Politics News

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Harris announces resignation from Senate

Bet_Noire/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has two full days left in office before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 18, 4:53 pm

Trump unlikely to issue self pardon or pardons for his family: Sources

The president is unlikely to issue pre-emptive pardons to his children and other close associates, despite weeks of internal battles among White House aides, sources with knowledge of the conversations confirmed to ABC News. The sources went on to say that they do not expect Trump to issue a pardon for himself. The sources noted the conversations have been fluid and the president has been known to change his mind at times.  

Trump has been encouraged by allies to issue pardons to his children and himself over fears of possible criminal investigations, specifically after Trump's call with Georgia state officials regarding the 2020 election results and after Trump and members of his family spoke at a rally held on the National Mall that incited the riot on Capitol Hill.

The list of pardons the Trump administration is expected to issue in the final hours of Trump's presidency is growing smaller, with sources saying the final list could amount to just over 100.  

-ABC News’ John Santucci and Katherine Faulders

Jan 18, 4:29 pm

Biden advisers met with national security officials on inauguration security

Members of Biden's national and homeland security teams met via video conference with current career and acting agency heads to discuss inaugural security, the Biden team announced in a readout of the call on Monday. 

Led by incoming homeland security adviser Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall and temporary adviser to the transition on homeland security Lisa Monaco, the group discussed the "current operational posture for the Washington, D.C. region and the nation," though little information was shared about the actual content of the call.

"Career officials from the National Security Council, the Secret Service, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Defense and other agencies briefed participants on the current security situation and the pace of interagency coordination with state, local, and industry partners," the readout said. "Participants affirmed the importance of continued close coordination in the period leading up to and including Inauguration Day."

Biden's inauguration on Wednesday is expected to be unlike any other, featuring an unprecedented level of security as well as a slew of pandemic precautions. 

 -ABC News' Molly Nagle

Jan 18, 3:46 pm

Melania Trump bids farewell to White House in Twitter video 

First lady Melania Trump on Monday afternoon tweeted a nearly seven-minute long farewell video looking back on her time in the White House. 

She said serving as first lady has been "the greatest honor of my life" and reflected on her "Be Best" initiative, work combatting the opioid crisis and more. 

 

A Farewell Message from First Lady Melania Trump pic.twitter.com/WfG1zg2mt4

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 18, 2021

 

"No words can express the depth of my gratitude for the privilege of having served as your first lady," she said. "To all the people of this country, you will be in my heart forever. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

Her video comes just under two weeks after Trump supporters violently sieged the Capitol building and just days before Biden's inauguration. 

In her farewell message to Americans, the first lady said, "Be passionate in everything you do. But always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified." 

-ABC News' Elizabeth Thomas

Jan 18, 3:37 pm

Harris visits DC nonprofit to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day

To mark the holiday celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Vice President-elect Kamala Harris participated in a service activity focused on food insecurity in the nation's capital on Monday. 

She packed bags of food alongside her husband Doug Emhoff at Martha's Table, an initiative focused on increasing access to healthy meals in Southeast Washington.

"I think it's so important to remember that Dr. King was killed in large part, I believe, because he was on the verge of bringing together the Civil Rights movement around racial justice with the fight for economic justice," Harris said. "And when we look at where we are as a country today, when we look at recent events, we know that the fight that Dr. King was engaged in is still a fight in America, which is to recognize the connection and to recognize our collective responsibility to address these injustices.”

She also spoke about the tasks ahead as she prepares to become vice president, saying she and Biden are going into Wednesday "ready to do the work."

"And we've got a lot of work to do," she added, referencing plans for vaccinations and economic recovery.

When asked if their proposed one-time $1,400 stimulus check was enough for Americans, Harris called it a "start."

"There's a lot more to do, which is why there are so many other components to our relief package and the work that we are committed to doing going forward," she said.

Finally, Harris spoke about how she's feeling ahead of her historic swearing-in, which has faced unprecedented security threats. 

"I am very much looking forward to be sworn in as the next vice president of the United States, and I will walk there, to that moment, proudly with my head up and my shoulders back," Harris said.

-ABC News' Averi Harper

Jan 18, 2:47 pm

Garth Brooks to perform at inauguration

Country singer Garth Brooks will be joining the Biden inauguration celebration on Wednesday and perform during Biden's swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Monday.

Brooks has performed for every president since Jimmy Carter, with the exception of Ronald Reagan. 

He will join previously announced performers Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez. During the virtual press conference, Brooks stressed that his decision to perform at the Capitol was not a political one, but one focused on unity -- a message that the Biden administration has pushed as they get ready to enter office. 

"I am a civilian of the greatest country on the planet," Brooks said. "So our job is to work as hard as we can for all of us to have a better future than before." 

Brooks even quipped that he "might be the only Republican" at the inauguration, but said he wanted to move past the divided nature of the country.  

-ABC News' Molly Nagle

Jan 18, 2:24 pm

Alex Padilla resigns as Calif. secretary of state to assume Harris’ senate seat

Alex Padilla officially resigned as California's secretary of state on Monday in order to assume Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' Senate seat. 

Harris resigned her Senate seat earlier Monday. 

Padilla called it a "true honor and privilege" to serve as California's secretary of state in a statement reflecting on the agency's progress over the past six years. 

"As I prepare to enter the United States Senate, I will carry on the mission of building a more inclusive democracy and economy for all," Padilla added. 

James Schwab, the former chief deputy secretary of state in California, will serve as interim secretary of state.

-ABC News' Kendall Karson

Jan 18, 1:43 pm
21,500 National Guardsmen convene in nation’s capital ahead of inauguration


More than 21,500 National Guardsmen are currently in Washington, the D.C. Guard confirmed to ABC News on Monday.

The security preparations come ahead of Biden’s inauguration and in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol raid conducted by Trump supporters earlier this month.

The ramp-up in the number of guardsmen in the nation's capital means there could be four times as many American military service members in the city than there are in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

The guardsmen are working in shifts to provide round-the-clock security both inside the Capitol and around the perimeter of the Capitol grounds.

Jan 18, 11:49 am
Bidens stop by Philly hunger relief organization

The president-elect and his wife, Jill Biden, stopped by Philabundance, the largest hunger relief organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Monday morning.

The Bidens stopped by the nonprofit food bank to mark the National Day of Service, a holiday that encourages volunteering in your community in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

The president-elect did not take questions about security risks surrounding Inauguration Day.

They were accompanied by their daughter, Ashley, and granddaughter, Finnegan.

The president-elect posed for selfies outside of the building with some masked supporters before the event began.

Clad in his signature aviators and a Philabundance ball cap, Biden was seen sorting canned goods into food boxes at a conveyer belt set up outside the parking lot. His wife also helped out by adding packages of rice to the boxes.

Jan 18, 10:31 am
Capitol building rocked by exterior security threat

The U.S. Capitol building was rocked by an exterior security threat Monday morning that required evacuations from the west front and the crypt.

A loudspeaker announcement blared, urging people inside to stay away from exterior windows.

It is not immediately clear what the threat is.

The threat comes just weeks after a mob of Trump supporters violently raided the building, resulting in the death of five people, and just days ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

Jan 18, 10:10 am
Kamala Harris announces resignation from Senate seat in op-ed

Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, announced her resignation from the Senate in order to take on the role of vice president via an op-ed in her local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle.

Harris writes that serving as California’s senator "has been an honor" and but pledged "this is not goodbye," emphasizing her new role helping Democrats win close votes in the Senate.

She touched on issues that have plagued California in recent years -- including wildfires, racial injustice and COVID-19 -- and highlighted how her office has worked "tirelessly for the people of California" during such difficult times.

"As I resign from the Senate, I am preparing to take an oath that would have me preside over it. As senator-turned-Vice-President Walter Mondale once pointed out, the vice presidency is the only office in our government that 'belongs to both the executive branch and the legislative branch,'" she wrote. "A responsibility made greater with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.”
 
"Since our nation’s founding, only 268 tie-breaking votes have been cast by a Vice President. I intend to work tirelessly as your Vice President, including, if necessary, fulfilling this Constitutional duty,” she added. "At the same time, it is my hope that rather than come to the point of a tie, the Senate will instead find common ground and do the work of the American people."

Jan 18, 10:10 am
Biden’s team outlines immediate priorities as Senate trial looms large over Washington

Inauguration week has finally arrived. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden.

Over the weekend, the incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klein outlined what the president-elect’s immediate priorities will be when he takes office, saying he intends to sign a slew of executive actions. Biden will ask the Department of Education to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest, move to re-join the U.S. into the Paris Climate Agreement that Trump withdrew from, and end Trump’s immigration ban from some Muslim-majority countries, according to Klain. Moreover, Biden will issue a mask mandate on federal property and interstate travel to tackle the pandemic.

On Monday, the president-elect and the future first lady, Jill Biden, will be honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day by volunteering at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, an impeachment looms large during Trump’s final days in office in the wake of his supporters violently mobbing the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month.

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended Trump during an appearance on Fox News, saying he doesn’t blame him for telling his supporters to head to the Capitol.

"How in the hell could that happen? Where was Nancy Pelosi?" Graham said. "It’s her job to provide Capitol security," even though the attackers appeared to be trying to track her down.

He also urged fellow GOP Senators to not impeach Trump.

"And to my Republican colleagues in the Senate, if we embrace an unconstitutional impeachment of Donald Trump after he is out of office, it will destroy the party," he said. "The Republican Party wants to move forward. President Trump's going to be the most important voice in the Republican Party for a long time to come."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


In 2nd Trump impeachment trial, will Chief Justice John Roberts preside?

Senate Television via Getty ImagesBY: DEVIN DWYER AND BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Who will preside over the second Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump remains a key open question as lawmakers prepare to begin the unprecedented proceeding as soon as Inauguration Day.

The U.S. Constitution says that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court "shall preside" over trials of the President of the United States, but it does not specify what happens if the president has left office. No ex-president has ever faced a Senate trial.

The question is complicated by a legal text open to interpretation, and there is no consensus among constitutional scholars or impeachment experts.

"He was president when he committed these offenses. He was president when he was impeached," said Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe. "The whole point of having the chief justice preside in these extremely important presidential cases is because those are the ones that most require the legitimacy, the impartiality, the neutrality and non-partisan character of an independent judge.”

Sources tell ABC News that it will be up to congressional leadership to make the final decision. They could invite Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over Trump's first Senate impeachment trial, to return to the largely ceremonial role, or they could look elsewhere.

If an invitation is extended to Roberts, his participation would likely hinge on his own interpretation of the law, they said.

There is also the chance Roberts may choose to recuse from a Senate trial if Trump or his legal team were to challenge the constitutionality of the proceedings in federal court -- a scenario in which Roberts and the justices could ultimately be asked to rule.

A spokeswoman for the chief justice said he had no comment. Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell have not publicly addressed the format of a trial.

Last week, in a memo to Senate Republicans obtained by the Washington Post, McConnell expressed some doubt about Roberts' participation, writing: “Whether the Chief Justice would actually preside over the trial after President Trump ceases to be President on January 20, however, is unclear," he said, according to the paper.

In Roberts' absence, the responsibility to preside may fall to Vice President Kamala Harris, as incoming president of the Senate, or to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, as president pro tempore, according to experts.

"It would be really bizarre to say any politician, much less the vice president, who was an adversary of Donald Trump, should preside over the trial," Tribe said.

University of Texas law professor Steven Vladeck, a leading constitutional scholar, has also been making the case that the chief justice is the best choice and one authorized by the Constitution.

"The question should be whether the impeached officer was president at the time of impeachment. Here, he was, so Roberts presides," Vladeck wrote on Twitter.

"And if it seems odd to you that the Constitution doesn't speak to this scenario, here's a better one: Who presides over the trial if the *Vice President* is impeached?" he continued. "If nothing else, it's an object lesson in how ambiguous so much of the Constitution is (and always has been)."

Some Republicans, including former federal appellate judge Michael Luttig, have argued that a Senate impeachment trial for a former president is entirely unconstitutional and, therefore, that Roberts should have no role.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump plans to leave in dramatic fashion yet continues to stay out of sight

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. BoghosianBy JORDYN PHELPS, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Monday prepared to depart the White House and Washington on Wednesday in dramatic fashion, but in his final days he continued to stay isolated and out of sight.

He has not held any public events in six days, although aides insist he is hard at work on behalf of the American people, publishing daily on the president’s otherwise empty public schedule that he "will work from early in the morning until late in the evening" and "make many calls and have many meetings."

The president is set to depart Washington early morning Wednesday morning ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in, making him the first president in over 150 years to skip the inauguration of his successor in a ceremonial transition of power.

He will leave Washington behind in Trumpian fashion -- still as president.

Sources familiar with the planning tell ABC News he wants to have a military-style sendoff from Joint Base Andrews Wednesday morning, complete with a military band and a red-carpet walk flanked by troops as he boards Air Force One for the last time, and even possibly a flyover by Air Force fighter jets.

While Trump's sendoff is expected to have extra flourishes, it's not uncommon for an outgoing president to have a final departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, although it usually takes place after the outgoing president has departed the inauguration ceremony for their successor, something Trump will not do.

President Barack Obama delivered farewell remarks in a hangar at the base before walking a red carpet lined with military personnel and climbing the steps up to the presidential jet for one final ride.

Before Trump goes, he is expected to issue pardons and commutations, potentially more than 100. Sources tell ABC News that a self-pardon is a possibility and that the president would like to do it, even though his lawyers have advised against it, warning that such a move is legally questionable.

Trump has long believed he can pardon himself if he chooses and previously insisted he has the "absolute right" to do so.

Democrats, meanwhile, have a team assembled and prepared to make their case for the president’s conviction at a Senate trial as soon as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends over the article of impeachment.

Pelosi has not said when she will transmit the article but might do so as early as Tuesday. Maryland Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin, who will lead the prosecution against President Trump in the Senate, said Sunday the article will be transmitted "soon."

A constitutional law professor, Raskin argues that evidence of the president's role in the charged "incitement of insurrection" is clear and expressed confidence in the Democrats’ case for conviction.

"This was the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America. The most dangerous crime by a president ever committed against the United States," Raskin said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

Still, Democrats face a challenging task in winning a conviction against the president. While there have been three previous presidential impeachments in U.S. history, none has resulted in a conviction in the Senate. Democrats face the difficult task of achieving a two-thirds majority vote, meaning that at least 17 Republicans would have to join with Democrats in voting against a president of their own party.

So far, not a single Republican has gone on record to say they’ll vote to convict Trump, though some have hinted they will consider doing so. But there are other Trump allies who have been vocal in opposing a conviction.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham contend that it would be unconstitutional to convict an ex-president.

"Proceeding with the spectacle of impeachment of a former president is as unwise as it is unconstitutional," Graham wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the weekend. "The Senate's attempt to disqualify a President from future office who is no longer in office, would be an unconstitutional act of political vengeance, not a righteous constitutional act to protect the Nation by removal of an incumbent president."

The constitutionality of an impeachment trial of a former president has never before been tested, though there is some precedent for impeachment proceedings against other former federal officials.

Graham has further admonished his Republican colleagues who dare to consider the merits of the case against the president, arguing that a conviction could do irrevocable damage to the Republican party.

“To my Republican colleagues in the Senate, if we embrace an unconstitutional impeachment of Donald Trump after he is out of office, it will destroy the party,” Graham said in an interview on Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo. “Impeaching him after he leaves office is not only unconstitutional -- from a Republican point of view, it would destroy our party.”

As of Monday morning, it was still unclear who would even represent the president in mounting a legal defense.

On Saturday, the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was spotted at the White House and told ABC News he was working on the president’s impeachment defense. But just one day later, Giuliani said he would not be working on the president’s case after all, citing his participation in the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the violent siege on the Capitol.

“Because I gave an earlier speech [at the Jan. 6 Trump rally before the Capitol riot],” Giuliani told ABC News in a statement late Sunday night. “I am a witness and therefore unable to participate in court or [the] Senate chamber.”

Like the president, Giuliani’s words to the crowd are the subject of scrutiny.

“Let’s have trial by combat,” Giuliani told the crowd that the president later addressed and urged to march on the Capitol.

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died when the crowd of thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators later overtook the Capitol in an effort to prevent Vice President Mike Pence and a joint session of Congress from certifying the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


In scathing draft of letter never made public, Trump chided James Comey for 'erratic,' 'self-indulgent' conduct

Official White House Photo by Shealah CraigheadBy MIKE LEVINE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- In the days before President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director -- one of the most defining moments of his presidency -- Trump penned a scathing letter to Comey that has never been publicly released.

In fact, the four-page letter was never even sent to Comey because White House lawyers quickly determined it should never see the "light of day," Special Counsel Robert Mueller later recounted.

Mueller reviewed the May 2017 letter as part of his wide-ranging investigation and mentioned parts of it in his final report, but the letter has remained largely hidden from the public nearly four years later.

Now, a source connected to Mueller's probe has relayed the contents of the letter to ABC News, which -- especially in light of recent events -- offer a telling look at how Trump viewed the then-leader of the nation's top law enforcement agency.

“Your conduct has grown unpredictable and even erratic – including rambling and self-indulgent public performances that have baffled experts, citizens and law enforcement professionals alike – making it impossible for you to effectively lead this agency,” Trump wrote to Comey.

The letter then chastised Comey for "spen[ding] too much time cultivating a public image, and not enough time getting your own house in order.”

Almost half of the letter focused on Comey's handling of the investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, including Comey's testimony to Congress days earlier defending his decision to publicly announce a year before that Clinton had been "extremely careless" with classified information but should not face charges.

That testimony was “another media circus full of unprofessional conjecture, bizarre legal theories, and irresponsible speculation,” Trump's letter stated.

The letter falsely insisted that Comey's "strange legal decisions and contradictory public statements" had "sowed confusion" and inspired "a near-rebellion by many rank-and-file agents" within the FBI.

Even at the time, FBI officials disputed such claims, which were repeated by White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders when she asserted to a reporter that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey. She later told federal investigators that her comment to the reporter "was not founded on anything," according to Mueller's report.

Seemingly incensed by the wave of media reports that alleged concerning contacts between members of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian operatives, Trump's letter to Comey also derided the doomed FBI director for what the president called Comey’s "failure" to stop "rampant leaking."

“You’ve shown a total inability to control leaks, both within and outside the agency. As a result, intelligence -- real and fake – has been weaponized into an instrument of partisan warfare," the letter said.

Ironically, as president, Trump has been plagued by "leaks" about his own internal deliberations and personal conduct.

Nevertheless, in Comey's testimony to Congress days before he was fired, he publicly confirmed -- for at least the second time -- that the FBI was investigating whether any Trump associates had coordinated with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign.

Mueller's team ultimately found no evidence to support allegations of any coordination with Russia, but the Justice Department's inspector general later concluded that the underlying FBI investigation into members of Trump's campaign was properly opened and based on "sufficient" concerns.

In the letter to Comey, Trump emphasized Comey's repeated assurances that the president was not a focus of the FBI investigation. That changed, though, when Trump fired Comey, prompting Mueller's appointment and launching a new line of inquiry into whether Trump was trying to obstruct a federal investigation.

Still, in the letter, Trump told Comey that his "actions and decisions" reflect "a total lack of judgment and have left our country deeply divided and rightfully angry.”

“America needs an FBI director who inspires confidence across all layers of government, and who the public believes to be fair, impartial and beyond reproach,” Trump concluded.

“You have lost the confidence of the skilled professionals in your command, the congressional lawmakers with whom you work, and the general public whom you serve,” the president added.

Without offering specifics about the letter's contents, the New York Times first reported its existence in September 2017, saying the letter was turned over to Mueller's team and was being described as "an unvarnished view of Mr. Trump’s thinking."

The letter had been put together by the president's senior aide Stephen Miller, based on "arguments and specific language" dictated by Trump, Miller's own research, and then "several rounds of edits" from the president, according to Mueller's report.

Mueller noted that the letter "critique[d] Comey's judgment and conduct, including his May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his handling of the Clinton email investigation, and his failure to hold leakers accountable." But Mueller offered little more about how Trump initially explained his decision to fire Comey.

When the White House Counsel's Office saw Trump's four-page letter, they believed it "should '[n]ot [see the] light of day' and that it would be better to offer '[n]o other rationales' for the firing than what" then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had articulated themselves, Mueller's report said.

In letters they each wrote, Sessions and Rosenstein recommended Comey be fired solely based on his handling of the Clinton email investigation.

After Comey's firing was announced on May 9, 2017, the White House released the letters from Sessions and Rosenstein, along with a brief -- and significantly different -- letter from Trump.

"I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby ... removed from office," Trump wrote in the letter he did send to Comey.

Nearly four years later, Trump is now the one leaving office, accused of mismanaging the U.S. government's response to a deadly, global pandemic, and impeached -- for the second time -- for allegedly inciting a violent mob to storm the U.S. Capitol with unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Trump has defended his actions and rhetoric, calling his second impeachment "a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics."

Two former White House attorneys who, according to Mueller, were involved in the internal deliberations over the initial letter did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment for this article.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Giuliani says he won't represent Trump at president's impeachment trial

ABC NewsBy JONATHAN KARL and MARC NATHANSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani apparently won't be on Trump's impeachment team.

Giuliani, who has been leading the president's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl late Sunday that he will not be part of Trump's legal team for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial due to his involvement in the Jan. 6 Washington, D.C., rally that led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

"Because I gave an earlier speech [at the rally], I am a witness and therefore unable to participate in court or in the Senate chamber," Giuliani said.

Giuliani initially told ABC News he was working on the president's defense, saying Saturday that he was prepared to argue that the president's claims of widespread voter fraud did not constitute incitement to violence because the widely-debunked claims are true.

Giuliani later met with Trump Saturday at the White House.

At the rally, the former New York City mayor urged the crowd to engage in "trial by combat" before rally-goers marched to the Capitol and breached the building as members of Congress were in the process of certifying president-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the attack.

The House of Representatives voted last week to impeach Trump for inciting supporters to storm the Capitol.

A representative for Trump subsequently announced that no decision has been made on the president's legal team.

"President Trump has not yet made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him for the disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy, known as the 'impeachment hoax,'" Hogan Gidley tweeted early Sunday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jeff Zients, Biden's COVID czar, inherits hardest job in administration

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesBy CHEYENNE HASLETT, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- When Joe Biden takes over the presidency on Jan. 20, it won't be an infectious disease doctor or scientist leading his federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it will be Jeff Zients, a 53-year-old well-connected businessman known in Washington circles for his "Mr. Fix-It" ability to navigate thick bureaucracies.

As the nation enters the next coronavirus chapter, all eyes are on what Biden's team will do differently in a pandemic that's spun rapidly out of control. Biden's challenge -- which Zients will have to resolve with a team of other high-profile advisers -- will be to overhaul the Trump administration's system after a year of calling it a failure.

Zients and his wife, who co-founded the nonprofit Urban Alliance and serves as board chair, declined to be interviewed. But in interviews with people close to Zients, friends and colleagues described him as "the right guy for the job" and a relentless executor who's known for jumping onto sinking ships to try and right them.

For his part, Zients has publicly described his career as one spent obsessing over execution, keenly aware that delivering on big ideas is as important as developing them -- a critical awareness given the stumbling blocks currently hampering vaccine rollout.

"Big ideas do change the world -- but not on their own," Zients said in a 2018 commencement speech to business students at American University. "None of it matters unless you execute well, and executing well is really hard."

The logistical hurdles of ending the pandemic will undoubtedly be the largest challenge of his career, which Zients faces with no direct experience in public health. As a product of elite private schools with wealthy friends, his actions will be closely watched by advocacy groups who say the pandemic response must address decades-long health disparities seen in Hispanic and Black communities.

