7.56pm EST19:56

Summary

From me and Joan E Greve:

Senate leader Chuck Schumer has announced that House managers read the articles of impeachment on Monday evening, and the trial of Donald Trump will begin the week of 8 February. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader originally wanted to delay the trial to give Trump time to prep. Joe Biden endorsed a delay so senators could focus on legislation amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Biden is asking the director of national intelligence to conduct a threat assessment of violent domestic extremism. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Biden would also instruct the National Security Council to ramp up its capacity to address extremism and coordinate across the government to confront extremism. The news comes less than a month after a violent, pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol.
There has been an outbreak of coronavirus among the National Guard troops deployed to the Capitol following the deadly attack on 6 January. Between 100 and 200 of the more than 25,000 troops have tested positive, Reuters reports, citing an unnamed official.
The Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin as defense secretary, in a vote of 93 to 2. Austin, a retired Army general, will be the first African-American to lead the Defense Department.
Joe Biden signed executive orders aimed at boosting the US economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The executive orders are expected to expand the food stamps program and provide more protections for workers who feel their jobs jeopardize their health. He also instructed the Treasury Department to make it easier for people to access their stimulus payments.

Updated
at 8.08pm EST

7.21pm EST19:21

Tom McCarthy

Trump is the only president in history to be impeached twice. Conviction in the Senate, which would require a two-thirds majority vote, could prevent him from ever again holding public office.

While McConnell and others have expressed an openness to the charges facing Trump in his second impeachment trial, expectations are low that Democrats will find the votes they need to convict him.

Fifty Democrats and 17 Republicans will have to vote in favor of convicting and that’s not likely to happen, with many Republican senators indicating that they oppose the idea.

Yesterday, McConnell said he wanted Trump to have at least a week to prepare for the trial after the impeachment articles were presented to the Senate. But, in rejecting McConnell’s offer to delay transferring the articles from the House, Democrats did more than press the case against Trump. They also staked out a tough stance in an internal Senate power struggle, as the newly installed Joe Biden administration prepares to ask Republicans for support on initiatives including pandemic policy, economic relief and immigration reform.

McConnell and Republicans lost control of the Senate with a double loss in runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month. But McConnell has been fighting for advantage, refusing to approve a basic power-sharing agreement in a body now split 50-50, unless Schumer promised to retain a Senate filibuster rule that enables the minority party to block legislation with only 41 votes.

Schumer rejected that pitch by McConnell on Friday, too, demanding that Republicans approve the organizing agreement, which would for example grant the parties an equal number of members on each committee, with no strings attached.

“Leader McConnell’s proposal is unacceptable – and it won’t be accepted,” Schumer said.

The pair of forceful moves by the Democratic leadership signaled an intention to deliver on a mandate they feel they won last November and displayed an unaccustomed assertiveness after four years of Trump and McConnell.

But the power plays also called more deeply into question whether Biden would benefit from any measure of Republican support as he attempts to answer multiple national crises.

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6.44pm EST18:44

The schedule for the impeachment trial is as follows:

25 January: House impeachment managers will read the article of impeachment to the Senate.
26 January: Senators will be sworn in for the trial.
8 February: Trump’s response to the article is due.
9 February: Trump’s pre-trial brief is due, and after that’s in, the trial can begin.

Updated
at 6.59pm EST

6.28pm EST18:28

Chances that the Senate will convict Donald Trump are very low.

Fifty Democrats and 17 Republicans will have to vote in favor of convicting – and that’s not likely to happen with many Republican senators indicating that they oppose the idea.

CNN reports:

In interviews with more than a dozen GOP senators, the consensus was clear: Most Republicans are likely to acquit Trump, and only a handful are truly at risk of flipping to convict the former President – unless more evidence emerges or the political dynamics within their party dramatically change. Yet Republicans are also signaling that as more time has passed since the riot, some of the emotions of the day have cooled and they’re ready to move on.

Updated
at 6.59pm EST

6.24pm EST18:24

Joe Biden today endorsed delaying the impeachment trial, saying, “the more time we have to get up and running” to address the pandemic, economic crisis and other issues, the better.

