The incident happened early Thursday morning.
- The Week
Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request
When President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, there was no chief usher to greet them. He had been fired at about 11:30 a.m., half an hour before Biden was sworn in as president, The New York Times reports. Former first lady Melania Trump had hired the chief usher, Timothy Harleth, from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2017, after the previous chief usher, Angella Reid, was dismissed a few months into Donald Trump's term.The White House chief usher is in charge of the first family's residence, overseeing everything from personnel issues to budgets. It is typically an apolitical job, and ushers typically stay through several administrations. Reid, hired in 2011, was only the ninth chief usher since 1885, though she was the first woman hired for the job. The Bidens had communicated to the White House counsel that they intended to bring in their own chief usher, a person familiar with the process told the Times. A Biden White House official told CNN that Harleth "was let go before the Bidens arrived," though CNN reports it was the Bidens who gave him the ax.Harleth was already in hot water with Trump's team, though. He "had found himself in an untenable position" since the election, "trying to begin preparations for a new resident in the White House, even as its occupant refused to concede that he would be leaving the premises," the Times reports. And Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was "unhappy" with Harleth "for trying to send briefing books about the residence to the Biden transition team in November." Harleth "had worked with Jill Biden's staff for weeks to organize the move of household belongings," The Washington Post adds.The absence of a chief usher was one manifestation of the chaotic transition period, but it doesn't entirely explain the curious breach in protocol where nobody opened the doors for the BIdens when they arrived at the White House, the Times notes. The doors, which awkwardly stood closed for about 10 long seconds as the Bidens watched, are typically opened by Marine guards.Once the Bidens passed through the doors into the newly sanitized White House, things got better, the Post reports. "Awaiting Biden in a room adjacent to the Oval Office were two trays stacked with chocolate chip cookies, each one in plastic wrap with a gold presidential seal."More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- Associated Press
Transgender kids would be banned from playing on school sports teams for the gender with which they identify under a GOP-backed bill that advanced Thursday in Montana, one of more than a dozen states where lawmakers are proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for trans minors this year. The order immediately sparked a backlash from conservative groups, a split that reflects the deep divisions in the U.S. around transgender youth. Proponents of the Montana bill say allowing transgender athletes to compete can create an unfair playing field in middle and high schools, especially in girls' sports.
- The Week
It's the end of a very caffeinated era.When former President Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, he quite literally had a button on his desk that ordered a Diet Coke to the room whenever it was pressed. But as a glimpse at President Biden's desk just hours after his inauguration shows, the soda-summoning button is gone.> President Biden has removed the Diet Coke button. When @ShippersUnbound and I interviewed Donald Trump in 2019, we became fascinated by what the little red button did. Eventually Trump pressed it, and a butler swiftly brought in a Diet Coke on a silver platter. It's gone now. pic.twitter.com/rFzhPaHYjk> > — Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 21, 2021While it may have sounded just too weird to be true, Trump's Diet Coke obsession and his button to match were absolutely real. No word on if Biden will install some kind of ice cream-ordering alternative.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request
- The Independent
Michael Flynn’s brother reveals he was involved in Capitol riot response after Army denied it, report says
Apparent U-turn by Pentagon officials could pose questions about police response
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- Associated Press
The master tenant of a cluttered, dilapidated San Francisco Bay Area warehouse where 36 people perished in a late-night fire in 2016 is scheduled to plead guilty Friday to the deaths, avoiding a second trial after the first ended in a hung jury. Families of several victims told the East Bay Times last week that prosecutors told them Derick Almena, 50, will plead guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a nine-year sentence. Almena may serve little or none of that term because of time already spent behind bars and credit for good behavior.
Capt. Scott Moss, who led the NOSC in Knoxville, was relieved of command by Capt. Dale Maxey.
