Pelosi to Speak on Trump Impeachment, Biden on Vaccine and Economy: Live Updates – The New York Times

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi signing the article of impeachment on Wednesday. She has discretion over when to transmit the article, formally starting the Senate proceeding.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that the House managers she appointed to prosecute President Trump’s impeachment case were preparing to take their charge to trial in the Senate, but she refused to offer a timeline for when they would proceed.

At a news conference inside the Capitol, the speaker made clear that her first priority was ensuring the security of the building and lawmakers ahead of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration next week.

Growing emotional at points as she recounted seeing the image of an insurrectionist in a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, the speaker said accountability would soon follow for Mr. Trump, members of the violent mob he incited who stormed the building last week and far-right members of Congress if they were found to have aided the insurrection.

“One week ago, on Jan. 6, there was an act of insurrection perpetrated on the Capitol of the United States, incentivized by the president of the United States,” Ms. Pelosi said. “One week later, Wednesday to Wednesday, that president was impeached in a bipartisan way by the House of Representatives. So urgent was the matter. They are now working on taking this to trial and you will be the first to know when we are going over there.”

The comments came as Ms. Pelosi fielded questions for the first time since the House impeached Mr. Trump on Wednesday for inciting the violent insurrection at the Capitol as he sought to overturn Mr. Biden’s election victory. The attack came as members of Congress and the vice president met to formalize the result.

Behind the scenes, Democrats, poised to take unified power in Washington next week for the first time in a decade, were working with Republican leaders to try to find a proposal to allow the Senate to split time between the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump and consideration of Mr. Biden’s agenda, including his cabinet nominees and a $1.9 trillion economic recovery plan he proposed on Thursday to address the coronavirus. But they were virtually silent in public about their plans.

Although Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has privately told advisers that he approves of the impeachment drive and believes it could help his party purge itself of Mr. Trump, he refused to begin the proceedings this week while he is still in charge. That means the trial will not effectively start until after Mr. Biden is sworn in on Wednesday, officials involved in the planning said.

It has also left Democrats weighing whether to bring their case to the Senate immediately, potentially handicapping Mr. Biden’s first few days in office and distracting from his inauguration, or waiting until a few days after he is sworn in. The latter option may be more appealing to Mr. Biden, but it could undercut Democrats’ argument that Congress must move urgently to impeach and try Mr. Trump.

With Republicans fractured after the president’s exhortations to supporters to reject his defeat inspired a rampage, many of them were trying to gauge the dynamics of a vote to convict Mr. Trump. Doing so would open the door to disqualifying him from holding office in the future.

A cautionary tale was playing out in the House, where a faction of Mr. Trump’s most ardent allies was working to topple Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, from her leadership post. Ms. Cheney had joined nine other members of the party who voted with Democrats to charge the president with “incitement of insurrection.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

A makeshift memorial for Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed by the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The F.B.I. is investigating 37 people related to the killing of Officer Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died after being injured during the pro-Trump riot on Jan. 6, according to an F.B.I. memo sent to the private sector and others on Friday. The Times obtained a copy of the report.

Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher as a violent mob flooded the halls of Congress, according to two law enforcement officials. Lawmakers hid under their desks from violent protesters after President Trump encouraged them during a rally to head to the Capitol. Mr. Sicknick died in the hospital where he was getting treatment for his injuries.

Fourteen other Capitol Police officers were injured in the mob last week, the memo said.

Law enforcement officials are bracing for more unrest in the days leading up to the inauguration.

Since the Jan. 6 siege, intelligence officials have seen Chinese, Iranian and Russian efforts to fan the violent rhetoric, according to a joint threat assessment dated Thursday. The amplification is consistent with previous efforts to take advantage of divisive Republican rhetoric, such as the Russian efforts to amplify disinformation spread by Mr. Trump during the campaign about the security of mail-in voting.

The inspectors general for several federal agencies, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, announced on Friday that they had opened an investigation into the response to the riot at the Capitol. The watchdogs will also look at how federal agencies shared intelligence ahead of the riot.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.

A Capitol police officer looked out onto the inauguration stage. The investigation will examine whether key information about the rioters’ plans was shared with the Capitol Police and other agencies.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Inspectors general from a range of federal agencies are opening a coordinated investigation into the catastrophic failures that led to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, amid reports that officials ignored, downplayed and responded sluggishly to a deadly assault on the nation’s core democratic institutions.

Government watchdogs, who are shielded from political interference under federal law, said on Friday that they planned to review the protocols, and policies that were in place in the lead-up to last week’s breach.

Their goal: To determine why the federal government was caught flat-footed when pro-Trump rioters attacked Congress, and come up with protocols to prevent similar failures in dealing with a dramatic escalation in political violence in Washington and in state capitols.

The review will be jointly conducted by the inspectors general from the Justice Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior, according to a statement from the office of Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general.

