While New Year’s Eve parties are bound to look a bit different in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a few time-honored traditions you can count on: a countdown to midnight, plenty of bubbly and a toast to much-needed new beginnings in 2021.
- Yahoo News
Republicans built up QAnon backer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but now are they afraid of what they created?
On the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the combative Georgia Republican known for her association with QAnon, was back on Twitter after a 12-hour suspension, and back to making waves.
- Yahoo News
CIA Director Gina Haspel is marking the end of a tenure that was often publicly quiet, but often included behind-the-scenes resistance to some of President Trump’s controversial moves.
Tam Dinh Pham of the Houston police department was part of the deadly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A veteran Houston police officer is in trouble after attending the U.S. Capitol riots in Washington, D.C., then lying about it. Officer Tam Dinh Pham joined the deadly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
- National Review
Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) warned on Tuesday that the U.S. is not taking China’s actions against Uyghur Muslims seriously enough. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced earlier in the day that the U.S. will classify China’s treatment of Uyghurs as a “genocide.” China operates a network of internment camps where over a million Uyghurs are imprisoned, and the Chinese government has implemented a program of forced sterilizations for Uyghur women. Sasse said that the genocide designation came “late,” and implied that both the Trump administration and incoming Biden team have not done enough to confront China. “This decision is good and right, but it’s late. The United States isn’t taking the Uyghur genocide seriously.” Sasse said in a statement. “A lot of folks in the Trump Administration wanted to talk about China primarily in terms of a trade deficit, and a lot of folks in the Biden Administration want to talk about China as merely a competitor.” Sasse added, “The Chinese Communist Party is a genocidal dictatorship and Chairman Xi [Jinping] is evil. The United States has an obligation to meet this challenge head on and take the side of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang who are raped and tortured.” China also reportedly uses Uyghurs and other Muslims for forced labor, including harvesting cotton in Xinjiang Province. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol banned the importation of cotton from Xinjiang last week. The province is the source of 20 percent of the world’s supply of raw cotton. Earlier on Tuesday, Biden’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told senators that she supported an “aggressive” stance toward China. “Our approach to China has to evolve and essentially meet the reality of the particularly assertive and aggressive China that we see today,” Haines said. “I do support an aggressive stance, in a sense, to deal with the challenge that we are facing.”
Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that it was “extraordinary how frightened Vladimir Putin seems to be of one man” — Alexey Navalny.Why it matters: Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Navalny, returned to Russia on Sunday and was swiftly arrested. He spent the previous five months recovering in Germany after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. His detention poses an early foreign policy challenge for the Biden administration.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What he’s saying: Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Navalny served as a voice for millions of Russians, “and their voice needs to be heard in Russia.” * “The attempts to silence that voice by silencing Mr. Navalny is something that we strongly condemn,” Blinken added, noting that Navalny's arrest and other points of tension with Russia would be “very high on the agenda for an incoming administration.” * Incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan previously called for Navalny's immediate release.The latest: Navalny was ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days. He was officially arrested for violating the conditions of a suspended prison term by missing an appointment in December.Worth noting: Blinken praised Sen. Mitt Romney, who serves on the committee, for being “prescient” on Russia. Romney was mocked for referring to Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe” in a 2012 presidential debate with Barack Obama, including by Obama himself.Go deeper: Bill Browder on Russia-U.S. relations after Alexei Navalny's arrestGet smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
The incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is considering creating a White House position focused on competition policy and issues relating to antitrust, two sources familiar with internal deliberations said. The idea remains under consideration and the Biden White House may not ultimately make the move, one of the sources said. "It is yet to be determined if this will be more of a coordinator kind of a role or if this person will really sit at the White House," said another source.