- National Review
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refuted a claim by the Biden administration that the outgoing Trump administration left no plan for distributing coronavirus vaccines. President Biden said at a White House press conference on Thursday that the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines has been a “dismal failure,” and set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans by the end of April. Meanwhile, sources in the Biden administration claimed that the previous administration left no vaccine distribution plan. “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch,” one source told CNN on Thursday. However, Dr. Fauci directly refuted this claim after Biden left the press conference. “We certainly are not starting from scratch,” Dr. Fauci told reporters. Regarding the Trump administration’s vaccination effort, Dr. Fauci said, “You can’t say it was absolutely not usable at all.” The seven-day rolling average of coronavirus vaccines administered to Americans is 914,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, with 1.6 million doses administered on Wednesday alone. Biden’s plan calls for a million Americans to be vaccinated each day. When asked by a reporter whether the goal to vaccinate one million people per day is not ambitious enough, Biden said that the goal was a “good start.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden said.
Returned Honduran migrants are directing anger against their president this week after their U.S.-bound caravan was blocked by the region's security forces, accusing him of making their county unlivable while thwarting their escape to a better life. Honduras is reeling from two back-to-back hurricanes that devastated Central America in November, as well as an historic economic contraction on the back of coronavirus pandemic. President Juan Orlando Hernandez has also been under fire from U.S. prosecutors that have accused him of having ties to drug cartels, an allegation he has strongly denied.
- Associated Press
A prominent Chicago family law attorney who was charged last summer with sexually assaulting a colleague has been charged with doing the same thing to two other women, including a client who says he told her that if he didn't have sex with him, she'd lose custody of her children. Prosecutors outlined the new charges against David Pasulka, 61, during a court hearing on Wednesday that ended with Judge Susana Ortiz setting his new bail amount at $100,000 on charges of sexual assault, aggravated sex assault and criminal sexual abuse. Pasulka, who was already out on bond in the initial case, was released from custody after posting the new amount, according to the Cook County Jail.
A Starbucks branch in Dublin, Ireland compensated a female customer of Thai descent €12,000 ($14,600) after one of its employees drew a smiley face with "slanty" eyes on her cup. Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Kevin Baneham forced Atercin Liffey Unlimited trading as Starbucks Tallaght to pay Suchavadee Foley for the Jan. 12 incident, according to The Irish Times. Baneham, while recounting Foley’s story, said the woman was interrupted by a female employee from Brazil while trying to spell out her name in her order.
- The Week
President Biden's inaugural address has won some high praise on Fox News.Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Wednesday praised Biden's "great" inaugural address, going as far as to deem it the best he's ever watched in his life."I thought it was a great speech," Wallace said. "I've been listening to these inaugural addresses since 1961 -- John F. Kennedy, 'ask not.' I thought this was the best inaugural address I ever heard."Biden during his first address as president declared that "democracy has prevailed" and urged unity, saying politics "doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path." Wallace noted the speech and the ceremony itself was especially meaningful coming exactly two weeks after a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt Congress' certification of the election results."It was a less an inaugural address and more part sermon, part pep talk," Wallace said.The Fox News anchor also called for those in the media to particularly take note of Biden's comment that "there is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit, and each of us has a duty and a responsibility ... to defend the truth and defeat the lies.""Now he's gotta turn words, rhetoric into reality and action," Wallace added. "But I thought it was a great start." > Fox News's Chris Wallace: "This was the best inaugural address I ever heard." pic.twitter.com/W2tauGp5g5> > -- Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 20, 2021More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office Biden's team reportedly realized after inauguration that Trump really had no vaccine distribution plan
- Associated Press
Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran's power grid.
- Yahoo News Video
Already facing allegations of stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds from a health care school she directed, a Tennessee state senator has been charged in a new fraud case, the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis said Tuesday.
- NBC News
A GoPro camera was found inside a bathroom and changing area at a Premier Athletics facility, which trains young cheerleaders, gymnasts and dancers in Franklin.
