Trump Impeachment and Biden Immigration News: Live Updates


Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

Former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers denied on Tuesday that he incited the deadly assault on the Capitol and argued that the Senate had no power to try a former president, as House prosecutors made their case that Mr. Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Jan. 6 rampage and must be convicted and barred from holding any future office.

The dueling filings provided the clearest preview yet of a politically fraught impeachment trial — the second in just a year — scheduled to begin in earnest next Tuesday. Both sides indicated they were ready for a debate over the constitutionality of trying a former president. They were also lining up diametrically opposed interpretations of a set of events witnessed on live television across the nation.

In his first formal answer to the “incitement of insurrection” charge against him, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denied that he was responsible for the Capitol riot or that he intended to interfere with Congress’s formalizing of President Biden’s election win. They said his words to supporters, some who later stormed the building — “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” — were protected by his First Amendment right of free speech. They said they were not meant as a reference to violent action, but “about the need to fight for election security in general.”

“It is denied that President Trump incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior,” the lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, wrote in the 14-page filing.

Notably, the document avoided repeating or attempting to defend Mr. Trump’s bogus claims that the November election had been “stolen” from him by widespread fraud, which the former president had wanted to be the central feature of his defense. But his lawyers in effect argued that Mr. Trump believed he won, and therefore was within his rights to “express his belief that the election results were suspect.” His claims could not be disproved, they added, because there was “insufficient evidence.” (Judges rejected more than 60 lawsuits by Mr. Trump and his allies claiming varying degrees of fraud or irregularities.)

Above all, the former president’s lawyers said the Constitution did not permit the Senate to try a former president after he had left office — despite the fact that the Senate has tried a former official in the past.

The response arrived two hours after the nine House Democrats preparing to prosecute the case argued in their own 80-page pretrial brief that Mr. Trump was directly to blame for the violent attack on Jan. 6 and a broader attack on democracy that showed he would do anything to “reassert his grip on power” if he were allowed to seek election again.

“President Trump has demonstrated beyond doubt that he will resort to any method to maintain or reassert his grip on power,” wrote the managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland. “A president who violently attacks the democratic process has no right to participate in it.”

The House prosecutors also refuted Mr. Trump’s constitutional challenge to the case, asserting that history and even conservative constitutional theory supported the Senate’s right to try a former president.

“There is no ‘January exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the managers wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”

They likewise insisted that Mr. Trump’s First Amendment right to free speech did not shield him from responsibility for inciting violence that would seek to do harm to the Constitution, undermining all the rights enshrined there, including free speech.

Mr. Trump’s response took an unusual form, addressing the House’s article of impeachment point by point. It also appeared to be somewhat hastily assembled after Mr. Trump shook up his legal team just 48 hours before the brief was due; the response was addressed to the “Unites States Senate.”

The remains of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, will be in the Capitol Rotunda.
Credit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Biden traveled to the Capitol on Tuesday evening to pay his respects to Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained during a Jan. 6 mob attack and whose remains were brought to lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Mr. Biden spoke with members of Mr. Sicknick’s family in the days after he was killed, according to White House officials, but his visit to the Capitol was not announced until the president’s motorcade departed the White House. Jill Biden, the first lady, joined him.

On Tuesday around 9:30 p.m., Mr. Sicknick’s remains were delivered to a silent Capitol on a cold and windy evening. Officers from Mr. Sicknick’s unit, some on mountain bikes, lined up near the steps outside. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood to the side during the arrival.

Mr. Biden departed the White House minutes later.

The memorial for Mr. Sicknick, who was 42, will not be open to the public, but police officers and lawmakers are scheduled to be given the opportunity to pay their respects before Mr. Sicknick is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

It is rare for people to lie in honor in the Capitol, a distinction reserved for private citizens, while government officials, like former presidents, lie in state. Congress authorized the distinction in 1998, after two Capitol Police officers were killed by a gunman. Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader, and the evangelist Rev. Billy Graham are the only other two individuals who have received the honor.

“The family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick thanks the Congressional leadership for bestowing this historic honor on our fallen American hero,” his partner, Sandra Garza, and his family said in a statement. “Knowing our personal tragedy and loss is shared by our nation brings hope for healing.”

At least 14 other Capitol Police officers were injured in the attack, according to a memo issued by the F.B.I., which said in January that it would investigate Mr. Sicknick’s killing. Two Capitol Police officers have died by suicide since the attack.

Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said he would vote to move forward with the budget process.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Democrats on Tuesday took the first step to push through President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, using a budgetary maneuver that could eventually allow the measure to become law without Republican support.

The move advanced the two-track strategy that Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders are employing to speed the aid package through Congress: show Republicans that they have the votes to pass an ambitious spending bill with only Democratic backing, but offer to negotiate some details in hopes of gaining Republican support.

“We are not going to dilute, dither or delay,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on the Senate floor. “There’s nothing about the process itself that prevents bipartisanship.”

The party-line vote of 50 to 49 set the stage for Democrats to advance Mr. Biden’s plan through budget reconciliation, which would allow it to pass with a simple majority vote, bypassing the need for Republican support. (Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, was absent and did not vote.)

“They’ve chosen a totally partisan path,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, said of Senate Democrats.

The vote came the day after 10 Republican senators met at the White House with Mr. Biden seeking a smaller, $618 billion package they said could win bipartisan backing.

Some Republican senators considered Mr. Biden receptive to their proposals, but said his chief of staff, Ron Klain, shook his head dismissively during the Republicans’ presentation, according to a participant in the meeting.

Senate Democrats could approve the budget resolution as soon as Friday. On Tuesday, a key Democratic senator announced he would support it: Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who is a crucial swing vote, said he would agree to move forward with the budget process “because we must address the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis.”

“I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of this pandemic,” Mr. Manchin said in a statement.

Mr. Manchin also reiterated his opposition to Mr. Biden’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which could force Democrats to drop it from their legislative package.

The budget resolution would instruct congressional committees to draft legislation that could include Mr. Biden’s stimulus proposal, which includes $1,400 direct payments for many Americans, funding for vaccine distribution, reopening schools and other measures.

More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are also urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Mr. Schumer to repeal a business tax break as part of the economic aid package. The tax cuts in question — which center on so-called net operating losses — were included in a rescue bill Congress passed in March 2020, as the pandemic spread and the nation was in the midst of a recession.

On Tuesday, an influential business group that had welcomed Mr. Biden’s initial proposal urged him to work with Republicans on a compromise — and to scale back his plans, including providing less aid for the unemployed and scrapping a call for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

President Biden signing executive orders aimed at the immigration system on Tuesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden moved cautiously on Tuesday to confront the most intractable immigration issues that his predecessor left behind: reuniting migrant children separated from their families, rebuilding a working asylum system and restoring opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the country.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden vowed to once again welcome immigrants to American shores by quickly rolling back hundreds of actions by former President Donald J. Trump that were aimed at deporting immigrants and shutting the country off from those seeking work or refuge.

Three executive orders signed on Tuesday reflected a reimagining of America’s place in the world after four years of Mr. Trump’s “America First” vision. But administration officials and immigration advocates cautioned that will not happen immediately. Mr. Biden’s government is wary of flinging open the border until it has rebuilt an asylum and refugee system that can process potentially large influxes of people.

With thousands of migrants already living in squalor on the Mexican side of the border, a crisis could develop quickly, and that would be a nightmare for the new president this early in his term. And the effort to locate parents and children separated in the summer of 2018 will take months, if not years.

“We’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families, the mothers and fathers at the border, and with no plan — none whatsoever — to reunify the children,” Mr. Biden said as he signed the orders in the Oval Office.

Mr. Biden said the orders would also begin to address “the root causes” of migration toward the southern border and begin a “full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies.”

Mr. Biden’s actions came just hours after the Senate confirmed Alejandro N. Mayorkas as the secretary of homeland security, with most Republicans voting no in a show of their opposition to Mr. Biden’s immigration agenda. Only six Republicans voted to confirm Mr. Mayorkas.

Conservative activists lashed out at Mr. Biden’s executive orders and the confirmation of Mr. Mayorkas, saying the president was pursuing a policy that would undermine border security and cost Americans jobs.

But the orders do little more in the short term than order government evaluations. Two of them order a review of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum, stopped funding to foreign countries, made it more difficult to get green cards or be naturalized, and slowed down legal immigration into the United States. The third establishes a task force, headed by Mr. Mayorkas, to identify families separated at the border.

For the most part, the orders do not immediately reverse Mr. Trump’s policies. One order did direct the homeland security secretary to “promptly cease” two programs established last year that put migrants on a fast track to deportation.

