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Biden unveils $1.9 trillion economic relief as Trump's Senate trial looms

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Economist says Biden's COVID-19 relief bill is "right on the mark" 10:39

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic relief package, an ambitious plan that includes a drive to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days in office. Meanwhile, President Trump's post-presidency future remains unclear as he faces a trial in the Senate — although Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would not reconvene before January 19, the day before Mr. Trump leaves office. 

Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Mr. Biden announced what could be the signature legislation of his first 100 days. It's expensive legislation with three major targets: $400 billion for arresting the spread of COVID-19 and increasing vaccine capabilities; over $1 trillion to assist families needing direct financial support; and $440 billion in emergency funds for cash-poor small businesses and communities.

"I believe we have a moral obligation," Mr. Biden said in a speech on Thursday night. "In this pandemic in America, we cannot let people go hungry, we cannot let people get evicted, we cannot watch nurses, educators and others lose their jobs, we so badly need them. We must act now, and we must act decisively." 

The transition team announced on Thursday Mr. Biden had selected Jaime Harrison, the former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from South Carolina who raised record sums of money in his failed bid to unseat GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, to lead the Democratic National Committee. 

Mr. Trump remained out of the public eye on Thursday, one day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for a second time. McConnell, who has not said how he will vote in a trial, said on Wednesday that the Senate could not finish a trial before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

If the Senate trial stretches into Mr. Biden's term, the Senate could conceivably still choose to convict Mr. Trump and bar him from holding any federal office in the future, although scholars differ on the constitutionality of holding a trial once the accused has left office. A vote to convict would require a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

On Thursday, the parts of the West Wing accessible to the press looked increasingly vacant. Boxes and containers were being filled with staffers' personal belongings, and some White House aides were seen posing for photos in the Rose Garden. 


Biden will take over @POTUS Twitter account

Twitter announced Thursday night that President-elect Joe Biden would be taking over the @POTUS Twitter account. But Mr. Biden will not automatically inherit the followers, Twitter and Biden's digital director Rob Flaherty said. 

The first step will be transferring the current accounts to the National Archives. The Trump administration's @POTUS account will be archived as @POTUS45 just as Obama's was archived as @POTUS44

After the archival process is complete, Twitter says it will transfer the institutional accounts to the Biden administration along with a new account @SecondGentleman for Douglas Emhoff.

@Transition46 will become @WhiteHouse, @PresElectBiden will become @POTUS, @SenKamalaHarris will become @VP, @FlotusBiden will become @FLOTUS and @PressSecPsaki will become @PressSec. Since these accounts are currently active, their history and followers will transition.

In 2017, former President Obama passed the account and its followers over to President Trump, but Twitter said in December that the account would be reset to zero followers. Existing tweets on @POTUS, @FLOTUS, @VP and @WhiteHouse will be archived and the accounts will be reset to zero tweets for the incoming administration on Inauguration Day.

Twitter has limited the use of the official accounts since Mr. Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter on Friday. At the time, Twitter said it would suspend the accounts if it became necessary in an extreme situation to alleviate real world harm, adding that they will be transferred over to the Biden administration in due time.

By Caroline Linton

Can Trump be tried for impeachment after leaving office? Would he keep his pension?

President Trump's term will expire before the Senate has a chance to consider the House's articles of impeachment, although it is still working out how to try him and possibly ban him from holding elected office again. This is raising questions about whether he can even be tried for impeachment, since he'll already have moved out of the White House — and whether he'd still enjoy the benefits accorded to former presidents if the Senate convicts him. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not plan to reconvene the Senate to hold Mr. Trump's trial before his term ends on January 20; this would only occur once Joe Biden has assumed the presidency, creating what some legal experts consider to be a legal gray area. 

"I don't think the founders ever thought about this scenario where you would have a president engage in impeachable conduct close enough to the end of his term that he would be impeached as president while tried after," said Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law expert and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. 

Read more here

By Rebecca Kaplan

Biden unveils $1.9 trillion economic relief package

Biden unveils COVID-19 economic response plan and vows to speed up vaccinations 24:45

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his COVID-19 relief proposal in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday. The massive stimulus bill is expected to cost roughly $1.9 trillion in order to fund vaccinations and provide immediate, direct relief to working families and communities bearing the brunt of the crisis.

"A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there's no time to waste. We have to act and we have to act now," Mr. Biden said. 

