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Trump impeached for 2nd time, to be tried in Senate

Washington: A week after a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol in a violent bid to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, President Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives, which is a first in US history.

On the single article of impeachment – incitement of insurrection — the vote in favor  was  232-197. Ten Republicans broke ranks and voted to impeach Trump on a day when the debate moved at lightning speed, much of it charged by the bipartisan anger at the scale of the January 6 violence which apparently targeted Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence in particular.

Trump continued to refuse to accept the results of the US 2020 election and remained largely silent after he incited thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol and “stop the steal”. He has also decided not to attend Biden’s inauguration on January 20, nor has he called him up to congratulate, as is the tradition.

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine. That time every single House Republican voted against impeachment. But this time the ‘vote of confidence’ statement by Liz Cheney, No 3 Republican in the House, and ‘Trump is to blame to some extent’ argument by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led to 10 desertions.

The impeachment   trial will now move to the US Senate which last time under Mitch McConnell had acquitted Trump. The Senate now is at 50:50, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie breaking vote. It will need 17 Republican Senators besides all Democrats to convict Trump after he is no more President.

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Latest News USA

Trump impeached for 2nd time, 10 House Republicans break ranks

Washington: Exactly a week after a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol in a violent bid to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives.

On the single article of impeachment – incitement of insurrection — the vote in favor  was  232-197. Ten Republicans broke ranks and voted to impeach Trump on a day when the debate moved at lightning speed, much of it charged by the bipartisan anger at the scale of the January 6 violence.

In the process, Donald Trump’s place in history has been redefined. Still defiant, Trump will go out of the White House as only the first president ever in American history to be impeached twice.

Trump continues to refuse to accept the results of the US 2020 election and remained largely silent after he incited thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol and “stop the steal” in the middle of a raging pandemic that has killed more than 370,000 people in the country.

The second impeachment of Trump closes out the Trump presidency in stunning fashion, after four years of the US president’s slash and burn strategy.

The guardrails around Trump finally collapsed. The dam broke after the Republicans lost two Georgia Senate seats. Then came the mayhem at the US Capitol on January 6, then came all the intelligence that exploded from that day’s bedlam. Lawmakers were furious. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence were said to be on the hit list. Twitter banned Trump and the corporate funding has practically evaporated, within 72 hours of the attack.

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in early 2020 to acquit. That time every single House Republican voted against impeachment. But this time the ‘vote of confidence’ statement by Liz Cheney, No 3 Republican in the House, and Trump is to blame for some extent for Jan 6 view by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy allowed a total of 10 desertions.

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Trump threat plunges relief bill in turmoil

Washington: President Donald Trump has urged the Congress to amend a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill to more than triple its stimulus payments to Americans.

In a video message posted on Twitter Tuesday, he said the package “really is a disgrace”, full of “wasteful” items, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

“It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid,” he said.

The $900 billion bill includes one-off $600 payments to most Americans but Trump said the figure should be $2,000.

The Republican president, who leaves office on January 20, had been expected to sign the sprawling legislation into law following its passage through Congress on Monday night.

But in Tuesday night’s message from the White House, Trump baulked at spending in the bill on other countries including Pakistan, arguing that this money should go to struggling Americans. The fact is those items are in the attached omnibus package of $1.4 trillion to fund federal agencies for the next nine months.

He said: “This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.”

The president questioned why the Kennedy Center, a performing arts complex in Washington DC, was set to receive $40 million when it is not open, and more than $1 billion has been allocated to museums and galleries in the capital.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.

“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package.”

Trump’s statement stunned Capitol Hill, plunging the long-awaited aid bill into turmoil.

If the president vetoes the legislation the US government could shut down on December 29 because the package was attached to the omnibus bill.

Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating a coronavirus stimulus rescue since July. Trump largely stayed out of the talks.

After Trump’s demand on $2000 checks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will play along, but Republicans are not expected to. Eventually the President may stand down his veto threat. Already he has a standoff with Capitol Hill for his threat to veto the annual defense policy bill, which passed both chambers of Congress with broad, bipartisan support, but in which he wants to add a provision to take away safeguards from tech companies like Facebook.

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Latest News USA

White House pitches $600 checks in corona stimulus

Washington: The Trump administration re-entered Capitol Hill’s on-off COVID-19 negotiations on Tuesday, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the offer. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy added the proposal has $1,200 for couples, which is half the payment delivered by the March pandemic relief bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains at odds with Democratic leaders over the new relief. He had earlier proposed shelving a top Democratic priority — aid to state and local governments — in exchange for dropping his own pet provision, a shield against lawsuits for COVID-related negligence. Democrats angrily rejected the idea, saying McConnell was undermining the efforts of a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators and reneging on earlier statements that state and local aid would likely have to be an element of a COVID-19 relief agreement given Democratic control of the House.

