President Biden met with 10 Republican senators in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon for what the White House described as “a substantive and productive discussion” about their $600 billion counterproposal to his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.
“I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters after leaving the White House. But she said discussions will continue at the staff level and senators are hopeful for a bipartisan deal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Biden “noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address.”
The Democrat-led Senate is also planning this week to advance several more of Biden’s Cabinet nominees and continue preparations for the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump for his role in the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Here’s what to know:
- Biden’s meeting with Republican senators comes as Democrats prepare to move forward this week to set up a partisan path for the president’s relief bill, which Republicans have dismissed as overly costly.
- Biden threatened sanctions on Myanmar after the Southeast Asian nation’s military seized power and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top officials in her ruling National League for Democracy.
- Trump’s legal team imploded as he remained fixated on arguing at his second impeachment trial that the 2020 election was stolen from him. On Sunday night, his office announced new lawyers.
- Trump’s new political action committee raised $31.5 million in the weeks after Election Day through fundraising appeals purportedly to fight election fraud and help Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate, new filings show.
9:22 PM: Sen. Durbin escalates pressure on Republicans to schedule confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, Biden’s attorney general nominee
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ramped up the pressure on Republicans Monday to schedule a confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Judge Merrick Garland, writing in a letter to his GOP counterpart that the delay in doing so was jeopardizing national security.
Biden formally announced Garland as his attorney general pick on Jan. 7 along with three nominees for other Justice Department posts. But nearly a month later, no hearings have been scheduled on any of them. Though the recent runoff elections in Georgia handed control of the Senate to Democrats, giving them 50 seats along with Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote, senators have yet to agree on an organizing resolution. That means the Judiciary Committee is still run by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who Durbin alleged in his letter was objecting to a Feb. 8 hearing.
“It is my hope, then, that you will reconsider your objections to proceeding with a February 8 hearing,” Durbin wrote to Graham. “Judge Garland will serve the Justice Department and our country with honor, independence, and integrity. He is a mainstream, consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly both on his merits and because of the pressing need to respond to the January 6 insurrection and other national security risks.”
Durbin also said he was “prepared to take other steps to expedite the Senate’s consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination should his hearing not go forward on February 8,” though he did not detail what those were.
Graham responded in a letter later Monday that he agreed Garland deserved a hearing, “even a prompt one,” and that he was “very inclined” to support his nomination. But he noted that Donald Trump’s impeachment trial was scheduled to begin on Feb. 9, and that “requires the Senate’s complete focus.” The last five attorneys general, Graham asserted, had two-day confirmation hearings, and if the hearing was conducted on Feb. 8, lawmakers would have had less than two weeks to review his nominee questionnaire.
“I look forward to questioning Judge Garland and potentially supporting his nomination, but not on February 8,” Graham wrote. “Governing requires trade-offs. When the Senate’s focus is required to consider whether to bar a former president from being reelected, other business must stop.”
Senators already have confirmed Biden’s nominees for secretary of state, treasury secretary and defense secretary. Garland’s selection was announced later than those.
He is seen as a moderate pick likely to win bipartisan support, though Democrats are all too familiar with his confirmation history: In 2016, Republicans refused to consider his nomination to the Supreme Court, effectively killing it when Donald Trump was elected president.
By: Matt Zapotosky
9:06 PM: GOP senators had ‘frank and very useful’ meeting with Biden, but no deal yet, Collins says
A group of Republican senators had a “frank and very useful” meeting with President Biden in the Oval Office on Monday, but they have not reached an agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters.
“It was a very good exchange of views,” Collins told reporters during a brief appearance by the group of GOP senators outside the White House. “I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight; no one expected that in a two-hour meeting. But what we did agree to do is to follow up and talk further at the staff level and amongst ourselves and with the president and vice president on how we can continue to work together on this very important issue.”
The senators did not take questions from reporters, and Collins was the only member of the group to speak.
In a statement after the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that while there were “areas of agreement,” Biden “noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address.”
“He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end,” Psaki said.
Earlier Monday, Psaki said Biden is more concerned about his proposed $1.9 trillion package being too small than being too big. The 10 GOP senators, who began meeting with Biden at 5 p.m. Eastern time, have proposed a $618 billion package, a fraction of what Biden is pushing.
