Political

Biden’s first 100 days live updates: Senate kills effort to dismiss impeachment trial

Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy LIBBY CATHEY, JACK ARNHOLZ and LAUREN KING, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — This is the seventh day of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 26, 5:15 pm
Biden announces plan to increase COVID-19 vaccine supply

Biden, in afternoon remarks from the White House, announced that his administration has secured commitments from coronavirus vaccine makers to buy another 200 million doses to arrive this summer, raising the total to 600 million and ensuring the U.S. will eventually have two shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for nearly every American.

Biden also told the nation to expect a modest uptick in production in the near term — from 8.6 million doses a week to a minimum of 10 million a week — for the next three weeks.

“This is going to allow millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated. We’ve got a long way to go, though,” Biden said.

The announcement does not resolve the major shortages the nation is experiencing now, and does not suggest the Biden administration has found a novel way to ramp up production quickly.

One Biden administration official, who briefed reporters earlier on condition of anonymity, did not provide a firm timetable on the 200 million extra doses, pointing to the summer, but hailed the move as a guarantee that every American who wants a shot can get one.

Biden said it was enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans “by end of the summer, beginning of the fall.”

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty

Jan 26, 4:33 pm
Biden’s deportation pause temporarily blocked by federal court

The state of Texas has won a nationwide temporary restraining order against one of Biden’s first executive actions as president — a 100-day pause of immigrant deportations.

A federal district court judge says status quo enforcement operations can continue for at least the next 14 days while both sides present their case, after which an extended injunction against the policy could be issued or the restraining order lifted.  

Biden’s DHS released a “Day One” memorandum on Jan. 20 establishing a moratorium on enforcement actions against most immigrants.

The Texas lawsuit signals the beginning of an expected wave of court challenges by Republicans targeting Biden policies after years of watching Democrats use the courts to hobble Trump’s moves.

-ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer

Jan 26, 4:05 pm
Sen. Rand Paul ‘excited’ 45 Republicans sided with effort to dismiss impeachment trial

After 45 Republicans sided with his effort to dimisss the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for being unconstitutional, Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul expressed excitement about the vote count for his failed effort.

“We’re excited about it. It’s one of the few times in Washington where loss is actually a victory,” Paul said to reporters on Capitol Hill. “And 45 votes means that the impeachment trial is dead on arrival.”

If the final vote on conviction falls at 55-45, the Senate would be 12 votes short of what is necessary to convict Trump. In order to convict Trump by the necessary two-thirds majority, at least 17 Republican senators would need to join all 50 Democrats.

Even with Tuesday’s vote, there is no guarantee that the trial proceedings will not sway the votes of some senators.

Shortly after the vote, the Senate adjourned the trial until Feb. 9.

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Jan 26, 3:36 pm
Senate kills GOP senator’s effort to dismiss impeachment trial as unconstitutional

Five Republicans joined with Democrats to kill Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s effort to dismiss the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump as unconstitutional.

Paul’s effort failed by a vote of 55-45. Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted with Democrats.

While Paul’s effort failed, many members of the Republican conference voted with Paul — an indicator that the constitutional question for some Republicans will be an intense focus during the trial. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of those to vote in favor of Paul’s motion.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a speech just before the vote, said the argument that an official couldn’t be tried after leaving office makes “no sense whatsoever.”

“The history and precedent is clear the Senate has the power to try formal officials and the reasons for that are basic common sense,” Schumer said. “It makes no sense whatsoever that president or any other official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then could evade Congress’s impeachment power.”

Paul’s motion comes too early, Schumer said, arguing that debate on the constitutionality question should happen during the trial.

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Jan 26, 3:26 pm
Senators vote on constitutionality of Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial

Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has offered a point of order in the Senate on the question of whether holding an impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump after he has left office is constitutional.

“As of noon last Wednesday, Donald Trump holds of the positions listed in the Constitution. He is a private citizen. The presiding officer is not the chief justice, nor does he claim to be,” Paul said. “Therefore I make a point of order that this proceeding which would try a private citizen — and not a president, a vice president, or civil officer — violates the Constitution and is not in order.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Paul’s theory “flat out wrong by every frame of analysis” and moved to table the motion.

Senators proceeded to vote on whether to table Paul’s motion — a procedural objection on the constitutionality of the trial, not on the merits of the case. However, the vote forces Republicans to go on the record regarding how they might vote in Trump’s trial.

A “no” vote for senators means voting with Paul to dismiss the trial. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sided with Paul on questioning the trail’s constitutionality.

Rand, a former doctor, was the only Senator who did not wear a mask as he signed the oath as a juror.

