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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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 $600 billion relief bill, but the president reportedly signaled the package needed to be much larger.
Biden has called for spending $1.9 trillion on the next relief package.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.