Collins said the senators were grateful that Biden, who served in the Senate for more than three decades, chose to spend so much time with them Monday.
“I think it was an excellent meeting and we’re very appreciative that, as his first official meeting in the Oval Office, the president chose to spend so much time with us in a frank and very useful discussion,” she said.
By: Felicia Sonmez
9:04 PM: As House GOP faces decision on its future, McConnell defends Cheney, rebukes Greene in rare set of statements
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday delivered a scathing rebuke of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s actions and defended Rep. Liz Cheney’s decision to vote to impeach former president Donald Trump, weighing in for the first time on the criticism facing both lawmakers.
The statements together are both an unusual venture from a Senate leader onto the other chamber’s turf and an unmistakable signal to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that, for the party’s sake, he must sideline extremists such as Greene (R-Ga.) and maintain a place for traditional Republicans such as Cheney (R-Wyo.).
On Wednesday morning, House Republicans will hold a conference-wide meeting during which the actions of both lawmakers are expected to be discussed.
“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”
Greene responded Monday night on Twitter. “The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully,” she said. “This is why we are losing our country.”
In a separate statement, McConnell did name Cheney, describing the No. 3 House Republican as “a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them.”
“She is an important leader in our party and in our nation,” McConnell said in the statement, first reported by CNN. “I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation.”
By: Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis
9:03 PM: Trump’s new impeachment lawyer says he does not plan to promote election fraud claims
One of former president Donald Trump’s new impeachment lawyers said Sunday that he has no plans to advance claims about a fraud-ridden, stolen election in the upcoming Senate trial — even though the previous legal team is said to have bowed out after Trump stressed he wanted that to be a focus of his defense.
Atlanta-based attorney David Schoen told The Washington Post in an interview Sunday night that he will not “put forward a theory of election fraud. That’s not what this impeachment trial is about.”
Schoen, who was named to head Trump’s defense team Sunday evening, along with Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former prosecutor in Pennsylvania, said he would concentrate on making the case that it is unconstitutional to impeach a president after he has left office.
By: Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Katie Shepherd
6:16 PM: Where Republicans’ $618B coronavirus relief proposal differs from Biden’s $1.9T plan
Ten Senate Republicans met with President Biden on Monday afternoon to discuss their alternative to Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The Senate Republicans’ plan comes in at about a third the price of Biden’s, largely by eliminating aid to state and local governments and reducing direct payments and unemployment aid.
Biden’s plan would send $1,400 payments to most Americans, in addition to the $600 stimulus checks Congress passed in December, while the $618 billion Republican alternative calls for $1,000 checks to a narrower set of Americans.
The biggest difference between the plans is Biden’s $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, a Democratic priority that was left out of the December relief bill.
Biden and Senate Republicans agree on spending for coronavirus containment efforts, like vaccinations and testing, and supporting small businesses. Senate Republicans want to spend less — or nothing at all — on every other major item in Biden’s plan, like school reopenings, the child tax credit and rental assistance.
Though Biden is meeting with the group, the White House and congressional Democrats could move forward on Biden’s plan without Republican support.
By: Alyssa Fowers and Daniela Santamariña
5:30 PM: House panel to debate measure that would oust Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Education, Budget committees
A key House panel will debate a resolution this week that would remove freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) from two committees in response to her pattern of inflammatory behavior and remarks, including her repeated endorsements of political violence and extremism.
The measure, H. Res. 72, to be debated by the House Rules Committee, would strip Greene of her assignments on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee.
It states that Greene “should be removed from her committee assignments in light of conduct she has exhibited,” but it does not provide examples, instead noting simply that, according to the House rules, “A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
Greene responded in a statement Monday afternoon by criticizing Democrats and the media, arguing that they “will stop at nothing to defeat conservative Republicans.”
“They are coming after me because, like President Trump, I will always defend America First values,” Greene said. “They want to take me out because I represent the people. And they absolutely hate it.”
The House Republican conference is expected to meet Wednesday morning, and it remains uncertain whether Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) might seek to preempt any vote by the House Rules Committee by taking steps to remove Greene from her committee assignments.
