Trump-Biden transition live updates: Trump defense team uncertain ahead of trial

Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, KENNEDEY BELL, LAUREN KING and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in six days.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach Trump on article for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — making him the only president to be impeached twice.

Here is how the scene is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 14, 7:57 pm
Sanders calls Biden’s COVID plan a ‘very strong 1st installment’

Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a statement in support of Biden’s COVID Rescue Plan, calling it a “very strong first installment,” hinting that he believes more should be done in the future. It could serve as an indication of how the plan will be received by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
 
“President-Elect Biden has put forth a very strong first installment of an emergency relief plan that will begin to provide desperately needed assistance to tens of millions of working families facing economic hardship during the pandemic,” Sanders said Thursday in the statement.

“The president-elect’s COVID-relief plan includes many initiatives that the American people want and need, including increasing the $600 direct payments to $2,000, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” he added. “As the incoming Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I look forward to working with the president-elect and my colleagues in Congress to provide bold emergency relief to the American people as soon as possible.”

-ABC News’ Averi Harper

Jan 14, 7:30 pm
Biden introducing vaccination plan, economic rescue package in address

Biden, in an evening address from Wilmington, Delaware, is announcing his vaccination and economic rescue legislative package.

The ambitious $1.9 trillion proposal focuses on stimulus amid the ongoing pandemic.

Biden’s plan would dedicate more than $1 trillion of the $1.9 trillion price tag for direct stimulus, officials said, while $400 billion would go toward COVID-related projects, including the nationwide vaccination program, and $440 billion toward relief for communities and businesses.

The plan includes direct payments of up to $1,400 to families in need, that when combined with the recent $600 stimulus payment would deliver on Biden’s pledge to pass $2,000 of direct payments, along with a $400 weekly unemployment insurance benefit through September and a child tax credit.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Jan 14, 7:12 pm
Biden announces former Senate candidate as DNC chair

Biden on Thursday announced his slate for new leadership at the Democratic National Committee, including former South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Jaime Harrison to be the next chair of the DNC.

Harrison, who lost the 2020 race to GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham last year, despite breaking numerous fundraising records, will officially become DNC chair after the full committee votes on Jan. 21, the day after Biden’s inauguration.

Graham congratulated Harrison on the news in a tweet earlier Thursday.

In addition to Harrison, Biden also announced the names of four DNC vice chairs, all of whom were prominent backers of his presidential campaign, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who served as a campaign co-chair.

Whitmer is joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Texas Rep. Filemon Vela as new DNC vice chairs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Harrison an “inspiring, energizing and influential” in a press release.

“As former Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and senatorial candidate, Jaime brings an outstanding track record of success — from galvanizing the grassroots, mobilizing millions and shattering fundraising records — that will be critical during this pivotal moment for our Party and Country,” she added.

-ABC News’ John Verhovek and Beatrice Peterson

Jan 14, 5:06 pm
Biden to outline $1.9 trillion ‘COVID Rescue Plan’ in evening remarks

Biden will propose a $1.9 trillion, “American Rescue Plan” to address the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort and immediate economic need to Americans in evening remarks, transition officials disclosed on a call with reporters Thursday.

According to officials on the call, the rescue policy is only one part of Biden’s overall policy, with a “recovery” phase expected to be introduced in February. They said Biden’s rescue policy will include three components: Tackling vaccine distribution, ramping up testing and getting kids back in school within the first 100 days of his administration; delivering $1,400 per-person direct stimulus checks and expanding unemployment benefits, including $400 weekly benefit through September on top of state benefits; and delivering aid to states and communities to support small businesses, addressing housing insecurity by expanding the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through Sept. 2021.

More than $1 trillion of the $1.9 trillion price tag will be used for direct stimulus, officials said, while $400 billion will go toward COVID-19-related projects, including the nationwide vaccination program, and $440 billion will go toward relief for communities and businesses.

Biden will also call for Congress to provide $350 billion for state local and territorial governments, an effort to keep essential workers on the job.

If enacted, it would be one of the largest and most expensive economic stimulus packages in U.S. history.

-ABC News Molly Nagle, John Verhovek, Beatrice Peterson and Averi Harper

Jan 14, 4:47 pm
Enhanced security measures across Capitol ahead of Biden’s inauguration

Ahead of Biden’s inauguration and in the wake of last week’s attack at the Capitol, the United States Capitol Police (USPS) has enhanced security measures across the Capitol Complex, including adding fencing and making several street closures until further notice, the agency announced Thursday.

