House impeachment managers have concluded their case against former President Donald Trump, linking his campaign to undermine the election results with the statements of insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6. In closing arguments, Colorado Congressmember Joe Neguse pleaded with senators to vote to convict Trump.
Rep. Joe Neguse: “Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen or, worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?”
Trump’s legal team begins its defense today. Lawyer David Schoen predicted it would take just three to four hours to present Trump’s case, with the trial set to wrap up on Saturday. On Thursday evening, three Republican senators — Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee — met with Trump’s legal team in the Capitol, raising fresh doubts over their ability to serve as impartial jurors.
The United States reported nearly 3,900 new deaths from COVID-19 Thursday, pushing the U.S. death toll past 475,000, by far the highest in the world.
Here in New York, the top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized to Democratic lawmakers this week for not initially reporting close to half of the 15,000 deaths at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Meanwhile, California has surpassed New York as the state with the highest death toll, with over 46,000 COVID deaths reported. Health officials in Los Angeles temporarily closed five vaccination centers Thursday, including a massive site at Dodger Stadium, after the city ran out of vaccine doses.
In Bethesda, Maryland, President Biden visited the National Institutes of Health, where he slammed Donald Trump’s failure to prepare for mass vaccinations.
President Joe Biden: “He didn’t order enough vaccines. He didn’t mobilize enough people to administer the shots. He didn’t set up federal vaccine centers, where eligible people could go and get their shots.”
President Biden says his administration has secured the 200 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna he announced last month — meaning there will be enough shots to inoculate 300 million U.S. residents by the end of July.
Meanwhile, STAT News reports that U.S. COVID-19 vaccination rates closely track with wealth, with the richest gaining access to vaccines at a faster pace than low-income people. The vaccine wealth gap has exacerbated racial disparities, with Black and Latinx people receiving far fewer vaccines, proportionately, than white people.
This comes amid warnings over growing global inequity in vaccine distribution. Duke University health researcher Andrea Taylor told The Washington Post, “It remains to a large degree a zero-sum game, which means that every dose that goes to the U.S. or the U.K. or an EU country is a dose that’s off the shelves. And the shelves aren’t going to be restocked for a while.”
The New York Times reports former President Trump was far sicker with COVID-19 last October than previously reported, with extremely depressed blood oxygen levels and compromised lungs due to viral pneumonia. The Times reports Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator. Trump ultimately recovered after an aggressive treatment that included a monoclonal antibody cocktail which at the time was unavailable to members of the general public.
In Afghanistan, gunmen attacked a United Nations convoy on the outskirts of Kabul, killing five Afghan security force escorts. A government official said the Taliban was suspected, but they denied involvement. Around the country, there were multiple other reports of deadly violence Thursday, as well as the nonfatal shooting of journalist Qutbuddin Kohi. Intra-Afghan peace talks have largely stalled, according to officials.
Over two dozen lawmakers are calling on President Joe Biden to consider the devastating impacts of harsh U.S. sanctions on countries around the world, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. The lawmakers write sanctions have “harmed civilian populations, caused authoritarian governments to further constrict civil spaces and repress civil and political rights, squeezed the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide support during crises and disasters, [and] made basic staples … prohibitively expensive.” In his first week in office, Biden said his administration would review all U.S. sanctions currently in place.
The Justice Department said this week the U.S. has sold over a million barrels of Iranian fuel seized by civil forfeiture as part of its sanctions campaign. U.S. officials say they seized the oil last year from tankers headed from Iran to Venezuela. The money will be transferred to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, according to a Justice Department spokesperson.
BuzzFeed reports asylum seekers forced to stay in Mexico by the Trump administration will soon be allowed to start entering the U.S. Efforts to phase out Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program are expected to begin within the next two weeks. Immigrant rights advocates are calling for President Biden to fully abolish the policy. The program has forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers to wait in dangerous conditions in crowded and squalid refugee camps across northern Mexico while their cases make their way through U.S. courts.
The Biden administration has canceled a Trump-era national emergency order to allocate government funding for the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. This comes as immigrant justice advocates continue to denounce President Biden’s interest in ramping up surveillance technology at the southern border, which opponents refer to as a “virtual wall.”
A recent court filing in the 2010 case of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, a Mexican man who was beaten and shocked to death by border agents, reveals the current head of Border Patrol, Chief Rodney Scott, was part of efforts to protect the agents involved and interfere with the criminal investigation. Rojas lay on the ground handcuffed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego as agents beat him with batons and shocked him with a stun gun. He died at the hospital several days later. The case is currently under review by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. It’s the first time the commission has looked into an extrajudicial killing at the hands of a U.S. law enforcement agency.
A grand jury in Buffalo, New York, has cleared two police officers who assaulted a 75-year-old racial justice protester last June. Martin Gugino, a longtime peace activist, suffered a brain injury, a fractured skull, and spent a month in the hospital after being shoved to the ground by police. A video of the incident quickly went viral.
In Rochester, New York, disturbing new video has been released of the moments after police handcuffed and pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old Black girl last month.
9-Year-Old Girl: “Officers, please, don’t do this to me!”
Police Officer: “You did it to yourself, Hon.”
9-Year-Old Girl: “Pepper spray is burning my eyes!”
Police Officer: “Yep. That’s the point of pepper spray. The ambulance is on their way, and they will clear your eyes out.”
9-Year-Old Girl: “The pepper spray is burning my eyes!”
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports it took about 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, and the girl was left handcuffed for 23 minutes. The officers involved were suspended pending an investigation. One of the things the little girl said to the officers when they said, “You’re acting like a child,” was, “I am a child.”
In Los Angeles, the family of Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old Black bicyclist who was shot to death by sheriff’s deputies last summer, has filed a $35 million claim for damages. Kizzee was shot 16 times after being pulled over for an alleged bike violation. His family says the sheriff’s department failed to properly train its deputies, and the officers used unreasonable deadly force.