Biden's first full day in office

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:48 PM ET, Thu January 21, 2021
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11:24 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Pelosi still doesn't say when House will send impeachment articles to Senate

From CNN's Clare Foran, Annie Grayer and Manu Raju

Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the timing of a Senate impeachment trial during her opening remarks of her weekly news conference, but did not specify exactly when that will unfold and when the House will send articles.

"We will be, in the next few days, I’ll be talking with the managers as to when the Senate will be ready for the trial of the then-President of the United States for his role in instigating an insurrection on the Capitol of the United States," she said. 

"Everyone’s asking – I’m not going to be telling you when it is going. We had to wait for the Senate to be in session. They have now informed us they are ready to receive, the question is other questions about how a trial will proceed, but we are ready," she said.

Pelosi was later asked, can you put finer point on impeachment timing and said, "No," adding, "you’ll be the first to know."

11:22 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Pelosi says House will be "completely ready" to pass Biden's Covid-19 package first week of February

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Clare Foran

Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

In her first news conference since President Biden was sworn in, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the changes to the House schedule next week, with the House in committee meetings and not returning for votes until the week of Feb. 1.

She emphasized that the House will be “completely ready to go” to pass Biden’s Covid-19 package when the members do return. 

Biden is set to present some of his coronavirus initiatives during remarks at 2 p.m. ET today.

Pelosi also addressed the House vote today on a waiver for Biden's Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin, expressing her confidence that after that vote, the Senate will confirm him. 

Remember: Austin has to win two votes: one from both chambers of Congress to grant the waiver and another from the Senate to confirm him for the position.

The waiver is needed since Austin retired in 2016 but the law requires a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job.

If confirmed he would be the first African American to run the department.

11:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Judge releases woman accused of stealing Pelosi’s laptop during the Capitol riot

From CNN's Sonia Moghe 

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The woman accused of stealing a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol will be released, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Riley Williams, 22, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is charged with violent entry or disorderly conduct, entering the restricted space of the Capitol, obstructing of impeding an official proceeding as well as aiding and abetting the stealing of government property. She was arrested Monday. 

US Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson approved a bail package agreed upon by prosecutors and Williams’ attorney, telling Williams that while she is presumed innocent of the charges, her alleged actions during the insurrection were "antithetical" to Constitutional values. 

"We know now that the mob failed and the Constitution prevailed. The Constitution prevailed … because Congress, stepping over the wreckage of its Capitol, met and confirmed with the Vice President of the United States the vote of the electoral college, setting the stage for the latest peaceful transition of power yesterday," Carlson said. 

"You are being released today because the Constitution has prevailed. Because your counsel has fulfilled her Constitutional obligation. And because the United States is fulfilling its Constitutional duty to strike hard blows, but fair blows, in the pursuit of justice," Carlson continued. "So, I share that thought with you as you leave here today that your freedom – conditioned as it is by the orders that I’ve entered – is a result of the prevailing of the Constitution. The Constitution prevails here today. And the Constitution will always prevail in this country."

Williams will remain in home confinement with electronic monitoring and travel restrictions. She has been ordered not to communicate with possible co-defendants. 

Prosecutors initially recommended Williams be kept in custody, in part, because they believed she had attempted to flee, after leaving her home and changing her phone number. But Williams’ attorney Lori Ulrich said in court Thursday that her client changed her number at the recommendation of local police after being threatened by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Ulrich said the ex-boyfriend is listed in court filings as the witness who made allegations including that Williams was at the Capitol.

"It is regrettable that Ms. Williams took the President’s bait and went inside the Capitol. However, based on our initial investigation and preparation for today, it is our position that the allegations surrounding the theft of Speaker Pelosi’s computer came in part from a former abusive boyfriend," Ulrich said. "He has threatened Ms. Williams in a number of ways…His accusations are overstated."

In an amended court filing, prosecutors allege that Williams appears to have filmed a gloved hand lifting a laptop off a table in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

"There is text across the video clip that reads: ‘they got the laptop.’ Given how loud Williams’ voice is, it seems likely that she was the one holding the cell phone camera," law enforcement wrote in an affidavit. 

10:52 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Biden tweets about Covid-19 action he plans to take today: "We don't have a second to waste"

President Biden tweeted out his intent to sign executive actions on the coronavirus pandemic today, emphasizing that "we don't have a second to waste" to get the virus under control.

Biden has made Covid-19 the focus of his first full day in office. He plans to sign six executive orders and one presidential policy directive on the virus.

The executive orders include things like a review of supply chain, additional data collection and transparency, and support for additional Covid-19 treatment research and supply. A presidential policy directive will call on agencies to “strengthen efforts to combat COVID-19 globally and strengthen global pandemic preparedness.” 

10:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Without a power sharing agreement, Republicans in the Senate still chair committees

From CNN's Manu Raju

Senate TV
Senate TV

Biden's Cabinet nominees could face a bumpy road ahead since no deal has been reached on power sharing in the Senate. That means Republicans are still chairing key committees and have the power to set the agenda until such an agreement is reached.

This is evident this morning in the hearing for President Biden's Transportation nominee, Pete Buttigieg, who is being questioned by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, is chairing the hearing, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, is serving as ranking member.

What is power-sharing? A power-sharing agreement will spell out the number of seats that each caucus will have on Senate committees. Absent an agreement, the Senate will operate under the rules of the last Congress when the GOP controlled the Senate majority and held the committee chairmanships

A power sharing agreement is under discussion between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but the two have hit a snag over McConnell's demands that Schumer promise to save the filibuster and not move forward with efforts to gut the potent stall tactic on legislation.

11:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Secret Service arrested 13 people while leading inauguration security 

From CNN's Geneva Sands

The US Secret Service arrested 13 people during the time the agency was the lead for inauguration security, which began on Jan. 13.

Three people were arrested on Inauguration Day – two for unregistered ammunition and one for possession of a BB gun. 

In the wake of the Capitol attack, the Department of Homeland Security extended dates of the National Special Security Event, which unlocked federal resources and incident management plans at an earlier date. 

10:59 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Happening now: Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg testifies before Senate 

From CNN's Alex Rogers, Donald Judd and Dan Merica,

Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg is testifying now before a Senate panel on considering his nomination for transportation secretary, putting the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor on the path to becoming the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary.

"We need to build our economy back, better than ever," Buttigieg said in his opening remarks. ""The Department of Transportation can play a central role in this, by implementing President Biden's infrastructure vision creating millions of good-paying jobs, revitalizing communities that have been left behind, enabling American small businesses, workers, families and farmers to compete and win in the global economy, and tackling the climate crisis."

The nominee vowed to "work every day for the department to meets its mission of ensuring safety."

Some background: Buttigieg often spoke about infrastructure on the campaign trail from the perspective of a small-town mayor, arguing that local governments like the one he once ran needed people in Washington who understood their needs and issues.

Buttigieg is expected to play a central role in President Biden's push for a bipartisan infrastructure package.

During the campaign, Biden proposed spending $1.3 trillion over 10 years to build schools, roads, bridges, railroads and pipes, expand broadband access and usher in a "100% clean energy economy."

Some top Democrats believed that Biden wanted to get Buttigieg, 39, a top post as a way to elevate a rising star in the Democratic Party. Buttigieg's future aspirations are no secret, but the former mayor's political future in his conservative home state has long been a roadblock.

10:02 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

House Democrat says they have the votes to approve a waiver for defense secretary pick

From CNN's Manu Raju

Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images
Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

House Democrats say they have the votes to grant the waiver for Lloyd Austin to serve as defense secretary. That's according to what House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn indicated on a caucus call, sources tell CNN. The vote is today.

Remember: Austin needs to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job. He retired in 2016.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also told his colleagues to plan for floor votes on President Biden’s plan to bolster Covid-19 vaccinations during the week of Feb. 1.

10:03 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Happening now: Biden participates in a virtual prayer service with the Washington National Cathedral

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are joining a virtual Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) and Washington National Cathedral prayer service.

The program will include prayers, readings, blessings and hymns from interfaith leaders to "mark the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together and creates a path to a brighter future," according to a press release.

“The National Prayer Service is an important tradition for our nation and for President Biden, who has always been a man guided deeply by his faith," PIC CEO and Delaware State University President Tony Allen said in the press release.

Later on in the day, Biden will deliver remarks at 2 p.m. ET on his administration's coronavirus response and he will sign executive orders. Harris is expected to attend the event. The White House press secretary and Dr. Anthony Fauci will answer questions at 4 p.m. ET.