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Stimulus check and US news summary for 19 January

Biden inauguration, Trump last full day as president, $1,400 stimulus check updates | Live

US news and stimulus check info: live updates

Headlines

- Trump pardons Steve Bannon and another 142 people in final hours

- Stimulus check of up to $1,400 included in President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan

- Twelve National Guard troops removed from inauguration duty on right wing extremist ties

Tight security measures prepared for Biden inauguration in Washington

- Donald Trump releases farewell address in video on last day as President

- Mike Pence won't go to Trump's farewell event in favour of attending Biden inauguration

Biden set to sign raft of executive orders immediately after taking office

- New president's executive actions will include rejoining Paris climate accord and reversing Muslim travel ban

- Trump set to issue over 100 pardons on Tuesday

- Top GOP Senator Mitch McConnell places blame for 6 Jan insurrection at Trump's door

- US covid cases/deaths: 24.23 million/ 401,288

Related articles:

Follow Biden's inauguration live

Despite the protocols that need to be followed due to the ongoing pandemic, Joe Biden will be sworn in at midday ET and there will be plenty to keep an eye on.

Harris shares the united spirit

A few hours ago, both President-elect Biden and Vice-President Harris spoke to the nation.

'We gather together to pay tribute to the lives lost from covid-19. A grandmother or grandfather who was our whole world. A parent, partner, sibling, or friend who we still cannot accept is no longer here. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing—together.' said the incoming VP.

Exsibilate

Wordsmith Susie Dent has, completely at random and with no link to events going on in the United States today, chosen 'exsibilate' as her word for Wednesday 20 January 2021.

From Trump to Biden with US sport

"Professional sport clubs are going to start going to the White House again to celebrate Championships," Professor N. Jeremi Duru at American University's Washington College of Law has said.

"A great number of them refused to do so under Trump, understandably so. I think we are going to see that being an honour that clubs really take on in a way that they haven't over the course of the last several years."

Sky Sports looks at the positives in sport under the Trump administration, as well as a number of own goals scored by the outgoing president.

Tough on law and order???

The Republican president that claimed he was serious on law and order in the US has issued a long, long list of reprieves for criminal friends and those under investigation.

It's not what you know, it's who you know, it seems...

Celebrating America: join in

Today, Wednesday 20 January 2021, sees Democrat Joe Biden sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. And there will be a virtual party to kick it off in style.

Trump pardons/commutates another 143 people

Steve Bannon, former chief strategist, is one of a host of people being either pardoned or commuated by Presdient Trump in his final hours in office.

“Steve Bannon is getting a pardon from Trump after defrauding Trump’s own supporters into paying for a wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on Twitter. “And if that all sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves.”

Bannon has been charged with duping thousands of investors who believed their money would be used to fulfill Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, he allegedly diverted over a million dollars, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself.

Basically, there are lots of criminals, or alledged ones, who Trump has decided should go unpunished or uninvestigated. Unbelievable.

Full story from the AP.

Twelve National Guard removed from inauguration duty: right wing extremist ties

Twelve National Guard removed from inauguration duty: right wing extremist ties

Two National Guard troops were removed from inauguration duty after making extremist statements in either texts or posts about Wednesday's inauguration, according to the AP.

A further ten troops were removed following vetting by the FBI, all found to have ties with right-wing militia groups.

The FBI has been vetting the thousands of National Guard troops sent to provide security for Biden’s inauguration.

The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials were not authorised to speak publicly and spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.”

A U.S. Marine opens a door of the West Wing door, an indication that U.S. President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office during his last day in office, in Washington U.S., January 19, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Donald Trump spends last night in Oval Office

A U.S. Marine opens a door of the West Wing door, an indication that U.S. President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office during his last day in office, in Washington U.S., January 19, 2021.

PHOTO: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Trump final hours of power: defers Venezuela deportations

Trump final hours of power: defers Venezuela deportations

Donald Trump has deferred the deportation of some Venezuelan nationals from the US, after issuing sanctions aimed at Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

“The deteriorative condition within Venezuela, which presents an ongoing national security threat to the safety and well-being of the American people, warrants the deferral of the removal of Venezuelan nationals who are present in the United States,” said Trump in a memorandum.

Venezuelan nationals would not be removed from the US for 18 months, Trump said in the memo to the secretaries of state and homeland security.

