Political

Biden’s first 100 days updates: Trump lawyers, House impeachment managers spar over ‘free speech’ argument

narvikk/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, EMILY SHAPIRO, TIA HUMPHRIES and LAUREN KING, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — This is Day 21 of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Feb 08, 8:50 pm
Trump legal team no longer asking for pause to observe Sabbath

A member of Trump’s legal team, David Schoen, sent a letter to Senate leadership informing them that the team is no longer asking for a pause in proceedings to enable him to observe the Sabbath.

In the letter obtained by ABC News, Schoen said he’d made arrangements so that the trial can move forward on its previous schedule.

“Accordingly, based on adjustments that have been made on the President’s defense team, I am writing today to withdraw my request so that the proceedings can go forward as originally contemplated before I made my request,” Schoen wrote in a letter to Senate. “I will not participate during the Sabbath; but the role I would have played will be fully covered to the satisfaction of the defense team.”

Schoen will be replaced on Trump’s legal team so that the trial can continue while he observes Shabbat.

The Senate had changed the impeachment trial schedule based on this request and was prepared to wrap up proceedings Friday evening and return Sunday afternoon.

Feb 08, 7:52 pm
A look at the impeachment trial schedule

The impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump is set to begin Tuesday, after the Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m. and conducts its morning business.

The House impeachment managers will gather at 12:55 p.m. and once they process into the Senate chamber, the trial will begin with procedural housekeeping, including approval of the resolutions that choreograph the trial. There will then be four hours of arguments and then a vote over the constitutionality of the trial.

On Wednesday, the House impeachment managers must file all motions, except those related to witnesses by 9 a.m., and Trump’s legal team must to respond to the House managers’ motions by 11 a.m. The trial will resume at noon, with arguments and a vote for any motions made by either side. After that, opening arguments begin and the House impeachment managers have up to 16 hours over two days, though both sides are limited to eight hours of arguments each day.

On Thursday, the House impeachment managers will continue and finish oral arguments with the proceedings beginning at noon. Trump’s legal team begin their opening arguments on Friday. The trial resume at noon, but they will be finished by 5 p.m. in observance of the Sabbath.

The trial will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday and Trump’s legal team is expected to finish their arguments. After that, senators may ask questions in writing, though they cannot exceed four hours of questions in one day.

The trial picks back up at noon on Monday — finishing any business from Sunday. There will then be two hours of debate and a vote on whether to call witnesses. If the Senate calls witnesses, they will take depositions. The House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team are then permitted to make a motion to admit evidence, provided that the other side has been given at least 48 hours’ notice. After that, there will be one hour of arguments evenly divided between the sides and then a vote on the motion to include evidence.

The trial will end with four hours of closing arguments, evenly divided between the sides. The Senate will then vote on conviction. Two-thirds of the senators must be present and voting for a conviction.

Feb 08, 6:26 pm
Senate confirms Biden’s pick for secretary of veterans affairs

The Senate confirmed Denis McDonough to serve as the secretary of veterans affairs.

The confirmation was approved by a vote of 87-7. McDonough previously served in various positions in former President Barack Obama’s White House, including chief of staff.

Feb 08, 5:55 pm
Report: $15 minimum wage could cost 1.4 million jobs but lift 900,000 out of poverty

A new Congressional Budget Office report on the Biden administration’s proposed $15 minimum wage hike delivers some bad news for the new president: enacting the raise would cause about 1.4 million jobs to be lost, higher prices on some goods and an increase in the federal deficit. On the other hand, the report also says the minimum wage increase would pull 900,000 Americans out of poverty — a figure that proponents of the increase are already highlighting.

The White House pushed back on the report’s assessment, saying that was “overstated” and that other research shows “at most, a modest effect on employment.” The administration is, however, embracing other aspects of the report, touting that 27 million workers could benefit from the wage increase. A White House spokesperson said that the president believes that no American should work full-time and live in poverty or struggle to make ends meet, and also touted the benefits to individuals and to the economy.

But the risk of a 0.9% job loss could be a tough pill for the White House to swallow. Asked Monday about the report, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said only that she didn’t have a chance to review it with the White House economic team before the briefing.

The minimum wage increase is included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The administration has portrayed it as a way to help essential frontline workers who have to risk themselves to virus exposure to keep things like grocery stores and restaurants running during the pandemic.

Feb 08, 5:12 pm
White House reviewing deportation of veterans, military families, official says

The Biden administration is reviewing the deportation of veterans and military families that took place during the Trump administration, according to a White House official.

“As a military parent, President Biden knows the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make for our country each and every day,” White House assistant press secretary Vedant Patel said in a written statement. “The administration’s immigration enforcement will focus on those who are national security and public safety threats, not military families, service members or veterans. The federal government in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security will take further review of removals of veterans and their family members.”

Patel declined to provide a timeline for the review or an estimate of how many people could be affected. The move is part of a broader review of the previous administration’s immigration policies.