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Mayorkas Sworn In as Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro N. Mayorkas was sworn in as homeland security secretary on Tuesday, making him the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold the position.

“Raise your right hand. I, Alejandro Mayorkas,” “I, Alejandro Mayorkas,” “do solemnly swear,” “do solemnly swear,” “that I will support and defend,” “that I will support and defend,” “the Constitution of the United States,” the Constitution of the United States,” “against all enemies,” “against all enemies,” “foreign and domestic,” “foreign and domestic,” “that I will bear true faith and allegiance,” “that I will bear true faith and allegiance,” “to the same,” “to the same,” ”that I take this obligation freely,” “that I take this obligation freely,” “without any mental reservation,” “without any mental reservation,” “or purpose of evasion,” “or purpose of evasion,” “and that I will well and faithfully discharge” “and that I will well and faithfully discharge” “the duties of the office” “the duties of the office” “on which I am about to enter.” “on which I am about to enter.” “So help me God.” “So help me God.” Congratulations, Mr. Secretary. Thank you. Congratulations to the whole family. Thank you. Congratulations.

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Alejandro N. Mayorkas was sworn in as homeland security secretary on Tuesday, making him the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold the position.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Joshua Roberts

The Senate confirmed Alejandro N. Mayorkas on Tuesday as secretary of homeland security, making him the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold that job.

Mr. Mayorkas — a former deputy secretary of homeland security as well as a former director of the department’s legal immigration agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services — was confirmed to President Biden’s cabinet by a vote of 56 to 43 in the Senate. He is the first Senate-confirmed leader of the Homeland Security Department in roughly 21 months.

Six Republicans voted with all the Democrats to confirm Mr. Mayorkas: Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Born in Cuba to parents who later fled Fidel Castro’s revolution, Mr. Mayorkas is known for helping develop the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which deferred deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The Trump administration tried to end the program but was stymied by the Supreme Court, and President Biden has promised to preserve it.

In a Senate hearing last month, Mr. Mayorkas said that if confirmed, he would make it a priority to combat domestic terrorism, a longtime problem that has become more pressing after right-wing extremists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

But Republicans in the hearing focused their questions largely on immigration and border security, which will require a balancing act for the new secretary of homeland security. After the hearing, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri vowed to block a quick confirmation because, he said, “Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border.”

Mr. Mayorkas faces the challenge of following through on the Biden administration’s pledge to roll back the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies, which largely blocked people from seeking asylum in the United States. He will also lead a new task force to identify families separated at the border and issue recommendations on how to reunite them.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Mayorkas faced some criticism over an investigation completed in 2015, which found that he had intervened to speed up consideration of visas for foreign investors with ties to Democrats. The investigators said at the time that Mr. Mayorkas had created “an appearance of favoritism and special access,” but they did not find any illegal behavior.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, said on Tuesday that he would not vote for Mr. Mayorkas, arguing that he had turned Citizenship and Immigration Services into an “unethical favor factory for the Democratic Party royalty.”

Mr. Mayorkas said during his confirmation hearing that he had felt obligated to involve himself in a system “plagued by problems.” He said he had received requests from both Democrats and Republicans to assist with the cases.

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, at a new security checkpoint to get onto the House floor inside the Capitol, last month.
Credit…Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

The House voted on Tuesday night to begin fining lawmakers who refused to pass through metal detectors before walking onto the House floor, the latest move in a series of security measures taken after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The provision, tucked in a procedural package of rules, will fine lawmakers who bypass the metal detectors installed outside the House floor $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for a second offense, with the amounts deducted directly from their salaries. The vote came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to her fellow Democratic lawmakers that House leaders were reviewing additional measures intended to protect lawmakers and their aides.

“Given the serious and ongoing security threats facing members and the Congress, it is clear that there is a need for an emergency supplemental funding bill to meet institutional security needs,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It is also clear that we will need to establish a 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack on January 6.”

The vote infuriated many Republicans, who have argued that the measure is overly onerous and infantilizing for members of Congress to endure. But in the weeks since the Capitol riot, concerns over keeping firearms off the House floor have not been theoretical. HuffPost reported last month that Representative Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland, tried to bring his gun onto the House floor, and Representative Madison Cawthorne, a Republican of North Carolina who spoke at the Stop the Steal rally in Washington on Jan. 6 that preceded the attack, later claimed he had been armed that day when he evacuated the House floor as rioters stormed the building.

