House Delivers to the Senate an Impeachment Charge Against Trump: Jan. 25, 2021

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Here’s what you need to know: Video transcript Back transcript House Delivers Article of Impeachment Against Trump For the second time in just over a year, the House delivered an article of impeachment to the Senate against former President Donald J. Trump, citing “incitement of insurrection.” Jan. 13, 2021, resolved […]

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House Delivers Article of Impeachment Against Trump

For the second time in just over a year, the House delivered an article of impeachment to the Senate against former President Donald J. Trump, citing “incitement of insurrection.”

Jan. 13, 2021, resolved that Donald John Trump, president of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following article of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate. The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment and the president shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States. In the months preceding the joint session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by state or federal officials. Shortly before the joint session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. There he reiterated false claims that “we won this election and we won it by a landslide.” He also willfully made statements that in context encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.

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For the second time in just over a year, the House delivered an article of impeachment to the Senate against former President Donald J. Trump, citing “incitement of insurrection.”CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

For the second time in just over a year, the House on Monday sent an article of impeachment against Donald J. Trump to the Senate for trial, thrusting his political fate into the hands of 50 Republican senators who for now appear reluctant to convict him.

On a day marked more by ceremony than substance, nine House managers walked across the Capitol to inform the Senate that they were ready to prosecute Mr. Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” a charge approved on a bipartisan basis after the former president stirred up a violent mob that stormed the Capitol earlier this month. But senators planned to quickly hit pause, putting off the heart of the trial until Feb. 9 and buying Republicans time to prepare for a proceeding that will be as much a referendum over the future of their party as it will be on Mr. Trump himself.

Unlike Mr. Trump’s last impeachment, when Republicans quickly and enthusiastically rallied behind him, several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have signaled they are open to convicting the former president after a mendacious campaign to overturn his election loss that turned deadly. That would allow the Senate to bar him from ever holding office again. But at least at the trial’s outset, their numbers fell well short of the 17 Republicans that would be needed to join Democrats in securing a conviction.

Instead, with the trial on hold, Republicans’ initial fury about the Jan. 6 attack appeared to be giving way to cold political calculations about the price they might pay for abandoning Mr. Trump, given his continued hold on the voters who comprise the party’s base.

A survey by The New York Times on the eve of the trial found that 27 Republican senators had expressed opposition to charging Mr. Trump or otherwise holding him accountable by impeachment. Sixteen Republicans indicated they were undecided, and seven had no response. Most of those opposed increasingly fell back on process-based objections rather than defending Mr. Trump.

President Biden, in an interview with CNN on Monday, said that while he thought the trial was necessary, he did not believe 17 Republican senators would vote to convict Mr. Trump.

“The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” Mr. Biden said.

Carrying a slim blue envelope bearing the impeachment charge, the House managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, walked through a Capitol where memories of the Jan. 6 siege were still fresh. They started in the House chamber, where lawmakers ducked for cover and donned gas masks as rioters tried to force their way in; past Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite, which was ransacked by the mob; through the Rotunda, where officers fired tear gas as they lost control over the throng; and into the well of the Senate chamber, where invaders cloaked in Trump gear congregated and took turns for photo ops on the dais the vice president and senators had been forced to evacuate moments before.

After Mr. Raskin read the charge in full, the managers left. The Senate planned to reconvene on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to issue a summons to Mr. Trump to answer for the charge and formally agree to a trial schedule for the coming weeks.

Senators will also swear a special impeachment oath dating to the 18th century to do “impartial justice.”

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, testifying before Congress in 2019.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

A Justice Department watchdog has opened an investigation into whether any current or former officials tried improperly to wield the powers of the department to undo the results of the presidential election.

The investigation, which was announced by the office of the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, followed a New York Times article that detailed efforts by Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, to push top leaders to falsely and publicly assert that ongoing election fraud investigations cast doubt on the Electoral College results. That standoff prompted President Donald J. Trump to consider replacing the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and install Mr. Clark at the top of the department to carry out that plan.

“The inspector general is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current D.O.J. official engaged in an improper attempt to have D.O.J. seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” Mr. Horowitz said in a statement.

The investigation will encompass all allegations concerning the conduct of former and current department employees, though it would be limited to the Justice Department because other agencies do not fall within Mr. Horowitz’s purview. He said he was announcing the inquiry to reassure the public that the matter is being scrutinized.

On Saturday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, urged Mr. Horowitz to open an investigation, saying that it was “unconscionable that a Trump Justice Department leader would conspire to subvert the people’s will.”

This is the second known investigation into the actions of top Justice Department officials during the final weeks of the Trump administration. Earlier this month, Mr. Horowitz opened an investigation into whether Trump administration officials improperly pressured Byung J. Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, who abruptly resigned after it became clear to Mr. Trump that he would not take actions to cast doubt on or undo the results of the election, according to a person briefed on the inquiry.

Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee said this weekend that it has initiated its own oversight inquiry into officials including Mr. Clark.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the top Democrat on the committee, sent a letter to the Justice Department saying that he would investigate efforts by Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark to use the agency “to further Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

Mr. Durbin asked the acting attorney general, Monty Wilkinson, to preserve documents, emails and messages related to meetings between top Justice Department officials, the White House and Mr. Trump, as well as any communications related to Mr. Pak’s resignation.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

With President Biden now in office, some Democrats who had opposed their party’s efforts to jettison the filibuster — the Republicans’ ultimate weapon of mass obstruction in blocking their progressive agenda — are reconsidering that position.