Democrats have increasingly pointed to Greene as a direct threat to their physical safety, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying last week that the “enemy is within the House,” in an apparent reference to Greene and other gun-toting House members, and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) on Friday announcing she was moving her office away from Greene’s.
Greene also has a history of making racist and anti-Semitic statements. She has previously embraced bogus claims about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has posited that laser beams from space may have started the California wildfires, a baseless theory linked to the QAnon extremist ideology.
In an interview Monday with right-wing cable channel One America News, Greene said that she expects to meet soon with Trump and that he supports her “100 percent,” Politico reported.
Some Republicans have called for Greene to be censured, as well. In an interview Monday night on CNN, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has sharply criticized his party’s response to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, said he believes Greene should be removed from her committee assignments.
Kinzinger noted that if House Republicans don’t do so, the full House appears poised to act.
Michael Kranish contributed to this report.
By: Felicia Sonmez
5:01 PM: Trump, Republican National Committee paid millions on election-related legal challenges, records show
Trump and the Republican Party made $6.2 million in legal payments in the final six weeks of 2020, as he unsuccessfully waged a flurry of legal challenges to the November presidential election, new filings show.
The majority of the payments, totaling at least $4.7 million, went to 30 firms and lawyers involved in the legal fights, records show.
The firms that received the biggest payments included Dechert for recount-related expenses ($583,955); Consovoy McCarthy, involved in an election lawsuit in Pennsylvania ($506,954); Hilbert Law, involved in post-election lawsuits in Georgia ($480,548); and Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, involved in multiple post-election cases in Pennsylvania ($450,007), according to Federal Election Commission records filed Sunday night that cover the period from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31.
Other firms included Kroger Gardis & Regas and Troupis Law Office, both involved in post-election lawsuits in Wisconsin; Taylor English Duma, involved in a lawsuit in Georgia; and Scaringi & Scaringi, involved in Pennsylvania. A slew of firms, including consulting companies, were listed as being paid for recount-related legal consulting fees, including Caruso Law Office, Lead Right Consulting, Newmeyer Dillion, East Bay Dispute & Advisory and Smith & Liss, records show.
Meanwhile, no payments were made to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Trump attorney who played a prominent role in the post-election legal challenges and who had demanded $20,000 a day in fees for his work. Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees and has demanded that he personally approve the expenses, out of concern over some of Giuliani’s moves, The Washington Post reported.
The payments were made by Trump’s campaign committee, the Republican National Committee and the two committees that raise money for the campaign and the party. The 30 firms were involved in post-election lawsuits nationwide, challenging the way the election was administered, the certification of the election results and more.
By: Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy
4:17 PM: GOP Sen. Susan Collins says there’s room for negotiation on direct payments ahead of Biden meeting
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who is one of 10 Republicans meeting this evening with Biden at the White House, said the invitation came directly from the president himself and offered insight into where they might find agreement on a covid relief package.
Collins said Biden called her Sunday, noting it’s the third call she’s had from Biden since the November election.
“I know him well. I worked with him closely when he served in the Senate and when he was vice president, and I think he has confidence that I will work in a bipartisan way with him,” she said in remarks to the Maine Chamber of Commerce on Monday, adding that “there are a lot of opposing forces that don’t want him to work in a bipartisan way.”
One of the biggest sticking points is the direct payments to Americans. Biden’s proposal would give $1,400 to many Americans — the qualifications vary based on a number of factors like income and dependents. Collins’s group has proposed $1,000 checks to a smaller pool of Americans most in need of the relief.
Collins said Biden seemed open to the idea of targeting the payments but “very wedded to the $1,400.”
“Maybe there’s a compromise right there,” Collins said. “of targeting but going with a bit higher amount.”
Collins also said Biden is facing pressure from “some on his staff who would prefer a more partisan approach and just trying to ram the $1.9 trillion package.”
By: Colby Itkowitz
3:30 PM: Myanmar coup a test for Biden and the U.S. role as champion of democracy
Biden condemned a military coup in Myanmar, calling the takeover “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy” — and setting up an early test of whether recent efforts to overturn the U.S. presidential election will weaken its role as a global champion of free and fair voting.
