Tag Archives: ‘House

Jordan’s Prince Hamzah says he’s under house arrest amid security crackdown

The half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah said Saturday he has been placed under house arrest by Jordanian authorities and accused the country’s leadership of corruption and incompetence.

In a videotaped statement leaked to the British Broadcasting Corp., Prince Hamzah bin Hussein said he was visited early Saturday by the country’s military chief and told “I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them.”

He said his security detail was removed, and his phone and internet service had been cut. He said he was speaking over satellite internet, but expected that service to be cut as well. The BBC says it received the statement from Hamzah’s lawyer.

In the statement, Hamzah said he had been informed he was being punished for taking in part in meetings in which the king had been criticized, though he himself was not accused of being a direct critic.

He said he told the army chief: “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse by the year. I am not responsible for the lack of faith that people have in their institutions. They are responsible.”

General denies arrest

The country’s top general had earlier denied that Hamzah — a former crown prince stripped of the title in 2004 — was arrested or under house arrest, even as authorities announced the arrests of former senior officials close to the ruling monarchy.

Hamzah was asked to “stop some movements and activities that are being used to target Jordan’s security and stability,” said Gen. Yousef Huneiti, the army chief of staff.

He said an investigation was ongoing and its results would be made public “in a transparent and clear form.”

“No one is above the law and Jordan’s security and stability are above all,” he told the official Petra news agency.

Petra had earlier reported that two senior officials who formerly worked for the palace, along with other suspects, had been arrested for “security reasons,” without providing further details.

The Petra report said Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, a former head of the royal court, were detained. Awadallah, also previously served as planning minister and finance minister and has private business interests throughout the Gulf region.

The agency did not provide further details or name the others who were arrested.

King has ‘our full support,’ says U.S.

“We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”

Saudi Arabia’s official news agency said the kingdom “confirmed its full support to Jordan and its king and crown prince in all decisions and procedures to maintain security and stability and defuse any attempt to affect them.”

Abdullah has ruled Jordan since the 1999 death of of his father, King Hussein, who ruled the country for close to a half-century. The king has cultivated close relations with U.S. and other Western leaders over the years, and Jordan was a key ally in the war against the Islamic State group. The country borders Israel, the occupied West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Jordan’s economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The country, with a population of around 10 million, also hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. The countries maintain close security ties, but relations have otherwise been tense in recent years, largely due to differences linked to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Jordan is home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees, most of whom have Jordanian citizenship.

Stability in Jordan and the status of the king has long been a matter of concern, particularly during the Trump administration, which gave unprecedented support to Israel and sought to isolate the Palestinians, including by slashing funding for Palestinian refugees.

In early 2018, as then-President Donald Trump was threatening to cut aid to countries that did not support U.S. policies, the administration boosted assistance to Jordan by more than $ 1 billion over five years.

Hamzah stripped of crown prince title

Abdullah stripped his half-brother Hamzah of his title as crown prince in 2004, saying he had decided to “free” him from the “constraints of the position” in order to allow him to take on other responsibilities. The move was seen at the time as part of Abdullah’s consolidation of power five years after the succession.

The current crown prince is Abdullah’s oldest son, Hussein, who is 26.

Jordan’s ruling family traces its lineage back to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Abdullah had chosen Hamzah as his crown prince hours after their father died of cancer in February 1999. The designation was out of respect for King Hussein, who was known to have favoured Hamzah the most among his 11 children from four marriages.

Abdullah and Hamzah have not displayed any open rivalry over the years.

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White House confirms it is sending vaccines to Canada

Canada is about to get a big boost in vaccine doses, with a first cross-border shipment from the United States, as the southern neighbour ever-so-slightly eases the tight grip on its supply.

The White House confirmed Friday that the U.S. will allow exports of four million AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico, with 1.5 million doses headed to Canada.

That’s equivalent to a more than a one-third boost in total doses administered in Canada, an influx that will still leave Canada far behind the U.S. in its overall rate of vaccinated citizens.

The shipment dates are still being finalized, though one Canadian official said vaccines could arrive in Canada within a few days.

“We’re able to announce that we are lending a portion of our releasable AstraZeneca vaccines to Mexico and to Canada,” said Jeffrey Zients, the White House co-ordinator for the COVID-19 response. 

“This action will allow our neighbours to meet a critical vaccination need in their countries, providing more protection immediately across the North American continent.”

Zients’ colleague Andy Slavitt also tweeted the news. The White House had said Thursday the countries were finalizing plans, and, amid numerous conversations between the capitals, the news was made official Friday.