Jan 26, 3:01 pm
Biden signs four executive actions on racial equity

Biden has signed four executive actions to address racial equity — dealing with private prisons, discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, tribal relations and fair housing.

In remarks at the White House, the president said systemic racism “has plagued our nation for far, far too long.”

He signed an order directing the attorney general to not renew contracts the Department of Justice has with privately operated criminal detention facilities, a memorandum to address a rise in discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a memorandum directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reinstate an Obama-era anti-housing discrimination rule that Trump had rolled back and an order that “reinvigorates the commitment of all federal agencies to engage in regular, robust, and meaningful consultation with Tribal governments.”

 

 

Beyond what he was signing, Biden said “we need to restore and expand the Voting Rights Act, named after our dear friend John Lewis, and continue to fight back against laws that many states are engaged in to suppress the right to vote, while expanding access to the ballot box for all eligible voters.”

The president also called it “nothing short of stunning” when he discussed the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on minority communities.

Biden cited the impact George Floyd’s death had on the nation as he rolled out Tuesday’s actions, recalling meeting Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Giana, who he said told him that “Daddy changed the world.”

“Those eight minutes and 46 seconds that took George Floyd’s life opened the eyes of millions of Americans and millions of people all over the world,” Biden said. “It was the knee-on-the-neck of justice, and it wouldn’t be forgotten.”

Biden wrapped his remarks by reiterating a campaign theme, that the “soul of the nation” can’t recover if systemic racism continues.

“We can’t eliminate everything, but it’s corrosive, it’s destructive and it’s costly. It costs every American, not just who felt the sting of racial injustice,” he said.

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky and Ben Gittleson

Jan 26, 2:45 pm
Senators sworn in for Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial

In the Senate chamber, a rarely used motion that calls all senators to their seats in the chamber — “a live quorum call” — has taken place to ensure they all could stand together at once, raise their hands and take their oaths as jurors in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Former President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has sworn in his successor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will preside over the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president. Instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Leahy swore in the senators as a group.

The oath, per Senate impeachment rules, reads, “I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of , now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.”

Senators are walking up to the front of the chamber to sign the oath.

In addition to being jurors, the lawmakers were also witnesses of the “insurrection” Trump is charged with inciting at the Capitol on Jan 6.

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Jan 26, 2:07 pm
Biden makes 1st call as president to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin

White House press secretary Jen Psaki revealed Biden called Russia’s President Vladimir Putin while she was briefing reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“The call has happened, I believe, since I have come out here,” Psaki said, asked in the last question of the briefing for an update on the two leaders.

She said Biden called Putin “with the intention of discussing our willingness to extend New Start for five years and also to reaffirm our strong support for Ukraine sovereignty in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression. And also to raise matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 election, the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, and treatment of peaceful protesters by Russian security forces.”

“His intention was also to make clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of our national interests in response to malign actions by Russia,” Psaki added.

Psaki said the White House will deviler a readout of the call sometime early this afternoon.

Jan 26, 1:51 pm
Susan Rice confirms phasing out private prisons won’t include immigration facilities

White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice appeared at Tuesday afternoon’s White House briefing to preview the racial equity-focused executive actions the president plans to sign in the afternoon.

“Advancing equity is a critical part of healing and of restoring unity in our nation,” Rice said during lengthy opening remarks.

Rice confirmed to ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega that Tuesday’s order to phase out use of private prisons will apply only to DOJ-run private prisons and not those run by other agencies, including detention facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She did not answer Vega’s question asking why the administration isn’t also addressing ICE detention centers, instead pivoting to talking points on why the administration wanted to end reliance on the DOJ-run facilities.

Tuesday’s executive order, Rice said, is “silent on what may or may not transpire with ICE facilities. There was a Department of Justice Inspector General report in 2016 that underscored that private prisons funded by DOJ were less safe, less secure and arguably less humane,” she said. “The Obama-Biden administration took steps to end renewing of contracts for private prisons. The Trump administration reversed that, and we’re reestablishing it.”

While the administration is highlighting the racial equity theme of Tuesday’s various executive orders, Vega pushed Rice on what the administration is doing to combat what has become the most visible and perhaps one of the most concerning forms of racism: white nationalists, particularly those willing to engage in violence and extremism as seen at the Capitol 20 days ago.

“What are you doing to address this issue of white nationalism and how concerned are you about the threat from some of these groups leading into this impeachment trial in two weeks?” Vega asked.

Rice replied the problem posed by white nationalists has “been plain for all Americans on their television sets” and said “that is why the president has ordered the intelligence community to compile a comprehensive assessment of the nature of this threat and challenge, and its origins and roots.”

