A majority of Republicans rallied on Tuesday against trying former President Donald J. Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” with only five members of his party joining Democrats in voting to go forward with the impeachment trial for his role stirring up a mob that attacked the Capitol.
The 55 to 45 vote cleared the way for Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial, by narrowly killing a Republican effort to dismiss the charge as unconstitutional. But it strongly suggested that the Senate did not have the votes to convict the former president. The opposition of all but a handful of Republicans underscored Mr. Trump’s continued strength in the party even after his brazen campaign to overturn his election defeat, fueled by false claims of voting fraud, and the deadly assault by his followers after he urged them to go to Congress to fight the result.
Senators could yet change their views. But for now, the vote signaled the likelihood that Mr. Trump would for the second time in a year be acquitted by the Senate in an impeachment trial, spared by loyal Republicans who were reluctant to break with him. It would take two thirds of senators — 67 votes — to attain a conviction, meaning 17 Republicans would have to cross party lines to side with Democrats in finding him guilty.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, is said to believe Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses surrounding the deadly Capitol siege, had asserted that the former president “provoked” the mob, and had said he was undecided on the charge. Yet he voted with the vast majority of the party to uphold the constitutional challenge, which would have effectively terminated the trial if it had prevailed. His entire leadership team joined him.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, forced the vote after arguing that it was unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial of a former president, an assertion widely disputed by scholars and even the Senate itself in the past.
“Private citizens don’t get impeached. Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Mr. Paul said, calling the trial “deranged” and vindictive.
He declared victory afterward, saying: “Forty-five votes means the impeachment trial is dead on arrival.”
The only Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to put aside his objection and proceed were Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania. All five had previously said they were open to hearing the impeachment case.
“My review of it has led me to conclude it is constitutional in recognizing impeachment is not solely about removing a president, it is also a matter of political consequence,” said Ms. Murkowski, who has praised the House’s bipartisan impeachment and called Mr. Trump’s actions “unlawful.”
Democrats bluntly rejected Republicans’ argument that the proceeding was unconstitutional.
“The theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, before moving to quash Mr. Paul’s attempt.
The Senate has taken that position in the past. In 1876, as the House was preparing to impeach him on corruption charges, William Belknap, Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary of war, hurried to the White House, where he tendered his resignation in tears just before Congress could act. The House proceeded anyway, and when the case arrived in the Senate, a majority of the body decided that it retained jurisdiction to hear the case, notwithstanding Belknap’s departure from office. (The Senate ultimately acquitted him, however.)
The action on Tuesday unfolded just after the Senate convened as a court of impeachment and senators took an oath, dating to the 18th century, to administer “impartial justice.” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the president pro tempore, was sworn in to preside over the proceeding and the Senate formally summoned Mr. Trump to answer the House’s charge.
Senators then put the trial on pause for two weeks, agreeing to delay any further debate until Feb. 9. The pause will allow President Biden time to win confirmation of members of his administration and give Mr. Trump’s still-forming legal team a chance to prepare his defense.
In the first legal challenge to the Biden administration’s immigration agenda, a federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked a 100-day pause on deportations.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Tuesday issued a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order sought by the state’s attorney general that would prevent carrying out the policy, which was issued by the Homeland Security Department within hours of President Biden’s inauguration. The order will remain in effect until the judge has considered a broader motion for a preliminary injunction.
The judge, Drew B. Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, said in his ruling that the suspension of deportations would violate a provision of the immigration statute as well as another law that required agencies to provide a rational explanation for their policy decisions.
The immigration law states that people with final orders of removal from the United States must be deported within 90 days. The court held that the 100-day pause violated that requirement and that the mandatory language of the immigration law should not be “neutered by the federal government’s broad discretion.”
The court also held that the agency’s memorandum violated a separate law that required agencies to provide a logical and rational reason for their policy changes. The judge determined that the Homeland Security Department had run afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act because it failed to supply adequate justification for the temporary suspension of deportations.
Immediately after taking office, Mr. Biden began dismantling some of his predecessor’s initiatives that were intended to curb both legal and illegal immigration to the United States. The president has issued a series of executive orders, including one to repeal a travel ban that targeted majority-Muslim countries.
Immigration advocates challenged many of Mr. Trump’s policies in federal court, and the decision by Judge Tipton on Tuesday signaled that immigration hawks might also sue to stymie Mr. Biden’s initiatives.
“The court’s order shows the uphill battle President Biden has in trying to reverse the prior administration’s immigration restrictions,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer and a professor at Cornell Law School. “A single judge can halt a federal agency’s effort to review and reprioritize its immigration enforcement policies.”