For months, as Democrats contemplated capturing control of the White House and the Senate and finally being in a position to push through their agenda without Republican interference, centrists like Senator Jon Tester of Montana warned they would not back far-reaching changes like altering the rules of the filibuster.

But now, with Democrats taking hold of the Senate and energized by the need to move quickly on big bills, even Mr. Tester, who sees the filibuster as a crucial moderating mechanism, says his determination to preserve it is not unconditional.

“I feel pretty damn strongly, but I will also tell you this: I am here to get things done,” Mr. Tester said in an interview. “If all that happens is filibuster after filibuster, roadblock after roadblock, then my opinion may change.”

Before the Senate can get down to business under new Democratic management, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and new minority leader, has forced a confrontation over the rule — which effectively imposes a 60-vote threshold to take any action — by refusing to cooperate in organizing the Senate unless Democrats promise not to gut it.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the new majority leader, has rebuffed the demand, which has infuriated Democrats who regard it as evidence that Mr. McConnell intends to obstruct Mr. Biden’s proposals on pandemic relief, immigration, climate change, health care and more.

“Mitch McConnell will not dictate to the Senate what we should do and how we should proceed,” Mr. Schumer said Sunday. “McConnell is no longer the majority leader.”

The stalemate has created a bizarre situation in which most Senate committees are frozen under Republican control and new senators cannot be seated on the panels even though Democrats now command the Senate majority.

Beyond the immediate logistical effects, the feud reflects a challenging dynamic in the 50-50 Senate for Mr. Biden. By holding out against Democrats eager to take charge, Mr. McConnell is exercising what leverage he has.

But he is also foreshadowing an eventual clash in the chamber that might otherwise have taken months to unfold over how aggressive Democrats should be in seeking to accomplish Mr. Biden’s top priorities.

Democrats say they must retain at least the threat that they could one day end the filibuster, arguing that bowing to Mr. McConnell’s demand now would only embolden Republicans to deploy it constantly, without fear of retaliation.

“Well, that’s a non-starter, because if we gave him that, then the filibuster would be on everything, every day,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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Senate Confirms Yellen as Treasury Secretary

Janet L. Yellen became the first woman to be the Treasury secretary, by a vote of 84-15. Her confirmation came as the Biden administration works to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Of course, Janet Yellen is best known for her chair, chair, for her tenure as chair of the Federal Reserve, overseeing a period of falling unemployment and steady economic recovery from the global financial crisis. Few people possess the experience and expertise that Ms. Yellen would bring to the Treasury, particularly during this moment of economic crisis.” “Dr. Yellen came out of committee on a unanimous vote, and will be getting to work five days after the inauguration. This certainly isn’t because Dr. Yellen or President Biden’s economic policy views have unanimous support here in the Senate. I expect we’ll have no shortage of spirited policy discussions with Dr. Yellen in the months ahead. But the simple fact is that when the American people elect a president, and when the president selects qualified and mainstream people for key posts, the whole nation deserves for them to be able to assemble their team.” “Madam President, it is a pleasure tonight to be making the case for Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve, to be the next secretary of Treasury. The Senate can deliver an especially important economic judgment. Confirm Janet Yellen a fifth time.” “The yays are 84, the nays are 15, and the confirmation is confirmed. The nomination is confirmed.”

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Janet L. Yellen became the first woman to be the Treasury secretary, by a vote of 84-15. Her confirmation came as the Biden administration works to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.CreditCredit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

The Senate confirmed Janet L. Yellen, a labor economist and former Federal Reserve chair, to be Treasury secretary on Monday, putting in place a key lieutenant to President Biden at a perilous economic moment, as the new administration tries to revive an economy that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

By a vote of 84 to 15, the Senate confirmed Ms. Yellen, making her the first woman to hold the top job at Treasury in its 232-year history. Her quick bipartisan confirmation underscored the support she has from both Republicans and Democrats given her previous stint as Fed chair from 2014 to 2018.

Ms. Yellen now faces a new and considerable challenge. As Treasury secretary, she will be responsible for helping Mr. Biden prepare the $1.9 trillion stimulus package he has proposed, steer it through Congress and — if it is approved — oversee the deployment of trillions of dollars of relief money.

Ms. Yellen will be thrust into the middle of the talks, responsible for convincing many Republicans and some Democrats that the economy needs another multi-trillion dollar spending package.

At her confirmation hearing and in written responses to lawmakers, Ms. Yellen echoed Mr. Biden’s view that Congress must “act big” to prevent the economy from long-term scarring and defended using borrowed money to finance another aid package, saying not doing so would leave workers and families worse off.

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Biden Signs Executive Order to Tighten ‘Buy American’ Provision

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday aimed at strengthening the federal government’s “Buy American” provision that encourages the federal government to purchase goods and services made in the U.S.

Today, we’re getting to work to rebuild the backbone of America — manufacturing, unions, the middle class. It’s based on a simple premise that will reward work, not wealth in this country. I’ve long said that I don‘t accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization can‘t keep, can keep union jobs from growing here in America. We can create more of them, not fewer of them. I don’t buy for one second that the vitality American manufacturing is a thing of the past. Under the previous administration, the federal government contract awarded directly to foreign companies went up 30 percent. That is going to change on our watch. We’re going to require that waivers be publicly posted. That is, someone is seeking a waiver to build this particular vehicle or facility. And it’s going to buy the following foreign parts. That waiver, the request for it’s going to be posted. Then we’ll work with small American manufacturers and businesses to give them a shot to raise their hand and say, ‘Yeah, I can do that here in my shop, in my town.’ To ensure the future is made in America, we need to win not just the jobs of today, but the jobs and industries of tomorrow.

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President Biden signed an executive order on Monday aimed at strengthening the federal government’s “Buy American” provision that encourages the federal government to purchase goods and services made in the U.S.CreditCredit…Al Drago for The New York Times

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday intended to strengthen “Buy American” provisions that encourage the federal government to purchase goods and services from U.S. companies, saying it would help bolster workers, labor unions and American manufacturing.

“I don’t buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Mr. Biden said during remarks at the White House. “It must be part of the engine of American prosperity now. We’ll buy American products and support American jobs, union jobs.”

Existing law already requires the government to contract with American companies when possible, but there are many exceptions and waiver opportunities that for years have frustrated advocates for small and medium-size businesses.

Previous administrations, including that of President Donald J. Trump, have tried to clamp down on the process in the hopes of directing more federal money toward an American work force that sometimes struggles to compete with goods and services imported from abroad.

Mr. Biden said the executive order would go further than previous efforts by reducing opportunities for waivers from the Buy American requirements and by tightening standards that would result in fewer federal contracts being awarded to overseas companies.

But administration officials acknowledged on Sunday night during a briefing with reporters that the changes would take time. Mr. Biden’s executive order will direct agencies to re-evaluate the current Buy American procedures and will set a deadline by which they are required to report their findings back to the White House for consideration.

An administration official who briefed reporters on Sunday evening described the effort as one aimed at improving the economic situation for Americans over the longer term, after the country emerges from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The official declined to be identified because the president had not formally announced the policy.

The official said Mr. Biden’s order would create a position at the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, to oversee the revisions to the Buy American requirements. He said such oversight would “bring more accountability” to the process.

He said the order would also require a review of the waiver process that grants companies exemptions from the provisions. And he said it would examine the way in which a company’s “domestic content” is measured in the hopes of closing loopholes that companies use to claim that their goods and services are made in America.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, recently reclaimed the mantle of president pro tempore when Democrats took control of the Senate.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Senate president pro tempore, is expected to preside over former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial when it formally begins on Tuesday, assuming a role filled last year by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., aides and other officials said on Monday.

The Constitution states that the chief justice of the United States presides over any impeachment trial of the president or vice president. But it does not explicitly give guidance on who should oversee the proceeding for others, including former presidents, and it appeared that Chief Justice Roberts was uninterested in reprising a time consuming role that would insert him and the Supreme Court directly into the fractious political fight over Mr. Trump.

Mr. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, recently reclaimed the mantle of president pro tempore — the position reserved for the longest-serving member of the majority party — when Democrats took control of the Senate. Mr. Leahy, 80, has been in office since 1974.

The role was largely ceremonial in the first impeachment trial of Mr. Trump a year ago. But as the presiding officer, Mr. Leahy could issue rulings on key questions around the admissibility of evidence and whether a trial of a former president is even allowed under the Constitution. (Mr. Leahy is also still expected to have a vote in the trial, like other senators.)

The job could also have gone to Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as president of the Senate. But there were clear drawbacks for Ms. Harris in overseeing what is likely to be a divisive proceeding that is all but certain to be regarded by some as an effort by Democrats to use their newfound power to punish the leader of the rival political party.

Mr. Leahy’s presence on the dais could open Democrats to similar charges from the right, particularly if he issues a contentious ruling, but officials said there was no clear alternative without the chief justice. In a statement, Mr. Leahy said he would take “extraordinarily seriously” his trial oath to administer “impartial justice.”

“When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws,” he said.

Senate aides suggested Ms. Harris may still be able to intervene to break a tie if the trial ever deadlocked 50-50, as she can in the Senate’s normal course of business.

It would take two-thirds of the Senate, 67 votes, to convict Mr. Trump, but if he were convicted, only a simple majority would be needed to bar him from holding office again.

The chief justice declined through a spokeswoman to comment.

First Lady Jill Biden with First Dog Champ outside the White House on Sunday.
Credit…/EPA, via Shutterstock

The newest residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have arrived: the Biden family’s two German shepherds, Champ and Major.

The dogs officially joined President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, in the White House on Sunday, said Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for Dr. Biden.

“Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loved running around on the South Lawn,” Mr. LaRosa said in a statement.

Dr. Biden confirmed their arrival on Twitter on Monday. “Champ and Major have joined us in the White House!” she wrote.

Their arrival ends the longest period at the presidential residence without a pet of some kind since President Andrew Johnson’s term, from 1865-1869, according to the Presidential Pet Museum.

The Biden family got Champ from a breeder in 2008 after Mr. Biden was elected vice president, according to Politico, and they adopted Major in 2018 through the Delaware Humane Association, making him the first rescue dog to live in the White House.