The Canadian official said the vaccine doses have expiry dates in May and June, leaving ample time to get them administered to Canadians.

Vaccines were sitting unused in the U.S.

White House officials, aware of the potential for political blow back at home over exporting vaccines during a pandemic, said the decision would not affect the U.S.’s own immunization schedule: the country plans to have enough supply for all Americans by May 31.

This transfer involves a product Americans aren’t currently using. The U.S. has yet to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, and is sending some of the doses it has stockpiled before they risk the threat of expiring.

The country has also vaccinated its residents at a rate four times faster than Canada’s. On Friday, the U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration celebrated news that 100 million vaccine doses have been administered in 58 days, well ahead of its stated target.

Canada and Mexico will return the doses to the U.S. later this year, Zients said. He said the return would be handled through AstraZeneca.


The Biden administration said earlier this week that it was working on a deal to loan vaccines to Canada and Mexico. On Friday, Jeff Zients, the co-ordinator of the White House COVID-19 response, seen here in December, confirmed it’s going ahead. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Marc-André Gagnon, a pharmaceutical policy expert at Carleton University in Ottawa, says the export of these particular vaccines, at this particular time, makes obvious sense.

He said the U.S. couldn’t sit on unapproved doses for much longer, lest it invite the worrying scenario of coveted vaccines going to waste in U.S. warehouses.

Why this is happening now

“I think that the expiry consideration can be the best explanation [for] why the U.S. would waive the export ban,” he said in an email.

At the same time, he said, it would have been politically toxic for the Biden administration to export other vaccines Americans are currently using — so he said shipping Astrazeneca doses was the safest political bet.

But he said the fact these AstraZeneca vaccines haven’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raises a worrying question: Why?

The delay in approval is problematic whether it stems from a valid scientific concern or non-scientific considerations, he said.

Steve Morgan, a pharmaceutical-policy expert at the University of British Columbia, said the threat of vaccines expiring also looms large. 

“The Biden administration would far rather loan these vaccines to neighbours than wear the potential disaster of having millions of vaccines expire in the U.S.,” he said.

Another consideration at play: migration.

The continental migration angle

Some border-state lawmakers have urged the administration to get vaccines next to Canada and Mexico, in order to help get America’s land borders reopened earlier.

The shipment also potentially buys some goodwill with Mexico, whose help the Biden administration needs to stem a surge in undocumented migrants coming from Central America.

White House reporters have pressed Biden’s spokespeople on whether the vaccine shipments are intended as part of a plan to get Mexico to clamp down on migration.


Canada has been importing COVID-19 vaccines from overseas, as with this batch overseen by Canada Border Services Agency personnel on March 3. Expect a shipment soon from the U.S. (via REUTERS)

Biden spokespeople have replied that they’re having different conversations with Mexico at the same time. 

“As you can imagine, when you’re having conversations with different countries, you’re talking about different issues,” deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday on Air Force One.

“So that is that is what’s happening. … When you think about Mexico, when you think about Canada, those are our neighbours, we have similar interests,” Jean-Pierre said.

“And we want to make sure that we’re doing our part in beating back this pandemic. There are no borders when it comes to the pandemic.”

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White House says U.S. plans to send 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada

The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Canada and Mexico through loan deals with the two countries, the White House confirmed today.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that a number of countries, including Canada and Mexico, have asked the U.S. for doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but those loan deals are still being worked out. 

Psaki confirmed today that the U.S. has “seven million releasable doses” of the AstraZeneca vaccine “available.”

“2.5 million of those, we are working to finalize plans to lend those to Mexico, and 1.5 million to Canada,” she said.

“It’s not fully finalized yet. It’s our aim and what we’re working toward, to Canada and Mexico. It’s a complex process and our team is working with the companies to move it forward.”


White House press secretary Jen Psaki takes a question from a reporter during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

“This virus has no borders,” a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity earlier in the day. “We only put the virus behind us if we’re helping our global partners.”

The “releasable” vaccines are ready to be used once they arrive, Reuters reported. Under the deal, the United States will share doses with Mexico and Canada now — with the understanding that they will send the United States doses in return. The official said that would take place later this year.

The Biden administration has come under pressure from allies worldwide to share vaccine doses — particularly the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is authorized for use in other countries but not yet cleared for use in the United States.

AstraZeneca has millions of doses made in a U.S. facility and has said that it would have 30 million shots ready at the beginning of April.

The deal does not affect President Joe Biden’s plan to have vaccine doses available for all adults in the United States by the end of May, an official told Reuters. The deal is likely to be announced publicly in the coming days.

