ABC - Politics News

Jon Cherry/Getty ImagesBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- A man who allegedly made an online threat to "assassinate" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., faces five charges in connection with the U.S. Capitol insurrection, authorities said.

Garret Miller was arrested Wednesday in Texas. His charges include threats and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. A detention hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Newly released court documents chronicle a series of social media posts Miller allegedly made on Jan. 6 and in the days following the riot, including threats to the Democratic lawmaker, a regular target of conservatives, and a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

"Assassinate AOC," Miller tweeted on Jan. 6 in response to a call by Ocasio-Cortez to impeach former President Donald Trump, according to the criminal complaint.

In a Facebook discussion on Jan. 10 about the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a rioter, Miller allegedly said, "We going to get a hold of [the USCP officer] and hug his neck with a nice rope[.]"

On Jan. 11, Miller allegedly posted to Facebook a selfie of himself inside the Capitol Rotunda. When someone commented on the post, "bro you got in?! Nice!," Miller replied, "just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol," according to the affidavit.

A few days after the siege on the Capitol, Miller "admitted on Instagram that he 'had a rope in [his] bag on that day,'" according to the affidavit.

Miller's Twitter account has been suspended and his Facebook page has been deleted. The FBI affidavit included screengrabs of social media posts they attributed to Miller and stills of surveillance footage that allegedly placed him in the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

In a statement to ABC News, Miller's attorney said that his client "regrets the acts he took in a misguided effort to show his support for former President Trump."

"His social media comments reflect very ill-considered political hyperbole in very divided times and will certainly not be repeated in the future," attorney Clint Broden said in the statement. "He accepts responsibility for his actions."


On one hand you have to laugh, and on the other know that the reason they were this brazen is because they thought they were going to succeed.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 23, 2021

In response to news of Miller's arrest, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "On one hand you have to laugh, and on the other know that the reason they were this brazen is because they thought they were going to succeed."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- This is Day Three of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 23, 4:49 pm
Biden speaks with Boris Johnson

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared details of the phone call he had with Biden Saturday, as the president continues to reach out to U.S. allies and partners in the days after his inauguration.

In a post on social media, Johnson said it was "great to speak" with Biden. "I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from COVID-19," he added, along with a photo of himself smiling on the phone.

Great to speak to President @JoeBiden this evening. I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 23, 2021

During the call, Johnson "warmly welcomed" Biden's decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, a Downing Street spokesperson said.  

"They also discussed the benefits of a potential free trade deal between our two countries, and the Prime Minister reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible," the spokesperson said.
President Biden has been making his first calls to foreign leaders as president. On Friday, he spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

In previewing the president's early calls to foreign heads of state, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said the president would first prioritize close "partners and allies," because the president "feels it's important to rebuild those relationships and to address the challenges and threats we're facing in the world."

-ABC News' Rashid Haddou, Jordyn Phelps and Molly Nagle

Jan 23, 4:29 pm
Inauguration day held many firsts

While Wednesday's Inauguration Day was steeped in tradition, it held many firsts too.

During the actual ceremony, Harris was sworn in as both the first female and person of color vice president, Amanda Gorman was the youngest inaugural poet in history, and Andrea Hall recited the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language.

But even as the official ceremony ended, the day of firsts didn't. Hours after the inaugural ceremony, Harris administered the oath of office to Rev. Raphael Warnock, the first Black senator from Georgia, and Jon Ossoff, the first Jewish senator from the South since the 1880s. Also, the White House website revised its contact form by adding gender-inclusive pronoun and prefix options including "they/them" and the gender-neutral prefix of "Mx."

-ABC News' Kiara Brantley-Jones and Robert Zepeda

Jan 23, 3:31 pm
If confirmed, Biden's cabinet would hold a record-breaking number of women

Inauguration Day was historic, with Kamala Harris becoming the first woman and person of color to become vice president. But if all of Biden's cabinet nominations are confirmed, Harris wouldn't be the only one making history.

Twelve of Biden's nominations for Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions are women, including eight women of color. If they're all confirmed, it would shatter former President Bill Clinton's record of nine women serving concurrently, which happened during his second term.

Janet Yellen, who was approved unanimously in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday, is nominated to be the first female secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Her confirmation vote is expected to take place early next week.

-ABC News' Deena Zaru

Jan 23, 3:29 pm
State Department condemns arrests of protesters in Russia

The U.S. Department of State "strongly" condemned the mass arrests in Russia of protesters in a statement Saturday.

The department called for the release of the protesters and Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, who was jailed last week after he returned to the country for the first time since recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent.

"The United States strongly condemns the use of harsh tactics against protesters and journalists this weekend in cities throughout Russia," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement. "The United States will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners in defense of human rights -- whether in Russia or wherever they come under threat."

Tens of thousands of people joined protests across dozens of cities in Russia Saturday. By early evening, police had detained over 1,600 people, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests.

In its statement, the State Department criticized the growing state of repression in Russia, from harassing protesters to threatening social media platforms, and defended Russians’ rights to protest and to free and fair elections.

It also called on Russia to explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil and to cooperate with an international investigation.
-ABC News' Connor Finnegan

Jan 23, 2:23 pm
Biden administration pauses most deportations

Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced a 100-day pause on deportations of most people living in the country illegally along with a new priority system for those who will still be subject to removal.

The memo makes clear that Homeland Security will not be issuing a full stop on arrests and removals, but rather focusing on those who pose a national security or public safety risk, including anyone convicted of an "aggravated felony."

"Nothing in this memorandum prohibits the apprehension or detention of individuals unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities," the DHS memo reads. The announcements came as Biden also put forward his legislative immigration proposal, which provides a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

-ABC News' Quinn Owen

Jan 23, 12:57 pm
Impeachment timeline allows for more confirmations of Cabinet officials

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday that the Senate trial in Trump's impeachment would begin the week of Feb. 8 -- a timeline that gives more leeway for Biden's Cabinet officials to be confirmed.

Right now, only two of Biden's Cabinet secretaries have been confirmed.

The House will deliver an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, which will formally launch the impeachment trial against the former president, which could have begun as early as Tuesday.

The later date also allows Trump time to mount a legal defense.

-ABC News' Allison Pecorin

Jan 23, 12:04 pm
Biden spoke to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico on Friday

Biden and the president of Mexico spoke over the phone on Friday.

According to the the White House's readout, the Biden administration plans on "reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies." Biden said he wants to increase the number of lawful immigration pathways, reduce migration by addressing its root causes, and improve processing asylum requests at the border. The two presidents agreed to work closely to together to both stem the flow of migration as well as coordinate the fight against COVID-19.

According to Mexico's readout, the conversation unfolded in a "cordial tone."

Jan 23, 5:13 am
Biden makes changes to Oval Office, removes controversial portrait hung by Trump

Biden's work in the White House and in the country is just beginning.

ABC reported that while Biden has been in office for only three days, he has already made significant tweaks to the Oval Office.

In a wall next to his desk he hung a portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

He also hung up portraits of former presidents Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

Apart from that, he added busts of Latino civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

The portrait of controversial President Andrew Jackson, which Donald Trump previously hung in the office, is long gone.

This Saturday, the president will hold a private meeting with advisors in his new office, according to the White House.

-ABC's Michelle Stoddart and Adia Robinson

Jan 22, 10:25 pm
Trudeau, Biden 'to work shoulder to shoulder,' Canadian PM says

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared details of his phone conversation Friday with President Joe Biden.

The two discussed "ending the pandemic, growing the middle class, fighting climate change, and creating good jobs for people on both sides of the border," among other issues, Trudeau tweeted, along with a photo of himself smiling while on the phone.


When it comes to ending the pandemic, growing the middle class, fighting climate change, and creating good jobs for people on both sides of the border, @POTUS @JoeBiden and I know there’s a lot of work to do together - and no time to waste.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 23, 2021


The two leaders "agreed to work shoulder to shoulder" to address the issues, Trudeau added, before congratulating Biden -- whom he referred to as "Joe" -- on the inauguration.  

According to a readout of the conversation from Trudeau's office, the prime minister also raised Canada's "disappointment" over Biden's cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline and urged the removal of softwood lumber duties that Trump imposed.

In its own readout of the conversation, the White House said that Biden "acknowledged" Trudeau's "disappointment" about the Keystone XL pipeline, and that the president "reaffirmed his commitment to maintain an active bilateral dialogue and to further deepen cooperation with Canada."

Trudeau and Biden agreed to meet next month "in order to advance the important work of renewing the deep and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States," the prime minister's office said.

-ABC News' Kirit Radia and Benjamin Siu

Jan 22, 10:27 pm
Trump's former acting DHS secretary calls for Senate to confirm replacement

Former President Donald Trump's acting Department of Homeland Security secretary is urging the Senate to confirm Joe Biden's nominee for the post.

In a letter Friday to the Senate Homeland Security Committee that was obtained by ABC News, Kevin McAleenan argued that due to the ongoing pandemic, immigration issues and U.S. national security interests, the Senate should vote to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas.

"There has been a long-standing, bipartisan commitment to ensure that a duly-elected President receives swift confirmation of the national security positions in his Cabinet. There should be no exception to this commitment today, when multi-faceted challenges and threats face our nation, and effective responses from our Federal Government are essential," wrote McAleenan, who also noted that domestic terrorism is an "increasing concern."

McAleenan also vouched for Mayorkas' credentials in his letter.

"After serving under his leadership during the Obama Administration, I know that Ali Mayorkas has the character, intellect, and integrity to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security," he wrote. "He has the humility to listen to his operational component leaders and has the character to make difficult decisions."

-ABC News' Luke Barr

Jan 22, 4:08 pm
Senate departs for the weekend having confirmed only 2 Biden appointees

The Senate is not expected to take any additional votes on Biden appointees Friday, ABC News has learned.

