The House impeachment managers on Thursday called on Donald J. Trump to testify before or during his Senate trial next week, making an unexpected attempt to question the former president under oath about his actions on Jan. 6, when he is accused of inciting a mob attack at the Capitol.
In a letter to Mr. Trump, Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead House impeachment prosecutor, said the president’s response this week to the House’s “incitement of insurrection” charge had challenged “overwhelming evidence” about his conduct as the assault unfolded, and demanded further explanation.
“In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021,” Mr. Raskin wrote. He proposed conducting an interview “at a mutually convenient time and place” between Monday and Thursday. The trial is scheduled to get underway on Tuesday.
The request drew a prompt and hostile response from Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who called it a “public relations stunt” that made clear the managers could not prove Mr. Trump’s guilt. But the letter did not explicitly say Mr. Trump would not testify.
“Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: you cannot prove your allegations against the 45th president of the United States, who is now a private citizen,” wrote the lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, in a letter to Mr. Raskin. “The use of our Constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to play these games.”
In a filing on Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denied that he incited the attack or meant to disrupt Congress’s counting of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory, which was underway at the Capitol. They denied that when the former president told his followers to go to Capitol Hill and “fight like hell” that it “had anything to do with the action at the Capitol.” They also rejected that Mr. Trump had spread falsehoods about election fraud, asserting that because he believed that he “won it in a landslide,” he was merely exercising his First Amendment right. The invitation from the managers was a voluntary request, and though the Senate could vote to subpoena Mr. Trump’s testimony, doing so would present thorny legal and political issues.
Mr. Trump has never shied from defending himself, but it was unlikely that his lawyers would allow him to go on record in a case they already believe is headed for acquittal.
Mr. Raskin asked the president to answer his request by Friday afternoon. He noted that the managers could use his refusal to testify to draw an “adverse inference” about his actions on Jan. 6, meaning that they would cite his silence as further proof that their allegations were true.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers rejected that conclusion in their reply.
“As you certainly know, there is no such thing as a negative inference in this unconstitutional proceeding,” they wrote.
The request also seeks to directly address one of the biggest evidentiary holes in the managers’ case: how precisely Mr. Trump conducted himself when it became clear the Capitol was under assault on Jan. 6. The president sent several tweets sympathizing with the mob and calling for peace during that time, but media reports and accounts by lawmakers who desperately tried to reach him to send in reinforcements suggested he was “delighted” by the invasion.
Hailey Fuchs and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.
President Biden outlined a sweeping vision of restored American global leadership on Thursday, announcing an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen and vowing to confront Russia and China.
He also promised to work with allies to combat issues like the pandemic and climate change and announced a freeze on President Donald J. Trump’s planned troop redeployments from Germany.
After two weeks of emphasis on domestic issues, Mr. Biden visited the State Department to turn his focus to foreign policy and make good on campaign promises to revitalize American diplomacy, alliances and moral authority. Speaking to diplomats at the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, Mr. Biden said he intended to “send a clear message to the world: America is back.”
“We’re going to rebuild our alliances,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to re-engage the world.”
In the first foreign policy speech of his administration, the president said he would rebuild “the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.”
In ending American support for offensive Saudi operations in Yemen’s civil war — which he said “has created humanitarian and strategic catastrophe” — Mr. Biden is delivering on a campaign promise, days after his administration announced a review of major U.S. arms sales to Riyadh that were approved by the Trump administration. The U.S. has also provided intelligence, targeting data and logistical support for the Saudi intervention. Mr. Biden also said he would work to revive dormant peace talks and announced the appointment of a special envoy for Yemen.
Mr. Biden announced was “stopping any planned troop withdrawals from Germany,” halting Mr. Trump’s order to redeploy roughly 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country. National security experts from both parties had called Mr. Trump’s order shortsighted.
The president struck a firm tone toward Moscow, vowing to stand up to Russian efforts to disrupt American democracy and saying he had made it clear in a recent call with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, “in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions” were over. He called on Moscow to release the imprisoned dissident Alexei A. Navalny, adding: “We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia.”