During a speech on the House floor on Tuesday evening, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Rules Committee, did not explicitly name the Republican members of Congress who had elevated concerns about firearms on the House floor, but gestured to Mr. Cawthorne and other Republicans, including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who endorsed executing Ms. Pelosi before she was elected, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who campaigned on bringing her Glock with her to the halls of Congress.

“These words and actions raise serious safety concerns,” Mr. McGovern said, calling the metal detectors “a basic safety measure.”

Ms. Boebert evidently disagreed, and her chief of staff circulated an email on Tuesday night urging other Republican aides to vote against the measure, calling the fines “unconstitutional.”

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer said he wasn’t pressured for a voter fraud defense.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The new head of the legal team defending former President Donald J. Trump in the Senate impeachment proceedings said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had never pressured him to base his legal arguments on baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud.

In a brief phone interview with The New York Times, the lawyer, David Schoen, said he believed that Mr. Trump’s comments at the Jan. 6 rally of his supporters, many of whom then took part in a riot at the Capitol, were protected speech under the Constitution.

Butch Bowers, the first head of Mr. Trump’s legal team in the impeachment proceedings, along with four other lawyers, parted ways with Mr. Trump over the weekend. People close to the former legal team and close to Mr. Trump said he had wanted the legal team to focus on his false claims that an election victory was stolen from him. Mr. Schoen disputed that was the case.

“You know the president believes what he believes. He’s never forced that, in front of me,” on the lawyers representing him, Mr. Schoen said. “It’s not my experience.”

Mr. Schoen, who described himself as a “First Amendment absolutist,” said that he believed that Mr. Trump’s comments at a Jan. 6 rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol were protected speech under the Constitution. He added that he believed that a conviction of Mr. Trump by the Senate risked “chilling the rights on any passionate speakers.”

“We can’t control the reaction of the audience,” he said.

House prosecutors plan to argue that Mr. Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Jan. 6 rampage and must be convicted and barred from holding any future office.

Mr. Schoen pointed to another potential argument that could help Mr. Trump, one not related to free speech: that at least some of the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol planned their attack in advance, suggesting that Mr. Trump was not the inciting force.

“I have no reason to believe anyone involved with Trump was in the know,” he said of the violence that unfolded at the Capitol.

Mr. Trump announced on Monday that Mr. Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr. would replace Mr. Bowers and the other lawyers who had initially represented Mr. Trump in the proceedings.

Mr. Schoen said that he had talked to Mr. Trump 10 to 20 times in recent days, and that he had been involved in the team discussions even when Mr. Bowers was still involved.

Democrats laid out their argument for convicting Mr. Trump in a lengthy filing on Tuesday. Mr. Schoen, who acknowledged he was still coming up to speed on the case, laid out how he expected the Democrats to make their argument at the trial.

“They’re going to put on reams and reams of video and riots and people being hurt and interviews with Capitol Police and people saying they did this for Trump,” Mr. Schoen said. “We’re going to be arguing it’s not a constitutional proceeding and I think there are some very important First Amendment issues involved — I think that’s pretty obvious.”

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Buttigieg Is Confirmed by the Senate

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., as transportation secretary for the Biden administration.

“Pete Buttigieg for secretary of transportation. Mr. Buttigieg, known to many simply as Mayor Pete, has demonstrated an impressive familiarity with our nation’s entire transportation challenges, challenges which are pronounced in states like my own, where projects like the Gateway Tunnel are a top national priority. I know that Mr. Buttigieg is committed to working with members from both sides to improve rail and transit highways, and more, in rural communities, urban centers and everywhere in between.” “We all know the nominee as Mayor Pete, a man who basically came on to the national stage as a Midwest mayor who had lots of enthusiasm for making investments in America’s future. So today we’re considering his nomination to be secretary of transportation at a time when we need a lot of work done on transportation. And in my opinion, he’s a young, energetic mayor, who is going to help us usher in a new era of transportation.” “Mr. McConnell. Mr McConnell, ‘aye.’ Mr. Romney, ‘aye.’” “Is there anyone in the chamber who would like to vote or change his or her vote? If not, the yeas are 86, the nays are 13. The nomination is confirmed.”