That means Biden will head into his first weekend as president with only two Senate-confirmed appointees: Avril Haines, who was confirmed as director of national intelligence Wednesday, and Lloyd Austin, who was confirmed as defense secretary Friday.

The Senate left Friday without voting on the nomination of Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary. Her nomination unanimously passed out of the Senate Finance committee Friday morning. It's not clear why the Senate did not vote on Yellen.

The Senate will also leave for the weekend without voting on several other nominees who sat for confirmation hearings this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the stall.

"He's the one holding things up," Schumer said.

-ABC News' Allison Pecorin

Jan 22, 3:48 pm
Pelosi says impeachment timeline fair to Trump

In a new letter to colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says former President Trump will have had plenty of time to prepare for his upcoming Senate trial, which could start as soon as next week.
Republicans have called foul over the fact that the impeachment in the House was rushed and now they want to give the former president until mid-February to mount his defense.

But Pelosi is making it clear that the article will be sent to the Senate on Monday and that the process will be fair to the former president.

"The House has been respectful of the Senate’s constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process. When the Article of Impeachment is transmitted to the Senate, the former President will have had nearly two weeks since we passed the Article. Our Managers are ready for trial before the 100 Senate jurors," she writes in her letter.

Once the article of impeachment is delivered to the Senate Monday, the trial must start by Tuesday at 1 p.m. unless Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell come up with an agreement that could give both sides more time to prepare.

-ABC News' Mariam Khan

Jan 22, 3:25 pm
Biden says ‘we have to act now’ to address the economy

During a remarks on Friday, President Biden highlighted the dire economic situation many Americans are facing as the pandemic rages.

“We cannot, will not, let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves,” Biden said. “I cannot watch people lose their jobs … We have to act. We have to act now.”

“It's not just to meet the moral obligation to treat our fellow Americans with the dignity and respect they deserve, this is an economic imperative,” he added, noting there is a growing consensus among top economists calling for big action to buoy the economy in this moment of crisis.

Biden touted his $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, saying it has received broad, bipartisan support.

The president cited a Moody’s analysis that estimates the plan will result in the economy creating 7.5 million jobs this year alone.

“We have to do this, we have to move,” the president said.

“We’re going to finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in direct payments to folks,” Biden added, noting that the $600 payments that passed in late 2020 is “not enough.”

“I look forward to working with members of Congress of both parties to move quickly to get this American rescue plan to the American people,” the president said.

After his remarks, Biden signed two executive orders -- one that will provide expanded food assistance and one that will launch a process to require federal contractors to pay their workers a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave.

Jan 22, 3:05 pm
Jill Biden makes surprise visit to National Guard troops at Capitol

First Lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to the Capitol building to deliver some sweets to National Guard troops.

The first lady, carrying a basket, thanked the guard members for their service and said the Bidens were a National Guard family, referencing the late Beau Biden.

Jill Biden also reportedly distributed chocolate chip cookies and posed for a group photo with some of the troops.

Her visit Friday comes after photos of National Guard members sleeping in a parking garage sparked outrage from both sides of the aisle on social media.

Jan 22, 2:40 pm
Psaki confirms Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act

Psaki confirmed at a press briefing Friday that Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to help combat the COVID-19 crisis.

“There was a question yesterday about whether the Defense Production Act had been invoked,” she said. “It has been invoked, so those processes are now rapidly ongoing.”

While she said she didn’t have specific companies involved, she said “those conversations are happening as we speak.”

Jan 22, 2:19 pm
Psaki says Biden has ordered a comprehensive threat assessment on ‘domestic violent extremism’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Friday that Biden is taking new action to address domestic violent extremism in the wake of the Capitol raid earlier this month.

“The January 6th assault on the Capitol and tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known, the rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said. “The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”

Psaki said the administration's initial work here will fall into three areas.

“The first is a tasking from president Biden sent to the ODNI today requesting a comprehensive threat assessment, coordinated with the FBI and DHS, on domestic violent extremism,” Psaki said.

“The second will be the building of an NSC capability to focus on countering domestic violent extremism,” she added, saying as a part of this, the National Safety Council will undertake a broad policy review effort.

“The third will be coordinating relevant parts of the federal government to enhance and accelerate efforts to address DVE,” she added. This process will focus on addressing evolving threats, radicalization, the role of social media and more, according to Psaki.

Jan 22, 1:39 pm
Biden to sign 2 economy-related executive orders Friday

Biden’s National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said at a press briefing Friday that Biden will sign two executive orders later in the day to aid Americans struggling amid the COVID-19-induced economic downturn.

Deese painted a picture of the pandemic-battered economy, saying, “We are 10 million jobs short still of where the economy was when this pandemic started.”

“Last month, the economy lost jobs for the first time since last spring,” he added. “Retail sales fell last month, and just yesterday we saw another 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance.”

Deese also touted Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, saying the team hopes “that Congress will move quickly to consider this important proposal without delay.”

As previously reported by ABC News, the two executive orders Biden will sign today deal with food insecurity and raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, Deese said.

One will aim to address the 29 million Americans struggling with hunger by asking the Department of Agriculture to expand food assistance by 15% for school children missing meals due to school closures, increase emergency SNAP benefits to the lowest income homes in the country and revise the amount provided by the program to better cover the cost of a healthy diet, according to the White House.

The other executive order will put federal agencies on a path to require a $15 minimum wage for contractors.

Deese also said Friday that the administration will then turn its focus to providing equitable relief for small businesses.

Jan 22, 1:35 pm
Austin administratively sworn in as secretary of defense

After being confirmed by the Senate, Lloyd Austin was administratively sworn in as secretary of defense by Tom Muir, acting director of the Washington Headquarters Services, Friday afternoon.

Austin was greeted outside the Pentagon by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley around noon before heading inside to be sworn in and begin his first day as the head of the department. On his way in he made very brief remarks to press:

"Hello everybody. Good to see you guys, and thank you for being here. I look forward to working with you. See you around campus," said Austin, who did not take questions.

Jan 22, 1:17 pm
Some Republicans not prepared to split Senate time during impeachment

Several Republicans say they are not prepared to allow the Senate to conduct other business during the hours the impeachment trial is not going on, something that would require unanimous consent.

If a bifurcated approach cannot be agreed on, other Biden administration priorities -- like confirmation of nominees and COVID-19 relief -- will be on pause during the trial, however long it takes.

Negotiations behind the scenes are still ongoing but the trial will start Tuesday barring an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

By threatening to put other Democratic priorities on ice for the trial, Republicans are putting some pressure on Schumer to agree to McConnell's proposed delay of the trial start date.

Jan 22, 12:14 pm
Biden, Harris mark anniversary of Roe v. Wade ruling

Biden and Harris said in a statement marking the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that their administration “is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe.”

"In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack. We are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care -- including reproductive health care -- regardless of income, race, zip code, health insurance status, or immigration status," their statement said.

Jan 22, 11:42 am
Pelosi confirms impeachment article will be delivered to Senate by House managers on Monday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., confirmed plans for the House impeachment managers to deliver the impeachment article to the Senate on Monday.

Absent an agreement between Senate Democrats and Republicans on the contours of the trial, the delivery of the article would trigger a start to formal proceedings the following day.

Pelosi, pushing back on GOP claims that the timeline doesn't provide former President Trump with enough time to prepare his defense, said in a statement that he "will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers."

“Exactly one week after the attack on the Capitol to undermine the integrity of our democracy, a bipartisan vote of the House of Representatives passed the article of impeachment, which is our solemn duty to deliver to the Senate,” Pelosi stated.

Jan 22, 11:11 am
Senate confirms Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense

By a vote of 93-2, the Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense on Friday.

He is the second Senate-confirmed Biden appointee and now becomes the first African American to lead the Department of Defense.

Jan 22, 11:07 am
Senate Finance Committee unanimously advances Yellen's nomination

Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for treasury secretary, had her nomination unanimously advanced by the Senate Finance Committee on Friday.

Her nomination will now go to the full Senate floor for final confirmation.

Yellen is the former chair of the Federal Reserve and, if confirmed by the Senate, would become the first woman to lead the Treasury.

Jan 22, 10:51 am
Photos of National Guardsmen resting in the parking lot sparks outrage

Lawmakers expressed outrage on Twitter Thursday night after photos of National Guardsmen allegedly being booted out of the congressional grounds and sequestered into a parking garage for their breaks went viral.

The images were first reported by Politico, which stated that thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds and take rest breaks in a parking garage.

Tens of thousands of guardsmen were originally summoned to the nation’s capital to assist with security for Biden’s inauguration after the deadly mob attack earlier this month at the Capitol building.  

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle responded to the reports on Twitter.

“If this is true, it's outrageous,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote. “I will get to the bottom of this.”

The verified Senate Republicans Twitter handle called it “unacceptable” and said the guardsmen “should be welcomed back inside the Capitol ASAP.”

Military veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, called the news “unreal.”

“I can’t believe that the same brave servicemembers we’ve been asking to protect our Capitol and our Constitution these last two weeks would be unceremoniously ordered to vacate the building,” Duckworth said. “I am demanding answers ASAP. They can use my office.”

On Friday morning, the Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement assuring that, “with the exception of specific times on Inauguration Day itself while the swearing-in ceremonies were underway, the United States Capitol police did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.”

Pittman said that the Capitol Police has worked tirelessly to identify accommodations for the guardsmen and that on Friday, “the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Office Building reached out directly to the National Guard to offer use of its facilities.”

“As of this morning, all Guardsmen and women have been relocated to space within the Capitol Complex,” Pittman added. “The Department is also working with the Guard to reduce the need for sleeping accommodations by establishing shorter shifts and will ensure they have access to the comfortable accommodations they absolutely deserve when the need arises.”

Jan 22, 10:18 am
Article of impeachment will be delivered to Senate on Monday: Schumer

The House will deliver the impeachment article against former President Trump to the Senate on Monday, formally launching trial proceedings next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Friday.

