Senate chamber. His actions on January 6th saved lives — including those of many of our Senate colleagues and staff. Maryland is proud to call him one of our own, and I’m honored to introduce this bipartisan bill to recognize his bravery,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a statement.

In a now-viral video captured during the attack by HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic, Goodman is seen in the halls of the Capitol trying to hold back a group of several dozen rioters. For over a minute, he faces the intruders alone as they follow him up two flights of stairs and come dangerously close to the doors of the Senate chambers, where lawmakers were sheltering.

Footage of a lone Goodman, who is Black, facing down a group of mostly White rioters was widely shared after the attempted insurrection.

On Wednesday, Goodman escorted Vice President Harris at the inauguration in his role as the new acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms.

9:14 p.m.
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Biden suggests he would be open to delaying Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

Biden on Friday suggested he would be open to delaying the Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump until mid-February, as proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

After Biden delivered remarks on the country’s economic crisis and signed two executive orders aimed at bolstering relief for American families suffering in the pandemic, a reporter asked the president whether he supported McConnell’s proposed timeline for a mid-February impeachment trial.

“I haven’t heard the details of it, but I do think that having some time to get our administration up and running … the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better,” Biden said.

The impeachment trial is already threatening to delay Senate confirmation of many of Biden’s Cabinet picks. During the transition, Biden had mostly refrained from weighing in on whether Trump should be impeached, but he urged the Senate to “find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

Earlier Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said House Democrats would deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, despite McConnell’s proposed timeline. The start date of the trial remains up in the air.

9:09 p.m.
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Biden signs two executive orders to bolster economic relief for Americans struggling in pandemic

Biden on Friday afternoon signed two executive orders aimed at bolstering economic relief for Americans struggling in the pandemic.

“We’re in a national emergency,” he said in remarks from the White House before he signed the orders. “We need to act like we’re in a national emergency.”

The wide-ranging orders include expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs; directing the Labor Department to ensure workers who refuse unsafe working conditions during the pandemic can still receive unemployment insurance; and pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts for about 2 million veterans.

Biden also noted that his plan calls for rental assistance not only for vulnerable tenants but also for “mom-and-pop landlords” who cannot afford not to make their own mortgage payments on rental properties.

“We cannot, will not let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves,” Biden said. “We cannot watch people lose their jobs. We have to act.”

The president emphasized the various economic crises Americans were facing and again called for broad support from all sectors — “business, labor, Wall Street, Main Street, liberal, conservative, Congress” — for his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” which would provide additional relief to families.

“A lot of America is hurting. The virus is surging,” Biden said. “Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted. Job losses are mounting again. We need to act. No matter how you look at it, we need to act. If we act now, our economy will be stronger in both the short and long term.”

8:38 p.m.
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Democrats in Congress ask Biden to commute all federal death sentences

More than three dozen members of Congress on Friday asked Biden to commute the sentences of everyone on federal death row, calling on him to act quickly after succeeding a president whose administration carried out an unprecedented wave of executions.

Under President Donald Trump, the Justice Department last year resumed federal executions for the first time since 2003. The Trump administration carried out 13 federal executions in total, including three in the days before Biden, who opposes the death penalty, took office.

“Night after night in the final days of the Trump administration, the American people bore witness to the cruel and heinous practice of executions,” wrote Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) in the letter, which was signed by 35 other Democratic members of Congress.

They added: “This moment demands a series of meaningful actions to ensure that no President can authorize the killing of Americans through the death penalty.”

In addition to calling on Biden to commute sentences, they urged his administration to dismantle the federal death row in Indiana and block federal prosecutors from seeking death sentences. The White House declined to comment on the letter.

Biden’s campaign website said that he planned to push legislation to end the federal death penalty and “incentivize states to follow.” About 50 people are on federal death row, while most of the more than 2,000 people on death row nationwide are held by the states.

The congressional letter does not call for freeing people with federal death sentences, but instead asks that their sentences be commuted and each be resentenced. The letter also includes a tacit admission that if people remain on federal death row with their sentences intact, a future president who supports the death penalty could resume executions, much as Trump did after taking office.

“By exercising your clemency power,” they wrote, “you can ensure that there would be no one left on death row to kill.”

7:55 p.m.
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GOP congresswoman introduces legislation to prohibit Biden’s federal mask mandate

Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has introduced legislation that would prohibit a mask mandate on federal property “or while traveling in interstate commerce,” a move that seeks to undo the executive orders Biden signed in his first days in office.

Throughout the pandemic and while on the campaign trail, Biden encouraged Americans to wear masks to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus and lamented that doing so had become politicized. More than 411,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order mandating mask-wearing on federal property. The next day, he signed another order requiring masks in airports and on many modes of transportation — including planes, trains, ships and intercity buses — within the limits of his executive powers.

The bill is not likely to go very far, given the Democratic majority in the House. The bill also has no co-sponsors.

Boebert, elected in November, campaigned on the promise she would carry her Glock in Washington and at the U.S. Capitol and has since refused to comply with new security measures put in place at the Capitol after the deadly Jan. 6 riot.

