The latest on the Biden presidency and Trump impeachment trial

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

Updated 12:27 AM ET, Tue January 26, 2021
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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.”

5:01 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden contrasts his "Buy American" policies with Trump's

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

 Jim Watspm/AFP/Getty Images
 Jim Watspm/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden contrasted his new “Buy American” policies with those of the Trump administration, which Biden said did not go far enough to protect American manufacturing jobs and businesses.

“The federal government every year spends approximately $600 billion in government procurement to keep the country going, safe and secure. And there's a law that's been on the books for almost a century now to make sure that that money when spent, taxpayers dollars for procurement, is spent to support American jobs and American businesses. But the previous administration didn't take it seriously enough,” Biden said at an event at the White House on Monday. 

He added that under the Trump administration, federal agencies waived the “Buy American” requirements with little pushback. 

“Under the previous administration, the federal government contract awarded directly to foreign companies went up 30%. That is going to change on our watch,” Biden said. 

Biden went on to say that his executive order goes further than the similar executive orders President Trump signed, which had little effect because his administration waited to formalize changes until his second to last day in office.

You can read more on the differences between Biden’s executive order and Trump’s efforts here.

Hear more:

4:42 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden signs executive order to boost America manufacturing 

From CNN's Katie Lobosco

Pool
Pool

President Biden signed an executive order aimed at boosting manufacturing in the country, setting in motion a process to fulfill his campaign pledge to strengthen the federal government's Buy American rules.

"The reason we need to do this is America can't sit on the sidelines in the race for the future. Our are competitors aren't waiting," he said in remarks before signing the order.

"To ensure it's made in America we need to win not just the jobs of today but the jobs and industries of tomorrow. And we know that the middle class built this country. And we also know unions built the middle class. So let's invest in them once again. I know we're ready, despite all we're facing. I've never been more optimistic about the future of America that I am today. Given even just half a chance, the American people, the American workers has never, ever let the country down. Imagine if we give them a full chance. That's what we're going to do," Biden added.

Currently, a patchwork of federal rules requires that a portion of government spending on things like infrastructure, vehicles and other equipment is restricted to goods that are made in the United States. But there are loopholes depending on the material, the amount of the purchase, and what qualifies as American made.

Here's what Biden's executive order will do:

  • Change how domestic content is defined and measured for qualifying products as well as increase the required threshold.
  • Create a senior position at the Office of Management and Budget to oversee the process by which contractors can apply for waivers from the Buy American rules, with the goal of reducing the number of waivers granted.
  • The administration will also create a public website that will post all waiver requests and direct agencies to proactively connect with small American manufacturers that are often left out of the process.

Similar executive orders were signed by former President Trump and had little effect because his administration waited to formalize changes until his second to last day in office. By contrast, Biden will set a 180-day deadline to deliver on fundamental change to the process, according to an administration official.

See President Biden sign executive order:

3:46 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

France's finance minister hopes Biden election will mean "a new start" for EU-US relations

From CNN's Pamela Boykoff

THOMAS COEX T/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
THOMAS COEX T/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he hopes the election of President Biden will mean “a new start” to the relationship between Europe and the United States.

Speaking to CNN’s Richard Quest, Le Maire described the phone call between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday as important, long and positive. 

Le Maire welcomed the US decision to come back into the Paris agreement and urged the US to put an end to “this crazy trade war” between Europe and the United States. France and the United States are engaged in a long-running dispute over subsidies to aircraft manufacturers. In early January, the Trump administration suspended its plans to impose tariffs on French cosmetic and handbag companies over the country’s digital services tax.

“I really want to insist on that, the trade war, the Boeing-Airbus case and these sanctions between EU and US are really clearly only for the benefit of China, not for the benefit US and not for the benefit of the EU,” he said, calling for the US to lift its tariffs as soon as possible.

 

3:06 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Senator who will preside over impeachment trial says his role is to make sure procedure is followed

From CNN's Ali Zaslav 

Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Patrick Leahy, president pro tempore of the Senate who will preside over former President Trump’s impeachment trial next month, told reporters Monday that he’s “up to the responsibility” of presiding, and his role will be to make sure “the procedures are followed.”

“I’m not presenting the evidence, I’m making sure the procedures are followed,” he said, when asked about being a frequent critic of the former President. “I don’t think there’s any senator who over the 40 plus years I’ve been here would say I’m anything but impartial in ruling on procedure.”

“I’ve presided over hundreds of hours in my time in the Senate I don’t think anybody has ever suggested I’ve been anything but impartial in those hundreds of hours,” he said, when asked about concerns over his ability to be impartial.

The Vermont Democrat declined to say when the decision was made that he would preside over the Senate trial.

2:30 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Harris tweets photo of Secretary of Defense Austin's swearing in ceremony

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Vice President Kamala Harris just tweeted a picture of the ceremonial swearing in of Lloyd Austin III as Secretary of Defense.

Both Harris and Austin made history as the first African Americans to hold their respective roles.

"Secretary Austin’s integrity, experience, and intimate knowledge of the issues facing our military make him the right leader for this moment," Harris said in the tweet.

The ceremony was held in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, but was open only to still cameras.

See Harris' tweet:

2:08 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden will be briefed regularly by his Covid-19 team

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden is not expected to attend all of the meetings of his Covid-19 team, but will be briefed regularly, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

“He will be briefed regularly, I suspect far more regularly than the past president was briefed on Covid, and the developments and progress the team is making,” Psaki said in response to a question from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

Psaki’s comments came one day after Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump White House task force coordinator, told CBS News that she almost never spoke with former President Trump.

Psaki continued, “I wouldn’t expect he attends every task force meeting, no, but he expects and request regular briefings from the team and I expect he’ll get them.”

2:10 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Democrats expect impeachment trial will take up a chunk of February 

From CNN's Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There are two big questions looming over the Democrats' impeachment case: Whether they will seek witnesses, and how long the trial will go?

The answers to both are not known yet, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. 

But if they seek witnesses, they want that person to be cooperative, rather than fight it in court if that prospective witness tries to assert executive privilege.

Democrats have not ruled out bringing in witnesses, particularly those who can shine a light on the former President's state of mind as he incited the riot on Jan. 6. But it's far from clear who that person might be and whether he or she would cooperate.

The exact timeframe of the trial is still not known but multiple impeachment managers said they don’t think it will go as long as the 21 days of the 2020 trial.

But the expectation is it will take much of February and wrap up by month’s end or even the week of Feb. 22. 

1:57 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

White House "exploring ways to speed up" release of $20 bills featuring Harriett Tubman

From CNN's DJ Judd

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the White House was “exploring ways to speed up,” efforts to release $20 notes featuring Harriett Tubman’s likeness, adding, “it's important that our notes, our money, if people don't know what a note is, reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.”

In a 2018 interview at the Economic Club of Washington, Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dodged when asked about progress with regard to the new bill, saying, “We haven’t made any decisions as to whether we’ll change the bill, or won’t change the bill. 

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Psaki said Monday, before referring any specific questions on the timeline of the new design to Treasury. 

CNN has reached out to Treasury for comment.