Wednesday morning news – February 10, 2021

Lawmakers open Trump impeachment trial » AUDIO: [Gavel strikes] The Senate will be in order.

Lawmakers opened former President Trump’s second impeachment trial on Tuesday. House impeachment managers led with a pre-produced video interspersing Trump’s remarks with footage of the January 6th capitol riot. 

AUDIO: We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. CROWD: Take the Capitol! 

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin suggested that video evidence that Trump incited insurrection. 

RASKIN: You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our constitution, that is a high crime and misdemeanor.

But the former president’s legal team argued that he called for spirited protests but never violence and charged that the entire trial is a farce. Trump lawyer Bruce Castor: 

CASTOR: Let’s understand why we are really here. We are really here because the majority in the House of representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future. That’s the real reason we’re here. 

Each side received 16 hours to make their case across two days, yesterday and today. The Senate is scheduled to resume the impeachment trial around 12:00 p.m. this afternoon. 

Law enforcement agencies investigating attack on Fla. town’s water supply » Law enforcement officials are hunting for clues, trying to figure out who attacked the water system in a town near Tampa.

Officers revealed on Monday that a hacker took control of a computer system managing the water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida on Friday. 

The hacker then tried to release dangerous levels of the chemical sodium hydroxide into the water supply. 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told Fox News that his department is working with the FBI and other government agencies to get to the bottom of the attack.

GUALTIERI: We don’t know whether the person who did this was down the street or in another country, and that’s a big question for us as to where this originated from and who the actors are and what their ulterior motives were.

Fortunately, a supervisor saw the chemical being tampered with and was able to immediately reverse the change. 

Officials warned other city leaders in the region—which was hosting the Super Bowl—about the incident and suggested they check their systems.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the president is aware of the attack. 

PSAKI: The president, vice president, members of our national security team are focused on elevating cybersecurity as a threat that has only increased in the past several years.

Experts say municipal water and other systems have the potential to be easy targets for hackers.

WHO winds down virus investigation in China » A team from the World Health Organization is wrapping up its investigation in China on the origins of the coronavirus. 

And on Monday, members cast doubt on an assertion from U.S. intelligence officials that the virus may have accidentally escaped from a high security lab in Wuhan. WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarak told reporters…

EMBARAK: It was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place. 

China initially said the virus likely jumped from an animal to humans at a so-called “wet market” in Wuhan. But Embarak was unable to—quote— “pinpoint any animal species as a potential reservoir for this disease.” 

The WHO team also voiced an openness to a theory that Chinese officials have pushed recently that the virus might have originated from overseas. 

That has led to renewed questions from critics about the objectivity of the World Health Organization. 

President Trump withdrew support for the WHO, saying it had been corrupted and politicized. The Biden administration has since reversed that policy, saying it’s best to try and reform the organization from within. 

Fauci: Administration pushing hard to reopen schools » President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that the administration is still working on a strategy aimed at reopening K-12 classrooms.

The president has said that the lack of in-person learning is by itself “a national emergency.” 

Fauci conceded that “it’s not an easy problem to solve.” He said the vaccine rollout is a big part of the solution. 

FAUCI: Obviously we want to get teachers vaccinated. They are essential personnel as far as we’re concerned. It would be important to get them vaccinated. But there are situations where you likely can still get children back to school. 

He said the administration is banking on measures in the president’s COVID-19 relief package providing funds for more masks and better ventilation. 

He also said the first priority is reopening classrooms from kindergarten through 8th grade within the next 80 days. 

He said some data strongly suggests that younger children don’t transmit the virus as freely as high school students.

McDonough sworn in as VA secretary » President Obama’s former chief of staff Dennis McDonough is the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 

AUDIO: That I will support and defend  – the Constitution of the United States – the Constitution of the United States.

He took the oath of office on Monday after the Senate signed off on his nomination. 

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 87, the nays are 7. The nomination is confirmed. 

Leading veterans advocacy groups voiced concern that McDonough never served in the armed forces. But he touted his experience working in the Obama administration, telling lawmakers he understood how to untangle and solve complex challenges across the government. 

He said his experience as chief of staff also enabled him to view the sacrifices that veterans make.

McDonough replaces Robert Wilkie as VA secretary.

(Senate Television via AP) In this image from video,House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., speaks during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 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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