Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered swift rescue and relief efforts after eight people died in an earthquake that hit off southern Java island.
Three others were badly injured in Saturday’s magnitude-5.9 quake and more than 1,180 buildings were damaged, most of them slightly, the disaster agency BNPB said. Some houses were flattened, images in Indonesian media showed.
Two shelters for the displaced have been set up in the town of Lumajang.
All of the casualties were reported in 15 districts and cities in East Java, the closest province to the epicentre of the quake, which struck in the Indian Ocean.
“I have ordered … immediate emergency response to search and find victims under the rubble and to treat the wounded,” the president, known by his popular name Jokowi, said in broadcast remarks.
There were no reports of the quake disrupting production facilities, but the BNPB said 150 public facilities were damaged. Most industrial areas in East Java are located in the northern side of the island.
Jokowi noted that as Indonesia straddles the volcanic “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific, natural disasters such as earthquakes could happen anytime, adding that Indonesians should always be prepared.
The Southeast Asian nation was struck last week by tropical cyclone Seroja, which triggered landslides and flash floods killing more than 170 people on islands in East Nusa Tenggara province.
A magnitude-6.2 quake that hit Sulawesi island in January killed more than 100 people.
A few minutes drive from the U.S.-Mexico border, a bus station in Brownsville, Texas, has become an unlikely way station for Central American migrants fleeing their countries and risking all for a new life in the United States. Volunteers give out pizza, clothing and arrange transport while city officials conduct COVID-19 tests.
Irela Mejia, 24, and her five-year-old son from Honduras were among those picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers while crossing the Rio Grande river onto U.S. land on a raft with dozens of other migrants.
“I came for a better future for my child,” said Mejia, who is hoping to reunite with her brother in Houston and apply for asylum. She says she had already lost her job due to the COVID -19 pandemic, before two hurricanes in November devastated Honduras.
Her son turned five on the month-long trek from Honduras. They came alone, vulnerable and reliant on smugglers.
“I was very afraid,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.
But her eyes light up when asked about whether Joe Biden becoming U.S. president influenced her decision to come to the border: “Yes, after he put out that immigrants could come over, I felt it would be a better future, that they might give us documents to be legal in this country.”
Mejia is one of tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived at the U.S. border along Mexico in recent weeks in hopes of an easier passage into the country under Biden’s administration. They have been undeterred by the government’s public plea to asylum seekers: “Don’t come now.”
In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials detained just over 100,000 people crossing the border — a 28 per cent increase over January, though below the record high of 144,000 hit in February 2019. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said the number of people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in 2021 is on track to hit the highest level in the last 20 years.
The surge of migrants is fast becoming an early and critical test for Biden to show he can be both firm and humane in dealing with immigration and set his administration apart from that of his predecessor, Donald Trump, whose policies restricted migrants from entering the U.S.
But the challenges are mounting. The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged it is struggling to find space for more than 15,000 children under 18 travelling alone and picked up by U.S. border officials in the last several weeks.
Photos released Monday by Texas Rep. Henry Cueller, a Democrat, showed youth at a new, temporary processing centre in Donna, Texas, crowded together on sleeping mats and covered with emergency foil blankets. Reporters have not been allowed inside the facility.
WATCH | Migrants flock to U.S. border in hope of easier entry:
Hundreds of migrants from Central America are streaming into Texas from Mexico every day, posing problems not only for the U.S. border patrol but for President Biden. 5:15
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on Sunday the Biden administration is expelling “family units and single adults” but would not “expel into the Mexican desert” young and vulnerable children. He said the government is working all hours to build up capacity to house them while they are processed.
Critics attack Biden over immigration
Across the border from Brownsville, in Matamoros, the largest migrant camp on the southwest U.S. border was closed March 6 after Biden reversed Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico,” policy, in place since 2019.
That policy prevented asylum seekers from staying in the U.S. to pursue their claim and ordered them back to Mexico, where thousands subsequently camped along the border. Biden’s swift reversal of that policy allowed migrants with active asylum claims back into the U.S. to pursue their case.
Critics, including Trump, accuse Biden of throwing open the border to migrants.