Jan 26, 1:29 pm
GOP senator calls for vote on constitutionality of impeachment

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul will force a vote in the Senate on the question of whether holding an impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump after he has left office is constitutional, he announced on the Senate floor Tuesday.

The afternoon vote forces Republicans to go on the record regarding how they might vote in Trump’s trial.

Paul called the impeachment effort a “travesty,” a “kangaroo court” and a “partisan exercise designed to further divide the country” during a floor speech announcing his intention to call the point of order — in which a senator can argue that the chamber is not operating according to its rules.

“Hyper-partisan Democrats are about to drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history,” Paul said.

He took issue with Democrats impeaching Trump, in large part, over his speech prior to the riot on Jan. 6. He cited examples of Democrats using similar language in floor speeches supporting bail funds for Minnesota protestors during George Floyd demonstrations over the summer.

“A shame this is — a travesty — a dark blot in the history of our country,” Paul said, urging colleagues to “move forward to debate the great issues of our day.”

Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson also rose to support Paul’s effort — and by default, the former president.

He said he wanted his collegaues to consider “not the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of that — I want them to consider is it wise.”

“Will the trial of a former president, of a private citizen, will it heal? Will it unify? I think the answer is clearly it will not,” Johnson said.

Jan 26, 12:41 pm
Senate confirms Antony Blinken to head State Dept.

The Senate has voted to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state by a 78-22 vote.

Blinken has advised Biden on foreign policy for almost two decades. Previously, he served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama-Biden administration. When serving in his capacity as national security adviser to Biden, he was present in the Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid, as captured by a famous photograph. Blinken was also a top staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when then-senator Biden was its chair.

As the country’s top diplomat, Blinken is expected to play a pivotal role in the Biden administration’s efforts to rebuild alliances and reenter international agreements like the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Climate Agreement.

He is Biden’s fourth Cabinet confirmation following Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

Jan 26, 12:15 pm
First woman VP swears-in first woman to head Treasury Dept.

Vice President Kamala Harris — the nation’s first woman vice president — has ceremonially sworn-in Janet Yellen — the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its more than 230-year history.

 

 

Yellen was sworn in outside the East side of the White House facing the Department of Treasury. She is now the first person have the distinction of serving as treasury secretary, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and chair of the Federal Reserve.

She was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 84 to 15 on Monday evening.

Jan 26, 12:08 pm
Senator’s objection may offer glimpse of where GOP senators stand on impeachment

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Tuesday will make a point of order to dismiss former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, forcing Republicans to go on the record, indicating how they might vote in a trial.

Asked by Capitol Hill reporters Monday if he would force a vote on the trial’s constitutionality, Paul said, “Yes.”

Then asked if he has an idea of how many of his Republican colleagues are going to support him, Paul said, “I think it’ll be enough to show that you know more than a third of the Senate thinks that the whole proceeding is unconstitutional — which will show that ultimately they don’t have the votes to do an impeachment.”

Jan 26, 11:48 am
Schumer celebrates path forward on power-sharing, McConnell warns of dangers of overturning filibuster

Both Senate leaders focused their floor remarks Tuesday on the Senate power-sharing agreement — which was agreed to Monday night when Minority Leader McConnell, feeling assured that Democrats do not have the votes to overturn the filibuster rule, agreed to move forward without language explicitly guaranteeing that the rule will stay in place.

According to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, McConnell “relented.”

“I’m glad we’re finally able to get the Senate up and running — my only regret is that it took so long,” Schumer said.

COVID-19 relief will now come into focus as a key priority for Democrats — with former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial looming.

Schumer left open the possibility of using other options to act on COVID-19 priorities if Republicans will not cooperate, saying the Senate will move “without them if we must.”

The whole of McConnell’s speech was focused on power-sharing and the importance of the legislative filibuster — which Republicans could use to obstruct Biden’s agenda and Democrats could vote to end.

McConnell is banking on Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virgina’s assurances that they will not change their minds on keeping the filibuster rule intact.

“If the Democratic majority were to attack the filibuster they would guarantee themselves immediate chaos,” McConnell said.

The stalemate reflected the logistical challenges of a 50-50 Senate in which Democrats carry power since Vice President Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, has the power to cast tie-breaking votes.

Jan 26, 11:22 am
Senators to be sworn in for Trump impeachment trial

In the Senate chamber at about 2:15 p.m., a rarely used motion that calls all senators to their seats in the chamber —  “a live quorum call” — is set to take place to ensure they all can stand together at once, raise their hand and take their oath as jurors in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Around 2:30 p.m., Former President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will swear in his successor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will preside over the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president.

Leahy — instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — will then swear in all senators.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in an interview Monday night that Roberts wouldn’t be presiding over the trial because Trump is no longer the sitting president and confirmed that Leahy, although the presiding officer, will also be able to vote.