Two officials said the vaccine would be delivered in “short order” once the deal was completed, but they declined to give a more specific timetable.

The Associated Press also quoted an unnamed official saying that a loan deal for 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada is in the works.

U.K. clears AstraZeneca

News of the loan deal comes as the United Kingdom’s drug regulator reports that a “rigorous scientific review” has ruled out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as the cause of blood clots in veins. The regulator is doing a more detailed study looking at blood clots in the brain.

The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any risks.

Health Canada officials are attending a meeting of the European Medicines Agency, which is set to issue a report on blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine today.

Many European countries halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of blood clots in about three dozen patients.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Canada is monitoring all the evidence closely. 

Health Canada has said the vaccine’s benefits are strong and it has not seen evidence to link the vaccine to blood clots.

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White House says it’s ‘carefully’ considering vaccine requests from Canada and Mexico

This story is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians. 

A White House spokesperson says the United States is carefully considering requests to eventually ship that country’s excess supplies of COVID-19 vaccines across the border to its neighbours in Canada and Mexico.

But she cautions that nothing is confirmed at this point. 

The comments come amid mounting anticipation of what might happen to the stockpile of doses in the U.S. after that country has enough supply for all its residents, likely by late May.

This week, U.S. President Joe Biden said he was speaking with several countries — without naming any. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that Canada and Mexico topped Biden’s list of priority export destinations, according to an administration official.

The issue was raised with White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, who replied with a warning that any shipments are not imminent. She said the U.S. still needs its vaccines, as 1,400 Americans are still dying of COVID-19 each day, and that the U.S. priority remains getting Americans vaccinated.

Psaki added, however, that the administration also wants to be a contributing member of the global community in getting the pandemic under control, and that there are requests from around the world.

“We have received requests from both Mexico and Canada and are considering those requests carefully,” Psaki said.

“But I don’t have any update for you on whether they will be granted, and a timeline for that.” 

Some members of the U.S. Congress have said it should be a U.S. priority to vaccinate others on this continent next, in order to get land borders reopened, citing the economic and human ties Americans have with those two neighbouring countries. 

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Joe Biden scores first legislative win as House passes $1.9T COVID-19 relief package

U.S. President Joe Biden had his first legislative win as the House of Representatives passed his $ 1.9 trillion US coronavirus relief package early Saturday, though Democrats faced challenges to their hopes of using the bill to raise the minimum wage.

Democrats who control the chamber passed the sweeping measure by a mostly party-line vote of 219 to 212 and sent it on to the Senate, where Democrats planned a legislative manoeuvre to allow them to pass it without the support of Republicans.

The American Rescue Plan would pay for vaccines and medical supplies and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.

Democrats said the package was needed to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

“The American people need to know that their government is there for them,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in debate on the House floor.

Republicans, who have broadly backed previous COVID-19 spending, said much of the current package was not necessary, highlighting elements like a subway near Pelosi’s San Francisco district. Only nine per cent of the total would go directly toward fighting the virus, they said.

“It just throws out money without accountability,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

The House vote amounted to a successful first test for Democrats, who hold a narrow 221-211 majority in the chamber. Progressives and moderates in the party who are often at odds will face tougher battles ahead on immigration and climate change initiatives that Biden wants to push.

The president has focused his first weeks in office on tackling the greatest U.S. public health crisis in a century, which has upended most aspects of American life.

Democrats aim to get the bill to him to sign into law before mid-March, when enhanced unemployment benefits and some other types of aid are due to expire.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, is seen during a news conference in Washington on Friday. ‘The American people need to know that their government is there for them,’ she said of the American Rescue Plan. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

The bill’s big-ticket items include $ 1,400 direct payments to individuals, a $ 400-per-week federal unemployment benefit through Aug. 29, and help for those in difficulty paying rents and home mortgages during the pandemic.

The action now moves to the Senate, where Democratic Vice-President Kamala Harris may have to cast a tie-breaking vote in a chamber where Republicans control 50 seats and Democrats and their allies control the other 50.

Fate of minimum wage hike unclear

Democrats will have to sort out how to handle a proposed minimum-wage increase, which may have to be stripped from the bill due to the complicated rules that govern the Senate.

The House-passed bill would raise the national hourly minimum wage for the first time since 2009, to $ 15 from $ 7.25. The increase is a top priority for progressive Democrats.

However, the Senate’s rules expert said on Thursday that the wage hike did not qualify for special treatment that allows the rest of the bill to be passed with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to advance most legislation in the 100-seat chamber.

