Trump to outline impeachment defense as Biden seeks to undo border family separations – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Biden pledges to ‘undo moral shame’ of Trump era with new orders on immigration – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh (now), Joan E Greve and Martin Belam (earlier), for theguardian.com on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 01.11 UTC

12.58am GMT

Summary

Here’s a recap of today, from me and Joan E Greve:

  • Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders aimed at unraveling Donald Trump’s immigration agenda. One of the orders establishes a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
  • Immigration advocates have welcomed the reforms but say they should include the dismantling of Ice, which was designed to criminalize immigrants. The agency has continued to deport hundreds over the past few weeks and plans to continue deportations this week. Advocates have alleged human rights abuses and accused the agency of disproportionately targeting Black migrants.
  • Elizabeth Warren will be joining the powerful Senate finance committee. The progressive Massachusetts senator who has championed tax increases for the ultra-wealthy will play a key role in making tax, trade, and healthcare laws.
  • Trump’s defense team and the House impeachment managers filed briefs ahead of next week’s Senate trial. While the impeachment managers argued Trump must be convicted because he posed a threat to the foundation of American democracy, the former president’s team falsely claimed that he did not incite the violent insurrection at the US Capitol last month. On 6 January, Trump repeated his lies about election fraud and explicitly told his supporters to march to the Capitol as Congress certified Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
  • The Senate advanced a budget resolution, paving the way to pass coronavirus relief without Republican support. In a 50-49 vote, the Senate approved the motion to debate the budget resolution. The vote puts Democrats on track to pass Biden’s relief package using reconciliation, meaning they would only need 51 votes to get the bill through the Senate.
  • Two more members of Biden’s cabinet were confirmed. The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary and Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security. Buttigieg is the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be confirmed by the Senate, and Mayorkas is the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
  • The Biden administration will start shipping vaccines directly to US pharmacies. The new program will launch in a limited capacity next week, and the White House promised it would expand vaccine access in neighborhoods across the country.

Updated at 1.13am GMT

12.47am GMT

Georgia’s secretary of state is reportedly investigating whether Lin Wood –– a pro-Trump attorney who has falsely undermined the US election system and baselessly alleged voter fraud – voted illegally.

Wsbtv reports:

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has launched an investigation into whether Wood was eligible to vote in Georgia, whether he broke the law by casting his ballot and whether he was actually a Georgia resident.

Sources at the secretary of state’s office say an email that Wood sent to [WSBTV reporter Justin] Gray caused them to launch an official investigation.

In the email, Wood confirmed he moved to South Carolina, writing “I have been domiciled in South Carolina for several months after purchasing property in the state in April.”

Now state election investigators are looking into whether that means Wood legally should not have been able to vote in the November election.

They cite a section of Georgia code that reads, “If a person removes to another state with the intention of making it such person’s residence, such person shall be considered to have lost such person’s residence in this state.”

Updated at 1.03am GMT

12.32am GMT

‘We were in the dark’: why the US is far behind in tracking Covid-19 variants

As researchers around the world scramble to understand the dangers of several newly discovered variants of the deadly coronavirus, the US remains woefully behind in its ability to track the mutations, scientists say.

The federal government has had its “head in the sand”, failing to develop a coordinated surveillance system for tracking the genetic footprints of the virus, according to academic researchers, scientific panelists and private entrepreneurs, who say they have been urging US officials for months to make better use of the hi-tech resources already sitting in labs around the country.

Genomic sequencing looks at the entire genetic code – or genome – of viruses obtained from samples from infected patients. The technique allows researchers to watch for dangerous mutations and to track movements of specific variants, like detectives following footprints.

Most genetic variations are inconsequential. But to discover those with functional differences, like more transmissible variants first identified in the UK (B117) and in South Africa (B1351), the research is essential. Yet by Friday the US had only plotted and shared the genetic sequences of 0.3% of its coronavirus cases, ranking 30th in the world, behind countries including Portugal, Latvia and Sierra Leone, according to a tracker developed by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Some US states have had virtually no surveillance at all.

“We’re used to being No 1 and this technology is all over the country,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, who heads a coronavirus sequencing effort there. Instead, he said, when alarms were raised about the new mutation spreading rapidly in the UK, “we were in the dark. With so few samples, the detective work becomes more like seeing a mirage in the desert.”

Read more:

11.59pm GMT

New claims of migrant abuse as Ice defies Biden to continue deportations

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has been denounced as a “rogue agency” after new allegations of assaults on asylum seekers emerged, and deportations of African and Caribbean migrants continued in defiance of the Biden administration’s orders.

Joe Biden unveiled his immigration agenda on Tuesday, and his homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed by the Senate, but the continued deportations suggested the Biden White House still does not have full control of Ice, which faces multiple allegations of human rights abuses and allegations that it has disproportionately targeted black migrants.

A coalition of immigrant rights groups published affidavits from Cameroonian asylum seekers who they said were tortured by being forced to approve their own deportations. The asylum seekers described being forced to the floor and having their fingers inked and pressed on to deportation documents they had refused to sign.

An Ice plane deporting Cameroonian, Angolan, Congolese and other African migrants is expected to leave Louisiana on Wednesday, despite an order from the incoming Biden administration for a 100-day suspension of deportation flights.

A Trump-appointed judge in Texas blocked the Biden moratorium last week, approving a challenge from the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, who played a leading role in the attempt to overturn the election result.

However, the judge did not block guidelines laid down by the then acting secretary of homeland security David Pekoske, which came into effect on Monday and stipulated that deportations should be limited to suspected terrorists, convicted felons deemed a “threat to public safety”, and migrants who arrived after 1 November last year.

Ice carried out a deportation flight to Haiti on Tuesday morning carrying people who fit none of those criteria. One of the deportees on that flight was Paul Pierrilus, a 40-year-old financial consultant from New York state, who had never been to Haiti and is not a Haitian citizen, according to the country’s ambassador to Washington. The ambassador, Bocchit Edmond, has told activists he was taken by surprise by the deportation but did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Pierrilus was taken off a 19 January deportation flight at the last moment after the intervention of his local congressman, Mondaire Jones. But despite that temporary reprieve, he was driven to an Ice airfield in Alexandria, Louisiana, early on Tuesday and put on a plane to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.

Read more:

11.39pm GMT

A California prison transfer led to dozens of deaths and endangered thousands

A hastily executed transfer of nearly 200 people in California’s prison system set off a public health disaster that endangered the lives of thousands of prisoners and staff and led to dozens of deaths, according to a new report from the state’s office of the inspector general (OIG).

The report published on Monday, the third in a series examining the Covid-19 catastrophe in California state prisons, details the circumstances of a May 2020 transfer of 189 people from the California Institute for Men (CIM) in Chino, California, to San Quentin state prison in the Bay Area and Corcoran state prison in the Central Valley.

CIM saw one of the first outbreaks in the California prison system, and to slow Covid-19’s spread inside, California department of corrections and rehabilitation (CDCR) and California correctional health care services (CCHCS) officials resolved to transfer people at CIM who were at risk of severe illness and death to prisons that were Covid-free. Before the transfer, San Quentin had reported no positive cases of Covid-19 and Corcoran had just one.

But within a month of the transfer, Corcoran reported almost 130 infections and San Quentin reached nearly 1,200 cases, according to CDCR’s Covid-19 tracking website. Cases at San Quentin continued to rise in the following months, with infections rising to 2,100. At least 28 people died.

Activists, officials and the families of incarcerated people quickly pointed to the transfers as a major policy failure and lamented that the state was using them as a substitute for making space by releasing the ageing and infirm.

Now, seven months later, the office of the inspector general has concluded that officials ignored concerns from healthcare staff at CIM before the transfer.

Read more:

11.27pm GMT

Immigration advocates have welcomed Biden’s reforms, but have also pointed out that more comprehensive action is needed, including the dismantling of Ice, which was designed to criminalize immigrants.