- The Independent
‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors...traitors get shot,' he told his children
- The Week
President Trump has spent the last few days asking his friends, aides, and associates if they would like pardons — even those who are not facing any charges, a senior administration official told The Washington Post.In one case, the official said, Trump offered a pardon to a person who declined the chance at clemency, saying they weren't in any legal trouble and hadn't committed any crimes. "Trump's response was, 'Yeah, well, but you never know. They're going to come after us all. Maybe it's not a bad idea. Just let me know,'" the official recounted.Trump has taken a great interest in pardoning people, the Post reports, even calling families to personally let them know he granted a pardon. A person familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump was talked out of pardoning himself, family members, and controversial figures like Rudy Giuliani. An aide said there was also a brief discussion about possibly issuing pardons related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but that idea went nowhere.While Trump has held a few ceremonial events in recent weeks, journalists have been kept away from the White House, largely because the president is "just not in a place where they would go well," one official told the Post. Trump is constantly flip-flopping, another administration official said, talking about his future but uncertain of where he will be. "He goes between, 'Well, I'm going to go to Florida and play golf, and life is honestly better,' and then in the next moment, it's like, 'But don't you think there's a chance to stay?'" the official said. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump issues last-minute order attempting to free his appointees from ethics commitments Lindsey Graham seemed very pleased with Biden's secretary of state nominee
- Associated Press Videos
Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views. (Jan. 19)
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
- Architectural Digest
Mercedes-Benz’s Hyperscreen, General Motors’ Bright Drop, and Jeep’s Electric Wrangler were among the unveils that turned headsOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's and Wayfair have stopped selling My Pillow products after Trump-supporting CEO Mike Lindell pushed baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.Driving the news: Lindell told NBC News Tuesday the retailers phoned him to say they could face "a boycott" if they didn't take the action. But Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl's have both said the decision was related to a lack of demand for My Pillow's products.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * Lindell insisted to Fox9 that "leftists" on social media were behind the moves, which he claimed also resulted in HEB dropping My Pillow products.What they're saying: Axios has contacted all of the retailers for comment. Bed Bath & Beyond told the New York Times in a statement: "We have been rationalizing our assortment to discontinue a number of underperforming items and brands." * Kohl's told USA Today in a statement: "There has been decreased customer demand for MyPillow. We will sell our current inventory and not buy additional/future inventory in the brand."Of note: The retailers' action comes a day after Dominion Voting Systems sent a cease and desist letter to Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
Vice President Mike Pence will be returning to his southern Indiana hometown Wednesday afternoon following the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The Republican former Indiana governor and his wife Karen are expected to attend Biden’s inauguration and will then fly into the Columbus Municipal Airport, where they will be greeted by some supporters, the Indiana Republican Party said Tuesday. Pence grew up in Columbus and some family members still live there.
- NBC News
Suspect William McCall Calhoun Jr. faces a host of charges stemming from the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
- The Week
President Trump's last big batch of pardons will get most of the attention, but he also issued an executive order in his last few hours in office that seeks to free all current and former hires from the ethics agreements they signed to work in his administration. Trump revoked his January 2017 "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees" order, the White House announced early Wednesday, so "employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021."Those commitments included not lobbying the federal agencies they served under for five years after leaving government. The executive order, Yashar Ali notes, was the backbone of Trump's "drain the swamp" pledge.> Forget about draining the swamp...President Trump just filled it up.> > He has revoked his own executive order (13770) which had the following provisions (among others). > > The drain the swamp stuff was all smoke and mirrors anyway but here's Trump walking back his own EO... pic.twitter.com/ZvuW0CwszQ> > — Yashar Ali (@yashar) January 20, 2021President-elect Joe Biden takes office at noon on Wednesday, and presumably he could just issue a new executive order reversing Trump'sNorm Eisen, "ethics czar" to former President Barack Obama, said in a Politico column Tuesday that Obama's clear ethics rules led to "arguably the most scandal-free presidency in memory," but "Trump greatly watered down the standards with scandalous results" and "Biden has done the opposite, restoring the Obama rules and expanding them."Biden's planned executive order, Eisen wrote, "restores the fundamentals of the Obama plan, closing loopholes Trump opened—but going further, including new crackdowns on special interest influence. If implemented rigorously (always a big if) Biden’s plan promises to go further to 'drain the swamp' than either of his predecessors."More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Lindsey Graham seemed very pleased with Biden's secretary of state nominee Colbert's Late Show remixes Biden's inauguration playlist into a not-subtle farewell message for Trump
