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Trump's impeachment trial to begin week of February 8

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Democrats agree to delay Trump impeachment trial 04:46

Former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial will begin the week of February 8, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday evening on the Senate floor, with pre-trial proceedings beginning on Monday evening, soon after the Senate receives the article of impeachment from the House. 

Senators will be sworn in as members of the impeachment court, and House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump's lawyers will then be given time to draft their briefs. During this period, the Senate will continue with unrelated work. 

Presentation by both sides will begin the week of February 8. Mr. Trump faces the Senate's judgment on a single article of impeachment: incitement of insurrection. 

Although Schumer referred to the January 6 assault on the Capitol as "a day none of us will ever forget," an "awful" day he wanted to put behind, he went on to say that "healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that is what this trial will provide."

A trial in February not only gives both sides time to prepare, as Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had requested of Schumer, but it will also allow the Senate more time to confirm President Joe Biden's nominees. So far, the Senate has confirmed just two. 

Earlier Friday, General Lloyd Austin coasted to an easy confirmation to be defense secretary by a vote of 93 to 2. Austin is a four-star general who retired from military service just four years ago. He is the first Black man to lead the Pentagon.

Today, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously advanced Janet Yellen's nomination to be treasury secretary. But the Senate did not hold final confirmation votes on Yellen or on Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken.

Yellen, at her Senate confirmation hearing this week, called for "big" action on the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis. "Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later," she told senators. 

In addition to Austin, the president's director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has been confirmed.

Later in the day, Mr. Biden turned his attention to the economy with two executive orders: one to increase federal food aid and streamline the delivery of stimulus checks, and the second to direct the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to increase the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 per hour.

Mr. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan to Congress, but it's unclear whether it will garner enough Republican support to pass on a bipartisan basis, and it's possible a budgetary process known as reconciliation may have to be utilized to enact the legislation. Until Congress is able to pass another relief bill, it's considered by the Biden administration to be a stopgap measure to stabilize the economy.

Biden Ramps Up Covid Fight With Orders Nixing Trump Policies
President Joe Biden speaks during an event on his administration's COVID-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 21, 2021. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Schumer announces Senate impeachment trial will begin week of February 8

Former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial will begin the week of February 8, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday evening on the Senate floor.

House impeachment managers will come to the Senate to read the single article of impeachment at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 25. Senators will then be sworn in as members of the impeachment court the following day, on Tuesday, January 26. After that, both the House impeachment managers and the former president's defense team will have time to draft their legal briefs, and during that period, the Senate will continue with unrelated work. 

Presentation by both sides will begin the week of February 8. 

"The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol incited by Donald J. Trump was a day none of us will ever forget. We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation's history behind us. But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that is what this trial will provide," Schumer said. 

Mr. Trump faces the Senate's judgment on a single article of impeachment: incitement of insurrection. 

A trial in February not only gives both sides time to prepare, as Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had requested of Schumer, but allow the Senate more time to confirm President Joe Biden's nominees. So far, the Senate has confirmed just two. 

The House impeached Mr. Trump earlier this month for the second time, this time with 10 Republicans joining Democrats.

Mr. Trump's legal team has yet to be officially announced, but one of his lawyers will be South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers, who has experience representing politicians embroiled in scandals. Bowers told the South Carolina Post and Courier he looks "forward to representing the former president."

By Kathryn Watson

Dr. Deborah Birx says she "always" considered quitting Trump's COVID task force

Trump COVID task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says she "always" considered quitting 01:14

Dr. Deborah Birx, the former coordinator of the Trump White House's Coronavirus Task Force, says nothing in her four decades of public service prepared her for the chaotic Trump White House or the politically charged handling of the pandemic, telling "Face the Nation" she "always" considered quitting her post.

In an interview to air on Sunday's "Face the Nation," Birx told moderator Margaret Brennan that even close colleagues who she had worked with during decades of research into the AIDS virus questioned her political allegiance amid a flurry of criticism against the Trump White House's response to the virus. 

"I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day? Colleagues of mine that I had known for decades... decades in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever. I had to ask myself every morning, is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic and it's something I asked myself every night," she told Brennan. 

Questions about Birx's role in the current administration were also raised Friday, when CBS News' Steven Portnoy asked the White House press secretary whether Birx was still on President Biden's COVID-19 response team. It's "an excellent question," Jen Psaki responded and told him she would "have to circle back on that one." 

