Biden dispatching Sen. Coons to Ethiopia amid Tigray crisis
Senate passage sets up final congressional approval by the House next week so lawmakers can send it to President Joe Biden for his signature. Scott Applewhite)President Joe Biden is dispatching Sen. Chris Coons to Ethiopia t o meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to express the administration’s “grave concerns” about the growing humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region and the risk of broader instability in the Horn of Africa. White House officials and Coons' office did not immediately provide further details of Coons’ travel to Addis Ababa. Ad“The United States is gravely concerned by the deteriorating situation in the Tigray, which threatens the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa region,” Coons said in a statement. The United States has provided a total of nearly $153 million in humanitarian assistance since the crisis began.
'We can do big things,' Schumer says as Senate approves aid
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., leaves the chamber just after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Senate passage sets up final congressional approval by the House next week so lawmakers can send it to President Joe Biden for his signature. Ad“Lessons learned: If we have unity, we can do big things,” Schumer told The Associated Press in an interview after the vote. The outcome “gives us optimism about doing more big things in the future — because it worked,” he said. He and Schumer spoke often as the Senate leader steered the pandemic aid to approval.
Pelosi says bipartisan panel should investigate Capitol riot
But to ensure Republican support, Pelosi said Democrats sent the proposal to GOP leaders “to see what suggestions they may have because, for this to work, it really has to be strongly bipartisan." It is an open question whether the commission will be authorized to investigate Trump's actions. Still, some Republicans have said they think such a commission is necessary alongside other congressional efforts to investigate the attack. “There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear and a 9/11 commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. “Our country has been wounded,” the former 9/11 commission chairmen said.
Pelosi says independent commission will examine Capitol riot
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol. In a letter to Democratic colleagues, Pelosi said the House will also put forth supplemental spending to boost security at the Capitol. After former President Donald Trump’s acquittal at his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent commission to examine the deadly insurrection. AdInvestigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. An independent commission along the lines of the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks would probably require legislation to create.
'Distressing and emotional': Senators relive horror of riot
Reporters vie for a response from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, as Senators take a dinner break while arguments continue in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON – For 90 tense minutes, members of the Senate relived the horror. The rioters were “58 steps” from senators at one point, impeachment manager Eric Swalwell told them. Senators were silent afterward, some sitting quietly and alone, as if to process it all. He walked out of the room in the middle of the presentation, as impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett detailed the threats to Pence’s life.
Trump rejects Dems' request to testify at impeachment trial
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)WASHINGTON – House Democrats asked Donald Trump to testify under oath for his Senate impeachment trial, challenging him to respond to their charge that he incited a violent mob to storm the Capitol. Hours after the Democrats' Thursday request was revealed, Trump adviser Jason Miller dismissed the trial as “an unconstitutional proceeding” and said the former president would not testify. Separately, Trump’s lawyers denounced the request as a “public relations stunt.”AdThe impeachment trial starts Feb. 9. He asked that Trump provide testimony about his conduct “either before or during the Senate impeachment trial,” and under cross-examination, as early as Monday, Feb. 8, and not later than Thursday, Feb. 11. The Senate could vote to subpoena Trump, or any other witnesses, on a simple majority vote during the trial.
Biden flexible on who gets aid, tells lawmakers to 'go big'
We need to act fast.”On the direct payments, Biden said he doesn’t want to budge from the $1,400 promised to Americans. But he said he is willing to “target” the aid, which would mean lowering the income threshold to qualify. Biden spoke with House Democrats and followed with a meeting of top Senate Democrats at the White House, deepening his public engagement with lawmakers on his American Rescue Plan. “I think we’ll get some Republicans,” Biden said. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell criticized the Democrats for pressing ahead largely on their own as the GOP senators try to provide bipartisan alternatives.
Biden, at prayer breakfast, calls out 'political extremism'
Biden is expected to address the National Prayer Breakfast, a Washington tradition that calls on political combatants to set aside their differences for one morning. The breakfast has sparked controversy in the past, particularly when President Donald Trump used last year's installment to slam his political opponents and question their faith. Ad“For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time,” Biden told those watching the event. During the 2020 breakfast, Trump singled out Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who had voted to convict the president during his first impeachment trial. The event went entirely virtual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with Biden and all other speakers appearing via taped remarks.
GOP largely sides against holding Trump impeachment trial
In this image from video, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Late Tuesday, the presiding officer at the trial, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was taken to the hospital for observation after not feeling well at his office, spokesman David Carle said in a statement. The vote means the trial on Trump's impeachment will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8. “You’re asking me to vote in a trial that by itself on its own is not constitutionally allowed?” he asked. Instead, Leahy, who serves in the largely ceremonial role of Senate president pro tempore, was sworn in on Tuesday.