Mr. Biden said that strong alliances were key to deterring Moscow, along with the “growing ambitions of China to rival the United States.” But he also stressed that he would cooperate with both nations when it served U.S. interests, citing his new agreement with Mr. Putin to extend the New Start nuclear treaty for five years.
Mr. Biden also acknowledged the damaged state of American democracy, saying that the U.S. will be “a much more credible partner” with allies in the global effort to defend democracies from threats like authoritarianism and disinformation if the U.S. has shored up its own economy, politics, civil society and racial equality gap.
“There’s no longer a bright line between foreign and domestic policy,” he said.
And in what may have been an implicit nod to the riot at the Capitol last month, Mr. Biden said of the military coup in Myanmar that “force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election.”
Mr. Biden also announced he would issue a presidential memorandum to federal agencies “to reinvigorate our leadership” on L.G.B.T.Q. issues worldwide.
Earlier, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Mr. Biden’s visit would be the first of several to national security departments and agencies, including the Pentagon and the intelligence community. But even though many State Department officials were aghast at the policies under Mr. Trump, who derided their work as the “Deep State Department,” Mr. Biden will face a diplomatic corps that remains skeptical of the new White House.
Some employees have noted with concern that political appointees, not career diplomats, are beginning to fill the top ranks at the department. While that is not particularly unusual — and is within any president’s prerogative — it singes a staff that felt burned by Mr. Trump’s efforts to install loyalists with little experience in diplomacy.
House Republicans will be forced to go on record Thursday evening over the conduct of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, with Democrats scheduling a vote over whether to strip the freshman lawmaker of her committee assignments.
The vote presents the latest fork in the road for Republicans as they try to navigate the aftermath of former President Donald J. Trump’s re-election defeat and grapple with the future of their party.
It will take place at a particularly fraught moment for Republicans in the House, coming one day after their leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, released a statement that condemned Ms. Greene’s past comments endorsing violent behavior and conspiracy theories — but made clear that the party did not intend to punish her.
On Thursday, the Democrat-led House will take a step unprecedented in the modern history of Congress, voting on a resolution to remove Ms. Greene from her two committees — the Budget Committee, and the Education and Labor Committee — citing the “conduct she has exhibited.” The move requires the support of only a simple majority. If it passes, Ms. Greene would be the only current member of Congress not to serve on any committees.
“You would think that the Republican leadership in the Congress would have some sense of responsibility to this institution,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference on Thursday. “For some reason, they’ve chosen not to go down that path.”
In wide-ranging and emotional remarks on the House floor on Thursday, Ms. Greene expressed regret for her previous comments, saying that she believed the Sept. 11 attacks “absolutely happened” and that school shootings were “absolutely real,” after previously suggesting aspects of both were staged.
“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true and I would ask questions about them and talk about them, and that is absolutely what I regret,” Ms. Greene said, wearing a mask embroidered with the phrase “FREE SPEECH.”
“When I started finding misinformation, lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I stopped believing it,” she said, adding that her revelation came in 2018. “Any source of information that is a mix of truth and a mix of lies is dangerous.”
She did not apologize over the course of the roughly eight-minute speech, but portrayed her previous comments as “words of the past” that “do not represent me.” She warned that lawmakers were creating a “big problem” if they chose to“crucify” her for “words that I said, and that I regret, a few years ago.”
Her contention that she broke away from QAnon in 2018 also does not square with a series of posts she made in 2019 and other social media activity from that time, including liking a Facebook comment that endorsed shooting Ms. Pelosi in the head and suggesting in the same year that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then a Supreme Court Justice, had been replaced with a body double.
Ms. Greene’s comments are likely to assuage some in the Republican conference, but Democrats immediately indicated that they were not impressed.
“I just have to say that I did not hear an apology or denouncement for the claim, the insinuation that political opponents should be violently dealt with,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee. “I didn’t hear anybody apologize or retract the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic remarks that have been made, that have been posted, over and over again.”