“We proudly handed the Biden Administration the most secure border in history,” the former Republican U.S. president said in a statement. They’ve “turned a national triumph into a national disaster.”
Charlene D’Cruz, an immigration lawyer who works in Brownsville and Matamoros, says the topic is a source of “pressure on every single president.”
“It is in no way the crisis or the situation some Republicans are making it out to be,” she said in Brownsville. “The way the previous president decided to take care of it is just to seal it [the border] until it’s reached a fever pitch; it’s like a tourniquet and when you let it go, of course there’s going to be [a big flow].”
Cruz, who has been working with migrants for 30 years, says there were surges in 2014, 2016 and 2019 and that the latest one started in spring last year with the pandemic and natural disasters adding to the existing threats of local violence in Central American countries.
Treated with respect and dignity
Aura Cruz, a 67-year-old from Guatemala, is still stranded in Mexico. She fled with her great granddaughter, then an infant, and four other families in 2019 after the baby’s mother was murdered in Guatemala. Dulce is now 2 years old, unaware of her uncertain future.
“I’m worried about the girl,” said Cruz, sitting outside the empty Matamoros camp. “I [could] suddenly die, so I’m eager to keep fighting for asylum.”
Global Response Management, a U.S. non-governmental organization that provides medical care and humanitarian relief, says migrants need to be given help to ensure they can seek asylum safely.
“We know more migrants are on their way, more are crossing every day,” said Mark McDonald, a paramedic and assistant project director with GRM. “They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
WATCH | U.S. border officials detain migrants crossing border:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents unload migrants picked up in the fields between the border wall near Abram, Texas, and the Rio Grande River, which separates the U.S. and Mexico. After criminal and document checks, some will be released and allowed to pursue their asylum cases; others will be sent back across the border. 0:51
Getting to the root of the problem
For those who’ve cared for migrants for decades along the border, the surge has been predictable.
Sister Norma Pimentel manages a group of shelters in the Rio Grande Valley, including one in McAllen, Texas.
An advocate for migrants, she says restrictive policies only exacerbate the misery of migrants without stopping them from trying to cross the border.
“The reason why people come has never been addressed. The focus has been in militarizing the border, but the problem is not the border,” said Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. “The problem is back home, the root causes of why these families migrate in the first place.”
Dalila Moran de Asencio, 33-year-old teacher, and Edgardo Antonio Asencio, a 33-year-old public servant, and their two children fled gangs and violence in El Salvador 15 months ago. They crossed into the U.S. but were sent back under Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. They’ve been living with 30 other migrants for over a year in a house managed by a Catholic charity in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
“It wasn’t easy, but our lives were in danger,” said Edgardo. “I never could imagine that a crime situation would force us to take such drastic decisions.”
Doctors without Borders provides mental health counselling for people stuck in limbo.
“They show symptoms relating to acute stress that’s associated with anxiety and depression,” said psychologist Catalina Urrego Echeverri, the group’s medical team co-ordinator in the area.
Dalila, whose dad died when she was 12, says her journey has been a difficult one.
“Sometimes I feel stressed and sad because I don’t come from a family with a great economic situation but with a lot of sacrifices, I finished university,” she said. “And I feel sad because I fought so hard and had graduated soon before I had to leave. From one day to the next we had to leave the country.”
She says the change in the U.S. presidency is the first hopeful sign in over a year.
“We’ve seen on the news that a lot of families have already been granted access to the U.S., to seek asylum inside,” she said. “We hope and trust that’s our case as well.”
Bill Manning and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment both wanted the same thing. Continuity.
On Thursday, that shared goal turned into a five-year contract extension that will carry Manning, president of Toronto FC and the Argonauts, through the 2025 Major League Soccer and Canadian Football League seasons.
The news comes two days after TFC announced GM Ali Curtis had signed a multi-year extension.
“I like stability. And I think it’s very important in championship DNA,” Manning told The Canadian Press on Thursday.
“I think from an MLSE standpoint it was very important to have a stable front office, which is something I think was very important to Toronto FC,” he added. “But also for me and my family, at this stage of my career, I also wanted some stability and assurance for my future.
“It was easy because both of us wanted a long-term deal. It was a win-win for both parties, I believe.”
Manning joined MLSE as TFC president in October 2015. He added the title of Argonauts president in January 2018 when MLSE acquired the CFL franchise.
TFC was still very much a work in progress when Manning came on board. He had been on the job less than three weeks when he saw the club thumped 3-0 in Montreal in Toronto’s first-ever playoff appearance.
Manning watched the debacle at chilly Saputo Stadium with MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum.
“I was embarrassed,” Manning said after the match. “I was embarrassed as a president and a CEO ΓÇª It’s not something that’s acceptable for me in terms of going forward.”
Success in soccer
Times have changed. TFC has filled its trophy case since, highlighted by the treble in 2017 when the club won the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship.
“It’s something we can be proud of,” Manning said Thursday of the franchise’s turnaround from doormat to perennial contender. “I still think we’ve got a lot more trophies in front of us.”
Perhaps Manning’s best move was not firing then-coach Greg Vanney in the aftermath of that humiliating 2015 playoff defeat
“I think Greg deserves the opportunity to continue what they’ve started here,” Manning said at the time, while acknowledging he had thought hard about the coaching position.
Turning the Argonauts around has been more difficult, on and off the field. Head coaches Marc Trestman and Corey Chamblin and GM Jim Popp were axed on Manning’s watch with the team enduring 4-14-0 seasons in both 2018 and ’19.
The 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the pandemic and the league is now exploring possible options with the XFL.
Manning has his hand-picked lieutenants in place with the Argos with franchise icon Michael (Pinball) Clemons as GM and Ryan Dinwiddie as head coach.
While Manning spent 2004 to 2008 with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, as vice president of sales and service (in charge of corporate partnerships and premium seating), he says he relies on the football knowledge of Clemons and Dinwiddie.
“I’m really looking forward to how this comes together. But you’ve seen we’ve had a good off-season in terms of player acquisition, to kind of turn around this roster,” said Manning. “And I’m really excited with these two guys in charge here
Expects CFL season
Manning says he expects the CFL to play in 2021.
“Our intention is to play. It’s in our best interest to play,” he said. “The big question is (will it be) with fans? That is very very important to the CFL in terms of our own business.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of positive signs now lately, in the last month or so with where we are on the pandemic. And I just hope we’ll be able to play and we’re be able to play with fans in our buildings.”
Manning’s existing deal expired at the end of 2020.
“We had pretty much come to an agreement in principle at the end of last year,” he said, adding he wanted to get the future of other people like Curtis sorted first.
“It was important that I had the right structure here,” he added.
MLSE was happy to oblige, it seems.
“Bill has brought invaluable experience to MLSE as president of TFC and the Argos, but more importantly, he has had an important hand in creating a company culture focused on winning and giving back to our community,” Tanenbaum said in a statement Thursday.
“As president of Toronto FC and the Argonauts, Bill’s wealth of experience and many accomplishments have helped shape our leagues for the better and his impact within our company is just as important,” added MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.
2-time MLS executive of the year
Under Manning, Toronto FC has played in three MLS Cups (2016, 2017 and 2019). TFC also won the Canadian Championship in 2016 and 2018.
Manning is a two-time MLS Executive of the Year, earning the honour in 2012 and ’14 during his time with Real Salt Lake.
Over his MLS career. Manning has seen his teams reach two CONCACAF Champions League finals (2011, 2018), five MLS Cups (2009, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019), seven MLS Conference finals (2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019), three Canadian Championship finals (2016, 2017, 2018) and one U.S. Open Cup final (2013).
He also won the MLS Cup with RSL in 2009.
Manning got his start in MLS in 2000 as president and GM of the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
He went on to work for the NBA’s Houston Rockets (2003-04) and NFL’s Eagles (2004-08). He became president of Real Salt Lake and Rio Tinto Stadium in 2008, leaving the club in August 2015 in what was described as a mutual parting of the ways as part of a front-office restructuring.
A native of Massapequa, N.Y., Manning earned first-team All-America honours as a senior at the University of Bridgeport. He played professionally in the United Soccer League (USL) with the Penn-Jersey Spirit (1991), the Valley Golden Eagles (1993) and New York Fever (1994-95) before moving into front-office roles with the Long Island Rough Riders and Minnesota Thunder, in the USL.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday picked his fourth health minister since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, amid the worst throes of the disease in the country yet and after a series of errors decried by public health experts.
Marcelo Queiroga, the president of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology, will replace Eduardo Pazuello, an active-duty army general with expertise in logistics who landed the position last May despite having no prior health experience.
Earlier Monday, Pazuello acknowledged in a news conference that Bolsonaro aimed to replace him. The first candidate for the job, cardiologist Ludhmila Hajjar, rejected it.
Pazuello’s departure means ushering in Brazil’s fourth health minister during the pandemic, although he has presided over the ministry for the longest period of the three to date. The revolving door signals the challenges for the government of Latin America’s largest nation to implement effective measures to control the virus’ spread — or even agreeing which measures are necessary.
Pazuello’s two predecessors left the position amid disagreements with Bolsonaro, who criticized broad social distancing and supported the use of an unproven anti-malarial drug to treat the disease. He continues to hold those positions, despite health experts’ admonishments and studies showing the drug has no effect on COVID-19.
‘Aggressive’ virus fight
Pazuello proved more compliant. Immediately after taking the job his ministry backed use and distribution of the malaria pill. On several occasions, he said that his boss tells him what to do, and he obeys.
“The conversation [with Queiroga] was excellent. I already knew him from a few years back. He has everything it takes to do nice work, continuing what Pazuello has done up until today,” Bolsonaro told supporters at the entrance of the presidential residence in Brasilia, adding there will be a transition period of up to two weeks with the outgoing and the incoming minister.
“Pazuello’s work was well done in the management part. Now we are in a phase that is more aggressive in the fight against the virus,” Brazil’s president said.
Brazil has recorded almost 280,000 deaths from the virus, almost all of which were on his watch. The toll has been worsening lately, with the nation currently averaging more than 1,800 deaths each day. Health-care systems of major cities are at the brink of collapse, and lawmakers allied with Bolsonaro have proposed suitable replacements for Pazuello, while threatening to step up pressure for an investigation into his handling of the crisis.
The country’s top court is also investigating Pazuello for alleged neglect that contributed to the collapse of the health-care system in Amazonas state earlier this year. That probe will now be sent to a low court judge.
Weeks later, in a particularly embarrassing episode, his ministry accidentally dispatched a shipment of vaccines intended for Amazonas state to neighbouring Amapa state, and vice versa, after confusing the abbreviations for each state.
Finally, Pazuello has faced intense criticism for Brazil’s slow vaccine rollout. According to Our World in Data, an online research site that compares official government statistics, only 5.4 per cent of Brazilians have been vaccinated. Almost all were shots from Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac, which Bolsonaro repeatedly cast doubt upon.
Pazuello’s health ministry also delayed its decision to purchase the vaccine from Sao Paulo state’s government until it was left with no other option to start immunization in January.
The only vaccine deal Pazuello had signed at the time, for 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab, has brought few shots to the arms of Brazilians so far. His ministry has since scrambled to cobble together agreements with other suppliers, recently concluding deals to acquire the Pfizer and Sputnik V shots.
Pazuello said in the news conference that he would not resign, and insisted there will be continuity with whomever assumes his position.
Cardiologist Hajjar had already revealed that Bolsonaro interviewed her to replace Pazuello. She told television channel Globo News that science has already ruled against treatments Bolsonaro and his legions of supporters continue to champion, like drugs to fight malaria and parasites, and that the country needs to adopt more restrictive measures on activity. She said she declined the position.
“He needs to choose someone he trusts, who is aligned with him, his ideas, his vision, and with the government’s desire. And I’m certainly not that person,” she said.
Hajjar forecast between 500,000 and 600,000 total deaths, not to mention long-term consequences, unless Brazil changes course.
Queiroga has already called Bolsonaro “a great Brazilian.” His social media channels have not made any criticism of the president’s handling of the pandemic and pushed for a quick vaccine rollout.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has elected its first Indigenous president.
Members selected Dr. Alika Lafontaine, an anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alberta, as CMA president for 2022-23. He will serve as president-elect until August 2022, after which he will become the official CMA president, says a news release from the CMA.
Lafontaine is from Treaty 4 Territory in southern Saskatchewan, and is of Cree, Anishinaabe, Metis and Pacific Islander ancestry.
His nomination comes as the health care sector in Canada grapples with issues of inequity, including racism.
Lafontaine said he will focus on addressing issues of inequity during his tenure, and on establishing national licensing for physicians.
“Mobility, employability and collaboration should exist in a post-pandemic world, along with the decreased stress, burnout and improved wellness that will result,” Lafontaine said in the media release.
“It’s also time to eliminate racism, sexism, ableism, classism and all other ‘-isms’ that permeate health system culture.”
The nomination is waiting on confirmation by the CMA General Council in August 2021.
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says he will continue to fight for equality outside the courts now that a lawsuit against him has been dropped.
Ujiri issued a statement Monday in which he thanked Raptors players, staff, ownership and fans for standing with him throughout the timeline of the lawsuit, which stemmed from an altercation with a California law enforcement officer at the 2019 NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif.
A statement from our president Masai Ujiri. <a href=”https://t.co/DRyy90glwy”>pic.twitter.com/DRyy90glwy</a>
The lawsuit, filed by Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland and his wife, Kelly, was dropped on Wednesday, as was a countersuit filed by Ujiri.
“I have decided my fight isn’t a legal one,” Ujiri said in the statement.
“Now the challenge is this: What can we do to stop another man or woman from finding themselves in front of a judge or behind bars because they committed no crime other than being Black? That is the work that each one of us must commit to, every day.”
Video of the 2019 incident had started to circulate online last August. Footage of Ujiri speaking about the incident that month was posted to the Raptors’ Twitter feed Monday.
“When I look at this I ask: Who are we as people?” Ujiri said in the video. “Who are we as human beings?
“It comes down to human decency.”
Countersuit alleged unauthorized use of force
Strickland was seeking $ 75,000 US in general damages as well as other compensation.
He alleged he suffered injuries in an altercation when Ujiri tried to make his way onto the court following the Raptors’ championship-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors on June 13, 2019, at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
Ujiri’s countersuit alleged unauthorized use of force by Strickland.
The altercation between the men was captured in a widely circulated fan video, which appeared to show Strickland shove Ujiri twice before the Raptors president responded.
Strickland, who alleged Ujiri did not have the necessary credentials to access the court, filed his civil suit after prosecutors decided in October not to press criminal charges against Ujiri.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise announced Sunday that police have arrested more than 20 people he accused of trying to kill him and overthrow his government, including a Supreme Court judge who has the support of opposition leaders demanding that Moise step down.
Moise spoke at Haiti’s airport in Port-au-Prince, flanked by the country’s prime minister and the police chief as he prepared to leave for the southern coastal town of Jacmel for the opening ceremony of its yearly carnival, which is being held amid the pandemic.
“There was an attempt on my life,” he said.
Moise said the alleged plot began on Nov. 20 but did not provide further details or any evidence except to say among the people arrested is a judge and an inspector general with the police. Moise then said other high-ranking officials would provide more information but they all walked away and did not speak further to reporters.
Prime Minister Joseph Joute said later in the day Sunday that authorities found several weapons and a speech that Supreme Court Judge Yvickel Dabrezil had allegedly prepared if he were to become provisional president. Dabrezil is one of three judges that the opposition favours as a potential transitional president.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent accused the inspector general of being in touch with high-ranking security officials at the National Palace over an alleged plot to have the president arrested.
Andre Michel, one of Haiti’s top opposition leaders, held a press conference hours after the arrests and called for civil disobedience and demanded that Moise be arrested. Michel, an attorney, said it was illegal to arrest Dabrezil because he has automatic immunity.
Reynold Georges, an attorney who once worked as a consultant for Moise’s administration but has since joined the opposition, denounced the arrests in an interview with radio station Zenith FM.
“We ask for his release immediately,” he said of Irvikel Dabresil, the Supreme Court judge who is being detained, adding that the court system should shut down until he’s free.
Georges also called on people to rise up against Moise.
Also arrested was Police General Inspector Antoinette Gauthier, according to a statement from the Young Bar Association of Port-au-Prince, which accused Moise’s administration of sowing terror and said Sunday’s actions should not be tolerated.
The arrests come on the day that opposition leaders claim Moise should resign, saying that his term ends on Sunday. Moise has repeatedly stated that his five-year term ends in February 2022. Former President Michel Martelly’s term ended in 2016, but a chaotic election forced the appointment of a provisional president for one year until Moise was sworn in in 2017.
The opposition has organized recent protests demanding that Moise step down, and normally congested streets in Haiti’s capital and elsewhere remained empty on Sunday as a handful of demonstrators burned tires.
Meanwhile, Moise appears to have the support of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Ned Price, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, said Friday that the U.S. has urged Haiti to organize free and fair elections so that Parliament can resume operations, adding that a new elected president should succeed Moise when his terms ends in February 2022.
Moise is currently ruling by decree after dissolving a majority of Parliament in January 2020 after no legislative elections were held. He is planning an upcoming constitutional referendum in April that critics say could award him more power, while general elections are scheduled for later this year.
After arriving in Jacmel, Moise broadcast an address that lasted more than an hour. He spoke largely about the infrastructure projects that his administration has accomplished, but also called on the opposition to work with him.
“It’s not too late,” he said, rejecting accusations that he is on his way to becoming a dictator. “I’m not a dictator. Dictators are people who take power and don’t know when they’re leaving. I know my mandate ends on Feb. 7, 2022.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and that the symptoms are mild.
Mexico’s president, who has been criticized for his handling of his country’s pandemic, said on his official Twitter account that he is under medical treatment.
“I regret to inform you that I am infected with COVID-19,” he tweeted. “The symptoms are mild but I am already under medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will all move forward.”
Lopez Obrador, 67, has long been criticized for not setting an example of prevention in public. He has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to keep up a busy travel schedule taking commercial flights.
He has resisted locking down the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many Mexicans who live day to day.
Early in the pandemic, asked how he was protecting Mexico, Lopez Obrador removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly showed them off.
“The protective shield is the `Get thee behind me, Satan,”‘ Lopez Obrador said, reading off the inscription on the amulet, “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.
Sputnik V vaccine negotiations expected Monday
His announcement came shortly after news emerged that he would speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday about obtaining doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter the two leaders would speak about the bilateral relationship and supplying doses of the vaccine.
The vaccine has not been approved for use in Mexico, but the government is desperate to fill supply gaps for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Mexico has given more than 618,000 vaccine doses.
Mexico has registered nearly 150,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than 1.7 million infections. Hospitals in the capital have been near capacity for weeks as a surge of cases followed the holiday season.
A growing number of Republican senators say they oppose holding an impeachment trial, a sign of the dimming chances that former U.S. president Donald Trump will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol.
House Democrats, who will walk the impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate on Monday evening, are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar him from holding office again.
But Republican passions appear to have cooled since the insurrection. And now that Trump’s presidency is over, Republican senators who will serve as jurors in the trial are rallying to his legal defence, as they did during his first impeachment trial last year.
“I think the trial is stupid, I think it’s counterproductive,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said.
He said that “the first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it” because he believes it would be bad for the country and further inflame partisan divisions.
Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. Leaders in both parties agreed to the short delay to give Trump’s team and House prosecutors time to prepare and the Senate the chance to confirm some of President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees.
Democrats say the extra days will allow for more evidence to come out about the rioting by Trump supporters who interrupted the congressional electoral count of Biden’s election victory, while Republicans hope to craft a unified defence for Trump.
17 Republican senators needed to convict
An early vote to dismiss the trial probably would not succeed, given that Democrats now control the Senate. Still, the Republican opposition indicates that many of its senators would eventually vote to acquit Trump. Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans — a high bar — to convict him.
When the House of Representatives impeached Trump on Jan. 13, exactly one week after the siege, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said he didn’t believe the Senate had the constitutional authority to convict Trump after he had left office. On Sunday, Cotton said that “the more I talk to other Republican senators, the more they’re beginning to line up” behind that argument.
WATCH | Senate majority leader lays out impeachment timeline:
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
“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,” Cotton said.
Democrats reject that argument, pointing to an 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned and to opinions by many legal scholars
Democrats also say that a reckoning of the first invasion of the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812 — perpetrated by rioters egged on by a president who told them to “fight like hell” against election results that were being counted at the time — is necessary so the country can move forward and 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.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said he believes there is a “preponderance of opinion” that an impeachment trial is appropriate after someone leaves office.
“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offence,” Romney said. “If not, what is?”
LISTEN | Daniel Dale’s epic 4-year Trump fact check:
Front Burner21:15BONUS: Daniel Dale’s epic 4-year Trump fact check
For four years, Daniel Dale, a CNN reporter and former Washington bureau chief for the Toronto Star, fact checked every single word that Donald Trump said publicly. Now, he looks back on some of the strangest and most significant lies of Trump’s presidency, and the lasting impact they had on both American politics and our shared sense of reality. 21:15
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. Republican senators Mike Rounds, John Cornyn and Lindsey Graham were among those who recently voiced opposition to the impeachment trial
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who said last week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote or argued any legal strategies. The Kentucky senator has told his Republican colleagues that it will be a vote of conscience.
‘An extraordinarily heinous presidential crime’
One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nine impeachment managers said Trump’s encouragement of his loyalists before the riot was “an extraordinarily heinous presidential crime.”
“I think you will see that we will put together a case that is so compelling because the facts and the law reveal what this president did,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. “I mean, think back. It was just two-and-a-half weeks ago that the president assembled a mob on the Ellipse of the White House. He incited them with his words. And then he lit the match.”
Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol and interrupted the electoral count as he falsely claimed there was massive fraud in the Nov. 3 election and that it was stolen by Biden. Trump’s claims were roundly rejected in the courts, including by judges appointed by Trump, and by state election officials.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that he hopes that evolving clarity on the details of what happened Jan. 6 “will make it clearer to my colleagues and the American people that we need some accountability.”
WATCH | Republican strategist says Trumpism an ‘ongoing problem’:
The co-founder of The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans dedicated to preventing the re-election of Donald Trump, says the former president still ‘owns the Republican party.’ Rick Wilson believes a split within the party is almost inevitable. 9:02
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 centuries-old tradition of peaceful transfers of power.
“It is a critical moment in American history, and we have to look at it and look at it hard,” Coons said.
When Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. raises his hand upon instruction from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to swear an oath to the constitution in a scaled-back inauguration ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, it will mark the beginning of a presidency and the culmination of his remarkable and unique journey to reach the summit of U.S. politics.
Biden, 78, is to be sworn in as the 46th president in inaugural ceremonies on the west front of the Capitol that begin at 10 a.m. ET in Washington, D.C. The ceremonies have been scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic, with heightened security measures arising from the Capitol riot exactly two weeks ago.
Aides say Biden will use Wednesday’s inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together.
Biden and his wife, Jill, began the day by attending a service at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Along with incoming vice-president Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, those in attendance included: both Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Many presidents have chosen St. John’s Episcopal Church, sometimes called the “church of the presidents,” for the inaugural day service. Biden is only the second Catholic president in U.S. history after John F. Kennedy, and St. Matthew’s is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.
Rejoins Washington politics after long career
The Bidens, who spent Tuesday night at Blair House, as has been the tradition ahead of inauguration, arrived at the Capitol for the inuauguration just after 10:30 a.m. ET.
Biden will become just the seventh person to have served as senator, vice-president and president and the first to achieve that feat since Richard Nixon. While on paper that wealth of previous experience may give the impression of inevitability to his becoming president, there were two failed bids and multiple points along the way where one could reasonably doubt he’d ever be addressing the nation Wednesday as the incoming commander-in-chief.
Biden took his first oath of office as a Washington politician just over 48 years ago, in a hospital room in Delaware as his two sons recuperated from a car crash that killed Biden’s first wife, Neilia, and their baby daughter, Naomi.
Biden the senator-elect agonized over what to do just two months after his 3,000-vote upset win over Cale Boggs, but moved forward with the support of sister Valerie and extended family, who helped raise the young boys, Beau and Hunter. Still, Biden told reporters in the hospital room he was going to give it six months to see how it went.
WATCH | How Joe Biden may approach the presidency:
Patti Solis Boyle, former chief of campaign staff for Joe Biden in 2008, gives Adrienne Arsenault some insight into what’s on the president-elect’s mind and how she expects Biden to approach the presidency. 4:05
“I promise you that I will contact [the governor] as I had earlier, and tell him that we can always get another senator, but they can’t get another father,” he said.
During his years in Congress, he earned the slings and arrows that come along with serving in Congress — a strong reputation for bipartisan work and criticism for his handling of Anita Hill’s testimony at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings from both parties. There were also a pair of brain aneurysms in the late 1980s, one which was life-threatening.
In 2008, he was picked by Barack Obama to serve as his running mate, another critical moment, as a politician more thin-skinned than Obama might not have overlooked one of Biden’s periodic verbal gaffes, concerning Obama. Biden, not thrilled with playing second fiddle, later wrote of being persuaded to take the VP job in no small part by his 91-year-old mother, Catherine, who impressed upon him the history of serving under the first Black president.
Chose not to run in 2016
Biden had every intention of running for president in 2016, but was waylaid by another tragedy, the events depicted in his memoir Promise Me, Dad. Beau, expected to become a prominent national politician himself, died of brain cancer after an agonizing battle.
Biden announced his decision not to run in a 2015 news conference at the White House’s Rose Garden.
Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination, and had she defeated Donald Trump in the 2016 general election, Biden is likely not standing alongside wife, Jill, their daughter, Ashley, and several grandchildren to become the next U.S. president.
Biden began the 2020 Democratic primary season as the polling favourite, but name recognition likely held sway. He struggled in early debates, and a glut of candidates may have ultimately proved to be beneficial.
As in the past, Biden proved a survivor, winning the nomination and the general election on Nov. 3.
Harris to be sworn in by Sotomayor
Biden will use a bible for his swearing-in, which is expected just after 12 p.m. ET, that has been in his family since at least 1893. Several inches thick, it is the same bible he used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as a senator from Delaware.
Before Biden’s address, vice-president-elect Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice-president will take her oath of office.
Harris, who spent some of her teen years in Montreal, will use a bible in the swearing-in ceremony that belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. She will be accompanied by her husband, Doug Emhoff, a lawyer who will soon tweet from the @SecondGentleman account.
WATCH | ‘I will not be the last,’ says Kamala Harris in 1st speech as VP-elect:
In her first speech as vice-president elect, Kamala Harris’s message that she “will not be the last” woman to hold the office resonated with women in the U.S. and beyond. 3:01
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced last week that the invocation on Wednesday will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by a Biden family friend, Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Del.
After the events near the Capitol, the Bidens will be accompanied by three former presidents at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony. Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will be present, while the oldest living president, Jimmy Carter, has sent his well wishes.
The traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue will not take place, but an inaugural parade featuring 1,391 virtual participants, 95 horses and nine dogs is scheduled. Organizers said it will be similar in nature to how convention events were conducted last August.
Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the pandemic as well as security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks also performing.
WATCH | Security tight in Washington ahead of inauguration:
Security is tight and tensions are high in Washington, as the U.S. prepares to swear in Joe Biden on Wednesday. Thousands of National Guard troops brought in to protect against possible attacks are being vetted by the FBI for possible inside threats. 2:00
While current Vice-President Mike Pence was expected to attend the inauguration, Trump won’t, the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago.
The outgoing president will loom large in the early days of the Biden presidency, as the Senate plans for a remarkable second impeachment trial while holding confirmation hearings for officials in the new administration. As well, because Trump could not admit defeat and commit to a typical transition, the Biden team was not briefed on several fronts by the outgoing president to the extent that is typical.
The most pressing issue for the Biden team will be to tame the raging coronavirus that has caused political divisions like in few other countries and claimed the lives of 400,000 Americans – a quarter of that total in the past month.
Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.
After 5 p.m, he is scheduled to sign a series of executive orders, many of which roll back Trump initiatives, and at nighttime attend the “Celebrating America” inaugural ceremony along with his wife. The multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls.