House impeachment managers late Monday delivered to the Senate an article of impeachment accusing former president Donald Trump of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol that left a Capitol Police officer and four rioters dead. The delivery will clear the way for a historic Senate trial next month.
President Biden said that he thinks the United States will have made significant progress toward achieving herd immunity to the novel coronavirus by summer and expects anyone who wants a vaccination to be able to get it by spring. He made the remarks on a day in which he signed two executive orders — one to overturn a ban on transgender people serving in the military, the other to get the government to buy more U.S.-made products.
Here’s what to know:
Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit seeking $1.3 billion from Rudolph W. Giuliani, an attorney for Trump who played a key role in promoting the falsehood that the 2020 election was rigged.
Biden signed an executive order fulfilling a campaign promise to overturn a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Trump largely barred their open service in 2017, announcing the decision in a tweet. Biden also signed an executive order aimed at pushing the federal government to buy more U.S.-made goods.
The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the first female treasury secretary, on a bipartisan vote of 84 to 15, while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the nomination of Antony Blinken to be secretary of state.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that he will not seek reelection next year. He is the second Republican senator to announce his intention not to seek another term. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania also has decided not to run again.
Trump on Monday made his first post-presidential endorsement, throwing his backing behind former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’s campaign for Arkansas governor.
“Sarah will be a GREAT Governor, and she has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump said in a statement that was released from the Save America PAC.
He called his former press secretary “a warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct.”
Sanders formally launched her bid for Arkansas governor earlier Monday with a video and website focused heavily on her work with Trump. The daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, she will face several other Republican candidates in a primary but enters as the favorite.
Texas man who stormed Capitol threatened Ocasio-Cortez, authorities say
Hours after he joined rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Garret A. Miller took to social media to brag about his actions and to lob threats at lawmakers and police, federal investigators said. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted “Impeach,” referring to President Donald Trump, Miller’s response was grim.
“Assassinate AOC,” Miller, 34, allegedly wrote.
That comment, along with other posts on social media, led to Miller’s arrest on Wednesday. He was charged with unlawful entry of the Capitol, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, obstruction or impeding any official proceedings, civil disorder and making threats, according to a criminal complaint. Miller first appeared in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on Friday.
The national Republican Party is confronting a time for choosing. Even aside from its senators’ decisions about whether to convict Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, there is a real question about just how much the party will line up with Trump’s more extreme vision for the future of the party.
If recent events are any indication, their state parties could prove a major impediment to pulling things toward the middle.
Over the weekend, the Arizona Republican Party voted to censure not just former senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and former senator John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) widow Cindy McCain for opposing Trump, but also Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) for certifying Trump’s loss in the state.
It also narrowly reelected Chairwoman Kelli Ward, whose leadership has led the state GOP in a decidedly different direction than Flake and McCain.
President Biden said Monday that former president Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial “has to happen,” even as he acknowledged that the proceedings are likely to affect his legislative agenda and the confirmations of his Cabinet nominees.
Former president Donald Trump announced Monday that he has formally opened the Office of the Former President.
“The Office will be responsible for managing President Trump’s correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities to advance the interests of the United States,” the office said in a statement that also declared that Trump will “always and forever be a champion for the American People.”
Notably, among the functions of the office will be to “carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism.”
The office will be headquartered in Palm Beach County, Fla.
House managers deliver article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate
The nine House impeachment managers walked the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, crossing through National Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda where just a few weeks ago a violent pro-Trump mob rioted.
Led by House Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson and acting House sergeant-at-arms Timothy P. Blodgett, the Democrats presented the article, which charges Trump with inciting an insurrection, to the secretary of the Senate. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, was scheduled to read the article on the Senate floor, making the transfer official.
The senators will be sworn in as jurors for Trump’s trial on Tuesday, and the former president will be sent a summons to respond to the charges against him.
The trial will begin Feb. 9, giving both sides time to submit pretrial briefs and respond.
Senate approves Yellen as first female treasury secretary
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined Democrats in voting to confirm Yellen, while several potential 2024 presidential candidates, including Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R-Okla.), were among those voting “no.”
Yellen, a longtime economist and former chair of the Federal Reserve, argued at her confirmation hearing last week that it is “critically important to act now” to pass more economic relief for the coronavirus pandemic.
Yellen, 74, spent years as a professor before entering politics as head of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers in the late 1990s. She chaired the Fed from 2014 to 2018, playing a key role in the recovery from the Great Recession with a studied approach that helped push down the unemployment rate over time. Trump broke with tradition when he opted not to reappoint her.
The Senate has confirmed Avril D. Haines as director of national intelligence and Lloyd Austin as defense secretary.
Jeff Stein and Erica Werner contributed to this report.
Biden administration revives effort to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
The $20 bill is getting a new — but familiar — face.
The Biden administration will resume the process to replace former president Andrew Jackson’s face on the note with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during her Monday news briefing. A Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed the change.
Tubman will become the first Black person on the face of American currency and the first woman in generations. Martha Washington appeared on a $1 bill in the 1890s, and Pocahontas was in a group picture on the $20 bill in the 1860s, according to Reuters.
