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Second stimulus check: news summary for 17 January

Stimulus checks: live updates - 17 Jan.


- US President-elect Joe Biden outlines new stimulus proposal including additional $1,400 stimulus check payments (full report)

- Biden on his American Rescue Plan: “There is real pain overwhelming the real economy.”

- Biden promises to undo President Donald Trump’s 'legacy'

- Donald Trump impeached for 'inciting' US Capitol riot in historic second charge

- Federal unemployment benefits increased to $400 and extended until September

- Covid cases (USA): total 23.9 million - 397,600 deaths

- Rehearsal for Biden's inauguration postponed from Sunday due to security concerns

- Sen. Bernie Sanders named new Chairman of Senate Budget Committee, giving greater influence over federal spending

National Guard mobilises across US ahead on Inauguration Day

Further reading:

Trump prepares over 100 pardons, self-pardon currently ruled out

US President Donald Trump at this point is opting not to issue a pardon for himself as he prepares an expansive list of more than 100 pardons and commutations for release on Tuesday, a source familiar with the effort said.

White House advisers have said Trump has privately debated with advisers whether to take the extraordinary step of issuing a pardon for himself but some administration officials have cautioned Trump against a self-pardon because it would make him look guilty.

Many scholars have said a self-pardon would be unconstitutional because it violates the basic principle that nobody should be the judge in his or her own case.

Others have argued that a self-pardon is constitutional because the pardon power is very broadly worded in the Constitution. Historical texts made clear that the nation’s 18th century founders discussed self-pardons, but opted not to include an explicit limitation on that power.

Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last week on charges of inciting the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January by pro-Trump protesters. His case is to face a Senate trial and if convicted, he could be disqualified from seeking another run for the presidency in 2024.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said so far Trump does not plan to pardon himself and also does not plan to issue preemptive pardons for members of his family, another subject he has discussed privately with advisers.

Trump, who has already issued two waves of pardons in the past month, met advisers on Sunday to finalize a list of more than 100 pardons and commutations, the source said. CNN reported that Dr Salomon Melgen, a prominent eye doctor from Palm Beach who is in prison after being convicted on dozens of counts of health care fraud, is expected to be on the clemency list.

Skipping the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Trump leaves on Wednesday morning to begin his post-presidency at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. His presidency ends at noon on Wednesday.


How long will it take?

The American Rescue Plan aims to heal the ailing US economy with ambitious proposals, whether they are bold enough or too bold will decide its fate. 

Read the full story:

Insider threat 

25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington to secure the city for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, at least two and a half times the number for previous inaugurals. US defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the event. 

This has prompted the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington to secure the event in addition to reviews the military routinely performs on service members looking for extremist connections. Commanders have been warned to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.

Biden to cancel XL pipeline 

The incoming Biden administration plans to be aggressive at tackling climate change. He plans to mobilize his entire administration to take on the challenge from every angle in a strategic, integrated way. The Biden-Harris climate plan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector to net zero by 2035. As part of the proposal to be announced in February, Biden will call for infrastructure spending to help create new jobs through green energy projects. 

In addition to that he plans to sign executive orders on his first day to rejoin the Paris climate accord and according to reporting by CBC News cancel the XL pipeline permit, a cross-border pipeline which carries Canadian bitumen derived from oil sands.

The youth want their voices heard 

A collection of youth-led organizations has asked the incoming Biden administration to create official positions aimed at engaging younger Americans. They want the Biden administration to create an "Office of Young Americans" within the Executive Office of the President and engage young Americans across all administration agencies. The collective says that young people have the unique experience of dealing with multiple crises at once and can help play a key role in Biden's mission to "build back better."

More Americans to get a stimulus check

Joe Biden released his American Rescue Plan which includes a $1400 stimulus check, expanding access to groups that missed out on the previous payments.

Read the full story:

Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's Twitter account has been temporarily locked, Twitter confirmed on Sunday. A Twitter spokesperson said she had violated the company's rules regarding "civic integrity."

Greene, a Republican who has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories in the past and joined other GOP House members in objecting to the results of the presidential election in several states on January 6, had been tweeting inaccurate information on Sunday morning about the Georgia election results. The Georgia representative called the state's top elections official a "moron" and repeated President Trump's fraudulent claims about the election being "stolen."

Greene pounced on the suspension, sending out a statement immediately afterward repeating the inaccurate information. She also used it as an opportunity to criticise "big tech" for "censorship." 

Biden will wait for recommendation on sharing secrets with Trump

Biden will wait for recommendation on sharing secrets with Trump

 (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will wait for a recommendation from his intelligence advisers on whether to share classified information with President Donald Trump after the Republican leaves office, Biden’s top aide said on Sunday.

Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, made the comment after former principal deputy director of national intelligence, Sue Gordon, wrote an op-ed arguing against sharing such information with Trump once he has left the presidency.

“With this simple act — which is solely the new president’s prerogative — Joe Biden can mitigate one aspect of the potential national security risk posed by Donald Trump, private citizen,” Gordon said in a Washington Post piece headlined “A former president Trump won’t ‘need to know.’ Cut off his intelligence.”

Is the third stimulus check happening?

The wheels are in motion on a new proposal called the American Rescue Plan, which includes a third round of stimulus checks for all qualifying Americans.

How much could it be, who qualifies and which Democrats are pushing for the full $2,000?

Read the full story:

Can Trump pardon himself?

Can Trump pardon himself?

(Reuters) - As he prepares to end a tumultuous four years as U.S. president facing potential legal jeopardy, Donald Trump has discussed the possibility of pardoning himself, according to a source familiar with the matter. But there are questions about whether a president’s broad executive clemency powers under the U.S. Constitution would permit such action.

The Justice Department has previously taken the view that the Constitution does not allow a sitting president to be indicted, but a former president enjoys no such protections.

Here is an explanation of the potential constitutional problems with a self-pardon and why such action would not end Trump’s legal jeopardy after his term ends on Wednesday.

Is a self-pardon constitutional?

There is no definitive answer to this question, and the Constitution does not explicitly address this possibility. No president has tried it before, so the courts have not weighed in. Trump wrote on Twitter in 2018 that he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the possibility of a self-pardon.

Many scholars have said a self-pardon would be unconstitutional because it violates the basic principle that nobody should be the judge in his or her own case.

Others have argued that a self-pardon is constitutional because the pardon power is very broadly worded in the Constitution. Historical texts made clear that the nation’s 18th century founders discussed self-pardons, but opted not to include an explicit limitation on that power.

We are going to have to figure out the OAN and Newsmax problem. These companies have freedom of speech, but I'm not sure we need Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and such bringing them into tens of millions of homes.

Alex Stamos, Computer Scientist at Stanford Internet Observatory

Wondering if the incoming third stimulus check could be bigger?

Cnet has compiled a handy list of potential scenarios in which that could be the case...including new dependents, getting married and more.

NSA installing Trump loyalist as general counsel

The National Security Agency said Sunday it was installing Trump NSC staffer Michael Ellis as its general counsel, after acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller ordered NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone to place the Trump loyalist into the role.

"Mr. Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon. NSA is moving forward with his employment," an NSA spokesperson said in a statement.

Ellis, who was a lawyer for the National Security Council, had been named to the position in November, but the NSA had yet to move him into the role. The Washington Post and CNN reported Saturday that Miller, who was installed as acting defense secretary as part of a purge of agencies after the election, had ordered Nakasone to install him into the position, giving him a Saturday evening deadline.

The message is simple: the wait is almost over

Chuck Schumer hints that perhaps first on the agenda for the Democratic Congress, and in his new role as Senate Majority leader, will be a third round of stimulus checks and aid for businesses and families who have been waiting too long for support during the pandemic.

Happy Birthday Michelle Obama

Former President Barack wishes his wife Michelle Happy Birthday today, as the world prepares for his former vice-president Joe Biden to take the reins and lead a Democratic Congress through multiple crises facing America.

Washington on high alert ahead of inauguration

Washington on high alert ahead of inauguration

WASHINGTON, DC: National Guard Citizen-soldiers walk the streets downtown on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation's capital and in all 50 states.

According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President.

PHOTO: Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP

'Careful what you wish for'

Clearly when it comes to finding a solution to the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic, few decisions are simple. President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid spending plan could recreate the financial conditions seen in the run-up to the 1929 Wall Street crash, according to one hedge fund manager, with rising inflation potentially responsible for popping an “epic” stock market bubble.

David Neuhauser, managing director of small, Chicago-based hedge fund Livermore Partners, said that Biden’s spending plan appeared to be an attempt to mimic the “roaring 20′s” by getting people back into the workforce quickly.

“But beware, the ’roaring 20’s′ led to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. So, be careful what you wish for,” he added.

Security stepped up around Capitol ahead of Wednesday's inauguration

With President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration to take place on Wednesday, the number of National Guard members deployed in Washington DC has been boosted to 25,000 - an increase of 25 percent.

"We're inheriting a huge mess"

In coming White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain stated that the Trump administration has left "a huge mess" for Joe Biden to sort out as the US plans to continue its nationwide rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. Klain told Jake Tapper on  CNN's State of the Union programme, "We're inheriting a huge mess here, Jake, but we have a plan to fix it, the president-elect put out that plan on Friday. We think there are things we can do to speed up the delivery of that vaccine, and make that vaccine supply go further - for example, one thing the president-elect mentioned yesterday was using the Defense Production Act to ramp up the production of a particular type of syringes that allow us to get six doses of the vaccine out of a vial instead of five".

