Trump’s bold new move amid impeachment
Former President Donald Trump has indicated his political career is not over, announcing his new "Office of the Former President" on the day his impeachment moved through another crucial step.
Trump's new base is being managed by ex-White House aides and is located in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a statement shared on social media.
The statement said the new office "will be responsible for managing President Trump's correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities".
First email statement from post-presidency Trump includes new logo designed by Brad Parscale, per source familiar. pic.twitter.com/cEXOoZlq7M— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) January 26, 2021
The timing was notable given the US House of Representatives today formally presented an article of impeachment to the Senate, accusing Trump of inciting the storming of the Capitol, triggering the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president.
In a solemn procession, the nine House impeachment managers silently walked the article of impeachment through the same ornate halls of Congress overrun by Trump supporters on January 6 and delivered it to the secretary of the Senate.
Trump's Senate trial is to begin the week of February 8.
In reading the article of impeachment, it was alleged Trump had engaged in "high crimes and misdemeanours" and the "incitement of insurrection".
It will be the first time an impeachment trial has been conducted against a person who is no longer a serving president.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the 100 members of the Senate, who will act as jurors, will be sworn in on Tuesday and a summons issued to the former president.
Democrats and Republicans agreed to delay the start of the trial for two weeks to allow Trump to prepare his defence against the charge of "incitement of insurrection," and for the Senate to confirm President Joe Biden's cabinet appointees.
'MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE'
Biden, 78, eager to put Trump in the rear-view mirror and make progress in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and reviving the economy, has taken a hands-off approach to the impeachment.
Democratic representative Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said Monday that Trump "must be held accountable." "We must not give Donald Trump a pass for inciting a deadly insurrection on our Capitol," Nadler said.
"The House has done its job by impeaching Trump, and now the Senate must complete the task by ensuring that he is never again in a position to directly harm the United States."
Trump's supporters violently stormed the Capitol building while Congress was in the process of certifying the election win of new President Joe Biden.
The impeachment article faces an uncertain future in the Senate where some Republicans, who will preside over the trial with Democrats, have argued the proceeding is unnecessary because Trump is already gone and would result in further dividing an already split country.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio called the impeachment trial "stupid" and said he would vote to end it the first chance he gets. "I think the trial is stupid," Sen Rubio said.
"We already have a flaming fire in this country. The first chance I get to vote to end this trial I'll do it."
Senator Tom Cotton, another Republican, said he and some of his Republican colleagues think conducting a trial after Trump has already vacated the office is unconstitutional.
"I think a lot of Americans are going to think it's strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago," Sen Cotton said.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to delay the beginning of the trial to allow Mr Trump to assemble a legal team and compile a defence against the charge, and the New York Democrat agreed.
Sen McConnell told members of his caucus to vote their conscience.
The trial now is expected to begin the week of February 8.
President Biden also backed a delay so that the Senate could work on confirming his appointees and begin to negotiate some of his legislative priorities like a $A2.5 trillion coronavirus relief package.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president doesn't have a position on whether Mr Trump should be impeached and said the former president's fate rests with the Senate.
"He's no longer in the Senate, and he believes that it's up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former President accountable, and what the mechanics and timeline of that process will be," she said.
The Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority to convict, is split 50-50 between the two parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote.
The chamber would need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle to convict - which appears unlikely at this time.
WHITE HOUSE'S NEW RESIDENTS
The "first dogs" have entered the White House. The Biden family's two German Shepherds, Champ and Major, have officially joined the first family in their new residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"The First Family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware. Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loved running around on the South Lawn," First Lady Dr Jill Biden's press secretary Michael LaRosa said.
The Bidens' dogs moving in marks a return to a longstanding tradition of Presidents and their families bringing their pets with them to the White House. Former President Donald Trump and his family did not have any pets for the four years they lived in the White House.
Champ has been with the Biden family for more than 10 years - since December 2008, weeks after Mr Biden became Barack Obama's vice president-elect. Major, a shelter dog, joined the Biden family more recently. He was adopted in November 2018, months before Mr Biden announced he would run for president in the 2020 election cycle.
TRANSGENDER BAN REVERSED
President Joe Biden has overturned a ban ordered by former president Donald Trump prohibiting transgender personnel to serve in the military.
In a tweet, Joe Biden reversed a Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from joining the US military.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised the move as "an incredible victory" in the fight for transgender rights.
In a statement, the White House said: "President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America's strength is found in its diversity.
"Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force. Simply put, it's the right thing to do and is in our national interest."
The move has the support of newly confirmed Defence Secretary, retired army Gen Lloyd Austin, who said:
"If you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards," Austin said, "you should be allowed to serve".
The move to overturn the transgender ban is the latest example of Mr Biden using executive orders to dismantle Mr Trump's legacy.
Originally published as Trump's bold new move amid impeachment