Schumer's announcement follows a request from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to delay the trial until February to give Trump and his still-forming legal team time to prepare a defense.

Trump will be the first former president to face an impeachment trial. Some Senate Republicans have argued that the trial would be unconstitutional because the 45th president is no longer in office, a stance that could trigger a Senate debate and vote on the validity of the trial in the coming weeks.

"I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday," Schumer said.

"The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial, it will be a fair trial," he added, without details on the length or format of the proceedings.

Jan 22, 7:57 am
'We're not packing our bags at 100 million shots,' Psaki says

While White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that Biden's goal of getting 100 million Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 within the first 100 days of his presidency "was bold at the time" it was set and "continues to be," she insisted their efforts won't stop there.

"When we reach that goal, and we're confident we will, we're going to build from there. So we're not packing our bags at 100 million shots in the arms of Americans," Psaki told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.

"We want to make sure that people know that we're going to hold ourselves accountable and we're going to do everything to make sure we're getting as many people vaccinated as possible," she added.

Addressing the criticism from some congressional Republicans on Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package, Psaki said the emergency relief plan "is big because the crises are big" but that it's really just an opening offer and the president believes they can get a bipartisan package.

"This is exactly how it should work," she said, "and it feels maybe unfamiliar to many people."

"The president of the United States laid out his agenda, laid out his bold vision. There's going to be a discussion with members of congress of both parties about where we go from here," she continued. "They'll like some pieces, they won't like some pieces, we'll see what the sausage looks like when it comes out of the machine."

"He's an optimist by nature, I can confirm for the American public," she said of Biden. "But also he's a believer, having spent 36 years in the Senate, that when the country is facing a crisis -- and we're facing multiple right now, not just health, the pandemic -- that Democrats and Republicans are going to have to come together to agree on a package to address this crisis."

When asked whether the Biden administration favours a delay on Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate in order to get more cabinet members confirmed, Psaki dodged the question and instead emphasized the urgent need for the confirmation process to move quickly.

"We want it to be expedited," she said. "Again, you know, the president is somebody who's focused on working with both parties to get both his cabinet through, address the crises we're facing, and that's what we're going to work to do everyday. We'll see if we're successful."

Jan 22, 7:25 am
Harris to stay at Blair House while Naval Observatory undergoes repairs

Harris and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, will stay at Blair House while repairs at the vice president's official residence, the Naval Observatory, are underway, a spokesperson told ABC News.

Blair House, which was built in 1824, is located just steps from the White House and is the oldest of four connected townhouses that comprise the president's guest house.

An aide had previously confirmed that Harris will not immediately move into the Naval Observatory to "allow for repairs to the home that are more easily conducted with the home unoccupied." The repairs are to replace the liners in the chimneys "and other household maintenance," the aide said.

Jan 22, 1:30 am
Biden to outline response to US economic crisis

On his third day in office, President Joe Biden will tackle one of the country's biggest issues: the economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden will deliver remarks on his administration’s response to the economic crisis in the U.S. Friday afternoon, according to the White House.

His announcement will come as so many Americans (at least 900,000) continue to battle with unemployment caused by the pandemic.

Biden will also continue to sign executive orders, the White House said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy MICHELLE STODDART and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Not long after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump had a portrait of the populist and controversial President Andrew Jackson placed prominently in the Oval Office, looking down as he held photo ops, signed sweeping executive orders and sparred with reporters.

But that painting of Jackson has been replaced.

Now, next to President Joe Biden as he sits at the Resolute desk is a portrait of one of America's founders, Benjamin Franklin.

Other symbolic changes Biden has made include adding busts of labor organizer and Latino civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, as well as portraits of former presidents Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

"It was important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America and started to show the landscape of who he is going to be as president," Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office operations, told the Washington Post.

The busts of King and Kennedy, who Biden on the campaign trail called his political heroes, are in his direct view on either side of the Oval Office fireplace.

The Chavez bust sits among photos of Biden’s family, including one of his beloved late son, Beau, on a table behind him.

Chavez’ son, Paul Chavez, told the Associated Press that when he agreed to lend the bust to the president, he didn't know where it would end up. Seeing it placed so noticeably behind Biden, Chavez said, "we’re still smiling cheek to cheek."

Franklin's portrait is said to be a nod to his respect for science.

A large portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who also came into office during a time of economic hardship during the Great Depression, hangs right across the room as Biden sits at the Resolute desk.

Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington also look on from the Oval Office walls.

Biden paired the portraits of Jefferson and Hamilton, his office told the Washington Post as "hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(RALEIGH, NC) -- Pastor Chad Harvey admits that emotions are still “a little high” after President Joe Biden’s inauguration this week. His congregation in Raleigh, North Carolina, largely supported former President Donald Trump’s reelection.

Still, Harvey says his flock is slowly coming to terms with Trump’s loss.

“It’s God who raises up leaders, and it’s God who deposes leaders,” he told “Nightline.” “We are to submit to whoever is in control. And so I think our people act as some of the emotional mess of the initial day after the election, after they got over that, I think they're actually in good shape.”

Harvey, who has led the Cross Assembly Church since 2002, said he’s found himself combating misinformation in order to “calm the waters.”

“I've had to ask our people to calm down and not go off on conspiratorial tangents,” he said. “I've heard everything from the Vatican was behind the riots, to special forces broke into the chambers to steal Nancy Pelosi's computer. I've asked our people just to lay all that mess aside.”

He said his Pentacostal congregation has also passed around prophecies Trump would be reelected.

“I'm having to let folks know that sometimes people get it wrong and some of their favorite prophets and prophetesses got it wrong,” Harvey said. “Donald Trump is not going to be president, at least for the next four years. … People got caught up in emotion and that was it.”

Sometimes, he said frustration is directed at him for being the bearer of bad news.

“Part of my job as a pastor has been to say, ‘Let's lay aside the conspiracy theories, let's lay aside some of these prophecies that aren't going to come to fruition and get focused on what God's called us to do.’”

Harvey admitted he has his own reservations about Biden, including “rolling back some of the pro-life executive orders that Donald Trump put into place,” he said, referring to Biden's plans to end policies that restricted access to abortions in the U.S. “[That] concerned some evangelicals, particularly in my congregation.”

Biden, who has taken great comfort in his own faith through several tragedies in his life, is a practicing Catholic and invoked St. Augustine in his inauguration speech while calling for unity.

"Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint in my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love," Biden said. "What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans? ... Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and yes -- the truth."

Harvey is concerned that under the current “polarized environment,” “ultimate unity” may not be possible.

“I hear [calls for] unity in the evangelical church. ... I hear a call for unity, ostensibly from the Biden administration, although I'm not hearing that call as strongly as I would like,” he said.

“I'm all for unity. I'm not for unity at the [expense] of truth,” he said. “Individuals should not have to lay down deep-held conviction on issues like the sanctity of life, human sexuality. We shouldn't have to lay those down for the sake of unity.”

With such severe cultural and political divides in the country, Harvey worries “things are going to get worse and worse. The division will be deeper and deeper. My view of scripture is there's going to be a great falling away from the true faith. I believe that America's greatness will start to decline.”

He teaches that to remedy this, “We have to look past nationalism, the greatness of America. We have to look past all of this and look into eternity.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- The House will deliver the impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, formally launching trial proceedings next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Friday.

Schumer's announcement comes after a request from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay the trial until February and give Trump and his still-forming legal team time to prepare a defense.

The senate majority leader said members would be sworn in on Tuesday and the trial would begin on Feb. 8.

"Leader McConnell is glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans' request for additional time during the pre-trial phase," Doug Andres, McConnell's spokesman, said in a statement. "Especially given the fast and minimal process in the House, Republicans set out to ensure the Senate's next steps will respect former President Trump's rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency. That goal has been achieved. This is a win for due process and fairness."

Trump will be the first former president to face an impeachment trial. Some Senate Republicans have argued that the trial would be unconstitutional because the 45th president is no longer in office, a stance that could trigger a Senate debate and vote on the validity of the trial in the coming weeks.

"I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday," Schumer said.

"The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial, it will be a fair trial," he added, without details on the length or format of the proceedings.

On Friday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Schumer's comments in a letter sent to her House Democratic caucus, saying Trump will have had plenty of time to prepare for his upcoming Senate trial and responding to Republicans complaints that the House impeachment was rushed.

"The House has been respectful of the Senate's constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process," Pelosi said in the letter. "When the Article of Impeachment is transmitted to the Senate, the former President will have had nearly two weeks since we passed the Article. Our Managers are ready for trial before the 100 Senate jurors," she wrote.

ABC News' Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


danielfela/iStockBy QUINN OWEN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration this week announced a 100-day pause on deportations of most people living in the country illegally along with a new priority system for those who will still be subject to removal.

The Department of Homeland Security released a memo outlining the categories of immigration offenders who will continue to be subject to arrest and eventual removal.

Those priorities include migrants at the border who arrived after Nov. 1, 2020, according to the memo. Immigrants already in the U.S. who pose a national security or public safety risk including anyone convicted of an "aggravated felony" are also a top priority under the new department-wide guidance.

The memo makes clear that Homeland Security will not be issuing a full stop on arrests and removals. But it requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement to report on its implementation of the new priorities and it will require the ICE director to review arrests of anyone not already in jail.

"… nothing in this memorandum prohibits the apprehension or detention of individuals unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities," the DHS memo reads.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launched a lawsuit Friday against the deportation pause. The state AG office called it a violation of the Constitution.

"Our state defends the largest section of the southern border in the nation. Failure to properly enforce the law will directly and immediately endanger our citizens and law enforcement personnel," Paxton said in a statement. "I am confident that these unlawful and perilous actions cannot stand."

The Biden administration memo enacting the moratorium cites the ongoing global pandemic and "significant operational challenges" as the rationale behind a renewed focus on the southern border while shifting enforcement priorities away from major cities.