After the decision on Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said on Twitter that it was a victory against the left.
“Texas is the FIRST state in the nation to bring a lawsuit against the Biden Admin. AND WE WON,” wrote Mr. Paxton, a Republican, who is under federal investigation for bribery and abuse of power accusations raised by former aides.
“Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas has HALTED his illegal deportation freeze,” Mr. Paxton wrote. “This was a seditious left-wing insurrection. And my team and I stopped it.”
In a letter last week to David Pekoske, the acting secretary of homeland security, Mr. Paxton called the plan a “complete abdication of the Department of Homeland Security’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law” that would “seriously and irreparably harm the State of Texas and its citizens.”
Thousands of immigrants in detention centers have deportation orders that can be executed once they exhaust their legal appeals. Thousands more who live in the interior of the country could be arrested because they have outstanding deportation orders.
The Biden administration said that the pause was intended to allow time for an internal review. The moratorium would cover most immigrants who faced deportation, unless they had arrived in the United States after Nov. 1, 2020, were suspected of committing acts of terrorism or espionage, or posed a threat to national security.
“We’re confident that as the case proceeds, it will be clear that this measure was wholly appropriate in ordering a temporary pause to allow the agency to carefully review its policies, procedures and enforcement priorities — while allowing for a greater focus on threats to public safety and national security,” a White House spokesman said on Tuesday. “President Biden remains committed to taking immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure it’s upholding American values while keeping our communities safe.”
President Biden signed executive orders on Tuesday to end Justice Department contracts with private prisons and increase the government’s enforcement of a law meant to combat discrimination in the housing market, part of the new administration’s continued focus on racial equity.
Mr. Biden also signed orders that make it the federal government’s policy to “condemn and denounce” discrimination against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, who have faced harassment since the coronavirus pandemic spread from China to the United States and to strengthen relationships between the government and Native American tribes.
The moves are incremental pieces of Mr. Biden’s broader push for racial equity — an initiative that is expected to be a centerpiece of his administration and that follow an executive order last week directing federal agencies to review policies to root out systemic racism. The government effort is led by Susan E. Rice, who runs the Domestic Policy Council.
“I’m not promising we can end it tomorrow, but I promise you, we’re going to continue to make progress to eliminate systemic racism,” Mr. Biden said before signing the orders. He added that “every branch of the White House and the federal government is going to be part of that effort.”
The orders are an escalating repudiation of President Donald J. Trump’s policies and attitudes toward race relations. In separate executive orders last week, Mr. Biden overturned a Trump administration ban on diversity training in federal agencies and disbanded a Trump-created historical commission that issued a report aiming to put a more positive spin on the nation’s founders, who were slaveholders.
In a conference call with reporters, a senior White House official described the Trump administration’s “heinous” Muslim ban and said certain minority groups were treated with a “profound level of disrespect from political leaders and the White House.”
President Biden announced on Tuesday that his administration was nearing a deal with Pfizer and Moderna to secure an additional 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of the summer — a time frame that his predecessor had also envisioned, and one that may not accelerate the current pace of vaccination for months.
The purchases would boost the administration’s total vaccine order by 50 percent, raising it from 400 million to 600 million doses — enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the “end of the summer, beginning of the fall,” Mr. Biden said.
Although the president has been in office for less than a week, he is already under intense pressure from a frustrated public to accelerate vaccinations. Tuesday’s announcement will enable Mr. Biden to underscore that he shares those concerns.
The deal would provide the federal government with 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, Mr. Biden said.
Speeding up what has been a slow distribution of vaccines has taken on more urgency with the arrival of more contagious virus variants in the country.
But while the president has vowed to use the Defense Production Act if necessary to increase vaccine supply, there is little he can do in the short term. Federal health officials and corporate executives agree that it will be hard to boost the immediate supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — the only two that have federal authorization — before April because of lack of manufacturing capacity.
Pfizer had agreed last summer to provide an initial 100 million doses to the United States by the end of March. Under a new agreement reached last month by the administration of former President Donald J. Trump, Pfizer agreed to provide an additional 70 million doses by the end of June and another 30 million by the end of July, doubling the deliveries it promised in the initial contract.
This latest deal would apparently obligate Pfizer to deliver another 100 million over the summer, or roughly the third quarter of the year.
The original contract said that while the government could request that new tranche of vaccine, Pfizer could “reasonably” refuse it. But there was little expectation that Pfizer, an American company, would do so.