“Be advised that the U.S. Capitol Complex is closed to the public, and the Capitol Grounds will not be accessible to the public on January 20, 2021.  Anyone attempting to unlawfully gain access to the Capitol Grounds by climbing a fence or any other unlawful means will be subject to an appropriate use of force and arrest,” the USPS said in a statement.

Workers were seen installing barbed wire on security fencing surrounding the Capitol on Thursday afternoon as National Guard troops, some armed, patrolled the area. As National Guard troops continue flowing into the area, there are currently over 7,000 currently stationed in Washington with that number expected to grow to 20,000 over the weekend.

-ABC News’ Jake Date and Luis Martinez

Jan 14, 4:24 pm
Republican leader not supportive of effort to remove Rep. Liz Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., does not support efforts to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, as House GOP conference chair and a member of House GOP leadership, a McCarthy spokesman told ABC News. This comes after some conservative House Republicans called on her to step down following her announcement that she supported impeaching Trump.

The Wyoming Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney is the highest-ranking woman in Republican leadership and was reelected to by GOP members at the start of this Congress.

“We ought to have a second vote,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters Wednesday about the leadership position. “The conference ought to vote on that.”

“She should not be serving this conference,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, said Tuesday.

On Wednesday night she joined nine other House Republicans in breaking from the party and voting to impeach Trump for his role in last week’s riot at the Capitol.

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel

Jan 14, 4:05 pm
Republican senator says House responded ‘appropriately’ by impeaching Trump

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said in a statement Thursday she believes that the House responded to Trump’s actions “appropriately” by impeaching him but does not say how she will vote.

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

Murkowski said she intends to hear arguments in the Senate before deciding whether she will vote to convict.

“I will follow the oath I made when sworn as a U.S. Senator. I will listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides, and will then announce how I will vote,” Murkowski said.

It’s also unclear how Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote in the Senate trial, telling Republican colleagues in a memo Wednesday he hasn’t “made a final decision” on whether to vote to convict Trump.

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Jan 14, 3:02 pm
1st confirmation hearing for Biden Cabinet pick Friday

Five key Senate panels have now confirmed that they will hold confirmation hearings for Biden’s top national security officials before Inauguration Day — although it remains unlikely most of his picks will be confirmed by day one.

Avril Haines will have her hearing Friday to be Director of National Intelligence, while four others will have theirs on Tuesday — Tony Blinken for secretary of state, Janet Yellen for Treasury secretary, Lloyd Austin for Defense secretary, and Alejandro Mayorkas for Homeland Security secretary.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hasn’t scheduled a hearing yet for Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s pick for U.N. ambassador and a member of his Cabinet, despite her being announced in November. Bill Burns, Biden’s pick to be CIA director, also doesn’t have a hearing scheduled yet, but Biden only announced his intention to nominate Burns Monday.

It’s unclear how long after a confirmation hearing any of these Cabinet picks can be confirmed, especially with an impeachment trial — but they’ll require a committee vote and then a full Senate vote. It’s likely most won’t be confirmed and in position on Inauguration Day.

Biden’s team has escalated pressure this week to confirm his national security Cabinet as soon as possible.

In contrast, on Trump’s Inauguration Day, the Senate confirmed both John Kelly as Department of Homeland Security secretary and Jim Mattis as Department of Defense secretary, and 11 more Trump nominees already had their confirmation hearings. President Barack Obama had seven Cabinet chiefs confirmed on Inauguration Day, while six more had confirmation hearings by then and his Defense Secretary Bob Gates stayed on from the Bush administration, according to the U.S. Senate website.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan and Molly Nagle

Jan 14, 2:23 pm
Trump issues short statement about how he’s worked to ‘rebuild our military’

The White House press office has issued a statement from the president touting his military accomplishments as his time as commander-in-chief is set to expire in six days.