- The Telegraph
Drug kingpins are to be targeted by the Government in a £148 million bid to “cut the head off the snake” and combat addiction in an operation dubbed “Project Adder". Boris Johnson announced that £68 million of the extra money will be used to take on county lines gangs which have grown into a £500 million criminal industry distributing illegal drugs from cities to suburban and rural towns throughout the UK. A further £80 million will be invested in drug treatment services to try to halt re-offending, and slash demand from addicts who are fuelling the gangs and the violence they use to stake out their territories. Part of the money will go to “Project Adder” – an acronym for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery – which will direct money into policing and treatment in five drug blackspots. The Prime Minister said: “It is clear that drugs are a serious driver of the violence which devastates communities and robs young lives. That is why we must take action to cut off supply and cut the head off the snake by tackling the criminal gangs which exploit young people. “We must also help people to get off drugs in the first place and that is why we are launching Project Adder, a new, targeted approach which will ramp up local enforcement, while at the same time diverting more people into recovery, backed up by the largest investment in treatment in 15 years.” The cash injection follows a damning report by Prof Carole Black for the Home Office that warned the heroin and crack retail market has been transformed by county lines gangs driving increased violence and the exploitation of young people and vulnerable drug users. She also warned that funding for drug treatment had fallen dramatically in recent years and in some local authorities by as much as 40 per cent, denying many drug users the support they needed to escape their habit. Some £40 million of the new money will go to police and other law enforcement agencies to take down county lines gangs and drug kingpins. It brings the total invested to £65 million since November 2019. The Home Office said the funding had already seen more than 3,400 people arrested, more than 550 county lines closed, drugs with a street value of £9 million, and £1.5 million cash seized, and more than 770 vulnerable people safeguarded. The extra £28 million for Project Adder will run for three financial years in five areas with some of the highest rates of drug misuse: Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay.
Inauguration Day is a time of great expectancy and transformation. There are reports of at least 12 National Guard members being removed from the inauguration patrol duties. There are 25,000 troops in D.C. to protect attendees at the inauguration after the deadly and unprecedented Jan. 6 Capitol Hill insurrection.
- The Independent
‘It’s unfortunate’: Ashley Biden confirms first lady snubbed her mother on traditional White House handover
"I think we’re all OK with it,' says incoming first daughter in first ever TV interview
Thailand's government on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint of defaming the monarchy against banned opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, after he criticised its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The move could mark the highest-profile lese majeste case since a wave of anti-government protests emerged last year and extended to criticism of King Maha Vajiralongkorn over accusations of meddling in politics and taking too much power. The complaint against Thanathorn under Article 112 of the Thai criminal code came two days after he commented that the government was too reliant on a company owned by the Crown Property Bureau, which is under the king's personal control, to produce vaccines for Thais.
President Trump could be an "accessory" to murder after over the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC Tuesday night.Why it matters: Trump faced intense criticism after a crowd of his supporters breached the Capitol and broke into chambers, including Pelosi’s office. Five people died as a result of the insurrection.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Trump had spread false claims of election fraud online and urged supporters to march to the Capitol in a speech at a "Save America" rally shortly before rioters broke into the building.What she’s saying: "Presidents' words are important. They weigh a ton," Pelosi said. "And they used his words to come here." * Any Congress member proven to have colluded with rioters could be accessories to crimes committed during the events — like Trump, she added. * "And the crime, in some cases, was murder," Pelosi said. "And this president is an accessory to that crime because he instigated that insurrection that caused those deaths and this destruction."The big picture: Trump said a week after the riots that he "unequivocally" condemned the violence. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, once a Trump loyalist, said on Tuesday the mob was "provoked by the president and other powerful people." * The House voted to impeach Trump last week on one charge: incitement of insurrection. It now goes to the Senate for trial. * The White House did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on Pelosi's remarks.Go deeper: In photos: Protesters storm U.S. CapitolSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.