Top Republicans dislike the direct payments, saying they are costly and send too much aid to people who do not need it. Democrats generally embrace the idea.

“Right now we’re targeting struggling families, failing businesses, health care workers and we don’t have a stimulus check to every single person, regardless of need,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is a leader of a bipartisan group pressing for a $908 billion pact.

The $916 billion Mnuchin offer, the separate ongoing talks among key rank-and-file senators, and the shifting demands by the White House all add up to muddled, confusing prospects for a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package, reports AP. The pressure to deliver is intense — all sides say failure isn’t an option.

McConnell said Congress will not adjourn without providing the long-overdue COVID-19 relief. He had previously said he would not put any pandemic relief bill on the floor that does not include the liability shield, which is being sought by businesses, universities, nonprofits, and others that are reopening during the pandemic.

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Stimulus deal has little chance before election

Washington: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the White House won’t let differences over funding targets for Covid-19 testing derail stimulus talks with top Democrats.

Later, President Donald Trump said that he would raise his offer for a stimulus package above his current level of $1.8 trillion. House Democrats have passed a $2.2 trillion bill.

“I would. Absolutely I would. I would say more. I would go higher. Go big or go home, I said it yesterday,” the president told Fox Business.

The president also took a swipe at his Treasury secretary, as CNBC reported: “So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the lead negotiator for Democrats, had identified testing as one of the main sticking points in talks. Mnuchin appeared to cede ground to the speaker in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“That issue is getting overblown,” Mnuchin said. “We’ve agreed to $178 billion overall for health. It’s an extraordinary amount of money. We’d agreed with the Democrats with $75 billion going to testing, contact tracing.”

Republican Senators headed by Mitch McConnell have no appetite for a bill as big as discussed by the White House and Pelosi, and Mnuchin has accepted that a deal before the election looks very difficult.

 The comments from Mnuchin and Trump came after the Labor Department’s jobless claims report added to concerns that the recovery in the U.S. labor market may be slowing.

The department reported that the number of first-time applicants for state unemployment insurance rose to 898,000 during the week ended Oct. 10. That total was the highest number since Aug. 22.

The public health crisis also shows few signs of abating, adding urgency to calls for further federal intervention.

 

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Latest News USA

Pelosi, Mnuchin again push for stimulus deal

Washington: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are trying one final time to ease a bitter standoff on Capitol Hill over a pre-Election Day package to provide relief to millions of Americans reeling from the damaging economic crisis.

While most on Capitol Hill are deeply skeptical a deal can be reached, Pelosi and Mnuchin have aligned interests, reports CNN: The speaker is facing growing pressure from vulnerable House Democrats, particularly freshmen, to cut a deal immediately while President Trump wants a legislative accomplishment to tout in the final weeks of the intensely fought campaign.

The Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion plan Monday, down from the $3.4 trillion measure that passed the House largely along party lines in May and has since been ignored by the GOP-led Senate.

That price tag for the bill is still far too high for the White House and Senate Republicans, who tried to advance a $500 billion plan this month that was blocked by Democrats over concerns it didn’t go far enough.

The pared-back legislation would include another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to certain individuals under an income threshold, more money for the PPP for small businesses, more aid to the USPS, $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, as well restoring the $600 a week additional unemployment assistance that expired in July. After pushing a plan for roughly $1 trillion in state and local aid in the last proposal, an idea roundly rejected by the White House, Pelosi and Democrats are now proposing $436 billion for state, local and tribal governments over one year.

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Trump taxes are ‘national security’ issue: Pelosi

Washington DC: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  has called President Donald Trump’s alleged tax avoidance a question of “national security”.

She asked whether Trump owed money to foreign interests, following an article on his financial records by the New York Times.  NYT alleges Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017. The President called the report “fake news”, the BBC reported on Monday.

Speaking on NBC, Pelosi said the report showed that “this president appears to have over $400 million in debt”.

“To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have?” she asked, adding: “So for me, this is a national security question.”

“The fact that you could have a sitting president who owes hundreds of millions of dollars that he’s personally guaranteed to lenders, and we don’t know who these lenders are,” she said, and suggested that Trump may be indebted to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“What does Putin have on the president politically? Personally? Financially?”

According to the explosive report in the New York Times – which says it  has obtained tax records for Trump and his companies over two decades — Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years. It adds that the president is personally responsible for more than $300m in loans, which will come due in the next four years.

It does not suggest Trump received any previously unknown income from Russia, though it said that the president had earned some money from foreign sources.

The records reveal “chronic losses and years of tax avoidance”, it says.

In a tweet on Monday, the president accused the media of bringing up his taxes and “other nonsense with illegally obtained information and only bad intent”.

He said he had “paid many millions of dollars in taxes” but received tax credits as well. Responding to the accusations of losses, Trump added he had “very little debt” compared to the value of his assets.