Read more here.

By Emily Tillett

Roughly 150 National Guard members stationed in D.C. test positive for COVID-19

Impeachment of Donald Trump
Jan. 13, 2021: National Guard members sleep in halls of Capitol Hill as House of Representatives convenes to impeach President Trump, nearly a week after a pro-Trump insurrectionist mob breached the security of the Capitol while Congress voted to certify the 2020 election results. Washington, DC.  (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. official says approximately 150 of the more than 25,000 members of the National Guard who deployed to Washington, D.C., since January 6 have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Members of the National Guard have been working in close proximity to those they were protecting, as well as each other, as they served the nation's capital. 

By David Martin


Biden signs executive orders to expand food stamps and streamline stimulus checks

President Biden signed two executive orders on Friday, one of which would increase federal food assistance and streamline the delivery of stimulus checks, as the president attempts to stabilize the economy without congressional assistance amid the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have to act now," Mr. Biden said before he signed the orders. "We cannot, will not, let people go hungry."

"We need more action, and we need to move fast," Mr. Biden said. "We're in a national emergency. We need to act like we're in a national emergency. So we've got to move with everything we've got."

In the first order, Mr. Biden asked the Agriculture Department to allow states to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits — commonly known as food stamps — by 15%. 

This order also increases Pandemic-EBT, an electronic debit card program for students who would have qualified for free or reduced-price meals at school. Mr. Biden is directing the USDA to consider new guidance that would increase this benefit "by approximately 15% to accurately reflect the costs of missing meals and make it easier for households to claim benefits." The White House estimates this could provide a family with three children an additional $100 in support per month.

And this order aims to streamline the delivery of stimulus checks to those who haven't received the direct payments yet.

Mr. Biden also signed a second executive order to improve collective bargaining power and protections for federal workers, and to direct the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to increase the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 per hour.

By Grace Segers

Senate will not vote on Yellen or Blinken nominations today

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tells CBS News that there will be no other votes in the Senate on Friday, meaning that the Senate will not be voting to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary or Antony Blinken as secretary of State. Yellen's nomination was advanced by the Senate Finance Committee by a unanimous vote today.

By Alan He

White House warns of "even more serious" economic hole without "decisive action"

The U.S. will have to dig itself out of a much deeper economic hole if more economic relief doesn't happen and soon, warned National Economic Council Director Brian Deese on Friday. Outlining new executive actions by President Joe Biden, Deese said more relief is needed from Congress.  

"We're at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy. Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves in," Deese said. 

Deese added the president's actions are "not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief," but will extend a "critical" lifeline to families. 

Mr. Biden signed executive actions on Friday that focused on efforts over the next few months to increase school meal benefits for low-income children, maintain unemployment benefits for those who reject a job over COVID safety concerns, and raise the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 per hour. Mr. Biden is also pushing Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes funds to combat the spread of COVID-19 and funds allocated to support vaccine distribution. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is keen on a big package, which is sure to meet GOP opposition on the Hill. It's meant to "address the core issues of the crisis," Psaki said. 

A bipartisan group of senators are scheduled to have a call with Deese on Sunday. Deese didn't directly answer whether Mr. Biden would be on the call, but said he would be and other senior members of the Biden administration would also be expected to engage with congressional members. 

Several Republican senators in the bipartisan group have conveyed concerns about another stimulus bill coming soon after Congress paired a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package with an $1.4 trillion government spending bill last December. 

"It's hard for me to see when we just passed $900 billion worth of assistance, why we would have a package that big," moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine told reporters on Thursday. "Now, maybe a couple of months from now, the needs will be evident, and we will need to do something significant. But I'm not seeing it right now. But again, I'm happy to listen."

Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana said on Friday that he likes the money allocated for manufacturing and distributing the COVID-19 vaccines, but disapproved of the economic provisions in the proposal. "Much of the rest, the economic provisions, I find untargeted and distended," Young added. 

Read more here.

By Jack Turman and Kathryn Watson


Biden administration announces new steps to fight extremism

The Biden administration is taking several steps to fight extremism following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

The administration is requesting a threat assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, working with the Department for Homeland Security and the FBI. 

The White House is also building out the National Security Council's capability to counter extremism, and coordinating various federal government entities to counter radicalization. 

