Biden team outlines plan for first 10 days of presidency
Vice President-elect Joe Biden will sign dozens of executive orders on his first day in office reversing key Trump Administration policies on issues from immigration to climate change, Biden’s transition team announced Saturday.
On Wednesday, the day Biden is inaugurated as president, his executive actions will include:
- Asking the Department of Education to extend the pause on student loan payments and interests on federal student loans
- Rejoin the Paris Agreement, which focuses on goals to help mitigate climate change
- Reverse the travel ban for Muslim-majority countries
He will also enact orders that address the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. As president, he will launch his “100 Day Masking Challenge,” which includes a mask mandate on federal property and inter-state travel. He will also extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures.
On Biden’s second day in office, he will sign more executive actions addressing the pandemic that will “change the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses,” the transition team said. He will take actions that aim to mitigate the spread of the virus by expanding testing, protecting workers and establishing public health standards.
On his third day in office, Biden will direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families, though the transition team did not provide specifcs.
Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, Biden will sign more executive actions, memoranda and issues additional Cabinet directives, including ones addressing equity and support in communities of color and underserved communities, and criminal justice system reforms.
Biden also plans to sign more executive actions addressing the climate crisis, in addition to taking his first steps to expand access to health care. And he will begin reuniting families separated at the border. As of December, 628 parents who were separated from their children at the border are still missing.
– Rebecca Morin
Multiple House committees launch investigation after attack on Capitol
Several House committees intend to conduct a review of insurrection at the Capitol Jan. 6 and the threats against a peaceful transition of power between President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.
The House Committees of the Judiciary, Homeland Security, Oversight and Reform, and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sent a letter to several federal agencies requesting any relevant documents, briefings and intelligence surrounding the events at the Capitol last week and the incoming threats.
The committees requested information from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In the letter by the chairs of the four committees – Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Committee on Homeland Security Chair Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss.; and Committee on Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.; wrote that they “will conduct robust oversight to understand what warning signs may have been missed, determine whether there were systemic failures, and consider how to best address countering domestic violent extremism, including remedying any gaps in legislation or policy.”
The committee chairs also requested information about whether any current or former holders of security clearance, or anyone who had positions in U.S. security organizations, had participated in the insurrection and what measures were being taken to “identify, apprehend or prevent the travel of those who committed crimes.”
And in a letter to the head of the Major Cities Chiefs Association – comprised of law enforcement agencies from the largest cities in the U.S. and Canada – Maloney and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-M.D., called on “the entire law enforcement community must respond with a single voice and clear, decisive action to this threat.”
Several police officers from around the country have been identified as having participated in the riot and storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“While everyone who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol must be brought to justice, the participation of certain law enforcement personnel, who are entrusted to protect American lives and values, is particularly disturbing and warrants swift investigation,” wrote Maloney and Raskin. “As law enforcement officers fulfill their responsibility — and put their lives on the line — to defend our country, we must work to identify any individuals within police ranks who have taken action to undermine those efforts, and prevent others who seek to join them.”
They asked the police chiefs and sheriffs to tell them what steps they are taking to identify and punish any officers who took part in the attack; to prevent participation in “future insurrectionist or seditious events;” to keep officers sympathizing with extremist groups from affecting the response to any violence on Inauguration Day; and what they plan to do to support Washington’s law enforcement efforts on that day.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
‘Horrified’ Loews won’t host fundraiser for Sen. Hawley
Loews Hotels announced Saturday it would not host a fundraiser for Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley that was scheduled to be held next month at the hotel chain’s Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.
“We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions. In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fundraiser that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels,” the company said in a tweet.
Hawley was the first senator to announce he would be objecting to the certification of the Electoral College votes during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Critics have denounced Hawley for the move, along with the GOP senators who joined him, which they said further fueled the pro-Trump mob that descended on the Capitol that day.
Hawley was expected to attend the Orlando Feb. 12-15 fundraiser, promoted as “a fun-filled-family-friendly Orlando weekend event.” The event was organized by Fighting for Missouri, a Hawley-affiliated political committee, which raised more than $270,000 for Hawley during the 2020 election cycle.
The Missouri senator has also been criticized for a photo showing him raising his fist in solidarity with the pro-Trump protesters outside the Capitol prior to the riot and the storming of the building, which left several people dead.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
Rand Paul: ‘Tell Dr. Fauci to take a leap’
Sen. Rand Paul contradicted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and told people during a FOX News interview on Friday to discard their masks once they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have been infected with the coronavirus.