VP Pence snubs Trump event for Biden inauguration

Mike Pence is finally breaking with Donald Trump. Trump’s farewell ceremony, for which Trump is trying to drum up a crowd, will take place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Pence is not expected to attend the almost-ex-president’s send-off. He’s going to Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony instead. The reasoning, according to Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey, is that “aides say it would be logistically challenging for the vice president to do both.”

Bells toll for 40 minutes to mark 400,000 covid-19 deaths in Washington

On Tuesday night, the Washington National Cathedral funeral bell was tolled 400 times—once for every 1,000 people who died of the coronavirus. The bells rang for 40 minutes straight.

May we find peace and comfort. Strength and hope. Unity and perseverance,” said DC mayor Muriel Bowser.

WATCH LIVE: Janet Yellen Senate hearing

Watch live as the nominee for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen comes before the Senate committee tasked with confirming her.

Yellen would inherit a floundering economy and jobs market that continues to be battered by the surging coronavirus pandemic.

Biden bids farewell to Delaware on eve of inauguration

In an emotional address, at the Major "Beau" Biden Reserve Center in Delaware named after his deceased son, Biden declared that when he passes Delware will be written on his heart. 

WATCH LIVE: Anthony Blinken Senate confirmation hearing

WATCH LIVE: Anthony Blinken Senate confirmation hearing

Watch live on CNN as Anthony Blinken appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his hearing prior to confirmation as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Photo: Reuters Pool. Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, on Anthony J. Blinken's expected nomination to Secretary of Homeland Security.

Biden and Harris hold memorial for those who have died from covid-19

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their spouses Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff have gathered at the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial.

“To honor the nearly 400,000 lives lost in the United States to this pandemic”, the memorial will “include illuminating 400 lights around the reflection pool”, the inauguration team said.

This on the eve of Joe Biden's inauguration tomorrow.

WATCH NOW: Donald Trump's farewell address

Donald Trump has delivered his farewell address on his last day in office. 

Second stimulus check: what is an EIP card and how do I get one?

The debit cards were provided to some eligible US residents for whom the government didn't have banking information for.

Senate Republican leader McConnell says Trump 'provoked' 6 Jan riot

Senate Republican leader McConnell says Trump 'provoked' 6 Jan riot

(Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, of provoking the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.

The U.S. House of Representatives last Wednesday impeached Trump for a second time. The Senate has yet to schedule a trial to determine Trump’s guilt or innocence.

Democratic lawmakers continue campaign for $2,000 third stimulus checks

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 with $1,400. Some Democrats are calling for the top up to amount to the full $2,000

Which states have vaccinated the most people so far?

As of 18 January approximately 10.6 million Americans have been vaccinated, this figure represents half as many as Donald Trump's administration hoped for by the end of 2020.

$15 per hour minimum wage: who has supported and who has criticized the proposal?

The Republicans balked at the size of Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan he presented last week. Some parts of the proposal they can get behind but in particular, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour has already drawn initial objection.

Full story:

US Senate to prioritise 3 items

Incoming Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, outlined the chamber’s early agenda in his floor speech.

The Democratic leader said the chamber would have to tackle three tasks simultaneously: Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, confirmation of Joe Biden’s nominees and the passage of another coronavirus relief package.

Janet Yellen: Joe Biden must 'act big' with coronavirus relief package

The US president-elect’s nominee for treasury secretary Janet Yellen has told lawmakers that "the smartest thing we can do is act big" on the next coronavirus relief package, adding that the benefits outweigh the costs of a higher debt burden.

Yellen said her task as treasury chief would be twofold: to help Americans endure the final months of the coronavirus pandemic, and to rebuild the US economy “so that it creates more prosperity for more people and ensures that American workers can compete in an increasingly competitive global economy”

Check and balance respectfully 

Mitch McConnell took to the floor to speak to the reconvened Senate on Tuesday. He had a message for both his party and the Democrats. 

To the Republicans, President Trump provoked the violent mob and “powerful people.” How this pronunciation will bode for Trump and his impending impeachment will still be seen. He made clear that “the mob was fed lies” referring to the numerous false accusations of election fraud. 

To the Democrats that November’s elections did not give “any side a mandate for sweeping ideological change.” So he calls for “robust discussion” and to “seek common ground, and bipartisan agreement.” With a nod to Biden’s call for more civil discourse, to “check and balance one another respectfully.”