Mr. Biden also said the federal government’s weekly allocations of coronavirus vaccines would increase by about 1.4 million doses starting next week.
“This is going to allow millions more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated,” he said.
The increase, to around 10 million doses given to states, territories and tribes each week, will come from the federal government’s plans to release more of the vaccine made by Moderna, the Massachusetts biotech company whose vaccine was authorized for emergency use in December. Although governors will probably welcome the news, it does not reflect any increase in the overall amount that Moderna will deliver to the federal government in the first three months of this year, according to people familiar with the company’s production.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, the chairman of the National Governors Association, said that New York, where more than 42,000 people have died, welcomed both the increase in doses and Mr. Biden’s assurances that those vaccine allocations would be maintained in weeks to come. “You really can’t plan and schedule when you don’t know what you’re going to get next week,” Mr. Cuomo said on MSNBC. At the same time, he conceded “it’s not enough,” as the state continues to try to vaccinate nearly 20 million residents. “At this rate, we’re talking about months and months,” he said.
The acting chief of the Capitol Police apologized to Congress on Tuesday for the agency’s extensive security failures on Jan. 6, acknowledging during a closed-door briefing that the department knew there was a “strong potential for violence” but failed to take adequate steps to prevent what she described as a “terrorist attack.”
Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting chief of police, also confirmed that the Capitol Police Board, an obscure panel made up of three voting members, had initially declined a request two days earlier for National Guard troops and then delayed for more than an hour as the violence unfolded on Jan. 6 before finally agreeing to a plea from the Capitol Police for National Guard troops, according to prepared testimony obtained by The New York Times.
In an extraordinary admission, Chief Pittman, who was not the acting chief at the time of the siege, told members of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for the agency, that the Capitol Police “failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours.” She added, “I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department.” Chief Pittman’s predecessor, Steven Sund, resigned after the riot.
Chief Pittman’s comments offered the fullest detailed account to date about police preparations for Jan. 6, when thousands of angry protesters, believing false claims that the election had been stolen, marched on the Capitol at the behest of former President Donald J. Trump.
Speaking by video conference in a virtual briefing, Chief Pittman told the committee that the department “should have been more prepared for this attack,” according to the remarks.
Chief Pittman said that her department knew Jan. 6 would be unlike previous protests. She said her department knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would descend on Washington.
“We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event,” she said. “We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target. The department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough.”
She said the Capitol Police had 1,200 people working on site when the attack occurred, which was “no match” for “the tens of thousands of insurrectionists.”
Two days before the attack, Chief Sund requested that the Capitol Police Board declare a state of emergency and authorize a request to secure National Guard support. The board denied the request, according to Chief Pittman, but encouraged Chief Sund to contact the National Guard to determine how many guardsmen could be sent to the Capitol on short notice, which he did.
As the protesters became an increasing threat to the Capitol on Jan. 6, Chief Sund asked for more help from federal agencies and law enforcement agencies in the area. “He also lobbied the board for authorization to bring in the National Guard, but he was not granted authorization for over an hour,” Chief Pittman said.
During the hearing, the commander of the District of Columbia National Guard told committee members that his authority to quickly deploy the guard was removed ahead of the riot. Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said he had such authority for July 4, but the Pentagon required additional approval for a request for the guard during the Capitol attack, according to a person familiar with the testimony.
General Walker testified that Chief Sund called him as the threat to the Capitol increased on Jan. 6 and that he immediately notified the Army.
“On my own, I started preparing people to be ready, but I had to wait for specific approval to go out to launch,” General Walker said. “I was in constant communication with the U.S. Army leadership who was acting on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.”
Two of the board members at the time of the attack have already resigned: Paul D. Irving, the House sergeant-at-arms, and Michael C. Stenger, the Senate sergeant-at-arms. The third member, J. Brett Blanton, the Architect of the Capitol, is still on the board. Mr. Blanton was nominated by Mr. Trump in December 2019 and confirmed by the Senate that same month. The chief of the Capitol Police serves in an ex-officio, non-voting capacity.
“In my experience, I do not believe there was any preparations that would have allowed for an open campus in which lawful protesters could exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and at the same time prevented the attack on Capitol grounds that day,” Chief Pittman said.
In the aftermath of the attack, many officers are suffering from PTSD, she said, “particularly after the loss of two of our officers directly and indirectly as a result of the events of January 6th.” Officers also have been experiencing an increase in coronavirus infections.
