Exactly what caused the fire is under investigation.
- 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 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
- The Telegraph
Police in Portland, Oregon have arrested fifteen suspects after a mob of around 200 alleged Antifa members smashed up the Democrat headquarters and federal immigration offices in the city on Wedensday, while three people were arrested after a crowd in Seattle attacked buildings and burnt a US flag. The two Pacific Northwest cities have been hotspots for protests and violence since the Black Lives Matter demonstrations began last year in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. There were also protests in Denver, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio and Sacramento in California. Portland Police released photographs of eight of the 15 arrested suspects as well as images of confiscated items including knives, batons and bullet-proof vests.
- 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 Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
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.
- CBS News
The vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory, where Harris will live, is undergoing repairs.
- 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 move prompted an outcry from some troops.
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.
- 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.
- Yahoo News Video
A woman facing charges that she helped steal a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol will be released from jail, a federal judge decided Thursday.
- The Week
One of former President Donald Trump's last acts in office was issuing a directive extending free Secret Service protection to his four adult children and two of their spouses for the next six months, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.It's not just his adult children benefiting — Trump also directed that former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien continue to receive Secret Service protection for six months, two people familiar with the matter told the Post. This 24-hour security, funded by taxpayer money, is expected to cost millions.Under federal law, only Trump, former first lady Melania Trump, and their 14-year-old son, Barron, are entitled to Secret Service protection now that they have left the White House; while Donald and Melania can receive protection for the rest of their lives, Barron is only entitled to it up until his 16th birthday.The Post notes that presidents have the ability to order Secret Service protection for anyone they want, but it is extremely unusual for an outgoing president to order this type of security for their children who are well into adulthood. It is also unclear if there is precedent for ordering security for former aides. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush requested security extensions for their daughters, who were in college when their presidencies ended. Once former President Barack Obama was out of office, his daughters — one in high school, the other on a gap year from college — received a short extension of security.During Trump's presidency, his adult children took more than 4,500 trips, including vacations and business travel for the Trump Organization, the Post reports. Taxpayers paid millions of dollars for Secret Service agents to accompany them on those jaunts.More 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 Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request
- 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
- National Review
President Joe Biden is planning to run for a second term in 2024, according to Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.), a close ally to Biden. “He is planning to run again,” Coons told Politico’s Transition Playbook last weekend. “He knows that we are at the middle of an absolute turning point, a pivot point in American history. And he’s up for the challenge.” Whether Biden will seek a second term has been the subject of much speculation as the Democrat, at 78 years old, became the oldest candidate ever elected to the presidency. Biden’s decision to run for a second term will be of great consequence to those in his party who may look to run after his time in office has ended, including Vice President Kamala Harris. According to Politico, some outside advisers have encouraged the president to declare or file for reelection immediately to silence any lame-duck talk, as former President Donald Trump did on Inauguration Day in 2017. Biden’s team has instead insisted that Biden should focus on COVID-19 and economic recovery efforts rather than 2024. Biden reportedly signaled to aides in December 2019 that he was considering serving just one term or making a one-term pledge, according to Ryan Lizza. Though Biden pushed back against those reports saying, “I don’t have any plans on one term.” After his primary win, he told donors that he views himself as a “transition candidate,” acting as a bridge to a younger generation of leadership. However, aides to Biden say he has been emboldened by his election win, according to Politico. Every newly elected president has run for reelection since Grover Cleveland in 1988 — Calvin Coolidge, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman did not run a second time but served partial terms after the deaths of their predecessors, before winning election.
- 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
- 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.
Beau Biden, who served in the Guard, is buried at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church cemetery in Greenville, Delaware.
- NBC News
Senators expressed outrage after troops were asked to move their rest area and some ended up in a parking garage. The troops later returned.
- Associated Press
Yosemite National Park will remain closed through the weekend after high winds that battered much of California knocked down two giant sequoias and caused millions of dollars in damage. The park hoped to reopen Tuesday except for areas south of Yosemite Valley, including one entrance, that will remain shut to visitors, the park said Thursday. The winds eased Tuesday in the northern and central areas and Wednesday in the south.