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order that directed a reset of priorities for immigration enforcement, and that same day, the acting secretary of homeland security, issued a memo that directed the Department of Homeland Security to review “policies and practices concerning immigration enforcement.”

Feb 08, 4:57 pm
Biden suggests governors underestimated need for fed help on vaccine

Biden reiterated multiple times that his administration discovered, upon taking office, that the vaccine supply they expected simply did not exist, and suggested governors were being a bit cavalier in their assertions they could handle vaccine distribution without federal government help, he said during a virtual tour of a mass vaccination site in Arizona.

“We met, virtually, with all the governors. And the governors basically said, ‘just send us the vaccine, we’ll take care of it.’ And the fact is, I think, they — and everyone else — vastly underestimated the logistical needs that go with having the vaccine, assuming you have enough vaccine,” Biden said.

He touted his efforts to send Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel to vaccination centers and provide more funding to take the burden off states.

Vice President Kamala Harris joined Biden for the virtual tour of the center at State Farm Stadium, normally home to the Arizona Cardinals. The site delivers vaccinations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, averages 8,000 shots per day and has distributed 160,000 vaccines so far.

Having enough vaccine was, initially, a major challenge, Biden said earlier in the virtual tour. Now that the supply pipeline has improved, Biden offered a timeline for herd immunity, saying he estimates over 300 million Americans should be able to get vaccinated by fall. Biden was complimentary of Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey during the tour.

At the end of the tour, Biden grew passionate, clearly excited about seeing the good work these Arizonans were doing.

“When we stand united, there’s not a damn thing we’ve been unable to do, and you’re the — you’re a perfect example of that,” Biden said.

Feb 08, 4:53 pm
Impeachment managers expected to use videos, images of Capitol siege

House impeachment managers are expected to use videos and images of the Capitol siege to make their case against former President Donald Trump.

“What the impeachment managers want to do is take everybody right back to that day, to those couple of hours when it was not clear how that was going to end and the horror that many of those lawmakers were feeling,” ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers said on ABC News Live. “Remember, they were witnesses to it, they were victims of that assault on the Capitol.”

Feb 08, 4:05 pm
Dem senators’ bill would allow migrants with Temporary Protected Status to seek permanent residency

Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin announced Monday the reintroduction of a bill to allow immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to seek legal permanent residency in the U.S. as a part of a renewed effort to grant legal status to large groups of people the Trump administration tried to make eligible for deportation.

TPS designations are made by the secretary of homeland security for nationals of a country experiencing an armed conflict, natural disaster or another types of temporary circumstances that could result in the displacement of segments of the population. Van Hollen and Cardin’s bill would make current TPS holders living continuously in the country for three years eligible to apply for permanent legal status. However, the fate of future TPS designees remains unclear.

“It’s not the final answer,” Cardin said. “It’s the immediate answer. It’s what we need today for predictability and safety, to know that families will stay together here in the United States. But it is a major part of moving forward with immigration reform.”

Last month, Biden’s Department of Homeland Security announced it would extend TPS for 6,700 Syrian nationals by 18 months. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week the administration continues to review Trump-era decisions on TPS.

Feb 08, 3:18 pm
Biden spoke with India’s prime minister about COVID-19, Burma

Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India on Monday about committing to “work closely together to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a White House news release.

They also spoke about renewing their partnership on climate change, rebuilding the global economy and preventing global terrorism. They also discussed the apparent military coup in Burma, committing to democracy in the country.

“The President underscored his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world and noted that a shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the U.S.-India relationship,” according to the press release. “They further resolved that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld in Burma.”

Feb 08, 2:40 pm
Biden wants relief checks for Americans making $60K, less: Psaki

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that discussions over who should receive $1,400 stimulus checks as part of the COVID relief package are ongoing, but made it clear that Biden would be unlikely to support any income threshold lower than $60,000.

“So his view is that a nurse, a teacher, a firefighter, who’s making $60,000 shouldn’t be left without any support or relief either. It’s just a question of sort of where the scale up looks like — what it looks like in a final package, but it’s still being negotiated at this point in time,” Psaki said.

When pressed on Sen. Bernie Sander’s, I-Vt., assessment that it would be “absurd” to lower the threshold on who should receive the $1,400 checks, Psaki declined to answer, but said that once a threshold was found they would be glad to have the discussion.

Psaki also offered insight into the ongoing negotiations.

“In the last week alone, our legislative affairs team had done more than 300 calls with members and staff on the Hill, including 40 calls with Republicans or bipartisan groups,” Psaki said. “And you can expect that the president will engage, throughout the course of this week, with a range of stakeholders including business leaders, mayors and governors.”

Feb 08, 2:18 pm
Biden supports proposal for up to $3,600 child care tax credit: Jen Psaki

White House press secretary Jen Psaki weighed in on the Democratic proposal to provide between $3,000 and $3,600 in child care tax credits to families, noting in a press briefing Monday that Biden had included a tax credit in his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, and supports the proposal put forward by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.

