Friday morning news – February 12, 2021

Senators hear final impeachment arguments before weekend break » Former President Trump’s defense team will take the floor once again today for day four of his impeachment trial. 

Democratic impeachment managers continued to argue on Thursday that rioters who invaded the Capitol were acting on “the president’s orders.” Congressman Joe Neguse…

NEGUSE: He struck a match, and he aimed it straight at this building, at us. 

And Congressman Jamie Raskin told senators…

RASKIN: If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America. 

But there was still no indication that impeachment managers have swayed the 17 Republican senators they need to convict Trump. 

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said he thinks new evidence actually hurts their case. 

BLUNT: Groups of people were preparing for weeks to assault the Capitol, which I think hurts their argument, and I also think wasn’t available to them when they passed the impeachment resolution and said this was all about the president. 

The trial is scheduled to break at sundown today … reconvening on Sunday. The proceedings could finish with a vote this weekend. 

Jobless claims dip, but total jobless aid recipients rise » The number of Americans filing jobless claims fell slightly last week. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department says new filings fell to 793,000—down from 812,000 the week before. 

But Thursday’s government report also showed an increase in the total number of Americans who are receiving unemployment aid, including through extended benefit programs.

All told, more than 20 million people were receiving benefits in the week that ended Jan. 23rd. That’s the most recent data available. And that reflected a sharp rise from just under 18 million the week before. 

Part of that increase likely reflects a rush of claims that came after Washington extended two federal aid programs just after Christmas.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Biden holds first call as president with Chinese leader » President Biden had his first Oval Office call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. 

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday they talked for about two hours, touching on several topics. The president called it a “good conversation,” but Psaki said there’s no doubt the two leaders have different viewpoints on some very big issues. 

PSAKI: The conversation he had with President Xi was a reflection of that, and there were issues raised that reflected our approach, including a passionate statement of the values of the United States and a defense of those values in that conversation as well. 

A White House statement said Biden raised concerns about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices.” He also pressed Xi on Hong Kong, human rights abuses against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province, and its actions toward Taiwan.

The call followed Biden’s announcement that he’s forming a Pentagon task force to review U.S. national security strategy in China.  

Chinese state television struck a mostly positive tone about the conversation. It said Xi Jinping acknowledged the two sides had their differences, but urged overall cooperation.

Biden rescinds emergency declaration at border » Also on Thursday, President Biden officially reversed former President Trump’s emergency declaration on the southern border. 

Jen Psaki told reporters…

PSAKI: The president, our entire administration, are committed to digging out of the immoral approach to immigration of the prior administration. 

Trump issued the declaration two years ago, paving the way to use Pentagon money to help build the border wall. 

In a letter, President Biden said Trump’s emergency declaration had been “unwarranted” and that he had directed that “no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.” He said he has also ordered a review of all money spent on the project so far.

Meantime, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says his state is still fighting the president’s attempt to put a freeze on deportations. 

PAXTON: We will be arguing for a permanent injunction sometime in the next couple of weeks, hopefully to make sure that while we’re arguing our case over the next several months, we make sure that deportations continue and that federal law is followed. 

Arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border are up 6 percent from December according to border officials. 

Budget office expects $2.3T deficit before Biden relief plan » The Congressional Budget Office says the federal government is on track to run a deficit of more than $2 trillion dollars this year. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The $2.3 trillion projection is actually slightly lower than earlier projections. But that does not factor in President Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan, which is expected to cost another $1.9 trillion.

The additional aid would follow roughly $4 trillion of relief that Congress approved last year. 

Last year was the highest deficit relative to GDP since World War II.

Decades of over-spending in Washington has resulted in a national debt of almost $28 trillion. That means the U.S. debt is now larger than the U.S. economy. And that gap is expected to widen as Medicare and Social Security costs continue to spiral. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

(Senate Television via AP) In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., speaks during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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