Here’s the chief of advocacy for the immigrant rights group Raices:

Already, the Biden administration has removed hundreds of immigrants, the AP reports:

A federal judge last week ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day moratorium on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras on Friday. More deportation flights were scheduled Monday.

It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that the Department of Homeland Security issued to enforcement agencies and that took effect Monday.

Some of the people put on the flights may have been expelled — which is a quicker process than deportation — under a public health order that former President Donald Trump invoked during the coronavirus pandemic and that Biden has kept in place.

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, immigration authorities on Friday deported a woman who witnessed the 2019 massacre at a Walmart that left 23 people dead. She had agreed to be a witness against the gunman and has met with the local district attorney’s office, according to her lawyers.

Rosa was pulled over Wednesday for a broken brake light, detained based on previous traffic warrants, then transferred to ICE, which deported her before she could reach her attorney, said Melissa Lopez, executive director of the nonprofit Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, which represents her.

Rosa is being identified only by her first name because she fears for her safety in Juarez, a city across the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso that’s known for violence and gang activity.

ICE said Friday that it had deported people to Jamaica and that it was in compliance with last week’s court order. The agency did not respond to several requests for further comment on additional deportation flights or Rosa’s case.

Officials in Honduras confirmed that 131 people were on a deportation flight that landed Friday. Another flight that landed in Guatemala on Friday had 138 people, with an additional 30 people expected to arrive Monday, officials there said.

The White House referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, but a spokesman did not return requests for comment.

Updated at 11.42pm GMT

10.55pm GMT

Prior to signing the immigration orders, Joe Biden addressed the deaths of two FBI agents who were killed while carrying out a search warrant in Florida.

“They put their lives on the line and that’s a hell of a price to pay,” he said.

Three other agents were wounded while they tried to search the apartment of a suspect in a case involving crimes against children.

Here’s more on that story:

10.46pm GMT

Biden signs executive orders on immigration

“We’re going to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families, their mothers, and fathers, at the border, and with no plan – none whatsoever – to reunify,” Biden said.

His first order reestablished a task force with the goal of reuniting families.

The order is meant “to remove the stain on the reputation” of the US caused by Trump’s family separation policy,” Biden said, as he signed the document.

Updated at 10.56pm GMT

10.43pm GMT

Joe Biden signs executive orders on immigration

Flanked by Kamala Harris and Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden signed executive orders on immigration.

“I’m not making new law, I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden said. “The last president issued executive orders I thought were counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we were as a country, especially in the area of immigration.”

10.35pm GMT

Elizabeth Warren will join Senate finance committee

Elizabeth Warren, the progressive Massachusetts senator who has championed tax increases for the ultra-wealthy, will be joining the powerful Senate finance committee, where she will be able to exert greater influence on tax, trade, and healthcare policy.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate leader, confirmed Warren’s appointment on Tuesday afternoon.

Warren, who ran against Biden in the Democratic presidential primaries, supports a Medicare-for-All healthcare program and a wealth tax, neither of which Joe Biden has endorsed. But Biden has indicated he’d support increasing taxes on the wealthy, and expanding healthcare access – and the administration will be working with Warren and fellow progressive senator Bernie Sanders (who heads the budget committee) on tax and health policy as it endeavors to lead Americans out of the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

Updated at 10.43pm GMT

10.15pm GMT

A preview of Biden’s immigration actions:

Joe Biden is set to create a taskforce to reunify families separated at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration, as part of a new series of immigration executive actions.

The two other orders to be announced on Tuesday call for a review of the changes the Trump administration made to reshape US immigration, and for programs to address the forces driving people north, senior Biden administration officials said

A briefing document said Biden’s immigration plans are “centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people – both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations – to more fully contribute to our country”.

A central piece of the Tuesday actions is the family reunification taskforce, which is charged with identifying and enabling the reunification of all children separated from their families by the Trump administration.

‘We tortured families’: The lingering damage of Trump’s separation policyRead more

The government first made the separations public with an April 2018 memo, but about a thousand families were separated in secret in the months prior. Administration officials said children in both groups would be included in the reunification process.

Biden officials said they could not say how many children had to be reunified because the policy was implemented without a method for tracking the separated families. In an ongoing court case, a reunification committee said in December that the parents of 628 children had not been located.

The taskforce will consist of government officials and be led by Biden’s nominee for secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who is set to be confirmed on Tuesday.

A senior administration official said the family separation policy was a “moral failure and national shame” and that reversing the policies which made it possible was a priority.

The second action on Tuesday is intended to address the driving forces of migration from Central and South America. Senior administration officials said this includes working with governments and not-for-profits to increase other countries’ capacities to host migrants and ensuring Central American refugees and asylum seekers have legal pathways to enter the US.

It also directs the homeland security secretary to review the migrant protection protocols (MPP), better known as Remain in Mexico, which require asylum seekers to await their court hearings in Mexican border towns instead of in the US, as before.

The Biden administration also plans to use this action to bring back some Obama-era policies, such as the Central American Minors (CAM) program, which allowed some minors to apply for refugee status from their home countries.

The Trump administration made more than 400 changes to reshape immigration, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and Biden’s third action includes a review of some of these recent efforts to restrict legal immigration.

This includes a review of the public charge rule, which the Trump administration expanded to allow the federal government to deny green cards and visas to immigrants if they used public benefits. Though the rule was suspended repeatedly because of lawsuits, its initial introduction created a chilling effect in immigrant communities, with families dis-enrolling from aid programs out of concerns about its effect on they and their family’s immigration status.

Read more:

10.00pm GMT

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden will soon sign a series of executive orders aimed at unraveling Donald Trump’s immigration agenda. One of the orders will establish a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
  • Trump’s defense team and the House impeachment managers filed briefs ahead of next week’s Senate trial. While the impeachment managers argued Trump must be convicted because he posed a threat to the foundation of American democracy, the former president’s team falsely claimed that he did not incite the violent insurrection at the US Capitol last month. On January 6, Trump repeated his lies about election fraud and explicitly told his supporters to march to the Capitol as Congress certified Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
  • The Senate advanced a budget resolution, paving the way to pass coronavirus relief without Republican support. In a 50-49 vote, the Senate approved the motion to debate the budget resolution. The vote puts Democrats on track to pass Biden’s relief package using reconciliation, meaning they would only need 51 votes to get the bill through the Senate.
  • Two more members of Biden’s cabinet were confirmed. The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary and Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security. Buttigieg is the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be confirmed by the Senate, and Mayorkas is the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
  • The Biden administration will start shipping vaccines directly to US pharmacies. The new program will launch in a limited capacity next week, and the White House promised it would expand vaccine access in neighborhoods across the country.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated at 10.02pm GMT

9.44pm GMT

On the eve of a parliamentary vote on whether an investigation should be ordered into the financing of Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resorts, the former US president’s son has castigated politicians for “advancing their personal agendas”.

Eric Trump issued the bulletin as the Scottish parliament prepares to host a debate called by Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens. The Trump Organiszation’s executive vice-president also has now branded described Harvie as a “national embarrassment.”

Harvie is urging the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to seek an unexplained wealth order (UWO) in relation to Trump International, a course in Aberdeenshire, and the famous Turnberry resort in Ayrshire. If granted via courts, a UWO compels businesses or individuals to detail the background to source of their wealth.

“The Scottish government has tried to avoid the question of investigating Donald Trump’s wealth for far too long,” Harvie told The Scotsman. “There are serious concerns about how he financed the cash purchases of his Scottish golf courses, but no investigation has ever taken place. That’s why I’m bringing this vote to parliament. The government must seek an unexplained wealth order to shine a light on Trump’s shadowy dealings.”

On Tuesday, Eric Trump hit back. “Patrick Harvie is nothing more than a national embarrassment with his pathetic antics that only serve himself and his political agenda,” he said. “If Harvie and the rest of the Scottish government continue to treat overseas investors like this, it will deter future investors from conducting business in Scotland, ultimately crushing their economy, tourism and hospitality industries.”