Trump impeachment goes to Senate, testing his sway over GOP
Leahy will preside over former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. Republican senators are balancing the demands of deep-pocketed donors who are distancing themselves from Trump and voters who demand loyalty to him. Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D- Vt., who serves in the largely ceremonial role of Senate president pro tempore, is set to preside. A few GOP senators have agreed with Democrats, though not close to the number that will be needed to convict Trump. If not, what is?” Romney was the only Republican senator to vote for conviction when the Senate acquitted Trump in his first impeachment trial.
Growing number of GOP senators oppose impeachment trial
(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)WASHINGTON – A growing number of Republican senators say they oppose holding an impeachment trial, a sign of the dimming chances that former President Donald Trump will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol. “I think the trial is stupid, I think it’s counterproductive,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.. Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. A few GOP senators have agreed with Democrats, though not close to the number that will be needed to convict Trump. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he believes there is a “preponderance of opinion” that an impeachment trial is appropriate after someone leaves office.
Trump impeachment to go to Senate on Monday, launching trial
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)WASHINGTON – Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump over the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8, the first time a former president will face such charges after leaving office. Trump's impeachment trial would be the first of a U.S. president no longer in office, an undertaking that his Senate Republican allies argue is pointless, and potentially even unconstitutional. "That goal has been achieved.”Pelosi said Friday the nine House impeachment managers, or prosecutors, are "ready to begin to make their case” against Trump. Trump’s team will have had the same amount of time since the House impeachment vote to prepare, Pelosi said. A handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open — but not committed — to conviction.
The Latest: Trump declassifies Crossfire Hurricane material
___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION:President-elect Joe Biden appeared at a memorial for COVID-19 victims at the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday evening. ___4:45 p.m.President Donald Trump does not mention his successor, Democrat Joe Biden, by name in his farewell address. A person familiar with Pence’s schedule cited “logistical challenges” in getting from the air base to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremonies on Wednesday. The information was passed from the National Guard Bureau to the D.C. National Guard. ___10:45 a.m.Three new Democratic senators are set to be sworn into office after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.
Trump trial pending, McConnell calls it 'vote of conscience'
Many Democrats have pushed for an immediate impeachment trial to hold Trump accountable and prevent him from holding future office, and the proceedings could still begin by Inauguration Day. Psaki noted that during Trump's first impeachment trial last year, the Senate continued to hold hearings each day. Pelosi told reporters on Friday that the nine House impeachment managers, who act as the prosecutors for the House, are working on taking the case to trial. McConnell is open to considering impeachment, having told associates he is done with Trump, but he has not signaled how he would vote. No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds vote against Trump, an extremely high hurdle.
Fate of Biden agenda rests with Schumer in 50-50 Senate
In this Jan. 12, 2021, photo, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. Our capable majority leader!" Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer.
Democratic wins could strengthen Biden's legislative push
That could lead to battles with progressive Democrats who want to push the new administration further left than it likes. She acknowledged, however, that she does not think major change is "going to be a cakewalk” for Biden. In introducing Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his choice for labor secretary, Biden noted that he gave “serious consideration” to progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Progressives also have clamored for Democrats to scrap the Senate filibuster rule, which would make things even easier for Biden’s legislative agenda. But Biden has opposed doing that, and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, poised to become the new majority leader, was noncommittal this past week.
Negotiators report progress on long-delayed COVID aid bill
McConnell is playing a strong hand in the lame-duck session and is pressuring Democrats to drop a much-sought $160 billion state and local government aid package. McConnell says he'll drop a demand for provisions shielding businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits, a key priority, if Democrats agree to drop the $160 billion state and local aid package. “We’ve got to get people a lifeline.”Manchin is an architect of a bipartisan $748 billion aid package that is aimed at serving as a template for the leadership talks. A state and local aid package was part of the almost $2 trillion CARES Act that passed the Senate unanimously in March. The $150 billion aid package to states and large cities evoked little controversy then, but many Republicans are adamantly against the idea now, though any additional aid would also go to smaller municipalities left out of the prior round.
Biden signals sharp shift from Trump with Cabinet picks
The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said. At 43, he will be one of the youngest national security advisers in history. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and weighed in publicly just last week on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.
Biden could announce Cabinet picks as soon as next week
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden is moving quickly to fill out his administration and could name top leaders for his Cabinet as early as next week. The Cabinet announcements could be released in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. At this point, Biden is deeply involved in choosing his Cabinet, a process described by one person as similar to fitting puzzle pieces together. In putting together the 15-person team, Biden is facing demands from multiple, competing interests, as well as the political realities of navigating a closely divided Senate. The lack of ascertainment is also putting somewhat of a cash crunch on the Biden team.