So far, Zients' biggest political achievement has been reviving healthcare.gov after it failed on a national stage, threatening then-President Barack Obama's health care legacy. Over Obama's eight years in office, Zients also served as the first-ever chief performance officer, director of the National Economic Council and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

He came to be known for his well-worn "playbook": figuring out the problem, deciding on a plan, building a team with the most coveted talent and holding everyone accountable for results, according to interviews with friends and colleagues who have worked for him.

Zients repeatedly took the same approach, even on subjects he had "no direct experience in," during the Obama administration and it will be how Zients approaches coronavirus response, said Aneesh Chopra, Obama's chief technology officer during his first term.

Chopra, who has known Zients for over 20 years, worked closely with him when he was chief performance officer and the two were deemed the "IT SWAT team."

Chopra described Zients as someone with a "relentless focus on execution" who garners deep loyalty from his colleagues: "To put it bluntly, I'd run through a brick wall for Jeff," Chopra said. She said he will make up for not being a public health expert by knowing when to leave decisions to them.

But with a U.S. death toll over 390,000 as the world heads into its second year of the pandemic, Chopra acknowledged that this role would be far harder than revamping the failed Obamacare website.

Zients will coordinate the Biden administration's COVID-19 team to carry out the president-elect's plans to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days, boost testing and get Americans to diligently wear masks -- lofty goals that will fall on Zients' shoulders.

But according to friends, Zients has been up against the wall before.

"He's the kind of guy who runs into the fire without drama," said former Human and Health Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, who worked with Zients during the healthcare.gov debacle.

Recalling Zients' reaction to taking on that job, Winston Lord, a longtime friend, said Zients wasn't worried about being associated with the embarrassment if it didn't work.

"When President Obama asked him to take on healthcare.gov, it wasn't, 'Oh, what happens if it fails? What's gonna happen to my reputation?'" Lord said.

"And that's why he is perfectly suited for this daunting task," Lord added.

Zients, who was the best man at Lord's wedding, also used to be his running partner, coaxing Lord to join him on his daily 5 a.m. runs.

Though he hasn't spoken to Zients about his day-to-day work under Biden, Lord speculated that Zients would be well equipped to lead a team through "unbelievable" stress.

"His empathy -- a willingness to treat everyone as an individual -- is just so critical for what we're about to go through," Lord said.

Burwell similarly vouched for the importance of having the right personality for the role.

"Jeff likes music. Jeff likes to dance," said Burwell, now the president of American University. "These are all things that I think are actually quite important as we think about who we're entrusting something that is so important right now to the nation and to each of us as individuals."

And by his own account, Zients isn't opposed to taking risks. He has described himself as ambitiously attracted to sinking ships over "rising stars."

"It feels great to hop on a rising star, to be part of something that's going really well. But it's the toughest situations that test your character, that force you to see what works, who steps up and what matters most," Zients said in his 2018 commencement speech at American.

He described many failed enterprises before he became CEO of the Advisory Board Company and Corporate Executive Board, two businesses he eventually took public that made him over $100 million, and the Cranemere Group, the investment company he co-founded after leaving the Obama administration which has nearly $1 billion in capital.

He's also credited as being one of the investors who brought the Washington Nationals to D.C. from Montreal and is a primary financier behind Call Your Mother Deli, a well-known local D.C. bagel joint that used Zients' kitchen for test runs.

His far-reaching business success was part of the allure for Obama, who said they had similar policy perspectives, but that "it sounded better" to CEOs when it came from Zients, a "rich, successful businessman" who could speak their language, rather than the president.

But those decades in the business world are exactly what rankled progressives when Zients was named COVID-19 czar -- particularly his two-year stint on the board of Facebook and his investments with the Cranemere Group.

Jeff Hauser, founder of the Revolving Door Project, a progressive watchdog group that scrutinizes administration appointees, said he's concerned Zients' business ties will put him more on the side of companies than people.

He also worries that Zients will personally profit after he leaves the position, which is assumed to be temporary, by making investments based on the "inside intel" he garners on the health care industry, Hauser said.

"The COVID-19 response is going to be something that is going to be judged by political actors in the short term and history in the long term. And if it is a vehicle for private profit, people will learn of it and they will remember it and it will forever tarnish his name," Hauser warned.

But even those criticisms are couched in the admission that Zients is "the relatively rare" example of a business person who can succeed in government, he said, noting Zients' attentiveness to organization and process.

"Most of the people brought in from business with those purported attributes fail in government," Hauser said, noting Zients has not failed. "And so he has that going for him."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Why Joe Biden's inauguration will be like no other -- and how to watch

carterdayne/iStockBy KENNEDY BELL, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Cheering crowds with hundreds of thousands of people packed shoulder-to-shoulder.

Glamorous galas, luncheons, balls and a parade.

Inaugurations are usually a jubilant celebration of the peaceful transfer of power in the world's oldest democracy.

But not this year.

In the wake of the violent and deadly breach of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be unlike any other in American history.

Here's what to know:

Unprecedented security and pandemic precautions

An unprecedented level of security is being marshaled for the 59th swearing-in ceremony as law enforcement is on high alert for further possible attacks and unrest.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked public officials to discourage spectators from attending the inauguration in an effort to prevent violence during the event.

Thousands of National Guard troops will be in place around the 7-foot non-scalable fence surrounding the U.S Capitol, which is topped with razor wire. The National Parks service will also implement a temporary public closure of the National Mall from Jan. 15 through Jan. 21.

“Clearly we are in uncharted waters,” Bowser said during a press conference Wednesday.

No Trump and Harris makes history

That is not to mention the fact that for the first time in more than 100 years, the outgoing president, Donald Trump, will not be attending the inauguration, a move that Biden said is "good."

Trump plans to leave Washington the morning of the inauguration in a "military-like" sendoff from Joint Base Andrews, from which he will head to Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Florida.

Outgoing presidents generally greet the incoming president and then ride together to the Capitol for the ceremony. Only three presidents did not attend the inauguration of their successor -- John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson.

Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to subvert the results of the election to keep Trump in power but took 68 days to call his successor, Kamala Harris, will be there.

Harris is set to make history when she is sworn in as the first woman of color to be vice president.

What to watch and how

With the extensive security measures put in place and the need to avoid large crowds to stem the spread of the coronavirus, most Americans will experience the historical ceremony virtually. Here is how you can watch the inauguration on Jan. 20:

  • ABC News will provide wall-to-wall coverage of Inauguration Day, Wednesday, Jan. 20, starting at 7 a.m. ET
  • ABC News Live will also provide live coverage beginning at 9 a.m. ET. You can stream ABC News Live via the ABC News App, Hulu, Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV and Roku TV.
  • The Biden campaign and the Presidential inaugural Committee will also livestream Inauguration Day online.

Ahead of Inauguration Day, there is a National Day of Service planned on Jan. 18 along with a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, followed by a nationwide COVID-19 memorial the next day.

On Jan. 20, the ceremony will feature musical performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez. Lady Gaga, who worked with Biden on a campaign against sexual assault when he was vice president, will sing the national anthem.

Members of the clergy who are close to the Biden family will deliver the invocation benediction and Andrea Hall, the president of the International Association of Firefighters, which has long supported Biden, will recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Following Biden's inaugural address, there will be a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery with other first families. Then there will be a virtual parade that will air featuring performances from across the U.S.

At 8 p.m. EST ABC News will present, “The Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. - An ABC News Special,” that will provide reporting on the historic moments from the day.

Then, at 8:30 p.m. EST ABC will air “Celebrating America,” the primetime special previously announced by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, including performances from Bon Jovi and Demi Lovato among others. The event will be hosted by Tom Hanks.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Impeachment needed to bar Trump from running for federal office: Rep. Joaquin Castro

David Becker/Getty Images)BY: MEG CUNNINGHAM, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — House impeachment managers are prepared to chase every single Senate vote in an attempt to convict President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

"We will make sure that every senator is standing up for this country, that every senator is considering the evidence against President Trump and the fact that he incited a deadly insurrection. And so we're optimistic that when we lay out our case -- we'll be able to convince folks that, in fact, President Trump is responsible for inciting this deadly insurrection and that the Senate should convict," Castro told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos asked Castro if a failed conviction attempt in the Senate would serve as a method of vindication for the president.

"Are you worried that if the Senate fails to convict a second time, there will be some kind of vindication for President Trump?" Stephanopoulos asked Castro, one of nine House members serving as impeachment managers.

"When you're dealing with impeachment, there's a high bar. You need 67 votes, but our plan is to -- is to go after every single vote," Castro replied.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declined to say when she will send the impeachment article to the Senate, but the Senate trial would begin the day after the article is sent. The Senate returns to session on Tuesday, and there is a possibility that the Senate could begin Trump's impeachment trial on Biden's Inauguration Day.

When pressed by Stephanopoulos on when the House plans to deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate, Castro did not provide a clear answer.

"All of us on the impeachment manager team are ready to go," Castro said. "We're ready to lay out the evidence ... and so there is, of course, conversations going on between Speaker Pelosi and the Senate, but we'll be ready to go when it starts."

Castro did not give any additional details on where the impeachment managers fall on witnesses. ABC News reported Saturday night that Trump was considering testifying in the Senate trial and was still very much considering pardoning himself, an unprecedented action never taken by any president.

"If that's something he wants to do, then he's probably going to be able to do that because he's part of the trial because it involves him," Castro said of Trump testifying, adding that the House managers are still discussing how they will handle calling witnesses in the trial.

Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., who was one of only 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach, said in a separate interview on "This Week" Sunday, that the past few days were "absolutely gut-wrenching."

"This was not as easy as just saying what is in our best political interest, but frankly looking at the evidence, looking at the facts of the case," Meijer said. "I think this is a time for reflection, but it's also a time for accountability."

"I'm calling on my party to restore trust, to restore the trust of the voting public and to ensure that ... we never allow that outburst of political violence to occur in our name again," Meijer added.

Stephanopoulos asked Meijer if he was worried his vote to impeach could have ended his career, something Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller insinuated on Twitter.

"Oh, I may very well have, but I think it's also important that we have elected leaders who are not thinking solely about what's in their individual self-interest. Not what is going to be politically expedient, but what we actually need for our country," Meijer said.

Stephanopoulos challenged Meijer as to why so few of his colleagues voted the same way he did.

"How do you explain why so few of your Republican colleagues agreed with you on impeachment, why so many joined those objections the elections had propagated about those false allegations of voter fraud?" he asked.

Meijer said he felt they all arrived at their decisions in an "honest and forthright way.”

Stephanopoulos also challenged Castro on questions about the constitutionality of convicting a president who has already left office. Some Members of Congress, like Sen. Tom Cotton, and other legal scholars and experts have raised that concern.

"Are you concerned that they may be able to find that this is not constitutional, this trial?" Stephanopoulos asked Castro.

"I don't believe so. In fact, one of the other purposes of impeachment in this case is to make sure that the -- that President Trump is not able to run for federal office again, that he's not able to seek the presidency," Castro said. "The reason for that is that somebody who incited a riot, an attempted coup of the United States government should not be president again. So it's not just about making sure that there are consequences to his behavior."

Some Republicans are also arguing that to impeach the president on such grounds would be a violation of the First Amendment and free speech. Stephanopoulos pressed Castro on the argument, but Castro told him the president's incitement of violence superseded any arguments of free-speech violations.

"I think this is quite separate from the First Amendment," Castro said. "This is a president who, knowing that he was in a very combustible, emotionally-charged situation, continued to work up his supporters, not once or twice, but repeatedly over and over, telling a big lie about a stolen election."

Both members also called for accountability for their colleagues in light of recent allegations that some could have "aided and abetted" those who violently stormed the Capitol by providing them with tours or information.

Castro said he is focused on impeachment, but there will be a separate process in investigating those who may have "participated and helped" in that riot. Meijer said he feels it is important that no one jumps to conclusions, but that "anyone who was responsible or participated, they should be held to the fullest extent of the law."

Meijer said the events of Jan. 6 cast a dark shadow over what he feels was a successful four years of a Trump presidency.

"I think it's time that we acknowledge that what happened on Jan. 6 was a betrayal of what had been accomplished over the last four years," Meijer said. "The president brought some necessary energy. ... The challenge was he didn't know when to stop, and he didn't draw a line, and to me, political violence is the line that we must draw."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden team preparing for 'any scenario that should arise' on Inauguration Day

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesBY: MOLLY NAGLE, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Joe Biden is still planning to take his oath of office on the west side of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday despite growing concerns over safety for the event, incoming White House Communication Director Kate Bedingfield said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

“Well, that is certainly our plan,” Bedingfield said when asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos if she was certain the ceremony would go forward as planned.

"I think that will send an incredibly important visual image to the world about the resilience of American democracy. And so our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible with his family outside on the West side of the Capitol on the 20th," Bedingfield said.

Authorities have been tracking an array of potential threats ahead of the inauguration, following the deadly riots at the Capitol. They have led to changes to Biden's inaugural plans -- already altered by the pandemic.

While the oath of office is moving forward as planned, Bedingfield said Sunday that the incoming White House staffers are preparing for any threats that should arise.

"We're in volatile times, and so we are making preparations," she said. "We'll begin meeting tomorrow, daily meetings with the outgoing leadership in national security and law enforcement to ensure that we're preparing for any scenario that should arise after noon on January the 20th."

Despite the increased threats, Biden told reporters on Friday that he felt safe with the inauguration plans, which include an outdoor ceremony where Biden is expected to deliver his inaugural address.

“What can Americans expect to hear on Wednesday? What is the major goal of this address?” Stephanopoulos asked Bedingfield.

"I think you can expect that this will be a moment where President-elect Biden will really work to try to turn the page on the divisiveness and the hatred over the last four years and really lay out a positive, optimistic vision for the country, and ... lay out a path forward that really calls on all of us to work together," Bedingfield said previewing the speech.

Following his oath of office, Biden is preparing for an aggressive start for his administration, planning to sign roughly a dozen executive actions on Inauguration Day itself fulfilling many of Biden's most frequent campaign promises, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, ending the "Muslim Ban" -- put in place under President Donald Trump -- and freezing federal student loans payments and interest.

"President-elect Biden, then President Biden, is going to come into office and take decisive steps to rollback some of the most egregious moves of the Trump administration, and he's gonna take steps to move us forward," Bedingfield said of the lengthy list of executive actions Biden has planned for his first 10 days in office.

The actions will be in addition to Biden's legislative efforts in Congress -- including a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus and COVID relief policy that Biden proposed earlier this week, and Biden's long standing pledge to deliver a comprehensive immigration bill to the legislative body on day one that includes a pathway to citizenship -- while contending with a looming Senate Impeachment trial for Trump.

Biden has already faced some concern from congressional Republicans and even some Democrats about the nearly $2 trillion price tag. When pressed by Stephanopoulos on the pushback, Bedingfield argued there are some signals of bipartisan support for the core of the proposal.

"Sen. (Marco) Rubio supports direct relief checks. Sen. (Mitt) Romney supports expanding the child tax credit. I mean, there is bipartisan support for the big planks of this plan. And I would also note that the plan came about as a result of consultation with bipartisan governors and mayors from all across the country," she said.

But getting the extensive measure through Congress will face further complications amid the second Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump's presidency. Biden has said he would like the Senate to move forward with a "bifurcated" process: splitting the day to make progress on legislative efforts while also holding the trial.

"His great hope is that they're going to be able to do that, and I think if you look, you know, there's precedent for that. If you look at the previous impeachment trial, the Senate was able to move forward on floor business while also conducting the trial," Bedingfield said.

"So, his hope as he's spoken privately to congressional leadership, but also publicly about, is that the Congress is going to be able to move forward on focusing on the virus and on the economy while simultaneously doing their constitutional duty.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Kamala Harris set to resign from US Senate so she can preside over it

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesBY: BEATRICE PETERSON, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is set to resign from the United States Senate on Monday but will not give a speech on the Senate floor which is not in session.

The California native had already started the process of resigning after notifying California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

"This is not a goodbye for Vice President-elect Harris, as she resigns from the Senate, she's preparing to take an oath that will allow her to preside over it. And as vice president, she will work tirelessly ... and in a bipartisan fashion to really achieve the Biden-Harris administration's legislative agenda," an aide to Harris said.

Harris, who is only the second Black woman to serve in the Senate, worked in 1984 for then-Sen. Alan Cranston during her sophomore year at Howard University -- a seat she would later win over 30 years later in November 2016.

A Harris aide noted that they hope that she will not have to break many ties in the Senate, saying that the Biden-Harris team hopes to focus on bipartisan issues.

"Given the fact that the Senate is 50/50 she will serve as the tiebreaker, we hope to not break many ties because we believe that the issues that the Congress will have to take up are bipartisan issues that are of importance to the American people, and that will require and push folks to work in a bipartisan fashion and I think a very good example of that bipartisan work is the stimulus bill is the deal that Democrats and Republicans came together to pass in December, it was a start.”

The aide told ABC News that Harris will not be focused not on whipping votes but instead on building relationships.

Harris, according to the aide, has already spoken to many of her Senate colleagues on the other side of the aisle about one of President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations.

"It is her hope that she doesn't have to break any ties, because we believe that we are going to garner bipartisan support for a number of these issues," one Harris aide said.

During her time in the Senate, Harris worked with various Republicans on a series of issues including anti-lynching and immigration. With Sen. Rand Paul, Harris focused on the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act to encourage states to reform or replace the bail system, and Harris along with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Historic Preservation Program , which passed in 2019, and focused on restoring historic buildings at the schools.

Another Harris aide noted that her relationships with Republicans in the committees have been meaningful and, since the election, Harris has had many "productive conversations" with fellow Republican senators such as Richard Burr, Susan Collins, James Lankford, Mitt Romney and Graham.

There will be no Black senators once Harris steps down this week.

"As we all know, she is now only the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, and with her departure there will be no Black women serving in one of the great the greatest deliberative body in the world and so it is it is something she recognizes she believes that the representation of Black women and their voices are important. And that she hopes to see. And yet more black women, more women of color, serving in that body," the aide said.

"We also have to remember what happened on Jan. 5. On Jan. 5, the people of Georgia sent a black man -- a Black Baptist preacher -- and a young Jewish man to the United States Senate as their senators to represent the state of Georgia, something that many people said could not or would not be done," the aide added. "And so, while there are not currently any Black women after her resignation who will be serving in the United States Senate, there are strides that have been made and we have to continue to push the ball forward."

In late December, Newsom selected the California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Harris. An aide close to Harris said that it is unlikely Padilla would be sworn in on Monday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump-Biden transition live updates: Memo lays out priorities for Biden's 1st 10 days

Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, KENNEDEY BELL, LAUREN KING and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in three days.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach Trump on an article for "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol -- making him the only president to be impeached twice.


Here is how the scene is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 17, 12:23 pm

Man arrested near Capitol allegedly with pistol, large capacity magazine

A Virginia man has been arrested near the Capitol while in possession of a gun, according to authorities.

Gordonsville resident Guy Berry, 22, was arrested at 12:15 a.m. on the 200 block of Massachusetts Avenue, the police report states. He was allegedly in possession of three high capacity magazines and 37 rounds of unregistered ammunition, police said.

Berry was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, possession of a large capacity magazine and unregistered ammunition. 

-ABC News’ Jack Date

Jan 17, 12:23 pm

Lin-Manuel Miranda to join Inauguration Day celebrations

Composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda is the latest celebrity added to the lineup for the inauguration primetime celebration for President-elect Joe Biden.

A mix of famous faces and everyday Americans will appear throughout the event.

Miranda, who created and starred in the musical "Hamilton," is expected to recite a classic work, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Actresses Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will introduce segments throughout the program.

Also participating will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and chairman of the Skyhook Foundation, Chef Jose Andres, founder of World Central Kitchen, labor leader Dolores Huerta, and Kim Ng, the first woman MLB general manager.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Jan 17, 5:17 am

Airbnb looking at possibly canceling reservations in Lansing before protests at Michigan Capitol

Online vacation rental marketplace Airbnb is reviewing, and potentially canceling, reservations in Lansing, Michigan, ahead of planned protests at the Michigan Capitol building.

“If we confirm that guests are associated with a violent hate group or otherwise not allowed on our platform for violating certain community policies prohibiting violence or engaging in criminal activity, we will cancel those reservations and ban them from Airbnb,” a company spokesperson said. “We are in contact with Governor Whitmer’s team, Mayor Schor and Chief Daryl Green about this plan, and if appropriate, we may bring information to the attention of local law enforcement.”

Airbnb’s efforts in Lansing are similar to its efforts in Washington, D.C. as the company seeks to identify people who have used their site and may pose a risk of violence ahead of planned protests.

“Downtown [Lansing] is a vibrant neighborhood and residents and businesses there should feel confident knowing that the Lansing Police Department is working closely with the Michigan State Police, Ingham County Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies to ensure these planned events remain peaceful,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. “Airbnb has always been a fantastic partner with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and this effort continues to demonstrate their civic mindedness and high standards of quality."

Residents of downtown Lansing should stay inside and avoid demonstrations, said Schor.

Jan 16, 10:02 pm

Kamala Harris kicks off week of inauguration events

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris kicked off the first night of inaugural events with closing remarks on Saturday during an event titled "America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers."

Harris noted the work that supporters did to make this moment what it is despite challenges due to coronavirus.

"I'm so excited to officially welcome you to the 59th presidential inauguration," Harris said. "We are here not only to celebrate and mark the start of a new administration, but to honor the work you have done from the primaries to the general election, right up to this very moment -- from Zoom grassroots fundraisers to union meetings on Google Meet to our drive-in rallies -- you were there every step of the way. And on the eve of this inauguration, the president-elect and I thank you for all you have done for our country; we would not be here without you."

Harris shared a message to young Americans to keep fighting and to dream with ambition. She noted that fighting for working people, rooting out systemic racism and combating the climate crisis, while strengthening democracy, are key goals for the administration.

"And I also would not be here without the generations of Americans who struggled and sacrificed to open up opportunity in our country. I stand on their shoulders. And as I've said before, while I may be the first woman to serve as vice president, I will not be the last," she said.

-ABC News' Beatrice Peterson

Jan 16, 6:52 pm

Pence urges new administration to 'stay the course'

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the incoming Biden-Harris administration during a speech at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in Fresno, California, Saturday.

"As a new American administration prepares to take office, we do well to remember as Americans that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and that a free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to our prosperity, our security, and the vitality of freedom in the world," Pence said during his remarks to sailors. 

Pence urged the incoming administration to "stay the course" in the region.

"Do what we’ve done," he said. "Stand up to Chinese aggression and trade abuses. Stand strong for a free and open Indo-Pacific and put America and our freedom-loving allies first."

 The Trump administration identified China as the greatest long-term threat to the U.S. The Asian nation has shown more assertiveness in the region, including expanding its military presence in the South China Sea. 

Biden has said he may keep some of Trump's tariffs in place and expand human rights sanctions, but he's also expected to take a different tact than Trump's "America First" strategy.

-ABC News' Conor Finnegan contributed to this report

Jan 16, 10:43 pm

Incoming White House chief of staff gives overview of Biden's first 10 days

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain gave an overview of the first 10 days of the Biden-Harris administration in a memo to senior staff Saturday shared with reporters.

"President-elect Biden is assuming the presidency in a moment of profound crisis for our nation. We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis. All of these crises demand urgent action," Klain wrote. "In his first 10 days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world." 

The schedule is not comprehensive, Klain noted, but includes:

Jan. 20: Biden plans to ask the Department of Education to extend the pause on student loan payments and interest for Americans with federal student loans, rejoin the Paris Agreement, reverse the "Muslim Ban" (one of Trump's earliest executive orders upon taking office) and issue a mask mandate for federal property and inter-state travel. He will also "take action to extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and provide more than 25 million Americans greater stability."

Jan. 21: Biden plans to sign several executive actions "to move aggressively to change the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses, including by taking action to mitigate spread through expanding testing, protecting workers, and establishing clear public health standards." 

Jan. 22: The president-elect will direct his Cabinet agencies "to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families" impacted by the pandemic. 

Jan. 25-Feb. 1: Among other executive actions, memoranda and Cabinet directives, Biden plans to sign additional executive actions to address the climate crisis, as well as take steps to "strengthen Buy American provisions," reform the criminal justice system, expand health care access and "start the difficult but critical work of reuniting families separated at the border."

 "Full achievement of the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy objectives requires not just the executive actions the president-elect has promised to take, but also robust Congressional action," Klain wrote. 

-ABC News' John Verhovek

Jan 16, 3:53 pm

House Dems open investigation into Capitol attack

House Democrats have opened an investigation into what law enforcement and the intelligence community knew about threats to the Capitol ahead of the Jan. 6 siege.

The investigation from the House Intelligence, Oversight, Homeland Security and Judiciary committees will also examine whether anyone with security clearances -- current or former National Security, Defense, Justice or Homeland Security officials -- participated in the riot.

The investigation will also examine the federal law enforcement response in the aftermath of the attack.

"The Committees will conduct robust oversight to understand what warning signs may have been missed, determine whether there were systemic failures, and consider how to best address countering domestic violent extremism, including remedying any gaps in legislation or policy," committee members wrote in a letter to the FBI, DHS and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"This still-emerging story is one of astounding bravery by some U.S. Capitol Police and other officers; of staggering treachery by violent criminals; and of apparent and high-level failures -- in particular, with respect to intelligence and security preparedness," the letter later stated.

Democrats plan to request documents and briefings from administration officials as part of the investigation -- just one of several looking into the Capitol attack.

-ABC News' Benjamin Siegel

Jan 16, 3:51 pm

Harris to be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor at inauguration

When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes the oath of office at Wednesday's inauguration, the magnitude of her historic election will be marked not only in her remarks but in the details.

The vice president-elect will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another historic female first. Sotomayor is the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.

Harris, according to a source with knowledge, told ABC News that the vice president-elect was inspired by Justice Sotomayor's background. The pair both previously served as former prosecutors -- Harris in California, Sotomayor in New York.

During her victory speech, Harris weaved in an adage from her mother, Shymala Gopalan Harris, who often told her she would be the first to do many things, but urged her to open doors for others.

"While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," said Harris.

-ABC News' Averi Harper and Beatrice Peterson

Jan 16, 3:28 pm

Harris stresses importance of 'following the science'

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Saturday echoed Biden's message on listening to science as the country faces challenges such as the pandemic and climate change.

"The importance of ... following the science, of listening to the scientists, is clear everywhere we look -- from a pandemic that has taken such a devastating toll, partly because our nation's leaders did not listen to the scientists from the start, to raging wildfires, record-breaking storms and a climate crisis that scientists agree is caused by human beings," Harris said during a press briefing on the administration's science team.

The administration will additionally invest in STEM education "and the next generation of scientists, including women scientists and scientists of color," she said.

Harris also spoke about her personal connection to research as the daughter of a cancer researcher, and she encouraged the next generation of scientists.

"I have a message for all the little girls and boys out there who dream of growing up to be a superhero,” she said. “Superheroes aren’t just about our imagination. They are walking among us. They are teachers and doctors and scientists."

"And you can grow up to be like them, too, so let's dream big, lead with conviction, and see ourselves, each one us, as the superheroes of tomorrow," she added.

-ABC News' Beatrice Peterson, Molly Nagle and John Verhovek

Jan 16, 3:14 pm

Maria Zuber to serve on 4th White House administration 

In addition to Frances Arnold, Maria Zuber will co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

This will be her fourth time serving in a White House administration.

"I look forward to continuing to advocate for science and a nonpartisan manner in this new role," said Zuber, who is Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s vice president for research and E. A. Griswold professor of geophysics. "I am thrilled with the challenge and the opportunity to work together with the scientific leadership of this administration to restore trust in science and pursue breakthroughs that benefit all people.”

Zuber said that the work is critical "as the pandemic continues to rage." 

Beyond the pandemic, she highlighted other areas of focus for the team, including the "transition to a zero-carbon energy system, our need to create good-paying jobs of the future and other aspects of our existential fight against climate change." 

Zuber grew up in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, which she described as once being coal country. Both of her grandparents mined and died of black lung, she said, while noting that communities like hers still haven't recovered long after mining jobs have left. 

"I could not be more excited for the efforts of this administration to deploy science to help breathe new life into these places, into so many communities large and small that are hurting today," she said. "Bold scientific leadership will be a critical component of building back better, guarding our health and safety, helping spark new, clean industries, and keeping America competitive in the race for those well-paying jobs of the future." 

 Zuber was the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission and the first woman to lead a science department at MIT.  

In 2004, former President George W. Bush appointed her to the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In 2013, former President Barack Obama appointed her to the National Science Board, and President Trump reappointed her in 2018.

Jan 16, 3:08 pm

Francis Arnold to co-chair President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

During remarks on Saturday, Biden introduced Francis Arnold as co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and part of the first all-women team to lead the council. Arnold is the first woman in American history to receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and is currently the Linus Pauling professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering, and biochemistry and director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology. Arnold has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Known for her contributions to renewable energy, Arnold co-founded three biotechnology companies in sustainable chemistry and agriculture.

"My belief has grown that our highest responsibility in each generation is to preserve our fragile planet, prepare our economy and our workforce for the future and pass on a better world," Arnold said in her remarks Saturday.

"When we put science back to work for the benefit of all people, revitalizing our economy, fueling our climate response, broadening our perspective as we rebuild around greater equity and opportunity, we are making a society that is worth passing on to our children and our grandchildren. It is an act of love. I am honored by the opportunity to help nurture this effort," Arnold said.

Jan 16, 2:39 pm

Alondra Nelson says she will focus on science and tech that 'reflects us all'

As deputy director for science and society for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Alondra Nelson said she wants to promote scientific research that is "honest and inclusive."

"As a Black woman researcher, I am keenly aware of those who are missing from these rooms," Nelson said Saturday during a press briefing introducing key members of the Biden administration's science team. "I believe we have a responsibility to work together to make sure that our science and technology reflects us and when it does, that it reflects all of us. That it reflects who we are together."

Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council and a Princeton University professor, is known for her research at the intersection of science, politics and social inequality.

"There has never been a more important moment for scientific development -- to get scientific development right or to situate that development in our values of equality, accountability, justice, and trustworthiness," Nelson said.

Jan 16, 2:35 pm

Biden's presidential science adviser will be elevated to a cabinet-level position

Eric Lander is Biden's nominee for presidential science adviser, a position Biden announced Saturday he is elevating to a Cabinet-level position for the first time in U.S. history.

Lander served as the co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) during the Obama-Biden administration. He currently serves as president and the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Landon is also one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project.

"It's not hyperbole to suggest that Dr. Lander's work has changed the course of human history. His role in helping us map the genome, pull back the curtain on human disease, allowing scientists ever since and for generations to come to explore the molecular basis for some of the most devastating illnesses affecting our world," Biden said.

In his remarks Saturday, Lander said, "The President-Elect knows that science and technology will be crucial in meeting this moment," adding that "America's greatest asset, I think, is our unrivaled diversity. After all, scientific progress is about seeing something that no one’s ever seen before. Because they bring a different lens, different experiences, different questions, different passions. No one can top America in that regard. But we have to ensure that everyone not only has a seat at the table, but a place at the lab bench."

Jan 16, 2:23 pm

Biden administration will 'lead with science and truth'

Addressing the coronavirus pandemic, confronting the climate crisis and building public trust in science and technology will be among the Biden administration's key areas of focus, the president-elect said during a press briefing introducing four key members of his science team.

Building back the economy "to ensure prosperity is fully shared all across America" and ensuring the U.S. "leads the world in technologies and industries that the future" will also be a focus, Biden said Saturday during an address in Wilmington, Delaware.

Helping lead those initiatives will be Eric Lander, the presidential science advisor-designate, a position that for the first time will be a cabinet rank, Biden noted.

"I've always said that the Biden-Harris administration will lead with science and truth," Biden said. "We believe in both. This is how we're going to, God willing, overcome the pandemic and build our country back better than it was before. That's why for the first time in history, I'm going to be elevating the presidential science advisor to a Cabinet rank, because we think it's that important."

Frances Arnold and Maria Zuber will be at the helm of the first all-women team to lead the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Alondra Nelson will also be deputy director for science and society for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Dr. Francis Collins, who was not present at the event, will also continue in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health. Biden thanked him for "being willing to stay on," saying that it wasn't his original plan.

"I've known Dr. Collins for many years. I worked with him closely," Biden said, accling him "brilliant, a pioneer, a true leader."

"This is the most exciting announcement that I have gotten to make in the entire Cabinet," Biden said of his picks. "These are among the brightest, most dedicated people, not only in the country but the world."

Jan 16, 1:14 pm

Mike Lindell’s meeting with Trump

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on Friday was pictured outside of the Oval Office with a document appearing to detail drastic actions just days away from Biden's inauguration. The pillow inventor, who previously called for “martial law” in a now-deleted tweet, confirmed to ABC News that he met with Trump and presented him with a separate document filled with theories regarding election hacking.

The theories are related to repeatedly discredited claims that Trump had actually won the election. 

The photograph went viral on Twitter after users speculated the document showed mentions of “martial law” and the “insurrection act.” 

White House sources stressed that nothing Lindell presented was taken seriously nor would it be acted upon by administration officials. 

 In an interview with ABC News, Lindell, a fierce supporter of the president, said his meeting with Trump was brief ("it was real fast") and said White House lawyers who reviewed the documents after his meeting with the president seemed “disengaged” and “disinterested,” which he said was “disturbing.” 

“There was no mention of martial law,” Lindell said regarding the document photographed by the Washington Post, which he claims comes from one of the attorneys he said he has hired to investigate election fraud but would not identify to ABC News. 

Another section of the notes appears to read, "Move Kash Patel to CIA Acting" and "Make clear this is China/Iran." Much of the notes are not visible in the photo.

 When asked if he read that document, Lindell told ABC News, “I glanced at it.” 

 “I'm going to be honest. I read that -- I don't know the names. I don't understand half the stuff on there," Lindell said. "...I don't know the names on there. I think there were suggestions on who to move."

 Lindell said the photographed document was just a part of the bigger packet he had brought to the White House, and that his main intention was to show the president an article that alleges multiple foreign countries hacked the 2020 U.S. election. He said during the brief time he had with the president, he spoke to him about this article.

 -ABC News’ Will Steakin, Soorin Kim and John Santucci

Jan 16, 12:15 pm

Biden to introduce picks for White House science team

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will introduce key picks for their science team in Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday afternoon.

The picks are:

-Eric Lander: Nominee for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and presidential science advisor-designate.

-Alondra Nelson: OSTP deputy director for science and society

-Frances H. Arnold: Co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

-Maria Zuber: Co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

In a press release, the Biden transition team said the picks will help the Biden-Harris administration "confront some of the biggest crises and challenges of our time, from climate change and the impact of technology on society to pandemics, racial inequity, and the current historic economic downturn."

Jan 16, 10:36 am

Biden announces 5 key nominations at State Department

Biden has announced a new slate of nominations and staff at the Department of State. Many of the picks have ties to both Biden and former President Barack Obama.

The picks are:

-Wendy R. Sherman: Deputy secretary of state

-Brian P. McKeon: Deputy secretary for management and resources

-Bonnie Jenkins: Under secretary for arms control and international security affairs

-Victoria Nuland: Under secretary for political affairs

-Uzra Zeya: Under secretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights

In a statement, the Biden transition team said these key nominations will help "build back better at the State Department, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep us safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, China, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change. They will put into practice the President-elect and Secretary-designate’s vision of a foreign policy that promotes America’s security, prosperity, and values, and delivers for the middle class."

-ABC News' Beatrice Peterson

Jan 15, 11:23 pm

Alex Azar refutes resignation, but criticizes Trump rhetoric

Late Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar refuted several media reports that he was resigning early, but did share his resignation letter -- effective Jan. 20 at noon -- on Twitter.

While Azar wrote on Twitter that it was his "duty to help ensure a smooth transition to President-elect Biden’s team during the pandemic" through Inauguration Day, he did criticize President Donald Trump and called on him to more strongly condemn the violence at the Capitol last week.

"Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this Administration," Azar wrote in the resignation letter. "The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world. I implore you to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence, to demand that no one attempt to disrupt the inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere, and to continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power on January 20, 2021.”

Azar clarified he handed in the letter, dated Jan. 12, last week "along with every other political appointee."

The two-page letter, in which he calls serving as HHS secretary "the greatest professional privilege and honor of my life," details the administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Azar paints an entirely rosy picture, referring to it as a "remarkable response," despite skyrocketing deaths and case rates across most of the nation.

"While we mourn every lost life, our early, aggressive, and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of American lives," he wrote, echoing a refrain from the president. There have been over 391,000 deaths in the U.S., nearly twice the number of the second-highest country (208,000 in Brazil).

He also highlighted the agency's efforts to combat the opioid crisis, electronic cigarettes and the HIV epidemic, and made special mention of "protect[ing] the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death."

Azar has served as HHS secretary since January 2018. President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, to serve as his HHS chief.

ABC News' Ben Siu contributed to this report.

Jan 15, 6:46 pm
Barry Berke, veteran of Trump's 1st impeachment, to be House Dems' top lawyer for 2nd trial


Barry Berke, the veteran New York defense lawyer who helped House Democrats argue President Donald Trump's first impeachment last year, will rejoin the House Judiciary Committee as the panel's lead impeachment lawyer for Trump's second trial, the panel announced Friday.

Berke will serve as chief impeachment counsel, supported by a team of attorneys from the House Judiciary and Oversight committees who helped Democrats make their case to the Senate last year that Trump abused his office by trying to pressure Ukraine's president to dig up dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled a team of nine new impeachment managers to make the case that Trump should be convicted of inciting the Capitol Hill riot that left five people dead, the presence of Berke and the rest of the legal team underscores the unique position House Democrats are in: For the first time in American history, they will have a team of lawyers behind them with experience arguing in a Senate impeachment trial.

Democrats could transmit the impeachment article to the Senate as early as next week, which could trigger the start of proceedings following Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

There has been no official announcement on who will represent Trump in the trial, but personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz, who took part in the last trial, may be on the team, sources told ABC News. Trump favorite John Eastman, who led a failed election challenge to the Supreme Court, could also join the team.

-ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel

Jan 15, 5:35 pm
Biden says he feels safe for inauguration


As law enforcement agencies prepare for Wednesday's inauguration, Biden told reporters he feels safe about the upcoming ceremony.

When asked at the end of a briefing on his vaccination plan Friday if he felt safe about Inauguration Day based on the intelligence he’s seen, the president-elect simply, loudly and clearly said “Yes” before exiting the room.

The FBI, DHS, Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police, along with several local law enforcement agencies, have issued an extensive "threat assessment" surrounding Wednesday's inauguration.

There also will be 25,000 National Guardsmen in the nation’s capital to aid with security that day, ABC News has learned.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle

Jan 15, 4:40 pm
Kentucky State Capitol grounds to close Sunday


The Kentucky State Capitol grounds will be closed on Sunday, amid reports of threats against state capitols in the coming days, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday.

“Our commitment is that what happened at the U.S. Capitol will not happen here,” Beshear said in a statement.

There will be an increased law enforcement presence at the state Capitol for the next several days, including support from the Kentucky National Guard, and areas near the Capitol will be closed on Sunday, the governor said.

There are no gatherings or rallies planned in the coming days, he noted.

Jan 15, 4:24 pm
Biden announces 5-point vaccination plan


Biden outlined a five-point vaccination plan Friday to ramp up rollout when he takes office.

On day one, he said he plans to instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to start opening the first of thousands of federally supported community vaccination centers across the nation. By the end of his first month in office, 100 of these centers will be open, Biden said, at places that are "convenient and accessible," such as school gymnasiums, community centers and sports stadiums.

"As we build them, we're going to make sure it's done equitably," Biden said. "We're going to make sure there are vaccination sites in areas hit harder by the pandemic, in Black and Hispanic communities as well."

Within the first month, his administration also plans to promote mobile vaccination clinics "to hard-hit and hard-to-reach communities in cities, small towns and in rural communities," he said.

Thirdly, the administration plans to "fully activate the pharmacies across the country to get the vaccination into more arms as quickly as possible," Biden said. This will include working with both independent and chain pharmacies to help people more easily make appointments, he said.

The fourth point of the plan involves ramping up vaccine supply through the Defense Production Act, Biden said.

"We'll use the Defense Protection Act to work with private industry to accelerate the making of materials needed to supply and administer the vaccine, from tubes and syringes to protective equipment," Biden said.

Lastly, Biden promised transparency on vaccine supply.

"We're going to make sure state and local officials know how much supply they'll be getting and when they can expect to get it so they can plan," he said. "Right now, we're hearing that they can't plan, because they don't know how much supply of vaccines they can expect at what time frame."

Biden stressed that his administration is not changing the Food and Drug Administration's recommended dosing schedules.

"We believe it's critical that everyone should get two doses within the FDA-recommended time frame. So we're not doing away with that availability," he said.

Jan 15, 3:52 pm
Top White House science team members announced

Ahead of planned remarks Friday afternoon on his vaccination program, Biden released the names of top members of his White House science team.

Dr. Francis Collins will continue in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health, Biden announced.

Biden also wrote a letter to Dr. Eric Lander, the presidential science advisor-designate and nominee for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), tasking him to "work broadly and transparently with the diverse scientific leadership of American society."

Here are all the positions announced Friday by the Biden team:


-Dr. Eric Lander will be nominated as director of the OSTP and serve as the presidential science advisor.

-Dr. Alondra Nelson will serve as OSTP deputy director for science and society.

-Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber will serve as the external co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

-Dr. Francis Collins will continue serving in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health.

-Kei Koizumi will serve as OSTP chief of staff and is one of the nation’s leading experts on the federal science budget.

-Narda Jones will serve as OSTP legislative affairs director.

-ABC News' John Verhovek

Jan 15, 3:52 pm
Buttigieg's nomination hearing expected next week


The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is expected to hold Pete Buttigieg's nomination hearing for transportation secretary on Thursday at 10 a.m.

This is the sixth Cabinet-level nomination hearing to be noticed. Others expected for next week: Avril Haines to serve as director of national intelligence, Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary, Tony Blinken to serve as secretary of state, Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense, and Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as Department of Homeland Security secretary.

Jan 15, 3:05 pm
Avril Haines nomination hearing scheduled for Tuesday


The nomination hearing for Avril Haines, Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, is now scheduled for Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced. The hearing is slated to start at 10 a.m. ET.

It was originally scheduled for Friday but was then postponed.

Jan 15, 2:48 pm
Army says there will be 25,000 National Guardsman in DC for inauguration


A spokesperson for the U.S. Army confirmed that there will be 25,000 National Guardsmen in the nation’s capital to aid with security for Biden’s inauguration.

“The Defense Department has agreed to provide up to 25,000 service members to support the Presidential Inauguration National Special Security Event federal law enforcement mission and security preparations, as led by the U.S. Secret Service,” the spokesperson said. “The Department of the Army and the National Guard Bureau are working on a sourcing solution now to support this request.”

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jan 15, 2:00 pm
Officials issue wide-ranging ‘threat assessment’ ahead of Biden’s inauguration


The FBI, DHS, Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police, along with several local law enforcement agencies, have issued an extensive "threat assessment" surrounding Wednesday's inauguration.

It covers a range of threats surrounding the inauguration, including not only physical threats from domestic terrorists but also influence campaigns from Russia, China and Iran stemming from the Capitol siege. It even covers physical threats from drones.

The memo says domestic extremists is the “most likely” threat to the inauguration, citing recent incidents of ideologically motivated violence, including the deadly mob at the U.S. Capitol building.

Regarding foreign concerns, the assessment said that since the incident at the Capitol, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.”

“We have not identified any specific, credible information indicating that these actors intend to explicitly commit violence,” it added. “Furthermore, we have not identified any specific, credible cyber threat to critical infrastructure supporting the upcoming Presidential Inauguration nor a specific credible cyber threat to military or law enforcement personnel supporting the event."

The memo did say, however, that Russian state media has “amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship.”

Iranian state media has “continued to stoke claims that President Trump encouraged and incited the violence, as well as calls to invoke the 25th amendment,” the memo added. It has also “amplified perceived concerns related to President Trump’s mental health and the prospect of other risky actions he could take before leaving office.”

Finally, it noted that Chinese media has “seized the story to denigrate US democratic governance -- casting the United States as broadly in decline -- and to justify China’s crackdown on protestors in Hong Kong."

Lastly, the memo warned that drones could disrupt law enforcement operations at the inauguration, though it added that it does not have “specific, credible information” indicating malicious actors have plans to use unmanned aircraft systems to target the event.

-ABC News’ Mike Levine

Jan 15, 1:40 pm
Vice President Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Harris

Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on a call Thursday, sources familiar with the call told ABC News.

The news was first reported by the New York Times. 


Jan 15, 1:36 pm
How Trump plans to leave the White House

Sources told ABC News that Trump has requested a large sendoff hours before President-elect Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday.  


Sources say Trump plans to depart the White House next Wednesday morning, choppering via Marine One to Joint Base Andrews where he is expected to give remarks to supporters and departing members of his administration. 

Sources add that Trump has requested the event to have a "military-like feel" though details are still not finalized. The president will then fly down to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida onboard Air Force One with a small number of staffers who will be part of his post-presidency operation, according to the sources. 

Jan 15, 1:30 pm
DC mayor says National Mall will be temporarily closed for Biden’s inauguration


During a news conference Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the National Mall is temporarily closed to the public through at least Thursday. 

Thirteen metro stations inside the security perimeter will also be closed. 

Bowser said the National Mall closure came at the request of and in cooperation with the Secret Service and the National Park Service.

The mayor urged Americans to enjoy the inauguration virtually from home this year. 

She also discussed the city’s beefed-up security ahead of the inauguration but told D.C. residents she doesn’t expect the security measures currently in place to last too long after Biden takes office.

Jan 15, 12:55 pm
Nomination hearing for Avril Haines postponed

The nomination hearing for Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has been postponed. It was originally scheduled for Friday.

A joint statement from Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Marco Rubio and Vice Chairman Mark Warner on Thursday confirmed the postponement. It did not give specific reasons, but referenced the “unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill.”

Rubio and Warner added that they "look forward to holding a hearing next week" for Haines, but did not list a specific date.

Jan 15, 12:49 pm
Extremism seen on Jan. 6 'very likely part of an ongoing trend'

Far from a one-off event, the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol emboldened extremists and “is very likely part of an ongoing trend,” according to a joint intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News.

The trend involves domestic extremists exploiting lawful gatherings to engage in violence and criminal activity and the bulletin said that “very likely will increase throughout 2021.”

Targets include racial, ethnic and religious minorities along with journalists and government officials.

“Narratives surrounding the perceived success of the 6 January breach of the US Capitol, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories will likely lead to an increased [domestic violent extremist] threat towards representatives of federal, state, and local governments across the United States, particularly in the lead-in to the 20 January Presidential Inauguration,” the bulletin said.

Beyond the inauguration, the bulletin said gun control legislation, the easing of immigration restrictions and limits on the use of public land could antagonize extremists.

There is a range of groups that share what the bulletin called the “false narrative of a stolen election.”

“In-person engagement between domestic violent extremists of differing ideological goals during the Capitol breach likely served to foster connections, which may increase DVEs’ willingness, capability, and motivation to attack and undermine a government they view as illegitimate,” the bulletin said.

Jan 15, 12:43 pm
Incoming WH press secretary reveals some details of Biden's vaccine push

In a series of tweets Friday, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki provided some information on the structure of the Biden administration's vaccination effort and confirmed that the program will not go by the "Operation Warp Speed" name created by the Trump administration.

Psaki also said that Bechara Choucair, previously announced as the Biden team's vaccination coordinator, will lead the 100 million doses delivered in 100 days effort, while Dr. David Kessler's role will focus on maximizing the current supply of vaccine and to get more online as quickly as possible.

Jan 15, 12:17 pm
Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen and John Legend to perform at Biden's inauguration event

Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, the Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen have joined the growing list of celebrities who will appear at the star-studded event celebrating Biden's inauguration next week.
The event, hosted by Tom Hanks, will be a primetime television special that will air the night after the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20.

Longoria and Washington "will introduce segments throughout the night ranging from stories of young people making a difference in their communities to musical performances," Biden's inaugural committee said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, the Foo Fighters, Springsteen and Legend will perform remotely "from iconic locations across the country, joining Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons and Jon Bon Jovi with additional performances to be announced ahead of January 20," the committee said.

The committee had previously announced that Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem while Biden and Harris are sworn in. Jennifer Lopez will also give a musical performance.

Jan 15, 12:06 pm
Pelosi says managers are 'preparing' for Trump's impeachment trial

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that "our managers are solemnly and prayerfully preparing" for Trump's impeachment trial, "which they will take to the Senate."

"Justice is called for as we address the active insurrection that was perpetrated against the Capitol complex last week," Pelosi said during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

Pelosi did not specify when the article of impeachment will be sent to the Senate, prompting the trial. According to Senate rules, the trial would begin the day after the impeachment charge is sent over by the House of Representatives.

"You'll be the first to know when we announce that we're going over there," she told reporters.

Pelosi noted how quickly the House voted to impeach the president, just one week after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which she said was "incentivised" by Trump.

"So urgent was the matter," she told reporters.

When asked about the role members of Congress may have played in the riot, Pelosi said they would be held accountable.

"If it in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime," she said, "there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution."

The speaker also announced that she's asked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore -- who helped coordinate the military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina -- to lead an "immediate review" of security failings at the Capitol, reviewing security infrastructure, the interagency process, and command and control.

At the start of Friday's press conference, Pelosi quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

Jan 15, 11:08 am
Biden announces additions to White House staff

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have announced additional White House picks -- with many familiar faces from Biden's 2020 campaign staff.

While she was not expected to join the administration and instead return to her communication’s firm SKDKnickerbocker, Anita Dunn will be serving as a senior adviser to the president -- marking yet another longtime Biden adviser and a member of the highest echelons of his campaign joining the White House in a senior role.

TJ Ducklo, the national spokesperson for the campaign, will also join the White House as deputy press secretary alongside Karine Jean-Pierre. Deputy press secretary Matt Hill will join as a senior associate communications director.

Biden’s campaign photographer and videographer will also take on similar roles in the administration.

Jan 15, 9:37 am
House committee asks hotels, travel companies to help identify 'inciters and attackers'


The House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Reform has sent letters to two dozen hotels and private travel companies seeking help in identifying rioters and preventing future attacks in Washington, D.C., ahead of Biden's inauguration.

"While the inciters and attackers bear direct responsibility for the siege on the Capitol and will be held fully accountable, they relied on a range of companies and services to get them there and house them once they arrived—companies that law-abiding Americans use every day, but whose services were hijacked to further the January 6 attacks," committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote in the letters. "Trump supporters chartered scores of buses and vans and drove in caravans to the nation’s capital. They stayed in D.C. hotels, with videos showing attackers relaxing in the lobby of one hotel after the insurrection."

The committee has asked the businesses -- ranging from major hotel chains to bus and car rental companies -- to retain records of January reservations for future congressional investigations, to put in place additional screening measures "to ensure that your services are not being used to facilitate violence or domestic terrorism," and to provide information to the committee by Jan. 29 on those measures.

Jan 15, 8:54 am
FBI warns of possible explosives at expected protests linked to inauguration


The danger to the public and to law enforcement officers from explosive devices during expected upcoming protests "is substantial," the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a new awareness bulletin obtained by ABC News on Friday.

The document is full of photos of devices used in the last eight months against civilian and law enforcement targets during public demonstrations.

"Devices targeting infrastructure also increased following violent activity during this time period," the bulletin states.

The FBI now wants to make first responders aware of what has been deployed in the past and what they might encounter during protests linked to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

"The danger posed to law enforcement officers and the general public from the all the tactics listed is substantial," the bulletin states. "If a suspicious item is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an IED, or other hazardous material, DO NOT touch, tamper with, or move the item. Only bomb disposal personal should handle any suspected devices that are located."

An internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News earlier this week stated that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols as well as at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, least through Inauguration Day.

The warning comes after suspected pipe bombs were found last week outside both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee headquarters, just a few blocks from the Capitol where pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

Jan 15, 8:33 am
Biden picks former FDA head to help lead Operation Warp Speed


Biden has chosen Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help lead the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine initiative.

Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the FDA from 1999 to 1997 under the Bush and Clinton administrations, will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is the current chief science officer to Operation Warp Speed.

Biden also announced several other appointees who will join his incoming administration's COVID-19 response team.

"We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus," the president-elect said in a statement Thursday. "The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better."

Jan 15, 7:46 am
Biden announces pick for FEMA chief, other key administration posts


With just five days until his inauguration, Biden announced Thursday his pick to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with several other key posts for his incoming administration.

Deanne Criswell is his nominee for FEMA administrator. Janet McCabe is his nominee for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shalanda Young is his nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Jason Miller is his nominee for deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. And David Cohen is his appointee for deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

"These dedicated and distinguished leaders will bring the highest level of experience, integrity, and knowledge to bear on behalf of the American people," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans. I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people's lives."

Jan 14, 10:46 pm
New California senator says he's prepared for impeachment trial, coronavirus response


Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State and the man who will fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the Senate, told ABC News he’s prepared to balance both the impeachment trial and response to COVID-19 when he’s sworn in next week.

“We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Padilla said. “It’s not either or, COVID-19 response is absolutely important. Holding President Trump accountable is extremely important. And doing our part, as the Biden-Harris administration settles, is also extremely important. So we're prepared to do what it takes.”

 

"There has to be accountability, nobody is above the law."@AlexPadilla4CA, U.S. Senator Designate for California, joins @ABCNewsLive to discuss impeachment and the COVID-19 pandemic. https://t.co/d08otzkRdW pic.twitter.com/9j95A4SCaQ

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 15, 2021

 

He said he doesn’t know how the Senate will vote, but believes a “rebalanced leadership” with Democrats in the White House, Senate and House, will give the party “tremendous opportunity” to achieve their goals.

When asked whether he believes last week’s riot at the Capitol would embolden further attacks, he said, “Frankly, when I saw the images last Wednesday, it only emboldened my resolve to want to get to work, and want to get to work quickly.”

Jan 14, 10:46 pm
Va. governor ready for potential threat at state capital


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he sent 2,000 National Guardsmen and hundreds of state police to help stop the president’s supporters from rioting at the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress last week.

Now, with Biden’s inauguration just days away, he said his state is prepared to ensure a peaceful transition of power in Washington, D.C., and ready to face any other threats that might emerge after multiple recent reports of threats at capital buildings throughout the country.

“Unfortunately, we have experience here in Virginia,” Northam told ABC News’ Linsey Davis. “We had the riots in Charlottesville back in August 2017, and then we had a lot of armed protesters in January (2020), and so, we have some experience.”

 

"Words have meaning, and our leaders need to be very careful with how they message to those that support them."@GovernorVA Ralph Northam joins @ABCNewsLive to discuss security precautions Virginia is taking following U.S. Capitol siege. https://t.co/d08otzkRdW pic.twitter.com/M9FRYQlRse

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 15, 2021

 

With fences posted around the state’s capital building and windows boarded up, Northam said it’s “an unfortunate situation, but we’ve made it known to these individuals that if they come here looking for trouble, that we’re ready and the outcome is not going to be good for them.”

Northam said that the riot at the Capitol has also impacted his state’s ability to vaccinate people for the coronavirus.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re having to use the resources that we are (using),” he said. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. … The Guardsmen, they’ve been very involved with our testing and now our vaccination program. We’d like to have them doing that, but instead, we have a president that has incited violence and we need to protect the country.”

Jan 14, 8:42 pm
Biden outlines major points of recovery plan during his address


Biden outlined the major points of his rescue plan: a $1.9 trillion proposal that includes a nationwide vaccination program, $1,400 checks for individuals, an extension and expansion of unemployment benefits and help for struggling communities and businesses.

Biden placed particular emphasis on housing and food insecurity and spoke about expanding SNAP benefits. He said his policy plan would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, potentially previewing an executive action we could see next week. He also asked Congress to appropriate funds for rental assistance.

Biden, who preached bipartisanship while on the trail, said both he and Vice President-elect Harris had spoken with officials, mayors, and governors of both parties on a regular basis to address the problems across the country.

 

President-elect Biden: “There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.” https://t.co/HM56zeUPmw pic.twitter.com/xvaVDo2Bb3

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 15, 2021

 

The president-elect also emphasized his plan's focus on helping small businesses and minority-owned businesses in particular, criticizing the Trump administration's initial approach which he said favored the wealthy and well-connected.

"Last week, I laid out how we'll make sure that our emergency small business relief is distributed swiftly and equitably, unlike the first time around. We're going to focus on small businesses, on Main Street. We'll focus on minority-owned small businesses, women-owned small businesses, and finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and to rebuild," Biden said.

He also pushed his plan for a mandatory federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

"People tell me that's going to be hard to pass. Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is, they just passed it. The rest of the country is ready to move as well," he said. "No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line. And that's what it means. If you work for less than $15 an hour and work 40 hours a week, you're living in poverty."

 

President-elect Biden: “The very health of our nation is at stake… We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most.” https://t.co/s8IAVd0H4U pic.twitter.com/CEQPOjxYgy

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 15, 2021

 

He frankly noted the "bold, practical" policy he was putting forward did not come cheap but argued there was no option to act.

"I know what I just described does not come cheaply. But failure to do so will cost us dearly," he said. "The consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do what I'm proposing."

Biden ended his remarks with a call for unity and optimism, referencing his inauguration on Wednesday as a "new chapter for the country."

Jan 14, 8:38 pm
Biden announces joint session of Congress next month


During his address Thursday, Biden announced his first joint session of Congress will take place next month, where he will address the second pillar of his recovery plan, focused on investments in infrastructure.  

The president-elect praised Congress for working across the aisle to pass a COVID-19 relief bill in December, but reiterated his message that the package by itself was only a "down payment." He said more is required, framing his policy proposal as the next step and urging lawmakers to push forward.

After blasting the current administration's vaccine distribution plan as a "dismal failure," Biden previewed his remarks Friday, where he plans on laying out his vaccination plan.

"We'll have to move heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in people's arms, to increase vaccine supply and to get it out the door as fast as possible," he said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Rep. Lou Correa latest member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19 following siege on Capitol

lucky-photographer/iStockBY: JULIA JACOBO AND ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Member of the House of Representatives are continuing to announce they have tested positive for COVID-19 following the riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.

Rep. Lou Correa, D-CA, tweeted Saturday that he became infected with the virus and that he will miss the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden as he quarantines.

Correa is experiencing mild symptoms, he told ABC Los Angeles station KABC.

He did not shelter in place in a room with other lawmakers but instead assisted Capitol Police during the siege, his office said in a statement.

He received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 19 but has not received the second dose. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses, several weeks apart, and it can take four to six weeks from initial dosing to achieve immunity, so it is possible to still get the virus, particularly shortly after receiving only the first dose.

Last week, Correa was confronted by a group of pro-Trump supporters at Dulles International Airport in Virginia -- some who were not wearing masks, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, Rep. Adriano Espaillat D-N.Y., announced on Twitter that he'd tested positive. "I am following guidance from my physician and quarantining at home," Espaillat wrote, and called on his constituents and colleagues to prioritize social distancing and mask wearing, even if it inconveniences them.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., announced Tuesday that he has become infected with the virus after sheltering with several Republicans who were unmasked for "several hours" during the siege.

"Unfortunately, I received a positive COVID-19 test this morning following being tested yesterday on the advice of the House Attending Physician," Schneider said in a statement.

Schneider said that several Republican lawmakers "adamantly refused to wear a mask" while confined in a room with dozens of other members of Congress, "even when politely asked by their colleagues."

Schneider is now isolating, "worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff," he said.

"I am at least the third Member from that room paying the price, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor," Schneider said.

Jayapal, D-Wash., announced late Monday that she tested positive, saying that "numerous Republican lawmakers recklessly refused to wear masks" while locked down in the secure room.

"Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them," Jayapal said in a statement.

Jayapal called for the lawmakers who did not wear mask to face "serious fines," adding that any House member who refuses to wear one should be "immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms."

"This is not a joke," she said. "Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy."

On Monday, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., announced Monday that she had become infected with the virus, stating that some colleagues who sheltered in place in the same room as her during the siege refused to wear masks.

"Following the events of Wednesday, including sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks, I decided to take a Covid test. I have tested positive," Coleman tweeted.

Coleman is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, she said in a statement. She previously received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The attending physician to members of the U.S. Congress a day earlier advised lawmakers to get tested for COVID-19 due to possible exposure during the siege on the Capitol.

The potential exposure may have occurred when several members of the House and their staffers were in "protective isolation" in a large committee space for several hours with an individual who was infected with the virus, Dr. Brian P. Monahan wrote in a memo to lawmakers and staff Sunday.

Monahan reminded Capitol staff to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing and recommended they obtain a COVID-19 test next week.

The COVID-19 vaccine first became available to members of Congress late last month, but it's unclear how many have been vaccinated.

The riot on Capitol Hill could end up being a superspreader event, experts told ABC News.

However, public health officials will not know for weeks how many new COVID-19 cases are linked to the riot.

Thousands of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden by Congress.

Many of the rioters came directly from President Donald Trump's "Save America" rally, held near the White House, where the president incited his followers to march to the Capitol.

ABC News' Mariam Khan, Arielle Mitropoulos and Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


For Trump, 68% oppose a self-pardon; Biden receives positive marks for transition: POLL

Source: ABC News/Washington Post PollBY: CHRISTINE FILER, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Ahead of his inauguration, Americans by more than a 40-point margin approve of the way Joe Biden has handled the presidential transition -- but just half are confident he'll make the right decisions for the country's future, with muted expectations for his progress on key issues.

As to the man he's replacing, 68% in this ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose President Donald Trump pardoning himself for any federal crimes he may be accused of committing. And 58% support Twitter's ban on Trump, muzzling the outgoing president on his main platform.

Trump leaves office awash in controversy, as seen in results from this poll reported Friday. Biden enters on a better note: Two-thirds in this survey, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, approve of how he's handled the transition. That's 27 percentage points higher than Trump four years ago.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

Still, Biden's grades for handling the transition, while well above Trump's, trail those of other recent presidents. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush saw 80 to 82% approval ratings for their transition work. George W. Bush received 72%.

Similarly, the 49% who express confidence in Biden to make the right decisions fall in between the same readings for the past two presidents -- lower than it was for Obama as he came into office, 61%, while higher than it was for Trump four years ago, 35%.

In another measure, despite Trump's unsupported allegations of widespread voter fraud, Americans see Biden as the legitimate winner of November's presidential election by an almost 2-to-1 margin, 62%-32%. But there are wide partisan divides: Seven in 10 Republicans and 6 in 10 conservatives say Biden did not legitimately win. The opposite view is held by 62% of independents, 71% of moderates and 93% of both Democrats and liberals.

On the issues

Like views on his decision-making overall, the public expresses middling confidence in Biden's ability to make progress on a variety of issues, ranging from 53% on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control to 44% both on dealing with global warming and "negotiating compromises with the Republicans in Congress on important issues."

In the middle, about half express a great deal or good amount of confidence in Biden to address three other issues he's emphasized: rebuilding the economy, addressing unequal treatment of people because of their race or ethnicity and improving America's standing in the world.

Unsurprisingly, the partisan gaps in these expectations are vast. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats have a great deal or good amount of confidence in Biden making the right decisions overall -- dropping to 43% of independents and 12% of Republicans.

Within his party, confidence is lowest for dealing with global warming, at 73%. Among Republicans, confidence peaks, at a mere 20%, for his making progress on addressing unequal treatment of people because of their race or ethnicity.

Pardon

Views on Trump are detailed extensively in Friday's report, including the finding that 54% of Americans say he should be charged with a crime for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Further, Americans, by a 40-point margin, 68%-28%, oppose Trump issuing a presidential pardon to himself in an attempt to forestall prosecution for any federal crimes he may be accused of having committed.

In addition to the expected partisan and ideological differences, opposition to a self-pardon is particularly high – 91% – among the two-thirds of Americans who say Trump has acted irresponsibly since the election. And it's 95% among those who say he should be charged criminally.

Tweet no more?

Lastly, there's the issue of the president's Twitter lockout. Americans, by 58%-41%, support Twitter's permanent shutdown of Trump's account. Almost half, 48%, strongly support the decision, while 36% strongly oppose it.

Partisanship and ideology again inform these views. In other divides, two-thirds of women support Twitter shutting down Trump's account, compared with half of men. And among those who think Trump has acted irresponsibly since the election in November, 83% support the Twitter ban, as do 92% of those who favor charging him with the crime of inciting a riot.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 10 to 13, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, including design effects. Partisan divisions are 31%-25%-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md. See details on the survey's methodology here.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Giuliani says he's working on Trump's impeachment defense, would argue voter fraud claims

Rey Del Rio/Getty ImagesBY: JONATHAN KARL AND WILL STEAKIN, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani tells ABC News he's working as part of the president's defense team in his upcoming second impeachment trial -- and that he's prepared to argue that the president's claims of widespread voter fraud did not constitute incitement to violence because the widely-debunked claims are true.

"I'm involved right now … that's what I'm working on," Giuliani told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

A few hours later, Giuliani -- who led the president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results -- was spotted at the White House.

Giuliani's involvement in Trump's impeachment defense comes as many of the lawyers involved in the president's first impeachment, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputies and outside lawyers Jay Sekulow and Jane and Marty Raskin, do not plan to return for the second trial.

Along with Trump, Giuliani spoke at the Jan. 6 rally ahead of the Capitol attack, where he urged the crowd to engage in "trial by combat." Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died when pro-Trump supporters marched to the Capitol following the rally and forced their way into the building in an effort to keep members of Congress from certifying the presidential election for president-elect Joe Biden.

Giuliani said there are "different opinions" regarding how the president should approach his second impeachment.

The former New York City mayor said that in his defense of the president, he would introduce allegations of widespread voter fraud that have been raised -- and rejected -- in dozens of courtrooms across the country.

"They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, voter fraud -- or I do, or anybody else -- we're inciting to violence; that those words are fighting words because it's totally untrue," he said. "Well, if you can prove that it's true, or at least true enough so it's a legitimate viewpoint, then they are no longer fighting words.”

In a series of court cases following the election, Giuliani and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell alleged, unsuccessfully, that an array of forces from voting machine manufacturers to poll workers had plotted to steal the election from Trump despite Biden's victory in the Electoral College as well as the popular vote.

Regarding impeachment, Giuliani also said that he personally believed Trump should move to dismiss the trial outright.

"If they decide to bring it to a trial, he should move to dismiss the impeachment as entirely illegal. That it was the only impeachment ever done in what, two days, three days," Giuliani told ABC News. "We would say to the court, 'You are now permitting in the future, basically in two days, the Congress can just impeach on anything they want to."

In an historic move last week, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump, with all Democrats along with 10 Republican members voting to charge the president with inciting supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol.

"The president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our common country. He must go," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on the House floor. "He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."

Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership, was among the 10 Republicans who voted to charge the president. Cheney issued a scathing statement condemning the president's actions ahead of the vote, writing, "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president."

Giuliani dismissed the validity of the single article of impeachment accusing Trump of inciting violence against the government on the grounds that the president's rally speech did not incite the riot because there was a delay between the speech and the attack.

"Basically, if [incitement] is going to happen, it's got to happen right away," he said. "You'd have to have people running out, you'd have to have people running out of that frozen speech, right up to the Capitol. And that's basically, incitement," Giuliani said.

If the effort to dismiss the impeachment article fails, which is likely, Giuliani said he wouldn't rule out the president testifying. Trump's lawyers were opposed to him testifying during his first impeachment trial, but Giuliani says this situation is different and the impeachment defense is "much more straightforward."

"You always make that decision at the last minute," Giuliani said. "As a lawyer, I wouldn't be as strongly opposed to his testifying as I was then."

Sources close to the president had recently told ABC News that Trump had been increasingly irritated with Giuliani and had not been taking his calls, but he now appears still very much involved in the discussions about how to handle the impeachment trial.

One of the big remaining questions about Trump's final days in office is what pardons he may issue and if he will attempt to pardon himself, something Trump has told advisers he would like to do even though no president has ever done so. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has advised Trump against a self-pardon, in part because he does not think such a pardon would hold up in court, according to sources familiar with the conversations.

Giuliani declined to say what advice he has given the president about pardoning himself, but he told ABC News that his personal opinion is that it's perfectly justified.

"I think any lawyer would have to tell you there's nothing in the Constitution that permits it. There's nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it. The plain language of the Constitution doesn't limit who we can pardon," Giuliani said. "Do I think there's justification for it because of the atmosphere we are in? Practical justification? Absolutely."

Giuliani dismissed concerns of some Trump advisers that a self-pardon would make Trump more vulnerable to future civil lawsuits because it would be seen as an admission of guilt.

"I mean his legal life's gonna be complicated no matter what," Giuliani told ABC News. "Maybe because I'm more of a criminal lawyer than a civil lawyer, I'd much rather have my civil life complicated than my criminal life."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump plans to leave Washington Inauguration Day morning; Pence, Harris speak

TriggerPhoto/iStockBy JOHN SANTUCCI, MOLLY NAGLE, KATHERINE FAULDERS, and ELIZABETH THOMAS, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump plans to make the unprecedented move to depart the White House next Wednesday morning, just before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, ABC News has learned.

Trump has requested a large sendoff to be planned for the morning of Jan. 20, sources said, after he choppers via Marine One to Joint Base Andrews, where he is expected to give remarks to supporters and departing members of his administration.

Sources add that Trump has requested his departure ceremony to have a "military-like feel," although details are not finalized.

The president will then fly down to Mar-a-Lago aboard Air Force One with a small number of staffers who will be part of his post-presidency operation, the sources said.

Meanwhile, it's been revealed that Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday, just six days before the inauguration, according to sources familiar with the call, first reported by The New York Times.

Pence, unlike Trump, is expected to attend the event, according to a source familiar with his plans. His call to Harris came 68 days after Biden and Harris were projected as the winners on Nov. 7.

Thursday’s call also is the first known communication directly between the highest-ranking elected officials of the current outgoing and incoming administrations since Trump claimed he won on election night and for months following the vote.

It is unclear if Trump has called Biden to concede. He defiantly announced on Twitter just before the social media platform permanently suspended his account that he would not be attending the inauguration.

Trump's plan to leave the White House the morning of the inauguration, an unmatched break with tradition, would come two weeks after inciting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that left five dead and his historic second impeachment a week later.

ABC News' Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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