10 things you need to know today: January 19, 2021
Biden plans to propose immigration overhaul on his 1st day, Biden and Harris mark MLK Day at food banks, and more
Biden to propose immigration overhaul on first day
President-elect Joe Biden plans on his first day in office to propose sweeping immigration reform, including an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the Biden transition team said in a statement Monday. The move would mark a reversal from President Trump's harsh immigration policies. Biden also plans to scrap several Trump policies on the environment. Biden reportedly will cancel the permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office. He also reportedly plans to reverse other policies Trump used to counter Obama administration environmental initiatives. Biden previously said he would rejoin the landmark 2015 Paris climate change agreement on his first day in office. Aides said he also plans to approve green energy projects and restore national-monument protections Trump cut.
Biden, Harris mark MLK Day by joining service projects
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took a break from inauguration preparations to participate in service programs marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden participated in an assembly line filling boxes of fresh fruit and non-perishables in the parking lot of Philabundance, a group that distributes food to people in need. The holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader fell two days before inauguration day, as police and military officials are working on stepping up security measures in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol siege by Trump supporters. Harris downplayed the risk. "I will walk there, to that moment, proudly with my head up and my shoulders back," she said after volunteering at a food bank.
Far-right militants reportedly discussed posing as National Guard in D.C.
The FBI on Monday alerted law enforcement agencies to intelligence reports warning that far-right extremists have talked about going to D.C. for the inauguration and posing as National Guard members, The Washington Post reported. The Post obtained a copy of the document, which said "lone wolves" and QAnon followers — including some who participated in the mob that stormed the Capitol earlier this month — have indicated they intend on traveling to Washington for the inauguration. The report also said people have been observed downloading and distributing maps of sensitive locations in D.C. The briefing did not include any specific plots, the Post reports, and noted that "numerous" extremist groups and militias have publicly stated they don't want to see any violence targeting the transition of power.
FBI looking into whether rioter tried to sell Pelosi laptop to Russia
Law enforcement officials are investigating whether a woman stole a laptop or hard drive from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and tried to sell it to Russian intelligence agents, according to a court filing. The FBI received a tip from someone claiming to be a romantic partner of suspect Riley June Williams of Pennsylvania, who was arrested Monday. The informant said Williams "intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service," but the transfer fell through. The affidavit said the tipster did not know whether Williams has the device or destroyed it. Williams is accused of unlawfully entering the Capitol and directing rioters to Pelosi's office. Pelosi's office said shortly after the siege that a laptop had been stolen from Pelosi's conference room.
Melania Trump farewell message: 'Violence is never the answer'
First lady Melania Trump on Monday released a farewell message as President Trump's term draws to a close. She urged Americans to refrain from violence in the spirit of her "Be Best" initiative, which called for trying to reduce cyberbullying and promote the wellbeing of American children. "Be passionate in everything you do, but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified," the first lady said. "Do not lose sight of your integrity and values. Use every opportunity to show consideration for another person, and build good habits into our daily lives." First ladies usually invite their counterparts in the incoming administration for tea, but Melania Trump appears to be breaking with that tradition. Michelle Obama welcomed Melania Trump to the White House for tea and a tour days after the November 2016 election.
Russian judge orders Navalny detained for 30 days
A Russian judge on Monday ruled that opposition leader Alexei Navalny can be detained for 30 days. Navalny was arrested at a Moscow airport late Sunday when he returned from Germany, where he spent eight months recovering from poisoning that has been blamed on Russian security agents. Navalny is a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin's government. During his hastily arranged hearing at a police precinct, supporters demonstrated outside shouting, "Shame!" Navalny released a video statement after the ruling was announced. "Don't be afraid, take to the streets," he said. At least 13 protesters were detained outside the hearing building on Monday. Another 55 people were hauled in by police in St. Petersburg.
Capitol briefly evacuated due to fire nearby
The U.S. Capitol was evacuated on Monday because of a fire at a nearby homeless encampment. The Capitol complex was locked down for about an hour. "Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shut down," the Secret Service said on Twitter. "There is no threat to the public." The incident came as tensions remained high in the nation's capital ahead of Wednesday's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Thousands of National Guard members have been sent to the area to tighten security in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters who sought to pressure Congress into reversing the outcome of the election based on discredited and baseless claims that widespread fraud had cost President Trump a landslide victory.
Census Bureau director resigns after criticism over data
Steven Dillingham resigned as Census Bureau director on Monday, nearly a year before the scheduled end of his term. Dillingham said as he gave notice to the White House that he would leave Wednesday as President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Dillingham had faced criticism from people who said he let politics affect the 2020 population count. The Trump administration tried to change the way populations are tallied for the purposes of reapportioning seats in the House of Representatives. The new rule, which would have excluded undocumented immigrants, stood to benefit Republicans by reducing representation in heavily populated, majority Democratic states. The bureau, however, said earlier this month that it could not finish the immigrant count in time to finalize the count before Biden takes over.
China reports its economy grew in 2020 despite pandemic
China's economy grew by 2.3 percent in 2020, potentially making it the only major economy to have expanded despite widespread business shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. China's growth reached 6.5 percent in the last three months of the year, compared to the same period in 2019. Third-quarter growth was 4.9 percent. The world's second largest economy contracted by 6.8 percent in the first three months of 2020 as the ruling Communist Party imposed a broad shutdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The country bounced back to growth in the second quarter after Beijing declared victory over the pandemic in March and let most factories and other businesses reopen.
Giuliani won't be part of Trump impeachment defense team
President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani will not be part of Trump's defense team at his second Senate impeachment trial, The New York Times reported Monday, citing a person close to the president. Trump met with Giuliani on Saturday and started telling associates on Sunday that the former New York City mayor would not participate in the looming Senate trial, where Trump faces a charge of inciting an insurrection. Giuliani initially said he would take part, but on Sunday he told ABC News that he would not be involved in the defense. Giuliani said he is a witness in the case, since he gave a speech at the Jan. 6 rally where Trump addressed the crowd he is accused of encouraging before some of his supporters stormed the Capitol seeking to overturn the results of the November election.