Latest updates as president signs new executive orders

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds briefing

The Senate has received Donald Trump’s impeachment article from the House, triggering a February trial.

The Democratic House impeachment managers delivered their ratified article against Donald Trump to the Senate, automatically triggering a process that will culminate with a dramatic trial for the ex-president on 8 February.

Joe Biden says the country should be on its way to achieving Covid herd immunity by the summer and that most Americans should get the vaccine by the spring.

But shortly after addressing his administration’s effort to end the pandemic, health officials in Minnesota announced they had found the country’s first case of the Brazil Covid variant.

Earlier Mr Biden signed an executive order that reverses a Trump-era military transgender ban in a widely expected move to overturn the ban on troops and military recruits from transitioning to another sex.

The president also signed an ordering directing the federal government to buy American made goods and expand the pool of communities and industries considered procurement sources. Taking questions from the press Mr Biden expressed cautious optimism regarding vaccinations saying the country will well on its way to herd immunity by summer.

It comes as Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani over his baseless about election fraud, and the Bidens brought their dogs Champ and Major to Washington DC.

Meanwhile, as the Senate moves toward the second impeachment of Donald Trump, Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Roberts reportedly withdrew from overseeing proceedings.

Republicans in the Senate will have a harder time reclaiming the upper chamber of Commerce in 2022 after a Ohio’s Robert Portman retired – leaving three open GOP seats during the midterms.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s up-to-the-minute coverage of all the latest from the White House and beyond in US politics.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 07:56

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Growing number of GOP senators oppose impeachment trial

A growing number of Republican senators say they oppose holding an impeachment trial, a sign of the dimming chances that former president Donald Trump will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the US Capitol.

House Democrats, who will walk the impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate on Monday evening, are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Mr Trump after the 6 January riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar Mr Trump from holding office again.

But GOP passions appear to have cooled since the insurrection, and now that Mr Trump’s presidency is over, Republican senators who will serve as jurors in the trial are rallying to his legal defence, as they did during his first impeachment trial last year.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 08:00

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Obama, Bush and Clinton share video denouncing Trump without mentioning his name

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton have recorded a video clip in which they effectively denounce Donald Trump without evening mentioning his name.

“I think the fact that the three of us are standing here today talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Mr Bush says.

Mr Clinton adds: “This is an unusual thing. We are both trying to come back to normalcy, deal with totally abnormal challenges, and do what we do best, which is try to make a more perfect union.”

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 08:19

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Dr Deborah Birx says ‘someone’ was creating ‘parallel coronavirus’ data for Trump she had never seen

Dr Deborah Birx, who headed up the White House coronavirus task force under Donald Trump, has told CBS’s Face the Nation there was “parallel data” being fed to the former president last year “that were not transparently utilised”.

The physician, who was widely criticised for her failure to push back against Mr Trump’s coronavirus misinformation, added she saw the then-president presenting graphs she had had no involvement in.

She did not appear to explain why she failed to resign or speak out about the issue.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 08:45

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Biden to drop Trump’s military transgender ban

Joe Biden is set to issue an executive order to reverse a Pentagon policy that largely bars transgender individuals from joining the military, dumping a ban ordered by former president Donald Trump in a tweet during his first year in office, a person briefed on the decision told AP.

Mr Biden has been widely expected to overturn the Trump policy in his early days in office. The White House could announce the move as early as Monday, according to the person briefed on the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the order.

The move to reverse the policy has the support of Mr Biden’s newly confirmed defence secretary, retired Army general Lloyd Austin, who spoke of the need to overturn it during his Senate confirmation hearing last week.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 09:01

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Birx says figures in Trump White House believed coronavirus was ‘a hoax’

Here’s more from Dr Deborah Birx’s interview with CBS’ Face the Nation. In it, she says there were people in the White House who “definitely believed that this was a hoax”.

“I think because the information was confusing at the beginning. I think because we didn’t talk about the spectrum of disease, because everyone interpreted on what they knew, and so they saw people get Covid and be fine,” Dr Birx added by way of explanation.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 09:19

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Giuliani ‘admits associate sought to bill Trump $20,000 per day to overturn election result’

Rudy Giuliani has admitted that his associate sought $20,000 (£14,600) per day from the Trump campaign in return for his efforts to overturn the US election result – representing a price hike of 10 times the usual sum, according to a report.

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer has consistently denied requesting such a fee for his services, following a Washington Post report suggesting the pair – previously fierce allies – had fallen out over demands for that exact amount, with the former president taking offence and ordering his aides not to pay it.

But it emerged on Saturday that Mr Giuliani reportedly conceded in a short phone interview with The New York Times that his associate Maria Ryan had in fact sent Trump campaign officials an email detailing such a fee shortly after election day.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 09:41

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Rubio admits Trump responsible for Capitol riot, but says he should not undergo impeachment trial

Marco Rubio has said he will vote to end Donald Trump’s impeachment trial “the first chance I get”.

Despite admitting the former president was partially responsible for the 6 January Capitol riot, Mr Rubio said impeachment was “really bad for America” and that it would “fuel divisions”.

It comes after Mr Rubio stood by for four years a US president who succeeding in sowing unprecedented division in the country, in a campaign which ended in his colleagues’ lives being put at risk when pro-Trump insurrections stormed the country’s seat of democracy.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 09:59

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Joe Biden stops motorcade on return from church to buy bagels from trendy bakery

If you are the US president you can do mostly what you like with your motorcade – including ordering it to stop so you can buy bagels from a trendy bakery.

On Sunday, the sidewalks outside of Georgetown’s Call Your Mother Deli were briefly filled by men in dark suits wearing earpieces, and the presidential motorcade of Joe Biden.

Returning from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown neighborhood, having attended his first mass after being sworn in as president, Mr Biden and family stopped to pick up an order.

Our chief US correspondent Andrew Buncombe has more:

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 10:20

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Birx addresses moment when Trump dangerously mused about bleach as a coronavirus treatment

Dr Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus task force coordinator, has said she “didn’t even know what to do” when Donald Trump in April dangerously mused about whether injecting bleach might treat coronavirus.

Experts immediately warned of the life-threatening risks of such a move, but critics suggested Dr Birx herself failed to adequately push back against the then-president’s false suggestions.

Tom Embury-Dennis25 January 2021 10:39

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