Mr. Biden has occasionally posted on social media about his pets. “No ruff days on the campaign trail when I have some Major motivation,” Mr. Biden wrote on Instagram in October.

Later that month, he wrote on Twitter: “Some Americans celebrate #NationalCatDay, some celebrate #NationalDogDay — President Trump celebrates neither. It says a lot. It’s time we put a pet back in the White House.”

The tradition of presidential pet ownership dates to George Washington’s two terms, and has been carried on by 31 of the 46 presidents. Donald J. Trump was the first president in more than a century without a pet. Johnson, the last pet-less president, was known to leave flour out for a family of white mice that were living in his bedroom, according to the Presidential Pet Museum.

Major and Champ’s predecessors weren’t just cats and dogs: Theodore Roosevelt had horses, dogs, a Hyacinth macaw parrot, kangaroo rats, five guinea pigs and a one-legged rooster, as well as a short-tempered badger named Josiah and a green garter snake named Emily Spinach. Calvin Coolidge kept a raccoon, named Rebecca, according to the Presidential Pet Museum. Herbert Hoover had several dogs as well as a wild opossum named Billy.

More recent four-legged White House residents include Bo and Sunny, two Portuguese water dogs belonging to Barack Obama and his family.

The Bidens have also said that they have plans to get a cat.

Sarah Sanders listens to former President Donald J. Trump speak at an event at Dana Incorporated in Warren, Mich., on Jan. 30, 2020.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

When Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as White House press secretary under former President Donald J. Trump, announced Monday that she was running for governor in her home state of Arkansas, it gave rise to the question, Who’s next?

Ms. Sanders, 38, who was encouraged by Mr. Trump to run when she left the White House in 2019, is one of several former Trump officials and family members whose names have been floated for political races of their own.

There’s Ivanka Trump, 39, who is in the process of moving to Florida, where there had been talk of a potential primary challenge to Senator Marco Rubio.

In October, when Ms. Trump described herself as “pro-life, and unapologetically so,” her comment was seen as the surest sign to date that the ambitious, spotlight-seeking daughter of the former president was serious about a career of her own in Republican politics.

Running for state office is off the table for Ms. Trump because Florida law requires seven years of residency. But some people who know her say that her ambitions are higher, that she likes the ring of “first female president.”

Then there’s her sister-in-law, Lara Trump, 38, who has been eyeing an electoral future of her own in North Carolina, her home state. In the months leading up to the presidential election, she had been considering a rare Senate seat that will open there in 2022, when Senator Richard Burr retires, people familiar with her plans said. But since Mr. Trump’s defeat in November, it is less clear whether she will enter that race, perhaps a concession to the fact that aligning herself with the former president to win the Republican primary would not gird her for the potential backlash in a general election in a swing state.

And there’s Donald Trump Jr., 43, the president’s eldest son, who can channel the emotional center of the MAGA movement. His advisers insist that he’s not interested in being a candidate in the near future — partly because there is not a clear office for him to run for right now.

Outside of the former president’s family, Vice President Mike Pence is still wondering whether he can carry the Trump mantle in a Republican presidential primary in 2024, a gambit that would depend on Mr. Trump’s choosing not to run or being convicted in the coming Senate impeachment trial.

And Mark Meadows, 61, has told people he has ruled out running for office again. But even his own wife doesn’t believe him. His friends have not ruled out a future run for Senate or governor in North Carolina, and Ms. Trump’s fading interest in the North Carolina Senate race could give him back an opening.

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Biden Administration Plans to Add Harriet Tubman to $20 Bill

On Monday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that the Treasury Department plans to speed up the process of adding Harriet Tubman’s portrait to the front of the $20 bill.

Reporter: “The Obama administration initially had wanted to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, and the Trump administration dragged their feet on that. I wanted to see if the Biden administration has some view of the timeline on whether or not she should be on the paper currency?” “I was here when we announced that. And it was very exciting and hasn’t moved forward yet, which we would have been surprised to learn at the time. The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes. It’s important that our notes are money — people don’t know what a note is — reflect the history and diversity of our country. And Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort. But any specifics would, of course, come from the Department of Treasury.”

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On Monday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that the Treasury Department plans to speed up the process of adding Harriet Tubman’s portrait to the front of the $20 bill.

President Biden’s Treasury Department is studying ways to speed up the process of adding Harriet Tubman’s portrait to the front of the $20 bill after the Trump administration allowed the Obama-era initiative to lapse, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday.

The decision to have Ms. Tubman replace Andrew Jackson as the face of the $20 note was set in motion in 2016 by the Treasury secretary at the time, Jacob Lew. President Donald J. Trump opposed the idea, and his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, stopped work on that part of the currency redesign, arguing that adding new security features to the money was a more urgent priority. Mr. Mnuchin said that notes with new imagery could not be put into circulation until 2028 and that a future Treasury secretary would make the call whether to replace Jackson.

The Treasury Department, which Mr. Biden has nominated Janet L. Yellen to lead, plans to accelerate that timeline.

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Ms. Psaki said. “It’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.”

A Treasury spokeswoman said that she had no information to share on when a new design of the $20 bill might be released.

Mr. Trump professed to be a fan of Andrew Jackson, a fellow populist, and was a fierce opponent of altering historical images and statues.

