Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), after much delay, wound up issuing an executive order Monday to delay in-person voting for two months for the state's presidential primaries and other local elections scheduled for Tuesday. But the decision doesn't really bring much clarity to the situation.
Evers had held off on delaying the primaries and elections, even as other states postponed their own during the novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, because he agreed with Republicans that elections for local offices with terms set to begin soon needed to proceed. He changed his mind because of health safety concerns, but the new problem is that he doesn't actually have unchecked authority to issue such an order.
Per The Associated Press, the decision to delay the primaries is expected to face an immediate challenge to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Conservative justices hold a 5-2 edge. One of them is on the election ballot and is not participating in related decisions, so that's narrowed to 4-2 in this case. But if the court does block the order, it could put the elections in jeopardy and prevent a large amount of people from voting. Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said Republicans are hoping to suppress voter turnout, especially in Milwaukee, because they want to make sure the conservative justice up for re-election, Dan Kelly, secures a second 10-year term. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell
President Trump has been having trouble getting people to attend his official send-off Wednesday morning when he'll depart from Maryland's Joint Base Andrews and begin his post-presidency life. Numerous current and former White House officials are reportedly planning to bail, and it looks like Vice President Mike Pence will join them.
Reports that surfaced earlier Tuesday suggested Pence wouldn't be able to fit Trump's farewell into his Wednesday schedule, given that he's set to attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration (a White House official reportedly said it would be a logistical challenge to do both). Pence's office then released his official schedule for Wednesday, and the send-off was indeed not included.
It very well may be that Pence just doesn't have time for both events, but the Jan. 6 Capitol siege does appear to have created a lingering rift between the two. In a Twitter post, Pence bid so long to the American people, but did not mention or include any pictures of Trump. Tim O'Donnell
Vice President Pence issues a public goodbye tweet, but no pictures with President Trump included.
Pence will attend President-elect Biden's inauguration tomorrow and will not attend the sendoff for Trump in the morning. https://t.co/uOqx8nsQdF
President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet picks started facing Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday morning, and the first few are slated for an easy approval.
Biden's Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen outlined a broad policy platform in her hearing, promising to focus on the coronavirus pandemic's devastating economic impact from "day one" and encouraging Congress to pass another relief package. Notably, she pledged to name a "very senior-level" official within the department focused on climate, noting "climate change itself and policies to address it could have major impacts, creating stranded assets, generating large changes in asset prices, credit risks, and so forth that could affect the financial system."
Avril Haines, Biden's nominee to be director of national intelligence, seemingly faced little opposition as she addressed tension with China and Iran's nuclear program, The Associated Press reports. Homeland Security Secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas meanwhile faced concerns over a 2015 inspector general report contending he showed "an appearance of favoritism and special access" while working in DHS under Obama. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Rob Portman (R-Ohio) called the report "troubling," but conceded Mayorkas has "a lot of experience" in national security, Politico reports.
After the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) blocked a unanimous measure to quickly consider Mayorkas. The nominee had promised to do everything he could to stop another violent uprising at the Capitol, something Hawley's opposition to the election allegedly helped inspire.
Yellen, Haines, and Mayorkas are expected to be among Biden's easiest nominees to confirm, bipartisan lawmakers and their aides tell Punchbowl News. Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, whose hearing began Tuesday afternoon, is also expected to have a smooth confirmation process. Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin is meanwhile likely to face pushback over his recent military experience in his Tuesday afternoon hearing. Kathryn Krawczyk
President-elect Joe Biden delivered an emotional farewell to Delaware on Tuesday one day before his swearing-in, choking up while paying tribute to the state and to his late son, Beau Biden.
Biden spoke from Delaware before departing for Washington, D.C., and he became emotional from the top of the remarks as he thanked Delawareans who have been with him "through the good times and the bad" and said it's "deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here."
The president-elect went on to say he'll "always be a proud son of the state of Delaware," emotionally adding that "when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart." He concluded the speech by honoring his late son, Beau Biden, who served as attorney general for the state and died in 2015.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret: that he's not here," Biden said. "Because we should be introducing him as president."
Biden was set to depart for Washington shortly after concluding his remarks. He'll be flying to the nation's capitol on a private aircraft, CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports, describing this as "yet another remarkable change in protocol." Zeleny adds, "No immediate word on why he wasn't offered — or isn't flying — on a U.S. government plane, which is standard for a president-elect." Brendan Morrow
A tearful Joe Biden honors his late son, Beau Biden, before heading to Washington to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
The United States recorded yet another lamentable milestone Tuesday, as data from Johns Hopkins University shows the country has surpassed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths.
The American death toll continues to lead the world in fatalities, nearly doubling Brazil's total, which is the second highest globally at more than 210,000.
It took just one month for U.S. COVID-19 fatalities to jump from 300,000 to 400,000 as the coronavirus surged across the country during the winter months and holiday season. The pandemic remains widespread in every state, though there's been a faint glimmer of hope that infections have begun to trend downward in recent days.
Regardless, experts believe there's still a long road ahead and — even with a massive, albeit slower-than-expected vaccination drive underway — the death toll could reach 500,000 by the end of February. Tim O'Donnell
The U.S. has surpassed 400,000 deaths from #COVID19, the highest death toll in the world.
Daily deaths are rising in 30 states. Experts say deaths may reach 500,000 by February and predict the UK variant — which is 50% more contagious — may be the dominant strain by March. pic.twitter.com/8LxVnSdVW3
The Georgia Secretary of State's office on Tuesday certified the state's pair of Senate runoff votes, which means Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are set to be sworn into the upper chamber after defeating GOP incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) earlier this month.
NEWS: Georgia has now certified the results of the Senate runoff election, clearing the way for @ossoff and @ReverendWarnock to be sworn into office.
Warnock and Ossoff will reportedly join fellow Democrat Alex Padilla, who is taking over Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' California seat, for a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday, not too long after Harris takes her own oath of office.
Georgia has certified its results in the Senate runoff elections, which paves the way for Senators-elect Ossoff & Warnock to be sworn in tomororw. Per @tperry518, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will swear them in after the inauguration.
Two members of the National Guard have been removed from Inauguration Day security over ties to far-right militias, The Associated Press reports.
There was no plot found against President-elect Joe Biden, but the two guard members were removed over their connections to the unnamed militias, a U.S. Army official and a senior U.S. intelligence official told AP. The move comes after militia groups and other President Trump supporters attacked the Capitol earlier this month, and as federal law enforcement takes unprecedented steps to secure the Wednesday inauguration of Biden.
Thousands of National Guard members have been filing into the Capitol Hill area over the past week, shutting down the National Mall and surrounding streets amid fears of threats to the inauguration. Hundreds of guard members were spotting sleeping in the Capitol building last week.
In response to the reported removal, the National Guard Bureau told AP that "due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration." The Secret Service also would not comment. Kathryn Krawczyk
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is placing blame on President Trump for having "provoked" a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol building.
McConnell spoke Tuesday after the House of Representatives last week impeached Trump for "incitement of insurrection" following a deadly attack on the Capitol by his supporters. Though it's unclear how McConnell will vote in Trump's upcoming second Senate impeachment trial, the Republican leader made clear he believes the president is to blame for provoking the mob — as are others.
"The mob was fed lies," McConnell said. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people."
The Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building earlier this month while Congress was meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden's election win. Trump, who has falsely claimed he won the election, spoke at a rally beforehand to encourage the supporters to walk down to the Capitol building and "show strength."
McConnell hasn't said how he'll vote in the Senate impeachment trial. But last week, Axios reported that "there's a better than 50-50 chance" he would vote to convict the president. McConnell says he has "not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate." Brendan Morrow