The latest on the Biden presidency and Trump impeachment trial

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0527 GMT (1327 HKT) January 26, 2021
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7:22 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden says Trump's impeachment trial "has to happen"

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

President Biden just did a brief one-on-one interview with CNN in the halls of the West Wing and offered his most extensive comments since taking office on former President Trump's impeachment trial. 

"I think it has to happen," Biden said regarding Trump's impeachment trial. He acknowledged the effect it could have on his legislative agenda and Cabinet nominees but said there would be "a worse effect if it didn't happen."

Biden told CNN he believed the outcome would be different if Trump had six months left in his term, but said he doesn't think 17 Republican senators will vote to convict Trump. 

"The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn't changed that much," Biden said. 

7:51 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Rep. Raskin to fellow impeachment managers: "Proud of you guys"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson, Annie Grayer and Ted Barrett

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, turned around to face the other impeachment managers as they lined up to make the walk to the Senate, patted himself on the chest and said, “proud of you guys.”

As the reading of the impeachment article happens in the Senate, there are only a couple of Republicans on the room, including Sens. Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney.

7:15 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

House managers deliver impeachment article to Senate

J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The House impeachment managers have formally introduced the article of impeachment against former President Trump to the Senate.

What's next: The acting Sergeant at Arms, Jennifer Hemingway, will be instructed by the presiding officer to read this proclamation: 

“All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.”

Lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin will then read on the Senate floor the charge against Trump, the first President in history to be impeached twice. (You can read the article here.)

The House managers' actions today formally trigger the start of Trump's second impeachment trial.

It will also be the fourth Senate impeachment trial of a president in US history.

7:08 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

The article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate soon. Here's what to expect.

From CNN's Ted Barrett

The article of impeachment against former President Trump is set to be delivered to the Senate soon.

According to a Democratic aide, this is what we should expect on the Senate floor at around 7 p.m. ET:

  • The House impeachment managers will be escorted on the floor by the acting Sergeant at Arms and/or the Secretary of the Senate.
  • The acting Sergeant at Arms, Jennifer Hemingway, will be instructed by the presiding officer to read this proclamation: “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.”
  • Lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, will read the article aloud.  It’s not very long, about four pages of relevant text — you can read the article here.
  • The presiding officer will then inform the managers that the Senate “will take proper order on the subject of impeachment” and tell the managers when they should return to trial.  

That should be it.

The Senate is expected to meet Tuesday when senators will be sworn-in as jurors. The trial, of course, won’t begin in earnest until the week of Feb. 8.

6:38 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Senate committee votes to send secretary of state nomination to the floor

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening voted to send Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s nomination to the Senate floor for confirmation.

The vote was 15-3 with Republican Sens. John Barrasso, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voting against his nomination.

A Democratic aide told CNN that they are pushing for a floor vote to confirm Blinken tomorrow. 

During his confirmation hearing last week, Blinken told the committee that if he is confirmed, he aims to reengage with Congress in a bipartisan fashion, an implicit criticism of his predecessor's combative relationship with some lawmakers.

6:29 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

From CNN's Clare Foran, Anneken Tappe and Matt Egan

The Senate just voted on a bipartisan basis to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, making her the first woman in American history to hold the position.

The vote was 84-15.

As head of the Treasury, she'll be tasked with shepherding President Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan through Congress and overseeing its execution. The plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and increased funding for Covid-19 vaccinations and testing.

5:54 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Nearly 100 criminal justice leaders urge Biden to "end the federal death penalty once and for all"

From CNN's Christina Carrega

Nearly 100 bipartisan current and former elected law enforcement officials have cosigned a letter on Monday calling on President Biden to standby his "commitment" and "immediately take all actions within your power to end the federal death penalty once and for all."

The five-page letter includes signatures from former Acting Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Chief of Police RaShall Brackney from Charlottesville, Virginia. 

The letter – led by Miriam Krinsky, the executive director of the Fair and Just Prosecution – comes less than a week since Biden was sworn into office and after he has already sign dozens of executive orders. Biden pledged during his campaign to end the federal death penalty as a part of his criminal justice reform plan. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday during a news conference that Biden is "opposed to the death penalty, I don't have anything to preview for you in terms of what steps he may take."

5:37 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Democratic impeachment manager won't rule out calling GOP lawmakers as witnesses

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

CNN
CNN

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of nine House impeachment managers, would not rule out calling Republican lawmakers as witnesses in the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Trump in the Senate. 

"The senators themselves are witnesses," said Swalwell, when asked by CNN's Jake Tapper if he'd consider calling as a witness House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who acknowledged speaking with Trump over the phone during the Capitol siege. 

"This is an extraordinarily unique situation where the jurors are witnesses and victims, and the crime scene also is the courtroom," Swalwell added. 

But Swalwell, a former prosecutor who was deeply involved in Trump's first impeachment trial, would not say for certain whether the impeachment team would call lawmakers as witnesses, noting it is still unclear whether the Senate will even permit witnesses.

"We're waiting to see what the rules will be around that," he said. "Again, we're not going to reveal any tactics this early until we know what the rules are."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday afternoon would not say whether he was open to having witnesses, saying "hopefully" Democrats would be able to negotiate with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the structure of proceedings.

"We'll see what happens. We don't know what the requests are on either side yet, of the managers or the defense," Schumer told CNN.

Swalwell, when pressed by Tapper a second time on whether he had plans to call McCarthy, reiterated that no decision had yet been made. 

"I'll leave that to our team to decide," he replied. "We'll be ready. We're ready to go right now. Again, these senators, unlike most trials, they were witnesses to the crime. You don't have to tell them twice what happened."

Watch:

4:53 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Schumer signals uncertainty on whether Senate impeachment trial will have witnesses

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Ali Zaslav, Ali Main and Aaron Pellish

Schumer heads to an interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Monday, January 25,
Schumer heads to an interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Monday, January 25, Susan Walsh/AP

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would not directly answer when asked by CNN on Monday if he was open to having witnesses appear as part of former President Trump's impeachment trial, saying "hopefully" Democrats would be able to negotiate with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on the structure of proceedings.

"We'll see what happens. We don't know what the requests are on either side yet, of the managers or the defense," he said.

Asked about the status of negotiations on a power sharing agreement with McConnell, the Democratic leader answered, "What I can tell you is, we are not letting McConnell dictate how the Senate operates. He’s minority leader.”