10 things you need to know today: January 14, 2021
The House impeaches Trump for inciting "insurrection," the FBI warns police chiefs to be on alert for extremist violence, and more
House impeaches Trump for inciting 'insurrection'
The House on Wednesday impeached President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" stemming from his supporters' deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. The vote was 232-197, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats and insisting that Trump be held accountable for the violent effort to prevent Congress from certifying his Electoral College loss to President-elect Joe Biden. The attack left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Numerous Republicans called the charges politically motivated. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Trump "bears responsibility" for the Capitol siege but shouldn't be impeached with just a week left in his presidency. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Trump "must go" because he poses "a clear and present danger."
FBI warns police chiefs to be on alert for extremist violence
The FBI on Wednesday told police chiefs nationwide to be on high alert for potential extremist violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. FBI Director Christopher Wray and Kenneth Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, warned during a call with chiefs that extremists might target state capitols, federal buildings, the homes of congressional members, and businesses, one chief on the call said. Federal authorities said last week's deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters would be a "significant driver of violence" for armed right-wing militia groups and racist extremists seeking to disrupt Biden's inauguration and trigger a race war.
McConnell rejects calls for quick Senate impeachment trial
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday notified Democrats that he would not summon senators for an emergency session before Jan. 19, making it unlikely President Trump's impeachment trial will start before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. But in a letter to fellow Republican lawmakers, McConnell said that he had "not made a final decision" on whether he would vote to convict Trump. A Republican strategist said McConnell had told people he believed Trump had committed impeachable offenses. The New York Times reported earlier this week that McConnell considered the impeachment an opportunity for the GOP to distance itself from Trump. McConnell also reportedly told GOP donors over the weekend that he was finished with Trump.
Trump calls for peaceful transition to Biden administration
President Trump on Wednesday sent Fox News a statement calling for "peace" and urging Americans to refrain from violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. Citing "reports of more demonstrations" to follow the deadly riot at the United States Capitol last week, he said "there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking, and NO vandalism of any kind. That's not what I stand for and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers." Separately, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel issued a similar statement Wednesday, warning that anyone planning to travel to Washington, D.C., in the coming days with "malicious intent is not welcome" in the city "or in any other state capitol building."
Johnson & Johnson trials show single-shot vaccine effective
Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine proved safe and provoked an immune response in young and elderly volunteers alike, according to trial results published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Most trial participants got just one shot of a high or low vaccine dose, or a placebo, although some people aged 18 to 55 got two doses. Most of the volunteers who got the vaccine produced the neutralizing antibodies, which defend cells from the virus, after 28 days. Researchers reported some side effects, including fever, fatigue, headache, and pain at the injection site. Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at J&J, said the data gave the company "confidence" the vaccine will prove highly effective. Results from the larger phase-three trial are expected later this month.
Airbnb cancels reservations in D.C. during inauguration week
Airbnb announced Wednesday that it would cancel all reservations in the Washington, D.C., area during the week of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. The home-rental company said it made the decision after detecting Airbnb accounts for people "either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building." Airbnb justified the move by citing reports about "armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration." The company said it would refund guests who had already made payments, and reimburse hosts for money for the bookings being scrapped. Airbnb said it also was banning users who participated in the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, or have been linked to hate groups.
Biden to unveil coronavirus relief plan
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to release his coronavirus stimulus plan on Thursday. The plan reportedly will include several priorities sought by Biden's fellow Democrats, including boosting the $600 direct relief payments already going out to most Americans, and extending increased unemployment insurance. Biden could invoke a special budgetary rule to push the legislation through Congress with only Democratic votes using a budgetary rule, but a person familiar with his transition team said he wants bipartisan backing, so the total cost could come in below the "trillions of dollars" Biden called for last week. "I believe [the stimulus bill] will focus on a new round of [direct payments], but smaller than $2,000," that some in Congress have demanded, Tom Block, Washington policy analyst at Fundstrat Global Advisors, said in an email.
Former Michigan governor charged over Flint water crisis
Michigan prosecutors on Wednesday charged former Gov. Rick Snyder with two counts of willful neglect of duty in connection with the Flint drinking water crisis, according to court records. Snyder, a Republican, appointed the emergency manager who decided in 2014 to save money by making the Flint River the city's water source. The city and state, however, failed to properly treat the water with corrosion controls, and lead leached into the city's drinking water. The change has been linked to 2014-15 outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease that sickened more than 90 people and killed at least 12. Snyder attorney Brian Lennon said there was "no evidence" to justify the charges, which he earlier said were part of a "political escapade." Several others in Snyder's administration also are being charged.
WHO team arrives in Wuhan to investigate coronavirus origin
A World Health Organization team on Thursday arrived at the central China city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, to begin a search for the source of the pandemic. The team immediately faced obstacles, with two scientists denied entry from Singapore because they tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, and the remaining 13 experts quarantined for two weeks in Wuhan. The news came as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that more than 10 million Americans have received initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines, while 29.3 million doses have been distributed. After the Trump administration changed vaccine guidelines on Tuesday, more than 50 million people in the United States who are 65 or older — as well as younger people with underlying conditions — are now eligible to be vaccinated.
Brooklyn Nets acquire Rockets' James Harden in complex trade
The Brooklyn Nets acquired former NBA MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets as part of a blockbuster four-team trade on Wednesday. Harden has been seeking a way out of Houston for months, and a deal has finally come to fruition a few weeks into the season. He'll suit up alongside two fellow superstars — Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant (whom he played with for years for the Oklahoma City Thunder) — in one of the league's most talented lineups. The complex deal required the Nets to move a variety of draft picks and players, including Caris LaVert, one of their key players. He initially went to Houston, but was then quickly dealt to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Victor Oladipo.