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On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., as transportation secretary for the Biden administration.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Stefani Reynolds

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, to be transportation secretary, putting in place a key emissary to President Biden as his administration seeks an ambitious overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure.

The confirmation, by a vote of 86 to 13, makes Mr. Buttigieg, 39, the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be confirmed by the Senate, as well as Mr. Biden’s youngest cabinet member.

Mr. Buttigieg’s bipartisan confirmation underscored the support he has received from lawmakers in both parties as he charted a vision for infrastructure reform that aligned with Mr. Biden’s goals on climate change, racial justice, job creation and economic recovery.

As transportation secretary, Mr. Buttigieg will oversee an agency that employs 55,000 people and controls around $87 billion in funding at a time when the country’s public transit systems are reeling from the pandemic. He is expected to play a key role in shepherding efforts by the Biden administration to push a $2 trillion infrastructure plan through Congress.

At his confirmation hearing last month, Mr. Buttigieg spoke of a “generational opportunity” to transform infrastructure. He pledged to work with state, local and tribal leaders on transportation concerns, while trying to mitigate the effect that transportation policies have historically had on poor and minority communities.

“I believe good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American dream,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “But I also recognize that at their worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities in transportation can reinforce racial and economic inequality.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s confirmation was described by a number of human rights groups as a symbolic moment for the L.G.B.T.Q. community.

“This confirmation breaks through a barrier that has existed for too long; where LGBTQ identity served as an impediment to nomination or confirmation at the highest level of government,” Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, a group dedicated to advancing the interests of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, said in a statement. “Let this important moment for our movement serve as a reminder to every L.G.B.T.Q. young person: you too can serve your country in any capacity you earn the qualifications to hold.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, this week offered strong words about Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, without mentioning her by name.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

Newly reported comments and conspiracy theories espoused by Marjorie Taylor Greene, a freshman House Republican of Georgia, have ruffled members of her party in her home state, as elected officials oscillated between condemning her, ignoring her, and offering broad words of displeasure carefully chosen not to offend her supporters.

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia largely sidestepped the controversy at a news conference on Monday, saying it was up to voters in her district in northwest Georgia to decide whether they found the comments unbecoming of an elected official. Ms. Greene has posted several debunked conspiracy theories on social media and encouraged calls for violence against Democratic politicians, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In other unearthed videos, she has shouted at a survivor of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., and blamed wildfires on a space laser controlled by Jews, a conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic roots.

“It’s my understanding that a lot of the things are being referenced with Representative Greene are things that happened before the election,” Mr. Kemp said. “If the voters don’t like what they’re doing or how she’s representing them, we have an election cycle that’s quickly coming upon us.”

In new statements to The New York Times, other Georgia Republicans went further than Mr. Kemp, who stands to face a tough re-election contest in 2022 after incurring the wrath of former President Donald J. Trump in the aftermath of the presidential election.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state who pushed back on Mr. Trump’s attempts to depict the presidential election as fraudulent, said “The future of the Republican Party is not Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

He then quoted a Bible verse that says, “Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.”

Mr. Raffensperger added, “I would encourage every person elected to the great halls of our Congress, before you speak words that inflame, to ask yourself, ‘Would our Founders condone or condemn your tone?’”

The statements come as Ms. Greene has faced pushback from the highest echelons of the Republican Party in recent days — but has also been embraced by Mr. Trump.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, said on Monday that the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” embraced by Ms. Greene amounted to a “cancer” on the Republican Party.

“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed J.F.K. Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” Mr. McConnell said. “This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

Mr. McConnell’s comments intensified pressure on Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, who is to meet with Ms. Greene this week amid calls from outside Republican groups and some members of his own party to revoke Ms. Greene’s committee assignments.

Ms. Greene offered her own retort in response to Mr. McConnell on Twitter, saying “the real cancer” on the party was “weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.”

As Republicans splinter over how to deal with Ms. Greene, Democrats are seizing on the infighting to make her the avatar for an array of G.O.P. lawmakers.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday began a $500,000 advertising campaign on television and online tying eight House Republicans, including Mr. McCarthy to Ms. Greene and the QAnon conspiracy theory that she has endorsed in the past.

“Congressman Don Bacon,” an ominous-sounding voice intones in the ad targeting the Nebraska Republican, “he stood with Q, not you.”

Catie Edmondson and Reid Epstein contributed from Washington.

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine with 10 doses. Moderna is seeking to pack 15 doses into a vial in the future.
Credit…Cooper Neill for The New York Times

The upstart drugmaker Moderna is asking U.S. regulators to allow it to increase the amount of coronavirus vaccine put into each vial by as much as 50 percent, arguing that it can speed vaccines to patients by clearing away a simple manufacturing bottleneck: Getting medicine into bottles.

The Food and Drug Administration could decide within a few weeks how much more vaccine Moderna, the developer of one of the two federally authorized Covid-19 vaccines, can put into its vials. Moderna says it can raise the number of doses per vial from 10 to as much as 15.

The company has already been ramping up production of its vaccine, only to find a bottleneck in the bottling, capping and labeling process. With F.D.A. approval, more doses could start going into each bottle quickly, a welcome boost to the campaign to curb a pandemic that has killed more than 440,000 people in the United States alone. In a statement late Monday, Ray Jordan, a Moderna spokesman, said the constraint on dosage per vial was limiting Moderna’s output.

The Moderna proposal is part of a broader push by the Biden administration to speed vaccine distribution, including by clearing away obstacles in the “fill and finish” phase of manufacturing. Although the nuts-and-bolts stage receives less attention than vaccine development, it has been identified for years as a constraint on vaccine production.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said that the federal government would allocate a minimum of 10.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to states for the next three weeks, a bump of five percent resulting from an expected increase in manufacturing.

At a White House news conference, Mr. Zients framed the increase in doses as an accomplishment of the Biden administration, saying that “we have increased supply by more than 20 percent since we took office.” But the uptick in production has long been expected as the companies that make two federally authorized vaccines, one from Pfizer and BioNTech and the other from Moderna, have scaled up their efforts. Last week, the companies increased their supply to the U.S. by 16 percent.

Governors were informed of the increase on a call Tuesday morning so that they would have more time to plan for vaccinations, Mr. Zients said, with at three weeks of notice for new allocation numbers — a cornerstone of a new effort by the Biden administration to improve a distribution system mired in uncertainty and confusion over limited supply and unused doses.

“That allows them to plan accordingly and know what staffing to have,” he said. “I think historically, there had been fluctuation. We are very attuned into not having that fluctuation.”

Moderna has discussed the possible change of the number of doses in vials with the F.D.A. but has not yet submitted manufacturing data to support it, people familiar with the discussions said. Federal regulators may be receptive to the idea of more doses in each vial, but could balk at the notion of a 50 percent increase.

The industry standard has long been 10 doses per vial, and federal regulators may be concerned that the extra punctures by needles of the rubber covering of the vial and the time required to extract more doses could increase the risk of contaminating the vaccine with bacteria. Moderna’s proposal to the F.D.A. for the dose increase was first reported by CNBC.

Packing more vaccine into each Moderna vial is one of a number of options White House and health officials are exploring as they push to expand production before the spring, when officials are expecting a renewed surge of infections from emerging variants of the virus.

The maker of the other federally approved vaccine, Pfizer, is unable to increase the amount of vaccine in its vials because its manufacturing is geared toward a particular size of vial that can hold only about six doses. But Moderna’s vial is big enough to hold more than the 10 doses now allowed.

Asked about Moderna’s proposal, a White House spokesman on Monday said that “all options are on the table.”

Among other efforts, Mr. Zients said that the government had now ensured that specialized syringes were shipped out with Pfizer’s vials so practitioners could extract a sixth dose from them. Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive, told investors Tuesday that the company was now two months ahead of schedule and expected to deliver a total of 200 million doses for Americans by the end of May instead of the end of July. The acceleration is at least partly because the government has decided to count Pfizer vial as six doses instead of five.

Prashant Yadav, who studies health care supply chains with the Center for Global Development in Washington, said Moderna might be able to “relatively quickly” make more of its vaccine if it received the green light to add doses to each vial.

But he said it would not be an instant change. “I don’t think Moderna has a surplus sitting around,” he said.

Mr. Yadav said the finish-and-fill process is intensely automated, devoted to warding off contamination and precise to the microgram. At top speed, as many as 1,000 vials of vaccine can be filled per minute, he said.

He said a 15-dose vial carries a trade-off: It could lead to more wasted doses if the health care professional runs out of people to get inoculated and has to throw out the rest of the doses. But in the midst of a raging pandemic, experts said, that may well be a risk that federal health officials would be willing to take.

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, at the White House in October.
Credit…Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Virginia Thomas, a conservative legal activist and the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, has expressed regret over her role in discord among Justice Thomas’s former law clerks because of her support for President Donald J. Trump and the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol.

She made her apology after the mob attack on the Capitol on a private email list called Thomas Clerk World. Her comments were first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by a former clerk to the justice.

The list has largely been devoted to updates about families and careers, along with domestic matters like dog rearing and pie baking, the clerk said. But in recent weeks heated political debates had unfolded on the list among the former clerks, almost all of whom are conservative.

The former clerks, like many Republicans, were deeply split over whether Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election were legitimate. Some said they believed the election had likely been stolen, while others condemned what they called an insurrection.

Ms. Thomas, known as Ginni, has been an enthusiastic proponent of Mr. Trump and expressed support for the Jan. 6 rally in the days leading up to it. She has expressed no public views supporting Mr. Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen.

“I owe you all an apology,” she wrote to the former clerks. “I have likely imposed on you my lifetime passions.”

“My passions and beliefs are likely shared with the bulk of you, but certainly not all,” she added. “And sometimes the smallest matters can divide loved ones for too long. Let’s pledge to not let politics divide THIS family, and learn to speak more gently and knowingly across the divide.”

Justice Thomas does not participate in the email list, the former clerk said.

In a recent email, Ms. Thomas called for reconciliation. “I would ask those of you on the contrary side to have grace and mercy on those on my side of the polarized world, and feel free to call and talk to me individually about where I failed you as a friend here,” she wrote. “I probably need more tutoring.”

Protestors surrounded the Capitol as they breached the doors on Jan. 6.
Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Nearly a dozen people who the authorities said made politically motivated threats by social media or phone have been charged with federal crimes — most of them were nowhere near Washington on the day of the Jan. 6 riot.

In recent weeks, law enforcement has arrested a Proud Boys supporter in New York accused of posting violent threats on the social media network Parler; a Colorado man charged with sending a text about “putting a bullet” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and a man near Chicago implicated in a voice mail message about killing Democrats on Inauguration Day.

Even though they were not physically present during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, they have become part of its sprawling fallout, as investigators scour the country to track down hundreds of rioters and examine whether right-wing extremist groups were involved in organizing the attack.

Law enforcement agencies have long struggled to decipher whether online statements could lead to real danger, wary of bringing cases hinged largely on speech that could be protected by the First Amendment. But the volume of tips about threats has skyrocketed since the Capitol assault, compelling some officials to decide not to wait to see if violent language developed into action.

When law enforcement officials are concerned about a violent social media threat that has not led to any real-world action, that person will often get a knock on the door from the F.B.I. with a warning. But former officials have called the Capitol riot a “9/11 moment” for domestic violent extremism, a catalyzing event that has pushed local and federal resources around the country to focus on one top priority, with a much lower tolerance to wait and see if threats materialize.

People lining up to buy guns and ammunition at a gun store in Orem, Utah, last month.
Credit…George Frey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Gun sales increased dramatically in the two months after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president — with firearms dealers reporting four million applications for background checks for sales in January, a 60 percent increase over the same month in 2020, according to new data released by the F.B.I.

The rush to buy new weapons, driven by fears that Mr. Biden and a Democratically controlled Congress will crack down on gun sales and stoked by former President Donald J. Trump’s false claim that Democrats will repeal the Second Amendment, resulted in the largest increases in firearms applications per month in December and January.

The pandemic drove sales even before the election, as bouts of civil unrest erupted around the country and people started to fear for their personal safety. Americans applied to buy about 40 million new guns in 2020, an increase of 11 million from the year before. A research firm, IbisWorld, called the increase over the past year “unprecedented.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearm industry trade association, has encouraged its members to exercise their rights to buy weapons, warning that Mr. Biden’s administration was preparing to move on several gun control proposals.

Mr. Biden has promised to tighten gun controls by reinstituting limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and adopting several measures, including a voluntary national buyback program for some weapons and a limit on the number of guns a person can buy in a single month.

Before 2020 and 2021, the biggest increase in gun buying came in the month after President Barack Obama won re-election in 2013, with a 900,000 jump in sales from December 2012, according to the F.B.I.





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