Republicans have argued that voting in favor of the resolution would set a dangerous precedent because it would in effect allow the majority party to dictate which lawmakers in the minority party are fit to serve on committees, a crucial pipeline for members to advance legislation.
The step is usually reserved for lawmakers who are facing indictments or criminal investigations or who have otherwise broken with their party in a particularly egregious way. Mr. McCarthy in 2019 stripped then-Representative Steve King of Iowa of his committee posts after an interview with The New York Times in which he questioned why the term “white supremacist” was considered offensive.
Democrats on Thursday faced a series of politically tricky votes engineered by Republicans, as they pressed forward with a budget plan that includes President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
In a marathon session known as a “Vote-a-Rama” that was expected to stretch into the early-morning hours, senators in both parties planned test votes to showcase their dueling priorities. Among the proposals Republicans sought to offer were measures to prohibit stimulus checks from going to undocumented immigrants; reduce funding to states under investigation over coronavirus deaths in nursing homes; block tax increases on small businesses; and prohibit funding for schools that do not reopen for in-person classes after teachers are vaccinated.
“We’re going to put senators on the record,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader. “We’ll see how our colleagues vote on these basic, common-sense steps.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, criticized what he called “messaging amendments” from Republicans aimed at scoring “political points.” He said Democrats would advance the budget, nevertheless, once the Republican amendments are defeated.
“I sincerely hope our Republican colleagues approach our work today with the intention of having serious ideas considered, not using the debate over pandemic relief to sharpen ephemeral partisan talking points,” Mr. Schumer said.
The roughly 12-hour rash of vote-casting came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that House Democrats were open to dropping an increase in the federal minimum wage from Mr. Biden’s plan should the proposal be ruled out of bounds under the Senate’s strict budget process rules. Administration officials and some Senate Democrats were bracing for such a possibility.
The speaker said Democrats would not give up on trying to raise the wage to $15 an hour if they were forced to jettison it from the stimulus measure.
“It’s not the last bill we’ll pass,” Ms. Pelosi said. “This is the rescue package.”
Democrats were expected to introduce legislation and begin committee debate in the House next week, aiming to move the plan through the budget reconciliation process. They could then circumvent a filibuster, which can be overcome with 60 votes, and instead pass with a simple majority, allowing it to be enacted without Republican votes.
While details remain in flux, people familiar with the plan said it would largely mirror Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal. The most significant deviation, they said, was likely to be lowering the cost of providing direct payments to Americans.
At Mr. Biden’s insistence, the maximum amount of those payments would remain at $1,400. But Democrats and the administration are discussing phasing them out for higher-income Americans at a faster rate than the $600 payments Congress approved in December, meaning those earning more would get smaller checks.
Democrats could further reduce the cost of the plan by lowering the income threshold at which the payments begin to phase out. Mr. Biden has proposed beginning the phaseout for individuals earning $75,000 a year and couples earning $150,000 a year. Lawmakers are discussing reducing those thresholds to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples.
Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.
Democrats hurtled toward a Thursday vote on stripping committee assignments from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, over comments and social media posts promoting QAnon conspiracies and anti-Jewish tropes.
It comes a day after Republicans rejected attempts to oust Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, from a top leadership post. She is one of the few in her party to risk political peril by rebuking former President Donald J. Trump and voting to impeach him.
Both sagas have far-reaching implications for power players in post-Trump Washington. Here are four takeaways.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has been seriously weakened. Seldom in recent congressional history has a leader had to scramble so desperately just to get through a day. And the ugly, humbling fights over Ms. Greene and Ms. Cheney proved that the House Republican leader from California remains trapped in Mr. Trump’s shadow.
Since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy has sent out mixed messages on how he planned to lead: First, he said that Mr. Trump “bears responsibility,” for the attack, then he visited Mar-a-Lago to make nice after the former president grumbled.
He was equally equivocal with members of his fractious caucus, expressing disapproval of Ms. Greene — but stopping well short of threatening to strip her of all committee assignments, a step he was willing to take a year ago against Representative Steve King of Iowa over remarks on white supremacy.