7:36 p.m.
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Jill Biden visits health clinic, drops in on National Guard troops on Capitol Hill

First lady Jill Biden paid a visit Friday to Whitman-Walker Health, a clinic in Washington with a history of serving LGBTQ communities, and then stopped at the U.S. Capitol, where she spoke with National Guard troops temporarily stationed there.

The White House said in a written description that the trip to the health clinic was intended “to highlight and promote support services for cancer patients and caregivers, as well as hear about the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care, including cancer screenings and prevention efforts.”

Biden was greeted by Naseema Shafi, chief executive of Whitman-Walker Health, at the outset of a tour that ended with the first lady emerging to applause on the street before her motorcade departed.

Before heading back to the White House, Biden stopped on Capitol Hill, where she spoke to National Guard officers and troops.

Biden thanked them for protecting her family and said the Bidens were a Guard family, invoking the memory of President Biden’s son Beau.

“The National Guard will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the Bidens,” she said.

7:10 p.m.
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Biden remains opposed to eliminating filibuster, press secretary says

President Biden remains opposed to eliminating the filibuster for legislation in the Senate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a news briefing Friday.

The issue has come to the fore during negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over organizing the chamber, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

McConnell is insisting that Democrats commit to keeping the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to move forward on most legislation.

“His position hasn’t changed,” Psaki said of Biden, a former senator from Delaware. “He opposes overturning a legislative filibuster. He has spoken to this many times. His position has not changed.”

7:01 p.m.
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Biden calls for threat assessment of domestic violence extremism, press secretary says

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Jan. 22 announced the National Security Council will build new capability to focus on domestic extremism. (The Washington Post)

The White House announced Friday that Biden is commissioning “a comprehensive threat assessment” on domestic violent extremism as part of the White House’s response to the Jan. 6 takeover of the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob.

“The president’s response to domestic violent extremism, the January 6th assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a White House briefing. “The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”

Psaki said Biden has asked the office of the director of national intelligence to conduct a review of threats in coordination with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

“The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy,” Psaki said.

She said that the National Security Council would also conduct a policy review on how government can better share information about domestic threats, and that there will be additional coordination between “relevant parts of the federal government” on how to improve efforts.

6:59 p.m.
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Bemittened Bernie: The meme that rang around the world

The presidential inauguration commanded the world’s attention after the most chaotic transition of power in the United States in living memory. So did a pair of homemade mittens on a bespectacled man huddled in a chair.

The image of former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, bundled up, bemittened, slightly slouching and socially distanced with his legs and arms crossed and eyes downcast, spiraled into a breakout viral phenomenon after President Biden’s inauguration outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

From the United States to Argentina to Iran, the image proliferated through the far corners of the Internet in an ever-expanding array of jokes.

Washington-based photographer Brendan Smialowski snapped the now-iconic shot. It stood in stark contrast to the other visuals of the day: a parade of U.S. politicians and celebrities dressed up in designer monochrome outfits, reaffirming the virtues of U.S. democracy after a tumultuous four years.

6:54 p.m.
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Murkowski says she has ‘absolutely no desire’ to become a Democrat

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters Friday that she has “absolutely no desire” to become a Democrat despite her distress over how much influence former president Donald Trump has wielded over her party.

“I can be very discouraged at times with things that go on in my own caucus, in my own party,” Murkowski said at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. “But I have absolutely no desire to move over to the Democratic side of the aisle. I can’t be somebody that I’m not.”

“As kind of disjointed as things may be on the Republican side, there’s no way you can talk me into going over to the other side, that’s not who I am,” Murkowski added.

She also shared that she did not vote for Trump in November and instead wrote in an alternative. She did not reveal who that was.

Murkowski said she wanted “to vote affirmatively for somebody.”

“I don’t want to vote for somebody that I don’t feel confident and strong and good in,” she said. “I don’t want to accept the lesser of two evils.”

5:47 p.m.
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Walmart, Starbucks, Amazon and other corporate giants move to step up vaccine rollout

A growing contingent of big-name companies — including Walmart, Starbucks and Microsoft — are teaming up with local governments and medical providers to get coronavirus shots in more people’s arms.

The public-private efforts come as Biden has outlined his plans to combat the virus that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, and they include a goal to administer 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days of his administration. Though at least 38 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States, just 2.4 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

The early stages of vaccine distribution under the Trump administration were marked by confusion and miscommunication. Poor coordination between the federal government and states created shortages in some regions, while severe bottlenecks left others rushing to deliver doses before they expired.

Now, as vaccines remain hard to get and the pandemic continues to weigh on the economy, corporate giants are tapping their logistical and technological resources to help fast track vaccinations to their communities.

Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, has been preparing to offer the vaccine at its 5,000 U.S. locations. Starting this week, the retailer is making inoculations available through its stores in seven states, plus Chicago and Puerto Rico. Walmart said it expects to deliver 10 million to 13 million doses a month, “when supply and allocations allow,” through its pharmacies and events in underserved communities.

“With 150 million people passing through our doors each week, we’re in a unique position to reach people where they already shop,” the company said Friday in a news release.

This week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a public-private partnership with Starbucks, Microsoft, Costco and other homegrown brands to deliver vaccines in the state “as effectively and efficiently as possible.” Meanwhile, Amazon is partnering with a Seattle hospital to hold its first pop-up clinic this weekend, with a goal of administering 2,000 vaccines to the public. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)