Mr. Mnuchin’s decision to slow-walk the change drew backlash from some Democrats in Congress and triggered a probe from the Treasury inspector general about whether the process faced improper political interference. The inquiry found no wrongdoing by Mr. Mnuchin.

Under Mr. Lew’s plan, the new design was supposed to be unveiled in 2020 on the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Preliminary designs of the note that were obtained by The New York Times revealed that — before Mr. Trump took office — conceptual work on a bill bearing Tubman’s likeness on the front and a statue of Jackson on the back was already underway.

A health care worker tending to a patient at a temporary ward set up during the coronavirus outbreak at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, last week.
Credit…Pool photo by Phill Magakoe

President Biden will ban travel by noncitizens into the United States from South Africa because of concern about a coronavirus variant spreading in that country, and will extend similar bans imposed by his predecessor on travel from Brazil, 27 European countries and Britain, his press secretary said on Monday.

The move comes as officials in the new Biden administration are trying to get their hands around a fast-changing pandemic, with public health officials racing to vaccinate the public — and to expand the supply of vaccine — as more contagious variants of the coronavirus spread.

Mr. Biden’s travel ban is a presidential proclamation, not an executive order; typically, proclamations govern the acts of individuals, while executive orders are directives to federal agencies. It will go into effect Saturday and apply to non-U.S. citizens who have spent time in South Africa in the last 14 days. The new policy, which was earlier reported by Reuters, will not affect U.S. citizens or permanent residents, officials said.

On his last full day in office, President Donald Trump tried to eliminate the Covid-19-related ban on travel from Brazil, Britain and much of Europe, saying it was no longer necessary. Jen Psaki, now the White House press secretary, said at the time that ending the ban was the wrong thing to do; on Monday, she announced during her regular briefing that it would remain intact.

“With the pandemic worsening and more contagious variants spreading, this isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she said.

Ms. Psaki also said the Biden administration intended to hold regular public health briefings three times a week, beginning on Wednesday. She said Mr. Biden would be “briefed regularly” on the pandemic, adding, “I suspect far more regularly than the past president.”

The first confirmed case of the Brazilian variant in the United States has been identified in Minnesota, the state’s health department said on Monday. It was found in a Minnesota resident who had recently traveled to Brazil.

The variant now spreading in South Africa has not yet reached the United States, but it has been reported in more than two dozen countries.

In addition to the travel bans, Mr. Biden issued an executive order last week requiring that all international travelers present negative coronavirus tests before leaving for the United States. The move extended a requirement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was issued by the Trump administration but set to expire on Tuesday.

A White House official said Sunday that the C.D.C. would not issue waivers from that policy as some airlines had requested.

Protesters in front of the White House in 2017 after former President Donald J. Trump tweeted about not allowing transgender people to serve in the military.
Credit…Justin Gilliland/The New York Times

President Biden reversed his predecessor’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military, administration officials announced Monday, moving swiftly into a social issue that has tangled the Pentagon over the past five years.

With Lloyd J. Austin III, his new defense secretary, by his side in the Oval Office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order restoring protections first put in place by former President Barack Obama that opened up the ranks of the armed services to qualified transgender people.

“What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform,” Mr. Biden said from behind the Resolute Desk moments before putting his signature on the document.

The move was expected, as Mr. Biden indicated in November that he would work to restore the protections, which were reversed by former President Donald J. Trump.

But the swiftness signaled a willingness by the new Biden administration to put its own stamp on Defense Department social issues. It follows an announcement from Mr. Austin on Saturday that he was ordering up a review of how the Pentagon has been handling sexual assault issues.

Mr. Biden and the Defense Department leadership will also have to wrestle with a reckoning on race that is facing the Pentagon, where officials have had to confront a stark fact: close to one in five of the protesters who have been arrested for breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6 — many of them with links to white supremacist organizations — have ties to the American military.

On the transgender issue, advocacy groups that have been fighting the ban since it was announced three years ago — in a tweet from Mr. Trump — have argued that the Pentagon does not need to spend months studying how to allow transgender people to serve because it had already done so. One such group, the Palm Center, said in a policy memo last summer that the military could reopen to transgender people rapidly if ordered to do so.

“A big ship can take time to turn around, so often the Pentagon needs to study policy changes and move cautiously,” Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, said last July in an interview. “But this is the rare case where, since the military left inclusive policy for already-serving transgender personnel in place even as it implemented its ban, the switch is just waiting to be flipped.”

The Trump ban had essentially ended an Obama administration initiative to allow transgender troops to serve openly in the military.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said he was frustrated by the partisan gridlock in Washington. 
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican with deep ties to the former party establishment, announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2022, voicing frustration with the deep polarization and partisanship in Washington.

“It has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and mark progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision,” Mr. Portman said in a statement disclosing what was viewed as a surprise announcement coming so soon after the last election.

Mr. Portman, a former top trade and budget official in the administration of George W. Bush, was once regarded as a conservative stalwart, but as his party has shifted to the right in recent years, he has come to be seen as one of the few centrist Republican senators interested in striking bipartisan deals. He was one of the lawmakers responsible for pushing through the new North American trade deal in 2019 and was part of a bipartisan coalition that pushed the House and Senate leadership late last year to embrace a pandemic relief measure after months of delay.