Mr. McCarthy got a mild reprieve when Ms. Greene showed some contrition in a private meeting Wednesday. But in seeking short-term safety to appease the party’s right, Mr. McCarthy is courting peril in the 2020 midterm elections — and the image of Republicans offering a standing ovation to a woman who suggested political opponents be executed will linger, to say the least.
It is not nearly so bad for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The Senate minority leader, facing a grim second Trump impeachment trial next week, truly deplores Ms. Greene and made a point of describing her (albeit not by name) as a “cancer” in the party.
But the current crisis is not without potential opportunity for Mr. McConnell, a far more deft political operator than Mr. McCarthy. Bashing Ms. Greene gives besieged Senate Republicans a safe way to vent their anger over the Capitol riot and disapproval of Mr. Trump’s political influence — even if they don’t vote to punish him directly in the trial.
Drawing that line is vital for Mr. McConnell, whose unwillingness to publicly reject Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election will most likely hound him in the history books.
It’s a mixed bag for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Mr. McCarthy’s unwillingness to punish his own member forced the Democratic speaker to impose her own penalties — a step she had hoped to avoid to evade accusations that she was motivated by politics.
The move also provided an opening for several pro-Trump Republicans to counterattack by calling for Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat who has long been a Trump target, to be stripped of her committee posts.
Still, Democrats see mostly political upsides and plan to make Ms. Greene and QAnon a centerpiece of their 2022 strategy.
Ms. Greene won’t be silenced, and neither will Ms. Cheney. It is tempting to attribute Ms. Greene’s rapid rise to social media. But there is a long history of new House members and senators — including Huey Long — using new forms of communication (handbills and paid airtime on radio stations in his case) to bypass and challenge their party’s leadership.
Yet no member in memory has made the kind of violent, inflammatory or bizarre pronouncements made by the Georgia freshman.
Her apology on Wednesday indicates she values her committee assignments. But it is just as likely that she values her space in the spotlight — and it remains to be seen if Ms. Greene is serious about abandoning her old opinions, or her instant fame.
Ms. Cheney is holding fast to her principles, however, countering Mr. McCarthy’s claim that Wednesday proved the party was unified and fit to move forward.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is amping up the pressure on President Biden to take fast action on a plan to cancel $50,000 in student loan debts for each borrower, a top progressive priority.
Congressional Democrats have proposed a nonbinding resolution calling upon Mr. Biden to use his executive authority to cancel about 80 percent of the student loan debt run up by some 36 million borrowers. Many are low-income people, including millions of Black and Hispanic students, disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Mr. Biden, already wrangling with Republicans over his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, has thrown his support behind legislation calling for $10,000 in relief.
He is not expected to quickly shift, according to aides to Democratic senators familiar with the administration’s position.
Mr. Biden “continues to support” the canceling of student debt, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter. “Our team is reviewing whether there are any steps he can take through executive action and he would welcome the opportunity to sign a bill sent to him by Congress,” she added.
The resolution, which would have no legal effect if passed, calls for cancellation for all borrowers, whereas a previous Democratic proposal limited the program to people earning under $125,000 per year.
Speaking during a news conference outside the Capitol early Thursday, Mr. Schumer said, “We are not going to let up until we accomplish it, until $50,000 of debt is forgiven for every student in the country.”
Most Republicans oppose the move, making passage through the Senate difficult; And the proposal has its political perils because it essentially picks winners and losers — leaving borrowers who recently paid off their debt and future recipients of loans without any such relief.
An economic working paper published by the Roosevelt Institute casts debt forgiveness explicitly in racial-justice terms. The total percentage of Black households that would benefit would be greater than white households, and the relative gains for those households’ net worth are far larger, the researchers found.
The legal argument for debt cancellation by executive action hinges on a passage in the Higher Education Act of 1965 that gives the education secretary the power to “compromise, waive or release” federal student loan debts.
In December, Mr. Schumer, who represents New York, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has long pushed the plan, wrote in a joint op-ed last week that debt cancellations would give “Black and brown families across the country a far better shot at building financial security.”
It was, they added, the “single most effective executive action available to provide massive stimulus to our economy.”