“The Constitution says the chief justice presides for a sitting president. So that is not going to be — so it was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside with a president who’s no longer sitting — Trump — and he doesn’t want to do it,” Schumer said. “So traditionally what has happened is then the next in line is the Senate Pro Tempore — that’s the most senior senator on the majority side, and that’s Sen. Leahy, who’s a very experienced man and a very fair man.”

A spokeswoman for Roberts Monday morning said the chief still officially has no comment.

Jan 26, 10:46 am
Biden’s top economic adviser soliciting ‘input’ on COVID-19 relief deal

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce in the White House driveway Monday morning that lawmakers wanting a lower-priced COVID-19 proposal from Biden haven’t said what that looks like but suggested there may be wiggle room on the amount of the direct payments to Americans.

In an appearance moments before on CNBC, Deese said a few times that the Biden administration is “looking for people’s input,” referring to negotiations with lawmakers over the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief deal.

After a phone call Sunday with 16 bipartisan senators and some representatives from the House Problem Solvers’ Caucus, another senior administration official said, “the feedback was constructive across the board” — but on Tuesday, Deese seemed to be soliciting counter-proposals from Republicans to make the package more palatable to them.

“We welcome the focus on targeting, including from Republican members and those provisions should have broad bipartisan support,” Deese said. “Certainly if there are ways to make that provision and other provisions more effective, that’s something we’re open to, that we’ll have conversations about.”

While Deese emphasized that the Biden administration is looking for ideas on how to tweak the package, he continued to emphasize the urgency to act soon. Biden said Monday he expects the negotiations could continue another “couple of weeks.”

The White House on Monday morning updated Biden’s schedule to include 4:45 p.m. remarks “on the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Jan 26, 10:30 am
Republican senator to challenge Trump impeachment trial proceedings

Republicans are increasingly supportive of the belief that this trial is unconstitutional, and at least one will challenge the proceedings Tuesday.

Just before the Senate breaks for lunch around noon, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will have about 15 minutes to make his argument as to why he thinks the impeachment trial is unconstitutional. He could raise a constitutional point of order — which should spark a vote — forcing senators to go on the record which could signal for the first time where most Republicans stand on convicting Trump.

On Tuesday afternoon, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley — who was called as a witness by Republicans in Trump’s first impeachment trial and argued against his impeachment then — has been invited to speak at the weekly closed-door GOP lunch. While it isn’t clear if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was involved in inviting Turley, he likely wouldn’t be at the Capitol Hill lunch if McConnell disapproved.

Turley recently wrote that “retroactive impeachment” — or impeachment or a former president — is not constitutional. However, the professor himself noted that he has changed his views over time and previously thought it was constitutional.

The absence of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is another a key factor in many Republicans’ case against the legitimacy of the proceedings as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is set to preside over the swearing-in of senators as jurors Tuesday afternoon.

Jan 26, 9:25 am
Senate considers Biden’s Cabinet as Trump’s impeachment trial looms

House impeachment managers on Monday delivered an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate, queuing up an unprecedented second trial and the first ever for a former president in the chamber.

The managers silently walked the article across the Capitol in the evening — from the House to the Senate — where senators, only three Republicans, awaited their arrival before lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., read it aloud.

The Senate will reconvene on Tuesday for senators to be sworn in as jurors and the “issuance of summons” to Trump, although his trial is not expected to start until Feb. 9 — an agreement made by Senate leaders to give Trump’s defense team time to prepare and the Senate the opportunity to confirm more of Biden’s Cabinet picks.

In order to convict Trump by a two-thirds majority, at least 17 Republican senators would need to join all 50 Democratic senators — a long-shot since several Republicans have aired grievances with the impeachment process but not with the actions of the former president. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is already expected to object to the proceedings.

Dividing its time, the Senate voted on Monday to confirm of Biden’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — placing the first woman to lead the department. Yellen is Biden’s third Cabinet pick to be confirmed — as the administration continues to lag behind others in confirmations — and will receive a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House from the nation’s first female vice president Tuesday.

The Senate is expected to vote on Anthony Blinken to lead the State Department Tuesday and Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas to lead the Homeland Security Department, as well as consider the nomination of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Marie Raimondo as Biden’s commerce secretary.

Biden makes afternoon remarks outlining his racial equity agenda and signs more executive actions in the afternoon. He has already taken 33 executive actions — executive orders, proclamations and more — and 23 of them have aimed to reverse, roll back or just generally undo the Trump agenda, in areas ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to allowing transgender people to openly service in the military.

Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice will appear with White House press secretary Jen Psaki at her daily press briefing at 12:30 p.m.

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