Trump news live: McConnell calls impeachment trial ‘vote of conscience’

Tearful Pelosi says Congress members may be prosecuted as she announces Capitol security review

In doing so, Mr McConnell effectively allowed members of his party to vote to convict the US president, who is likely to face trial after Joe Biden assumes the presidency next week.

Mr Trump has been charged with inciting the insurrection at the US Capitol last week, which left five people dead after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building following an incendiary rally by the president.

Since making an appearance at the US border in Texas on Tuesday, Mr Trump has not been seen in public, and instead has remained holed up inside the White House among a dwindling number of aides and allies.


Health secretary Azar warns Capitol riots have threatened Trump’s legacy in resignation letter

US Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar has warned President Donald Trump that last week’s Capitol riots threaten his administration’s legacy in a resignation letter submitted earlier this week.

Mr Azar, 53, sent the resignation letter to Mr Trump on Tuesday, with it taking effect from 20 January. It is standard procedure for a Cabinet secretary to offer an outgoing president a resignation letter, according to CNN.

In the letter, Mr Azar wrote about what he thought were the best accomplishments of the Trump administration, but warned that the president’s actions since losing 3 November’s election threaten its legacy.

Tom Embury-Dennis16 January 2021 15:23


Trump ‘started choreographing in October how to declare victory’ even if he lost November’s election

Donald Trump as far back as October started planning how to falsely pretend he had won the election even if he lost to Joe Biden, according to Axios.

The US president is said to have called his former chief of staff Reince Preibus in order to run a script past him that would claim on election night he had won, even though there would be millions of mail-in-ballots left to count, and that would mainly go to Mr Biden.

When it came to election night, the US political news site claims that Mr Trump’s aides, including his son-in-law Jared Kashner, frantically phoned senior Fox News in a bid to get it to reverse its decision to declare Mr Biden’s electoral college victory in Arizona.

“Tell these guys they got to change it, they got it wrong. It’s way too early. Not even CNN is calling it,” Axios reports Mr Trump as shouting.

Tom Embury-Dennis16 January 2021 15:06


Pence calls vice-president-elect Harris to congratulate her on election win

Vice President Mike Pence has called his soon-to-be successor Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

It is the first known contact between the elected members of the outgoing and incoming administrations.

President Donald Trump has not reached out to President-elect Joe Biden or invited him to the White House, and has instead spent the weeks since he lost the November 3 election holed up at the White House, trying to undermine the legitimacy of Mr Biden’s win with baseless claims of mass voter fraud that culminated in last week’s violent storming of the Capitol building.

Mr Pence, who did not speak with Mr Trump for days after the siege, has become an unexpected – albeit late – defender of Mr Biden’s win.

The vice president resisted enormous pressure from Mr Trump to try to interfere in Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote count last week – even though he has no such power.

Tom Embury-Dennis16 January 2021 14:41


Trump approval rating the lowest of any president in modern history

Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in modern history, and is the first never to pass 50 per cent, ABC News reports.

It comes after another poll earlier this week showed support for Mr Trump plummeting just a week from the end of his presidency, with his approval rating at 34 per cent.

The Politico and Morning Consult poll puts Mr Trump’s disapproval rating at 63 per cent, while 40 per cent of Republicans and conservative independents now say that they would vote for Mr Trump if he ran for President in 2024 in the GOP primary.

Tom Embury-Dennis16 January 2021 14:26


US imposes fresh sanctions on Iran in dying days of Trump presidency

The US has imposed sanctions on companies in Iran, China and the United Arab Emirates for doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, with just days to go before the end of Donald Trump’s presidency.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Washington had sanctioned seven companies, including Chinese-based Jiangyin Mascot Special Steel Co and UAE-based Accenture Building Materials, and two people for shipping steel to or from Iran.

He added that Iran’s Marine Industries Organisation, Aerospace Industries Organisation and the Iran Aviation Industries Organisation had also been blacklisted over conventional arms proliferation.

However, the Iranian president’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi dismissed the sanctions as a “show” which he said demonstrated the Trump administration’s hostility towards Iran.

“The recent US sanctions, while nothing more than a show, are another sign of the Trump administration’s criminal nature – a bankrupt government that even in its last days cannot put aside its hostility towards Iranians,” Mr Vaezi wrote on Twitter.

President-elect Joe Biden has already said he will return to the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran, in a break from the Trump administration’s policy, if the country resumes strict compliance with it.

Conrad Duncan16 January 2021 14:04


Our chief political commentator, John Rentoul, has given his take on whether Donald Trump could end up in court following his exit from the White House this month:

Conrad Duncan16 January 2021 13:48


Biden to fill out State Department team with career diplomats and Obama-era veterans

President-elect Joe Biden is filling out his State Department team with former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signalling a move to a more traditional foreign policy following the end of Donald Trump’s presidency.

A transition official told AP that Mr Biden intends to nominate Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs — the second- and third-highest ranking posts, respectively.

Ms Sherman led the Obama administration’s negotiations for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, from which Mr Trump withdrew, and engaged in talks over ballistic missiles with North Korea during President Bill Clinton’s second term.

Ms Nuland served as assistant secretary of state for European Affairs during the 2013–14 Ukraine crisis.

Other officials set to join the Biden administration include: long-time Biden Senate aide Brian McKeon as deputy secretary of state for management, and former senior diplomats Bonnie Jenkins and Uzra Zeya as under secretary of state for arms control and undersecretary of state of democracy and human rights, respectively.

They will all require Senate confirmation to their posts while officials in other positions will not.

Conrad Duncan16 January 2021 13:31


Trump will take nuclear football out of DC on final day in office

Donald Trump will get to take the nuclear football with him when he leaves Washington DC on his final day in office, but the codes with be deactivated as soon as Joe Biden is sworn in as president.

Mr Trump will be accompanied by the 45-pound briefcase, which contains the nuclear codes, when he is expected to fly to Florida on the morning of Mr Biden’s inauguration.

Our reporter, Graeme Massie, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan16 January 2021 13:10


Pro-Trump rioter ‘would like a pardon’ from president

A Trump supporter who stormed the US Capitol last week has said she “would like a pardon” from the US president after she was arrested by the FBI on Friday.

“I think that we all deserve a pardon,” Jenna Ryan, who flew to Washington DC from Dallas, said. “I’m facing prison … I think I do not deserve that.”

It is not clear if Donald Trump is considering pardoning the insurrectionists, but it has been widely reported he is considering a self pardon over potential crimes committed both during and before office.

Tom Embury-Dennis16 January 2021 12:54


Trump to hold departure ceremony ‘at military base on morning of Biden inauguration’

Donald Trump plans to hold a departure ceremony at a military base on the morning of Joe Biden’s inauguration, say reports.

The outgoing president wants to leave office with the event at Joint Base Andrews before he flies to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on his final Air Force One ride.

The ceremony may include a colour guard and even a 21-gun salute, officials told USA Today.

And there may also be a red carpet and a military band, according to The New York Times.

Mr Trump, who was impeached for an unprecedented second time on Wednesday, is expected to leave the White House for the last time early on inauguration day.

Tom Embury-Dennis16 January 2021 12:24

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