Harvie is actually an opposition member of the Scottish parliament, with the Greens holding just five seats.

US prosecutors are investigating the Trump Organization’s finances and Trump’s tax liabilities, with significant loans to Trump by Deutsche Bank worth about 0m (£249m) that become repayable in 2023 and 2024 attracting attention.

The Trump Organization has always been adamant that irs Scottish golf courses were bought without any external financing. However, the New York Times reported that in 2016, during the presidential campaign, Trump sought a further loan from Deutsche Bank to fund his refurbishment of Turnberry, using his Doral resort in Miami as collateral.

9.26pm GMT

Senator Bernie Sanders, the incoming chairman of the Senate budget committee, outlined the need for more coronavirus relief in a floor speech after the budget resolution advanced.

The Vermont senator described the 0 stimulus checks passed as part of the December package as a “good start” but not enough to address American families’ financial suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package would provide ,400 checks to most Americans.

Sanders also lamented the “childcare crisis in America”, as many US children remain out of school due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. The senator argued the relief package would help to ease the suffering of many families with young children.

Updated at 9.37pm GMT

9.08pm GMT

Budget resolution advances, paving the way for coronavirus relief

The Senate has advanced Democrats’ budget resolution, paving the way to pass Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package using reconciliation.

The final vote on the motion to proceed to debating the resolution was 50-49. Because one Republican senator, Pat Toomey, was absent, Kamala Harris did not need to break the tie.

The vote means the Senate will now kick off 50 hours of debate on the budget resolution before the chamber starts to take up amendments to the proposal.

With reconciliation in place, Democrats can pass Biden’s relief package with only 51 votes, meaning they do not strictly need any Republicans to support the legislation.

8.51pm GMT

The Senate is now voting on whether to move forward with Democrats’ budget resolution.

If the resolution is approved, it would pave the way for Democrats to pass Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package using reconciliation.

Reconciliation would lower the number of Senate votes needed to pass the package from 60 to 51, meaning Democrats could advance the package without any Republican support.

Updated at 8.51pm GMT

8.41pm GMT

Alejandro Mayorkas’ confirmation means the Department of Homeland Security will have a Senate-confirmed leader for the first time in nearly two years.

The department has been run by acting DHS secretaries since April 2019, when Kirstjen Nielsen left the job.

Chad Wold, the former acting DHS secretary under Donald Trump, was nominated for the role, but he was never confirmed by the Senate.

Updated at 8.53pm GMT

8.28pm GMT

Mayorkas confirmed to lead DHS

A majority of the US Senate has voted today to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, meaning he will become the first Latino and immigrant to hold the position.

The latest move, coming on the back of Pete Buttigieg’s confirmation as transportation secretary earlier today, further crystalizes Joe Biden’s cabinet.

The vote was the closest yet for Mayorkas, in cabinet confirmations.

NPNA, the National Partnership for New Americans, which represents the nation’s largest immigrant coalitions, put out a celebratory tweet.

Updated at 8.37pm GMT

8.02pm GMT

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and fellow leading state officials are demanding that four lawyers who sought to invalidate the state’s presidential election results in court be disbarred.

Gretchen Whitmer.
Gretchen Whitmer.
Photograph: AP

The state’s three top office-holders, Whitmer, the state’s attorney general, Dana Nessel, and secretary of state Jocelyn Benson earlier today called for the disbarment of Greg Rohl, Scott Hagerstrom and Stefanie Junttila, all from Michigan. They also urged the disbarment of Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer based in Texas who promoted bogus election fraud claims.

The three Democratic leaders in the state, Whitmer, Nessel and Benson, are all lawyers, too.

The story was first reported by The Detroit News. The report goes on to say:

Nessel said the attorneys were involved in a suit “based on falsehoods, used their law license in an attempt to disenfranchise Michigan voters and undermine the faith of the public in the legitimacy of the recent presidential election, and lent credence to untruths that led to violence and unrest.”

The 2020 general election was the most secure in our nation’s history, and these lawyers abused their authority by filing meritless, frivolous lawsuits for the sole purpose of undermining public faith in the election,” Benson said in a press release. “They must be held accountable for this unprecedented attack on our democracy and prevented from replicating such harm in the future.”

Rohl, Hagerstrom, Junttila and Powell were involved in the King v. Whitmer lawsuit, which asked federal courts to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Michigan based on a bevy of conspiracy theories and claims contradicted by election experts.

Biden, a Democrat, won Michigan by 154,000 votes, but supporters of Republican Donald Trump sought to question the result based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Nationally, Powell is the most well known of the four attorneys. She was involved in failed election challenges in multiple swing states. She once described her legal effort as releasing the “kraken.”

On Dec. 7, Detroit U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker of Michigan’s Eastern District rejected the Michigan lawsuit, saying the effort aimed to “ignore the will of millions of voters.”

The suit seemed “less about achieving the relief” the GOP plaintiffs sought and “more about the impact of their allegations on people’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government,” the judge wrote.

Junttila declined to comment on the suggestion that she be disbarred.

The City of Detroit and Nessel have already sought legal sanctions against the attorneys in the Eastern District of Michigan.

7.40pm GMT

Today so far

The White House briefing has now concluded. Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Donald Trump’s defense team and the House impeachment managers filed briefs ahead of next week’s Senate trial. While the impeachment managers argued Trump must be convicted because he posed a threat to the foundation of American democracy, the former president’s team falsely claimed that he did not incite the violent insurrection at the US Capitol last month. On January 6, Trump repeated his lies about election fraud and explicitly told his supporters to march to the Capitol as Congress certified Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
  • The Biden administration will soon start shipping vaccines directly to US pharmacies. The program will launch in a limited capacity next week, and the White House promised it would expand vaccine access in neighborhoods across the country.
  • Biden will sign a series of executive orders aimed at unraveling Trump’s immigration agenda later today. One of the orders will establish a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

7.37pm GMT

A White House reporter noted that Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has come out to say he had a good lunch with Joe Biden. Schumer said Biden told Republican senators yesterday that their proposed relief package was too small.

Asked whether that was an accurate summary of yesterday’s meeting, Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden told Republicans the relief package needed to be larger.

“Our risk is not having a package that’s too big. It’s having a package that’s too small,” Psaki said.

The press secretary said moments earlier that the Biden administration is still aiming for a .9tn package, as the president previously proposed.

Updated at 8.13pm GMT

7.26pm GMT

Jen Psaki was pushed on whether Joe Biden was willing to drop his calls for the relief package to include a minimum wage, after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin indicated he was against that proposal.

The White House press secretary said she didn’t want to set any red lines for the relief negotiations.

Asked whether she believed Biden’s proposed package fit Manchin’s request for “targeted” relief, Psaki replied, “The size of the package was determined not for shock value but to address the dual crises that we’re facing.”

7.13pm GMT

Jen Psaki avoided giving specific details on Joe Biden’s must-haves for the next coronavirus relief package.

“We’re not going to negotiate from here or, frankly, in public,” the White House press secretary told reporters.

But Psaki’s earlier comments seem to suggest that ,400 checks for most Americans is a key priority for Biden.

The president promised Democrats would approve the stimulus checks if they won the Georgia Senate races and took control of the Senate, which they did.

7.08pm GMT

Jen Psaki indicated that Joe Biden explained to Senate Republicans during yesterday’s meeting that their proposed relief package was too small.

The press secretary used the example of a Scranton couple making 0,000 a year. Under the Republicans’ proposal, the couple would not get a direct payment from the next relief package. Psaki said Biden believes that couple should be eligible.

A number of congressional Democrats had called on Biden to stand firm in the meeting, rather than conceding to a smaller package. Biden has called for spending .9 trillion on coronavirus relief.

Updated at 7.28pm GMT

7.04pm GMT

Jen Psaki said Joe Biden had a “civil” meeting with Republican senators yesterday to discuss coronavirus relief.

“It was civil. It was constructive. This is how democracy is supposed to work,” the White House press secretary said.

Senate Democrats plan to advance their budget resolution later today, clearing the way for them to pass the package using reconciliation, meaning they may not need any Republican support to get the package through the Senate.

6.58pm GMT

Jen Psaki said Joe Biden would visit the state department on Thursday to deliver remarks to the staffers there.

The president had been scheduled to visit the state department yesterday, but it was postponed because of the bad weather in DC.

Biden’s visit will come a little over a week after the Senate confirmed his secretary of state, Antony Blinken.

6.55pm GMT

Jen Psaki said Joe Biden is now meeting (virtually) with the Senate Democratic caucus to discuss coronavirus relief.

The Senate is expected to advance a budget resolution later today, which will clear the way for Democrats to pass Biden’s relief package using reconciliation.

If Democrats use reconciliation, it would take only 51 votes (rather than 60) for the package to make it through the Senate.

6.52pm GMT

White House outlines immigration executive orders in briefing

Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing at the White House.

Psaki outlined the three immigration-related executive orders that Biden will sign later today. She said the orders were meant to “rebuild and strengthen our immigration system” by ensuring it is “fair, safe and orderly”.

Psaki confirmed that one order would create a task force aimed at reuniting migrant families still separated as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

Another order will ensure the legal immigration system operates fairly by reviewing some of Trump’s policies, including the “public charge” rule.

6.44pm GMT

The US secretary of state said the Biden administration was “deeply concerned” about the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“We reiterate our call for his immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of all those wrongfully detained for exercising their rights,” Antony Blinken said in a tweet.

Before he left office, Donald Trump generally dodged questions about the poisoning of Navalny, which was attributed to Vladimir Putin.

6.31pm GMT

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny jailed for two years and eight months

A Moscow court has sentenced Alexei Navalny to two years and eight months in a prison colony in a landmark decision for Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on the country’s leading opposition figure.

Navalny, who has accused the Russian president and his allies of stealing billions, was jailed for violating parole from a 2014 sentence for embezzlement in a case he has said was politically motivated.

The judge subtracted the 10 months he has spent under house arrest from his original three-and-a-half-year sentence as she delivered the verdict. Navalny then yelled “Don’t worry. Everything will be ok” to his wife Yulia watching in the court. Minutes before he had drawn a heart on the glass surrounding the dock as a message to her.

Supporters have called for a protest this evening near the Kremlin on Manezh Square.

The court’s decision makes Navalny the most prominent political prisoner in Russia and may be the most important verdict against a foe of Putin’s since the 2005 jailing of the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

6.19pm GMT

Buttigieg confirmed as transportation secretary

Pete Buttigieg, the former Democratic presidential candidate, has been confirmed as the next transportation secretary.

The Senate confirmed Buttigieg in a vote of 86 to 13, with more than a dozen Republicans opposing his nomination.

The confirmation makes Buttigieg the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be approved by the Senate.

Buttigieg previously served as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and during the presidential race, he had impressive performances in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

But Buttigieg dropped out of the race after Joe Biden’s landslide victory in the South Carolina primary. Following his withdrawal, Buttigieg endorsed Biden, becoming a close ally to the future president.

The Senate is also expected to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary of homeland security later today.

Updated at 6.20pm GMT

6.06pm GMT

The brief from Donald Trump’s legal team includes a misspelling of United States, an error that was immediately mocked by the former president’s many critics.

6.04pm GMT

Donald Trump’s legal defense team argued the former president acted “admirably” in his response to the violent insurrection at the US Capitol, which he incited.

“It is denied he betrayed his trust as President to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Rather, the 45th President performed admirably in his role, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people,” the brief says.

The former president not only incited the violence, but he later commended the rioters, saying in a January 6 video that they were “very special.” “We love you,” Trump told the insurrectionists.

5.58pm GMT

Donald Trump’s legal team also argued in the brief that the Senate did not have jurisdiction to convict the former president because he no longer holds office.

“The constitutional provision requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached. Since the 45th President is no longer ‘President,’ the clause ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for…’ is impossible for the Senate to accomplish,” the brief says.

Many Republican lawmakers have made this argument as well, and 45 Senate Republicans voted to preemptively dismiss the impeachment trial last week.

The House impeachment managers pushed back against this argument in their own brief, writing, “The text and structure of the Constitution, as well as its original meaning and prior interpretations by Congress, overwhelmingly demonstrate that a former official remains subject to trial and conviction for abuses committed in office. Any other rule would make little sense.”

5.52pm GMT

Trump’s impeachment defense team recycles lies about election fraud

Donald Trump’s legal team for his second impeachment trial has filed a 14-page brief defending his actions on January 6, when the then-president incited a violent insurrection at the US Capitol.

On January 6, Trump repeated his baseless claims that Joe Biden won the presidential election because of widespread fraud, and he encouraged his supporters to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol as Congress certified Biden’s victory.

The president’s legal team said in its brief, “Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.”

In reality, Trump and his allies have produced no evidence to substantiate their fraud claims, and members of both parties — including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell — have acknowledged that Biden fairly won the election.

5.27pm GMT

White House will soon ship vaccines directly to pharmacies

The Biden administration will soon start distributing coronavirus vaccine doses directly to pharmacies across the country.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the program would launch on a limited basis starting February 11.

“This pharmacy program will expand access in neighborhoods across the country,” Zients said.

Vaccines will initially be shipped to 6,500 pharmacies nationwide. Zients also announced the administration is increasing total weekly vaccine shipments from 10 million doses to 10.5 million doses.

“This is a national emergency, and we are treating it as such,” Zients said. “It’s critical that Congress does its work as well.”

Updated at 5.29pm GMT

5.20pm GMT

Biden and Yellen to join Senate Democrats’ caucus lunch today

Joe Biden and Janet Yellen will virtually join Senate Democrats’ caucus lunch today to discuss coronavirus relief, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer’s office has confirmed.

The president and the treasury secretary will participate in the discussion as the Senate prepares to advance a budget resolution, which would clear the way to pass Biden’s relief package via reconciliation.

Yesterday, Biden met with a group of Republican senators who have crafted a 0 billion relief bill, but the president reportedly signaled the package needed to be much larger.

Biden has called for spending .9 trillion on the next relief package.

5.11pm GMT

The Guardian’s Yohannes Lowe reports:

Captain Sir Tom Moore, the second world war veteran who raised almost £39m for NHS charities during the first coronavirus lockdown in spring 2020, has died aged 100 after testing positive for coronavirus.

Queen Elizabeth II awards Captain Sir Thomas Moore with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle in July.
Queen Elizabeth II awards Captain Sir Thomas Moore with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle in July.
Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

His daughters, Hannah and Lucy, confirmed Moore’s death in a statement.

They said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore. We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime.

“We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother. We shared laughter and tears together.

“The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of. Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever.

“The care our father received from the NHS and carers over the last few weeks and years of his life has been extraordinary. They have been unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate and have given us many more years with him than we ever would have imagined.”

Moore was admitted to Bedford hospital on Sunday after being treated for pneumonia for some time and testing positive for Covid-19 last week.

5.01pm GMT

Dick Durbin, the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, has sent a letter to Lindsey Graham urging him to schedule a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, the attorney general nominee.

Although Republicans have lost the Senate majority, Graham is still officially the judiciary committee chairman because senators have not yet adopted a power-sharing resolution to address the 50-50 split in the chamber.

Graham has avoided scheduling a hearing for Garland because he wants two days of hearings and refuses to set a date before Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

“The Attorney General oversees a multitude of Justice Department components and agencies that are vital to protecting the homeland from threats both foreign and domestic. Expediting Judge Garland’s confirmation is particularly urgent in the aftermath of January 6 insurrection,” Durbin said in the letter to Graham.

“As numerous Committee Republicans have recognized, the Senate should prioritize the confirmation of a President’s national security nominees and afford considerable deference to a President’s Cabinet selections. We should not apply one standard to Republican nominees and a different standard to Democratic ones.”

Durbin added, “Although I hope we can proceed in a bipartisan fashion, I am prepared to take other steps to expedite the Senate’s consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination should his hearing not go forward on February 8.”

4.44pm GMT

Senate agriculture committee holds hearing for Vilsack

The Senate agriculture committee is holding a confirmation hearing for Tom Vilsack, who has been nominated to the lead the department of agriculture.

John Boozman, the top Republican on the committee, opened the hearing by noting that the panel currently does not have an official chair because the Senate has not approved a power-sharing resolution to address the 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans.

“This hearing is a little bit different than we are used to attending in the past,” Boozman, a Republican of Arkansas, said at the start of the hearing.

“The Senate has not passed — it’s on the verge — but it hasn’t passed a resolution that allows for the committees of Senate to organize. Thus the committee has no official chairman at the moment, with the retirement of Senator Pat Roberts in 2020.”

Boozman noted that neither he nor Debbie Stabenow, the incoming Democratic chairwoman of the committee, is sitting in the chair’s seat, and they are instead serving as “equal partners” today.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and minority leader Mitch McConnell reached an agreement on the power-sharing arrangement last week, but the chamber has still not yet officially adopted a resolution on the matter, preventing Democrats from taking the committee chair gavels.

4.25pm GMT

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he spoke to Joe Biden and Antony Blinken, the new secretary of state, about the military coup in Myanmar yesterday.

“The new administration deserves credit for approaching the situation in a way that’s bipartisan and coordinated with Congress,” the Republican leader said. “The world is watching.”

In a statement yesterday, Biden threatened to approve sanctions against Myanmar over the military coup.

4.12pm GMT

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell announced in a floor speech that he would oppose the confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas, who has been nominated to lead the department of homeland security.

The Republican leader cited a 2015 inspector general’s report that found Mayorkas advanced politically favorable projects while serving as the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“He does not deserve Senate confirmation to lead Homeland Security,” McConnell said. “Frankly, his record should foreclose confirmation, even to a lower post.”

But given that Democrats control the Senate, it seems almost certain that Mayorkas will still be confirmed later today.

4.02pm GMT

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber would vote to begin debate on the budget resolution this afternoon. Schumer and House speaker Nancy Pelosi filed the resolution yesterday.

“The Senate must move forward today,” the Democratic leader said of the budget proposal.

If the resolution passes, as is expected, it would clear the way for Democrats to start the process of passing Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package using reconciliation.

Reconciliation would lower the number of Senate votes needed for passage from 60 to 51, meaning Senate Democrats could advance the bill with no Republican support.

Schumer argued reconciliation could be a bipartisan process because Republicans would be allowed to offer amendments on the measure, but that argument is unlikely to win any support from minority leader Mitch McConnell.

3.37pm GMT

The impeachment managers’ brief quotes Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney, the House Republican conference chairwoman who voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection.

“The Nation will indeed remember January 6, 2021—and President Trump’s singular responsibility for that tragedy. It is impossible to imagine the events of January 6 occurring without President Trump creating a powder keg, striking a match, and then seeking personal advantage from the ensuing havoc,” the managers said in their brief.

“In the words of Representative Liz Cheney, the House Republican Conference Chair: ‘The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently affirmed that ‘[t]he mob was fed lies’ and ‘provoked by the president.’”

Cheney is now facing calls from some House Republicans to step down from her leadership position, although minority leader Kevin McCarthy has stood by her so far. The Republican caucus is expected to discuss the issue at a meeting tomorrow.

3.26pm GMT

The House impeachment managers accused Donald Trump of threatening the core tenets of American democracy by inciting the violent insurrection at the Capitol last month.

“His actions directly threatened the very foundation on which all other political debates and disagreements unfold. They also threatened the constitutional system that protects the fundamental freedoms we cherish,” the managers said in their brief.

The managers also used their brief to push back against arguments that Trump’s conviction would only further divide the nation.

“Many have suggested that we should turn the page on the tragic events of January 6, 2021. But to heal the wounds he inflicted on the Nation, we must hold President Trump accountable for his conduct and, in so doing, reaffirm our core principles,” the managers said.

“Failure to convict would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means—and would suggest that there is no line a President cannot cross. The Senate should make clear to the American people that it stands ready to protect them against a President who provokes violence to subvert our democracy.”

3.21pm GMT

In their brief, the House impeachment managers argue that Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the presidential election directly led to the insurrection at the Capitol last month.

“President Trump falsely asserted that he won the 2020 election and then sought to overturn its results,” the managers’ brief says.

“The only honorable path at that point was for President Trump to accept the results and concede his electoral defeat. Instead, he summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The managers go on to say, “As will be shown at trial, President Trump endangered our Republic and inflicted deep and lasting wounds on our Nation. … President Trump’s incitement of insurrection requires his conviction and disqualification from future federal officeholding.”

3.17pm GMT

Impeachment managers: ‘Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable’

The House impeachment managers have filed a brief outlining their argument for Donald Trump’s conviction ahead of the former president’s second Senate impeachment trial.

“In a grievous betrayal of his Oath of Office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress’s confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election,” the brief says. “President Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable.”

The nine Democratic impeachment managers are Jamie Raskin, Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu, Stacey Plaskett, Madeleine Dean and Joe Neguse.

“President Trump’s pursuit of power at all costs is a betrayal of historic proportions,” the managers said in the brief. “It requires his conviction.”

2.59pm GMT

The number of Americans who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine is now higher than the total number of coronavirus cases in the US.

According to Bloomberg, 26.5 million Americans had received at least one vaccine dose as of yesterday afternoon. And according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US has now confirmed 26,322,785 total cases of the virus.

The data trend is an encouraging sign as public health experts encourage Americans to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

The Biden administration has also told states to release all available vaccine doses, rather than holding some back to ensure people can receive their second doses.

2.44pm GMT

Wall Street billionaire backed Republicans who later tried to overturn election result

The Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports:

The Wall Street billionaire who has been heralded for giving Oxford University its largest donation “since the Renaissance” gave campaign contributions during the election cycle to seven of the Republican lawmakers who later voted to overturn the 2020 election results and backed candidates late last year even as they disputed Joe Biden’s victory.

Stephen Schwarzman, the founder and chief executive of Blackstone Group, also financially supported a campaign group – Georgians for Kelly Loeffler – that is alleged to later have published a Facebook ad that darkened the skin of Loeffler’s Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock.

While Schwarzman has been praised for his philanthropy, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Oxford, Yale University, MIT, and the New York Public Library, the financial support billionaires like Schwarzman, Richard Uihlein, and Jeffrey Yass gave to Donald Trump and other rightwing Republicans is facing fresh scrutiny in light of the violent insurrection by Trump supporters on the US Capitol on 6 January.

2.28pm GMT

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

Here’s what the blog is keeping an eye on today: Joe Biden will sign a series of executive orders aimed at unraveling Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.

The executive orders come on the same day that the Senate is expected to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the department of homeland security.

The Guardian’s Amanda Holpuch has more details on Biden’s orders:

Joe Biden is set to create a task force to reunify families separated at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration, as part of a new series of immigration executive actions.

The two other orders to be announced on Tuesday call for a review of the changes the Trump administration made to reshape US immigration, and for programs to address the forces driving people north, senior Biden administration officials said.

A briefing document said Biden’s immigration plans are ‘centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people – both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations – to more fully contribute to our country’.

1.52pm GMT

UN report states Iran is enriching uranium with a second set of centrifuges in breach of deal

You get the sense that Iran is very swiftly turning into a major foreign policy headache for Joe Biden and new secretary of state Antony Blinken. The US has said it would be willing to go back to the Iran nuclear deal that Donald Trump withdrew from, providing Iran goes back to abiding by its conditions.

That very much does not appear to be happening.

Reuters report from Vienna this morning that a UN nuclear watchdog report to member states shows Iran has begun enriching uranium with a second cascade of advanced IR-2m centrifuges in its underground plant at Natanz, in breach of its deal.