His decision to step aside illustrates how difficult it has become for more mainstream Republicans to navigate the current political environment, with hard-right allies of former President Donald J. Trump insisting that Republican members of Congress side with them or face primary contests.

Mr. Portman called it a “tough time to be in public service.”

“We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground,” he said.

Mr. Portman, who also served 12 years in the House, would have been seeking his third Senate term. He said he made his decision public now to give others time to prepare for a statewide race.

Brandon Straka, a conservative activist and media personality, has become one of the most high-profile defendants to face charges after the Capitol riot.

Mr. Straka, 44, urged a crowd outside the Capitol to grab a protective shield from a police officer who was guarding an entrance, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed on Monday. Mr. Straka yelled, “Take the shield!” as the officer fought with the horde to get his shield back, the complaint said.

Mr. Straka reached the top of the Capitol steps but did not enter the building, turning back when tear gas poured from the entrance, the complaint said.

Mr. Straka is a New York hairstylist who rose to prominence in recent years as the founder of a movement called the WalkAway Campaign, which urged Democrats to leave their party. Mr. Straka has described himself as a “former liberal” who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but switched his allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump.

“We are walking away from the lies, the false narratives, the fake news, the race-baiting, the victim narrative, the violence, the vandalism, the vitriol,” his website says.

Mr. Straka was also banned by American Airlines last year after he was removed from a flight for refusing to wear a mask.

The day before the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Mr. Straka was a featured speaker at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, according to prosecutors. He referred to the attendees as “patriots,” telling them to “fight back” as part of a revolution.

After the riot, Mr. Straka tweeted: “Also- be embarrassed & hide if you need to- but I was there. It was not Antifa at the Capitol. It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them.”

As was the case with many other defendants, it was a family member who sent the F.B.I. a video of Mr. Straka at the Capitol.

Mr. Straka did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He faces charges that include impeding a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct.

Also on Monday, a prosecutor asked a judge to cut off internet access for Riley June Williams, who is accused of stealing a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the insurrection, after finding new evidence that she may have instructed others to destroy evidence.

After the riot, Ms. Williams changed her phone number and deleted many of what appeared to be her social media accounts, according to the F.B.I.

“We have indications that she was instructing other people to delete messages as well,” the prosecutor said at a hearing in Washington.

The hearing is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who treated President Biden when he was vice president, will serve in the role.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Biden has selected his longtime physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, to serve as his doctor in the White House, an official said on Monday.

Dr. O’Connor, a retired Army colonel, succeeds Dr. Sean P. Conley in a role that drew unusual scrutiny during President Donald J. Trump’s administration.

At 78, Mr. Biden is the oldest president in history, and with his selection of Dr. O’Connor, he is bringing aboard a doctor with whom he has a longstanding personal relationship.

Dr. O’Connor served as physician to Mr. Biden when he was vice president and continued serving as Mr. Biden’s physician after he left office. Dr. O’Connor once said of Mr. Biden, “He’s never asked me if I am a Republican or a Democrat.”

In December 2019, Mr. Biden’s campaign released a three-page memo from Dr. O’Connor in which he described Mr. Biden as “healthy” and “vigorous,” adding that he was “fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”

Three decades earlier, Mr. Biden, then a senator from Delaware, had a life-threatening health scare. In 1988, just months after ending his first presidential bid, he had emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm, followed months later by another operation for a second brain aneurysm. He returned to the Senate later that year after a lengthy absence, and Dr. O’Connor wrote in his 2019 memo that Mr. Biden “has never had any recurrences of any aneurysms.”

More recently, following Mr. Biden’s election in November, Dr. O’Connor provided information about Mr. Biden’s condition after he slipped while playing with one of his dogs and fractured his foot.

Dr. O’Connor’s hiring was reported Monday by ABC News. His predecessor, Dr. Conley, was thrust into the spotlight after Mr. Trump announced in early October that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was subsequently hospitalized. But Dr. Conley quickly drew criticism for making misleading comments about Mr. Trump’s condition. He is being reassigned within the Navy, according to the official who confirmed Dr. O’Connor’s hiring.

Dr. Conley had succeeded Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, whom Mr. Trump nominated in 2018 to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jackson withdrew from consideration following accusations of inappropriate workplace behavior, and Mr. Trump later named him as his chief medical adviser.

Dr. Jackson is now serving in Washington in a different capacity: as a member of Congress. In November, he was elected to the House as a Republican from Texas.

“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on CNN on Sunday.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

With the House poised to transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, Republicans are finding themselves in dueling positions over the impending trial of former President Donald J. Trump.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican who voted to convict Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial, said on Sunday that he believed the former president had committed an impeachable offense, and that the effort to try him even after he left office was constitutional.

“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” Mr. Romney said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “If not, what is?”

But even as Mr. Romney signaled his openness to convicting Mr. Trump, other Senate Republicans made clear that they opposed even the idea of a trial and would try to dismiss the charge before it began. Taken together, the comments underscored the rift that the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the ensuing fallout have created in the Republican conference, as senators weighed whether they would pay a steeper political price for breaking with the former president or for failing to.

Some Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have grown increasingly worried that if they do not intervene to distance themselves from Mr. Trump, their ties to the former president could hurt the party’s political fortunes for years. Others, skirting the question of whether Mr. Trump committed an impeachable offense, have argued that holding a Senate trial for a president who has already left office would be unconstitutional, and would further divide the nation.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, called holding a trial “stupid” and “counterproductive,” likening it to “taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire.”