'So much work to do': How Biden is planning for transition
"No decisions, from personnel to policy, will be made until after the election,” Biden transition spokesman Cameron French said Wednesday. Those roles include leaders of the treasury and health and human services departments and the director of the National Economic Council. One person familiar with the transition planning said Buttigieg could also be an ambassador to the United Nations. If Biden wins, it's unclear how closely Trump administration officials would work with the incoming team. “Is it going to mean the Biden campaign’s not going to be able to conduct the transition?
Biden harnesses history to describe urgency of 2020 campaign
It cannot, and it must not.”The approach, Biden aides say, is more than lofty presidential rhetoric; it’s necessary groundwork for governing. Being a steady alternative to Trump, the ex-reality television star Biden describes as “erratic” and “dangerous,” may be enough to win in November, they argue. People realize what’s at stake here,” Biden said Saturday in Erie, Pennsylvania, repeating what has become a go-to line in nearly every campaign setting. Biden described his Gettysburg speech as “dramatic” in a preview to donors hours before he delivered it. In a Sept. 22 fundraiser, a top Biden supporter recalled urging the former vice president to run against Trump.
Graham, Harris share spotlight as Barrett hearings begin
Hearings before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee will begin Monday, Oct. 12, for President Donald Trumps Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D-CALIF.Harris, Joe Biden's running mate in the presidential election, will again be in the spotlight as Democrats question a Trump nominee for the Supreme Court. Harris and other key Democrats said the hearings should not move forward without plans to test people attending, including senators, for coronavirus. In a sign of the heightened scrutiny, Vice President Mike Pence tried to get Harris to reveal whether she and Biden support expanding the Supreme Court, as many liberals advocate. In just three years on the 7th Circuit, Barrett has twice argued for approval of abortion restrictions that violated Supreme Court precedent, Hirono said.
No 'dogma': Democrats walk tightrope on Barrett's faith
Democrats are treading carefully on religious faith as they prepare to question President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee. “I don’t intend to question her about her personal views or private religious faith or views,” Coons, a key Biden ally, said this past week. Fearful of losing the high court for a generation, the left is demanding that Democrats resist Barrett's nomination with everything they have. Republicans have preemptively declared any discussion of Barrett’s faith out of bounds. But specifics about Barrett’s faith, such as broaching People of Praise, would have “a bad odor,” Franke said.
Trump chose Barrett days after Ginsburg's death, papers show
Barrett tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that the White House initially contacted her Sept. 19, the day after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, creating the court vacancy. Trump made the offer when she visited the White House on Monday, Sept. 21, “and I accepted,” she wrote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “even more convinced” of Barrett after their brief meeting. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold hearings Oct. 12. At the Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence said Barrett “represents the best of America.” The White House formally submitted the nomination Tuesday.
Democrats try to stick to health care in Supreme Court fight
The court will hear a case challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law just after the election, adding to the urgency of the issue. Asked about Feinstein's earlier comments, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, another committee member, said “religious faith should not be at issue here.” He then pivoted to health care. On Monday, Harris told voters in North Carolina that without the health care law, birth control coverage could be eliminated and pregnancy could be considered a preexisting condition. In focusing on health care, Democrats would be taking a different posture than in the last Supreme Court confirmation fight, when they argued that then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh was not fit to be a justice. They will also tie the health care issue to the pandemic and to abortion rights, the aides said.
Biden under pressure to unveil list of potential court picks
ATLANTA – Joe Biden is resisting calls from President Donald Trump and even some fellow Democrats to release his list of potential Supreme Court picks seven months after he pledged to name the first Black female justice. A Supreme Court nomination is certain to amplify those dynamics. He’s since nominated Justices Neil Gorsuch, who appeared on a preelection list in 2016, and Brett Kavanaugh, who appeared on a post-election list. There is some irony in Supreme Court politics being such a potentially prominent variable in Biden’s presidential hopes. Even a 5-4 Supreme Court majority deciding the 2000 presidential election in favor of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore did little to shift campaign dynamics concerning the court.
At town hall, Biden blasts Trump's 'criminal' virus response
The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton. Biden faced a half-dozen questions about the coronavirus and a potential vaccine in the town hall from moderator Anderson Cooper and audience members. The town hall marked the first time that Biden had faced live, unscripted questions from voters since winning the nomination. Trump signaled he'd been watching the town hall before he took the stage for a rally in Misonee, Wisconsin, on Thursday night. “They’ve got cars ... it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.”Trump's ABC town hall was held inside a half-empty auditorium, with attendees socially distanced and wearing masks.
WHAT TO WATCH: Joe Biden's big moment at the DNC
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)LAS VEGAS Democratic Party luminaries, rising stars, former presidents and presidential contenders have been making a pitch for Joe Biden over three days of an atypical convention. Biden will speak Thursday night from Wilmington, Delaware, as he closes out the fourth night of the all-virtual Democratic National Convention, starting at 9 p.m. The 78-year-old moderate and former Republican being given a spot to help to close out the Democratic convention is striking. The convention is also available to watch on Twitch, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. A celebrity-studded afterparty hosted by Andy Cohen is scheduled to be shown immediately after Bidens speech on the official livestream.
Biden friend Sen. Coons to elevate faith on convention stage
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden administers the Senate oath to Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as Coons' wife, Annie Coons, watches during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. The theme and timing of Coons speech on the pandemic-altered convention schedule underscore Democrats' interest in engaging with religious voters on the basis of shared values with Biden. For Joe, faith isnt a prop or a political tool, Coons is set to say, according to prepared remarks shared with The Associated Press ahead of time. Coons is also one of the more vocal Democrats when it comes to coaxing fellow party members to be more open about faith. When it comes to speaking for Biden about faith, though, Coons will have the most prominent forum.
Barr able to put his stamp on executive power as Trump's AG
They ask Attorney General William Barr about elder fraud. Democrats have suggested he should be impeached and are holding hearings into what they say is the politicization of the Justice Department under his watch. Then, when Bush was elected, Barr joined the Justice Department first as assistant attorney general of the Office of Legal Counsel, then as deputy attorney general, and finally as attorney general. The actions have resulted in open letters signed by thousands of Justice Department alumni who have demanded Barrs resignation. He points to the Justice Department inspector generals report that found flaws in how the FBIs Russia investigation was conducted.
German governors urge Congress to stop troop withdrawal plan
BERLIN The governors of the four German states that are home to critical U.S. military facilities are urging members of U.S. Congress to try and force President Donald Trump to back down from plans to withdraw more than a quarter of American troops from the country. They provide the necessary foundation for a partnership-based contribution to peace in Europe and the world, to which we all share a common commitment.The U.S. currently has about 34,500 troops in Germany, which Trump said in June he had ordered reduced to 25,000. Many members of Congress have spoken out against the plan, and the German governors in their letter emphasized that the American troops serve the strategic interests of the United States as much as NATO interests and the trans-Atlantic partnership. The letter was sent to more than a dozen senators and representatives Friday, including members of security and foreign policy committees, and lawmakers who have spoken out against the move, according to Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung. They included Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who has called Trump's plan a gift to Russia, and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons who said withdrawing nearly 10,000 troops from Germany, without consulting German leadership or our other European allies does not make America any safer.
Biden's bid touts faith, courts even religious conservatives
Democrats are betting on Bidens evident comfort with faith as a powerful point of contrast in his battle against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)President Donald Trumps appeal to religious conservatives is a cornerstone of his political identity. Biden often talks about the comfort and meaning that hes drawn from faith, said Buttigieg, Bidens primary rival-turned-endorser. Joshua DuBois, who led religious outreach for former President Barack Obama, described the political climate as the perfect storm" for the president. Dickson, a former Republican who declared in 2012 that Im a Democrat because of my evangelical faith, previously worked on religious outreach for the Democratic National Committee and Obamas 2012 campaign.
Congress stalls out again dealing with national trauma
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)WASHINGTON For a moment, Congress had a chance to act on policing reform, mobilized by a national trauma and overwhelming public support. There are other high-profile examples where public support has been unable to overcome hyper-partisanship in Congress most notably on gun control. The parties have also failed to make progress in overhauling the nations fractured immigration laws, despite broad public support. Murray said in an interview that there was little attempt to do that kind of behind-the-scenes work on policing reform. The feeling that you want to accomplish something, that you want to get something done ... is a very different feeling than we saw with policing reform."
Senate panel authorizes subpoenas in new Russia probe
The committee rarely moves forward on subpoenas without bipartisan support, and hasnt done so in more than a decade. Democrats have argued that the errors in the surveillance do not invalidate the Russia investigation, which ultimately found that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election but found insufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy with Trumps campaign. The list also includes some current officials who dealt with the investigation, including Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Grahams investigation is one of several diving into the Russia investigation, a subject that has followed Trump throughout his presidency. The Justice Department has its own internal probe separate from the inspector generals investigation, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is also looking at the matter.
US faith leaders lead congregations through tumultuous time
Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)NEW YORK American religious leaders across faiths are grappling with the heavy burden of helping to heal two active traumas: rising civil unrest driven by the police killing of George Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic. "Stay on high moral ground and we will win.Among the religious leaders in Minnesota organizing for spiritual care since Floyds death was Bernard Hebda, the Catholic archbishop of the Twin Cities. Imam Asad Zaman, the Muslim American Society of Minnesotas executive director, outlined multiple law enforcement reform proposals in response to Floyds death. Lewis, senior minister at New York Citys Middle Collegiate Church, urged other faith leaders to respond to Floyds killing by taking their sympathy from words to actions.