“United States military troops in Afghanistan are at a 19-year low. Likewise, Iraq and Syria are also at the lowest point in many years. I will always be committed to stopping the endless wars. It has been a great honor to rebuild our military and support our brave men and women in uniform. $2.5 trillion invested, including in beautiful new equipment—all made in the U.S.A.,” the statement read.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Jan 14, 2:21 pm
Jill Biden re-launching ‘Joining Forces’ initiative to support military families

Incoming first lady Jill Biden on Thursday announced the re-launch of “Joining Forces,” which originated in 2011 during the Obama administration and was a “a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities,” that also had the involvement of then-first lady Michelle Obama.

“We’ll continue to listen and work with you, making sure that your experiences and expertise are the north star of this effort. And that starts today. That’s the promise that I made to you on the campaign trail. That we would relaunch Joining Forces and get to work on day one,” Biden said during a virtual event announcing the initiative’s relaunch.

The announcement comes after Biden pledged several times on the campaign trail that she would focus her work as first lady on the priorities that defined her work when her husband was vice president for eight years, including her advocacy for military families.

During Biden’s remarks she talked about her excitement to work again on Joining Forces while noting her ties to the military through the deployment of her son Beau and her father who was in the Navy during World War II.

“I’m grateful and excited, and most of all, ready to get to work with all of you. And as many of you may know, or maybe you don’t, but my father was a Navy signalman in World War II,” Biden said. “And my son Beau served for a year in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard. Now, toward the end of the campaign, I had the chance to go back to Hammonton, New Jersey, where I was born, to see the memorial that bears my father’s name in our hometown Park.”

The future first lady noted that Rory Brosius, a close adviser to the Biden’s and is a military spouse, will be joining the White House as a special assistant to the president and executive director of Joining Forces, adding, “No one is more passionate about this work than Rory.”

-ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson and John Verhovek

Jan 14, 12:34 pm
White House official to lawmakers on impeachment: ‘Knock it off’

Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, in an interview with Fox Business Thursday, blasted the House’s impeachment vote as a “travesty” and blamed the Democratic Party for the country’s violence.

“The Democratic Party did violence to this country by attacking a president, who I believe was legally elected on Nov. 3,” Navarro said. “I would say to these people on Capitol Hill, knock it off, stop this. Let the man leave peacefully with his dignity.”

The false and unsubstantiated belief that the presidential election was stolen from Trump played a large role in driving some of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol last week in a siege that left at least five people dead and Trump impeached for a second time.

Navarro went on to predict if the election were held again “today,” Trump would be elected, and added, “If he runs in 2024, he will be elected then.”

Jan 14, 12:24 pm
Preliminary plan to close National Mall on Inauguration Day

There is a preliminary plan to close the entire National Mall to the public for Inauguration Day amid security concerns, ABC News has confirmed.

The Washington Post was the first to report on the development, but The National Park Service has said it will make an announcement on the Mall following ongoing discussions with the Secret Service, the Biden Inaugural team and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Traditionally, members of the public gather on the National Mall — bookended by the Capitol building and Lincoln Memorial — for viewing of the inauguration on large jumbotrons.

But the Mall’s potential closure comes in the wake of a violent seige on the U.S. Capitol building last week, which left at least five people dead, and amid heightened security concerns regarding armed protests being planned ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Security preparations for next week have already increased with up to 20,000 National Guard troops authorized to provide security at the Capitol and around Washington, D.C., for next week’s ceremony, according to a Defense Department official.

Bowser has already warned visitors to stay away from the District for the inauguration due to threats of both the coronavirus pandemic and of violence.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post reported that the entire National Mall would be closed to the public for Inauguration Day amid security concerns. The text has been updated to reflect the fact that the closure is only a preliminary plan.


Jan 14, 11:59 am
Republican governor who faced Trump’s wrath to attend Biden inauguration

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has announced he will attend Biden’s inauguration after weeks of attacks from Trump for signing the certification of Arizona’s election results affirming Biden’s narrow win in the state.

“It doesn’t matter who you supported in the election — once the election is over, we put country before party. Never has it been more important than right now to observe these traditions for the whole world to see,” Ducey said in a statement Thursday.

“I was honored to represent Arizona at the inauguration of President Trump in 2017, and I am honored to represent our state at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies next week. President-elect Biden is assuming office at a critical time in our nation’s history, and I wish him well,” he added.