Pelosi predicted the relief bill will pass Congress with or without the increase, and said Democrats would not give up on the matter.

WATCH | Trudeau, Biden commit to collaboration on climate, rebuilding the economy:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden held their first bilateral talks on Tuesday, committing to work together on climate change and building the economy back up after the pandemic. 2:36

It is not clear whether the minimum-wage hike would have survived the Senate even if it were to be kept in the bill. At least two Senate Democrats oppose it, along with most Republicans.

Some senators are floating a smaller increase, to the range of $ 10 to $ 12 per hour, while Democrats are considering a penalty for large corporations that do not voluntarily pay a $ 15 wage, according to a Democratic aide.

Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus aid bill fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, following a series of bipartisan bills enacted in 2020.

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Republican stripped of U.S. House committee posts over racist, violent rhetoric

Republican U.S. House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of two high-profile committee assignments Thursday over her racist and conspiracy-laden theories, including support for violence against Democrats, in a vote that mostly played out along party lines. 

The final vote tally was 230-199. Just 11 Republicans joined the full Democratic caucus to support her removal. 

Prior to the vote, rather than defending Greene’s remarks, some Republicans complained bitterly about the precedent that the Democratic effort would set by meddling in the affairs of a rival party.

“Never before in the history of this House has the majority abused its power in this way,” lamented House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also condemned Greene’s comments and said they “do not represent the views of my party.”

“You’ll regret this, and you may regret this sooner than you think,” he added.


U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to take action himself to remove Taylor Greene from the committees, prompting the vote. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Regrets, but no apology

Earlier, Greene said during a floor speech that she regrets some “words of the past,” but she did not explicitly apologize for her violent rhetoric.

Alternating between contrition and defiance, the newly elected Georgia Republican asserted that she was “a very regular American” who posted conspiracy theories from QAnon and other sources before she began campaigning for Congress, but said those views did not represent her own.

She also looked to shift blame while falsely equating her own endorsement of violence against Democrats with those in the party who supported racial justice protests over the summer, which sometimes turned violent.

She pronounced the media “just as guilty as QAnon of presenting truth and lies.” QAnon’s core theory embraces the lie that Democrats are tied to a global sex trafficking ring that also involves Satanism and cannibalism.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern noted that while Greene expressed regret over her remarks and claimed to have had an epiphany that QAnon was false in 2018, many of her comments, including those endorsing violence against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were more recent.

“I did not hear an apology or denouncement for the insinuation that political opponents should be violently dealt with,” said McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. “It’s not ancient history. She continues to fund-raise off this stuff.”


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said prior to the vote that she was ‘profoundly concerned’ by Republicans’ ‘acceptance of an extreme conspiracy theorist.’ (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

Democrats deliver an ultimatum

Democrats gave Republicans an ultimatum this week: Strip Greene of her committee assignments, or they would. Bipartisan pressure built after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Greene’s “loony lies” a “cancer” for the party.

But McCarthy ruled out taking action. Instead, he accused Democrats of a “partisan power grab” for targeting Greene.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday that she was “profoundly concerned” by Republicans’ “acceptance of an extreme conspiracy theorist.”

“If any of our members threatened the safety of other members, we’d be the first ones to take them off a committee,” Pelosi said hours before the planned vote.

Cast doubt on school shootings

Greene was on the education and labour committee and the budget committee. Democrats were especially aghast about her assignment to the former, considering the past doubt she cast on school shootings in Florida and Connecticut.

The political imperative for Democrats was clear: Greene’s support for violence and fictions were dangerous and merited punishment. Democrats and researchers said there was no apparent precedent for the full House removing a lawmaker from a committee, a step usually taken by their party leaders.

At one point prior to the vote, the No. 2 Democratic leader Steny Hoyer strode to the Republican side of the chamber carrying a poster of a Greene Facebook post from last year. “Squad’s Worst Nightmare,” Greene had written in the post, which showed her holding an AR-15 firearm next to pictures of three of the four Democratic lawmakers, all young women of colour, who’ve been nicknamed “The Squad.”

“They are people. They are our colleagues,” Hoyer said. He mimicked Greene’s pose holding the weapon and said, “I have never, ever seen that before.”


Steny Hoyer mimics holding a gun next to an enlarged Tweet as he speaks during debate ahead of the House vote to punish Greene, in this frame grab from video shot inside the House Chamber, February 4, 2021. (House TV via Reuters)

The calculation was more complicated for Republicans.