Customs and Border Protection has seen a surge of border crossing attempts in recent months. Immigration authorities have stopped more than 70,000 unauthorized migrants in each of the last three months. Those are higher monthly totals than previously recorded over the same time in at least the past six years, according to the latest CBP data.

"In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing," according to the memo.

Homeland Security also announced this week it will suspend a policy rolled out by the Trump administration that forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they waited for their day in immigration court. The "Migrant Protection Protocols" also known as the "remain in Mexico" policy resulted in the ballooning of makeshift refugee camps in northern Mexican border towns.

Human rights observers have documented the dangers facing children and families subjected to the policy.

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch concluded the program should be dismantled. The report's authors spoke to children and adults who described being sexual assaulted, abducted for ransom, extorted and robbed at gunpoint while enrolled in the program.

The statement goes on to urge people subjected to the program to "remain where they are" and notes that those who are outside of the United States will not qualify for the legal path to citizenship outlined in the immigration proposal President Biden delivered to Congress Friday.

The announcements on enforcement changes came as President Biden also put forward his legislative immigration proposal which provides a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

After passing background checks, immigrants already in the U.S. can pursue a new kind of temporary legal status that lasts for six years. Spouses and children of applicants, even those abroad, will also be eligible. They will be able to apply for permanent resident "green cards" five years into holding temporary status and can apply to become naturalized three years after that.

Immigrants will be able to work, travel and join the military during their temporary legal authorization period. TPS holders, farm workers and DREAMers will be able to apply for "green cards" immediately without the five-year waiting period.

At least nine republicans will be required to join Democrats to reach the 60 vote threshhold needed to pass the bill.

"It makes a difference when you have leadership in the White House who will put political capital on the table to try to make things happen," said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N,J., the lead sponsor in the Senate.

The proposal includes investment in security technology at the border, Menendez said Thursday. It will also increase staffing at immigration courts while mandating legal counsel for children and certain "vulnerable" migrants.

In a significant symbolic move, the bill also removes the word "alien" from federal immigration law and replaces it with "noncitizen."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Sarah Silbiger/Getty ImagesBy MATT SEYLER, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Retired U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin on Friday took over as the first black Pentagon chief shortly after being confirmed 93-2 by the Senate.

Austin was greeted outside the Pentagon with an elbow bump by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley before heading inside to be sworn in and begin his first day as defense secretary, leading a military that is now nearly 17 percent African American.

"I look forward to working with you, see you around campus," Austin said to reporters, ignoring questions.

After being confirmed by the Senate, Austin was administratively sworn by Tom Muir, acting director of the Washington Headquarters Services.

Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden signed a waiver approved by Congress allowing Austin to take the job even though it's been fewer than seven years since he retired in 2016.

The rule for former military leaders taking over at the Pentagon was instituted to address concerns about keeping civilian control of the military and worries someone recently retired might be too wedded to policies and to people he or she worked with during their time in the military.

A similar waiver was granted in 2017 for President Donald Trump's first defense secretary, retired U.S. Marine Gen. Jim Mattis.

"If you confirm me, I am prepared to serve now -- as a civilian -- fully acknowledging the importance of this distinction," Austin said at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I understand and respect the reservations some of you have expressed about having another recently retired general at the head of the Department of Defense," he said. "The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil."

He pledged to surround himself with experienced civilians whom he said he would empower to "enable healthy civil-military relations, grounded in meaningful oversight."

On Friday afternoon, Austin sent out a day-one message to the force.

"The way I see it, my job as Secretary of Defense is to make you more effective at doing yours. That means ensuring you have the tools, technology, weapons, and training to deter and defeat our enemies. It means establishing sound policy and strategy and assigning you clear missions. It means putting a premium on cooperation with our allies and partners. And it means living up to our core values, the same ones our fellow citizens expect of us," Austin said in he written message.

Austin said he planned to include the under secretary of defense for policy in top decision-making meetings "ensuring strategic and operational decisions are informed by policy."

He said his first major challenge would be dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and said that if confirmed he will quickly review the Pentagon's contributions to the nationwide distribution of vaccines.

Another top priority, Austin said, would be to ensure Defense Department employees have "a working environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment."

"If confirmed, I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault, to rid our ranks of racists and extremists, and to create a climate where everyone fit and willing has the opportunity to serve this country with dignity," said Austin. The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks."

The former commander of U.S. Central Command -- with jurisdiction over military activities in the Middle East -- Austin retired after more than 40 years of military service, including a stint leading U.S. forces in Iraq and the campaign against the Islamic State.

A native of Mobile, Alabama, the 67-year-old Austin finished his career in 2016 as the commander of U.S. Central Command, where he was in charge of all American troops in the Middle East.

At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki, noting his historic confirmation, said Austin "has been breaking barriers all his life."

ABC News Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesBy MATTHEW MOSK and BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Gun control advocate Eileen McCarron faced blowback last year when she quipped that newly-elected Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert would be heading to Washington to lead the "nut-job caucus."

Afterward, McCarron said she wondered if she had gone too far. But then she saw Boebert rail about the 2020 elections, demand to carry a handgun onto the House floor, and send incendiary tweets about 1776 ahead of the U.S. Capitol violence on Jan. 6. Now, McCarron told ABC News, she thinks Boebert "may actually be worse" than she feared.

"I think it's become clear she is a menace to our country," said McCarron, the president of Colorado Ceasefire.

Boebert, 34, is just days into her first term as a member of Congress, and already the fast-talking, gun-toting tavern owner is proving to be a provocative and disruptive force -- a reputation she says she relishes.

"I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be for this moment," Boebert told ABC News. "I'm proud to be here. I'm not slowing down. I'm not backing down."

The Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol served as a signal event for the Donald Trump presidency, and it has proven both defining and perilous for some of his staunchest supporters -- of which Boebert is one. In the weeks since the attack, Boebert has faced suspicion from many of her new colleagues in Washington. She has endured death threats and a flood of ridicule on social media. And she has seen strong reactions from critics and even some supporters back home in Colorado.

Some of Boebert's Colorado constituents hosted a rally calling for her expulsion from Congress last week. Democrats promoted an aggressive recruiting drive to field an opponent to run against her in 2022. And a group of 60 elected officials from the Western Colorado region Boebert represents wrote an open letter to congressional leaders calling for an investigation into Boebert's conduct during the Jan. 6 insurrection, which they described as "irresponsible and reprehensible."

"We have heard overwhelmingly from our constituents, therefore her constituents, that there is deep concern about her actions leading up to and during the protests that turned into a violent and deadly mob," the letter said.

Exactly what Boebert did leading up to and during the Capitol siege remains a subject of rumors, dispute and continued controversy.

On the morning of the siege, Boebert tweeted, "Today is 1776." She was speaking on the House floor against certifying Arizona's election results as rioters swarmed the Capitol, saying "The Constitution makes it necessary for me to object to this travesty." And as extremists poured into the Capitol, she tweeted: "The Speaker has been removed from the chambers."

Some of the most combustible claims leveled by her critics -- that she secretly gave reconnaissance tours of the Capitol to extremists, that her mother was a rioter, or that her tweet about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intended to guide the mob -- appear to be entirely unsupported and have been met with sharp denials from Boebert herself.

"We are getting death threats over these slanderous claims," Boebert told ABC News. "This is complete malice. They know that this is not true and they are still running with it."

But there are reasons that the otherwise obscure freshman congresswoman has remained a focus of attention both in Washington and at home.

One of the militants arrested for participating in the riot posted a photo online last week in which he posed, in military attire, in front of the restaurant Boebert owns in her home town of Rifle, Colorado. Authorities said the man, Robert Gieswein, is aligned with a militia group known as the "Three Percenters," which anti-government and pro-gun views. The Southern Poverty Law Center says some members are dangerous "anti-government extremists" and the Anti-Defamation League has flagged members pushing white supremacist dogma.

Another image, taken at a pro-gun rally shortly after Boebert launched her campaign in 2019, showed her posing with local members of the Three Percenters, which was one of two organizations credited with providing security at the rally, according to published reports.

Photos of the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol showed some participants waving the Three Percenters flag during the riot.

In June, Boebert tweeted the provocative statement: "I am the militia."

When asked about her views on anti-government militia groups, Boebert said their activity is sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution -- but she stopped short of offering a full-throated endorsement of their efforts. She said she doesn't know Robert Gieswein, the Colorado man who had posed in front of her restaurant and who was later charged with participating in the Capitol siege. She said the photos she has taken with Three Percenters should not be viewed as an endorsement of their actions.

"Lots of people attend my campaign events," she said. "I'm not affiliated with any groups. Lots of people come out. Lots of people take photos with me. I'm not vetting every person that comes to my events."

A recent FBI report notes that simply espousing anti-government rhetoric is not against the law, but that these types of militias represent a security threat because of their efforts to "advance that ideology through force or violence," which is illegal.

Boebert took to Twitter on Jan. 6
to condemn the attack on the Capitol, which has been proven to involve large numbers of militia members from around the country. And she refuted many of the claims circulated about her as false -- telling ABC News, for instance, that her mother did not participate in the siege and was locked in Boebert's office the entire time.

Democrats have continued to question whether any Republican members took steps to aid the rioters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Thursday that "if people did aid and abet, there will be more than just comments from colleagues here -- there will be prosecutions."

"We should have a full investigation," said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., adding that the conduct of members of Congress should "absolutely" be looked at by the FBI.

Bryson Morgan, a former investigative counsel to the House Office of Congressional Ethics, said nothing revealed so far would indicate that Boebert could face discipline.

"But we keep learning more and more about the events of Jan. 6," Morgan said. "I would expect if a member was shown to be supporting an attack on the Capitol in any way, there would be swift action."

Groups that monitor militia activity said they are increasingly concerned by what they have been learning about Boebert. Scott Levin, director of the Colorado chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, said his group has not been able to tie Boebert directly to any extremist or hate groups -- but he said the events of Jan. 6 generated heightened suspicion.