In the days following the attack, it has become clear that federal agencies, including the F.B.I., did not do enough to heed alarms, raised within the bureau itself, that far-right extremists allied with President Trump planned to attack the Capitol. Several people on a terrorist watch list were also in Washington for the rally by Mr. Trump that devolved into the assault.

At the same time, questions have arisen about the Pentagon’s delay in sending national guard troops to help Capitol Police officers who were overwhelmed and, in some cases, badly beaten by the mob.

The review will examine all of the information relevant to the that was available to the Justice Department and the F.B.I. before it took place, and the extent to which that information was shared with the Capitol Police and other federal, state and local agencies.

Mr. Horowitz will also review what role Justice Department personnel had in responding to the siege, and whether weaknesses in the department’s protocols led to the security failure.

The Department of Defense review “will examine requests for D.O.D. support leading up to the planned protest and its aftermath at the U.S. Capitol complex, the D.O.D.’s response, and whether the D.O.D.’s actions were lawful” the Pentagon’s inspector general wrote in a statement on Friday.

The new probe comes after the announcement earlier this week that the inspector general from the Capitol Police will initiate a separate investigation into the failures by the force to contain the violence. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, signaled that it would look into what role, if any, members of Congress may have played in inciting the mob.

Led by Representative Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers on Wednesday called for an investigation into an uptick of visits to the Capitol — perhaps for the purpose of surveillance and planning — the day before the riot.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. unveiled his plan to fight the coronavirus and improve the economy in a speech in Wilmington, Del.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

As the fallout from the assault on the Capitol sparks fresh concerns of new violence and Washington heightens security ahead of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the president-elect is gearing up to assume office at a tenuous moment for the nation.

Mr. Biden unveiled an ambitious $1.9 trillion spending package on Thursday night, intended to help combat the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy. He has signaled that he will prioritize domestic issues during his first weeks in office even as the pending trial of President Trump may sidetrack the Senate from his priorities, including approving his cabinet nominees.

Speaking from Delaware on Thursday to introduce his sweeping economic plan, Mr. Biden urged lawmakers to come together and pass additional relief.

“Unity is not some pie in the sky dream,” he said. “It’s a practical step to getting the things we have to get done as a country, get done together.”

Mr. Biden’s plan has an initial focus on large-scale expansions of the nation’s vaccination program and virus testing capacity. In remarks scheduled for Friday afternoon, he is expected to give additional details about his plan to vaccinate Americans.

And as investigations continue, federal officials have moved to arrest dozens of Americans who rioted at the Capitol last week. A man seen holding a Confederate battle flag, a person identified as striking a police officer with a flagpole and a retired firefighter identified as having thrown a fire extinguisher at officers were among those arrested on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, in a briefing with Vice President Mike Pence, Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., acknowledged that in the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol, the bureau was “seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter” surrounding the inauguration, including plans for armed protests both in Washington and at state capitol buildings around the country.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops and surrounded the state Capitol grounds in Sacramento with a six-foot, covered chain-link fence to “prepare for and respond to credible threats.”

Mr. Biden has spoken little about the threats to his inauguration, saying earlier this week only that he was “not afraid” to take the oath of office outdoors as planned. With less than a week to go, Mr. Wray and federal law enforcement officials sought to assure the public that Mr. Biden’s inauguration would be safe.

The Secret Service, which is leading the effort to secure the inauguration, said on Thursday that it would establish a “green zone” in downtown Washington this weekend, blocking streets surrounding the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial and shutting down train lines. National Guard troops continue to flood into the increasingly militarized city, with a total of 20,000 expected to be present for Inauguration Day.

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Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion Economic Rescue Package

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a spending package to combat the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. The plan includes $1,400 direct payments to individuals and more generous unemployment benefits.

During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck. Millions of Americans never thought they’d be out of work — many of them never even envisioned the idea — are facing eviction, waiting for hours in their cars to feed their families as they drive up to a food bank. A growing chorus of top economists agree that the moment of crisis — in this moment of crisis, with interest rates at historic lows, we cannot afford inaction. Our rescue plan also includes immediate relief to Americans hardest hit and most in need. We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most. The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough. One in seven households in America, more than one in five Black and Latino households in America, report they don’t have enough food to eat. So we’re going to extend emergency nutritional assistance for 30 — for 43 million children and their families enrolled in the SNAP program through the rest of this year. To the millions of you just looking for a fighting chance in this economy, I promise you, we will not forget you. We understand what you’re going through. We will never, ever give up.

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President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a spending package to combat the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. The plan includes $1,400 direct payments to individuals and more generous unemployment benefits.CreditCredit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, outlining the type of sweeping aid that Democrats have demanded for months and signaling the shift in the federal government’s pandemic response as Mr. Biden prepares to take office next week.

The package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. An additional $350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls, while the plan would also include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers and large subsidies for child care costs.

“During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck,” Mr. Biden said in a speech to the nation on Tuesday evening. “There is real pain overwhelming the real economy.”