During the briefing, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, Timothy P. Blodgett, also said it was “clear there was a failure of preparation,” citing poor communications and a weak perimeter defense of the Capitol.
“Whether it was insufficient or conflicting intelligence, lacking ability to translate that intelligence into action, insufficient preparation or an inadequate ability to mobilize partner agencies for immediate assistance, a series of events, once thought unfathomable, unfolded allowing our most sacred halls to be breached,” Mr. Blodgett said.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the longest-serving senator and the president pro tempore, was briefly taken to a hospital in Washington for observation early Tuesday evening after he reported not feeling well, his spokesman said. He returned home a few hours later after an evaluation.
Mr. Leahy, whose position in the Senate puts him third in line for the presidency, oversaw the start of the impeachment proceedings against former President Donald J. Trump earlier on Tuesday. At 80, Mr. Leahy is one of the oldest senators and has served in the Senate since 1975.
After he reported not feeling well in his office, Mr. Leahy “was examined in the Capitol by the attending physician,” said David Carle, the spokesman. “Out of an abundance of caution, the attending physician recommended that he be taken to a local hospital for observation, where he is now, and where he is being evaluated.”
Mr. Leahy was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he received tests and “a thorough examination” before being released, Mr. Carle said.
The senator “looks forward to getting back to work,” Mr. Carle said.
Mr. Leahy has received both vaccine shots for the coronavirus, and it was unclear what his symptoms were.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and Mr. Leahy’s predecessor as president pro tempore, was among those who wished Mr. Leahy well in a tweet Tuesday evening.
Ive been notified of reports that Sen Leahy is under doc supervision I wish him good health My friend is a tough Vermonter. Barbara & I send our prayers + know he will be back to work as soon as he can
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) January 26, 2021
The Biden administration will restore diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority, more than two years after President Donald J. Trump effectively ended them. The action signals a return to a more traditional and evenhanded approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after a Trump administration policy that was heavily slanted toward Israel.
Mr. Mills also reaffirmed support for a “mutually agreed, two-state solution” between Israel and the Palestinians, “in which Israel lives in peace and security, alongside a viable Palestinian state.” And he called on the parties to refrain from unilateral actions, such as the annexation of territory and settlement activity by Israel, or incitements to violence by the Palestinians, that could make such an outcome more difficult.
Analysts and regional leaders say the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement are dimmer than they have been in decades. The parties have all but ceased communications, Palestinian leaders summarily rejected a peace plan offered by the Trump White House last year and the issue is not among Mr. Biden’s top foreign policy priorities.
But the announcement is part of a broader return to previous U.S. foreign policy practices under Mr. Biden, and an end to the open hostility between Washington and the Palestinians fomented by the Trump administration. Guided by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump took an openly punitive approach toward the Palestinians with the goal of forcing them to make concessions to Israel, to little avail.
The Biden administration’s policy shift was quickly cheered by Palestinian leaders and supporters of a negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
“This is exactly the type of swift action the administration needs to take to restore American credibility as a diplomatic mediator between Israelis and Palestinians,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal advocacy group that supports an Israeli settlement with the Palestinians.
Mr. Mills said the Biden administration would “take steps to reopen diplomatic missions that were closed by the last U.S. administration,” without offering specifics. In addition to closing the Palestinian Mission in Washington in September 2018, the Trump administration also closed the United States Consulate in East Jerusalem.
Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting from Jerusalem and Mohammed Najib from Ramallah, West Bank.
President Biden called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday to address a long list of grievances — from the hacking of U.S. federal agencies, to the poisoning and detention of the Russian dissident Aleksei A. Navalny as well as a host of other “malign actions by Russia,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said.
Mr. Biden struck a more confrontational tone — a sharp break from former President Donald J. Trump’s chummy approach to Mr. Putin — committing to the protection of Ukraine’s “sovereignty,” and pressing for the extension of the New Start treaty for five years, which would limit both countries to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons.
“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies,” according to a White House readout of the conversation. “The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward.”
When Mr. Biden was asked at an event at the White House on Tuesday what Mr. Putin had to say, the president joked, “He sends his best!”
Mr. Biden attacked Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin with abandon during the 2020 campaign. But although he was able to mock Mr. Trump’s relationship with the Russian leader when he was a candidate, as president he must keep the peace between uneasy nuclear rivals.
The president, speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, said he was “very concerned” about Russia’s actions with regard to Mr. Navalny; about an assessment by U.S. intelligence analysts that Taliban-linked militants were offered “bounties” by Russian operatives for killing U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan; and about the hack of U.S. government agencies.
But he quickly pivoted to the need for cooperation in “mutual self-interest,” and the treaty.
Mr. Biden’s tone, while more calibrated than his campaign rhetoric, nonetheless reflects a drastic break from Mr. Trump, who was often loath to utter a negative word about Mr. Putin, and gave scanty readouts — or none at all — of his interactions with the Kremlin.
In September, after Mr. Navalny was poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent that German authorities quickly determined to have originated in Russia, Mr. Trump refused to condemn Russia.
“So I don’t know exactly what happened — I think it’s tragic,” he said of the poisoning to reporters at the time. “It is interesting that everybody’s always mentioning Russia, and I don’t mind you mentioning Russia, but I think probably China at this point is a nation that you should be talking about much more.”
Mr. Biden, a Kremlin critic who pressured President Barack Obama to arm Russia’s neighbors, immediately pointed the finger at Mr. Putin.
“The mode of attack leaves no doubt as to where the responsibility lies — the Russian state,” Mr. Biden said in a statement as Mr. Navalny recovered in a German hospital. He added, that he planned to “hold the Putin regime accountable for its crimes.”
On Monday, Ms. Psaki called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the opposition leader. Shortly after taking office, Mr. Biden’s team embarked on a review to determine Russia’s role in the massive hacking of U.S. government agencies.
Mr. Trump’s first chat with the Russian leader came just days after his election in mid-November 2016. Mr. Putin did not even recognize Mr. Trump’s loss to Mr. Biden until Dec. 15 — six weeks after the election.
Russia was also one of the topics that Mr. Biden addressed during a call with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO, officials said.
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony J. Blinken as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, installing President Biden’s longtime adviser who has a mission to rejoin alliances that were fractured after four years of an “America First” foreign policy.
Mr. Blinken, 58, has already signaled he is prepared to roll back a number of State Department policies that were set under President Donald J. Trump. A centrist with an interventionist streak, he was approved by a vote of 78 to 22 after receiving mostly gentle prodding at his nomination hearing last week by senators who seemed eager to move past Mr. Trump’s confrontational approach to diplomacy.
However, Mr. Blinken also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Tuesday that Mr. Trump “was right” to take a tougher tone against China, an overarching strategy that is certain to remain.
“I disagree, very much, with the way that he went about it in a number of areas but the basic principle was the right one,” Mr. Blinken said. “And I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”
Yet Mr. Blinken described a measured willingness to rejoin other world powers in an agreement, which the Trump administration had jettisoned, to limit Iran’s nuclear program.
He promised a harder line on Russian cyber hacks and election meddling — even as the Biden administration said it would work to extend an arms treaty with Moscow — and said he would review American policy toward North Korea, which he described as “a problem that has not gotten better. In fact, it’s gotten worse.”
All are departures from the foreign policies under Mr. Trump.
Mr. Blinken inherits a State Department where many diplomats say they are demoralized within an agency made up of about 1,000 fewer employees than when he left as its deputy secretary in early 2017.
He told senators last week that he will view his plans to ensure diversity and multiculturalism in the diplomatic corps “as a significant measure of whether I succeeded or failed, however long I’m in the job.”
That is another difference between his approach and that of his immediate predecessor, Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state who derided multiculturalism as “not who America is” just hours before Mr. Blinken’s defense of it.
In contrast to Mr. Pompeo’s fiery rhetoric and swaggering diplomacy, Mr. Blinken is a mild-mannered strategist who grew up in New York and Paris as the son and nephew of American ambassadors and the stepson of a Holocaust survivor.
Mr. Blinken, who plays in a rock band, is also a new father. He and his wife, a former senior State Department official, have two very young children at home, and he will be the first secretary of state in modern times to be raising toddlers while serving in office.
Janet L. Yellen was sworn in as the secretary of the Treasury Department on Tuesday by Vice President Kamala Harris, a history-making moment as both are the first women to hold two of the most powerful jobs in the United States government.
Ms. Yellen is the nation’s 78th Treasury secretary and the first woman to head the institution in its 232-year history. She is also the first woman to have held all three top economic jobs in the government, having served as chair of the Federal Reserve and the Council of Economic Advisers.
She is taking the job at a time of economic crisis, with millions still out of work and the recovery slowing as the coronavirus persists. Ms. Yellen will quickly be thrust into fraught negotiations over how to design and pass a robust stimulus package to help revive an economy that has been hammered by the pandemic.