First five members of Biden’s Cabinet get hearings 

The Senate will hold hearings on five of Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominations the day before he is sworn in as the 46th president. His nominees for Secretary of State, secretary of the Treasury, Director of National Intelligence, Defense Secretary and Secretary of Homeland Security will appear before Senate committees.  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate later this week which means Biden's Cabinet confirmation hearings could run up against the Senate's impeachment trial of outgoing President Donald Trump.  

The Senate will be under Democrat control when three Democratic Senators are sworn in, expected to be this week. They include Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the newly elected Democrats from Georgia and Alex Padilla, appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to take the seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

10am - Secretary of the Treasury - Janet Yellen 

10am - Secretary of Homeland Security - Alejandro Mayorkas 

10am - Director of National Intelligence - Avril Haines 

2pm - Secretary of State - Antony Blinken 

3pm - Secretary of Defense - Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin 

56 pillars of light

56 pillars of light

56 pillars of light, representing 50 US states and territories, illuminated the skies above the National Mall and US Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration in Washington DC. Shared on social media by Keith Arnold.

Could there be $1400 stimulus checks in January?

US President-elect Joe Biden has included a third stimulus check of up to $1,400 in the American Rescue Plan, his proposed $1.9tn coronavirus relief package.

Read the full story:

Americans give Biden the benefit of the doubt 

A new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS shows that Americans approve of the way he is handling the transition, not so for Trump and the Republicans. The poll also shows that Americans believe that he can get some key parts of his agenda enacted but that his desire to end political division won’t be as easy going. Some of the numbers from the poll: 

Handling of the transition 

- 66% approve of the way Biden is handling the transition 

- 70% disapprove of the way Trump is handling of the transition 

- 66% disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress have handled it 

- 51% approve of the way Democrats in Congress have handled it 

Likelihood of achieving goals 

- 83% signing into law another coronavirus stimulus bill 

- 74% restoring relations with US allies 

- 70% administering 100 million doses of the covid-19 vaccine in 100 days 

- 64% establishing a government-run health insurance option 

Rioter who stole Pelosi’s laptop arrested 

Riley June Williams was accused by an ex-lover of stealing a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then trying to sell it to Russian intelligence. The FBI allege that she fled after being caught on camera at the Capitol riot in Washington, DC on 6 January. She has been charged with illegally entering the Capitol and with disorderly conduct, but not for theft, the FBI is still investigating that claim.

According to the FBI, more than 100 arrests have been made in connection with the Capitol siege.

MyPillow Guy sued for defamation 

Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, has been a staunch supporter of President Trump and of the conspiracy theories of fraud surrounding the election. Now officials with Dominion Voting Systems have sent him a legal letter warning of pending litigation over his baseless claims.  

Threats of legal action from Dominion put Fox News and NewsMax on the damage control over similar accusations that were made on their programs. Unlike the President they can face serious legal and financial consequences for the false statements leading to defamation. 

In a statement from Lindell, he said he welcomes the pending litigation, claiming to have proof of election fraud.

Trump may release taped farewell address on Tuesday

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny reported on Monday night that outgoing US President Donald Trump has recorded a farewell video listing his achievements in his four years at the White House, and may release this address at some point during his last full day as commander-in-chief.

The first lady, Melania Trump, issued her goodbye video on Monday, doing a dashed good job of keeping a straight face when she asked Americans to "focus on what unites us. To rise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others before yourself." 

'Field of Flags' Washington DC, US

The 'Field of Flags' is illuminated on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Monday as the US Capitol Building is prepared for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

(Joe Raedle/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Cuomo

NY governor bids to buy vaccine doses directly from Pfizer 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla if the state can buy coronavirus vaccine doses directly from the US drugmaker.

However, Pfizer told Reuters that such a proposal would first require approval by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

"With hospitalizations and deaths increasing across the country this winter, we are in a footrace with the virus, and we will lose unless we dramatically increase the number of doses getting to New Yorkers," Cuomo said in a letter to Pfizer's CEO.

"After myself and seven other governors called on the Trump Administration to release more doses, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that relief was on the way. To date, however, the federal government has not acted on that promise," Cuomo wrote.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump's administration had promised to administer 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020 but only about 10.6 million people had received one or more doses as of last Friday..

(Reuters; photo: Reuters/Andrew Kelly/File Photo/File Photo)

Biden prepares to cancel Keystone Pipeline XL project

President-elect Joe Biden looks set to sign an executive order to revoke the permit for the controversial Keystone Pipeline XL project that would carry oil from Canada to the US.

Full story:

"President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening..."