Kamala Harris to formally resign from her US Senate seat on Monday

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will formally resign from her US Senate seat on Monday, effectively bringing her four-year Senate career to a close. The move comes two days before she is due to be inaugurated at the Capitol on Wednesday, making history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president.


Shortages of covid-19 vaccines persist in US

Scattered shortages of covid-19 vaccines persisted on Saturday under pressure from growing demand, as previously inoculated Americans returned for their required second shots and millions of newly eligible people scrambled to get their first.

The supply gaps, coming as the US vaccination effort enters its second month, prompted some healthcare systems to suspend appointments for first-time vaccine seekers and one New York healthcare system to cancel a slew of existing ones.

"As eligibility increases, you just increase demand, but we're not able to increase supply," Northwell Health spokesman Joe Kemp told Reuters by telephone.

France wants suspension of 'poisonous' US-Europe trade spat

The European Union and the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden should suspend a trade dispute to give themselves time to find common ground, France's foreign minister said in remarks published on Sunday.

"The issue that's poisoning everyone is that of the price escalation and taxes on steel, digital technology, Airbus and more particularly our wine sector," Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

He said he hoped the sides could find a way to settle the dispute. "It may take time, but in the meantime, we can always order a moratorium," he added.

At the end of December the United States moved to boost tariffs on French and German aircraft parts, wines and other spirits in the Boeing-Airbus subsidy dispute, but the bloc decided to hold off on retaliation for now.

Can you get the coronavirus vaccine in Publix stores?

Publix is offering Covid-19 vaccines free-of-charge to priority groups at over 200 of its stores in Florida and Georgia.

Britain invites G7 leaders to Cornish resort for June summit

Britain announced plans to hold the first in-person meeting of the G7 for nearly two years in June, inviting the leaders of major developed economies to a picturesque seaside village to discuss rebuilding from the pandemic and climate change.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he wants to use Britain's presidency of the G7 to forge a consensus that the global economy must recover from the COVID-19 crisis in a pro-free trade and sustainable way.

"Coronavirus is doubtless the most destructive force we have seen for generations and the greatest test of the modern world order we have experienced," he said in a statement. "It is only right that we approach the challenge of building back better by uniting with a spirit of openness to create a better future."

Biden to push for vaccine administration at pharmacies 

The future president is pushing to establish thousands of community vaccination centers.


Joe Biden to un-do Trump legacy from day

US President-elect Joe Biden will cap a busy day of inauguration pageantry by using the powers of his new office to push policy changes on housing, student loans, climate change and immigration, a top aide said.

Biden, who campaigned on a raft of promises to undo President Donald Trump’s legacy even before the novel coronavirus pandemic walloped the nation, will unveil “roughly a dozen” previously promised executive actions on Wednesday, incoming Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said in a memo distributed to reporters.

Why is NRA declared bankrupt?

On Friday 15 January, the National Rifle Association, a gun rights advocacy group based in the United States, filed for bankruptcy.

Heavily armed man arrested near US Capitol

The Virginia native had driven to a checkpoint late on Friday evening and presented officers with a fake inauguration credential, according to a document filed in Washington, DC Superior Court.


US closing National Mall, landmarks in Washington ahead of inauguration

The National Park Service confirmed it was immediately closing the National Mall and iconic US landmarks in Washington to  visitors through at least Jan. 21 amid an unprecedented boost in security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

The Mall includes landmarks like the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and Washington Monument. The area around the White House has also been closed, as has a key bridge over the Potomac River that connects Virginia to Washington, as well as East and West Potomac Parks, including Hains Point, which are near the Mall.

"We cannot allow a recurrence of the chaos and illegal activity that the United States and the world witnessed last week," Matthew Miller, the head of the Secret Service's Washington field office, told reporters.


US state capitals gird for pro-Trump armed protests, FBI flags risk of violence

More than a dozen states have activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed protests, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.

There were scattered demonstrations on Saturday, but statehouses remained mostly quiet. Security officials have eyed Sunday as the first major flashpoint as that is when the anti-government "boogaloo" movement made plans weeks ago to hold rallies in all 50 states.

While many states have erected fences or other barriers to secure their capitols, Texas and Kentucky have taken the further step of closing their capitol grounds to the public.

It is just days until Wednesday's Inauguration Day, when Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in amid extraordinary security efforts in Washington, D.C.

Can I qualify for Biden's American Rescue Plan if I have already received the stimulus check?

President-elect Joe Biden presented his American Rescue Plan on Thursday which includes a new round of direct payments to top up the $600 payments to $2000.

What's the difference between the third stimulus check & Biden's rescue plan?

President-elect Joe Biden has now unveiled the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus economic-aid proposal that includes a $1,400 stimulus check.

Hello and welcome 

​​​​​​Hello and welcome as we begin our live blog this Sunday morning, 17 January. We'll be bringing you all the latest news and reaction from the US related to the coronavirus, politics, Joe Biden's inauguration and stimulus checks throughout the day.