“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial,” he said, “I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America.”

Asked if he thought Mr. Trump had committed an impeachable offense, Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, called it “a moot point” and argued that pursuing an impeachment trial against a former president would be both unconstitutional and a waste of time.

Mr. Romney, citing both the Capitol riot and an hourlong call Mr. Trump placed to the Georgia secretary of state pressuring him to overturn the election results, said the allegations already in the article of impeachment “themselves are of a sufficient nature that the American people are outraged.”

The remains of Berry Creek Elementary School in Berry Creek, California, burned by the West Zone Fire, Sept. 12, 2020.
Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Federal officials, showing how rapidly the Biden administration is overhauling climate policy after years of denial under former President Donald J. Trump, aim to free up as much as $10 billion at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to protect against climate disasters before they strike.

The agency, best known for responding to hurricanes, floods and wildfires, wants to spend the money to pre-emptively protect against damage by building seawalls, elevating or relocating flood-prone homes and taking other steps as climate change intensifies storms and other natural disasters.

“It would dwarf all previous grant programs of its kind,” said Daniel Kaniewski, a former deputy administrator at FEMA and now a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Companies, a consulting firm.

The FEMA plan would use a budgeting maneuver to repurpose a portion of the agency’s overall disaster spending toward projects designed to protect against damage from climate disasters, according to people familiar with discussions inside the agency.

In the past year FEMA has taken a leading role in fighting Covid-19 — and the agency’s plan is to count that Covid spending toward the formula used to redirect money to climate projects. Doing so would allow the Biden administration to quickly and drastically increase climate-resilience funding without action by Congress, generating a windfall that could increase funding more than sixfold.

The agency’s plan would need to be approved by the White House budget office. After Mr. Biden’s win, members of his transition team said they saw the new funding as a way for the incoming administration to make good on its promise to address climate change.

The proposal marks an effort by the Biden administration to address what experts call climate adaptation — an area of climate policy that’s different from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and focuses on better protecting people, homes and communities from the consequences of a warming planet.

The Space Force, created during the Trump administration, has been criticized as an expensive and ill-advised escalation that could lead to a dangerous new arms race.
Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Beijing’s rush for antisatellite arms began 15 years ago. Now, it can threaten the orbital fleets that give the United States military its technological edge. Advanced weapons at China’s military bases can fire warheads that smash satellites and can shoot laser beams that have a potential to blind arrays of delicate sensors.

And China’s cyberattacks can, at least in theory, cut off the Pentagon from contact with fleets of satellites that track enemy movements, relay communications among troops and provide information for the precise targeting of smart weapons.

Among the most important national security issues now facing President Biden is how to contend with the threat that China poses to the American military in space and, by extension, terrestrial forces that rely on the overhead platforms.

The Biden administration has yet to indicate what it plans to do with President Donald J. Trump’s legacy in this area: the Space Force, a new branch of the military that has been criticized as an expensive and ill-advised escalation that could lead to a dangerous new arms race.

Mr. Trump presented the initiative as his own, and it now suffers from an association with him and remains the brunt of jokes on television. But its creation was also the culmination of strategic choices by his predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, to counter an emboldened China that raised bipartisan alarm.

“There’s been a dawning realization that our space systems are quite vulnerable,” said Greg Grant, a Pentagon official in the Obama administration who helped devise its response to China. “The Biden administration will see more funding — not less — going into space defense and dealing with these threats.”

Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired four-star Army general who was confirmed last week as Mr. Biden’s secretary of defense, told the Senate that he would keep a “laserlike focus” on sharpening the country’s “competitive edge” against China’s increasingly powerful military. Among other things, he called for new American strides in building “space-based platforms” and repeatedly referred to space as a war-fighting domain.

“Space is already an arena of great power competition,” Mr. Austin said, with China “the most significant threat going forward.”

The Chicago Teachers Union said on Sunday that its members had voted to defy an order to return to the classroom before they were vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Credit…Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press

In his first 48 hours in office, President Biden sought to project an optimistic message about returning the nation’s many homebound students to classrooms. “We can teach our children in safe schools,” he vowed in his inaugural address.

The following day, Mr. Biden signed an executive order promising to throw the strength of the federal government behind an effort to “reopen school doors as quickly as possible.”

But with about half of American students still learning virtually as the pandemic nears its first anniversary, the president’s push is far from certain to succeed. His plan is rolling out just as local battles over reopening have, if anything, become more pitched in recent weeks.

Teachers are uncertain about when they will be vaccinated. With alarming case counts across the country and new variants of the coronavirus emerging, unions are fighting efforts to return their members to crowded hallways.

The Chicago Teachers Union told members to defy orders to return to the classroom on Monday and to begin working remotely. The teachers say the district has not done enough to keep students and teachers safe during the pandemic. Students are supposed to come back to classrooms on Feb. 1.

Given the seemingly intractable health and labor challenges, some district officials have begun to say out loud what was previously unthinkable: that schools may not be operating normally for the 2021-22 school year. And some labor leaders are seeking to tamp down the expectations Mr. Biden’s words have raised.

“We don’t know whether a vaccine stops transmissibility,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union.