“In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” Biden said in a statement, suggesting that the United States may impose economic penalties and urging a coordinated international response.
The coup unseated a fragile civilian government and posed a test for Biden — and more broadly, for the United States as an advocate of democratic values worldwide. Critics have warned for months that former president Donald Trump’s repeated, baseless claims of fraud in the U.S. election, culminating in a deadly assault on the Capitol a month ago, could be used to undermine the American position abroad.
By: Anne Gearan and John Hudson
3:24 PM: Rep. Kinzinger says Republicans need ‘an intervention’ to kick Trump habit
It wasn’t just the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that led Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R.-Ill.) to start a political action committee aimed at challenging Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party. It’s the way most GOP elected officials seem to have moved on.
“The main impetus was obviously January 6th,” Kinzinger told The Washington Post in an interview. “But I think even beyond that, it was seeing that there wasn’t going to be a mass wake-up, there wasn’t going to be a mass eye-opening to what we’ve become. And in fact, even in this recent week, you see the trend kind of back to Trumpism.”
By: Olivier Knox and Mariana Alfaro
2:31 PM: West Virginia governor calls for going ‘bigger rather than smaller’ on covid stimulus package
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Monday he believes lawmakers “need to go bigger rather than smaller” on a coronavirus stimulus package.
“We’ve got a real problem; we’ve got people in this country that can’t pay their power bill, can’t pay their car payment, absolutely scared to death about their rent payment. You’ve got businesses that are falling on their face all over the place and don’t know where to turn,” Justice said in an Washington Post Live interview on Monday.
“From the stand point of either going bigger or going smaller, to me there’s no question. You may very well leave some money on the table by going bigger but in this situation it will be the only way that we can turn our economy around and get our people righted up and get going,” he said.
He lamented what he described as delays in stimulus negotiations leading up to the November presidential election.
“We went months and months and months in trying to play political games in D.C. with people’s lives in regard to the stimulus package, and we never did get it passed up until the presidential election and everything. It’s a crying shame,” he said. “We need to move forward, and in my opinion, we need to go bigger rather than smaller.”
Justice’s remarks come as President Biden is set to meet with a group of 10 Republican senators who have announced plans to release a $600 billion coronavirus relief package as a counter to Biden’s much larger plan.
Justice, who left the Democratic Party to become a Republican in 2017, was separately asked how he would advise Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), a moderate Democrat, if he ever came to him asking about switching parties.
“There’s not a gosh chance on the planet that Joe Manchin is going to switch to being a Republican, you can forget that,” Justice said.
“I think Joe will use good judgment, at least I hope and pray that he will. But at the end of the day, it is absolutely just frivolous talk to think that Joe Manchin is going to switch parties,” he added.
By: Paulina Firozi
2:18 PM: Presidents come and go, but these curtains are forever
Do those gold silk curtains in President Biden’s Oval Office look familiar?
They should. They were designed for Bill Clinton’s Oval Office in 1993 by Little Rock decorator Kaki Hockersmith. But they have turned out to be one of the constants in our democracy, gracing the most powerful windows in the land during the administrations of four of the last five presidents.
Talk about a backdrop to history.
By: Jura Koncius
1:23 PM: Psaki calls Manchin ‘key partner’ for Biden, says White House will stay in close contact with him
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House has been in touch with Sen. Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat who was irked that Vice President Harris did local media interviews in his state to sell the White House’s coronavirus relief package.
“We’ve been in touch with Senator Manchin, as we have been for many weeks and will continue to be moving forward,” Psaki said. She added that Manchin is a “key partner” to the president and the White House not only on the relief package but on Biden’s broader agenda, “and we will remain in close touch with him.”
Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, has outsize power in his party, which holds the majority by a thread. Manchin’s opposition to legislation could single-handedly derail it if no Republicans vote with Democrats.
Psaki did not say specifically whether it was Biden who spoke to Manchin about Harris’s interviews.
Manchin saw Harris’s media push in West Virginia as an effort to apply pressure on him to support the White House package.
“I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. No one called me,” he said in a television interview with the same station that interviewed Harris. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward. I think we need to, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together, what was done.”
By: Colby Itkowitz
1:22 PM: Psaki says those in Biden White House don’t spend much time thinking about Trump
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that those in the Biden administration don’t spend much time thinking about Trump.
“Hard to believe, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about or thinking about President Trump here. Former President Trump, to be very clear,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing.
Her remarks came in response to a question about whether Trump being largely absent from public debate — including his ban by Twitter — makes jobs at the White House easier.
Psaki said the question would be better directed at Republican lawmakers who might want space from Trump to be able to support a bipartisan coronavirus relief package.
“But I can’t say we miss him on Twitter,” she added.
During the briefing, Psaki said the question of whether Trump will be permitted to receive intelligence briefings as a former president remains “under review” by national security officials.
By tradition, every former U.S. president in the modern era has been given access to routine intelligence briefings and classified information to support continued involvement in advancing the nation’s interests.
But several high-profile Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), have called for making an exception in Trump’s case.
“I don’t think he can be trusted with it now, and in the future, he certainly can’t be trusted,” Schiff said in a television interview last month.
By: John Wagner
1:01 PM: Ahead of meeting with GOP senators, Biden remains committed to robust coronavirus relief package, Psaki says
Ahead of President Biden’s meeting Monday with GOP senators, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the president remains committed to robust coronavirus relief legislation and that the size of the package should be “closer to what he proposed” than what Republicans are advocating.
“What this meeting is not is a forum for the president to make or accept an offer,” Psaki told reporters during a briefing at the White House.
Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion package, with a new round of checks sent directly to most Americans. The group of 10 GOP senators has countered with a $618 billion proposal.
“It’s important to him that he hears this group out on their concerns, on their ideas. He’s always open to making this package stronger,” Psaki said. “But his view is that the size of the package needs to be commensurate with the crises we’re facing … hence why he proposed a package that’s $1.9 trillion.”
Psaki said there is some room to negotiate but added, “Clearly, he thinks the package size needs to be closer to what he proposed than smaller.”
As Psaki was speaking to reporters, Biden weighed in with a tweet.
“Hardworking Americans need help and they need it now,” he said. “That’s why I’m calling on Congress to immediately pass my American Rescue Plan that will deliver direct relief, extend unemployment insurance, help folks put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, and more.”
By: John Wagner
12:45 PM: Biden threatens sanctions on Myanmar after military seizes power
Biden threatened sanctions on Myanmar in a statement after the Southeast Asian country’s military seized power and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top officials of her governing National League for Democracy.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” the president said in a statement. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”
He said the military’s seizure of power and the detention of Suu Kyi “and other civilian officials, and the declaration of a national state of emergency are a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.”
Myanmar’s military said Monday that it had taken control and declared a state of emergency for a year. The raids occurred shortly before a new session of parliament was set to begin and members who won November elections — Myanmar’s second democratic elections since the country’s fragile shift from military rule — were meant to take their seats.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the elections in a landslide.
“The United States is taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour,” Biden added in his statement. “We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition.”
Shibani Mahtani in Hong Kong and Kyaw Ye Lynn in Yangon, Myanmar, contributed to this report.
By: Paulina Firozi
12:29 PM: Rep. Wasserman Schultz to file a resolution to remove Rep. Greene from committee assignments
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) announced she will file a resolution Monday to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her House committee assignments, chiding Greene, who she said has “brought shame on the entire House of Representatives.”
Wasserman Schultz said Monday that her resolution would remove Greene from her assignments on the “House Education and Labor, and the House Budget committees.”
Greene is facing criticism after reports revealed repeated endorsements of political violence and extremism. Recently resurfaced comments include videos in which Greene repeats false claims suggesting mass shootings such as the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were staged.
Last week, CNN’s KFile published a report that revealed Greene had liked Facebook posts that advocated violence against Democrats, including one that suggested a “bullet to the head” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“If she had honor, of course, she would resign. If she possessed shame, censure and an apology might suffice,” Wasserman Schultz said Monday at a news conference. “Expulsion is a fitting punishment, but it takes a two-thirds vote of the House, and that would require support from enough Republicans who aren’t morally bankrupt, which is unlikely.”
She said removing Greene from committees would reduce the “future harm she can cause in Congress.”
Pelosi had previously criticized the move to put Greene on the House Education and Labor Committee.