Standing outside the White House, Ms. Yellen took the oath of office with her husband, the economist George Akerlof, and her son by her side. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Ms. Harris said, “Congratulations, Madam Secretary,” to which Ms. Yellen replied, “Thank you, Madam Vice President.”
Ms. Yellen said on Twitter that she was proud to be joining the Treasury Department and described the field of economics, and the agency’s mission, as one that can “right past wrongs and improve people’s lives.”
Economics isn’t just something you find in a textbook. It can be a potent tool to right past wrongs and improve people’s lives. That’s why so many of Treasury’s 84,000 public servants joined the Department.
Today, I am proud to be one of them. https://t.co/B4Y5Mpzt9s
— Janet Yellen (@JanetYellen) January 26, 2021
Later in the day, Ms. Yellen sent a message to the Treasury Department’s staff, introducing herself, laying out her objectives and making clear that she plans to create a welcoming environment for career employees. Many career staff complained that Ms. Yellen’s predecessor, Steven Mnuchin, operated within a tight-knit inner circle and did not make use of their abilities.
“These are ambitious goals, and I am fully aware none of them will be accomplished by working exclusively with a small team out of the secretary’s office,” Ms. Yellen said. “Ours will have to be an inclusive department.”
The new Treasury secretary said in the memo that she plans to soon embark on a “listening tour” of the department, holding virtual meetings with each office and bureau to learn about what can be improved at the agency.
The Treasury Department said that Ms. Yellen also spent her first day talking to her advisers and being briefed on the status of President Biden’s rescue plan and the implementation of the existing relief programs.
The White House and lawmakers in Congress have begun the process of negotiating over President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion relief bill. Ms. Yellen, a labor economist, will assume a central role in making the case for why the economy needs more fiscal support.
At her confirmation hearing last week, Ms. Yellen told senators that it was time to “act big” and that doing so would be fiscally responsible in the long run by creating a healthier economy.
In a sign of the task ahead, the Treasury Department has been rapidly adding staff and advisers in recent days. Ms. Yellen was confirmed by a bipartisan vote on Monday, but her top deputy, Wally Adeyemo, and other senior officials who will oversee the department’s international affairs, sanctions and domestic finance divisions are not yet in place and will require Senate confirmation.
Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, President Biden’s nominee to be the next commerce secretary, told lawmakers on Tuesday that she plans to help American communities bounce back from coronavirus, aggressively enforce trade rules to combat unfair practices from China and leverage the power of the government to mitigate climate change if confirmed to a cabinet post.
Ms. Raimondo, the governor of Rhode Island and a former venture capitalist, reassured members of the Senate Commerce Committee that she planned to work with them on priorities like protecting American fisheries, expanding broadband access that has become particularly vital for students during the pandemic, and promoting American research into cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and advanced communications.
The Trump administration made heavy use of the department’s authorities to crack down on Chinese technology firms, turning often to the so-called entity list, which allows the United States to block companies from selling American products and technology to certain foreign firms without first obtaining a license. Dozens of companies have been added to the Commerce Department’s list, including telecom giants like Huawei and ZTE, which many American lawmakers see as threats to national security.
Ms. Raimondo declined to commit to keeping Huawei or other Chinese companies on the entity list when pressed to do so by Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas. But she vowed to use the powers of the Commerce Department “to protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference,” adding, “that’s Huawei, ZTE, or any other company.”
“China’s actions have been anti-competitive, hurtful to American workers and businesses, coercive, and as you point out, they are culpable for atrocious human rights abuses,” she said. “Whether it’s the entity list, or tariffs, or countervailing duties, I intend to use all those tools to the fullest extent possible to level the playing field for the American workers.”
Asked about the steel and aluminum tariffs levied on foreign countries by the Department of Commerce during the Trump administration, Governor Raimondo declined to say whether they would be removed or changed. She said that the Biden administration would carry out a broad review of trade policies in consultation with its allies, aggressively pursue uncompetitive trade behaviors from China and ensure that the process that excludes certain companies from the tariffs is swift, fair and objective.
Several senators praised her combination of public and private sector experience, saying those skills could help the country deal with economic damage from the pandemic, invest in American workers and business, and promote the marine and space economies, which the Commerce Department oversees.
Governor Raimondo, said that her background in the private sector as a venture capitalist and her experience as state treasurer and governor of Rhode Island have prepared her to help realize the Commerce Department’s mission to create good-paying jobs and empower American entrepreneurs and workers.
“In this time of overlapping crises, the Commerce Department must be a partner to businesses and workers to help them innovate and grow,” Ms. Raimondo said.
After years of failure to curb the scourge of sexual assault in the military, Lloyd J. Austin III, the new secretary of defense, is open to considering significant revisions to how those crimes are prosecuted, a potential sea change that generations of commanders have resisted.
Overhauling the way the military handles sexual assault cases — by taking them outside the chain of command and assigning them to prosecutors with no connection to the accused — would need approval by Congress, where some legislators have long pushed for such a system.
President Biden has been a vocal proponent of these changes, even as general after general has gone to Capitol Hill to argue against them over the past decade. “I had a real run-in with one of the members of the Joint Chiefs in the cabinet room on the issue,” Mr. Biden said last year at a fund-raiser.
Mr. Austin’s first act as secretary was to order a review of how the Pentagon has been handling sexual assault cases. He is also being pushed by Congress. Senators repeatedly asked him how he planned to handle the problems of sexual harassment and assault in the military during his confirmation hearing this month.
If Mr. Austin, a retired four-star army general, were to embrace these changes, he would be the first secretary to do so, a major shift in position for the Pentagon.
“Every defense secretary since Dick Cheney has come up here and said nice things and then the fight behind the scenes was to protect the status quo,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who has spent years pushing legislation on the issue.
Justice Department officials said on Tuesday that the fast-moving federal investigation into the assault on the Capitol is expected to slow as investigators turn their attention to more complex matters such as conspiracy and sedition cases, the investigation into the death of Officer Brian D. Sicknick of the Capitol Police and violent attacks on members of the press.
In the 20 days since rioters stormed the Capitol, the F.B.I. has received over 200,000 digital media tips and identified more than 400 suspects. Federal prosecutors quickly charged 150 criminal cases, many of which have now been elevated to felonies.
But the manhunt and investigation is expected to “reach a period of a plateau,” said Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, as investigators shift from identifying and rounding up individuals to putting together more complicated conspiracy cases related to possible coordination among militia groups and individuals from different states who had planned to travel to the Capitol and engage in criminal conduct before the attack.
“We have to have the proper evidence to charge these, and we’re going to get it,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, the F.B.I. assistant deputy in charge of the Washington field office. “All these cases are not based upon social media and Twitter and Instagram posts. We also have traditional law enforcement tools we need to use — grand jury subpoenas search warrants — and you don’t get that overnight.”
Investigators said that some of those efforts could result in more complicated and serious cases being charged as soon as this weekend and through the coming weeks.
In addition to conspiracy and sedition cases, Mr. Sherwin said he had assigned prosecutors to look specifically at attacks on members of the news media. Photographs, videos and eyewitness accounts detailed attacks on journalists, including photographers, reporters and camera operators.
In one instance, rioters were seen on video attacking journalists stationed near the Capitol building. After forcing them to flee, the assailants took and destroyed their equipment.
Rioters also attacked a photojournalist after discovering that she worked for The New York Times, throwing her to the ground, stealing one camera and breaking another.
Inside the Capitol, reporters huddled with members of Congress and their staff before being taken to secure locations.
In the hours after supporters of President Donald J. Trump engaged in a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, some Republicans began advancing a fantastical alternative theory: that the attack was actually led by far-left activists trying to frame Republicans.
The outlandish claims have been widely discredited by the authorities, and some of the faces in the Capitol crowd were recognizable right-wing figures. The numerous arrests since the assault have overwhelmingly involved devoted Trump supporters and far-right adherents. But despite the clear evidence, the so-called false flag theory continues to persist in Republican circles.
Last week, the Oregon Republican Party passed a resolution falsely claiming that there was “growing evidence that the violence at the Capitol was a ‘false flag’ operation designed to discredit President Trump, his supporters and all conservative Republicans.” Bill Currier, the chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, said in a video discussion that state party officials were working with counterparts across the country to “coordinate our messaging” around the Capitol attack, the response to it and the continuing efforts to impeach the president.
Mr. Currier said other states would be adopting similar resolutions. “There will be many states doing this,” Mr. Currier said. “We’re not the only ones.”
In Wyoming, the state Republican Party issued a statement claiming without evidence that leftist groups may be poised to “engage in preplanned violent acts so that the Republican Party can be blamed.”
The deflection comes as Republican officials have increasingly embraced conspiracy theories, often stoked by Mr. Trump or his allies. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, has advanced conspiracy ideas about the Capitol attack, saying the riot was “preplanned” in “an attempt to slander Trump.”