The president-elect said his plan is two-pronged — a "rescue" plan, which he outlined Thursday night, and a "recovery" plan, which he will outline after he's in office. The vice president claims his rescue plan will lift millions of out poverty. Mr. Biden was expected to announce his vaccine rollout plan Thursday night too, but said he will do so soon. 

Included in Mr. Biden's relief plan are the following things: 

  • $1,400 checks to American adults (on top of the $600 Congress already passed)

  • Boosting child tax credit to $3,000 per child and $3,600 for children under 6

  • Implementing a $15 federal minimum wage 

  • $25 billion for child care centers

  • Expanded paid sick, family and medical leave 

  • Extend moratoriums on evictions 

Read more here.

By Kathryn Watson

Customs and Border Protection says they are participating in inauguration security

Customs and Border Protection said Thursday that they are planning on participating in the U.S. Secret Service-led security operations for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

CBP said it is contributing Air and Marine aircraft and smallboat crews to augment airspace and maritime security operations, as well as contributing Border Patrol agents and Field Operations officers to supplement U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police security details. 

By Caroline Linton

Pence makes stop on Capitol Hill to thank National Guard

Vice President Mike Pence stopped by Capitol Hill on Thursday to thank members of the National Guard who are protecting the Capitol in the wake of last week's riots. Pence was at the Capitol when the rioters took over the building. 

"Thank you for stepping forward for your country," he told the members of the National Guard. 

The vice president talked about being on hand for the "historic transfer of power for the inauguration of your president of the United States," and told them to have a "safe inauguration."

Thousands of members of the National Guard are stationed in D.C. through Inauguration Day. 

Pence told the members of the Guard it's been his "great honor" to serve as their vice president. 

President Trump has not made a similar gesture to the National Guard or other law enforcement for their service. It took two days after a Capitol police officer's death for the president to order the lowering of the flags at the White House. 

By Kathryn Watson

Rand Paul says "trying to convict" Trump or " impeaching him is really an overreach"

In an interview with Bowling Green, Kentucky, affiliate WNKY, Senator Rand Paul said that he would be surprised Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would support impeachment because it "would divide the Republican party." 

Paul said there will be a "public rebuke" against President Trump and he will be out of office in a week. The House impeached Mr. Trump on Wednesday, and now he faces a trial in the Senate. While Paul did not specifically say how he would vote, he said "trying to convict him of a crime or impeaching him would really be an overreach."  

"But to continue to kick him and continue to impeach and censure and all the stuff they want to do and the ridiculousness of like trying to try him criminally for inciting, for saying 'fight, fight for your country,'" Paul said. "Well, that figurative type of speech has been used by thousands and thousands of candidates across the country. And he also said specifically march peacefully. Now, I don't think he escapes blame for egging people on towards something that was a misguided notion and people should judge that harshly."

Meanwhile, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the more moderate Republicans, told CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA that she believed Mr. Trump had committed "impeachable offenses." She has previously called for him to resign. 

"I believe this president violated his oath and I believe that there must be consequences to that," Mukowski said. 

By Caroline Linton

Murkowski: House responded to January 6 assault "appropriately, with impeachment"

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she believes the House responded "appropriately" with its historic and bipartisan vote to impeach Mr. Trump, but intends to announce whether she will convict or acquit the president on the charge of incitement of insurrection after he and House impeachment managers present their cases.

"On the day of the riots, President Trump's words incited violence, which led to the injury and deaths of Americans — including a Capitol Police officer — the desecration of the Capitol, and briefly interfered with the government's ability to ensure a peaceful transfer of power," she said in a statement. "Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence and the House has responded swiftly, and I believe, appropriately, with impeachment."

Murkowski said she stands by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision not to begin an impeachment hearing before Mr. Biden is inaugurated, as "our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, DC and across the country as we allow for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power."

"Our nation's founders gave the Senate the sole power to try all impeachments, and exercising that power is a weighty and important responsibility," she said. "When the article of impeachment comes to the Senate, I will follow the oath I made when sworn as a U.S. senator. I will listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides, and will then announce how I will vote."

Murkowski is likely to be one of the closely watched Republican senators during an impeachment trial, as she has not shied away from breaking with the president throughout his tenure. Last week, she called for Mr. Trump to resign, and was the first GOP senator to do so.