The American economy continues to stagger toward the expected salvation of a vaccine-spurred recovery later this year, but new jobs numbers signaled a protracted struggle for American workers — while longer-term losses accelerated by the pandemic take root.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week for the third straight week, but they remained at extraordinarily high levels by historical standards. Last week brought 816,000 new claims for state benefits, compared with 840,000 the previous week.
The latest data strengthens the argument for more stimulus, economists say, a key policy position of the Biden White House. The $900 billion aid package passed in December helps many unemployed workers only through mid-March.
President Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing ahead with a $1.9 trillion aid package that includes $1,400 in direct payments to many Americans as well as help for states and cities, which are major employers.
While these proposals dwarf previous relief packages, they will do little to address quiet but consequential changes to the economy, now hammering workers whose jobs were being eliminated by automation even before the virus hit. Employers who have been forced to cut workers are turning to existing or new technology to carry on with less labor. And the shift could be magnified by the fact that demand in some cases came back before employees safely could.
Layoffs have shifted from temporary to permanent as the pandemic has dragged on, and many workers have moved to the sidelines of the labor market as service jobs in particular — like those in conference centers, hotels and tollbooths — are downsized or streamlined. It is unclear how quickly workers will find new jobs that are good substitutes in terms of skills and salaries.
John Mahalis of Philadelphia was two and a half months from his pension’s vesting when he learned that he would be permanently laid off from his job as a toll collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The job evaporated overnight when the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, decided in June to move up its plan to lay off nearly 500 toll workers and replace them with electronic tolling. Dismissals planned for early 2022 instead went into effect immediately, a move that the commission said would help the system financially accommodate weaker traffic during the economic downturn.
“It came out of the blue,” said Mr. Mahalis, 65. He had loved the work, especially interacting with customers, and earned good money: By taking as much overtime as he could get, he made about $53,000 a year, along with benefits.
“It was the best thing I ever did,” he said.
In a normal year, thousands of people would have gathered in Washington on Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual Christian event that has come to double as a political influence-peddling forum. It happened in person last February — one of the last ordinary political events, in fact, before the coronavirus triggered lockdowns in the country and changed day-to-day life.
This morning brought the new, virtual pandemic edition. But for all the strangeness of the format, the event seemed in some respects more normal than last year’s.
In a video address, President Biden said Democrats and Republicans needed to unite to “defeat political extremism,” a year after then-President Donald J. Trump used the breakfast as a forum to attack Democrats as “very dishonest and corrupt people.”
“Faith shows the way forward as one nation in a common purpose: to respect one another, to care for one another, to leave no one behind,” Mr. Biden said. “These aren’t Democrats and Republicans going hungry in our nation — they’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings. They aren’t Democrats or Republicans going without health care in America — they’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings.”
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also recorded messages for the breakfast, and Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, read a message from former President Jimmy Carter.
Mr. Trump, whose speech last year was a stark departure from the usual tone of the event, was the only living former president not to participate.
Hunter Biden is publishing a memoir about his struggles with addiction and drug abuse — from his first sips of alcohol as a child, when he was dealing with the aftermath of family tragedy, to his crack-cocaine use.
The book, titled “Beautiful Things,” is scheduled to be published in the United States on April 6 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It has already drawn praise from high-profile writers like Anne Lamott, Dave Eggers, Bill Clegg and Stephen King, who in a blurb called it “both heartbreaking and quite gorgeous.” Gallery declined to disclose the financial terms.
A lawyer and former lobbyist, Hunter Biden, 51, is President Biden’s oldest surviving child, and he has been a favorite target of conservatives, including former President Donald J. Trump, who openly pressed the Justice Department to investigate Hunter and his father.
In addition to recounting Hunter Biden’s substance abuse, the book will also describe how the Biden family coped with a series of staggering losses: the deaths of Hunter’s mother and younger sister, who were killed in a car crash when he was a toddler, and the death of his older brother, Beau, from brain cancer. (The book’s title comes from a phrase Beau and Hunter would say to each other after Beau was diagnosed.)
Its release could bring additional scrutiny to Hunter Biden’s business relationships and finances, which were a source of controversy during the 2020 presidential campaign.
“Beautiful Things,” which was written with the journalist Drew Jubera, will be more of a personal narrative about addiction and recovery rather than a political memoir, according to Jennifer Bergstrom, the senior vice president and publisher of Gallery Books.
In an email, Ms. Bergstrom called it “a heartfelt, highly personal book about being a father and being a son” and noted that the story “will remind all of us that sobriety is a fragile, living thing.”
Hunter Biden’s memoir is one of a handful of new and forthcoming books about the Biden family and administration. Several journalists have sold books about the Bidens, including John Heilemann’s account of Biden’s rise to the presidency; Franklin Foer’s book about Biden’s first 100 days in office; and the Politico correspondent Ben Schreckinger’s book about the Biden family’s past tragedies, scandals and triumphs, and a book about Jill Biden’s tenure as first lady by the New York Times reporter Katie Rogers.
There will likely be a coming wave of books about the Bidens from conservative authors and commentators, as there were during the Clinton and Obama presidencies.
It is still early in his term, but President Biden seems to have broken out of the red-blue trench warfare of public polling of the Trump era — hitting the 61 percent approval mark in an A.P.-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll released Thursday.
The poll, which is roughly in line with other recent surveys, shows that Mr. Biden’s popularity is powered by his commitment to tackling the pandemic and other problems by consulting advisers and experts, along with near-universal approval among Democrats.
Unlike former President Donald J. Trump, whose approval never moved beyond his conservative base, Mr. Biden is making modest inroads with Republicans — earning a 27 percent approval rating, up from the low teens or high single digits in most polls taken during the 2020 campaign.
Independents, who swung for Mr. Biden in his race against Mr. Trump, approved of him by a 58-to-39 percent mark, the survey found.
Recent polls from other organizations have shown Mr. Biden with a somewhat lower approval rating, in the low- and mid-50s, with an aggregated 54.3 percent approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics.com.
But there are indications that Mr. Biden’s honeymoon could be provisional.
When asked to judge the new president on a variety of criteria (from fighting corruption to managing the military to shepherding the economy) Americans who answered the A.P. poll were broadly split into three nearly equal camps — those who support him, those who oppose him, and those who are taking a wait-and-see approach.
Most presidents top 55 percent or higher in their first few months in office. Mr. Trump, who often touted (and distorted) his approval ratings, is the first modern-era president never to reach 50 percent in poll aggregations at any time during his four years in office.
The closest he came was hitting the mid-40s in the week after he took office. But his approval ratings plummeted after he instituted a ban on immigration from some Muslim countries in January 2017.
And Mr. Trump’s approval numbers have fallen since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, settling below 40 percent in most recent surveys, after which he was impeached by the House and charged with “incitement of insurrection.” A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found Americans were closely divided on whether the Senate should convict him in the trial: 50 percent said yes and 45 percent said no, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III convened the military chiefs and civilian secretaries of the armed forces on Wednesday to begin intensifying the Pentagon’s efforts to combat white supremacy and right-wing extremism in the ranks.
Mr. Austin also ordered that all military commands “stand down” at some point in the next 60 days to reinforce existing regulations barring extremist activity in the military, and to ask troops for their views on the scope and severity of the issue, the Pentagon press secretary, John F. Kirby, told reporters. He said many details of the “stand down” — a pause in operations that the military often uses to address safety issues — need to be worked out.
“This is very much a leadership issue, down to the lowest level,” Mr. Kirby said, citing what Mr. Austin, a former four-star Army general, had told the Pentagon leaders on a video call.
In the days since a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, senior leaders of the 2.1 million active-duty and reserve troops have been grappling with the reality that several current or former military personnel joined the rioters.
The Defense Department inspector general last month announced an investigation into the effectiveness of existing Pentagon policies and procedures that prohibit service members from advocacy of, or participation in, supremacist or extremist groups. That regulation was last updated in 2012, and Pentagon officials acknowledge that they are struggling with such basic issues as how to define what level of extremist activity is prohibited, as well as shortcomings in how the military identifies and quantifies violators.
