New studies show that the Pfizer Covid vaccine is strong enough to prevent Covid transmission. Good because we thought that was why it was being administered in the first place…???
The Lead: Inauguration
The President-elect marked the eve of his inauguration with a prayer and hymnal ceremony to honor those who have lost their lives to Covid. The ceremony was held with the Washington Monument in the background. The Reflecting Pool was lit with 400 lanterns to represent the 400,000 Americans who have succumbed to the disease.
The President-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris came with their spouses to speak briefly.
Joe Biden will become the President at noon today. Many have expressed concerns about the outdoor event due to security threats but the President-elect and Vice President-elect are committed to the tradition and have refused to bring the ceremony indoors. At least the weather is cooperating. The forecast is about 44 degrees and clear today.
The inauguration should still be a festive event, even without the crowds. Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem. Other performers will include Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Tim McGraw, Tyler Hubbard, Foo Fighters, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Lopez.
President Trump released his last round of pardons with just hours left in his Presidency. The list has 143 people on it but none of them have the last name Trump, Kushner, or Giuliani.
His former strategist Stephen Bannon was pardoned for charges related to political fundraising. Elliott Broidy was pardoned after he pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and taking money from foreign governments to lobby the Trump administration. Rapper Lil’ Wayne was pardoned for his gun possession charge. Several bit players in the Russian election investigation were pardoned too.
The President did not issue any preemptive pardons for himself or his family, as many have speculated he would. That has always been a tricky question since you cannot pardon someone with blanket immunity. It would have to be a pardon linked to a specific offense and the President maintains that he and his family have committed no offenses.
Last-minute pardons are common in the last days of a Presidency but Trump’s list is inordinately large. This brings his total number of pardons to over 230 people.
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The President said goodbye in a farewell address posted to the White House YouTube channel on Tuesday night. The 20-minute address was notably not carried by the major news networks.
It was a victory lap of a speech where he gives his administration credit for a great economy, a fast Covid vaccine, low unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers, and much more. And he snuck in one more hit to China.
“We and the whole world got hit with the China virus,” he said. “The whole world suffered but America outperformed other countries economically because of our incredible economy and the economy that we built. Without the foundations and footings, it wouldn’t have worked out this way. We wouldn’t have some of the best numbers we’ve ever had.”
He did not specify which numbers we should be happy about. The 400,000 deaths? The record unemployment? The weakest dollar?
He does say that he is proud to be “the first President in decades who has started no new wars.” This is true. He fulfilled his campaign promise to withdraw from foreign wars and not start new ones, although it does not seem like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got that memo.
He says that America has great respect abroad now and we must not lose that respect. He ends his speech by saying this:
“I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart, an optimistic spirit, and a supreme confidence that for our country…the best is yet to come.”
He cannot simply be done with Washington today, however. The impeachment trial in the Senate is also yet to come.
opposition leader Juan Guaido credit: reuters
Here is something both the outgoing and incoming administrations agree upon: Venezuela.
In his final hours in office, President Trump offered protection for Venezuelans who are living and working illegally in the United States. He has also offered them work permits. This is something President-elect Biden said that he would do but President Trump beat him to it. This will positively affect over 94,000 immigrants.
Venezuela is in serious political turmoil as President Nicolas Maduro refuses to leave office even though the United States and several other nations recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the President of Venezuela. The President-elect has said that he will enforce more sanctions on Venezuela in order to pressure Maduro to relent.
Offering this protection to Venezuelans has bipartisan support, even though the President has acted tough for his anti-immigrant base. This protection will not help those who are waiting for immigration hearings in Mexico as part of the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program. The President-elect has said that he will dismantle this program next.
50 hours. That is how long it took one artist to build this samurai out of a single piece of paper.
14,000 volts. That is how much electricity one man was shocked with when he was preparing to trim some trees near a power line. It melted 25% of his skin and left his ribs exposed but miraculously he survived. He says it was the equivalent of being strapped to 6 electric chairs, all turned on.
220,000. That is how many followers a Telegram account had on Tuesday, which falsely claimed to be run by General John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The account said that President Trump was about to declare martial law in order to stay in office. A spokesperson for General Hyten said that the account was fake and the Pentagon was working to get it removed.
24,626 pounds. That is how much “invasive carp” a man removed from his local lake in Tennessee. The carp are native to China but were accidentally introduced into the lake in the 1980s and are considered a threat to native fish and a danger to boaters because they jump out of the water at them. The man says that the haul will be used as bait, and food for cats, dogs, and humans.
On Monday, the 1776 Commission released findings of a study on the “re-education of America.” Now the President-elect’s transition team says that they will dissolve this commission.
In yesterday’s newsletter, we called out the 1776 report for being racist and misguided. It called for nationalist education and gave a major pass to the Founding Fathers for being slave owners. It falsely gave them credit for laying the foundation for abolition. The Biden administration apparently has no need for this type of research. Thanks for the report guys. Thanks but no thanks.
Join us multiple times today. We’ll have our normal live show at 9AM EST and then we’ll be back wth our special coverage of the Inauguration at 11AM EST. We have plenty of news that you’re not going to want to miss. Click right here set a reminder and watch us live at 9 AM Eastern.
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