Though Trump left the White House two weeks ago, his devoted followers are numerous among the party’s voters, and he and Greene are allies. McCarthy hopes Republican victories in the 2022 midterm elections will make him speaker.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole said Democrats were setting a precedent by punishing lawmakers for statements made before they were even candidates for Congress. 

Committee assignments are crucial for lawmakers for shaping legislation affecting their districts, creating a national reputation and raising campaign contributions. Even social media stars like Greene could find it harder to define themselves without the spotlights that committees provide.

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U.S. House delivers article of impeachment against Trump to Senate, triggering trial

Democrats marched the impeachment case against former president Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate on Monday night for the start of his historic trial, but Republican senators were easing off their criticism of Trump and shunning calls to convict him over the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

It’s an early sign of Trump’s enduring sway over the party.

The House of Representatives prosecutors delivered the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection,” making the ceremonial walk across the Capitol to the Senate.

Republican denunciations of Trump have cooled since the Jan. 6 riot. Instead, Republicans are presenting a tangle of legal arguments against the legitimacy of the trial and question whether Trump’s repeated demands to overturn President Joe Biden’s election really amounted to incitement.

What seemed for some Democrats like an open-shut case that played out for the world on live television, as Trump encouraged a rally mob to “fight like hell” for his presidency, is running into a Republican Party that feels very differently. Not only are there legal concerns, but senators are wary of crossing the former president and his legions of followers who are their voters. Security remains tight at the U.S. Capitol.

Trial begins next month

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said if Congress starts holding impeachment trials of former officials, what’s next: “Could we go back and try President Obama?”

Besides, he suggested, Trump has already been held to account. “One way in our system you get punished is losing an election.”

Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8, and the case against Trump, the first former president to face an impeachment trial, will test a political party still sorting itself out for the post-Trump era.

WATCH | Schumer lays out what will happen now:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lays out the timeline for former U.S. president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. Opening arguments are scheduled for the week of Feb. 8. 1:34

Republican senators are balancing the demands of deep-pocketed donors who are distancing themselves from Trump and voters who demand loyalty to him. One Republican, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, announced Monday he would not seek re-election in 2022, citing the polarized political atmosphere.

For Democrats, the tone, tenor and length of the upcoming trial, so early in Biden’s presidency, poses its own challenge, forcing them to strike a balance between their vow to hold Trump accountable and their eagerness to deliver on the new administration’s priorities following their sweep of control of the House, Senate and White House.

Schumer warns of ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Republicans appear more eager to argue over trial process than the substance of the impeachment case against Trump, perhaps to avoid casting judgment on the former president’s “role in fomenting the despicable attack” on the Capitol.

He said there’s only one question “senators of both parties will have to answer before God and their own conscience: Is former president Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection against the United States?”

Failing to conduct the trial would amount to a “get-out-jail-free card” for other officials accused of wrongdoing on their way out the door, Schumer said.


U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the impeachment trial because Trump is no longer in office. Instead, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is set to preside. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Supreme Court chief justice will not preside

On Monday, it was learned that Chief Justice John Roberts is not expected to preside at the trial, as he did during Trump’s first impeachment, potentially affecting the gravitas of the proceedings. The shift is said to be in keeping with protocol because Trump is no longer in office.

Instead, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who serves in the largely ceremonial role of Senate president pro-tempore, is set to preside.

Leaders in both parties agreed to a short delay in the proceedings that serves their political and practical interests, even as National Guard troops remain at the Capitol amid security threats on lawmakers ahead of the trial.

The start date gives Trump’s new legal team time to prepare its case, while also providing more than a month’s distance from the passions of the bloody riot. For the Democratic-led Senate, the intervening weeks provide prime time to confirm some of Biden’s key cabinet nominees.

17 Republican senators needed to convict

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons questioned how his colleagues who were in the Capitol that day could see the insurrection as anything other than a “stunning violation” of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power.

“It is a critical moment in American history,” Coons said Sunday in an interview.

An early vote to dismiss the trial probably would not succeed, given that Democrats now control the Senate. Still, the mounting Republican opposition to the proceedings indicates that many Republican senators would eventually vote to acquit Trump. Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans — a high bar — to convict him.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said he doesn’t believe the Senate has the constitutional authority to convict Trump after he has left office.

“I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago,” he said.

Democrats reject that argument, pointing to an 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned, as well as to opinions by many legal scholars. Democrats also say that a reckoning of the first invasion of the Capitol since the War of 1812, perpetrated by rioters egged on by a president as electoral college votes were being tallied, is necessary to ensure such a siege never happens again.

A few Republican senators have agreed with Democrats, though not close to the number that will be needed to convict Trump.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said he believes “what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offence.”