Schumer said he and McConnell will iron out details about the timing and duration of the trial. “But make no mistake, a trial will be held in the United States Senate, and there will be a vote on whether to convict the president,” he said.

6.19pm EST18:19

Schumer says impeachment trial will start second week of February

Senate leader Chuck Schumer has announced that House managers read the articles of impeachment on Monday evening, and the trial of Donald Trump will begin the week of 8 February.

Yesterday, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he wanted Trump to have at least a week to prepare for the trial after the impeachment articles were presented to the Senate.

6.16pm EST18:16

Shortly after his confirmation, defense secretary Lloyd Austin made his first official phone call to the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

Austin said they discussed ongoing alliances – sending a strong message that he’s interested in rebuilding partnerships after Donald Trump.

Lloyd Austin
(@LloydAustin)
Terrific to speak with @jensstoltenberg today, the first call I’ve made in the job. Reiterated the steadfast commitment of the U.S. to the @NATO Alliance and our appreciation for the teamwork and relevance our allies bring to missions around the world. #WeAreNATO https://t.co/eDi0hg5DyW pic.twitter.com/00loiA2By3

January 22, 2021

5.40pm EST17:40

One of the executive orders Joe Biden signed today instructs the treasury department to make it easier for people to access their stimulus checks, including developing online systems to help them access their payments.

In a statement, the treasury said it will “establish online tools” to help people claim payments, work to reach households that have not cashed their payments, and look into which groups have been worst affected

The latest round of $600 stimulus money came to many as pre-paid debit cards, causing confusion and concern that it was a scam. Delivery delays, bank changes and address changes are among an array of issues plaguing the distribution. An estimated 8 million have also yet to receive the first round of stimulus checks authorized by the Cares Act.

Updated
at 5.58pm EST

5.27pm EST17:27

Revealed: Club for Growth is main donor to gun-toting Republican congressman

Stephanie Kirchgaessner

The Club for Growth, an anti-tax group funded by billionaires, has been the primary financial backer of Andy Harris, the Republican lawmaker who sought to bring a gun to the floor of the House of Representatives.

Harris, a medical doctor who represents the eastern shore of Maryland, has received about $345,000 from individuals associated with the Club for Growth since the rightwing campaigners helped to get him elected in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The latest revelation about the Club for Growth’s support for Harris comes after the Guardian revealed last week that the group, which is headed by the former Republican congressman David McIntosh, was a major financial support of 42 of the Republicans who sought to invalidate Joseph Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

It has also supported another lawmaker, Lauren Boebert, who has argued for the need for firearms to be carried inside the US Capitol. Members may only carry firearms in their own offices.

CNN reported on Friday that the US Capitol police were investigating an incident that occurred on Thursday, when Harris was stopped from bringing a concealed weapon on to the floor of the House. The Republican, who is an anaesthesiologist, had set off the newly installed metal detectors outside the chamber, prompting him to ask another lawmaker, Republican John Katko, to hold the weapon for him.

Katko refused, according to a press pool, and Harris then left and returned later, without setting off the metal detector.

Bryan Shuy, Harris’s chief of staff, said in a statement released to the Guardian: “Because his and his family’s lives have been threatened by someone who has been released awaiting trial, for security reasons, the congressman never confirms whether he nor anyone else he’s with are carrying a firearm for self-defense.”

Shuy added: “As a matter of public record, he has a Maryland handgun permit. And the congressman always complies with the House metal detectors and wanding. The congressman has never carried a firearm on the House floor.”

The Club for Growth did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more:

5.23pm EST17:23

Hello there, it’s Maanvi Singh – I’ll be bringing you live updates through the next few hours.

First up, here’s the US embassy in London’s response to tabloid controversy over Biden’s Oval Office makeover – which included the removal of a Winston Churchill bust.

It’s “just a bust”, the US embassy declared, in a video pointing to examples of the“special relationship” between the US and the UK. The video, which has attracted a good bit of online engagement and media coverage, you could say, isn’t a total bust. (Sorry.)

U.S. Embassy London
(@USAinUK)
We’ve seen some discussion about the Churchill Bust, so we just wanted to remind everyone what the Special Relationship is truly about 🇺🇸🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/XOdff8hbcd

January 22, 2021

Updated
at 5.40pm EST