- Architectural Digest
800 feet up in the sky, the Dreamy 6,000 square foot space offers panoramic views from the East River to the HudsonOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
President Biden will continue his executive action blitz on Friday, issuing two more orders in an attempt to provide immediate relief to struggling families without waiting for Congress.Why it matters: In his second full day in office, Biden is again resorting to executive actions as he tries to increase payments for nutritional assistance and protect workers' rights during the pandemic. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * "These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief or reform that is in the American rescue plan," said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council. "But they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families." The big picture: Last week, Biden asked Congress to consider a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package to address the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus. * In addition to $140 billion in public health investments, Biden called for Americans to receive $1,400-per-person direct payments. * But the package's overall price tag will likely be winnowed down in Congress, where Biden will need to muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass a bill quickly. Details: Friday's first executive order is billed as a "whole of government" approach, but primarily focuses on the Departments of Agriculture, Treasury and Veterans Affairs to consider administrative changes to how they calculate payments under various federal programs. * One goal is to have the Department of Agriculture readjust the formula for families whose children are missing meals due to school closures — and increase their benefit by approximately 15%, which could mean another $100-per-month for families with three children. * Biden is also asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts, potentially helping some 2 million veterans. The second executive order is designed to protect workers and increase wages and also revokes three Trump executive orders. * It will ask the Labor Department to "consider clarifying" whether workers who refuse employment or fear it will endanger their health, will still be eligible for unemployment insurance. * The order also directs the department to lay the groundwork to require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and emergency paid leave to workers.The bottom line: The operative word in these executive actions is "consider." Biden is putting his own departments on notice that he expects them to interpret regulations broadly to help families in this unprecedented crisis. * But Biden will need congressional action to get the trillions of dollars his economists say is required. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Telegraph
The White House's top adviser on Covid-19 has said he feels liberated now that Donald Trump has left office – because now he can finally tell Americans the truth about the virus. In extraordinary remarks to reporters at a briefing on the virus, Anthony Fauci said that President Joe Biden's administration would be "completely transparent, open and honest" with the public rather than "point fingers", like his predecessor. Dr Fauci, who often clashed publicly with Mr Trump, also said he felt "really uncomfortable" about things said by the White House as it dealt with the virus that has now killed more than 400,000 Americans, including announcements on hydroxychloroquine – and he said he feared "repercussions" from Mr Trump if he misspoke. Speaking at his first White House briefing as President Biden's top Covid adviser, Dr Fauci was asked to compare his experience under the previous administration to the new one. The 80-year-old initially said he wasn't sure he could "extrapolate" based on first impressions. But then he said: "One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we're going to do is to be completely transparent, open and honest. "If things go wrong, not point fingers but to correct them and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence."
- Associated Press
The latest jackpot-winning Powerball ticket, worth $731.1 million, was sold in a struggling coal mining town whose biggest previous claim to fame was being the hometown of baseball legend Lefty Grove. The store will get a $100,000 bonus for selling the ticket to the fifth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. An even larger Mega Millions jackpot will be up for grabs Friday night.
- The Week
A Delaware News Journal reporter captured a powerful, private moment on Wednesday as Joe Biden gave his first address as president of the United States. "Poignant moment," the reporter, Patricia Talorico, captioned the photo, which swiftly went viral. "While Joe Biden gave his inauguration speech, a lone man in a uniform knelt at the Delaware grave of his son Beau."> Poignant moment: While Joe Biden gave his inauguration speech, a lone man in a uniform knelt at the Delaware grave of his son Beau. pic.twitter.com/QkCuJRHzTz> > — Patricia Talorico (@PattyTalorico) January 20, 2021As Talorico explained in a subsequent article, "Delaware is a tiny state." She described how back in 2002, when she was struggling with an assignment from her editor, Beau Biden approached her to ask if she was okay while she sat alone on a bench at an elementary school in Wilmington. "He wasn't in office at the time," she wrote. "He was just being kind. It wasn't a grand gesture, just a small one, but somehow, it made a difference that day. I never forgot that act of kindness."On Wednesday, Beau — who died of a brain tumor in 2015 at the age of 46 — was on Talorico's mind, and she decided to drive by his grave to say "a short prayer" when she saw "a lone man in a blue uniform kneeling at Beau's grave. No one else was around … In my car, I had the radio tuned to CNN. Joe Biden was being sworn in as president and was about to begin his address."As Talorico writes, "The journalist in me wanted to go back and find out [the man's] identity and ask why he was there. The person who once received a kind gesture from Beau when I needed it most knew it was a time to be respectful, and I drove away." Read her full story at Delaware News Journal.More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency