WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is explicitly pointing his finger at President Donald Trump for helping to spur the attack on the Capitol by the outgoing president’s supporters. The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday on the Senate floor, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.” McConnell spoke six days after the Democratic-led House impeached Trump on charges of inciting the Jan. 6 attack. A Senate trial on whether to convict Trump and perhaps bar him from again holding federal office is expected to begin in coming days. After years of supporting Trump with little criticism of him, McConnell has said he’s not decided whether he would vote to convict him.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Homeland Security says the incoming administration hasn’t decided what it will do with the already completed sections of border wall built under President Donald Trump. Previous administrations, both Democrat and Republicans, have built barriers and walls along the southwest border. But Trump made it a signature project to expand the wall and built about 450 miles of new section. Alejandro Mayorkas was asked about it Tuesday at his Senate confirmation hearing. He said that Biden has committed to halting Trump’s wall project but that he would have to study the costs and benefits of tearing down already built sections.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is expected to spend his last full day in office issuing a flurry of pardons and bidding farewell to the American public from a near-deserted White House surrounded by an extraordinary security presence outside. In one of his final acts as president, Trump is expected to grant clemency to as many as 100 people. According to people briefed on the ongoing discussions, the clemency list is expected to include both names unfamiliar to the American public as well as politically connected friends and allies.
WASHINGTON (AP) — On his way out the door, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has hit China with new sanctions by declaring that China's policies on Muslims and ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang Province constitute a "genocide." Pompeo made the determination on Tuesday just 24 hours before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. There was no immediate response from the incoming Biden team although several members have been sympathetic to such a designation in the past. Pompeo's determination does not come with any immediate repercussions. Many of those accused of having taken part in the repression are already under U.S. sanctions. China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic and social development in the region.
UNDATED (AP) — Mutations to the virus that causes COVID-19 are rapidly popping up and health officials say the pandemic could get worse unless people do more to curb cases. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate. So far, vaccines seem to remain effective against the new variants, but the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a version of the virus that can elude defenses could emerge. In the United States, health officials say a new variant first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March and cause more hospitalizations and deaths because it spreads more easily.