Department of Justice concludes investigation into senator’s stock trades
The Department of Justice concluded its investigation into insider stock trading by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., he said Tuesday.
“Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year. The case is now closed. I’m glad to hear it,” Burr said in a statement.
Burr’s attorney Alice Fisher said in a statement the senator was “pleased” the Justice Department had completed its review and “closed it without further action. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the closure of the investigation, which was first reported by the New York Times.
The investigation into the North Carolina Republican had been part of into stock trades made at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic by several lawmakers, their spouses, or their financial advisers. Financial disclosure statements indicated they sold large amounts of stock at about the same time they were receiving closed-door briefings on the severity of the coronavirus.
Burr and his wife sold anywhere between about $598,000 and $1.62 million in stocks in February, including in firms like Complete Extended Stay and Wyndham Hotels whose stock later plunged amid the pandemic. The senator had denied all wrongdoing, saying he made his trades based on publicly available information like news reports, but stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in May after an FBI investigation into his stock sales led to the seizure of his cell phone.
— Nicholas Wu and Kevin Johnson
Tearful Joe Biden says goodbye to Delaware on eve of inauguration
President-elect Joe Biden, struggling to hold back tears, said farewell Tuesday to his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, before he departed for Washington, D.C., where he will be sworn in as the 46th president Wednesday.
“This is kind of emotional for me,” said Biden, choking up at a send-off event before taking a short flight to the nation’s capital. "You've been with me my whole career, through the good times and the bad. I want to thank you for everything.”
Biden recalled waiting at a Wilmington train station 12 years ago to be picked up by Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, before they were sworn in as president and vice president.
“And here we are today,” Biden said. “My family and I about to return to Washington, to meet a Black woman of South Asian descent to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States.”
He recited what he told his late son, Beau Biden, that day: “I said, ‘Don’t tell me things can’t change. They can and they do. That’s America.’ ”
For this year’s inauguration, Biden also originally planned to arrive in Washington by Amtrak train, a tribute to his daily 90-minute rides as a Delaware senator. But he scratched the trip, the Associated Press reported, over security concerns following the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Saying he will “always be a proud son of Delaware,” Biden teared up again as he recited words from Irish poet James Joyce. "When he dies, he said, ‘Dublin will be written on my heart.’ Well, excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart."
Democratic Delaware Gov. John Carney introduced Biden at the send-off, which was held at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, named for Biden’s late son.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret, that he's not here, because we should be introducing him as president,” Biden said of his son.
After arriving by plane Tuesday afternoon, Biden is scheduled to speak Thursday evening at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. His speech is expected to honor COVID-19 victims.
— Joey Garrison
McConnell: Mob attack at the Capitol was 'provoked by the president'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued his most striking condemnation of President Donald Trump yet after the attack at the U.S. Capitol, saying the mob of protesters were “provoked by the president.”
“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, casting a clear shot not only to Trump but fellow Republicans who backed the president’s efforts to overturn election results in several swing states.
McConnell publicly split with Trump after the attack, which happened as the House and Senate were counting Electoral College votes earlier this month to officiate Biden’s win, and has left open the possibility of convicting Trump at his second impeachment trial.
“We must always keep in mind that we’re all Americans,” McConnell said on the floor. “We all love this country. And we’re all in this together.”
The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday would usher in a new start, noting the close margins in the House and Senate show the American people want their leaders to work together.
“There are serious challenges that our nation needs to continue confronting,” McConnell said. “Our marching orders from the American people are clear – we’re to have a robust discussion and seek common ground.”
— Christal Hayes
Warnock, Ossoff to be sworn in Wednesday, giving Democrats majority in Senate
Democrats will take control of the Senate on Wednesday after their two newest members, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are sworn in.