Trump has faced legal challenges for refusing to share documents concerning his fortune and business. He is the first president since the 1970s not to make his tax returns public, though this is not required by law.

The report came just days before the first presidential debate and weeks before the 3 November election. It said the president paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made”.

The newspaper also claims that “most” of Trump’s biggest businesses – such as his golf courses and hotels – “report losing millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars year after year”.

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Dems and WH talking on stimulus but ‘serious differences’ remains

Washington: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday, but the pair failed to bridge a chasm between their proposals for more coronavirus relief, reports CNBC.

“Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing,” Peolsi said after the conversation.

Pelosi indicated the sides stand far apart on the price tag for a fifth package designed to alleviate economic and health-care crises fueled by the pandemic. Democrats have said they would accept a $2.2 trillion bill. The Trump administration has not gone higher than $1.3 trillion.

The impasse risks dealing further damage to millions of Americans scrambling to cover rent and food costs as economic restrictions designed to limit Covid-19′s spread remain in place. Failure to pass more fiscal stimulus could also jeopardize the employment gains the U.S. has made in the last three months after record job losses early on in the outbreak.

Multiple financial lifelines passed to buoy the economy earlier this year have lapsed. A $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefit and a moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing expired in late July, while the window to apply for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans closed in August.

President Donald Trump has deployed his limited powers to offer aid during the stalemate. His administration said Tuesday that it would use CDC authority to halt evictions through the end of the year for individuals who make $99,000 or less and couples who make $198,000 or less. He previously signed executive orders to extend extra jobless benefits of at least $300 per week for some Americans for several weeks, continue federal student loan assistance until the end of the year and suspend the employee portion of the payroll tax. But his ability to provide relief does not go nearly as far as that of Congress, which controls federal spending.

On Tuesday morning, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC that the sides have made “real progress” on pandemic relief. He noted that deciding on how much aid to send to state and local governments posed the biggest “stumbling block” for negotiators. Democrats want more than $900 billion in new relief, while the White House has offered $150 billion in additional funds.

Mnuchin testified before Congress about coronavirus relief on Tuesday and acknowledged the need for another bill to address Covid-19.

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Stalemate on corona stimulus bill in Congress

Washington: Democrats, Republicans and the White House are nowhere near a compromise corona relief package as enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of out-of-work Americans and protections from evictions run out.

“We are still very far apart on a lot of issues,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office Wednesday night, reported Bloomberg News.

Mnuchin said he and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows expect to return to the Capitol Thursday for more talks as the clock winds down on several key elements of the economic stimulus measure passed in March. The two sides have to bridge significant differences between the $1 trillion stimulus plan the GOP released Monday and the $3.5 trillion package House Democrats passed in May.

President Trump on Wednesday dismissed Democratic demands for aid to cash-strapped cities in the latest coronavirus relief package and lashed out at Republican allies as talks stalemated over assistance for millions of Americans. Republicans, beset by delays and infighting, signaled a willingness to swiftly approve a modest package to revamp a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that’s running out. But Speaker Pelosi rejected that approach as meager, all but forcing Republicans back to the negotiating table. Without action, the aid expires Friday.

“We’re nowhere close to the deal,” said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. He said they’re “miles apart.”

Pelosi said the best way to reopen schools and the economy is to defeat the virus, and that can’t be done with the “skinny” bill Republicans are rushing to cobble together. “They still don’t get it,” she added.

Money for states and cities is a crucial dividing line as local governments plead for help to shore up budgets and prevent deeper layoffs as they incur COVID-19 costs and lost tax revenue in shutdown economies.

Trump complained about sending “big bailout money” to the nation’s cities, whose mayors he often criticizes.

“It’s a shame to reward badly run radical left Democrats with all of this money they’re looking for,” he said at the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to strike a note of optimism about the talks.

“Many things around here happen at the last minute,” McConnell said on PBS’s “NewsHour” program. “This is only Wednesday, so hope springs eternal that we’ll reach some kind of agreement either on a broad basis or a more narrow basis to avoid having an adverse impact on unemployment.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy saw the biggest plunge in activity it has ever known in the second quarter, though it wasn’t quite as bad as feared.

GDP from April to June plunged 32.9% on an annualized basis, according to the Commerce Department’s first reading on the data released Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a drop of 34.7%.

Still, it was the worst drop ever, with the closest previously coming in mid-1921.

The report “just highlights how deep and dark the hole is that the economy cratered into in Q2,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “It’s a very deep and dark hole and we’re coming out of it, but it’ going to take a long time to get out.”

Sharp contractions in personal consumption, exports, inventories, investment and spending by state and local governments all converged to bring down GDP, which is the combined tally of all goods and services produced during the period.

Personal consumption, which historically has accounted for about two-thirds of all activity in the U.S., subtracted 25% from the Q2 total, with services accounting for nearly all that drop.

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