Last year, the F.B.I. notified the Defense Department that it had opened criminal investigations involving 143 current or former service members. Of those, 68 were related to domestic extremism cases, according to a senior Pentagon official. The “vast majority” involved retired military personnel, many with unfavorable discharge records, the official said.
The Justice Department has charged two more men with conspiracy and the leader of the far-right group, the Proud Boys, with leading a mob of 100 people who stormed the building on Jan. 6 in an effort to block certification of President Biden’s victory in the election.
Ethan Nordean, the self-described “sergeant of arms” of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, was arrested on Wednesday morning, federal prosecutors said. He had been under investigation for more than a week after prosecutors named him in court papers as a chief organizer of a mob of about 100 other members of the group.
Separately, Nicholas DeCarlo, a 30-year-old Texas man, and Nicholas Ochs, a founder of Hawaii’s chapter of the Proud Boys, were charged with conspiring with one another and unnamed co-conspirators to stop the certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win as part of last month’s riot at the Capitol, according to the indictment. The two men had earlier been charged with unlawful entry and obstructing an official proceeding.
In a criminal complaint against Mr. Nordean, prosecutors said he and other Proud Boys “were planning in advance to organize a group that would attempt to overwhelm police barricades and enter” the Capitol.
Before the attack on the Capitol, Mr. Nordean gave hints of an “intent to organize a group that intended to engage in conflict,” according to a news release issued on Wednesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.
In late December, for example, he posted a message asking for donations of “protective gear” and “communications equipment,” prosecutors said. About a week later, prosecutors added, Mr. Nordean posted a video online, discussing what he described as “blatant rampant voter fraud” and saying that the Proud Boys were going to “bring back that original spirit of 1776 of what really established the character of what America is.”
A recent Mexican law prohibiting the detention of immigrant children and families is forcing American border agents to resume releasing migrant families into the United States, according to three Biden administration officials, presenting an immediate challenge to the Biden administration.
The Trump administration began turning back migrants entering the country in March, citing the threat of the coronavirus, and the emergency rule effectively sealed the border from asylum seekers. But because of a law Mexico passed in November that prohibits the detention of immigrant children and families, the country has stopped accepting such families from South Texas, an area typically susceptible to illegal crossings, officials said.
The recent shift has alarmed officials at the Department of Homeland Security who have said that the emergency rule was necessary to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in detention facilities along the border, even as it prevented vulnerable families from having their asylum claims heard.
This has led to an increasing number of families being held in recent weeks in such facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as in Del Rio, Texas, officials said.
Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, said because of pandemic precautions and social distancing guidelines, some facilities had reached full “safe holding capacity.”
President Biden campaigned on restoring asylum at the southwestern border and signed an executive order this week directing the administration to review rolling back President Donald J. Trump’s restrictionist policies.
But the new administration has not detailed publicly when the pandemic emergency rule would be lifted. A federal judge in the District of Columbia lifted a block on the rule, which prevented the United States from turning away unaccompanied migrant children. The White House said it would use its discretion in deciding when to apply the policy.
As some Republicans condemn her inflammatory statements, and Democrats push to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of her committee assignments, the freshman lawmaker has argued that the resistance confronting her only “strengthens my base of support at home and across the country.”
And to some degree that is true.
In the three months since she was elected, Ms. Greene has created a national brand for herself as a conservative provocateur who has proudly brought the hard-right fringe to the Capitol.
Her most fervent supporters saw in the treatment of Ms. Greene a reminder of all that they loathed about Washington. But in a congressional district proud of its ranking as one of the most conservative in the country, voters drawn to her unapologetic intensity were now also brushing the limits of their support.
The 14th Congressional District of Georgia is a largely white and rural corner of the state sprawled across a dozen counties from the outer suburbs of Atlanta to the outskirts of Chattanooga.
Ms. Greene gained traction by hewing to core conservative themes — defending gun rights, opposing immigration and supporting former President Donald J. Trump.