“If not, what is?” he said.

But Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump when the Senate acquitted the then-president in last year’s trial, appears to be an outlier.

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House Democrats to send article of Trump impeachment to U.S. Senate on Monday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate on Monday, launching the start of the former president’s trial on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the deadly Capitol riot.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule Friday.

“There will be a trial,” Schumer said.

Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had proposed to push back the start of Trump’s impeachment trial to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case.

WATCH | Ignoble history made for Trump with 2nd impeachment:

U.S. President Donald Trump has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for a historic second time, charged with ‘incitement of insurrection.’ Ten Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favour of impeachment. 11:36

House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot have signalled they want to move quickly to trial as President Joe Biden begins his term, saying a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on.

McConnell in a statement Thursday evening suggested a more expansive timeline that would see the House transmit the article of impeachment next week, on Jan. 28, launching the trial’s first phase. After that, the Senate would give the president’s defence team and House prosecutors two weeks to file briefs. Arguments in the trial would likely begin in mid-February.

“Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake,” especially given the unprecedented speed of the House process, McConnell said.

The ultimate power over timing rests with Pelosi.

“It will be soon. I don’t think it will be long, but we must do it,” Pelosi said Thursday.

She said Trump doesn’t deserve a “get-out-of-jail card” just because he has left office and Biden and others are calling for national unity.

Facing his second impeachment trial in two years, Trump began to assemble his defence team by hiring attorney Butch Bowers to represent him, according to an adviser. Bowers previously served as counsel to former South Carolina Govs. Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina helped Trump find Bowers after members of his past legal teams indicated they did not plan to join the new effort. Trump is at a disadvantage compared to his first trial, in which he had the full resources of the White House counsel’s office to defend him.

Pelosi’s nine impeachment managers, who will be prosecuting the House case, have been regularly meeting to discuss strategy. Pelosi said she would talk to them “in the next few days” about when the Senate might be ready for a trial.

10 House Republicans voted Yes to impeachment

Shortly before the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump told thousands of his supporters at a rally near the White House to “fight like hell” against the election results that Congress was certifying. A mob marched down to the Capitol and rushed in, interrupting the count. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer and three people who suffered medical emergencies, died in the mayhem, and the House impeached Trump a week later, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.

Pelosi said it would be “harmful to unity” to forget that “people died here on Jan. 6, the attempt to undermine our election, to undermine our democracy, to dishonour our Constitution.”

Trump was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate at his first impeachment trial. The White House legal team, aided by Trump’s personal lawyers, aggressively fought the House charges that he had encouraged the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden in exchange for military aid.

This time around, Pelosi noted, the House is not seeking to convict the president over private conversations but for a very public insurrection that they themselves experienced and that played out on live television.

“This year, the whole world bore witness to the president’s incitement,” Pelosi said.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said it was still too early to know how long a trial would take or if Democrats would want to call witnesses. But he said, “You don’t need to tell us what was going on with the mob scene we were rushing down the staircase to escape.”

Front Burner20:15Timothy Snyder on the present and future of Trump’s ‘big lie’

“Post-truth is pre-fascism.” So wrote historian Timothy Snyder in his 2017 book, On Tyranny. He penned it in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s inauguration, and he’s been warning ever since: The United States is not exceptional, a coup could be attempted there, too. Now, Trump’s presidency is in its dying days. He has been impeached by the House again, this time for “incitement of insurrection.” But the big lie, as Snyder calls it, that Trump seeded — that the 2020 election was stolen from him — what becomes of that lie now? Today on Front Burner, Snyder explores that question. 20:15

McConnell, who said this week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote. He told his GOP colleagues that it will be a vote of conscience.

Democrats would need the support of two-thirds of the senators present to convict Trump, a high bar in an upper house that is now equally divided.

While a handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open to conviction, most have said they believe a trial will be divisive and questioned the legality of trying a president after he has left office.

Graham said that if he were Trump’s lawyer, he would focus on that argument and on the merits of the case — and whether it was “incitement” under the law.

“I guess the public record is your television screen,” Graham said. “So, I don’t see why this would take a long time.”

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White House sends a message about foreign policy in announcing Biden call with Trudeau

In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House’s intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs.

The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada’s prime minister.

She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn’t an immediate priority.

“[Biden’s] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau,” she said.

“I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it’s important to rebuild those relationships.”

U.S. plans to investigate Russia

Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as “reckless” and “adversarial.” 

She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already.

Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada’s No. 1 export to the United States: oil.

