Impeachment managers, defense wraps up opening arguments » Lawmakers will reconvene at noon today for day-three of former President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
On Wednesday, impeachment managers wrapped up opening arguments, detailing months of tweets and remarks by the former president that they say fueled the Jan. 6th Capitol siege.
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean told senators…
DEAN: Donald Trump told his supporters ‘They are stealing the election. They took away your vote. It’s rigged!’ That was not true.
And Congressman Jamie Raskin argued…
RASKIN: In the days leading up to the attack, you’ll learn that there were countless social media posts, news stories, and most importantly credible reports from the FBI and Capitol Police that the thousands gathering up for the president’s Save America march were violent, were organized with weapons and were targeting the Capitol.
Impeachment managers charged that Trump was no innocent bystander, but was instead the “inciter in chief.”
But Trump’s defense lawyers maintain that the president neither called for nor expected violence.
And many Senate Republicans say they’ve seen nothing that proves the former president’s guilt. Senator Kevin Cramer told Fox News on Wednesday…
KRAMER: I think that the line between criminal liability and firing up a crowd is a pretty tough cause-and-effect to make for an insurrection.
The trial will continue at least through tomorrow afternoon. After closing arguments, senators will have a total of four hours to question both sides.
Dems attempt to push through school funding, wage increase » Democrats muscled past Republicans this week to advance two big components of President Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan.
Democrats on the Education and Labor panel approved a measure that would send $130 billion in additional relief to schools and another that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki touted a report from the Congressional Budget Office suggesting the wage hike would help many at the bottom of the pay scale.
PSAKI: They’ve also concluded that 27 million American workers would—millions of low wage workers, I should say—27 million American workers would be able to get—it would help get them out of poverty.
But Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said Democrats aren’t painting the complete picture.
ERNST: What they are forgetting, these progressive liberals, is the folks in middle America where the cost of living is much lower. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will put 1.4 million Americans out of work.
Democrats hope to rush the bill to Biden for his signature by mid-March, using a special budget-related process called reconciliation. That will allow them to cut Republicans out of the process.
House Republicans attempted dozens of changes to the legislation. One proposed amendment would have exempted small businesses or certain rural areas from a minimum wage hike, but that amendment failed.
It’s still unclear, though, if Democrats will be able to pass the minimum wage hike using budget reconciliation.
Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam » Federal authorities are investigating a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation after someone sold fake 3M masks to hospitals and government agencies. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: N95 masks are considered the gold standard for protection against the coronavirus. But foreign-made fakes are becoming increasingly tough to spot. And that is raising worries over the safety of healthcare workers.
Homeland Security investigator Steve Francis said DHS is seeing “a lot of fraud and other illegal activity” as crooks cash in on the pandemic.
Investigators say they’ve also seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines, as well as fake medicine and personal protective equipment.
Federal authorities have already executed more than 1,200 raids, seizing more than 10 million counterfeit 3M masks alone. And 3M, based in Maplewood, Minnesota, has filed more than a dozen lawsuits over reports of fraud, counterfeiting, and price gouging.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
14 states call on Biden to reverse course on Keystone XL » Fourteen state attorneys general are calling on President Biden to reverse course on the Keystone XL pipeline. Biden has signed an executive order seeking to stop construction on the project.
In a joint letter to the president, the attorneys stated—quote—“Your decision will result in devastating damage to many of our states and local communities.”
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said a growing number of lawmakers, including some Democrats, are asking Biden to rethink the order. But he said they’re not banking on it.
P.BUSH: For us, an industry that employs over 400,000 Texans and on average pays over $120,000, this is the lifeblood of our economy, so we’re going to leverage every legal remedy available to the state.
The new Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee is one of those Democrats asking President Biden to reconsider.
Senator Joe Manchin said Keystone XL and other pipelines “continue to be the safest mode to transport our oil and natural gas resources, and they support thousands of high-paying, American union jobs.”
President Biden sided with environmental groups that say the pipeline poses too great a great risk.
The 1,700-mile pipeline was planned to carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Biden announces sanctions against Myanmar generals » Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, President Biden said the United States is taking action against the military leaders behind the coup in Myanmar.
He said first, the U.S. government will prevent the generals from improperly accessing “the $1 billion in Myanmar government funds held in the United States.”
BIDEN: And today, I’ve approved a new executive order enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members.
The president again called on those generals to relinquish power and release the political leaders it is now holding captive.
Meantime, in Myanmar, large crowds demonstrated against the military takeover on Wednesday, defying a ban on protests.
AUDIO: [Myanmar protest]
Tens of thousands of protesters packed the streets in the country’s biggest cities.