One of Ms. Greene’s supporters, Billy Martin, a retired teacher and coach from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, said he found Ms. Greene’s posts and statements puzzling.
“Sometimes people say things they regret, speak before they think,” Mr. Martin said. Still, he added, he was not sure what to believe. “I don’t think they treat you fairly anymore,” referring to the news media and Democratic politicians.
For others, the revelation of Ms. Greene’s past social media posts — including one about a space laser controlled by Jewish financiers starting a California wildfire — has unsettled some who once backed her.
“It’s embarrassing,” Ashley Shelton, a stay-at-home mother who voted for Ms. Greene, said of the controversy.
“I think she’s kind of a loose cannon,” Ms. Shelton said before paraphrasing a line from the Old Testament: “The wise are the quiet ones,” she said. “The more she opens her mouth, the less evidence of her wisdom.”
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, unveiled a plan on Thursday to send payments of up to $1,250 per month to families with children, in an effort to encourage Americans to have more children while reducing child poverty rates.
Mr. Romney’s Family Security Act would provide $350 a month for each child up to 5 years old and $250 a month for children aged 6 to 17, via the Social Security Administration. The payments would be capped at $1,250 per family per month, and they would phase out for individual parents earning above $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $400,000.
“American families are facing greater financial strain, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, and marriage and birthrates are at an all-time low,” Mr. Romney said in a news release. “Our changing economy has left millions of families behind. Now is the time to renew our commitment to families to help them meet the challenges they face as they take on the most important work any of us will ever do — raising our society’s children.”
The plan would not increase the federal budget deficit, Mr. Romney projects. To offset the costs of the new benefit, Mr. Romney proposed eliminating other government safety net spending, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the expanded “head of household” deduction for parents who do not itemize their income tax returns.
He would also eliminate the state and local tax deduction, known as S.A.L.T., which largely benefits higher-income taxpayers in high-tax states like Maryland and New Jersey — a move that is likely to antagonize Democrats who have fought to expand the deduction after Republicans limited it in 2017.
Still, Mr. Romney’s plan drew praise as an example of the possibilities of bipartisan action, with the White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, writing in a tweet that it was an “encouraging sign.”
President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes a one-year expansion of the existing child tax credit and earned income tax credit, which analysts say could cut child poverty in half. Mr. Romney’s plan would streamline the earned income tax credit, while adding in the child allowance.
Analysis from the Niskanen Center, a middle-of-the-road think tank in Washington, finds that Mr. Romney’s proposal “would reduce U.S. child poverty by roughly one third, and deep child poverty by half.”
All members of the Capitol Police will be vaccinated against Covid-19, the acting chief of the force announced on Thursday, almost a month after the deadly riot at the Capitol that killed one officer and injured others.
“The department expects delivery of the vaccines to occur shortly, and is already working with the Office of Attending Physician on logistics to administer them to our employees as quickly and safely as possible,” Chief Yogananda Pittman said, adding, “I am tremendously grateful for the dedication of our officers who have worked tirelessly and sacrificed to uphold our mission.”
Chief Pittman took over the top post at the department when her predecessor resigned following the riot at the Capitol on Jan 6. She apologized to Congress last month for the agency’s extensive security failures, and acknowledged that the department had been aware of a “strong potential for violence” on Jan. 6.
Several members of Congress who took shelter in the Capitol during the riot have since tested positive for the coronavirus, and there have been complaints that some members and their staffs have been heedless about mask-wearing and other pandemic safety precautions.
The announcement came after President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other lawmakers paid their respects to Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died of injuries he received during the riot. On Tuesday, he became the fifth person to lie in honor at the Capitol. At a news conference on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Sicknick a “martyr for democracy.”
Ms. Pelosi said that Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, whom she tapped to lead a review of security at the Capitol complex, recommended that the force be vaccinated.
“To do the people’s work, it is essential to keep the people safe and to keep this House safe,” she said. Ms. Pelosi added that “the Capitol Police have been severely affected by Covid, separately and apart from everything else that’s going on.”