 

I look forward to working with his administration and advocating for the people of Arizona. 4/4

— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) January 14, 2021

 

The Arizona Republican Party is scheduled to meet a few days later on Jan. 23, when members will vote on censuring some apparent party foes including Ducey, Cindy McCain and former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
 

Jan 14, 11:00 am
Overview: Trump faces 2nd impeachment trial, Biden assumes office in less than a week

On one side of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., President Trump — now the only president in history to be impeached twice — faces another Senate trial following the House charging him Wednesday with one article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.” Shortly after 10 Republicans sided with Democrats for the vote, Trump released a video from the Oval Office condemning the violence at last week’s Capitol riot, which he called a “calamity,” but he did not address impeachment.

On the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue stands what’s now become a crime scene — the U.S. Capitol complex. By this weekend, up to 20,000 National Guard troops, many armed, will be deployed to the area amid heightened security concerns and ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Inside the Capitol, metal detectors were installed to enter House chamber earlier this week, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans to fine members who don’t comply with the new protocol up to $5,000.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Wednesday that Trump’s Senate trial should take place after Trump leaves office, saying he wouldn’t call back the Senate ahead of its Jan. 19 return. McConnell also indicated Wednesday he’s considering voting to convict the president, issuing a statement that says he has “not made a final decision.” Pelosi has not publicly announced her timeline, but a source involved with deliberations told ABC News Wednesday she plans to send the article to the Senate next week.

Biden, reacting to Trump’s second impeachment late Wednesday, expressed his hope that the Senate will be able to maintain a bifurcated schedule, allowing the trial to move forward along with his agenda — a message his transition has been consistent on this week. But Democrats are facing the reality that Trump is still likely to loom large over Biden’s first days in office.

On Thursday evening, Biden is slated to deliver remarks on the public health and economic crises from Wilmington, Delaware, and introduce his COVID-19 vaccine and economic relief proposal. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is expected to join.

There are no public events on Trump’s schedule.

Jan 14, 10:51 am
National Mall to be closed on Inauguration Day

The entire National Mall will be closed to the public for Inauguration Day amid security concerns, ABC News has confirmed.

The Washington Post was the first to report on the development.

Traditionally, members of the public gather on the National Mall — bookended by the Capitol building and Lincoln Memorial — for viewing of the inauguration on large jumbotrons.

But the Mall’s imminent closure comes in the wake of a violent seige on the U.S. Capitol building last week, which left at least five people dead, and amid heightened security concerns regarding armed protests being planned ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Security preparations for next week have already increased with up to 20,000 National Guard troops authorized to provide security at the Capitol and around Washington, D.C., for next week’s ceremony, according to a Defense Department official.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has already warned visitors to stay away from the District for the inauguration due to threats of both the coronavirus pandemic and of violence.

Jan 14, 10:21 am
Trump defense team uncertain ahead of Senate trial

With Trump facing a Senate trial as soon as next week, he has no organized defense team as his top lawyers have refused to represent him.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, his deputies, and outside lawyers Jay Sekulow, and Jane and Marty Raskin are not expected to be involved.

Trump has been increasingly irritated with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and hasn’t been taking his calls, according to sources familiar with the matter, though Giuliani has been spotted in the West Wing recently.

And former Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz is not on board yet, though aides to the president have had discussion with him about joining the team.

Another attorney, John Eastman, whose extremist positions have troubled some members of the president’s legal team recently, is expected to take some sort of role in Trump’s impeachment defense.

Eastman represented the president in the Texas dispute and has previously pushed a racist conspiracy theory about Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Trump has asked top aides about how a Senate trial would look this time around. As he did during his first impeachment, Trump raised the idea of testifying himself, which aides dissuaded him from pursuing.

Jan 14, 10:10 am
Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez to perform at Biden’s inauguration

Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez will lend their voices to Biden’s inauguration next week, performing when he officially becomes the 46th president of the United States, Biden’s Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday morning.
 
The announcement detailing participants in the 59th inaugural swearing-in ceremony represents one of the more traditional aspects of Biden’s inauguration, which has been largely altered amid the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate an at-home audience, and facing new concerns over security in the wake of a riot at the Capitol last week that left five dead.
 
Gaga, who appeared on the campaign trail with Biden during the 2020 election and worked with the then-vice president on his “It’s on Us” campaign to combat campus sexual assault, will perform the national anthem when Biden is sworn in, the committee announced.
 
Lopez, who endorsed Biden, and took part in a virtual chat with the president-elect during the campaign, is also slated to perform at the event.

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