Iran was already enriching with one cascade, or cluster, of 174 IR-2m machines underground at Natanz. It informed the International Atomic Energy Agency in December that it planned to install three more IR-2m cascades there, one of which is now online, the IAEA report dated Monday said.

“The Agency also verified that installation of the second of the aforementioned three (extra) cascades of IR-2m centrifuges was nearing completion and installation of the third of these cascades had started,” said the confidential report.

At the weekend Blinken warned that Iran could be within weeks of having enough fissile material to be able to make a nuclear bomb.

1.47pm GMT

Kamala Harris has been criticised for wearing clothes by Dolce & Gabbana, a luxury fashion brand which has attracted controversy over clothing and advertising seen to be racially offensive.

In a series of posts on Instagram, Vittoria Vignone, who runs the popular Kamala’s Closet, a website which has charted Harris’ outfit choices, asked: “Was it an oversight on the part of her team?”

The label had a close relationship with Melania Trump, dressing her in all black to meet the Pope and attend a G7 summit. Designers including Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs said they would not dress her.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for Kamala to wear so many new expensive items during her first week in office,” Vignone added. “I also don’t think she should be wearing non-American designers, especially when there are so many American brands to choose from … she and her team should care about the impact her choices have. For example she could lift up a smaller or more affordable business instantly.”

Vigonone told the Guardian she had “received more messages and comments than I could respond to” after she shared the D&G images.

Read more here: Kamala Harris criticized for wearing controversial label Dolce & Gabbana

1.37pm GMT

Rebecca Shabad at NBC News reports on the moves in Congress to censure Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

A group of House Democrats introduced a resolution Monday to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee assignments as a consequence for her inflammatory and false statements.

The resolution, sponsored by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ted Deutch, both of Florida, and Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, would remove Greene from the House Education & Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee.

The Rules Committee said it would consider the resolution on Wednesday afternoon, the first step in getting it to a vote on the floor.

“Reducing the future harm that she can cause in Congress, and denying her a seat at committee tables where fact-based policies will be drafted, is both a suitable punishment and a proper restraint of her influence,” Wasserman Schultz said during a virtual news conference. “If Republicans won’t police their own, the House must step in.”

Wasserman Schultz, whose district is near Parkland, said that if Greene “cannot be entrusted to make education and budget policy” if she is unwilling to accept the reality of mass school shootings.

The father of Parkland school shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, Fred Guttenberg, has been highly critical of the Congresswoman both on social media and on television this morning.

As you can imagine, Taylor Greene has not been silent on the issue either.

1.18pm GMT

Faced with an unfolding climate crisis that is fueling more powerful storms, enormous wildfires and scorching heatwaves in the US, Donald Trump unapologetically set about dismantling policies to cut planet-heating emissions, mocked or ignored climate science, and threw open vast tracts of American land and water to fossil fuel development.

The systematic reversals in environmental protections pose a challenge to Joe Biden who has called climate change the “existential threat of our time”. Biden has set about the task of undoing Trump’s legacy with hyperactive zeal, through a flurry of executive actions. In all, about 100 Trump-era environmental policies are being targeted, although some may take several years to reverse.

Oliver Milman and Alvin Chang have a scorecard for us of how Biden is doing it so far.

1.13pm GMT

President Joe Biden made his first move on trade tariffs overnight, and it was to reinstated 10% on aluminum imported from the UAE – a measure that Donald Trump had dropped during his last days in office. Doug Palmer at Politico analyses last night’s proclamation like this:

The move may indicate that Biden, a Democrat, is eager to demonstrate his toughness on trade to deny Republicans any opening to outflank him on the issue as Trump managed to do against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

The move also casts a pall over the hopes in the business sector in the US and in Europe that Biden would roll back the tariffs that Trump put on steel and aluminum imports using Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act. That provision allows the president to restrict imports to protect national security.

Biden stated in the proclamation: “In my view, the available evidence indicates that imports from the UAE may still displace domestic production, and thereby threaten to impair our national security.”

Read more here: Politico – Biden, in first trade move, reimposes a Trump tariff

Updated at 1.16pm GMT

1.03pm GMT

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the video clip where Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks about how her experience of Capitol riot was affected by her experience as a survivor of sexual assault.

In the video, Ocasio-Cortez expressed frustration at being asked to “move on” after the attack, likening it to the refrain heard by many survivors of sexual assault. “These folks to tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what happened, even telling us that we should apologize – these are the same tactics of abusers,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

12.51pm GMT

Amanda Holpuch in New York has more for us on Biden’s immigration plans:

Joe Biden is set to create a task force to reunify families separated at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration, as part of a new series of immigration executive actions.

The two other orders to be announced on Tuesday call for a review of the changes the Trump administration made to reshape US immigration, and for programs to address the forces driving people north, senior Biden administration officials said.

A briefing document said Biden’s immigration plans are “centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people – both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations – to more fully contribute to our country”.

A central piece of the Tuesday actions is the family reunification taskforce, which is charged with identifying and enabling the reunification of all children separated from their families by the Trump administration.

The government first made the separations public with an April 2018 memo, but about a thousand families were separated in secret in the months prior. Administration officials said children in both groups would be included in the reunification process.

Biden officials said they could not name how many children had to be reunified because the policy was implemented without a method for tracking the separated families. In an ongoing court case, a reunification committee said in December that the parents of 628 children had not been located.

The task force will consist of government officials and be led by Biden’s nominee for secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who is set to be confirmed on Tuesday.

A senior administration official said the family separation policy was a “moral failure and national shame” and that reversing the policies which made it possible was a priority.

Read more of Amanda Holpuch’s report here: Biden to launch task force to reunite families separated at US-Mexico border

12.33pm GMT

Dolly Parton twice turned down the highest US civilian honour when Donald Trump offered it – but isn’t sure she’ll accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Joe Biden, because it might seem political to do so.

“I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill,” the country music star, 75, told NBC’s Today of Trump’s first offer, “and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the Covid.”

In April last year, Parton donated m to help research and development of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19.

Then, she told the BBC: “I’m sure many, many millions of dollars from many people went into that but I felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that hopefully will grow into something great and help to heal this world. Lord knows we need it!”

Speaking to NBC, she said she had heard from the Biden administration but added: “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.

“I don’t work for those awards. It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But it’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”

Parton’s charity work spreads far wider than the battle against Covid, including work to boost childhood literacy. She told Today she was “just happy that anything I do can help somebody else, and when I donated the money to the Covid fund, I just wanted it to do good. Evidently, it is.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest US civilian honour. Trump gave it to one musician, Elvis Presley, but made headlines late in his term by bestowing it on close political allies Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, Republican congressmen who backed the president through impeachment and other scandals.

In November, CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert asked former president Barack Obama, who honoured musicians including James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen, “How does Dolly Parton not have a presidential medal of freedom?”

Obama said: “That’s a mistake. I’m shocked. Actually, that was a screw-up, I’m surprised. I think I assumed that she’d already got one and that was incorrect. I’m surprised, she deserves one.”

12.17pm GMT

Corey Stern, a New York-based attorney who represents 2,600 children in Flint, writes for us today:

For too long the burden of our crumbling infrastructure has not been equally felt. As of last January, lead in ageing pipes, contaminated soil and old, peeling paint was found in 3.6m homes nationwide – most of which are concentrated in low-income neighborhoods.

Just last week a judge granted preliminary approval of the historic 1m settlement we reached with the state of Michigan and other defendants responsible for the lead poisoning of innocent families and children. But the proposed settlement represents a rare moment of justice in a country that has a history riddled with tragedies like the one that took place in Flint, Michigan.

The Biden administration now has the opportunity – and the obligation – to change that trajectory. He can ensure infrastructure gets modernized while achieving his goals of creating new jobs and holding polluters accountable. Here are three ideas for how he can do it.

Biden’s infrastructure plans should include investments to finally deliver clean water and shelter for every American. This is basic stuff, and he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to follow through: last year, Senator Cory Booker and the then representative Deb Haaland introduced a proposal to clean up dangerous Superfund sites, replace wastewater systems and lead pipes, and remove lead-based paint in low-income and tribal communities. And of course, Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this too, which mandates that the federal government fully fund drinking water infrastructure and install filtering systems to clean up our drinking water – all while creating 190,000 new jobs.

Read more here: Corey Stern – I represent children in Flint, Michigan. Here’s what I’m asking Biden to do

12.13pm GMT

Overnight CREW have been highlighting the contents in the final financial disclosures of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. One worth noting:

Jared Kushner’s final financial disclosure report shows that he retained his controversial interest in the real estate technology company Cadre for the entirety of his time in government.

Though his interest in the company posed possible conflicts from the moment he started working at the White House, Kushner finally committed to divest his to million stake in the company in February 2020 due to concerns over its international business dealings.

CREW found, however, that at Kushner’s request, the Office of Government Ethics withdrew the certificate of divestiture related to his plans to sell his interest in the company in June 2020.

The pandemic reportedly halted Kushner’s planned sale but an anonymous representative for Kushner told CNBC in July that he still planned to sell his interest in the company. The sale, however, never went through according to Kushner’s latest financial disclosure report.

Read more here: CREW – Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s final financial disclosures

12.02pm GMT

Virginia may be first in south to abolish death penalty and abandon ‘legalized lynching’

Today the Virginia senate is expected to vote to abolish the death penalty, and by the end of the week the house of delegates is set to follow suit with its companion bill 2263.

It would be hard to overstate the significance of this week’s votes. Were Virginia to end its four-century association with capital punishment, it would become the 23rd state in the union to do so.

From the first execution in what is now the US, carried out in the Jamestown colony in 1608, until its most recent judicial killing in 2017, Virginia has taken the lives of more prisoners than any other state. Some 1,390 men and women have gone to their deaths.

By far the largest racial group of the inmates who have been killed is African American. Which is no coincidence. The most significant aspect of abolition in Virginia, should it go ahead, is that it would be the first southern state from the old Confederacy to wean itself off a habit that was rooted in slavery and racial lynching.

“This would be earth-moving,” said Dale Brumfield, a historian of capital punishment who acts as field director for Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VADP). “To have killed more people than any other state, and then say we’re not doing this any more – it doesn’t get more remarkable.”

Local abolitionists hope that, should the bill pass, Virginia’s example could have a domino effect throughout the south. Former Confederate states still account for 80% of all present-day executions.

The abolitionist cause still faces a nail-biting vote in the House, with observers expecting a very slender majority for repeal in the 100-member chamber. Democrats, who took full control in Virginia last year for the first time in a generation, will side overwhelmingly in favor.

But fewer than a handful of Republicans are expected to cross the aisle. Their opposition to abolition has stiffened in the wake of Donald Trump’s recent splurge of federal executions in which 13 prisoners were killed in quick succession, including Cory Johnson from Virginia.

Read more of Ed Pilkington’s report here: Virginia may be first in south to abolish death penalty and abandon ‘legalized lynching’

11.48am GMT

Stephen Collinson at CNN writes this morning that the pandemic is still dwarfing the size of Washington’s efforts to fight it:

A race against time to vaccinate sufficient Americans before mutant versions of the virus cause a new wave of sickness and death is turning into a critical stress test for a mass immunization effort off to a difficult start.

And there is a disconnect in Washington over the scale of the crisis, with Democrats demanding a “go big” economic rescue plan and the few Republicans who back action envisaging a much more modest approach.

It remains unclear whether vaccine and testing efforts, attempts to alleviate harrowing economic suffering and the level of buy-in from the American people themselves are sufficient for the challenges that lie ahead.

“We have got to prepare ourselves for a long battle,” William Haseltine, a groundbreaking medical researcher and author, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday, warning of the potential of variant viral strains to prolong the pandemic. “We can do it. We have to muster the popular will to do it. It can’t be done only by leadership, it has to be done by each and every citizen,” he said.

Collinson also identifies a risk to the Biden administration’s future plans:

Biden’s White House has injected perceptible urgency to the fight, overhauling the faltering vaccine rollout of a previous President who most often ignored the worst domestic crisis in decades. Americans are now deluged with briefings and data from scientists, free to speak without fear of political repercussions. The most important priority will be scaling up the vaccine effort – an operation that depends on the swift approval of a large Covid-19 rescue from Congress.

But the President is leading a country beaten down by months of social distancing, family isolation and economic pain. As new coronavirus infections decline and eventually hospitalizations and death rates fall, state governors are likely to face intense political pressure to restore a semblance of normal life.

Read more here: CNN – The pandemic is still dwarfing the size of Washington’s efforts to fight it

11.39am GMT

Nearly 8% of US population have now received at least one dose of Covid vaccine

Yesterday there were 134,339 new coronavirus cases in the US, and the death toll increased by 2,031. According to the Johns Hopkins University figures the total caseload is now 26,298,768 and the death toll has reached 443,022.

Hospitalizations dropped again – to 93,536. That’s the lowest figure since 30 November. It’s the twentieth day in a row that the figure collected by the Covid Tracking Project has fallen.

On the vaccinations front, at least 26.2 million people have now received a first dose of a Covid vaccine – that’s approaching 8% of the US population. 6.1 million people have been fully vaccinated. 49.9 million doses have been distributed. Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico and Connecticut are the first US states to vaccinate 10% or more of their populations.

default

11.26am GMT

Republican Kevin Faulconer says he will run for California governor

Former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has entered the race for California governor, the first major Republican to formally step into the contest.

Faulconer’s announcement came as supporters of a possible recall that could oust current Gov. Gavin Newsom from office continue gathering the nearly 1.5 million petition signatures needed to qualify the proposal for the ballot.

They have until mid-March to hit the required threshold, and organizers say they have over 1.3 million so far.

In an online video, the 54-year-old Republican depicted California as a failed state freighted with scandal and witnessing an eroding quality of life. He said he is running “to make a difference, not to make promises.”

“He’s failed us,” Faulconer said of Newsom. “I know we can clean up California.”

Newsom’s campaign said the governor would remain focused on distributing Covid-19 vaccine and providing relief for families and small businesses while Republicans jockey for political advantage.

“Trying to exploit a global pandemic to advance a political career exposes his craven ambition,” Newsom’s chief strategist, Dan Newman, said about Faulconer in a statement.

Last spring, Newsom received wide praise for his aggressive approach to the coronavirus outbreak, when he issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order. But there has been growing public unrest over subsequent health orders that closed schools and businesses, and investigations continue into a massive unemployment benefits fraud scandal.

11.14am GMT

The deadline today for Donald Trump to respond to the House of Representatives’ charging him with inciting insurrection comes just days after he parted ways with his initial legal team. Trump is still contending, contrary to the evidence – and the outcome of nearly 60 court cases – that his election loss to president Joe Biden was the result of widespread fraud.

The 6 January rampage at the Capitol by Trump followers was intended to stop the Senate from certifying Biden’s win, reports Richard Cowan for Reuters.

Republican Senator John Cornyn – one of the 100 members of the Senate who will serve as jurors in Trump’s second impeachment trial – said that the election result argument would be “really not material” to the charge that Trump’s remarks urging supporters to “fight” on 6 January, directly leading to the attack on the Capitol.

“I think it would be a disservice to the president’s own defense to get bogged down in things that really aren’t before the Senate,” Cornyn, a former Texas supreme court judge, told reporters on Monday.

One of Trump’s recently hired lawyers, David Schoen, called the process “completely unconstitutional” in an interview with Fox News on Monday, but did not outline the former president’s legal strategy.

“I think it’s also the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Schoen said. “It is tearing the country apart at a time when we don’t need anything like that.”

The attack on the Capitol ultimately left five dead, including police officer Brian Sicknick.

In addition to Trump’s deadline, the nine House Democrats serving as impeachment managers – essentially the prosecutors of the case – need to file their initial briefs, ahead of the trial getting started next week.

11.01am GMT

Overnight Axios have labelled as a scoop their account of why former president Donald Trump fell out with the first legal team for his second impeachment trial, if you follow my meaning. Alayna Treene writes:

The notoriously stingy former president and his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, wrangled over compensation during a series of tense phone calls, sources familiar with their conversations said. The argument came even though Trump has raised over 0 million from the public that could be used on his legal defenses.

The two initially agreed Bowers would be paid 0,000 for his individual services, a figure that “delighted” Trump, one of the sources said.

However, Trump didn’t realize Bowers hadn’t included additional expenses — including more lawyers, researchers and other legal fees that would be accrued on the job. He was said to be livid when Bowers came back to him with a total budget of million. Trump called the South Carolina attorney and eventually negotiated him down to million.

All of this infuriated Trump and his political team, who think the case will be straightforward, given 45 Republican senators already voted to dismiss the trial on the basis it is unconstitutional to convict a former president on impeachment charges.

Read more here: Axios – Fees, not just strategy, blew up Trump’s legal team

10.53am GMT

Pakistan’s supreme court has ordered that the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 beheading of the American journalist Daniel Pearl be moved off death row and to a government “safe house”.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years, will be under guard and not allowed to leave the safe house, but his wife and children will be able to visit him.

Sheikh’s father, Ahmad Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing on Tuesday, said: “It is not complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom.”

The Pakistan government has been scrambling to keep Sheikh in jail since a supreme court order last Thursday upheld his acquittal over the death of Pearl, a decision that outraged Pearl’s family and the US administration.

In a final effort to overturn the acquittal, Pakistan’s government and the Pearl family have filed an appeal to the supreme court, asking it to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh over Pearl’s murder.

The Pearl family lawyer, Faisal Sheikh, however, has said that such a review has a slim chance of success because the same supreme court judges who ordered Sheikh’s acquittal sit on the review panel.

Read more here: Pakistan court sends man acquitted of Daniel Pearl murder to ‘safe house’

10.45am GMT

Biden looks to Rahm Emanuel for significant ambassadorship appointment – reports

Overnight NBC News have had what they are claiming as an exclusive – the news that Rahm Emanuel is being considered for an ambassadorship. Josh Lederman and Carol E. Lee report:

President Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a high-profile ambassadorship, potentially to China, three people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Becoming the US ambassador to Japan is another option that Biden administration officials have discussed with Emanuel, one of the people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Emanuel, who became White House chief of staff when Barack Obama took office as president, has a reputation as a sharp-tongued political street fighter. He has clashed at times with progressive Democrats.

He is also a well-known figure in Democratic politics who would bring notoriety to an ambassadorship. Biden is considering him for a key diplomatic position as administration officials look to fill dozens of vacancies in capitals across the world, with decisions expected in coming weeks.

Read more here: NBC News – Biden administration eyes Rahm Emanuel for ambassadorship

10.29am GMT

Why does the Biden administration feel it needs a task force to reunite families? Miriam Jordan of the New York Times lays it out here:

More than 1,000 migrant children still in the United States likely remain separated from their parents, and another 500 or more were taken from their parents who have yet to be located, according to the latest estimates from lawyers working on the issue.

One of the continuing obstacles to reunification is that hundreds of parents have been deported to their home countries — places they had fled because of the danger there — and are fearful of having their children sent home to them. And some children are being deported even though their parents are still in the United States trying to obtain legal residence.

Even Trump officially rescinded the policy, border authorities removed more than 1,000 children from their families, sometimes for reasons as minor as committing a traffic infraction or failing to change a baby’s diaper, according to court documents.

There’s also some detail of how the task force is going to work – Alejandro Mayorkas will lead it, and it will have representatives from the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and State.

Read more here: New York Times – Biden faces pressure to make amends on family separation

10.15am GMT

Biden to create task force to reunite migrant families separated by Trump administration

Here’s what we can expect from president Joe Biden today on immigration. He will order a major review of asylum processing at the US-Mexico border and the legal immigration system as he seeks to undo Donald Trump’s hard-line policies.

Biden will also create a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated at the southern US border by Trump’s 2018 “zero tolerance” border strategy, officials said.

Reuters report that overall, Biden will issue three executive orders dealing with regional migration, legal immigration and reunifying families.

As part of the actions, he will call for a review of a Trump-era rule that made it harder for poorer immigrants to obtain permanent residency in the United States. He will also mandate a review of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a controversial program that pushed 65,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait for US court hearings. Most returned to their home countries but some remained in a makeshift camp near the Mexican border.

The Biden administration has already stopped adding people to the program but crucially it has not yet outlined how it will process the claims of those already enrolled.

Biden’s actions will follow six immigration orders he issued on his first day in office, but will face logistical challenges and opposition from Republicans.

Lawsuits by conservative groups could also potentially slow down Biden’s agenda. A federal judge last week temporarily blocked one of his first immigration moves – a 100-day pause on many deportations – after the Republican-led state of Texas sought an injunction.

10.05am GMT

‘It was a very good exchange of views’ – Sen Collins after Covid relief meeting with Biden

“It was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting. But what we did agree to do is follow up and talk further.”

Those were the words overnight of Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins who lead a group of 10 Republican lawmakers to meet president Joe Biden. They were presenting their ideas for a stripped-down Covid support package that might command bipartisan support. The Washington Post reports:

The path ahead is uncertain, given that Democratic leaders in Congress started the process Monday of advancing a budget bill that can unlock special Senate rules allowing Biden’s package to pass with a simple majority vote in the Senate, instead of the 60 votes usually needed — meaning no Republican votes would be necessary.

But for Biden, the meeting with the GOP senators posed a test for a new president who campaigned on his ability to make bipartisan deals — but also faces strong pressure from the left to deliver a big new relief package now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said: Biden “seemed really happy to be in the game of negotiating.”

If he does leave Republicans behind on his first major piece of legislation, that could further harden the partisan divides Biden promised he would try to bridge, and sour chances for bipartisan legislation for the remainder of his first term in office. But negotiating with Republicans could drag out indefinitely with no guarantee of success, even as Democrats are demanding quick action at a precarious moment for the economy and the pandemic.

Read more here: Washington Post – Biden, Senate Republicans hold lengthy meeting on coronavirus relief bill

10.00am GMT

Hi, welcome to our live coverage of US politics for Tuesday. Here’s a catch-up on where we are, and what we might expect today…

  • Former president Donald Trump faces a noon deadline (5pm GMT) to file his defense against his second impeachment. It should give us a clue as to whether he is going to attempt to use the Senate floor for his legal team to continue to dispute the election result.
  • President Joe Biden and 10 Republican lawmakers agreed to further Covid relief talks, but deep divisions remain – the GOP proposal is less than a third of Biden’s proposed .9tn package.
  • Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and House speaker Nancy Pelosi filed their joint budget resolution. The move paves the way for congressional Democrats to pass the coronavirus relief package without Republican support.
  • There were 134,339 new coronavirus cases, and 2,031 further deaths in the US yesterday. Hospitalizations fell to 93,536, their lowest since 30 November.
  • Biden will sign new executive orders at 5pm EST (10pm GMT) related to immigration and is expected announce a task force to address family separations at the border under the Trump administration.
  • Investigators have made a preliminary determination that the Capitol police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the 6 January Capitol riot shouldn’t be charged.
  • Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died of his injuries from the attack on the Capitol, will lie in honor today.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed she is a sexual assault survivor as the Democratic congresswoman gave a candid account of the Capitol attack.
  • Rep. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called out the embrace of “loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer for the Republican party” – he probably meant Marjorie Taylor Greene and QAnon. He also threw his support behind embattled Liz Cheney.
  • Ice is preparing to resume deportations of asylum seekers after a Trump-appointed Texas judge ruled against a 100-day suspension ordered by Biden.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 1.30pm EST.
  • The Senate agriculture committee will hold a confirmation hearing for agriculture secretary nominees Tom Vilsack at 10.30am EST.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Hits: 1269