By Melissa Quinn

GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger says Trump is "nuts" after impeachment vote

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday, has been a frequent critic of the president. He believes that Mr. Trump incited violence on January 6, when he encouraged his supporters to "fight like hell" to overturn the election hours before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

"I think the president for all intents and purposes is not the president. He's just nuts. He's going crazy," Kinzinger said in an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. For Kinzinger, Vice President Mike Pence is "the man right now that stands between not even having a president and where we're at." The full podcast will air on Friday.

Listen to this episode on ART19

Kinzinger accused Mr. Trump of sowing division for four years, and said that the majority of Republicans who voted against impeachment likely did so because they were receiving threats both political and physical in nature.

Read more here.

By Grace Segers

Democrats say impeachment trial could last just a few days

Two Democratic senators indicated that the impeachment trial for Mr. Trump could last for only a few days, even if it did start after Mr. Biden took office.

"No certainty about timing, but I think it's possible it could start the day after the inauguration if not the afternoon of the inauguration," Senator Bob Casey said in an interview on MSNBC on Thursday. "I hope we could have a trial that could last just a few days and maybe have it completed before the weekend is over."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also said in an interview on MSNBC that "we could conduct a trial in a very relatively short time."

"This article of impeachment is nothing like the previous articles of impeachment, which were highly complex, relied on multiple witnesses, multiple documents. The allegations themselves were complex. This is a simple and direct case. I think we could do the trial fairly quickly," Gillibrand said. She also expressed confidence that the Senate could work on confirming Mr. Biden's nominees and conducting an impeachment trial at the same time.

By Grace Segers

Feds arrest man seen carrying Confederate flag through Capitol

Trump supporter carries a Confederate flag in the U.S. Capitol
A supporter of President Trump carries a Confederate battle flag on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol after breaching security during the protests on January 6, 2021. Mike Theiler / REUTERS

Two Delaware men, one of whom was seen in a viral photograph holding a Confederate flag inside the U.S. Capitol during last week's riot, have been arrested on federal charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

Kevin Seefried and Hunter Seefried were charged with unlawful entry into a restricted area, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and depredation of government property, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia. CBS station WDEL reports the men are father and son. 

The U.S. Attorney's statement says both are alleged to have entered the Capitol through a broken window. Kevin Seefried, whom WDEL reports is the elder Seefried, was photographed a short time later with the Confederate flag, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Read more here.

By Erin Donaghue

Murkowski says there "must be consequences" for Trump

Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the few Republican senators who is publicly considering voting to convict Mr. Trump, said in an interview with CBS affiliate KTVA that there "must be consequences" for the president.

"I believe this president violated his oath and I believe that there must be consequences to that," Murkowski said. "I believe that this president has committed an impeachable offense."

Murkowski also said she would support barring the president from holding future office if the Senate votes to convict.

"I think that is one of the most consequential actions that we could take, and I think that would be appropriate," she said. "Given what we have seen from his actions and his failure to uphold the Constitution."

Republican Senator Pat Toomey has said that he believes Mr. Trump should resign, and argued the president has committed "impeachable offenses." Senator Ben Sasse said on "CBS This Morning" last week he would "definitely consider whatever articles" the House moves.

Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican who voted in favor of convicting Mr. Trump on one article of impeachment in 2020, said in a statement Wednesday that "when the President incites an attack against Congress, there must be a meaningful consequence."

By Grace Segers

Lawmakers intro bill to award officer who led rioters away from Senate with Congressional Gold Medal

A bipartisan trio of House members introduced legislation to award Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer captured on video leading rioters away from the Senate chamber, with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Democratic Congressmen Charlie Crist of Florida and Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, as well as Republican Nancy Mace of South Carolina, are spearheading the bill. The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation," according to the House.

Congressional Gold Medal legislation typically has to be co-sponsored by at least two-thirds of House members, according to the Congressional Research Service, and is required to be co-sponsored by at least 67 senators before the Senate Banking Committee will consider it.

"The United States Capitol was under attack by armed, violent extremists, and Officer Eugene Goodman was the only thing standing between the mob and the United States Senate," Crist said in a statement. "I shudder to think what might have happened had it not been for Officer Goodman's fast thinking and commitment to his duty and his country. While some will remember last Wednesday for the very worst in our country, the patriotism and heroics of Officer Eugene Goodman renew my faith and remind us all what truly makes the United States great."

Recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill and Jackie Robinson.

By Melissa Quinn

Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who was on House floor for impeachment debate, tests positive for COVID-19

New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat, announced on Twitter he tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining at home.

"I received the second dose of the #COVID19vaccine last week and understand the affects take time. I have continued to be tested regularly, wear my mask and follow the recommended guidelines," he said in a series of tweets. "I will continue my duties representing New York's 13th congressional district remotely until I have received clearance from my doctor. I encourage all residents to follow public health guidelines for the safety of our #NY13 community."

Espaillat, wearing a mask, was on the House floor Wednesday during the debate on the article of impeachment and delivered remarks just after 2 p.m. calling for Mr. Trump to be impeached.

A growing number of lawmakers have announced they have become infected with the coronavirus in recent days, including some who were locked down with Republican House members during last week's assault on the Capitol. A video published by Punchbowl News last week showed several GOP lawmakers not wearing face coverings while in the crowded room and refusing blue surgical masks when offered them. It was not immediately clear if Espaillat was in the secure room during the attack.

Espaillat told CBS News on Thursday morning that he was only briefly in the room where dozens of his fellow lawmakers waited out the Capitol siege.

"I went there for less than a minute to say hello to my colleagues. I was in my office throughout the ordeal," he said.

Melissa Quinn and Ed O'Keefe


Congressman says 15-20 Capitol Police officers under investigation

Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, the chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the Capitol Police, said Wednesday night that between 15 and 20 officers are under investigation for "various issues" related to last week's attack on the Capitol.

"We want to understand exactly what's going on," Ryan told reporters.

The congressman said earlier this week two officers have been suspended for their actions during the riots — one who took a selfie with members of the pro-Trump mob and another who put on a "Make America Great Again" hat and was dircting people.

Ryan told reporters Wednesday he was having difficulty getting information from the leaders of the Capitol Police, including about ongoing investigations. 

"We, I think, deserve to know and understand what the hell is going on. And it's a black box over there," he said.

The ease with which members of the pro-Trump mob gained entry into the Capitol has led to questions about the preparedness of the Capitol Police and raised concerns about its readiness for the inauguration, especially as threats of violence surrounding the event continue.

"The big problem was the communication from command-and-control down to the rank-and-file members and a ton of confusion and the lack of direction," Ryan said of January 6. "And that is consistent with what we're experiencing now, a lack of communication."

By Melissa Quinn

Lindsey Graham says post-presidential impeachments are "bad for the country"

Speaking on Fox News' "Hannity," Senator Lindsey Graham strongly opposed impeaching President Trump after the inauguration, warning it would be "bad for the country." 

"To the American people, what good comes from impeaching President Trump after he's out of office?" Graham said. "That's an unconstitutional attack on the president. It will divide the country and it will incite violence."   

"To my Republican colleagues, let's stand up for the idea that post-presidential impeachments are bad for the presidency, bad for the country, and if we go along with it as Republicans, we will destroy the Republican Party," he added. "If we do it as a Senate over time we will destroy the presidency."  

The article of impeachment, passed by the House earlier Wednesday, will soon be considered by the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he has not yet decided if he will vote to convict the president at trial.

By Victoria Albert

Graham, Johnson call for independent investigation of Capitol riot

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson on Wednesday called on Congress to appoint an independent commission to investigate the assault on the U.S. Capitol. 

"While today's announcement that the Capitol Police Inspector General will investigate is welcome, we believe we need a truly independent commission with wide latitude and authority to examine the failures by the Capitol Police leadership, House and Senate Sergeants at Arms, and the officials that oversee them," the pair said in a statement. 

The senators said the commission should be made up of "nationally recognized non-partisan security experts" to avoid allegations of political bias. 

"The U.S. Capitol is the people's house and it belongs to the American people.  We owe it to them to get to the bottom of this security failure which was a national embarrassment," the senators said. "A commission is the best opportunity for us to get the answers the American people deserve."

By Victoria Albert

Twitter CEO says banning Trump was not a decision to "celebrate"

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday stood by last week's decision to ban President Trump from his company's platform. He said he did not "celebrate or feel pride in" the choice, but felt it was necessary "based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter." 

Twitter permanently banned Mr. Trump's account on Saturday because of "the risk of further incitement of violence" in the wake of the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.

Dorsey said it was "the right decision" in his post Wednesday, writing that "We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety."

"Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all," he added. 

But Dorsey acknowledged that banning accounts "has real and significant ramifications." 

"While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation ... Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation."

Read more here. 

By Li Cohen
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