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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8:56 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Incoming surgeon general: "We cannot take a year in order to get to the critical levels of vaccination that we need"

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The US needs to do more to help speed the administration of Covid-19 vaccines, Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Joe Biden’s pick for US surgeon general, said Thursday.

“We cannot take a year in order to get to the critical levels of vaccination that we need in this country,” Murthy told CNN. “We’ve got to get there sooner.”

Murthy said the Biden administration is working to address the vaccine rollout issues that jurisdictions have been grappling with. He said the plan includes setting up more vaccination sites, leaning on partnerships with pharmacies and finding people who can help administer vaccines. 

“We hear often from both local and state leaders that they're worried about the workforce – that we may not have enough people to actually deliver the vaccine to meet the demand,” he said.

Biden has said his administration will deliver 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office.  


8:06 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Immigration lawyers nervously await details of ICE's deportation moratorium

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands

On the eve of President Joe Biden’s deportation pause taking effect, Immigration and Customs Enforcement are still working through details of the moratorium, according to three DHS officials.

The decision to halt deportations for 100 days was made "to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety," according to a DHS news release sent out late Wednesday.

The moratorium, which Biden had pledged to impose during his campaign, will start Friday. 

On Thursday, immigration lawyers whose clients are slated to be deported anxiously awaited for more information. Eileen Blessinger, an immigration attorney based in Virginiakicked off Thursday morning trying to sort out next steps for clients slated to be removed

“Clients are just wondering what it means for them,” Blessinger said. “It’s kind of an unknown for everyone.”

James Reyes, another immigration attorney based in Virginia, was trying to get in touch with ICE to confirm whether his client, 34-year-old man from Guatemala, would be deported Thursday when a flight was scheduled.

“Either we’re going to get a call from him in Guatemala... or we’ll hear back that he’s in Oakdale (Louisiana),” Reyes said, referring to the city where his client has been transferred.

On Biden’s first full day in office, officials at the Department of Homeland rushed to begin to set in place the series of actions taken by Biden that reverse his predecessor’s policies.

“It’s a hectic pace to reassess,” one DHS official said.

8:26 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Harris will move into Blair House temporarily

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond, Kaitlan Collins, Jasmine Wright and Arlette Saenz

Dmitry Kirsanov/TASS/Getty Images
Dmitry Kirsanov/TASS/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff will temporarily move into the Blair House until renovations at the official vice president’s residence are complete, according a Harris aide. 

“The VP and Second Gentlemen will temporarily move into Blair House. VP Harris and Mr. Emhoff will not immediately move into the Naval Observatory to allow for repairs to the home that are more easily conducted with the residence unoccupied," a White House official said.

The aide cites replacement liners to the chimney and other household maintenance. Yesterday, CNN reported the delay in moving into the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory, as officials said repairs were “more easily conducted with the home unoccupied.”

The pair have a condo in Washington, DC, where they lived during the campaign and transition, when not in Delaware. A move in date to the Naval Observatory is still to be determined.  

Harris's belongings were being moved into the Blair House by aides via valets carts Thursday night and her motorcade was spotted outside.

Blair House is directly across from the White House, which is known as the president's guest house. Leaders of other nations who are guests of the President are often invited to stay there. 

The Bidens also spent the night there the evening before Wednesday's inauguration, as is tradition for an incoming president.

7:39 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Biden administration authorizes extension of federal housing eviction moratorium

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has extended its moratorium on single-family foreclosure and eviction after a request from the Biden administration on Wednesday.

The moratorium applies to HUD-insured or guaranteed single-family forward and reverse mortgages, except for those secured by legally vacant and abandoned properties.

More context: As one of his first acts as president, Joe Biden called on several federal departments and agencies to extend their bans on evictions and foreclosures for those affected by the coronavirus until at least the end of March.

One of several executive actions Biden took on Wednesday is a signal from the incoming administration that immediate action is needed in order to stabilize housing for the estimated 25 million renters and homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes.

The action seeks to extend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's federal moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent by two more months. The CDC's order first went into effect in September and the latest stimulus bill extended the protection until Jan. 31.

7:29 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

The National Academy of Medicine advises the Biden administration to address inequities

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

The National Academy of Medicine released commentaries advising the Biden administration to prioritize addressing racial and gender inequities to help ensure better health care for all. 

"The unacceptable health inequities that persist in the US today, compounded by the enormous and uneven impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasize the need and the opportunity for the next administration to address the fundamental challenges that the nation faces in health and health care," several health experts, including NAM President Dr. Victor J. Dzau, explained in the journal Health Affairs on Thursday. 

This comes as the NAM found that Black, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, and Latino Americans have been proportionately more likely than White Americans to die from Covid-19, and advices the new presidential administration to consider confronting economic inequities and rejecting policies that perpetuate structural racism within health care. 

"Given the high costs and substandard health outcomes of the US health system, ensuring effective and high-value health care for all Americans must be a top priority for the next administration," the experts explain.  

The academy suggests that to provide more equitable access to affordable health care, the United States will need to develop new systems to improve access to coverage, reform health care payment methods, and address workforce shortages in health care facilities. 

Additionally, the academy believes that the country needs to optimize health coverage for women and children, as they continue to experience high rates of morbidity and mortality in the US and are even further intensified by racial inequities. 

"The US should set the world’s standard for promoting the health and well-being of women and children," the experts write. 

7:52 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Harris praises the new director of national intelligence following swearing-in ceremony

Avril Haines appears before the Senate Intelligence committee for a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill January 19, in Washington, DC.
Avril Haines appears before the Senate Intelligence committee for a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill January 19, in Washington, DC. Melina Mara/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris said Avril Haines, the new director of national intelligence, "will be dedicated to keeping the American people safe," she tweeted this afternoon following the swearing-in ceremony.

"Earlier today, I swore in our first Cabinet member, Avril Haines, after her confirmation by the Senate last night. As the Director of National Intelligence, Director Haines will be dedicated to keeping the American people safe," Harris tweeted today.

In a statement, Haines called her appointment "the honor of a lifetime."

“From my time in government, I know that those who serve in the Intelligence Community are the very best this country has to offer. The men and women of the IC are patriots of extraordinary talent and expertise, who work tirelessly to protect our nation, advance its security and prosperity, and defend its freedoms and values," she said.

More details: Haines is the first woman to lead the US intelligence community; her role was approved in the Senate by 84 to 10.

Haines takes over an intelligence community that was repeatedly disparaged and sidelined by former President Trump throughout his four years in office. The director of national intelligence is the president's top intelligence official and leads an agency that coordinates the entire intelligence community, a total of 17 agencies and organizations.

Read the tweet:

7:02 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Democrats are reviewing McConnell's offer to delay impeachment trial to February

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images

As Democrats are reviewing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s offer on how to structure the impeachment trial including a delay to February, multiple Democratic aides say it’s not a bad idea to wait. 

Sen. Chris Coons, who is a close ally to President Biden, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he wasn’t shutting the door to the idea of delaying the trial if it meant Biden got nominees confirmed quickly. Coons isn’t the only Democrat who thinks that delay could be a way to allow Biden a bit of breathing room in his first days in office.

Multiple aides say that Democrats have been waiting for years to have the House, Senate and White House back again, and an impeachment trial has always been a daunting task. It’s something Democrats believe they can’t ignore. They have wanted to hold the President accountable, but allowing more time could provide them the space they need to move Biden’s nominees along.

On the Republican side, the benefits for delaying the trial are obvious. It gives Trump’s newly formed team time to prepare as well as offers McConnell more time to take the temperature of his conference who has up to this point been divided over whether Trump can even be convicted now that he is no longer in office.

5:25 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

House Democrat: Capitol riot won't be an isolated event unless we "work to make it so"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Rep. Abigail Spanberger speaks during a news conference on December 21, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger speaks during a news conference on December 21, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger today said security officials and Americans must remain vigilant to protect against future attacks from domestic terrorists, warning that the Capitol riot was not a one-time event. 

"I think it's important for everyone, your viewers, those who are doing the day-to-day work of preventing attacks to recognize that what occurred on Jan. 6, was not an isolated event," Spanberger, a former CIA officer, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin today. 

Spanberger said she believes too many made the error of quickly dismissing the "Unite the Right" rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, "as a one-time event," when it it should have been linked to events that followed, including the 2017 Tree of Life synagogue shooting. 

"They don't all look the same," she said. "They are all rooted in the same domestic far-right White nationalist threat."

"Across out country we need to recognize that this is a real threat," Spanberger added of the Capitol riot. "This was not a one-off. This was not a one-time thing unless we aggressively work to make it so."

5:10 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Still no call planned between Biden and Trump, White House press secretary says

From CNN's Jasmine Wright 

There are still no calls planned between President Biden and former President Trump, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Asked again about the note Trump left Biden, Psaki said Biden telling reporters yesterday he wouldn’t reveal the contents of the “generous” letter until he spoke with him was not Biden seeking a call with his predecessor.

“There's no call planned. What he was conveying is that he didn't want to release a private note without having agreement from the former President. But I wouldn't say he's seeking it through a phone call, he just was even trying to be respectful in that moment of a private letter that was sent," she said.