Warnock and Ossoff are set to be sworn in late Wednesday afternoon, according to a Senate source who was unauthorized to speak publicly about the plans. The two new Democrats will give a 50-50 split in the chamber. They’re set to be sworn in after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take their oaths of office as the new president and vice president, meaning Harris will officially be the president of the Senate and the tie-breaking vote allowing Democrats control of the chamber. Harris, who resigned from her Senate seat this week, is set to be replaced by Democrat Alex Padilla. He will also be sworn in on Wednesday, the source added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is set to take control of the chamber, said he was meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Tuesday about a power-sharing agreement because the chamber will be split down the middle. The last time the Senate saw a 50-50 split was in 2001, when George W. Bush was president. Then, Republicans and Democrats forged an agreement that, among other things, called for both parties to come to compromises on the Senate schedule and had an equal number of senators from each party on committees.
“I’m talking to McConnell later. We'll see what happens,” Schumer told reporters on the potential agreement. He added their conversation would also entail plans on President Donald Trump’s pending Senate impeachment trial.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday certified the results of the state's runoff Senate elections earlier this month, won by Ossoff and Warnock.
"[T]he Secretary of State affirms that the statewide consolidated returns for state and federal offices are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county," Raffensperger's office said in a statement.
The certification of the runoffs comes before the state's Friday deadline to do so.
Trump had publicly challenged Georgia's certification of its presidential election, won by Biden with a slim margin. Despite Trump's protests, multiple recounts showed Biden won by under 12,000 votes.
— Christal Hayes and Jeanine Santucci
Biden to release immigration plan with pathway to citizenship
On the same day he is inaugurated into office, President-elect Joe Biden will introduce immigration legislation that will include an eight-year pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million immigrants living in the United States without legal status, a Biden transition official confirmed Tuesday.
The legislation, first reported by the Washington Post, will also include expanding refugee admissions and an enforcement plan that includes deploying technology to patrol the border.
Under the legislation, immigrants without legal status living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, would be put in a temporary legal status for five years, with a green card being granted if they meet requirements like passing a background check and paying taxes, under the legislation. They then could apply for citizenship three years later.
Some undocumented immigrants will see a quicker process in the pathway to citizenship. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” in addition to agricultural workers and those in the temporary protected status program could qualify for green cards immediately.
Biden’s immigration plan comes after four years of a hardline approach to immigration from President Donald Trump, which led to several controversial policies, including trying to end the DACA program. The Supreme Court last June upheld the program.
In addition to introducing the legislation Wednesday, Biden will also issue executive actions related to immigration, including reversing Trump's travel ban for Muslim-majority countries.
— Rebecca Morin
Trump expected to issue more pardons - but the president isn't expected to be on the list
President Donald Trump and staff members are putting the final touches on a long list of pardons that will include friends and allies - but probably not himself, aides said.
The president had discussed the idea of preemptive pardons for himself and his family, aides said, but officials said family members do not need them and attorneys questioned the legality of a self-pardon.
Trump has already pardoned high-profile ex-aides like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, and this list is expected to include lesser-known names.
Rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded handgun aboard a chartered airplane, is expected to be on a pardon list that could approach 100 names, aides said.
The list will be released later Tuesday or early Wednesday; Trump's term expires on Wednesday.
Many of the pardons will go to friends and political supporters of the president.
Wayne, for example, tweeted out a photo of himself with Trump during last year's election in an apparent said said he supported the president's criminal justice policies and economic plans for African-Americans.
— David Jackson
Top Congressional Democrats, Republicans to join Biden for pre-inaugural church service
President-elect Joe Biden invited top congressional leaders to mass before his inauguration, a move designed to kick off his term with a display of bipartisanship.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., plan to accompany Biden to mass tomorrow at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, their offices said.
The invite and bipartisan attendance is aimed at transmitting a message of unity between political parties after the attack at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the intense divisions that have split Washington for years.
McConnell and McCarthy have been two of Trump’s top fighters in Congress, leading Republicans through the plethora of controversies and his impeachment last year. McConnell split fairly publicly with Trump after the attack at the Capitol earlier this month and has left open the possibility of convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial. The date of Trump’s second trial, which will happen after he’s left office, has not been scheduled.
— Christal Hayes and Nicholas Wu
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Live updates: Biden says goodbye to Delaware on eve of inauguration