"The language she uses is something that people will take cues from, and that will empower them and embolden them to act," Levin said. "And that's where the real danger is."

Back in Colorado, people in Boebert's district have been following her first days in Congress with a range of reactions. Boebert said she has received positive feedback from her constituents.

"My supporters who sent me to Washington, D.C., are happy with me," she said. "My base is growing."

Matt Scherr, a commissioner in Eagle County, said Boebert is probably correct that her conduct is not likely to siphon away support -- even though he was upset by it. He said he does believe she needs to conduct herself with more care, now that she holds elective office.

"She is clearly passionate and a patriot," Scherr said. "We were not calling for her resignation or for her to be expelled. But we would hope she learns from this and shows some contrition about what happened from the Capitol."

Others say they are increasingly concerned by what they see as combustible rhetoric.

"I know she has a lot of supporters," said John Clark, the mayor of the town of Ridgway in Boebert's district.

"I just know my friends and acquaintances aren't happy at all about what occurred on Jan. 6 and her ensuing behavior," Clark said. "So many people are believing radical misinformation and it's really hard to convince them otherwise -- and unfortunately, Lauren Boebert is doing everything she can to spur them on."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy MOLLY NAGLE and BEN GITTLESON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden plans to sign a pair of executive orders Friday aimed at expanding food assistance for tens of millions of Americans and launching a process that will require federal contractors to pay their workers a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave.

The moves come on Biden's second full day in office, and continue a string of executive actions he's taken to jumpstart his agenda and set the tone for his administration amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has left families struggling economically.

"We're at a precarious moment in our economy. We saw again today 900,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, another week at a level above any week during the Great Recession," White House National Economic Director Brian Deese said on a call Thursday night previewing the orders. "More than ...10 million Americans are out of work, 14 million Americans are behind on their rent and nearly 30 million adults and as many as 12 million children are experiencing food insecurity."

Biden plans to sign an executive order that will expand protections for federal workers, including putting federal agencies on a path to require a $15 minimum wage for contractors.

But that minimum wage won't come right away. Instead, Biden plans to direct the federal government "to start the work that would allow him to issue" an order "within the first 100 days" that would require federal contractors to pay at least $15 per hour, according to the White House.

The eventual executive action would also provide emergency paid leave to workers, the White House said.

The order Biden plans to sign Friday will also restore collective bargaining power and other protections to workers by revoking several of former President Donald Trump's executive orders.

The actions echo policy steps Biden advocated on the campaign trail, and were included in the joint recommendations from the Biden-Sanders unity task forces created shortly after Biden secured Sen. Bernie Sanders' endorsement in the 2020 race.

It will also reverse a move Trump made in October to reclassify a portion of federal workers in a way that made them easier to fire by the politically appointed leaders of agencies, the White House said. The order will eliminate "Schedule F," the name of the classification that Trump's order created.

Biden also plans to sign an additional order asking various agencies to take action during the pandemic to increase federal food assistance programs, and assist families in receiving economic aid they qualify for during the pandemic.

Biden's executive order would address the 29 million Americans struggling with hunger by asking the Department of Agriculture to expand food assistance for school children missing meals due to school closures by 15%, increase emergency SNAP benefits to the lowest income homes in the country and revise the amount of benefits provided by the program to better cover the cost of a healthy diet, according to the White House.

Biden will also ask the Treasury Department to ensure all Americans receive their direct stimulus payments by creating an online tool to allow recipients to claim the payment, and ask the Department of Labor to clarify rules for federal workers to allow them to apply for unemployment insurance if they refuse a job due to health concerns.

The order will set up coordinated benefit delivery teams to work with small businesses and workers to navigate how to receive benefits available to them through state and federal resources as well.

Deese stressed that the actions Biden planned to take would offer some assistance, but were far from comprehensive, urging Congress to pass Biden's ambitious $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package he introduced last week.

"We hope that Congress will move quickly to consider this important plant," he said. "But ... the American people can't afford to wait. And so many are hanging by a thread, they need help, and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide that help as quickly as possible."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration is working to extend the last nuclear arms control pact between the U.S. and Russia for five years, the White House announced Thursday, seeking to stave off a nuclear arms race with Moscow even as President Joe Biden promises to be tougher than his predecessor Donald Trump.

The decision to extend the pact, which expires on Feb. 5, was hailed by many arms control experts as important to stabilizing the relationship between the two largest nuclear-armed powers. But critics, including Trump's envoy for arms control who spent months negotiating with Russian officials, denounced it as a concession to Vladimir Putin.

Biden is looking to put Russia on notice in other areas, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, by ordering the intelligence community to issue a full assessment on recent Russian aggression, including the massive SolarWinds hack and the alleged bounties offered to the Taliban for killing U.S. troops.

"This extension makes more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial, as it is at this time," Psaki said during a briefing, calling the pact the "only remaining treaty constraining Russian nuclear forces" and "an anchor of strategic stability between our two countries."

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a 2010 pact signed by Biden's former boss Barack Obama and known as New START, limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and includes verification measures like on-site inspections and data sharing.

Russia had been asking the U.S. to extend the treaty for five years -- a move allowed under the treaty's provisions. In a statement published while Biden was inaugurated Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the Trump administration for ultimately refusing to extend the treaty and called for its immediate extension while the two sides negotiated a more expansive framework for nuclear arms control.

Trump's envoy for arms control Marshall Billingslea said the prior administration also sought that wider framework, but pursued a shorter-term freeze on both countries' nuclear weapons programs in the meantime, including caps on so-called "non-strategic" nuclear arms. Those are smaller-range or less advanced weapons, which are not covered under New START or other past nuclear arms-control treaties and of which Russia has a much larger stockpile.

"We are getting nothing for extending," tweeted Billingslea, accusing the Biden administration of "a stunning lack of negotiating skill."

Russia had rejected Billingslea's offer of a shorter-term extension or any freeze that included a verification regime.

With just two weeks until New START expires, arms control advocates welcomed Biden's decision, arguing it allows the administration to now use that five-year window to strike a larger deal and push to bring China into talks -- something Billingslea fought to do, but that Beijing repeatedly rebuffed.

Extension "sustains a stable U.S.-Russian nuclear balance and provides predictability as the U.S. modernizes its nuclear forces. Russia and the U.S. must stay within New START limits, avoiding an arms race," tweeted Rose Gottemoeller, the former deputy secretary-general of NATO and the top arms control official under the Obama administration who helped negotiate New START.

Predictability would be helpful, given the turmoil in the rest of U.S.-Russian relations, sinking even lower during Trump's term even as he called for "getting along" with Putin's government. Biden ordered the intelligence community to provide a full assessment of Russia's aggressive activity in the last year.

"Even as we work with Russia to advance U.S. interests, so too we work to hold Russia to account for its reckless and adversarial actions," Psaki said at the White House, intending to show a harder line on Russia early.

The assessments will cover the SolarWinds hack that affected dozens of government agencies and private companies, any interference in the 2020 elections, the use of chemical weapons attack to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the possible bounties offered the Taliban to killed U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

ABC News's Patrick Reevell contributed to this report from Moscow.



(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden is out with a new 200-page COVID-19 national strategy aimed at turning around the pandemic, including an ambitious new effort to boost supply and set up vaccine storefronts across America.

But vaccinating America in record time amid a fast-moving pandemic is easier said than done. Here's what to know about Biden's pledge of 100 million shots in 100 days.

There's been 1 million shots per day in recent days, and it's still not enough

If President Donald Trump overpromised on the vaccine, it appears Biden might be under-promising with his pledge to administer 100 million doses in 100 days.

In the final few days of the Trump administration, officials said they estimated some 1 million doses were being injected per day in recent days -- the same pace Biden is promising now. So while Biden and his team are insisting this goal is ambitious, that pace is already mostly on track.

Worth noting too that public health experts say 1 million shots a day isn't nearly fast enough to wrest the virus under control any time soon. That's because two doses are needed for a person to be considered immunized, or protected.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and now Biden’s chief medical adviser, estimated 70 to 85% of the country's 325 million population will need to become immune for the pandemic to die out. So to get there anytime soon, Biden would need to think bigger -- more like 2 million shots per day.

Biden rejected the suggestion that his goal was too low, telling reporters on Thursday "come on, give me a break, man. It's a good start."

Mobile vaccine vans will help, but what's needed now is supply

Among Biden's ideas: vaccination storefronts run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and mobile vans that can carry vaccine doses into rural areas or neighborhoods without a pharmacy.

But what many states and mayors say they need is simply more supply to tap into to fill the nation's estimated 40,000 to 50,000 pharmacies that insist they have the capacity to administer vaccines.

CVS, for example, said in a statement this month that it is ready to administer 1 million shots a day if it had the supply.

"I saw some of this stuff Biden's putting out, that he's going to create these FEMA camps, I can tell you, that's not necessary in Florida," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an ally of former President Donald Trump, in a press conference this week.

"All we need is more vaccine. Just get us more vaccine," DeSantis said.

Likewise, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said more vaccine is what's needed now.

"Once we have more, we can take these numbers to a whole new place," he told reporters on Thursday. "We can vaccinate vast numbers of New Yorkers quickly, so long as there is the supply."

Boosting supply is easier said than done.

Both Moderna and Pfizer use vaccines that rely on a relatively new method that prompts cells to make proteins that will trigger an immune response to the virus. It's a new type of vaccine that has never before been manufactured on such a massive scale.

Currently, there are only about 10 million doses rolling off production lines between Pfizer and Moderna.

To boost supply, Biden has vowed to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would refocus U.S. factories in the interest of national security. But it's not as simple as flipping a switch -- for example, instructing a factory that currently makes antacids to suddenly start churning out raw ingredients or finished doses of this new type of vaccine.

And it's still not clear what raw materials and supplies the vaccine makers need to scale up production beyond what the Trump administration has done.