Larry Kudlow, the former CNBC star who served as director of President Donald J. Trump’s National Economic Council, is returning to broadcasting.
Mr. Kudlow was named the host of a new daily show on Fox Business set to begin later this year, the network said on Tuesday. He will also appear on Fox Business and Fox News as an on-air financial analyst starting Feb. 8.
This is the first major television gig secured by a senior Trump aide who stayed in the White House until the president’s term ended last week. It is also something of a hiring coup for Fox Business, which competes against CNBC and will now feature one of its rival’s longtime featured players.
Fox said that it would provide more information about Mr. Kudlow’s new weekday program at a later date.
Mr. Kudlow’s hiring is the latest example of the revolving door between Fox News and members of the Trump administration. But another prominent Trump defender may not be headed to the Rupert Murdoch-owned network so soon.
Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, included an “employment agreement” with Fox News on a federally mandated disclosure form she filed earlier this month, signaling that she had landed a job at the cable channel.
Fox News on Tuesday had a different message for Ms. McEnany: not so fast.
“Kayleigh McEnany is not currently an employee or contributor at Fox News,” the network said in a statement.
Ms. McEnany and Fox News did speak after Election Day about a potential on-air role, according to a person briefed on the negotiations who requested anonymity to share the details of private discussions. But the network has paused those talks, even as it remains open to hiring Ms. McEnany at a later date, the person said.
Ms. McEnany did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
As the most prominent on-air defender of Mr. Trump in the tumultuous weeks after his loss in November, Ms. McEnany was a frequent guest on Fox News programs, particularly Sean Hannity’s prime-time show.
Before joining the White House, Ms. McEnany served as an on-air commentator for CNN. She started her media career at Fox News after college, working for Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and the father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, another former press secretary to Mr. Trump.
Ms. Sanders joined the network as an on-air contributor shortly after she departed the Trump administration in 2019, but she and the network recently cut ties after she announced her candidacy for governor of Arkansas.
The Biden administration announced this week that it would include an American Sign Language interpreter in its daily press briefings, a step that the previous administration avoided taking until a court ordered it to do so late last year.
The move is a “historical first,” according to Howard A. Rosenblum, the chief executive officer of the National Association of the Deaf.
Past administrations have occasionally had A.S.L. briefers at some White House events and meetings, Mr. Rosenblum said, but President Biden is the first to make it a fixture.
“The president is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during Monday’s briefing. She introduced the interpreter as Heather.
Last year, Mr. Rosenblum’s advocacy group and five deaf Americans sued the Trump administration for holding briefings on the coronavirus without a sign language interpreter present, arguing that it was a violation of the First Amendment.
The government responded that it had provided closed-captioning, but the plaintiffs said that was not an adequate substitute. A federal judge in Washington sided with the plaintiffs, and the Trump administration started including an interpreter in November.
During his first few hours in office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order directing senior officials to look at ways to make sure people with disabilities and other minorities were not denied opportunities or government benefits.
Mr. Biden also directed top leaders to break down federal data, including economic indicators, “by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status or other key demographic variables” to measure progress on equity goals. The move was praised by many economists.
Of the nearly 240 pardons and commutations issued by President Donald J. Trump, only 25 came through the rigorous process for identifying and vetting worthy clemency petitions — an action overseen by the Justice Department, according to a tally kept partly by a former United States pardon attorney.
For example, Eliyahu Weinstein got word that two-thirds of his 24-year sentence for investment fraud was going to be commuted by Mr. Trump after the White House chief of staff called a well-connected Washington lobbyist who had been hired to lead his clemency push.
Lawrence McCarroll, who is serving a 33-year sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, learned from his mother that the petition he had filed with the Justice Department and the letter he had sent to the president had failed to win him a commutation of the remaining six years of his sentence. His mother emailed from her home in Kenosha, Wis., to tell him his name had not appeared in news reports about Mr. Trump’s final round of clemency.
The contrast between the treatment of Mr. Weinstein and Mr. McCarroll underscores the two very different systems for determining who received clemency during Mr. Trump’s presidency.
In one system, people like the McCarrolls mostly hung their hopes on the regular process run by the Justice Department, which often took years to produce a response, if one came at all. In the other system, people like Mr. Weinstein skipped the line and got their petitions directly on the president’s desk because they had money or connections, or allies who did.
In addition to rewarding people like Mr. Weinstein whose allies could afford to buy access to the highest levels of the administration, the results included pardons for people with direct personal relationships with the former president, such as his longtime adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., his former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his son-in-law’s father, Charles Kushner.