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President-elect Biden to receive US intelligence briefings | US & Canada



United States President Donald Trump has signed off on giving his successor access to the nation’s most secure secrets, news services have reported.

The decision means President-elect Joe Biden will have access to the latest intelligence about major national security threats around the globe.

An administration official said Tuesday that Trump has allowed Biden to receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.

The official said the logistics of when and where Biden would first receive the briefing were still being worked out, The Associated Press reported.

Biden has been working from his home in Wilmington, Delaware and from temporary space at a local theatre.

An Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) official told the Reuters news service that, “following the statutory direction of the Presidential Transition Act, ODNI will provide requested support to the transition team”.

“This afternoon the White House approved ODNI to move forward with providing the PDB as part of the support to the transition,” the unnamed official said.

The determination comes a day after the General Services Administration (GSA) cleared the way for beginning formal transition planning to Biden’s administration ahead of his January 20 inauguration as the 46th president of the US.

Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the November 3 election and has not formally conceded, but increasingly, his administration is preparing for the handover.

Biden said that the transition of power has “already begun” and that he feels his team is “going to not be so far behind the curve as we thought we might be in the past.”

“There’s a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be. So yes, it’s already begun,” Biden said in an interview set to air Tuesday night on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

Trump has still refused to concede and vowed to continue to fight in court even after giving GSA Administrator Emily Murphy a green light to coordinate with Biden’s transition team.

Murphy had been under increasing pressure from members of Congress to declare Biden the apparent winner and begin the formal transition process.

“Our democracy and the orderly transition of power from one president to another must not be undermined by the inexplicable unwillingness of one candidate to accept the clear results of an election, or the inaction of government officials such as yourself,” Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had said in a November 23 letter to Murphy.

Biden introduced his national security team earlier in the day, his first substantive signal of how he will shift away from Trump’s international policies.

Antony Blinken, a distinguished, longtime foreign policy aide to Biden, will serve as secretary of the US Department of State.

Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-American lawyer and former director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, will be the secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be named ambassador to the United Nations. Jake Sullivan, a national security adviser under Biden when he served as vice president, will be the White House’s national security adviser.

Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, was picked to serve as director of National Intelligence, the US’s top spy job. She would be the first woman to hold that post.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will be a special envoy on climate change.

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US House delivers Trump impeachment article to Senate | Politics News



The US House of Representatives has presented its article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, a step that formally sets in motion the Senate trial against the former United States president.

Walking from one side of the US Capitol to the other, nine House managers appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi hand-delivered the impeachment document to the Senate on Monday evening.

The article charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in relation to the deadly storming on January 6 of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC by a mob of his supporters.

The House impeached Trump on January 13 on the same charge – making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

Monday’s formal step kickstarts the trial phase of the impeachment process, in which all 100 senators will sit as jurors to hear evidence and legal arguments from House managers, who act as prosecutors in the case, and the former president’s defence team.

To be convicted, the Senate must secure a two-thirds majority on the impeachment charge.

If that happens, a subsequent vote could bar Trump from running for public office again in the future.

Trial to start in February

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed on a timeline for the trial, which is expected to begin during the week of February 8.

“Both the House managers and the former president’s counsel will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks to the chamber on Monday.

“Once the briefs are drafted, presentations by the parties will commence the week of February 8th,” he said.

Senators will be sworn in as jurors on Wednesday and a summons will be sent by the Senate to the former president, requiring him to answer the article of impeachment.

Trump has been initially defiant amid accusations he incited the Capitol mob in a speech he gave before the breach and in repeated false claims that the presidential election had been stolen from him.

Before the House vote to impeach him, Trump had said his speech to the January 6 rally of his supporters was “totally appropriate”.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat who holds the title of president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial instead of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

“When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tem takes an additional oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement.

“It is an oath I take extraordinarily seriously,” he said.

Republicans divided

Republicans are divided over the impeachment, with some senators saying Trump should be held accountable for the Capitol riot and others fearing a conviction of the former Republican president could be damaging for the party.

Some Republican legislators have argued that holding an impeachment trial after Trump has left office is unconstitutional – a claim that has been rejected by Democrats and some US experts.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington, DC, said on Monday that some Republicans have also said the trial could further divide the country.

“Democrats, to counter that, have said that in order to get to unity, as everyone is calling for, first there must be accountability,” Zhou-Castro said.

“And they’re saying that if Trump were to indeed be guilty of inciting insurrection and simply leave office and not be held accountable, then that would set a dangerous precedent.”

Democrats will need to get more than a dozen Republicans to vote in favour of impeachment to get a conviction, as Democrats only have a slim majority in the chamber.

Trial timeline, procedure

House managers and Trump’s defence team will exchange legal briefs in the days leading up to the start of the trial.

The nine House managers will be led in the trial by Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and leading advocate in the House for charging Trump with insurrection after the January 6 attacks.

The House managers have retained lawyers Barry Berke and Joshua Matz to help support their prosecution of the case.

Both Berke and Matz participated in the first Senate impeachment trial against Trump in 2020, which involved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice for his attempts to pressure the government of Ukraine.

Pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

For his part, Trump has retained Butch Bowers of South Carolina, an experienced trial lawyer who has previously represented politicians.

House managers will have until February 2 to file their pre-trial brief laying out the case for conviction. Trump’s defence counsel will have the same deadline to respond to the charge, the Reuters news agency reported.

February 8 is the next deadline for Trump’s legal team to file a response to the House brief, and for the House managers to file a response to the president’s answer to the article of impeachment.

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