House prosecutors walked the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday night, setting the stage for a trial to begin Feb. 9.
Nine House members led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., will serve as prosecutors, who are called managers, in the trial.
House Democrats were joined by 10 Republicans in voting Jan. 13 to charge Trump with inciting insurrection at the Capitol a week earlier after a riot left five people dead. A violent mob smashed windows and doors while storming the building and occupying offices, including the Senate chamber, where the trial will be held.
With the formal presentation of the article of impeachment, senators will be sworn in Tuesday as jurors to determine whether Trump incited the rampage. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate with 50 Republicans and 50 members who caucus with Democrats.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the longest-serving member of the Democratic majority, will preside over the trial rather than Chief Justice John Roberts.
Roberts presided over Trump’s first impeachment trial over dealings with Ukraine. But the Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside only over trials of sitting presidents.
— Bart Jansen
Janet Yellen wins Senate approval as Treasury secretary
Janet Yellen became the first woman to head the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday, a historic appointment that will position her to promptly work on President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, which aims to further the recovery and offer relief to Americans devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yellen, the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve during her tenure from 2014 to 2018, was confirmed by the Senate on Monday.
She is the first person to head the Treasury, Federal Reserve and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
In a Washington, D.C., bitterly divided over everything from the size of the next COVID-19 relief package to broader tax and spending policies, former Fed Chair Yellen may be just the balm, experts say.
— Paul Davidson
Senate committee approves Blinken’s nomination to be secretary of State
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee greenlighted Antony Blinken’s nomination to be secretary of State in a bipartisan vote on Monday.
The 15-to-3 vote sends Blinken’s nomination to the full Senate, which could take up his confirmation as early as Tuesday.
“He’s highly qualified, he’s well prepared to be the next secretary of State,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the committee.
The three Republicans who voted against Blinken were Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Paul was the only committee member to speak out against Blinken during the committee’s brief session Monday night. A libertarian who has long opposed U.S. military intervention, Paul suggested Blinken would lead the U.S. into more foreign entanglements.
“He has been in favor of every military intervention in the Middle East over the last 20 years,” Paul asserted, citing the U.S. military’s role in Libya, Syria and Yemen.
Democrats had pushed for Blinken to move on a faster track, given his nomination for such a critical national security post. But Republicans slowed the process, seeking Blinken’s responses to hundreds of written questions after his initial confirmation hearing last week.
The 58-year-old Blinken has more than two decades of foreign policy experience, and he is one of Biden’s most trusted advisers.
— Deirdre Shesgreen
Biden predicts vaccinations will become available to general public in the spring
President Joe Biden on Monday nudged upward the number of vaccines he hopes will be administered in coming weeks and said vaccines should start becoming available to the general public by spring.
Biden, who has faced questions of whether the vaccination goal he set for his first 100 days is ambitious enough, told reporters the pace of 1 million a day could climb to 1.5 million.
Biden said he’s optimistic there will be enough vaccine and the administration is also pressing to get more syringes, more people who can administer the vaccines and more vaccination sites.
Asked when anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it, Biden said: “I think we’ll be able to do that this spring.”
“But it’s going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country,” he said.
Still, Biden said he feels confident that, by summer, the nation will be “well on our way to heading toward herd immunity” by going beyond the high-priority populations and vaccinating a large majority of the public.
— Maureen Groppe
Biden signs executive order to push federal government to ‘Buy American’
President Joe Biden kicked off his “Made In America” initiative on Monday by signing an executive order directing the federal government to buy more U.S.-manufactured goods and services.
It is the “key plank of ensuring the future will be ‘Made in America,’ ” Biden said during remarks before he signed the order. “That means we’re going to use taxpayers’ money to rebuild America, buy American products and support American jobs.”
Federal law requires government agencies to give preference to American firms when possible, but critics say those requirements haven’t always been implemented consistently or effectively. Some have not been substantially updated since the 1950s.
Biden’s order, which echoes former President Donald Trump’s initiative to encourage federal agencies to by American-made goods, will go farther than previous administrations as it will close loopholes that have allowed federal agencies get around requirements to buy U.S.-made products, according to the president.
The order will increase domestic content threshold, which is how much of a product that must be made in the U.S. before it can be purchased by the federal government, and calls for a central review of requests for waivers to Buy American rules. Exceptions will only be made for overwhelming national security, humanitarian or emergency needs, according to Biden.
The president said he is sending “clear directives and clear explanations” through his order, which also creates a senior director’s position in the Office of Management and Budget whose focus will be on the “Made In America” campaign and making sure the new rules are followed.
Biden said the administration would use a national network of manufacturers to help connect the federal government with new domestic suppliers across the country and to ensure communities that have historically been left out of government procurement contracts are able to compete.
“When we buy America, we will buy from all of America,” Biden said. “This is a critical piece of building our economy back better and including everyone in the deal this time, especially small businesses that are badly hurting in this economy,” he said.
— Courtney Subramanian
Biden to speed up putting Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
The Biden administration is hoping to accelerate steps to feature abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, a change announced during the Obama administration that stalled under President Donald Trump.
“We’re exploring ways to speed up that effort,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.
Psaki said it’s important the nation’s currency “reflect the history and diversity of our country.”
Trump said in 2016 that replacing former President Andrew Jackson with Tubman on the $20 was “pure political correctness.” He said she could be put on the $2 bill instead.
Pressed on the issue at a 2019 congressional hearing, then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said changes to the images on currency would not happen until 2026.
— Maureen Groppe
Sen. Patrick Leahy to preside over impeachment trial
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate as its most senior Democratic member, is expected to preside over former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial instead of Chief Justice John Roberts, the senator announced Monday.
The chief justice, who oversees the federal courts in addition to his role on the Supreme Court, presides over impeachment trials of a sitting president. However, the president of the Senate, who is the vice president or the president pro tempore in the vice president’s absence, presides over other impeachment trials.
In a statement, Leahy said he will not “waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”
Leahy’s presiding over the trial means that Vice President Kamala Harris is unlikely to attend the impeachment trial. Some Republican senators have raised procedural objections to the impeachment of a former president and expressed concern about anyone besides Roberts presiding over the trial. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said in a Sunday op-ed in the Hill newspaper that a trial without Roberts would be a “charade” and threatened to boycott the proceedings.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted Leahy’s presiding over the trial was “unprecedented” and asked how a senator could serve as both a judge and juror.
Asked Monday on Capitol Hill if he had any concerns about partisanship in the trial because of his criticism of the president, Leahy told reporters his position was about procedure, not about presenting evidence.
“I don’t think there’s any senator who over the 40-plus years I’ve been here that would say that I am anything but impartial in ruling on procedure,” he said.
The House of Representatives is set to transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday evening, and senators will be sworn in for their court of impeachment on Tuesday. Trump’s impeachment trial is set to begin the week of Feb. 8.
— Nicholas Wu
Poll: A majority of Americans support Trump impeachment, conviction
Most Americans say they support the impeachment and Senate conviction of former President Donald Trump, though the majority of Republicans still back him, according to a new poll by Monmouth University released Monday.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said they approve of the House of Representatives’ move to impeach Trump, and 42% said they disapprove. The breakdown is highly partisan, with 92% of Democrats approving of the impeachment and 13% of Republicans approving; 52% of independents also said they supported the impeachment.
Trump was impeached by the House on Jan. 13 on one article of incitement of the deadly riot that stormed the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. Ten Republicans voted yes.
Most also thought Trump should be convicted by the Senate, and a majority also thought action should be taken to prevent Trump from holding future office. Fifty-two percent said they want the Senate to convict, while 44% said they do not. Of those surveyed, 57% also thought Trump should be barred from holding an office in the future, while 41% did not. When survey respondents were informed that a measure to prevent him from holding office could only come after a conviction, the support for conviction in the Senate increased to 55%.
The mob that breached the Capitol comprised Trump supporters who wrongly believed President Joe Biden had not legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, bolstered by weeks of Trump and his allies claiming without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud.
The Monmouth poll found that roughly one-third (32%) of Americans still believed fraud was the cause of Trump’s defeat, similar to findings in a November poll. Sixty-five percent agreed Biden won the election “fair and square.” Of the Republicans surveyed, 72% said they believe Biden won due to fraud. About 10% said they would never accept Biden as president despite that he was already sworn in.
Monmouth conducted its poll Jan. 21-24 by surveying 809 American adults who self-reported their political affiliation. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
— Jeanine Santucci
Justice watchdog to investigate staff for potential election interference
The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, announced Monday he would investigate whether any current or former department staffers engaged in an improper attempt to “alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”
“The investigation will encompass all relevant allegations that may arise that are within the scope of the (office’s) jurisdiction,” according to the announcement.