WATCH | The National’s report on Keystone XL: 

Many officials are hoping for improved relations between Canada and the United States under President Joe Biden, but his executive order cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline dealt some of those hopes an early blow — especially in Alberta. 2:02

Biden’s foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. 

Here is what we already know about the Biden administration’s approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office.

The moves so far

The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing.

It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia’s doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance.


U.S. President Donald Trump, right, seen here in 2018 holding a chart of military hardware sales to Saudi Arabia, had a warm relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left. Biden will release a report on the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen alive on Oct. 2, 2018, entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord).

These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea.

There will be contradictions in Biden’s approach — as there were in Trump’s. 

For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China.


Biden, seen here with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2011, has demanded a series of intelligence reports on Putin’s actions against the U.S. (Alexander Natruskin/Reuters)

Also, don’t count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations.

“I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama’s — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious,” said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

“The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time.” 

Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution.

Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel 

On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures.   

Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China.

For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. 

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing.

“President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” Blinken said. “The basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”

He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. 

When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia’s neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia.

Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO’s shield, he said.

Keystone XL: The early irritant

Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska.

So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist.

WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the federal government ‘folded’ in response to U.S President Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline. 2:14

But they’re skeptical they will achieve much.

Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project.

He said the Alberta government and the project’s developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments.

“[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit,” Miller said.

“One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this].”

Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project.

The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: “They’re high hurdles.”

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Under house arrest after contested election, Uganda’s Bobi Wine still hopes to inspire country’s youth

Uganda’s Bobi Wine is a pied piper of a figure who dared raise the hopes of the country’s youth, only to be beaten in an election with the odds tipped against him by a man who has had his hands on the levers of power for 35 years. 

So what now for the self-styled “ghetto president”?

Two days after Uganda’s electoral commission announced that President Yoweri Museveni had decisively won last week’s ballot, Wine and his wife, Barbara, remained under house arrest at their home in Magere, just north of the capital, Kampala.

“Nobody is allowed in, nobody is allowed out. We are stuck,” Wine said in a telephone interview with CBC News on Monday morning, adding that government security forces had not only surrounded his house but “jumped over the fence and taken control of my compound.” 

“We demand that they release me and they release all the political prisoners so we can be able to assemble freely, like is provided for by the law, and discuss the way forward.”


Wine said it was clear Museveni was trying to prevent him from speaking to his supporters.

“[The government is] worried I will make a statement that will make the people go active. We’ve been telling the people of Uganda and we continue to tell them that they must be non-violent, but that they must be assertive.”  

Wine said his National Unity Platform (NUP) plans to launch a legal challenge to the results, which accorded him 35 per cent of the vote, and to present proof of electoral tampering once internet access is restored to the country.

Museveni ‘looking beyond this election’

The government shut internet providers down just a day before the vote on Jan. 14 and one day after military tanks and security forces paraded through opposition neighbourhoods in Kampala, in a show critics say was intended to intimidate opposition supporters already hurting from weeks of violence and arrests by government security forces.  

Few analysts thought Wine stood a chance of winning the elections, given Museveni’s determination to hold on to power and the tools available to him. But they say Wine nonetheless remains a threat to Museveni’s hold on power, and that it’s clear Museveni sees him as such.  

Although not necessarily from the ballot box.

“People are right to say Mr. Museveni is looking beyond this election,” said Fred Muhumuza, a lecturer in economics at the University of Makerere in Kampala. 


Yoweri Museveni has been Uganda’s president for more than three decades and still enjoys support among older and rural voters. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

“His biggest worry is the ideology that has started, this thinking that is beginning to come. We’ve seen it in the Arab Spring: Once citizens feel they are not being well provided for by services that have been given by government, it becomes very hard to govern them. So I think there are concerns about the governability of the country going forward.”  

In a speech on Saturday, Museveni claimed the election to be the fairest in Uganda’s history.

His support and that of his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), comes in large part from rural voters and those old enough to remember the stability he brought to the country after the bloody legacies of Idi Amin and Milton Obote in the 1970s and ’80s.  

“For the older generation, the Museveni [appeal] has to do with security,” said Muhumuza. “There are people who think [support for Wine] might have to do with other governments or foreign interests trying to take advantage of the youth and cause some kind of insecurity in the country.”  

Wine appeals to younger Ugandans

But two-thirds of Uganda’s population is under the age of 30, offering up a powerful constituency for Wine in a country where jobs are scarce and many voters will have known no other president than Museveni. 

“They need to get opportunities to work and for the first time they have a younger person representing them who is in their age bracket,” said Muhumuza. 