Much of the radicalization and communication regarding the assault on the Capitol took place online. 

By Kathryn Watson

Pelosi confirms article of impeachment will be sent Monday

Shortly after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that Speaker Nancy Pelosi told him the House would deliver the article of impeachment against President Trump on Monday, Pelosi confirmed that the impeachment managers would indeed do so on January 25.

"The article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection by Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, January 25," Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi also implicitly pushed back against Republican criticism that the impeachment process is moving too quickly.

"We are respectful of the Senate's constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process, noting that the former president will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers. Our Managers are ready to begin to make their case to 100 Senate jurors through the trial process," Pelosi said.

By Grace Segers

Austin confirmed as defense secretary in bipartisan vote

The Senate voted to confirm retired General Lloyd Austin as defense secretary by a vote of 93-2 on Friday, after Congress passed a waiver on Thursday to allow for Austin's confirmation, even though he retired from military service just four years ago, inside the seven-year window that is required to ensure civilian leadership of the military. Austin will be the first African American Defense secretary in U.S. history.

Austin is expected to arrive at the Pentagon at noon on Friday, CBS News' David Martin reports. One of his first meetings will be with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and one of the items on the agenda is what the military can do to improve the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

The Senate easily passed the measure exempting Austin from the seven-year rule on Thursday 69-27, moments after a comparably lopsided 326-78 House vote. The waivers put Austin in position to be confirmed by the Senate Friday.

Austin, a 41-year veteran of the Army, has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians and include them in policy decisions. He said he has spent nearly his entire life committed to the principle of civilian control over the military.

Austin said he understood why some questioned the wisdom of putting a recently retired general in charge of the Defense Department. Much of his focus this week, including in his remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, has been on persuading members of Congress that although he has been out of uniform for less than five years, he sees himself as a civilian, not a general.

The Associated Press contributed.

By Grace Segers

McConnell argues that Senate should not immediately proceed with Trump impeachment trial

After Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate would receive the article of impeachment against former President Trump on Monday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the Senate should delay receipt because, he said, Senate rules dictate that the impeachment trial begin immediately after the article is received.

"Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake," McConnell said on the floor.

He and Schumer are still negotiating on a power-sharing agreement, since the Senate is evenly divided, with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. Democrats control the Senate, however, because Vice President Kamala Harris would decide any ties.  McConnell is trying to convince Schumer that the filibuster should not be eliminated. The modern filibuster has meant that most legislation in the Senate must have the support of 60 senators to be considered and voted upon. He pointed out that when he oversaw the majority, he did not dispense with the filibuster, even though President Trump attacked him on social media for not doing so. He also cited a 2017 bipartisan letter where Democrats signed onto in support of preserving the filibuster. 

McConnell also said that he will vote to confirm Austin to be Secretary of Defense.

By Jack Turman

Yellen nomination receives unanimous support from Senate Finance Committee

The nomination of former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be treasury secretary received unanimous support from the Senate Finance Committee, with a 26 to 0 vote, clearing her for confirmation by the full Senate. 

By Sarah Ewall-Wice

Schumer says Pelosi will send Trump article of impeachment to Senate on Monday

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed him that the House would deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump on Monday. This would trigger the beginning of the impeachment trial in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a proposal on Thursday requesting that the trial not begin until February. If the article is sent to the Senate early next week, it will all but ensure that the trial would begin earlier than McConnell had hoped.

In his speech on the Senate floor on Friday, Schumer also pushed back against McConnell's insistence that Democrats provide a guarantee that they would not eliminate the legislative filibuster.

"Leader McConnell's proposal is unacceptable and it won't be accepted," Schumer said.

By Grace Segers

Capitol Police reverse request that National Guard members guarding Capitol rest in parking garage

After spending days in the cold securing the U.S. Capitol following the deadly siege two weeks ago, citizen members of the National Guard were asked to leave the Capitol building and relocate to a nearby parking garage to rest during their shifts. The decision drew swift condemnation from lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called the move "outrageous."

Several pressed to have it reversed. 

And it was, late Thursday night.

The Guard issued a statement saying, "Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, Inauguration Task Force Commander confirms that troops are out of the garage and back into the Capitol building as authorized by the USCP (U.S. Capitol Police) Watch Commander and the troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward."   

Read more here. 

By Kris Van Cleave
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