Some virus experts, however, have said there is reason to be optimistic on this question.

Ms. Weingarten said a key to returning teachers to classrooms in the coming months would be promises to allow those with health conditions, or whose family members have compromised immune systems, to continue to work remotely; the collection of centralized data on the number of coronavirus cases in specific schools; and assurances from districts that they would shut down schools when cases occur.

Fights over those very demands have slowed and complicated reopenings across the country.

Mr. Biden’s executive order directs federal agencies to create national school reopening guidelines, to support virus contact tracing in schools and to collect data measuring the impact of the pandemic on students. The White House is also pushing a stimulus package that would provide $130 billion to schools for costs such as virus testing, upgrading ventilation systems and hiring staff members.

Research has pointed to the potential to operate schools safely before teachers and students are vaccinated, as long as practices like mask wearing are adhered to, and especially when community transmission and hospitalization rates are controlled.

At a news conference Monday, Mr. Biden indicated that he believed teachers could go back to work in person safely before they are vaccinated, as long as schools are able to regularly test staff and students for the virus, update their ventilation systems and develop sanitation protocols. “We should be able to open up every school, kindergarten through 8th grade, if in fact we administer these tests,” he said.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington was at the center of a years-long lawsuit that accused the former president of violating the Constitution by profiting off of his businesses while in office.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday put an end to two lawsuits that had accused President Donald J. Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses by profiting from his hotels and restaurants in New York and Washington.

In brief orders, the court wiped out rulings against Mr. Trump in the two cases and dismissed them as moot. There were no dissents noted.

The move means that there will be no definitive Supreme Court ruling on the meaning of the two provisions of the Constitution concerning emoluments, a term that means compensation for labor or services. One provision, the domestic emoluments clause, bars the president from receiving “any other emolument” from the federal government or the states beyond his official compensation.

The other provision, the foreign emoluments clause, bars anyone holding a federal “office of profit or trust” from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state” without the consent of Congress.

Federal appeals courts in New York and Virginia ruled against Mr. Trump on the preliminary issue of whether the plaintiffs were entitled to sue the president.

The New York case was brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which represented competitors of Mr. Trump’s businesses that said they had been disadvantaged by the payments he received.

The other case was brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia, which accused Mr. Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from his Washington hotel.

Representative Matt Gaetz attended a Trump rally in Pensacola, Fla., in October.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Donald J. Trump’s closest allies in Congress, said Monday that the Trump family has given him “nothing but encouragement” in his effort to oust Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership post with House Republicans. But Mr. Gaetz added that he had not spoken to the former president in almost a week, and did not know whether Mr. Trump would get personally involved.

At the moment, the Florida congressman does not have the backing of Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, who said over the weekend that he still supported Ms. Cheney but had “concerns” about her decision to vote to impeach Mr. Trump. Mr. McCarthy said that she did not inform him of her decision first, which he found troubling. “I do think she has a lot of questions she has to answer to the conference,” he said in a recent interview with the journalist Greta Van Susteren.

Though it would be highly unusual for Republicans to remove a member of their leadership, Mr. Gaetz has ratcheted up his public campaign against Ms. Cheney, who represents Wyoming and was one of 10 Republicans who voted last week to impeach Mr. Trump for encouraging his supporters to descend on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Mr. Gaetz is scheduled to travel to Wyoming this week, where he plans to call for Ms. Cheney’s removal as chair of the Republican conference in a rally at the state capitol in Cheyenne.

Speaking to reporters during a conference call on Monday, Mr. Gaetz said that Mr. McCarthy’s only words to him on the subject were to request that he not criticize individual members of Congress by name, given the number of officials who have been receiving death threats.

Initially, Mr. Gaetz said, he complied. “But after Liz became more, I think, problematic in her divergence in her perspective from the conference, it became untenable not to identify her,” he added.

Mr. Gaetz said he believes that most Republican House members agree with him that Ms. Cheney’s views about Mr. Trump are not in line with theirs. Asked whether he felt his presence in Cheyenne could incite more threats against her, he denied that it would. “I don’t know how me going to Wyoming would put Liz Cheney in danger,” he said, noting that she spends much of her time in Washington.

Ms. Cheney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Members of the National Guard walk past House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

At least one National Guard soldier is under investigation for standing in front of a sign on Monday morning bearing the name of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, with both of his middle fingers extended and posing for photographs taken by about a half-dozen other soldiers, officials said.

The behavior, reported by a person who witnessed it, was confirmed by the National Guard Bureau, which said it was “aware of the incident.”

The soldiers were moving through the Speaker’s Rotunda, an area on the second floor of the Capitol, just before 11 a.m. when the incident occurred. A Capitol Police officer approached the soldiers afterward and took written notes.

“I can tell you the kind of behavior you describe does not represent the professionalism of the National Guard,” said a National Guard Bureau spokeswoman, Tracy O’Grady-Walsh. “We do not tolerate behavior that is rude, unmannerly and disparaging towards the dignity of others.”

She added, “The information regarding this individual’s behavior is being referred to the individual’s chain of command for appropriate action.”

It was unclear whether the soldiers who took the photographs were also facing an investigation.

A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police referred all questions to the National Guard. A spokesman for Speaker Pelosi declined to comment on Monday afternoon.

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