Now 38, Wine grew up in a Kampala slum, which earned him the moniker of the “ghetto president.” He grew first to be a successful musician, changing his name from Robert Kyyagulanyi to Bobi Wine and writing songs about social injustice. In 2017, he stood for the national parliament and won.


Bobi Wine is seen taking an injured supporter into a medical centre on Dec. 1, 2020 in Jinja, Uganda. This election season was marred by violence. (Getty Images)

“He’s been a public commentator. Every time in Uganda we had a very sensitive issue, Bobi Wine had a song, [and was] making an intervention. The music that made him a star was music about HIV/AIDS,” said Yusuf Serunkuma, a social researcher at Makerere University.

Serunkuma also thinks Museveni is worried about Wine’s ability to mobilize the street. The 2018 protests in nearby Sudan, which led to the ousting of president Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in power, offer a fresh reminder of what public demonstrations can do.  

Serunkuma also said opposition activists understand that it’s almost impossible to win an election in a dictatorship that disguises itself as a democracy. 

“So what happens is that you mobilize the constituents that make it difficult for [the government] to continue. And I think that this is what Bobi Wine is doing.” 

Serunkuma said it’s that possibility that Museveni has been preparing for, rather than the election.

Election observers kept away 

The president’s supporters say he has every right to order security forces onto the streets to prevent what they say could be a potential insurrection.  

Andrew Mwenda, a journalist with close ties to Museveni and his inner circle, said he knows Bobi Wine “very well.”

“I don’t have a problem with him, even though I think he is intellectually handicapped to understand the complexities of government,” said Mwenda, the founder and managing editor of a newsmagazine called the Independent.

He dismisses Wine’s supporters as thugs and hooligans. “They are incapable of tolerating dissent. It’s not in their DNA. They make Trump’s supporters look like the most liberal democrats the world has ever seen.”

On the other hand, Mwenda describes Museveni as a “very tolerant man” — even though the editor almost boasts that he himself was once jailed by Museveni, presumably for criticizing the government. 

He said recent attacks by security forces against reporters covering the Bobi Wine campaign — or trying to — were “regrettable,” but not a “reflection of the freedom that exists” in Uganda.

WATCH | CBC news crew deported from Uganda ahead of election:

A CBC News crew was deported from Uganda despite having media credentials, as a contentious election approaches. It has already been marred by violent crackdowns on protesters. 2:31

Canada joined several European Union countries, the United Kingdom and the United States in expressing concern over the harassment of journalists and media freedom ahead of the election.  

Election observers from the U.S. were refused permission to monitor the vote while the European Union pulled out its own team late last year, citing Uganda’s failure to implement previous recommendations on electoral reform.

A coalition of civil society groups making up Africa Elections Watch issued a statement saying their observers found that the vote did not “meet the threshold of a democratic, free, fair and transparent credible electoral process.”  

Wine happy to ‘inspire young people’

Wine’s challenge to Museveni is the story of this election and is potentially a defining moment for the country. But it makes it no easier to predict his future.

On the phone on Monday, Wine was endlessly gracious, but the fatigue in his voice came through. 

Serunkuma has described Wine’s popularity as contagious. He acknowledged that Wine has “really been successful, but I’m not sure whether what he’s done is sustainable. Ugandans do not take to the streets.” 


Wine, centre, is escorted by a police officer in 2020 as he is arrested on charges of unlawful assembly before his first public meeting ahead of the 2021 election season. (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

When they did in November, it came with a heavy price — at least 54 people were killed by security forces when protests erupted after one of Wine’s arrests, allegedly for breaking COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I don’t think anything is going to happen because the president has done so much to prepare for the moment after the election,” said Serunkuma. “It started way, way back.”

Muhuzuma said “there are people who think the election will simply be an event in a long process of what will eventually remove Mr. Museveni.”

The question is, will his regime crack down even harder on civil liberties or will some of those in power be rattled enough to try and change something from within?

“A lot of [Museveni’s] supporters have, I think, picked up that signal, to say we can’t just keep growth that is not inclusive, that is not creating opportunities for youth,” said Muhuzuma.

For his part, Wine said he is determined to see Uganda through to a new chapter. If that means merely serving as an inspiration for real change, it will be enough.

“I came in not saying that I am the alpha and the omega, but I wanted to spark the mind that would change the world, to influence and inspire young people, and I am very glad to see that happening,” he said.  

Wine also said he continues to fear for his safety and that of his wife.  

“We hope the world continues to put the focus on Uganda and to hold General Museveni accountable for our lives.”

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