He acknowledged the high price tag but said the nation could not afford to do anything less. “The very health of our nation is at stake,” Mr. Biden said, speaking from Delaware. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Here are some of the highlights of Mr. Biden’s so-called American Rescue Plan:

  • The “rescue” proposal would be financed entirely through increased federal borrowing, and flows from the idea that the virus and the recovery are intertwined.

  • The $20 billion “national vaccine program” he announced envisions nationwide community vaccination centers.

  • He also called for a “public health jobs program” that would address his goals of bolstering the economy and the coronavirus response while also rebuilding the nation’s public health infrastructure. The proposal would fund 100,000 public health workers to engage in vaccine outreach and contact tracing.

  • To address the racial disparities in health exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately claimed the lives of people of color, he pledged to increase funding for community health centers, and also intends to fund efforts to mitigate the pandemic in prisons and jails, where African-Americans and Latinos are overrepresented.

  • Mr. Biden proposed a wide range of efforts to help those who have suffered the most under the economic shutdowns, including emergency paid leave to 106 million Americans, regardless of the size of their employer, and extending tax credits to many families to offset up to $8,000 in annual child care costs.

  • The plan gives billions of dollars in aid to renters struggling to keep up with mounting unpaid liabilities to landlords, and it would give grants to millions of the hardest-hit small businesses.

  • The proposal would temporarily increase the size of two tax credits in a manner that would effectively provide more cash from the government to low-income workers and families.

  • Mr. Biden called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and he proposed extending expanded unemployment benefits through the end of September, with an extra $400 weekly supplement.

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, in October. He has apologized for trying to reverse the results of the presidential election and disenfranchise tens of millions of voters.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who spent weeks trying to reverse the results of the presidential election before changing his mind at the last moment, apologized on Thursday to Black constituents who felt he had attacked their right to vote.

In a letter addressed to his “friends” in North Tulsa, which has many Black residents, Mr. Lankford, who is white, wrote on Thursday that his efforts to challenge the election result had “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state.”

“After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate,” he wrote, according to the news site Tulsa World.

Mr. Lankford said in the letter that he had never intended to “diminish the voice of any Black American.” Still, he added, “I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you.”

Mr. Lankford, who sits on a key Senate oversight committee, was initially one of the Republicans who tried to upend Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, even as courts threw out baseless questions raised by President Trump and his allies about election malfeasance.

Democrats in Congress have viewed Mr. Lankford as a rare, cooperative partner on voting rights, and his decision to join those Republicans seeking to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters — many of them Black citizens living in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta — came as a surprise.

The first indication he might do so came during his appearance in December at a Senate hearing about alleged voting “irregularities,” when he repeated unsupported Trump campaign allegations about voting in Nevada that had been debunked in court nearly two weeks earlier.

Mr. Lankford and other Republicans had claimed that by challenging the election results, they were exercising their independence and acting in the interests of constituents who were demanding answers.

“There are lots of folks in my state that still want those answers to come out,” Mr. Lankford said a few days before the Electoral College vote was certified.

After the riot at the Capitol, Mr. Lankford was one of several Republican senators who abandoned their earlier challenge, saying the lawlessness and chaos had caused them to changed their minds.

In a joint statement that night with Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, Mr. Lankford called on “the entire Congress to come together and vote to certify the election results.”

Mr. Lankford has faced calls from Black leaders to resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, which is designed to commemorate the racist massacre in the city’s Greenwood district, an affluent Black community known as Black Wall Street. The massacre, which took place 100 years ago this spring, was one of the worst instances of racist violence in American history. A white mob destroyed the neighborhood and its Black-owned businesses, and up to 300 residents were killed.

Deanne Criswell, commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, has coordinated the city’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms. Criswell has been nominated as FEMA Administrator.
Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. continued to fill out his administration on Friday, turning to former Obama administration officials to take on key roles.

He tapped Deanne Criswell, currently the commissioner of New York City’s Emergency Management Department, to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If confirmed, she will help oversee the federal government’s pandemic response efforts.

Ms. Criswell previously worked at FEMA from 2011 to 2017 where she led the federal response to emergencies and disasters. She is also a member of the Colorado Air National Guard, where she served as a firefighter and deputy fire chief. She has deployed to Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq on firefighting missions.

Mr. Biden on Friday also chose David S. Cohen to return to the C.I.A. as deputy director, a role he filled from 2015 to 2017. Previously, Mr. Cohen was the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Treasury Department. While there, he oversaw sanctions — intelligence-based actions that play a large role in national security — against Iran, Russia, North Korea and terrorist organizations.

And Mr. Biden has chosen Anita Dunn, a top strategist for his presidential campaign last year and for former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, to be a White House senior strategist. Ms. Dunn is a partner at the Washington consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker and was a senior adviser to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.

Other officials named on Friday include:

  • Shalanda Young, the staff director and clerk for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Jason Miller, a former Obama administration official who served as deputy director of the National Economic Council, was nominated to be the deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

  • Janet McCabe, who specializes in environmental law and policy and worked at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, was nominated to be the agency’s deputy administrator.

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