10 things you need to know today: January 23, 2021
Senate impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8, Police reportedly detain hundreds of pro-Navalny protesters across Russia, and more
Senate impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday night set the timeline for former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. The House will send the article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection to the Senate on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET. Senators will then be sworn in as members of the impeachment court on Tuesday, and House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team will spend several days drafting their legal briefs before beginning their presentations the week of Feb. 8. The GOP seems pleased with the scheduling agreement. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who seems open to voting to convict Trump, called it a "win for due process ... especially given the fast and minimal process in the House."
Police reportedly detain hundreds of pro-Navalny protesters across Russia
Hundreds of people have reportedly been detained Saturday in Russia amid nationwide protests in support of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, a top rival of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was detained last week when he returned to Moscow from Berlin, where he had spent months recovering from a poisoning allegedly carried out by Russia's FSB spy agency. Among those reportedly detained at Saturday's rallies was Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya. She posted a picture of herself inside a police van to her Instagram account, while CNN reports a video on social media shows her being stopped by officers at the entrance to a metro station in Moscow and led to the van. The demonstrations began in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and spread west throughout the day. Reuters estimates 40,000 people gathered in central Moscow.
Lloyd Austin confirmed as first Black secretary of defense
The Senate voted on Friday to confirm retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin III as the next secretary of defense, making him the first Black Pentagon leader. The vote was 93-2, following a 68-27 Senate vote on Thursday to approve a waiver allowing him to serve in the role despite being out of the military for five years, rather than the required seven years. After his confirmation, Austin tweeted: "It's an honor and a privilege to serve as our country's 28th Secretary of Defense, and I'm especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position. Let's get to work."
Early data suggests coronavirus variant could be more deadly
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that there's "some evidence" a surging COVID-19 variant may be more deadly than the original strain. The B117 variant was first identified in London, and has since spread across the U.K. and arrived in the U.S. and other countries. "In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant ... may be associated with a higher degree of mortality," Johnson said Friday. Previously, evidence suggested the variant was more contagious, but not inherently more deadly. But evidence a U.K. advisory group assessed for the government shows that it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. The government's chief scientific advisor cautioned the data is "not yet strong." Research suggests both major COVID-19 vaccines currently in distribution will still be just as effective against the variant.
Report: Trump considered firing acting attorney general for rejecting election fraud claims
Former President Donald Trump worked with a Justice Department lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, on a plan to oust former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and have Clark replace him, The New York Times reports. The strategy reportedly stemmed from the fact that Rosen had rebuffed Trump's pleas to use the Justice Department's power to cast doubt on and ultimately overturn Georgia's presidential election results. Trump reportedly held a meeting that two officials compared to an episode of The Apprentice because he had Rosen and Clark make their cases to him. Rosen eventually won out, the Times reports, largely due to an informal pact among other Justice Department officials who unanimously decided to resign should Rosen get dismissed. Clark denies devising any plan to get rid of Rosen.
Biden orders threat assessment of 'domestic violent extremism'
In the wake of this month's deadly attack on the Capitol building, the White House is pledging to confront the "serious and growing" threat of "domestic violent extremism." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced Friday that President Biden is requesting a "comprehensive threat assessment" from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence focused on domestic violent extremism, which will be conducted in coordination with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, Psaki said the National Security Council will launch a policy review to "support efforts to prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks, and more." Biden previously condemned the mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol building as "domestic terrorists."
Biden signs executive orders focused on economic relief amid pandemic
President Biden on Friday signed two executive orders geared toward bolstering economic relief for Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders include expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs, ensuring employees who refuse to work in unsafe conditions during the pandemic still receive unemployment insurance, and putting a moratorium on federal collections on overpayments and debts for around 2 million veterans. The plan also calls for rental assistance both for vulnerable tenants and "mom-and-pop landlords" who need to make their mortgage payments on rental properties."We're in a national emergency," Biden said before signing the orders, which came a day after he signed another set of orders aimed at curbing coronavirus infections. "We need to act like we're in a national emergency."
Pfizer to ship fewer COVID-19 vaccine vials, citing extra dose
Going forward, Pfizer will deliver fewer vials of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech after the Trump administration approved its request to update the vaccine label to clarify that each vial contains six doses rather than five earlier this month. Per The New York Times, Pfizer will count the sixth dose toward its previous commitment to deliver 200 million doses by the end of July. While the hope is that utilizing the extra dose will minimize the amount of vaccine going to waste, some pharmacists are reportedly struggling to extract the extra doses, which require special syringes that aren't in use at every site yet.
Larry King dies at 87
Larry King, the longtime radio and television broadcaster, died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his production studio and television network, Ora Media, announced. He was 87. No cause of death was given, but CNN reported that King had been hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. King is perhaps best-known for his 25-year run hosting CNN's nightly Larry King Live, which ran from 1985 to 2010, though he continued working after that. The Associated Press estimates King conducted somewhere around 50,000 on-air interviews, which included guests from all walks of life. Per AP, he claimed he never prepared for his interviews, delivering them in a non-confrontational style that "relaxed his guests," many of whom reportedly sought out his show because of his "middle-of-the-road" stance.
Baseball legend Hank Aaron dies at age 86
Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron — thought by many to be Major League Baseball's "legitimate" home-run king — has died at 86, his daughter said on Friday. Aaron, who played from 1954 to 1976, mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, finished his career with 755 home runs — a record that stood until 2006, when he was surpassed by the steroid-assisted Barry Bonds. Aaron still holds Major League records for RBI, extra-base hits, and total bases, and won his lone MVP award in 1957, the same year he led Milwaukee to a World Series title. Aaron is also revered for his fortitude in facing down racism as he chased Babe Ruth's career home run record in the early 1970s. Aaron reportedly died peacefully in his sleep.