GOP Senators backpedal, vote against impeachment – National & International News – WED 27Jan2021

Rand Paul at impeachment
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is trailed by reporters as he arrives to be sworn in for the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


Most GOP Senators vote against impeachment. Judge blocks Biden’s 100-day deportation ban. Biden, Putin have first call amid Navalny protests. That and more below.


Most Republican Senators vote against impeachment

Yesterday, Republican Senator Rand Paul tabled a motion to prevent the Senate impeachment trial against Donald Trump. Despite early calls from Republicans to hold Trump accountable for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, all but 5 Republicans voted to stop the trial in its tracks. The five Republican holdouts were Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey.

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had earlier signaled his willingness to convict Trump, voted to stop the proceeding. While most prominent Republicans have privately expressed disgust with Trump’s antics, they’ve been forced to acknowledge that he still has much of the Republican base under his spell.

Not unprecedented

Paul and the Republicans who voted with him cited doubts as to the constitutionality of the trial since Trump has already left office. While no former president has ever been impeached, there is a precedent for impeaching a high official who is no longer in office. In 1876, disgraced Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached and tried after resigning from President Grant’s cabinet.

A separate issue

The vote doesn’t bode well for Democratic hopes of securing a conviction and a simple majority vote to bar Trump from ever holding high office again. A conviction would require support from all Democratic Senators and at least 17 Republicans. However, some Republicans have hinted that their vote on this measure may not necessarily indicate where they would come down on a conviction vote. GOP Senator Rob Portman says he considers the appropriateness of the proceeding and Trump’s culpability in the Capitol riot to be two separate issues.

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Judge blocks Biden’s 100-day deportation moratorium

A Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas has approved a temporary nationwide restraining order (14 days) on enforcement of President Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations of undocumented immigrants. Following a legal challenge filed by the State of Texas, US District Judge Drew Tipton ruled that the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations”. The White House has promised to challenge the ruling.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed the challenge in Tipton’s court, alleged that the moratorium placed an undue burden on the state. In his argument, Paxton cited the educational and healthcare resources needed to serve undocumented immigrants in the state.

The ruling strikes a blow to Biden’s ambitions to reverse Trump’s draconian immigration policies. Among other things, Biden plans to grant amnesty to an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.

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French firm to produce Pfizer vaccines to ease bottleneck

French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi has signed a contract to produce 125 million vaccine doses using Pfizer’s formula. Sanofi recently held off on the launch of its own vaccine. Their agreement with Pfizer is the first of its kind in the pharmaceutical industry. The agreement should help alleviate supply hiccups for COVID vaccines in the EU after both Pfizer and AstraZeneca temporarily halted deliveries.

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Biden, Putin have first call amid Navalny protests

This week, hundreds of thousands of supporters of Putin critic Alexei Navalny have been staging anti-corruption protests in Russia. On Sunday, police detained 3,700 protesters across the country, the most ever in a single day.

According to the White House, Biden addressed the protests and Navalny’s detention in his first official call to Vladimir Putin. Biden also reportedly raised the issue of election interference and recent cyber attacks. The two leaders also agreed to restart negotiations on a nuclear arms treaty that will expire in February.

Biden has also called for a US investigation into reports that the Kremlin had offered bounties to anyone who killed American troops in Afghanistan. Russia has called these reports “a hoax”.

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