The historic second impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins today in the Senate. The proceedings will decide whether to hold Trump accountable for inciting the deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, which was aimed at stopping lawmakers from counting the Electoral College votes.
Tuesday’s debate will focus on the constitutionality of impeaching a former president. The Trump defense team is relying heavily on a law review article by Michigan State University professor Brian Kalt, whose work was cited 15 times in a legal brief filed by Trump’s lawyers on Monday. Kalt told NPR his work is being misrepresented.
Brian Kalt: “The worst part is the three places where they said I said something, when in fact I said the opposite.”
Lawyers for the defense also plan to argue Trump was exercising his First Amendment rights when he made comments like these to the thousands of people who rallied outside the White House on the day of the failed insurrection.
President Donald Trump: “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense lawyers will each be given 16 hours over two days to make their arguments. The trial could end early next week. After headlines, we’ll get the latest on Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Georgia’s Republican secretary of state has opened an inquiry into Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory in Georgia. Legal scholars say Trump violated at least three federal and state election laws with comments like these, made during an hour-long conference call with Secretary Brad Raffensperger on January 2.
President Donald Trump: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.”
Following an investigation, Georgia’s Republican-controlled state board of elections will determine whether to refer the case to Georgia’s attorney general for prosecution.
More than 1,500 people died of COVID-19 across the United States Monday, though the number of daily confirmed infections fell below 100,000 for the first time since November. Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says daily U.S. vaccinations — now averaging nearly 1.5 million shots per day — should continue to increase as spring approaches and more doses become available.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can. That’s the best defense against the evolution of variants.”
Fauci rejected a call by one of President Biden’s coronavirus advisers to delay the second dose of two-dose vaccinations in order to get more people partially vaccinated sooner.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the U.S. is considering a plan that would require all U.S. domestic airline passengers show a negative coronavirus test result before boarding flights. Buttigieg himself went into quarantine Monday after he reported close contact with a security guard who tested positive for coronavirus.
Texas Republican Congressmember Ron Wright has died of complications from COVID-19 two weeks after he and his wife were both hospitalized with the disease in Dallas. Just four days ago, Congressmember Wright blasted teachers’ unions and Democrats for delaying the return of students to in-person classes, tweeting, “The CDC says schools can safely re-open if proper precautions are taken. What are we waiting for?”
Congressmember Wright is the second person elected to the 117th Congress to die of COVID-19, after 41-year-old Louisiana Republican Luke Letlow succumbed to the disease in December before he could take office for what would have been his freshman term.
Here in New York, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help pay for COVID-related funeral and burial costs for low-income families. Ocasio-Cortez says families can apply for up to $7,000 in FEMA funds.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “When you suddenly lose a loved one, you’re talking about an expense of $4,000, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000. And then, during COVID, with overrun funeral facilities, etc., families also are being — are having to deal with having to pay for the storage of the bodies of their own loved ones. This is wrong.”
A Columbia Journalism Investigation has revealed that residents of a New York state-run veterans’ nursing home were given experimental COVID-19 treatments without the knowledge of their families. Residents of the St. Albans State Veterans’ Home in Queens were administered a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin — despite safety warnings and doubts about the drugs’ efficacy.
The Senate has confirmed President Biden’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Denis McDonough is just the second nonveteran to lead the VA. He previously served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff and as deputy national security adviser.
In immigration news, the Biden administration is reviewing the deportations of veterans and their families that took place under Trump. The White House said in a statement, “The administration’s immigration enforcement will focus on those who are national-security and public-safety threats, not military families, service members or veterans.” Immigrant justice advocates have long warned these guidelines continue to criminalize undocumented people and asylum seekers, and continue to give ICE wide prosecutorial discretion on who gets deported.
This comes as activists are denouncing the ongoing mass deportations of Haitian asylum seekers. The Biden administration had temporarily suspended removal flights to Haiti Friday. On Monday, The Guardian reports, over 70 Haitian asylum seekers were deported, including more than 20 babies and children. Advocate and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, Guerline Jozef, tweeted, “We didn’t vote & made all the sacrifices to elect @JoeBiden @POTUS and @KamalaHarris @VP so that they can continue Trump’s draconian, cruel, evil & inhumane practices.”
In New York, Reuters reports a recent federal court filing has confirmed right-wing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is being investigated by U.S. authorities for his possible involvement in drug trafficking. Federal prosecutors accuse Hernández of using law enforcement and the military to protect drug traffickers. Hernández reportedly accepted millions of dollars in exchange, promising traffickers they wouldn’t be prosecuted or extradited to the U.S. Hernández has remained a key U.S. ally despite long-standing accusations of corruption, human rights abuses and involvement with drug cartels.
In Mexico, authorities have identified the remains of nine other victims — all Guatemalan — who were among 19 people killed in a massacre in the northern state of Tamaulipas. Of the 16 victims identified so far, two were Mexican and 14 Guatemalan. The 19 bodies were found shot and charred in a town near the U.S.-Mexico border in January. A dozen Mexican state police were arrested last week for their possible involvement in the massacre.
In Chicago, the former president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, has died. She was 67 years old. Lewis had been battling brain cancer since 2014. She stepped down from her position at CTU due to her health four years later. This is Karen Lewis in a 2010 interview with Democracy Now!
Karen Lewis: “I don’t think anybody will argue with that, that the system is broken. It has not basically changed since the 1900s — 1800s, for that matter. And as a result, it has never been able to absorb real innovation. And the problem is it’s just a lot easier to test, test, test children. Our curriculum has narrowed in Chicago. If you look at the average day for an elementary school kid, it’s reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, math, math, math, reading, reading, reading, reading, math. I mean, kids are bored to tears. They’re hating school at an early age. There’s no joy. There’s no passion. And the results show that.”
Karen Lewis’s death comes as some 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union vote today on whether to approve a plan to return to in-person learning during the pandemic. Union members have been on the cusp of striking over coronavirus safety concerns. Click here to see our interviews with Karen Lewis.