“Assigning her to the education committee, when she has mocked the killing of little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, when she has mocked the killing of teenagers in high school, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Pelosi said during a Thursday news conference. “What could they be thinking, or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing? It’s absolutely appalling.”
In a statement previously emailed to The Washington Post, Greene responded to criticism from Democrats: “Democrats and their spokesmen in the Fake News Media will stop at nothing to defeat conservative Republicans. They are coming after me because I’m a threat to their goal of Socialism. They are coming after me because they know I represent the people, not the politicians.”
By: Paulina Firozi
11:48 AM: Analysis: Biden sweeps away Trump’s climate-change denialism
We knew Biden would chart a different course from his predecessor on climate change policy. But the blizzard of executive orders and other White House directives over the past week could give observers a case of political whiplash.
In a matter of days, Biden announced the United States’ return to the Paris climate agreement, halted the Keystone XL pipeline, imposed a moratorium on federal oil and gas leasing, initiated a process to invest in minority and low-income communities that historically have borne the brunt of pollution and mandated that climate action become a policy priority for virtually every federal agency.
It marks a swift repudiation of the policies and principles staked out by Trump, who disregarded the warnings of climate scientists and enacted policies that boosted the short-term interests of the fossil fuel industry. Arguing that liberal environmentalism threatened American jobs, Trump scoffed at international efforts such as the Paris agreement and rolled back dozens of U.S. environmental regulations implemented by his predecessors.
Now, per the calculations of my colleagues, Biden has already overturned 10 of these Trump administration rollbacks and is targeting more than 60 others.
By: Ishaan Tharoor
11:18 AM: McConnell calls for ‘immediate release’ of Suu Kyi after Myanmar military seizes power in coup
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged Myanmar’s military to “immediately release” the country’s civilian political leaders and said the United States should “impose costs” on those who stand in the way of democracy there.
Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup, stating Monday that it had taken control of the country and declared a state of emergency for a year after detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others from her ruling National League for Democracy.
“Reports that Burma’s military has rounded up civilian leaders including Aung San Suu-Kyi and key civil society figures are horrifying, completely unacceptable, and obviously a saddening step backwards for Burma’s slow and unsteady democratic transition,” McConnell said in a statement, using another name for Myanmar.
McConnell, who has been a longtime champion in the United States for Suu Kyi, called on Myanmar’s military to “respect the democratic process” and said “Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy should work to bring all of Burma together to move forward in an inclusive and democratic manner.”
“The Biden Administration must take a strong stand and our partners and all democracies around the world should follow suit in condemning this authoritarian assault on democracy,” McConnell added in his Monday statement.
His comment follows expressions of alarm from other U.S. leaders about the reports of the actions by Myanmar’s military.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Washington stood with the people of Myanmar in their “aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”
In a statement Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States “opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.”
By: Paulina Firozi and Shibani Mahtani
10:24 AM: Biden postpones foreign policy speech at State Department, citing inclement weather
A foreign policy speech that Biden had planned to deliver Monday at the State Department has been postponed because of inclement weather, the White House said.
“He looks forward to visiting later this week when the agency’s staff and diplomats can more safely commute to attend,” the White House said in a statement. It did not specify which day.
The Washington area was bracing Monday for more ice and snow, while a winter storm blanketed the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, with up to two feet of snow expected in the New York City area.
By: John Wagner
9:37 AM: Biden, Collins pitch dueling coronavirus relief plans ahead of White House meeting
Both Biden and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pitched their respective coronavirus relief plans Monday ahead of an afternoon meeting scheduled at the White House between the president and10 GOP senators, including Collins, who are pressing for a less ambitious alternative.
“We’re facing an economic crisis brought on by a public health crisis, and we need urgent action to combat both,” Biden said in a tweet touting his $1.9 trillion package. “My American Rescue Plan will dig us out of the depths of these crises and put our nation on a path to build back better.”
In a joint statement detailing their $618 billion proposal, Collins and her colleagues said they recognize Biden’s “calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration,” adding that they “share many of your priorities.”
The GOP proposal jettisons certain elements that have drawn Republican opposition, such as increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
It would reduce the size of a new round of checks that Biden wants to send to Americans, from $1,400 per individual to $1,000 — while significantly reducing the income limits that determine eligibility for the stimulus payments.
The GOP plan would also reduce Biden’s proposal for extending emergency federal unemployment benefits, which are set at $300 a week and will expire in mid-March. The Biden plan would increase those benefits to $400 weekly and extend them through September. The GOP plan would keep the payments at $300 per week and extend them through June.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said one of the shortcomings of the GOP plan is that it doesn’t provide direct aid to states and localities.
“That’s just one thing of many,” Schumer said.
He suggested that Republicans “not give us a take-it-or-leave-it offer.”
“We’d like to negotiate with them, but there’s lots of things in the president’s plan that are not in their plan,” he said.
By: John Wagner and Erica Werner
8:41 AM: Blinken criticizes Russia over treatment of Navalny protesters
Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the Russian government on Monday for how it has handled protesters demanding the release of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Thousands were arrested, including dozens of journalists, in weekend protests.
“The Russian government makes a big mistake if it believes that this is about us. It’s not; it’s about them,” Blinken said in an interview with NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell. “It’s about the government; it’s about the frustration the Russian people have with corruption, with kleptocracy.”
Asked about whether the United States should sanction backers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Blinken said the administration is “reviewing a series of Russian actions that are deeply, deeply disturbing.”
On Sunday, Blinken tweeted that the United States “condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight. We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Aleksey Navalny.”
Blinken also said last month’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob “creates an even greater challenge for us to be carrying the banner of democracy and freedom and human rights.” He called the Jan. 6 assault an “attack on our own democracy.”
By: Paulina Firozi
8:01 AM: Analysis: GOP proposal tests Biden’s bipartisanship as Democrats forge ahead with stimulus plan
Biden is expected to meet Monday with the group of 10 Republican lawmakers releasing a counterproposal to his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
Their approximately $600 billion proposal, less than a third of what Biden has called for, is testing the new president’s desire for a bipartisan deal.
With the cooperation of exactly 10 GOP lawmakers, Democrats in the 50-50 Senate could hit the threshold necessary to pass the legislation under regular procedures. Democrats, who narrowly control the chamber with Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote, are planning to use special budget rules to skirt the 60-vote requirement and pass Biden’s package that Republicans have panned as too costly with a simple majority.
By: Jacqueline Alemany
7:59 AM: ‘Stop Stacey’ group launches ahead of Stacey Abrams’s expected rematch for Georgia governor
Stacey Abrams has yet to formally announce whether she will seek a rematch next year against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, but allies of the Republican incumbent on Monday launched a new outside group aimed at reining in her ambitions.
Leaders of the new independent committee, known as “Stop Stacey,” describe it as “a national, grassroots organization of engaged conservatives who are committed to protecting our future from Stacey Abrams, her left-wing backers, and their radical, un-American agenda,” according to a statement first reported by Fox News.
After narrowly losing Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race to Kemp, Abrams founded the voting rights group Fair Fight, which helped register thousands of new voters ahead of the 2020 elections.
She is credited by her admirers and detractors alike with helping Biden become the first Democrat to carry Georgia in a presidential race since 1992 and helping Democrats capture both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats last month.
The new “Stop Stacey” website, in a backhanded compliment, says “she ‘flipped’ Georgia for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. She delivered two Senate seats for Chuck Schumer. Now, she’s aiming for total control. We have to Stop Stacey and Save America before it’s too late!”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) became the Senate majority leader with the two wins in Georgia and installation of Harris as vice president, who can break ties in a chamber evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
By: John Wagner
7:29 AM: One of Trump’s new lawyers declined to charge Bill Cosby. The other maintains Jeffrey Epstein was murdered.
When Bruce L. Castor Jr. ran for district attorney in Montgomery County, Pa., in 2015, the campaign hinged on his decision years earlier not to charge comedian Bill Cosby with sexual assault. And after Castor lost the race, he sued the woman he blamed for the defeat: one of Cosby’s victims.
His suit, which was dismissed in 2018, made national headlines as the prosecutor who defeated him criminally charged Cosby, eventually sending him to prison.