Ahead of Donald Trump's last full day as US president, the White House press office has again issued the cut-and-paste schedule it has been sending out for the past few weeks.

"President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening," the statement reads. "He will make many calls and have many meetings."

Acting Pentagon chief: No indication of insider threat before inauguration

The acting Pentagon chief said on Monday the FBI is helping the US military to vet more than 25,000 National Guard troops being deployed to assist in protecting the US Capitol around President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration for potential security concerns.

After this month's Capitol assault by supporters of President Donald Trump that resulted in five deaths and sent lawmakers into hiding, the US government has imposed unprecedented security surrounding the Capitol, including non-scalable fences rimmed with razor wire and a large security zone that the public is barred from.

Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said in a statement on Monday the vetting is "normal for military support to large security events... While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital."

Miller said he appreciated "the support of the FBI in assisting with this task and for each of the more than 25,000 Guardsmen."

According to the Washington Post, the FBI in an intelligence report warned law enforcement agencies that far-right extremists had discussed posing as National Guard members in Washington. The Post added the report did not identify any specific plots to attack the inauguration events.

The US Army said on Tuesday it was is working with the FBI to see if any attackers were current service members and with the Secret Service to see if any of the nearly 10,000 National Guard troops securing Biden’s inauguration would need additional screening.

(Reuters)

'Field of Flags'

'Field of Flags' to stand in for American people at Biden inauguration

A public art display called 'Field of Flags', made up of over 200,000 flags intended to represent the American people who are unable to attend the upcoming presidential inauguration, stretches across the National Mall in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

The National Mall is also being illuminated with 56 pillars of light, intended to represent the country's 50 states and six territories. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th US president on Wednesday.

(EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE)

Who would be eligible for a $1,400 stimulus check under Joe Biden’s proposal?

Released on Thursday, Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan includes a $1,400 stimulus check, with access expanded to groups that missed out on the previous payments.

Full details:

Testing

MLK Day testing drive

A nurse changes gloves before administering a coronavirus test at a drive-through testing event targeting underserved communities on Martin Luther King Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Monday.

(REUTERS/Hannah Beier)

Biden's minimum-wage proposal: the lowdown

As part of his American Rescue Plan, Joe Biden has called for an increase in the federal minimum wage - but the plan looks set to encounter early opposition.

Full story:

Lil Wayne

Trump clemency likely for Lil Wayne, no pardons for Giuliani or Bannon - sources

US President Donald Trump is likely to grant clemency to rapper Lil Wayne on Tuesday in a final wave of pardons and commutations that is not expected to include lawyer Rudy Giuliani or ex-aide Steve Bannon, sources said on Monday.

Trump is expected to issue more than 100 pardons and commutations on his last full day in office. Two sources familiar with the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Trump appeared to have been dissuaded from pardoning himself or members of his family.

Lil Wayne pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun when his chartered jet landed in Miami in December 2019. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison at a 28 January hearing in Miami.

Lil Wayne appeared to support Trump during last year's presidential campaign when he tweeted a photo of himself with the president and said he backed Trump's criminal justice reform program and economic plan for African Americans.

The sources confirmed a New York Times report that the list of pardons and commutations is expected to include former New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, 76, who was convicted of corruption charges in 2015.

Trump's list is not expected to include Giuliani, the Trump private lawyer who has been a vocal proponent of the president's claims of voter fraud in the 3 November presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

The sources also said not expected to get a pardon is Steve Bannon, who helped Trump win election in 2016 and was a senior White House adviser. Bannon, 66, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded donors to "We Build the Wall," an online fundraising campaign that raised $25 million.

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, was also not expected to get a pardon, the sources said. The US Justice Department in 2019 asked Britain to extradite Assange to the country to face charges that he conspired to hack US government computers and violated an espionage law.

A British judge ruled two weeks ago Assange should not be extradited to the US, saying his mental health problems meant he would be at risk of suicide.

(Reuters; photo: Reuters/Steve Marcus//File Photo)

Joe Biden's plans for his first 10 days in White House

Ron Klain, President-elect Biden’s Chief of Staff, has outlined swift-moving plans on core policies to tackle covid-19, economy, the environment and immigration, among others.

Full story:

Stimulus check and US latest news: welcome

Welcome to our live blog bringing you the latest information on the proposed third round of stimulus checks, as well as live US political news as President Donald Trump prepares to leave office and Washington gets ready for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

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