“If you’ve had the disease or you’ve been vaccinated and you’re several weeks out of your second dose, throw your mask away and tell Dr. Fauci to take a leap because, once you have immunity, you don’t need to do this,” the Kentucky Republican told Fox News host Lauren Ingram.
The CDC says “not enough information is currently available” to lift its recommendations that people wear masks and practice social distancing after getting the vaccine.
“Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision,” the CDC says.
“Masks and social distancing will need to continue into the foreseeable future — until we have some level of herd immunity. Masks and distancing are here to stay,” Dr. Preeti Malani, the chief health officer at the University of Michigan, told PBS.
Malani also said that no vaccine is immediately effective. It takes roughly two weeks before an immune system to make the antibodies necessary to block the infections.
Experts also aren’t sure whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevent people from spreading the virus. As of right now, the vaccines are only known to prevent people from getting sick. Until experts can determine that, the safest thing is to keep wearing masks, according to Dr. Tom Frieden, a former CDC director.
Some on social media criticized Paul for his comments.
“With this ludicrous statement, Rand Paul presents more compelling personal evidence that he remains a very ignorant, dangerous, and misguided individual,” tweeted former CIA Director John Brennan. “Unfortunately, we have far too many of them within our midst and within our government as of late.”
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
Rep. Lou Correa announces he tested positive for COVID-19
Rep. Lou Correa announced on Twitter Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19 the day before.
The California Democrat also acknowledged that he will miss President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration because of his illness.
“Yesterday, I tested positive for COVID-19. I will be responsible & self-quarantine, away from my family, for the recommended time,” Correa said. “While I’ll miss the much-anticipated inauguration of President-elect @JoeBiden, I look forward to working with the new Admin to unite our country!”
Correa now joins the more than 60 members of Congress that have tested positive for the coronavirus.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
Michael Lindell photographed with White House meeting notes on martial law, installing Trump loyalist at CIA
Michael Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, was photographed leaving a White House meeting Friday with notes referring to the use of martial law and a potential CIA shakeup.
Among the text visible in Lindell’s notes is a reference to “…martial law if necessary upon the first hint of any …” with the rest of the sentence obstructed. A line above that appears to read, “Insurrection Act now as a result of the assault on the … ” Another section of the notes cites “Foreign Interference in the election” and says, “Make clear this is China/Iran.”
The notes also suggested replacing CIA Director Gina Haspel with Kash Patel, a Trump loyalist serving as the chief of staff to acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.
“Move Kash Patel to CIA acting,” read Lindell’s notes.
As a staffer to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Patel worked to discredit the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference. Trump installed him in his position at the Pentagon in November, after his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.
Haspel threatened to resign in early December after learning of Trump’s plan to replace her with Patel, according to several senior administration officials, Axios reported.
The photographs of Lindell were taken as he waited to meet with the president. Despite the dramatic moves outlined in the notes, White House officials said that nothing came from the brief 5-10 minute meeting between Trump and Lindell, according to The New York Times.
If Lindell presented the ideas outlined in his notes to the president, it would not be the first time the idea of martial law has been discussed in the White House since Trump’s Nov. 3 loss. During a meeting in December, Trump reportedly asked former national security adviser Michael Flynn about invoking martial law and discussed it during the meeting.
Lindell, a staunch supporter of Trump, has continued to share false claims of widespread voter fraud and Trump’s baseless claims that he was the true winner of an election he lost by more than 4 percentage points.
As recently as Thursday, Lindell told supporters on Facebook to “keep the faith” and, “We will have our president Donald Trump 4 more years!”
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
White House to resume release of visitor logs under Biden
During the Biden-Harris administration, the White House will once again release visitor logs, according to the incoming press secretary, Jen Psaki.
“For the sake of clarity – The Biden-Harris Administration will return to the policy of releasing White House visitor logs,” Psaki said in tweet Friday night. “Also true that visitors will be limited for some time because safety during the pandemic is top priority.”
This change is a shift from President Donald Trump’s White House, which kept the visitor logs private. That move was heavily criticized and even faced a lawsuit in response.
The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen took civil action against the Secret Service in August 2017, requesting they be compelled to “produce records responsive to FOIA requests for visitor logs and other records documenting visitors to four agencies housed in the White House Complex.” Those agencies are the Office of Management and Budget, Science and Technology Policy, National Drug Control Policy and Council on Environmental Quality.
The lawsuit requested that the Secret Service “cease its policy or practice of withholding these records in violation of the FOIA.”
Under Biden, the White House will go back to archiving and releasing visitor logs, as was the policy under President Barack Obama.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi