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Today’s Headlines: GOP is split on impeachment trial

Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks during a confirmation hearing for President Biden’s nominee for national intelligence director, Avril Haines, in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in Washington.
(Joe Raedle / Associated Press)

Republican senators appear to be divided as the House prepares to deliver an article of impeachment against former President Trump.

TOP STORIES

GOP Is Split on Impeachment Trial

House Democrats are expected to deliver a single article of impeachment against former President Trump to the Senate about 4 p.m. Pacific time today, and senators will be sworn in Tuesday for a trial. But by mutual agreement of Senate leadership, the trial won’t start until the second week of February.

That gives President Biden a short respite to attend to the most pressing legislative business as the U.S. faces a deepening COVID-19 pandemic crisis — and gives Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, time to muster a legal defense.

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Republicans are expressing sharply divided views over whether there should be a trial at all. Sen. Marco Rubio did not defend Trump’s conduct but said a Senate trial would be “stupid” and too divisive, while Sen. Mitt Romney, the only GOP senator to vote for conviction in Trump’s first impeachment trial, said “truth and justice” demanded that the chamber pass judgment.

Other Republicans have tried to advance the argument that a trial would be pointless now that Trump is out of office. But Democrats have countered that convicting Trump would hold him accountable for his actions and could be a prelude to barring him from again seeking public office.

Meanwhile, more reports of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election have emerged. Top Democrats have vowed to investigate “troubling questions” about the involvement of officials at the Department of Justice in those efforts.

More Politics

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— Vice President Kamala Harris doesn’t want to spend a lot of time in the Senate, but her tie-breaker role will undoubtedly pull her back.

— The Senate confirmed Lloyd J. Austin III as Defense secretary on Friday, putting the first Black American in charge of the Pentagon by a nearly unanimous vote of 93 to 2.

— Many say San Diego Unified Supt. Cindy Marten’s nomination as U.S. deputy secretary of Education in the Biden administration is deserved, but some note the district’s achievement gaps and still-closed schools.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

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Daunting Days Ahead

Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to be the nation’s top health official, likened the U.S. spread of COVID-19 to a “plane in a nose dive” as the new administration vowed to rapidly ramp up vaccinations against a virus that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, nearly one-tenth of them in California.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, said the push to inoculate as many people as possible was a race against emerging new variants of the virus because existing vaccines may at some point lose some of their effectiveness against mutations.

Fauci said that although such modified vaccines aren’t necessary at this juncture, “the best way to prevent the further evolution of these mutants is to vaccinate as many people as possible.”

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Today, Biden will formally reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders, according to two White House officials.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected today to lift regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders across California, a change that could allow restaurants and gyms in many counties to reopen outdoor dining and services. It’s far from clear whether the decision will lead to easing of stay-at-home rules in Los Angeles County, a national pandemic epicenter.

— The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health caused very few cases of severe allergic reactions during the first three weeks of its administration across the country, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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— In a stab at equity, Keck Hospital of USC vaccinated the older relatives of hospital housekeepers, cafeteria and warehouse workers.

— There is, officially speaking, no such thing as a standby line for COVID-19 vaccinations in Los Angeles County. But some “vaccine chasers” wait for hours hoping to catch a lucky break.

A Push for Safety Measures Stalls

The helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people on a foggy morning nearly a year ago on a hillside in Calabasas placed a new and urgent focus on what many had long considered significant flaws in federal aviation regulation.

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Large turbine helicopters, such as the one that the NBA legend was flying in, are not required to have a terrain awareness warning system to alert a pilot if they were about to fly into rising topography. Nor must they have flight data or cockpit voice recorders.

There were immediate calls to close the loopholes and require those systems. But as the public focus shifted away to the COVID-19 crisis and other issues, and amid industry opposition, the reform effort stalled.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— Leaders of a campaign to recall Newsom allied with radical and extreme elements early on to help collect signatures. Those included groups promoting distrust of government, science and medicine; peddlers of QAnon doomsday conspiracies; “patriots” readying for battle and one organization allied with the far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys.