“(The) president supports the proposal that Rep. Neal and others have put forward to ensure that there is money in the package that helps bring relief to families in the form of a child tax credit,” Psaki said. “That’s something he certainly would support.”

But when asked if Biden would seek to make the credit permanent, Psaki indicated that would not be, saying it’s “emergency funding that will help people get through this period of time.”

Feb 08, 1:45 pm
Trump legal team, House impeachment managers spar over ‘free speech’ argument

Former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed a 78-page trial brief Monday morning, ahead of the Senate impeachment trial. The brief asks the Senate to dismiss the charges, stating their belief that holding a trial is unconstitutional in the first place and also asserting that Trump was engaging in political speech protected by the First Amendment.

“His political speech falls squarely within the protections of the First Amendment under clear Supreme Court precedent (as fully discussed below), and he thus cannot be convicted by a Senate sworn to uphold the Constitution,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the brief.

House impeachment managers promptly filed a five-page response to the brief and called his free speech argument “utterly baseless.”

“The evidence of President Trump’s conduct is overwhelming. He has no valid excuse or defense for his actions,” the impeachment managers wrote. “And his efforts to escape accountability are entirely unavailing.”

Feb 08, 12:22 pm
GOP senator says he won’t seek reelection in 2022

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., announced in a statement that he will not seek re-election in 2022.

“Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United State Senate in 2022,” Shelby says in the statement. “For everything, there is a season.”

He cited no specific reason for his decision not to run.

Shelby is currently the vice chairman and leading Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he recently served as chairman of the full committee and its subcommittee on defense. He previously served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, of which he is the longest serving member in history, according to his statement.

Before being elected to the Senate in 1986, Shelby served four terms in the U.S. House representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. He also served in the Alabama State Legislature.

“Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all,” he said in his statement.

Feb 08, 10:40 am
Biden won’t answer if Trump should lose ‘political rights’ in 2nd impeachment trial

Upon arriving back at the White House on Monday morning after his weekend in Delaware, President Biden was asked about whether former President Trump should lose his “political rights” and be barred from running for office as his second impeachment trial is set to get underway Tuesday.

“He got an offer to come and testify, he decided not to. Let the senate work that out,” Biden said.

House impeachment managers had asked Trump to testify under oath in his upcoming impeachment trial about his conduct on Jan. 6, according to a letter sent last week by lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin.

Trump’s legal team responded with a letter and rejected the idea of the former president appearing.

In the short response, Trump’s attorneys called the request a “public relations stunt.”

“The use of our Constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to play these games,” wrote Trump attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen.

While the letter did not answer directly the question of whether Trump will testify, Trump spokesman Jason Miller told ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl, “The president will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding.”

Feb 08, 9:59 am
Democrats propose sending families at least $3,000 per child under Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package

The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday is expected to lay out a proposal to send $3,600 per child to millions of American families, as House Democrats work to assemble the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package proposed by President Biden.

The 22-page proposal, first obtained by the Washington Post and confirmed by ABC News, would send $3,600 per child under 6 years old to American families, and $3,000 per child between the ages of 6 and 17. The benefit would decrease for Americans making more than $75,000 annually, or couples earning more than $150,000 a year.

The program would be administered by the Internal Revenue Service. The payments, which would start going out in July, would follow through on the Biden administration’s call to expand the Child Tax Credit.

“The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating. We are making the Child Tax Credit more generous, more accessible, and by paying it out monthly, this money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table,” Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said in a statement.

Neal’s committee is just one of many in the House working on the COVID-19 relief package. The panel is expected to release its full slate of tax-related proposals for the stimulus bill later Monday.

The committees’ work will be combined before any vote on the House floor — and it’s unclear if this specific proposal will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian under the strict rules of the process Democrats are using to pass the package with 50 votes in the Senate.

A Columbia University study of Biden’s proposal found that it could cut child poverty in half, and impact more than 5 million American children under 18.

Feb 08, 8:01 am
US to begin ‘reengagement’ with UN Human Rights Council

The U.S. will “reengage” with the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to a new statement from a spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, nearly three years after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from organization in 2018.

“We recognize the UN Human Rights Council has its flaws, but we also believe it can help promote fundamental freedoms around the world,” spokesperson Olivia Alair Dalton wrote in a statement.

The statement makes it clear the U.S. will be “at the table as an observer.”

“Through our leadership on the UN Security Council and by reengaging with the Human Rights Council, the United States will continue to fight for global peace and security, and to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all,” the statement continued.

The move is a first step to rejoin the group, which was a campaign promise Biden made in December 2019.

“As president, I will take decisive steps to demonstrate that America is prepared to lead again — not just with the example of our power, but the power of our example … We will rejoin the UN Human Rights Council and work to ensure that body truly lives up to its values,” Biden wrote in a December 2019 statement on Human Rights Day.

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