“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Psaki said. “It’s important that our notes … reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. We’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
The Obama administration announced plans to include Tubman on the bill in 2016, after she won an informal nationwide poll of female figures for the honor. President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin scuttled those plans in 2019.
Biden said Monday that he believes the United States will have made significant progress toward achieving herd immunity to the coronavirus by summer and that his administration is aiming to have 100 million vaccinations administered within the first 100 days of his presidency.
“We’re trying to get out a minimum of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days and move in the direction where we are well beyond that and the next 100 days” Biden told reporters at the White House.
He added that any American who wants to receive a vaccination should be able to do so by this spring, although he cautioned that “it’s going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country.”
“I feel confident that by summer we’re going to be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity and increasing the access for people who aren’t first on the list, all the way going down to children and how we deal with that,” Biden said. “But I feel good about where we’re going, and I think we can get it done.”
Scientists are still determining the herd immunity threshold of the coronavirus, or the percentage of the population that needs to become immune in order for the spread of the virus to slow and eventually stop. Estimates currently range from about 40 percent to about 80 percent of the population.
Biden also noted that while progress is being made, “we’re still going to be dealing with this issue in the early fall.” And he urged Americans to continue wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“If we wear masks between now and the end of April, the experts tell us we can save 50,000 lives,” he said.
Harry Stevens contributed to this report.
Biden open to negotiating coronavirus relief payments, calls it ‘a moving target’
Biden wants the coronavirus relief package he’s pushing to pass with bipartisan support and said that, to do so, he’s willing to negotiate with Republicans on such issues as the income threshold for receiving stimulus checks.
“I prefer these things to be bipartisan because I’m trying to generate some consensus and take sort of the, how can I say it, the vitriol out of all of this,” Biden told reporters.
He cited as an example the $1,400 in direct payments to Americans as an area for compromise.
“There’s a legitimate reason for people to say, do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over X number of dollars? I’m open to negotiate those things. That’s all,” he said. “I picked [$1,400] because I thought it was rational, reasonable and it had overwhelming bipartisan support in the House when it passed.”
The president was responding to a question about how he defines unity, which he said is about getting the hostility out of the debate and “trying to reflect what the majority of the American people — Democrat, Republican, independent — think is within the fulcrum of what needs to be done to make their lives and the lives of Americans better.”
Biden, who campaigned on the notion that he can heal the nation’s bitter divide, argued that democracy can’t function without compromise. “Otherwise, it just becomes executive fiat or battleground issues that get us virtually nowhere,” he said.
Biden says he ‘will not hesitate’ to raise Navalny poisoning, other issues with Russia
Biden said Monday that he “will not hesitate” to raise with Russia’s leadership the issue of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s poisoning while at the same time proceeding with negotiations on a five-year extension of the only remaining treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
The president’s statement comes days after The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration has decided to seek an extension of the New START pact, which expires in early February.
“We can both operate in the mutual self-interest of our countries, [such] as a New START agreement, and make it clear to Russia that we are very concerned about their behavior, whether it’s Navalny, whether it’s SolarWinds, or whether it’s the reports of bounties on the heads of Americans in Afghanistan,” Biden told reporters.
He added: “I’ve asked the agencies in question to do a thorough read for me on every one of those issues, to update me precisely where they are. And I will not hesitate to raise those issues with the Russians.”
John Hudson contributed to this report.
Senate committee approves Blinken for secretary of state
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Biden’s secretary of state nominee Monday evening, setting up a full confirmation vote by the Senate on Tuesday.
Antony Blinken, a longtime Biden adviser, who served as deputy secretary of state in the second term of the Obama administration, received broad bipartisan support.
Blinken told senators last week that as the nation’s chief diplomat, he’ll reengage with America’s allies and restore the country’s global leadership role — a goal for Biden, who has blamed Trump for diminishing U.S. diplomatic ties.
Congressional Democrats moving quickly on economic relief bill as White House pushes for swift action
Congressional Democrats said Monday they are preparing for a go-it-alone strategy on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with initial votes in the House and Senate as soon as next week — with or without GOP support.
The development came as White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden wants to see action “in the next couple of weeks” on his package, which has run into opposition from a number of Republicans who say it’s too expensive.
The legislation includes a new round of $1,400 stimulus checks, an increase and extension of emergency unemployment benefits set to expire in mid-March, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments, schools, vaccine production and distribution, increased testing, and more.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), president pro tempore of the Senate and its most senior Democrat, will preside over Trump’s second impeachment trial that will begin next month.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. presided over Trump’s first impeachment trial, as the Constitution calls for in impeachment proceedings for a sitting president of the United States.
But senators preside over impeachment trials for any official who is not currently in the White House. Leahy confirmed the reports that he had been tapped for the duty.
“When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws. It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously,” Leahy said in a statement. “When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”
Pressed by reporters about his past criticism of Trump, the senator said: “I’m not presenting the evidence; I am making sure that procedures are followed. I don’t think there’s any senator who over the 40 plus years I’ve been here that would say that I’ve been anything but impartial in ruling on procedure. ”
As president pro tem, Leahy is in the presidential line of succession and is considered the second most senior Senate official after the vice president. Leahy, 80, was first elected in 1974 and has not said whether he will seek a ninth term in 2022.