Now, Castor is poised to represent another politician dismayed over a recent election loss: Trump.
Following a sudden exodus of lawyers who had been working on Trump’s defense for his Feb. 9 impeachment trial, the former president on Sunday announced that he will be represented by Castor and David Schoen, another attorney with ties to several high-profile, controversial defendants, including Roger Stone and Jeffrey Epstein.
By: Katie Shepherd
6:57 AM: Snowstorm pushes vote on nomination of Mayorkas as homeland security secretary to Tuesday
A Senate vote on the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security that had been scheduled for Monday has been pushed back until Tuesday because of the weather.
The move was made in anticipation of travel delays resulting from the winter storm that has affected Washington and is blanketing the corridor from Philadelphia to Boston with heavy snow.
Mayorkas is on the cusp of Senate confirmation following a 55-to-42 procedural vote to limit debate on Thursday. A former deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, he would become the fifth Biden Cabinet pick to win Senate confirmation.
Senate Democrats had planned to move the nomination more quickly.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) singled out Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in floor remarks Thursday morning. Hawley last week moved to block the fast-track nomination process, saying he was dissatisfied with Mayorkas’s responses to questions about Biden’s immigration agenda.
During his confirmation hearing last week, Mayorkas told senators he would carry out Biden’s immigration overhaul while intensifying efforts to combat domestic extremism.
By: John Wagner
6:44 AM: Biden to meet with 10 GOP senators seeking to cut a deal on coronavirus relief
Biden plans to meet Monday with 10 Republican senators who are calling on him to make a bipartisan deal instead of forging ahead with a party-line vote on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.
The group announced plans Sunday to release an approximately $600 billion coronavirus relief package as a counterproposal to Biden’s much larger plan, posing a test for the new president who campaigned on promises to unify Congress and the country.
The senators, led by Susan Collins (R-Maine), said they would formally unveil the plan on Monday, and they requested a meeting with Biden. Biden and Collins subsequently spoke, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced late Sunday that the president had invited the 10 Republican lawmakers to the White House “for a full exchange of views.”
By: Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim
6:42 AM: New Trump PAC raised $31.5 million in the weeks after Election Day
Trump’s new political action committee raised $31.5 million in the weeks after Election Day through a flurry of fundraising appeals purporting to fight election fraud and help Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate, new filings show.
But by Jan. 1 — two weeks after the electoral college certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and days before the two Senate elections in Georgia that tipped control of the chamber to Democrats — he spent no money on either endeavor, according to disclosures made public Sunday evening.
Instead, Trump held on to most of that money in the coffers of Save America, his new leadership PAC. The PAC carries few restrictions on how the money can be spent, meaning that it can now be used to finance his post-presidential political career.
By: Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy
6:37 AM: Trump’s office announces two new lawyers for his impeachment trial
Trump’s office announced in a statement Sunday night that Atlanta-based trial attorney David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former district attorney in Montgomery County, Pa., would lead his defense team for his Senate impeachment trial after he parted ways with his previous team.
The two new lawyers will bring “national profiles and significant trial experience in high-profile cases to the effort,” the statement said.
Schoen previously served as a lawyer for Trump adviser Roger Stone when he sought to appeal his conviction for lying and witness tampering in a congressional investigation. He also was in discussions with financier Jeffrey Epstein about representing him days before his death while awaiting sex-trafficking charges and has said he does not believe Epstein killed himself.
During his time as district attorney, Castor had declined to prosecute actor Bill Cosby and was later sued by accuser Andrea Constand in a case that was settled.
By: Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Amy Gardner
6:34 AM: GOP Rep. Kinzinger starts PAC to challenge party’s embrace of Trump
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump earlier this month, has launched a new political action committee that is designed to become a financial engine to challenge the former president’s wing of the GOP caucus and stand up against a leadership team still aligned with him.
Kinzinger, 42, a former star of the 2010 tea party class, said the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol served as a final breaking point for the direction of the Republican Party, providing a stark divide between those who want to continue a path toward autocracy and those who want to return to traditional conservative values.
In an interview Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Kinzinger formally unveiled his Country 1st PAC and a six-minute campaign-style video launching what he hopes will become a movement.
By: Paul Kane and Amy B Wang