— Inside CBS’ fraught investigation into allegations of racism and misogyny. Plus, the unusual CBS TV station deal that scored one executive a $1-million golf membership.

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— In July, So Cal indie label Burger Records shut down after female fans and musicians accused some of its bands of sexual misconduct. These are the women’s stories.

— “I tried to start a pandemic pod for my 5-year-old. Here’s how it went wrong.”

— The final hours of Kobe Bryant’s life: an oral history.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Reduce, reuse, recycle. That was the idea behind the Kar Press, a mobile car-crushing machine.

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“The first stage in a recycling process that converts wrecked American-made autos into shiny new imported cars is taking place in south-eastern Los Angeles County,” an article in the Jan. 26, 1972, Los Angeles Times explained.

“On a sweep through wrecking yards in the area, a San Diego firm is buying up old cars and crushing them on the spot into 15-inch-high metal packages before shredding them and shipping them to Japan.

“They come back in the form of new Datsuns and Suzukis.”

Jan. 25, 1972: Automobile being crushed in the Kar Press at a wrecking-recycling yard in Lynwood.
(Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times)
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CALIFORNIA

— After a dry start to winter, a series of storms is rolling through the state. Strong winds are expected today in Southern California.

— A state law banning the sale of flavored tobacco products was placed on hold after officials said a referendum by the tobacco industry qualified for the November 2022 ballot.

— The city of Long Beach cut off gas service to a restaurant that refused to stop serving patio diners in defiance of pandemic safety regulations.

— A woman who was declared missing while hiking in Yosemite National Park was found dead the same day, but there was no public update from the National Park Service for nearly a week.

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NATION-WORLD

— For members of a migrant caravan, Biden’s immigration plan means little right now.

— A 34-year-old Texas man has been arrested on suspicion of taking part in the storming of the U.S. Capitol and posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Police departments nationwide are reviewing the behavior of dozens of officers who were in Washington the day of the riot by Trump supporters.

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— Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he has tested positive for the coronavirus and has mild symptoms of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the country’s vaccination plan has taken a hit.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Talk show host Larry King, who died at 87, loved “dumb” questions. With them, he helped write cultural history.

— Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the last survivors of Hollywood’s anti-communist blacklist, has died at 101.

— The Sundance Film Festival had to be totally reimagined. New festival director Tabitha Jackson met the challenge.

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Disneyland has done away with its annual pass program. Here are some ideas for how to bring it back better than it was before.

BUSINESS

— California’s unemployment rate surged in December as the COVID-19 pandemic spun out of control and more businesses were forced to shut down, reversing a months-long economic recovery.

— Tech companies such as Facebook are making issues of speech “someone else’s problem.”

SPORTS

Tom Brady is going to the Super Bowl yet again with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’ll face the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes.

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— The Clippers are tied for the NBA’s best record. Kawhi Leonard had 34 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and zero turnovers in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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OPINION

— Biden’s battle for the soul of America has begun, The Times’ editorial board writes. A good place to start would be to respond to the public’s deep need for a sense of connection, of purpose, of meaning in their lives.

— Some political villains develop ethical compasses. Will Senate Republicans? asks Howell Raines, a former executive editor of the New York Times.

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WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Despite being from the earliest days of the Cold War, B-52 bombers are being outfitted with electronics to prepare for the wars of the future. (Wall Street Journal)

— Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator under Trump, said she had no full-time team in the White House working on the response to COVID-19. (CBS News)

ONLY IN L.A.

Malibu may be known for its surfing, but on Saturday it received a rare dusting of what appeared to be snow — although it was actually small-pellet hail, according to the National Weather Service. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough for skiing, but it did make for some overenthusiastic frolicking. The California Highway Patrol said it had received a report of multiple drivers stopping and parking near the Malibu Canyon Tunnel. “They were playing in the snow,” said Officer Stephan Brandt, who advised such roadside activities were dangerous and unwise.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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