Then-Attorney General William Barr dismissed an assertion Dec. 1 that “machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results” by saying the departments of Justice and Homeland Security “haven’t found anything to substantiate that.” But Jeffrey Clark, acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, reportedly worked with former President Donald Trump on his unfounded claims of election fraud, according to a New York Times report.
Clark told the paper he offered legal advice to the White House, as is customary for any senior official, but he denied the report’s accusation that he sought to oust Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
The inspector general has jurisdiction to investigate allegations concerning the conduct of former and current Justice employees, but not other government officials.
— Bart Jansen
House to send article of impeachment to Senate
House Democrats will carry Monday their single article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump across the Capitol to the Senate, setting in motion the first steps for an unprecedented trial of a president who has already left office.
The article, which charges Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” focuses on his role in the Jan. 6 riot in which the president’s supporters ransacked the Capitol to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.
The articles are scheduled to arrive at the Senate around 7 p.m. On Tuesday, senators will be sworn in as members of the “Court of Impeachment.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., previewed how the House prosecutors, known as “managers,” will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump on Monday about 7 p.m.
“Although I remain hopeful for our country after the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris, we must not give Donald Trump a pass for inciting a deadly insurrection on our Capitol just a few weeks ago,” Nadler said. “He must be held accountable. The future of this country is at stake.”
The trial is slated to begin the week of Feb. 8. The prosecution will be led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
Ten Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in backing the article of impeachment. It is unclear how many GOP senators will similarly split with Trump, and the conservative base, on a vote to convict the president.
“Well, first of all, I think the trial is stupid,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend. Rubio argued a conviction would be “arrogant” given Trump’s persistent popularity with Republicans, though he said Trump “bears responsibility” for the Capitol insurrection.
Other Republican senators have taken a different view.
“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said on “CNN Politics” Sunday. “If not? what is?” he asked.
The Senate trial will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 9 with pretrial briefings beginning the day before on Feb. 8.
– Matthew Brown and Bart Jansen
Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman won’t seek re-election
Republican Rob Portman will not seek a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, he told The (Cincinnati) Enquirer.
Portman, 65, former U.S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush, plans to publicly announce his decision during a press conference Monday morning at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in downtown Cincinnati. He plans to finish out the remainder of his term through the end of next year, according to his office.
“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been the greatest honor of my career,” Portman said in a statement.
After three decades in Washington, Portman has grown tired of the incivility in politics and the increasing partisan divide. One of Greater Cincinnati’s most prominent politicians, he was once expected to be headed to national office. He’s known for sticking to policy and refraining from personal attacks.
“I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision,” he said.
Portman also was one of the few Republicans who publicly broke with Donald Trump over the then-president’s claims of broad voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election.
“… There is no evidence as of now of any widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the result in any state,” he wrote in an opinion column for USA TODAY that ran Nov. 27.
Portman was first elected to the Senate in 2010, following the retirement of Republican George Voinovich. Portman had previously served parts of seven terms in the U.S. House from 1993 to 2005, representing Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District.
He first came to Washington in 1989 as a legislative aide to President George H.W. Bush. Portman considered Bush a mentor, and they maintained a close relationship until the former president died in 2018.
Portman’s seat is expected to remain a safe bet for Republicans. Potential GOP candidates for Portman’s seat include: Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken, former state treasurer Josh Mandel and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance.
– Jason Williams, Cincinnati Enquirer
Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for Arkansas governor
A prominent figure in Donald Trump’s presidency – former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders – said Monday she is entering the campaign world by running for governor of Arkansas.
Making her announcement in a video nearly eight minutes long, Sanders stressed her ties to the embattled Trump and suggested she would run in part against the presidency of Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Sanders attacked the Democrats as “socialists” and suggested she would run against them in her bid to be chief executive of Arkansas. “Their socialism and cancel culture will not heal America,” she said as she declared her candidacy.
Sanders’ campaign will test the potency of the Trump brand in 2022 elections.
The former press secretary declared her bid less than two weeks after the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Trump is scheduled to stand trial in the Senate next month.
Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, will have to win a Republican primary in Arkansas, and that may not be easy.
Two other statewide officials – Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge – are also planning gubernatorial bids.
Current Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, is term-limited.
– David Jackson