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Donald Trump has urged his Republican supporters to be vaccinated against Covid-19, saying he would recommend it.

In a TV interview, the former president said the vaccine was “safe” and “something that works”.

Donald Trump’s conservative fan base has been one of the main groups resistant to the vaccine program.

The former president himself was criticized during his time in office for playing down the seriousness of the pandemic.

As the vaccination program has been rolled out across the United States, all other living ex-presidents have spoken out, urging Americans to get the jab.

However, Donald Trump has remained largely quiet on the subject.

The former president and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated at the White House in secret in January.

YouTube May Lift Donald Trump’s Suspension If Violence Threat Decreases, Says Susan Wojcicki

President Trump Permanently Suspended from Twitter

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Donald Trump said during an interview on Fox News Primetime on March 16: “I would recommend it.

“I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”

He added: “It’s a great vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine and it’s something that works.”

A recent poll by CBS News suggested that a third of Republican supporters would not have the vaccine when it was available to them, compared to 10% of Democrats.

Donald Trump’s comments came a day after his successor, President Joe Biden, expressed frustration at the reluctance among some conservatives to get the shot.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on March 15: “If former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, certainly we’d support that.”

She added: “Every other living president… has participated in public campaigns. They did not need an engraved invitation to do so.”

YouTube may lift Donald Trump’s suspension, if the threat of “real-world violence” decreases, Susan Wojcicki, the platform’s CEO, has said.

She said the company will look at government warnings and violent rhetoric to determine when it’s safe to lift the suspension.

Following the Capitol Hill riot on January 6 that left five dead, Donald Trump’s account was suspended.

YouTube said the former president had violated their incitement of violence policy.

President Trump Permanently Suspended from Twitter

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Susan Wojcicki said during an interview with the Atlantic Council on March 4: “It’s pretty clear that right now where we stand, that there still is that elevated risk of violence.”

She clarified that Donald Trump’s conduct had not led to a full ban on the platform.

YouTube operates under a three strike system and an account must receive all three strikes within 90 days to be permanently removed.

The suspension in January was Donald Trump’s first strike.

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal attorney to Donald Tump, received his second strike earlier this week for claiming the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Typically, a first strike results in a seven day suspension of an account, but Donald Trump’s has been prolonged due to a continued risk of violence.

After a large group of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on January 6, the former president was banned across many social media outlets.

Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and suspended from Facebook.

Facebook’s Oversight Committee is currently looking at whether that suspension should be made permanent – however it’s not yet clear when they will rule.

Criminal charges have been filed for a reported 221 people involved in the Capitol riot.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump is giving his first speech since leaving office as president at the Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC).

His public appearance comes just weeks after he was acquitted during an impeachment trial which saw some members of his own Republican Party vote against him.

The former president is expected to attack the actions being taken by successor Joe Biden in the Florida speech.

The C-PAC appearance represents his continued influence over Republicans.

The mood of the conference so far has been extremely pro-Trump, with loyalists including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his son Donald Trump Jr. among the speakers confirmed.

Donald Trump’s speech was hotly anticipated by his supporters, given his relative absence from the political spotlight since leaving office.

He remains banned from social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, over his response to January’s deadly riot at the US Capitol.

He has been living at his Mar-a-Lago Florida golf resort since leaving the White House.

According to prepared script excerpts sent by his office ahead of time, Donald Trump will attack early actions by President Joe Biden during the speech – especially on immigration.

He is also set to focus on what he will describe as the future of “our movement” during the speech, amid a divide among some Republicans over the party’s future political direction.

He is expected to say that the “incredible journey” that he and supporters “began together four years ago is far from over”. But Donald Trump is not expected to confirm another presidential run in 2024 yet, according to a senior adviser quoted by CBS.

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Trump Impeachment: Lawyers Accuse Democrats of Seeking to Overturn 2016 Election Result

Donald Trump Jr. trailed his father’s appearance during his own speech on February 26.

He told the audience: “I imagine it will not be what we call a low energy speech, and I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA [Make America Great Again] movement as the future of the Republican party.”

Members of the Republican Party remained largely loyal to Donald Trump during his time in office but 10 voted to impeach him in the House of Representatives last month and seven voted to convict him in the subsequent Senate trial. The overall tally, 57-43 in favor of his guilt, fell short of the two-thirds margin needed to convict Donald Trump.

The schism in the party has remained since, with those who have broken rank against him notably absent from the CPAC stage.

The C-PAC, which began in 1974, is seen as the most influential gathering of conservatives and a barometer of the Republican party’s political direction.

Despite losing November’s presidential election and being deeply criticized over the January riot by some of his supporters, reports suggest Donald Trump remains extremely popular among his voting base.

Last week, one poll suggested 46% of surveyed Trump voters would vote for him on a third-party ticket rather than another Republican candidate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will establish an “outside, independent” commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

In a letter to lawmakers, Nancy Pelosi said the commission would be modeled on the inquiry into the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

She said: “We must get to the truth of how this happened.”

Former President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate of inciting the violence.

However, Democrats and some Republicans have backed an independent investigation into the riots, which left five people dead.

Nancy Pelosi said that retired US Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré had, over the past few weeks, been assessing the security needs of the Capitol in light of the attack.

The commission, Nancy Pelosi said, “would investigate and report on the facts and causes” of the attack; “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power”; and the “preparedness and response” of both the Capitol police and other branches of law enforcement.

She also said that, based on Lt. Gen. Honoré’s initial findings, Congress needed to allocate additional funding to “provide for the safety of members and the security of the Capitol”.

Donald Trump Acquitted by Senate in Second Impeachment Trial

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

A group of House Republicans wrote to Nancy Pelosi on February 15 complaining that their party had not been consulted about the general’s security review.

In the letter, they also demanded to know what Nancy Pelosi knew and the instructions she gave to secure the Capitol ahead of January 6.

House Republican Adam Kinzinger, who called for Donald Trump’s removal after the riots, was condemned by 11 members of his family in a handwritten letter, in which they said he was in cahoots with “the devil’s army”.

Donald Trump survived his second impeachment trial on February 13, after Democrat prosecutors failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to convict him. He is the only president to have faced the process twice.

The vote split largely along party lines, with seven Republicans joining the Senate’s 48 Democrats and two independents in voting to convict.

The senior Republican in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, had voted against conviction on constitutional grounds, but after the vote declared Donald Trump “responsible” for the assault on the Capitol.

Other Republicans have also expressed support for an independent inquiry into the riots, including a close ally of Donald Trump, Senator Lindsay Graham.

Former President Donald Trump has been acquitted of inciting mob to attack the Capitol after the Senate voted 57 to 43.

Seven Republicans (Senators Sasse, Romney, Burr, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey and Cassidy) joining Democrats on the charge of incitement.

Democrats needed two-thirds of the Senate to vote guilty to convict.

Impeachment charges are political, not criminal. An impeachment acquittal essentially means the Senate did not find cause to remove a president from office.

If DonaldTrump had been convicted, the Senate could also have voted to prevent the former president from ever holding office again.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the article of impeachment on January 13, with the support of 10 Republicans.

It was the verdict everyone expected, but the day was not without its drama. Seven Republicans voted along with Democrats to convict Donald Trump of inciting the violent attack on the Capitol last month.

In the end, they didn’t get the two-thirds majority they needed.

Donald Trump is the first president to be impeached twice and has set a record with the most votes to convict by members of his own party.

Donald Trump Impeachment: Second Trial Begins in Senate

Impeachment Trial: Senate Votes to Acquit President Trump on Both Charges

Trump Impeachment: Lawyers Accuse Democrats of Seeking to Overturn 2016 Election Result

After Donald Trump was acquitted, first up was the leader of the Democrats in the Senate.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer: “January 6 will live as a day of infamy in the United States. The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the United States Senate.”

He criticized the 43 senators who voted to acquit Donald Trump who effectively “signed their names alongside his” in the history books.

The Democratic senator insisted one thing is certain – that Trump’s legacy will be embroiled in this scandal forevermore, making it nearly impossible for him to ever hold elected office again.

As the senator spoke, however, the Trump team released a statement promising a future for the Make America Great Again movement. Without a conviction, there is nothing barring Donald Trump from holding office again.

Whether Donald Trump runs again remains to be seen. But he will certainly wield his influence in other ways.

Donald Trump once again avoided conviction by the Senate because his fellow Republicans, by and large, stuck by his side.

He did not emerge from this impeachment trial unscathed, however.

One of the most memorable portions of the prosecution case by House managers were the new videos of Trump’s supporters, wearing Make America Great Again hats and waving Trump flags, ransacking the Capitol.

Those images will forever be associated with the Trump brand. Every rally he holds from here on will evoke memories of that riot.

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Image source Pixabay

The Biden administration will start gradually allowing into the US tens of thousands of asylum seekers currently forced to wait in Mexico.

It will begin next week processing about 25,000 people with active cases.

Asylum seekers will first be required to register and pass a Covid-19 test, before being allowed in via one of three border crossings.

The move reverses the much-criticized policies of ex-President Donald Trump.

The Migrant Protection Protocols program was enacted in 2019, deterring would-be asylum seekers from coming to the US.

It required migrants entering through the southern border to wait in Mexico while their cases were being heard by US immigration courts.

However, on his first day in office since winning last year’s election, President Joe Biden suspended the policy.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said: “As President Biden has made clear, the US government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.

“This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values.”

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Donald Trump Insists Mexico Will Pay for Border Wall

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Border Wall Funding: Mexico to Respond with Retaliatory Tariffs

According to the Associated Press, the Biden administration plans to start with two border crossings each processing up to 300 people a day and a third crossing taking fewer numbers.

The authorities say asylum seekers will be released with notices to appear in court in cities close to or in their final destinations, typically with family.

At the same time, Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that “individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border”, amid concerns that many people would try to cross the border illegally.

February 12 announcement was welcomed in a sprawling migrant camp in the Mexican city of Matamoros, just across the border from Texas.

The border cities where migrants wait for months are suffering from growing crime rates.

In 2020, charity Human Rights First said “returned families, children and adults are being sent to highly dangerous situations where many suffered kidnappings, attacks, sexual assaults, threats and other incredible cruelty”.

Image source: White House

President Joe Biden has decided to rescind the national emergency order used to fund Donald Trump’s border wall.

In a letter to Congress on February 11, President Biden wrote that the order was “unwarranted” and said that no further tax dollars will be spent on the wall.

The former president declared a state of emergency over the southern border in 2019, which allowed him to bypass Congress and use military funds for its construction.

When Donald Trump left office, about $25 billion had been spent on the project.

The announcement from President Biden is the latest in a series of executive orders that have rolled back key parts of the former president’s agenda.

Last week, Joe Biden signed orders seeking to reunite migrant families split up by Trump-era policies, and ordered a probe of his predecessor’s immigration agenda.

In a letter on February 11, President Biden wrote that he would also seek a review of “all resources appropriated or redirected” to the construction of the wall.

Building a border wall was a signature pledge of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

However, the project faced strong opposition in the Democratic-controlled House, and the Republican president announced he would use emergency powers to fund its construction.

President Trump Could Declare National Emergency to Build Mexican Border Wall

Mexico Wall: President Trump Talks Up Solar Panel Plan

An emergency declaration allows US presidents to circumvent the usual political process and to access military funding.

Various types of fencing totaling 654 miles were already in place before Donald Trump became president in 2017.

During his time in office, 80 miles of new barriers were built where there were none before, and almost 400 miles replaced existing parts of the structure.

Former Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller took to Twitter to comment on the decision, writing “Biden loves illegal immigration”.

However, some parts of the Trump administration’s immigration policy will be left in place.

At a press conference on February 10, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to confirm the new administration would keep a Trump-era policy that allowed border officials to summarily expel undocumented immigrants amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “Due to the pandemic and the fact that we have not had the time, as an administration, to put in place a humane, comprehensive process for processing individuals who are coming to the border.