Under Trump, the federal government has already given six vaccine developers, including Pfizer and Moderna, "priority ratings" under the DPA extensive assistance to put them first in line for supplies and helped the companies acquire any scarce supplies and equipment.

Biden's team said they still want to know if more can be done, including opportunities to obtain a specific type of needle that makes it easier to extract a sixth dose out of each vial of Pfizer vaccine, increasing the supply by about 20%.

Jeff Zients, Biden's coordinator on the federal COVID-19 response, told reporters on Wednesday that the Trump administration wasn't forthcoming on information.

"We don't have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations," he told reporters.

The Trump administration denies it held back information and insists it used the DPA to the extent that it made sense, including invoking the law 18 times to apply "priority ratings" for all six vaccine developers, including Pfizer and Moderna.

An Health and Human Services spokesperson said Thursday that the government has helped with "expedited delivery" of such raw materials as sucrose and lipids, consumable supplies such as bio-reactor bags and equipment to expand production capacity for vials, needles and syringes.

He said the government also has "embedded" employees at key manufacturing facilities to identify bottlenecks in production.

Biden's plan relies on industry cooperation

The DPA comes with restrictions that some companies might not want. So it'll be up to Biden to strike a balance between strong-arming industry and ensuring cooperation.

Invoking the law with a particular company means that business can't export the supplies it makes overseas. The purpose is to "address the need at home," said Nick Vyas, the executive director of the Center for Global Supply Chain Management at the University of Southern California.

And if the resource is considered essential, companies also can't decline the request from the government under the DPA. They are compensated, however, and once their contract with the U.S. government is fulfilled, could use excess supply to tap into an overseas need, Vyas said.

Vyas, who urged the Trump administration to tap into the DPA, said he's not worried about an industry backlash.

"My view is we will secure enough to capacity while not isolating the rest of the world," he said.

The real test, Vyas said, will be executing down to the last mile of delivery, ensuring everything reaches its destination on time and for the right place.

"I've spoken to over 150 national health care systems over the last 11 months. They're crying for help, resources, guidance," he said. "So hopefully, we do this flawlessly, smartly, and hopefully, we don't fail in our execution of this responsibility."

There's still no good way to track vaccinations nationwide in real-time.

While officials are estimating the number of shots in arms based on data provided by the states, the nation doesn't have a clear picture of exactly how many people have gotten the vaccine and where.

One Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map shows 36 million doses distributed, but only 16.5 million doses administered, even though many states and large cities say they are out of doses to give.

Federal officials say the number of shots in arms is likely as much as three days behind because states have 72 hours to input the data. But some state officials also insist the numbers are off or wrongly suggest that they have doses sitting around when some doses are reserved for people's second shots.

The information needs to flow better to the states too so they can plan, particularly if supply availability ramps up.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said his commitment to transparency will be a big step.

"Some of these strategies he's planning -- I think they're good. I think they needed to be coordinated with states," she said. "But the bottom line is you need an increase in doses to do that. And right now it's unclear whether we have an increase in doses or not."

ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


The New Georgia ProjectBy MARIYA MOSELEY, ABC News

(ATLANTA) -- As the Biden-Harris administration officially begins, Georgia organizers reflect on the historic moment after Black voters in the state not only helped solidify their win but also shifted power in Washington.

Among the many grassroots organizations that have put in yearslong efforts to turn the state blue was The New Georgia Project, which has registered roughly 700,000 people in the state.

The group, founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, has stood at the forefront of helping register voters of color – who turned out in record numbers during both the 2020 presidential election and the two runoffs earlier this month.

Nsé Ufot, who serves as the group’s chief executive officer, said that she’s proud of the work organizers put in, especially young people, who made this moment possible.

“It feels really, really good to have your hypothesis born out in real-time for the entire world to see. ... and to have people thank you for saving our democracy,” Ufot told ABC News.

Hours after being sworn in on Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris also ushered in three other historic firsts: Alex Padilla, who filled her vacant U.S. Senate seat and became California's first Latino senator; and Georgia's newest senators, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Warnock, the senior pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, became the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff is now the first Jewish senator from the state and the youngest Democrat elected to the Senate since Biden in 1972.

Another group that helped fuel historic voters in the state was Women on the Rise, an organization founded about a decade ago and focuses on informing women of color impacted by the criminal justice system on their voting rights.

“We knew that we needed to educate our folks to get out and vote and make a difference. ... and that it was urgent,” Marilynn Winn, co-founder and executive director of Women on the Rise, told ABC News.

Winn, a 69-year-old native of the Peach State, has been advocating for voting policy changes after spending about 40 years in and out of the criminal justice system.

She says that although time will ultimately tell what will come out of the Biden administration, the new change in leadership already feels like a “new day” and a “brighter day.”

“It’s almost like someone has wiped the darkness away and given us new light,” Winn said.

In addition to putting up billboards in low-income communities, Winn and her staff members also assisted with getting hundreds of voters registered across the state –– many of whom were unaware that they had the right to vote following their incarceration.

Two years ago, Winn not only got a chance to meet then-Sen. Harris during a conference on criminal justice reform, but she also got to interview her alongside Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. in Philadelphia.

Ufot, who was born in Nigeria and raised in southwest Atlanta, says that a part of helping tip the scale in favor of Democrats was activists' voices being “louder with accurate information” despite baseless widespread voter fraud claims being spewed by former President Donald Trump.

“What we learned is that disinformation is dangerous and it needs to be treated as such,” Ufot said.

Now, she's hopeful for the future and believes that this outcome only proves the power of Americans exercising their right to vote.

“I think that we are going to be able to build upon this moment for years to come...and I’m super pumped about it,” Ufot said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Handout/Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images


(WASHINGTON) -- This is Day Two of the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 21, 6:01 pm
Senate passes waiver, paving way for defense secretary nomination vote

The Senate has confirmed retired Gen. Lloyd Austin's waiver to serve as Secretary of Defense shorty after the House passed the measure Thursday by a vote of 69-27.

The four-star general retired from the Army in 2016, short of the requirement that requires commissioned officers to be out of the service for seven years before taking a civilian post.

Jan 21, 5:29 pm
McConnell expected to propose a delay of impeachment trial

GOP senators say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to propose a delay of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial when he pitches a framework later Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The delay is designed to give the still-emerging Trump legal team time to prepare.

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said it's his understanding from a conversation earlier in the day that the trial will not start "until sometime mid-February due to the fact that the process, as it occurred in the House, evolved so quickly, and that it is not in line with the time you need to prepare to prepare for a defense in a Senate trial."

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Capitol Hill reporters, “I think, in fairness to anybody who's accused of impeachable offenses, there needs to be some fair process."

-ABC News' Trish Turner and Allison Pecorin

Jan 21, 5:19 pm
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces impeachment articles against Joe Biden

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who did not attend Biden's inauguration and was one of the leaders of the effort to overturn the election results in the House, says she has filed impeachment articles against Biden and that the case against him "is vast and detailed."

ABC News has asked Greene's office for the text of the impeachment articles but has not heard back.

Any member can file impeachment articles, however they are not guaranteed a vote on the floor or in the House Judiciary Committee.

-ABC News' Ben Siegel

Jan 21, 5:04 pm
White House says Biden committed to bipartisan solution on covid relief package

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration is committed to bipartisan solutions on passing a coronavirus relief package, but would not say whether the president supports efforts to get rid of the Senate filibuster.

"(Biden) was involved even before yesterday, having conversations with members of both parties. Picking up the phone and having those conversations. He saw, of course, members of both parties. He invited leaders from both parties to join him at church. Obviously, that wasn't really a discussion about specifics of the bill, but they did -- he did have an opportunity to talk about his agenda and working -- working together on his agenda moving forward," Psaki said in response to a question from ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce.

"But I think you will see him quite involved in the days ahead. But you will also see the vice president quite involved. You will also see policy leaders, like Brian Deese and others in the administration quite involved in having conversations with both Democrats and Republicans," she added.

Despite being pressed by reporters on whether the president would support Senate Democrats removing the filibuster in an attempt to pass additional legislation if Republicans refused to back the administration's efforts, Psaki refused to say.

"The president has been clear he wants to work with members of both parties and find bipartisan paths forward. And I don't have any more conversations to read out for you at this point in time," Psaki said.

Jan 21, 5:02 pm
House passes waiver to allow Biden's pick to serve as defense secretary

The House has passed a waiver allowing retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as defense secretary, if confirmed by the Senate. The retired four-star general retired from the Army in 2016, short of the requirement that requires commissioned officers to be out of the service for seven years before taking a civilian post.

The Thursday vote to grant Austin a waiver, which passed 326-78, was bipartisan, with a handful of Democrats voting with dozens of Republicans against the waiver, citing abiding concerns with permitting a second career military officer to run the Pentagon in the place of a civilian.

--ABC News' Benjamin Siegel

Jan 21, 5:01 pm
Fauci says that 100 million vaccinations in 100 days is "quite a reasonable goal"

Dr. Fauci discussed the ongoing vaccine rollout, saying that if 70-85% of the country receives vaccines by middle of this summer then by fall "we will be approaching a degree of normality."

Fauci said the vaccine rollout is not "starting from scratch," saying that the new administration is taking the vaccine activity to date and "amplifying it in a big way." Fauci also said that Biden's ambitious vaccination goal is reasonable.

"I believe that the goal that was set by the president of getting 100 million people vaccinated in the first 100 days is quite a reasonable goal," Dr. Fauci said.

Jan 21, 4:38 pm
Fauci says it's 'liberating' to discuss facts behind coronavirus without fear of 'repercussions'

In a Thursday press conference addressing the Biden administration's response to COVID-19, the president's chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said there were aspects of former President Donald Trump's response to the pandemic that were "not based on scientific fact."

"I don't want to be going back, you know, over history, but it is very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that that was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact," Fauci told reporters.

"I can tell you, I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president. So it was really something that you didn't feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions about it. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence -- what the science is, and know that's it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling," he added.

Fauci is one of the few holdovers in the Biden administration from former President Donald Trump's Coronavirus Task Force. When asked how the new government would be different from the last, Fauci pledged that it would be transparent.

"One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we're going to do is be completely transparent, open and honest," Fauci said.

"If things go wrong, not point fingers, but to correct them, and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence. I mean, that was literally a conversation I had with the 15 minutes ago with the president. And he has said that multiple times."

Jan 21, 4:30 pm
Fauci returns to White House briefing room under Biden administration

The nation's top expert on infectious diseases and Biden's chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a glimmer of hope at a White House press briefing on Thursday, saying that despite "a very, very high rate" of new infections, he thinks that cases may be hitting a plateau.

"Right now, it looks like it might actually be plateauing in the sense of turning around," Fauci said. "Now, there's good news in that, but you have to be careful that we may not be seeing perhaps an artifact of a slowing down following the holidays."

Fauci also said he felt like he had "deja vu," as around this time last year he was talking about the acceleration of cases in late winter into early spring.

Fauci's presence at the White House marks a return from a months-long absence, after Trump soured on Fauci for not hewing to Trump's false claims about the pandemic, including frequent repetitions that the virus would simply "go away."

Jan 21, 4:18 pm
Biden thanks law enforcement officers as many National Guard members prepare to leave D.C.

The president thanked law enforcement officers and National Guard members for providing security at his inauguration during “an unprecedented situation.” Of the more than 25,000 National Guard members who came to Washington to provide security for the inauguration, 15,000 will be leaving in the coming five to 10 days.

"Let me take a few moments to thank all the law enforcement folks for all they did, and the military personnel, from all across the federal, state, and local agencies to secure yesterday’s inaugural activities,” Biden said. “And a special thanks to the members of the National Guard from around the country.”

Even as security measures are being relaxed in D.C. following the inauguration, there are still concerns over safety.

“The threat of right-wing extremism is here and it will continue to be a real threat to the District of Columbia and to the region as well,” D.C. Homeland Security Director Chris Rodriguez said at a press conference Thursday.

Rodriguez said the D.C. mayor has requested that his agency and other public safety agencies draft security postures to counter ongoing threats. The National Guard said in a statement Thursday that 7,000 National Guard troops will remain in D.C. through January.

-ABC News' Ben Gittleson, Dee Carden and Luis Martinez

Jan 21, 3:46 pm
Pete Buttigieg faces questions at confirmation hearing

Biden's pick for secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, faced some tough questions in a confirmation hearing Thursday.

If confirmed, Buttigieg would make history as the first openly gay member of the cabinet, and at 38 year old, he would be the youngest member of President Biden's cabinet.

Buttigieg fielded questions about Biden's executive order halting the Keystone XL pipeline. In response to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas about whether the president's halting of the pipeline would eliminate jobs, Buttigieg said Biden's vision is to create more jobs by focusing on climate issues.

"Doing this right means ensuring there are more good, paying, union jobs for all Americans delivered to that infrastructure vision," Buttigieg told Cruz. "The answer is we will continue to see those workers employed in union jobs, even if they are different ones."

Buttigieg also expressed concern with the "antiquated" gas tax and said all options are on the table when it comes to adjusting the tax. He also expressed the need for predictability and stability.

--ABC News' Sam Sweeney, Amanda Maile and Mina Kaji

Jan 21, 3:19 pm
Biden slams Trump White House's vaccine rollout a 'dismal failure'

With his first full day in office focused on the coronavirus pandemic, Biden delivered afternoon remarks on his administration's plan to combat COVID-19 and faulted the Trump administration for a vaccine rollout he called a "dismal failure." He also called on Americans to mask up.

"Things will get worse before they get better," Biden said, expecting 500,000 Americans will have died from COVID-19 by next month. "While the vaccine provides so much hope. Rollout has been a dismal failure thus far. So I understand the despair and frustration, so many Americans and how they're feeling."


Pres. Biden on COVID-19: "For the past year, we couldn't rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed, and we have seen the tragic cost of that failure."

— ABC News (@ABC) January 21, 2021


Biden went on to deliver what he called a "brutal truth" -- that it will take "months" before the majority of Americans can get vaccinated, so in the meantime, he's putting the "full force of the federal government" into slowing the spread of the virus and calling on the public to mask up for the next 99 days.

"The fact is that the single best thing we could do -- more important in the vaccines -- because they take time to work," Biden said of the practice of wearing a facial covering, adding that experts tell him the united effort could save "more than 50,000 lives going forward."


Pres. Biden announces increased travel measures "in light of the new COVID variants."

International travelers flying to the U.S. "will need to test before they get on that plane...and quarantine when they arrive in America."

— ABC News (@ABC) January 21, 2021


Biden officials say the president has entered office hamstrung by lack of coordination from the Trump White House and limited insight to where supply levels and chains on resources including N95 and high qualified quality surgical masks, isolation gowns, and test reagents stand throughout the country.

Jan 21, 2:25 pm
U.S. Secret Service ends Inauguration Special Security Event

The U.S. Secret Service announced the conclusion of the the special security event for the Inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris at noon Thursday. The Special Security Event began Tuesday night and led to road closures and increased security measures, including more than 35,000 security personnel comprising National Guardsmen and other law enforcement and more than 25 miles of fencing in Washington, D.C.

Heightened security measures put into place for Special Security Event are already being dismantled.

--ABC News' Jack Date

Jan 21, 1:54 pm
White House clarifies that Biden intends to keep Wray on as FBI director

In a tweet Thursday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki clarified her comments from her first press briefing Wednesday, saying Biden intends to keep FBI Director Christopher Wray in his current role and has “confidence” in him.
“I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing,” Psaki tweeted.
When asked about Biden’s plans for Wray during her first press briefing Wednesday, Psaki said she had not spoken with Biden about Wray specifically in recent days.

"I think -- I have not spoken with him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days," she said. "I'll circle back with you if there's more to convey."

Former President Donald Trump had publicly weighed firing Wray in the wake of losing the presidential election.

Jan 21, 1:40 pm
White House economic official urges Congress to 'act quickly' amid high unemployment

Responding to an unemployment weekly claims report out Thursday, White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese called it "another stark reminder that we must act now on the president's 'American Rescue Plan' to get immediate relief to families and spur our economy" and called on Congress to act quickly on Biden's proposals -- including raising direct payments to qualifying Americans to $2,000.
In a written statement, Deese said, "900,000 more Americans filed claims for unemployment because they are out of work in an economy that is moving in the wrong direction."

"We must act now to get this virus under control, stabilize the economy, and reduce the long-term scarring that will only worsen if bold action isn't taken," he continued.

Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package also includes $130 billion to reopen schools safely and $160 billion to boost the country's testing and vaccine programs.

Jan 21, 1:25 pm
McConnell slams Biden for executive actions, Schumer calls for unity on Cabinet confirmations

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in floor remarks Thursday, slammed the Biden administration for executive actions it took Wednesday as the president barrels toward dismantling his successor's legacy at an aggressive rate.

"On the Biden administration's very first day, it took several big steps in the wrong direction," McConnell said, pointing to the orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, revoke a key permit for the proposed Keystone pipeline and halt deportations of certain non-citizens for 100 days to review its policies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as expected, celebrated the early executive orders of the Biden administration in his floor speech.

"What a concept: A president who actually takes the defining crisis of our time seriously. What a change. And how great is the need," Schumer said.

The new Senate leader also called for unity in confirming Biden's Cabinet nominees.

"Let the first week of this Congress be a collaboration between our two parties to confirm President Biden's Cabinet," Schumer said.

Jan 21, 1:25 pm
McConnell pushes for Senate filibuster rule as power sharing agreement remains in limbo

Just after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell finished congratulating Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on his new role during his floor remarks Thursday afternoon, he turned to the first major obstacle at hand for the evenly divided Senate: a power sharing agreement.

Democrats carry control of the chamber because Harris, as president of the Senate, has the power to cast tie-breaking votes for Democrats, but with representation of each party in the Senate equal, McConnell and Schumer have been in negotiations for the the rules of the new session.

Aides familiar with discussions between McConnell and Schumer say that the outstanding issue on agreement is McConnell's insistence that Schumer affirm his intention to leave the Senate filibuster rules -- which require 60 votes to pass legislation -- intact. Schumer hasn't yet committed to that, according to aides.

McConnell called the filibuster a "crucial" part of the Senate in his floor remarks.

"If the talk of unity and common ground is to have meaning -- and certainly if the rules from 20 years ago are to be our guide -- than I cannot imagine the Democratic leader would rather hold up the power sharing agreement than simply reaffirm that his side won't be breaking this standing rule of the Senate," McConnell said.

Jan 21, 11:40 am
Pelosi argues impeachment won't undermine unity message

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened her first weekly presser since Democrats took control of the Senate and the White House by praising Biden's message of unity and remaining tight-tipped about when she'll send the article of impeachment charging former President Donald Trump with "incitement of insurrection" to the Senate.

She said the chambers are "ready" to proceed and said "it will be soon" but that transmission of the article is being held up by questions about how the trial will work.

Asked whether the trial could alienate Republican supporters of the president, Pelosi argued that to not hold Trump accountable would be "harmful to unity."

"I don't think it is very unifying to say, 'Oh, let's just forget it and move on.' That is not how you unify. Joe Biden said it beautifully. If you're going to unite, you must remember," Pelosi said.

"Just because he's now gone -- thank God -- you don't say to a president, 'Do whatever you want in the last months of your administration. You're going to get a get-out-of-jail card free,' because people think we should make nice and forget that people died here on Jan. 6," she said.

Pelosi didn't rule out the the possibility that theconduct of lawmakers could come under investigation in a probe of the Capitol Hill riot, accusing some members of giving "aid and comfort" to rioters.

Jan 21, 10:53 am
Biden, Harris attend a virtual inaugural prayer service

Biden and Harris, alongside their spouses and five family members, began the day in the White House State Dining Room with a virtual inaugural prayer service broadcast from the Washington National Cathedral.

Four large television screens were set up showing the prayer while the group bowed their heads. Patti LaBelle then sang the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and everyone rose to their feet and put their hands over their hearts.

Biden, a devout Catholic and only the second Catholic president, is not shy about invoking his faith. In his first act as president after taking the oath of office Wednesday, he asked the nation to join together in silent prayer.

Jan 21, 10:48 am
Biden's 1st day executive actions

Biden's first full day in office is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, with the president set to deliver afternoon remarks and take 10 executive actions aimed to help get the pandemic under control.

Those actions include eight executive orders to trigger the the Defense Production Act to manufacture COVID-19 supplies, require masks in airports and on interstate transportation, require international travelers to the U.S. receive a negative COVID-19 test before arrival, establish a testing board, develop more treatments and vaccines, work to overcome the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities, provide guidelines to reopen schools -- as well as a presidential memorandum to reimburse schools for supplies from FEMA funds -- create guidelines to protect workers from exposure, and increase collection and analysis.

His two other actions expected Thursday are a presidential memorandum directing FEMA to increase state reimbursements from 75% to 100% for National Guard personnel and supply costs and a presidential directive to support the international COVID-19 response, which the Biden team is calling an effort to restore America’s leadership on the world stage.

Jan 21, 9:45 am
Fauci returns to a White House press briefing

Continuing its theme that the Biden administration is "hitting the ground running," White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced she'll be joined by the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, at her afternoon press briefing in Biden's first full day in office.

"I will also be bringing Dr. Fauci to the briefing room today as part of our effort to ensure that we're having public health experts, medical experts leading our communication about the process that is under way to get the pandemic under control," Psaki told MSNBC Thursday morning.

Fauci stopped appearing at White House briefings after he fell out of favor with former President Donald Trump.
Psaki told reporters at her first press briefing on Inauguration Day she plans to hold daily White House briefings Monday through Friday.

Psaki said in preparing for her new position, Biden told her that "he would be watching" her briefings, and she said that it’s a major priority for the president that her messaging "really comes from the top."

With the first day focused on the pandemic, Psaki told CBS conversations between administration officials with counterparts on Capitol Hill on Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package kicked off before the president took his oath of office and that those will continue "with speed in the days ahead" now that the administration is in place.
She also stressed the new administration wants to level with the American people that getting the pandemic under control is "going to take months and months."

Jan 21, 9:48 am
Biden, Harris to spend first full day focusing on pandemic

Biden is waking up in the White House for the first time as the 46th president of the United States, and Vice President Kamala Harris is waking up to the fact that for the first time in American history a woman is serving as vice president.

After a historic inauguration, they'll start the day alongside their spouses with an inaugural prayer service from the Washington National Cathedral but attending virtually from the White House Blue Room. Their first full day in office will focus on the coronavirus pandemic, with Biden set to deliver afternoon remarks on his administration's COVID-19 response, take 10 executive actions aimed to control the pandemic and receive a COVID-19 briefing.

Ahead of introducing what it has deemed the "National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness," the Biden administration addressed other top priorities overnight including moving to halt deportations of certain non-citizens for 100 days to review immigration policies. The president on Wednesday took at least 15 executive actions from invoking a mask mandate on federal properties and reversing now former President Donald Trump's Muslim ban to moving to rejoin both the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord, barreling faster to dismantle his predecessor's legacy than other modern presidents.

Biden and Harris are taking office amid a racial-justice reckoning, a struggling economy and with the systems of government having come under literal attack by supporters of the man they defeated. While Wednesday's inaugural festivities saw powerful musical performances and poetry, amid history-making formalities, the surreal fact lingered: They took the office on the same Capitol steps that violent pro-Trump protesters climbed to storm the halls of Congress precisely two weeks earlier.

In the wake of the seige and in their first days of office, Biden and Harris will also have to contend with Trump's impeachment trial which will be taken up in the newly Democratic Senate as soon as the end of this week, competing for floor time with their legislative agenda and Cabinet confirmations.

Jan 21, 8:20 am
Fauci announces US will remain a member of the WHO

The United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, announced Thursday.

Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the announcement via video link to the WHO's executive board in Geneva, a day after Joe Biden was sworn-in as the 46th president of the U.S.

"I am honored to announce the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization," Fauci told the board Thursday, adding that the U.S. will also "fulfil its financial obligations" to the WHO and stop reducing its staff at the United Nations agency.

Fauci, who is Biden's chief medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, also announced that the president will issue a directive Thursday that shows the country's intent to join the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries regardless of income.

Within hours of becoming president, Biden had signed an executive order reversing former President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the WHO. Trump had accused the organization of failing to correctly respond to the coronavirus pandemic and of allegedly giving too much power to China.

In an interview Thursday with ABC News' Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, Fauci said rejoining the WHO is "very important" and that the country's withdrawal "was very disconcerting to everybody."

"When you're dealing with global pandemic, you have to have an international connectivity, and for us to not be in the WHO was very disconcerting to everybody, all the member countries including the health officials here in the United States," he said. "So the official announcement that we are rejoining, we're going to live up to our financial commitments and a whole bunch of other things, it was really a very good day. I mean, the response I'm getting from my colleagues all over the world is really very refreshing."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL and TRISH TURNER, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Republican senators said Thursday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to propose a delay of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial into February when he pitches a framework later in the day to new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The delay is designed to give the still-emerging Trump legal team time to prepare.

"From what I understand from today's conversation, is [the trial] does not get started until sometime mid-February due to the fact that the process, as it occurred in the House, evolved so quickly, and that it is not in line with the time you need to prepare for a defense in a Senate trial," Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said Thursday afternoon.

"I think, in fairness to anybody who's accused of impeachable offenses, there needs to be some fair process," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Trump adviser Jason Miller confirmed that Butch Bowers will be joining Trump's legal team to represent him in the upcoming impeachment trial.

"Excited to announce that Columbia, SC-based Butch Bowers has joined President Trump’s legal team. Butch is well respected by both Republicans and Democrats and will do an excellent job defending President Trump," Miller tweeted.

Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the House and Senate are "ready" to proceed with Trump's second impeachment trial, but she said transmission of the articles is being held up by questions about how the trial would work.

"I’m not going to be telling you when it is going ... they are now ready to receive, but there are other questions of how a trial to proceed. But we are ready," she said. "It will be soon, as I said you will be the first to know."

"It will be soon, I don’t think it will be long, but we must do it,” she said.

Pelosi dismissed Republicans' concerns that impeachment could divide lawmakers so soon after the inauguration.

"It's not really unifying to say, let's just forget it, and move on," Pelosi said.

"Just because he is gone, thank God, we don't say to a president, 'Do whatever you want in the last months of your administration ... because people want to make nice nice,' ... I think that would be harmful for unity."

On the question of witnesses, Pelosi deferred to the House managers, but differentiated between the evidence needed for Trump's first trial, and this upcoming one.

"I do see a big difference between something that we all witnessed, versus what information you might need to substantiate an article of impeachment based in large part on a phone call the president made ... but it’s up to them," referring to the managers.

Schumer reaffirmed Thursday that there will be an impeachment trial and but that he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are still working to agree on the rules.

"Speaker Pelosi will determine when she will send the articles over. Leader McConnell and I are trying to come up with a bipartisan agreement on how to conduct the trial. But make no mistake about it," Schumer said. "There will be a trial, there will be a vote, up or down or whether to convict the president."

At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki denied the trial poses a problem for pursuing President Joe Biden's agenda: "We are confident, though, that just like the American people can, the Senate can also multitask. And they can do their constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people," she said Wednesday.

Pelosi also didn't rule out the conduct of lawmakers coming under investigation in any probe of the Capitol Hill riot, accusing some members of giving "aid and comfort" to rioters.

On Biden's inauguration she said, "What a difference a day makes," she said. "It was so perfect, in my view."

ABC News' Allison Pecorin and Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Trump's four adult children and their two spouses are receiving Secret Service protection for an additional six months following Trump's departure from office, former administration officials confirmed to ABC News.

Additionally, ABC News has learned that Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are also receiving Secret Service protection beyond Trump's term.

It was unclear if the orders to extend the protection arrangements had come from Trump himself. As a matter of practice, the U.S. Secret Service does not discuss protective operations or protectees, a Secret Service spokesperson told ABC News.

It's not unusual for first children to receive an extension on their protection as a courtesy extended to the outgoing president and his family, but traditionally such protection has been limited to underage children and college students, as opposed to independent adults.

It's also rare for former administration officials to receive protection beyond the president's term in office.

By law, the former president and first lady receive lifetime protection, and youngest son Barron Trump will receive protection until he's 16 years old. Former Vice President Mike Pence by law receives six months of protection after he leaves office.

Retired Secret Service agent Don Mihalek said that the decision of whether to extend protection is often "threat based," but that every additional protectee the Secret Service takes on requires additional manpower from the agency.

"Typically as time goes on and the limelight fades on individuals, these threats of course diminish because the focus becomes on that who's currently in the spotlight," said Mihalek, an ABC News contributor.

"And at any point in time, any of these individuals can decline protection," he said.

Also this week, the Secret Service lifted the temporary flight restriction over Trump Tower in New York City, which was put into place the day before Trump took office. The building was considered a possible target, and Trump's wife and son Barron still resided there at the time.

The temporary flight restriction kept most general aviation under 3,000 feet from entering a one-mile radius surrounding the Midtown Manhattan building without prior permission. It initially extended all the way west into the Hudson River, but was later reduced so as not to affect aviation using that popular corridor, like tour helicopters.

The agency notified pilots of the most recent change on Thursday morning.

With Trump no longer using Trump Tower as his official residence, and much of his immediate family expected to reside in Florida, law enforcement says security around the building will be gradually scaled back.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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