“Now is not the time to come, and the vast majority of people will be turned away.”

The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional, the US Senate has found on February 9.

Therefore, the Senate is allowing full impeachment proceedings to begin.

Donald Trump’s defense team argued that he could not face trial after leaving the White House.

A 56-44 majority voted in favor of continuing, with a handful of Republicans backing the measure.

Donald Trump is accused of “inciting insurrection” when Congress was stormed on January 6.

Thousands gathered in support of claims that widespread electoral fraud denied Donald Trump victory in the presidential election.

However, Donald Trump is almost certain to be acquitted because only six Republican senators voted to move forward with impeachment, well short of the 17 Republicans whose votes would be needed to convict the former president.

Democrats prosecuting the case opened the proceedings by showing a dramatic video montage of Donald Trump’s January 6 speech and the deadly rioting by some of his supporters.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said of the footage: “If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there’s no such thing.”

Donald Trump’s lawyers argued it was unconstitutional to put a former president through the process at all and accused Democrats of being politically motivated.

A two-thirds majority is required to convict Donald Trump in the evenly split 100-seat Senate. February 9 vote implies loyalty toward Donald Trump in the Republican Party remains high enough to avoid a conviction.

However, if convicted, the former president could be barred from holding office again.

Impeachment Trial: Senate Votes to Acquit President Trump on Both Charges

Trump Impeachment: Lawyers Accuse Democrats of Seeking to Overturn 2016 Election Result

President Donald Trump Impeached by House of Representatives

What Is Impeachment and How Does It Work?

Proceedings opened with impeachment managers – the Democrats tasked with leading the prosecution – arguing their attempts were legitimate.

In the 10-minute video used in their presentation, Donald Trump was shown telling his supporters to “fight like hell” before they stormed the Capitol in violence that resulted in five deaths – including a police officer.

Rep. Jamie Raskin was brought to tears as he recounted fear for his own family’s safety during the riot after he was separated from his visiting daughter.

“This cannot be the future of America,” he told senators, who act as jurors for impeachment.

“We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the Constitution of the United States.”

Rep. Raskin argued there could be no “January exception” to impeaching outgoing officials without risking a dangerous precedent.

Donald Trump’s lawyers then took the stand to outline their arguments with detailed complaints and allegations about due process and the constitutionality of proceedings.

Former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor opened the defense with a meandering presentation that was met with a critical reception by even allies of the former president.

A second lawyer, David Schoen, was more pointed. He showed videos dating back to 2017 as evidence of what he labeled as an “insatiable lust for impeachment” among Democratic lawmakers.

He told senators: “What they really want to accomplish here in the name of the Constitution is to bar Donald Trump from ever running for political office again, but this is an affront to the Constitution no matter who they target today.”

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the six to vote with Democrats, said after that the House prosecution had “made a compelling, cogent case and the president’s team did not”.

Media reports suggest Donald Trump – whose Twitter account has been banned – expressed anger at his lawyers’ performance while watching on TV from Florida.

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The Trump administration’s rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine calling it “chaotic” and “very limited”, President Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain has said.

Ron Klain said there was no plan in the federal government for the distribution of vaccines across the United States.

President Joe Biden, who took office on January 20, has promised 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days.

The US has now reported more than 25 million Covid-19 cases.

About 417,500 deaths have been linked to the new coronavirus. In recent weeks, the daily number of Covid-linked deaths in the US has, on some days, exceeded 4,000.

President Biden signed a raft of new measures last week, including boosting vaccinations and testing. He has urged Americans to wear masks and warned that the death toll could get much worse.

His efforts follow widespread criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and of the vaccination program.

Vaccines have been distributed to states, and states and cities are carrying out the inoculations. But some have complained they are struggling with supply.

According to the CDC, about 41 million doses had been distributed by January 23 across the country, but only 20.5 million had been administered.

Speaking to NBC News, Ron Klain said: “The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House.”

He said it was a “complex” process but that the Biden administration would set up federal vaccination sites to help states without enough places.

Covid- 19 infections have spiraled in recent months – with a jump in new infections after Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Hospital numbers hit their highest levels during the pandemic earlier this month but are slowly starting to drop alongside daily cases.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci said on January 21 that rolling average data appeared to show infections leveling off.

Although the national picture has stabilized slightly, he warned the country remained in a “very serious situation”.

The CDC is particularly concerned that new variants could accelerate the virus spread.

The strain has been detected in 20 states, Dr. Fauci said January 21, but warned the country had “limited ability” to track its spread through the population.

President Biden has already enacted a raft of executive measures to combat the virus and he wants Congress to pass a $1.9tn package of economic relief funding.

He is hoping to get bipartisan approval for his broad stimulus agenda, but the proposal has already been met with skepticism and resistance by some Republicans.

Another one of the new president’s key promises is to oversee 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, but some have criticized this policy as not ambitious enough.

The current approved suppliers – Moderna and Pfizer – have pledged to deliver 200 million doses by March. Dr. Fauci has also suggested emergency approval of a third vaccine, a single-dose jab by Johnson & Johnson, could be just weeks away.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was appointed chief medical adviser by the new president, has expressed hope that if 70-85% of the US population is vaccinated by the end of summer, the country could “approach a degree of normality” by autumn.

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Image source: AP

Joe Biden has become America’s 46th president, ending one of the most dramatic political transitions in the US history.

After taking the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden said: “Democracy has prevailed.”

President Biden has announced a raft of measures reversing Trump policies.

In his inaugural address, Joe Biden said it was a day of “history and hope”.

“My whole soul is in putting America back together again,” he added.

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Joe Biden to Issue Decrees to Reverse Trump’s Policies

Highlighting a message of unity after the turbulent Trump years, Joe Biden promised to be a president “for all Americans” – including those who voted against him.

He has set out a flurry of executive orders. In a statement on January 2, Joe Biden said he would sign 15 orders after he is sworn in. Among them are:

  • Reverse Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate change agreement;
  • Revoke the presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is opposed by environmentalists and Native American groups;
  • Revoke Trump policies on immigration enforcement and the emergency declaration that helped fund the construction of a Mexican border wall;
  • Bring about a mask and distancing mandate for federal employees and in federal buildings, and a new White House office on coronavirus;
  • End a travel ban on visitors from some, mainly Muslim, nations.

Other orders will cover race and gender equality, along with climate issues.

Joe Biden’s legislative ambitions could be tempered by the slender majorities he holds in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

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Image source: Getty Images

Joe Biden has become the 46th president of the United States, ending one of the most dramatic political transitions in American history.

After taking the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden said: “Democracy has prevailed.”

Donald Trump – who has not formally conceded the presidency to Joe Biden – snubbed the inauguration ceremony, in a departure from longstanding precedent.

He was the first president not to attend his successor’s inauguration since 1869.

President Biden has announced a raft of measures reversing Trump policies.

Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice-president ahead of Joe Biden.

She is the first woman – and the first black and Asian-American person – to serve in a role, a heartbeat from the presidency.

The inauguration took place at the Capitol, where an extra-tight security was imposed after the building was stormed by violent pro-Trump protesters in a deadly riot on January 6.

Some 25,000 National Guards are protecting the ceremony, which is missing the traditional hundreds of thousands of spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his inaugural address, Joe Biden said it was a day of “history and hope”.

“My whole soul is in putting America back together again,” he added.

Highlighting a message of unity after the turbulent Trump years, Joe Biden promised to be a president “for all Americans” – including those who voted against him.

Among those attending the inauguration ceremony were three of Joe Biden’s predecessors: Barack Obama – under whom Biden served for eight years as vice-president – Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Former VP Mike Pence also attended. He skipped Donald Trump’s farewell military salute event.

The inauguration ceremony included musical performances by Lady Gaga – who sang the national anthem – as well as Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

An evening concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC will be hosted by Tom Hanks and include Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Demi Lovato.

How White House Prepares for Trump’s Moving Day

Earlier on the day, Joe Biden, 78, attended Mass at a cathedral in Washington – along with four Roman Catholic congressional leaders, both Democrats and Republicans.

Donald Trump left the White House at about 08:00AM on January 20, and flew to the nearby Andrews Air Force base.

In his farewell address at the base, Donald Trump highlighted what he regarded as the successes of his presidency.

He said: “What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard.”

Donald Trump, 74, then left for his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida, where he arrived later in the morning.

In his last hours as president, Donald Trump granted clemency to more than 140 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon, who had been facing fraud charges.

The political drama surrounding Donald Trump is far from over. The Senate is expected to put him on trial soon, following his record second impeachment by the House of Representatives for allegedly inciting the Capitol riot.

On January 19, the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said the mob had been provoked by Donald Trump and fed lies.

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Image source: Getty Images

On inauguration day, President Donald Trump’s office is cleaned out, swept of signs that he and his staff had ever been there, ready for the Biden team to move in.

The cleaning out of White House’s West Wing offices, and the transition between presidents, is part of a tradition that dates back centuries. It’s a process that has not always been imbued with warmth.

Another impeached president, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, snubbed Republican Ulysses S Grant in 1869 and skipped the inauguration. Ulysses Grant, who had backed Andrew Johnson’s removal from office, was hardly surprised.

Today, however, the transition stands out for its acrimony. The process usually starts straight after the election, but it started weeks late after President Trump refused to accept the result. And the president has said he will not attend the inauguration. Most likely, Donald Trump will instead travel to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Even in the best of times, the logistics of a transition are daunting, involving the transfer of knowledge and employees on a massive scale.

About 4,000 political appointees hired by the Trump administration who will lose their job and be replaced by individuals hired by Joe Biden.

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During an average transition, between 150,000-300,000 people apply for these jobs, according to the Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington. About 1,100 of the positions also require Senate confirmation. Filling all of these positions takes months, even years.

Four years of policy papers, briefing books and artefacts relating to the president’s work will be carted off to the National Archives where they will be kept secret for 12 years, unless the president himself decides that portions may be released early.

Furniture in the White House, such as the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, most of the artwork, china and other objects, belong to the government and will remain on the premises.

Other items, like photos of the president that hang in the hallway, will be taken down as the White House is transformed for its new occupants.

The Trumps’ personal belongings, such as clothes, jewellery, and other items will be moved to their new residence, most likely at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

This year, the place will be deep cleaned.

President Trump, as well as dozens of others at the White House, were infected with the coronavirus over the past several months, and the six-floor building, with its 132 rooms, will be thoroughly scrubbed down. Everything from handrails to elevator buttons to restroom fixtures will be wiped and sanitized, according to a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, the federal agency that oversees the housekeeping effort.

Incoming first families usually do some redecoration. Within days of arriving at the White House, Donald Trump had chosen a portrait of populist president Andrew Jackson for the Oval Office. He also replaced the drapes, couches and a rug in the office with ones that were gold-colored. On inauguration day, VP Mike Pence and his wife will also make way for Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug Emhoff. They will be settling into their official residence, a 19th Century residence on the Naval Observatory grounds, a couple of miles from the White House.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take the oath to make them officially president and vice-president, but this will be a much scaled back affair, due to Covid and the recent riots.

The inauguration of a new president is a day that usually follows decades of custom and precedent. A day that follows a routine set in stone. Well, you can forget all that this year.

Here’s everything you need to know about the big day.

What is the inauguration?

The inauguration is the formal ceremony that marks the start of a new presidency, and it takes place in Washington DC.

The only required feature is that the president-elect recite the presidential oath of office.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Once he utters these words, Joe Biden will then take his place as the 46th president and the inauguration will be complete (but that’s not all – celebrations follow).

Kamala Harris will become vice-president once she takes the oath of office, which usually happens just before the president.

What time is the inauguration?

Opening remarks are usually scheduled for around 11:30 EST and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in around midday. By law, inauguration day is always January 20.

Joe Biden will move into the White House later in the day – his home for the next four years.

Joe Biden Inauguration: Capitol Put on Lockdown After Security Alert

Presidential inaugurations typically involve detailed security plans, but even more so now, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Officials have ramped up security and closed off large sections of the city. The Secret Service has taken command of the security plans, backed up by some 25,000 National Guard troops, in addition to thousands of police officers.

Image source Wikipedia

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has signed the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has become the first sitting president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

Congress voted 232 to 197 on the sole article of impeachment.

Now, President Trump faces trial in the senate.

Ten Republicans voted with Democrats to impeach the president, making this vote the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history.

They are:

  • Liz Cheney of Wyoming (the third highest-ranking Republican in the House)
  • Adam Kinzinger of Illinois (the only Republican that voted on a bill calling for Vice-President Mike Pence to take over as president yesterday)
  • John Katko of New York (the first House Republican to say he’d vote to impeach)
  • Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
  • Tom Rice of South Carolina
  • Dan Newhouse of Washington State
  • Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State
  • Fred Upton of Michigan
  • David Valadao of Florida
  • Peter Meijer of Michigan

Senators will then act as jurors during the trial and ultimately decide whether or not to convict the president on the charge.

The lead manager is Jamie Raskin. He’s joined by Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Madeleine Dean and Joe Neguse.

“Today the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” Nancy Pelosi said before signing.

“That Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the country and that once again we honor that oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

“And now, I sadly and with a heart broken over what this means to our country, of a president who would incite insurrection, will sign the engrossment of the article of impeachment.”

Trump Impeachment: Democrats Call on VP Pence to Invoke 25th Amendment

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

In a video message posted to the White House’s Twitter account, President Trump has condemned the violence in the Capitol last week, saying “violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement”.

He did not make any reference to impeachment.

The president ends with a call for unity.

“All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the rancor and find common ground and shared purpose. We must focus on advancing the interests of the whole nation, delivering the miracle vaccines, defeating the pandemic, rebuilding the economy, protecting our national security and upholding the rule of law,” Donald Trump said.

“Today I am calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment, and join together as one American people,” he said.

“God bless you, and God bless America.”

When he was first impeached in 2019, President Trump became part of a small group of rebuked US leaders.

After today, President Trump is the first president to be impeached twice.

Only two other presidents in history have been impeached by the House of Representatives – Andrew Johnson, back in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998.

President Richard Nixon stepped down and resigned.

But to date, no president has ever been removed from the White House by Congress.

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Image source Wikipedia

Google-owned video service YouTube has become the latest platform to suspend President Donald Trump’s account.

YouTube has prevented the president’s account from uploading new videos or live-streaming material for a minimum of seven days, and has said it may extend the period.

It said Donald Trump’s channel had broken its rules over the incitement of violence.

The president had posted several videos on January 12, some of which remain online.

Google has not provided details of what President Trump said in the video it banned.

The move came hours after civil rights groups had threatened to organize an ads boycott against YouTube.

Jim Steyer – who previously helped coordinate similar action against Facebook last year – had called on Google to go further and take President Trump’s channel offline.

He tweeted after the suspension: “We hope they will make it permanent. It is disappointing that it took a Trump-incited attack to get here, but appears that the major platforms are finally beginning to step up.”

Google said that President Trump could still face his page being closed if he falls foul of its three-strikes policy.

It said in a statement: “After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies.

“It now has its first strike and is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a minimum of seven days.

“Given the ongoing concerns about violence, we will also be indefinitely disabling comments on President Trump’s channel, as we’ve done to other channels where there are safety concerns found in the comments section.”

President Trump had already been suspended by Facebook and Instagram following January 6 rioting on Capitol Hill, until at least the transition of power to Joe Biden on January 20.

Twitter has gone further by imposing a permanent ban on the president’s account.

Amazon’s Twitch has also disabled Donald Trump’s account on its platform. And Snapchat has locked his account.

Shopify, Pinterest, TikTok and Reddit have also taken steps to restrict content associated with the president and his calls for the results of the election to be challenged.

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Image source: Anadolu Agency

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests across the US as Trump supporters and far-right groups call for demonstrations before Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration.

According to the agency, armed groups are planning to gather at all 50 state capitols and in Washington DC in the run-up to Biden’s inauguration.

Security will be tight for the event after a pro-Trump mob stormed Congress on January 6.

House Democrats say a vote to impeach President Donald Trump will happen on January 13.

Democrats accuse President Trump of “incitement of insurrection” and say the vote will be held unless VP Mike Pence invokes constitutional powers to remove President Trump from office. There is no sign Mike Pence is prepared to do so.

Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris are expected to be sworn in at a ceremony at the Capitol. The Biden team had already urged Americans to avoid travelling to the capital because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a call that is now being repeated by local authorities.

According to security officials, there will be no repeat of the breach seen on January 6, when thousands of pro-Trump supporters were able to break into the building where members of Congress were voting to certify the election result.

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Five people died in the riot, which happened after President Trump repeated unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the November vote and encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol.

Since then, calls for Donald Trump’s resignation, removal from office or impeachment have grown among Democrats and some Republicans.

President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from several social media platforms – including Twitter – on January 8.

Donald Trump became the third president to be impeached in December 2019 over charges of breaking the law by asking Ukraine to investigate his rival in the presidential election. The Senate cleared him.

Image source Flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stepped up the pressure on VP Mike Pence to act to remove President Donald Trump from office over his role in last week’s storming of Congress.

Lawmakers are expected to bring up a resolution asking VP Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unfit for office.

Mike Pence is said to oppose the idea.

If he refuses, the House will hold a vote to impeach President Trump who had urged supporters to march on the Capitol.

Donald Trump has been accused by Democrats and an increasing number of fellow Republicans over the riot, following a rally in which the president repeated unsubstantiated allegations of vote fraud. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol police officer.

President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from social media platforms on January 8.

He is due to leave office on January 20, when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president.

Donald Trump has said he will not attend Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Nancy Pelosi wrote to lawmakers saying the House of Representatives would present a resolution on January 11 to formally request that VP Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow him to remove President Trump from the White House and become acting president.

The House could vote on the resolution on January 12. After that, Mike Pence and the cabinet would be given 24 hours to act before the House’s potential move toward impeachment.

Nancy Pelosi wrote in her letter: “We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both.

“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Although Mike Pence has appeared to distance himself from the president by saying on January 10 he planned to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, there is no sign that the vice-president is prepared to invoke the amendment.

In a separate development, First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely makes public comments about political events, condemned January 6 violence, saying the “nation must heal in a civil manner”.

Melania Trump said in a statement called Our Path Forward released by the White House: “I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness.”

House Democrats have vowed to press ahead quickly with impeachment. To impeach, in this context, means to bring charges in Congress, and Nancy Pelosi said Democrats could introduce a charge of “incitement of insurrection” against President Trump.

Senior lawmakers say a vote to impeach President Trump in the House could be held by mid-week.

Donald Trump could become the only president in US history to have been impeached twice.

Joe Biden has said impeachment is for Congress to decide, even though he has thought “for a long time President Trump was not fit to hold the job”.

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Hundreds of protesters broke into buildings on Capitol Hill after attending a rally in support of President Donald Trump.

Some were carrying symbols and flags strongly associated with particular ideas and factions, but in practice many of the members and their causes overlap.

Jake Angeli – QAnon supporter

According to images, there were individuals associated with a range of extreme and far-right groups and supporters of fringe online conspiracy theories, many of whom have long been active online and at pro-Trump rallies.

One of the most startling images, quickly shared across social media, shows a man dressed with a painted face, fur hat and horns, holding an American flag.

Image source: AFP

The man has been identified as Jake Angeli, a well-known supporter of QAnon. Jake Angeli calls himself the QAnon Shaman.

According to Jake Angeli’s social media presence, he’s attending multiple QAnon events and posting YouTube videos about deep state conspiracies.

Angeli was pictured in November making a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, about unproven claims the election was fraudulent.

His personal Facebook page is filled with images and memes relating to all sorts of extreme ideas and conspiracy theories.

Proud Boys members

Another group spotted at the storming of the Capitol were members of the Proud Boys.

The far-right organization was founded in 2016 and is anti-immigrant and all male. In the first presidential debate President Trump in response to a question about white supremacists and militias said: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by.”

One of their members, Nick Ochs, tweeted a selfie inside the Capitol building saying: “Hello from the Capital lol.”

Nick Ochs also filmed a live stream inside.

His profile on the messaging app Telegram describes himself as a “Proud Boy Elder from Hawaii.”

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Richard Barnett – the man who entered Nancy Pelosi’s office

A photo that went viral of a man who had entered the office of Nancy Pelosi has been named as Richard Barnett from Arkansas.

Outside Capitol Hill buildings, Richard Barnett told the New York Times that he took an envelope from the speaker’s office and says left a note calling her an expletive.

Image source: Twitter

Local media reports say Richard Barnett is involved in a group that supports gun rights, and that he was interviewed at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally following the presidential election – a movement that refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory and supports the president’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.

In the interview at the rally organized by ‘Engaged Patriots’ Richard Barnett said: “If you don’t like it, send somebody out to get me ’cause I ain’t going down easy.”

According to the Westside Eagle Observer, the group associated with Richard Barnett held a fundraiser in October with proceeds going towards body cameras for the local police department.

Online influencers

Individuals with large followings online were also spotted at the protests.

Among them was Tim Gionet, who goes under the pseudonym “Baked Alaska”.

Gionet’s livestream from inside the Capitol posted on a niche streaming service was watched by thousands of people and showed him talking to other protesters.

A Trump supporter, Tim Gionet has made a name for himself as an internet troll.

He has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a nonprofit legal advocacy group, as a “white nationalist”, a label he disputed in a comment to The Insider.

YouTube banned Gionet’s channel in October after he posted videos of himself harassing shop workers and refusing to wear a face-mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other platforms that have previously shut down Gionet’s accounts include Twitter and PayPal.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Congress has certified Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice-president of the United States.

The electoral votes were approved after both the Senate and the House of Representatives rejected objections to the votes in the states of Pennsylvania and Arizona.

The normally procedural session of Congress was disrupted on January 6 when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building. The session resumed and continued through the night after the building was cleared.

The announcement was made by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the four “tellers” appointed by the House and Senate to count the Electoral College votes.

She said: “The report we make is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the president and vice president according to the ballots that have been given to us.”

VP Mike Pence, who as president of the Senate oversaw the certification process, confirmed to Congress that, of the 538 Electoral College votes cast, Joe Biden and Kamal Harris received 306 and Donald Trump and Mike Pence received 232 – mirroring the results of November’s election.

He said: “The announcement of the state of the vote by the President of the Senate shall be deemed as sufficient declaration of the persons elected President and Vice President of the United States, each for the term beginning on the 20th day of January, 2021 and shall be entered together with the list of the votes on the journals of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

President Trump has just released a statement committing to “an orderly transition on January 20th” but repeating his unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” the president said, in a comment published on his spokesperson’s Twitter account.

 Meanwhile, Twitter has temporarily blocked Donald Trump from using his own account.

“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” he added.

More than 60 legal cases by Trump’s campaign team challenging the November result have failed.

Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, alongside far-right pro-Trump groups, were planning the rally outside Congress for weeks.

QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory that claims President Trump and a secret team of military intelligence officers have been waging a war against Satan-worshipping pedophiles in the Democratic party.

In addition, supporters of the “Stop the Steal” election movement, Proud Boys and other groups have been encouraging their followers to attend the march.

So-called “patriot caravans” and other initiatives were organized online to help transport activists to Washington DC in anticipation of today’s protest.

Many of those attending the rally had consumed viral conspiracy theories and misleading narratives about the presidential election on major online platforms, convinced that the vote was stolen from Donald Trump.

However, election officials have described the vote as the most secure in history.

Discussion on Gab and Parler, social media platforms popular with far-right groups banned from Facebook and Twitter, featured threats that anything other than Congress overturning the outcome would lead to “patriots” having to rescue their country from traitors, communists, Satanists and pedophiles.

Image source: Anadolu Agency

Chaos has broken out within the Capitol as pro-Trump supporters break into the building.

The ongoing special House and Senate sessions have been recessed amid the escalating clashes between protesters and police.

Lawmakers had gathered to confirm the election of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden – an outcome rejected by protesters.

Photos show demonstrators gathered just outside the Senate chamber. Other images show demonstrators carrying firearms.

Capitol Police have put the Capitol Building on lockdown amid violent clashes between police and Trump supporters, gathered to protest the 2020 election results.

Footage shows demonstrators swarming the Capitol building, breaking the temporary barrier that had been put in place ahead of today’s events. Media describe some protesters climbing on parts of the Capitol building, attempting to get inside.

Capitol police have detained some protesters as they continue to storm the building.

Some demonstrators have broken into the Senate chamber, climbing on the side of the walls as police drew their weapons.

President Donald Trump has just tweeted another message to protesters who have stormed the US Capitol, saying: “No violence!”

He tweeted: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

Georgia Voters Head to Polls in Senate Runoff Elections

Capitol Hill police are calling for reinforcements as the violence continues at the Capitol.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said members of the Secret Service and the Federal Protective Service are currently meeting calls to provide assistance.

The Department of Defense has not yet decided to deploy the National Guard to back up law enforcement on the scene.

Protesters who have stormed the US Capitol are trespassing on federal property and may face charges.

After a summer of protests against coronavirus lockdown measures, including in Michigan where armed militia members stormed the state capitol, we’re now seeing similar scenes playing out in Washington DC.

While both chambers of the US Congress were meeting on January 6 to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump, the proceedings were interrupted by police clashes with rioters in adjoining corridors.

President Trump has for weeks claimed to have been the true winner, saying without evidence that the votes cast for Biden in crucial swing states were fraudulent.

He and his supporters have been pressing VP Mike Pence to overturn the election result by refusing to certify Joe Biden’s win, something that experts agree he does not have the legal power to do.

In the days leading up to the certification, President Trump said that he would attend the “Save America” rally happening in Washington on January 6, promising on Twitter that it would be “very big” and “wild”.

About an hour after President Trump addressed thousands on the National Mall, promising to “never concede” that he had lost, chaos was unleashed.

Lawmakers and reporters inside the building say they have been asked to evacuate, shelter in place and put on gas masks.

Both chambers of Congress abruptly stopped proceedings as they were debating November’s election results.

As his supporters storm into the Capitol in quickly-escalating protests, President Trump has broken his silence and tweeted for demonstrators to “support Capitol Police and Law Enforcement”.

Media report that tear gas has now been used inside the Capitol building as a growing number of demonstrators enter the building.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered a citywide curfew beginning at 18:00 EST.

Image source: Getty Images

Georgia is going to the polls for a second-round vote that will decide whether President-elect Joe Biden’s Democrats control the Senate.

The Democratic Party needs to win both seats in the state’s runoffs to gain full control of Congress – and with it the power to push forward his agenda.

The Republican Party of outgoing President Donald Trump needs only to win one in order to retain the Senate.

Joe Biden said Georgians could shape the US for years to come.

Meanwhile, President Trump told voters it was their “last chance to save the America” they loved.

Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue currently hold Georgia’s two Senate seats.

Kelly Loeffler is taking on Reverend Raphael Warnock and David Perdue is battling Jon Ossoff.

None of the candidates reached the 50% needed to win outright in the elections in November, forcing Tuesday’s runoffs under Georgia’s election rules. Voting began at 07:00.

The vote will decide the balance of power in the Senate.

President Trump Recorded Telling Georgia’s Secretary of State to “Find” Votes to Overturn Biden Win

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The Republicans currently hold 52 of the 100 seats. If both Democrats win on December 5, the Senate will be evenly split, allowing incoming Democratic VP Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

This would be crucial for pushing through Joe Biden’s agenda, including on key issues such as healthcare and environmental regulations – policy areas with strong Republican opposition.

The Senate also has the power to approve or reject Joe Biden’s nominees for cabinet and judicial posts.

If Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both win, it would bring the White House, Senate and the House of Representatives under Democratic control for the first time since President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

Voting should last about 12 hours, ending at 19:00 local time, although all those still in line to vote at that time will be allowed to do so.

Democrats are hoping for a large turnout and have been buoyed by the fact that more than three million Georgians have already cast their ballots – nearly 40% of the state’s registered voters. Early voting was a key benefit for Joe Biden in the presidential election.

The Democrats will be looking to turn out supporters in major urban areas, particularly the suburbs of Atlanta. The issue of long lines of voters could be more of a problem for them.

For the Republicans, getting out voters on the day is even more crucial, and they will be looking to the stronghold of north Georgia, as well as rural areas and smaller towns.

Generally, results come in quickly but if these races are close, it could take days.

David Perdue nearly won first time out against Jon Ossoff in November, falling just short of the needed majority with 49.7%. The other seat had more candidates, with Democrat Raphael Warnock recording 32.9% to Kelly Loeffler’s 25.9%.

A Democrat has not won a Senate race in Georgia in 20 years but the party will be boosted by Joe Biden’s presidential election win over Donald Trump there. Joe Biden’s margin of victory was about 12,000 votes among five million cast.

Georgia’s black community is more than double America’s national proportion, making up a third of the population.

Across America, nine in 10 black voters supported Joe Biden in the presidential election, according to a survey of more than 110,000 voters for the Associated Press.

Image source: Getty Images

President Donald Trump has been recorded telling Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn the election result.

The president told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a recording released by the Washington Post: “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

Brad Raffensperger is heard replying that Georgia’s results are correct.

Joe Biden won Georgia alongside other swing states, winning 306 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump’s 232.

VP-elect Kamala Harris called President Trump’s comments “a bold abuse of power”.

It comes ahead of two crucial runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Since the November 3 vote, President Trump has been making unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

All 50 states have certified the election result, some after recounts and legal appeals.

Congress is due to formally approve the election result on January 6 and Democrat Joe Biden is due to be inaugurated as president on January 20.

In excerpts of January 2 phone call released by the Washington Post, President Trump can be heard alternately cajoling and pressurizing Georgia’s secretary of state.

He insisted that he had won the election in Georgia and told Brad Raffensperger that there was “nothing wrong with saying you have recalculated”.

Brad Raffensperger responded by saying: “The challenge you have, Mr. President, is that the data you have is wrong.”

Later in the call, President Trump said the rumor was that ballots had been shredded and voting machinery had been removed from Fulton County in the state – claims denied by Brad Raffensperger’s lawyer.

The president then threatened the official with possible legal consequences.

He said: “You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offence. You can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

Joe Biden’s Presidential Election Victory Confirmed by Electoral College

The president then called for the extra 11,780 votes – which would have given him a total of 2,473,634 votes in the state, one more than Joe Biden, who received 2,473,633 votes.

President Trump told Brad Raffensperger he should re-examine the result in the state.

He said: “You can re-examine it, but re-examine it with people who want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”

Brad Raffensperger replied: “Mr. President, you have people who submit information and we have our people that submit information, and then it comes before the court and the court has to make a determination.

“We have to stand by our numbers, we believe our numbers are right.”

President Trump also warned Brad Raffensperger that by refusing to recalculate the election result he would deter Republicans from turning out to vote in January 5 runoff elections for the Senate.

If the two Democratic contenders win, then there will be equal numbers of Republican and Democratic senators, and Kamala Harris, as vice-president-elect, will have the deciding vote.

Joe Biden’s Democrats already control the lower House of Representatives.

Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are due to visit Georgia on January 4 to campaign ahead of the elections.

On January 3, President Trump tweeted that Brad Raffensperger had not given details of the fraud the president alleges: “He has no clue!”

Brad Raffensperger tweeted back: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”

The White House has not commented on the release of the audio.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has rejected calls from an unlikely alliance of President Donald Trump, congressional Democrats and some Republicans to boost coronavirus aid.

The House of Representatives, held by the Democrats, had voted to increase aid cheques to Americans to $2,000.

Dozens of House Republicans, reluctant to defy President Trump, backed the increase.

Republican Mitch McConnell’s objections mean there will not be a direct vote on a revised Covid aid bill in the Senate.

He said raising aid cheques would be “another fire hose of borrowed money”.

The move could in effect kill off President Trump’s demands for bigger cash handouts to help the economy recover.

Congress had initially agreed to the smaller $600 payments in a Covid relief and government funding bill.

President Trump sent that back to Capitol Hill before Christmas, saying the stimulus payment should be higher.

He eventually, and grudgingly, signed the original bill with the lower payments into law on December 27, but has continued to demand more money.

On December 28, House Democrats – usually sworn political foes of President Trump – passed the measure for $2,000 cheques that he requested.

The president tweeted on December 29: “Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2,000 payments ASAP.”

President Trump Threatens to Block Covid-19 Relief Bill

The total number of people who have died with Covid in the US stands at nearly 350,000. There are concerns that the figure could continue to surge following Christmas and New Year gatherings.

California meanwhile became the second state to confirm a case of the new strain of the virus, considered to be highly contagious. The first case of new variant of coronavirus was confirmed in Colorado.

Mitch McConnell rejected Democrats’ calls for the upper chamber to vote on the $2,000 cheques package passed by their counterparts in the House.

The Kentucky senator said the bill had “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate”.

Speaking in the chamber on December 30, he said: “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.”

Instead Mitch McConnell offered to roll the proposal for bigger cheques into another bill to include other measures that have been requested by President Trump but raised objections from Democratic leaders.

One would end legal protection for tech companies, known as Section 230. The other would set up a bipartisan commission to investigate President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of systemic electoral fraud.

Democrats said Mitch McConnell’s proposal was merely a legislative poison pill designed to kill higher stimulus payments.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who votes with Democrats, said on the Senate floor: “All we are asking for is a vote. What is the problem?

“If you want to vote against $2,000 checks for your state, vote against it.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: “What we’re seeing right now is leader McConnell trying to kill the cheques – the $2,000 cheques desperately needed by so many American families.”

The GOP usually professes an opposition to government spending as an article of faith, but some of its top conservative senators have rallied behind President Trump’s call for $2,000 cheques.

They include Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both considered possible presidential contenders in 2024.

President Donald Trump has urged Congress to amend a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill to more than triple its stimulus payments to Americans.

In a video message posted on Twitter, the president said the package “really is a disgrace”, full of “wasteful” items.

He said: “It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid.”

The $900 billion bill includes one-off $600 payments to most Americans, but President Trump said the figure should be $2,000.

Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating a coronavirus stimulus rescue package since July and President Trump – who has largely stayed out of the talks – had been expected to sign the legislation into law following its passage through Congress on December 21.

The package of measures is linked to a bigger government spending bill, which includes foreign aid funding as well as a $1.4 trillion spending measure to fund federal agencies for the next nine months. Those agencies will have to shut if the president vetoes or refuses to sign it by midnight on December 28.

Most legislation that comes from Congress requires the approval of the president before becoming law. If the president rejects this bill, it would require at least a two-thirds majority in each chamber – the House of Representatives and the Senate – to override the veto.

However, President Trump has not specifically said he would veto the bill.

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While Congress has overridden fewer than 10% of all presidential vetoes, media say there could be enough votes from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to do so in this instance.

In December 22 message from the White House, President Trump baulked at spending in the bill on other countries, arguing that this money should go to struggling Americans.

He said: “This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.”

President Trump questioned why the Kennedy Center, a performing arts complex in Washington DC, was set to receive $40 million when it is not open, and more than $1 billion has been allocated to museums and galleries in the capital.

He concluded: “Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn’t their fault. It was China’s fault.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.

“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package.”

On December 21, congressional leaders unveiled a 5,593-page package and voted on it several hours later.

Several lawmakers protested that they had not been given an opportunity to read the contents.

Nevertheless the bill sailed through the House of Representatives by 359-53 and the Senate by 92-6.