Sarah Toce

Steve Mnuchin on stimulus checks: 'May arrive as early as tonight'

Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the status of stimulus checks and, get this: they could be delivered electronically as early as tonight.

"Today, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will begin delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans as part of the implementation of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021," the statement began. "The initial direct deposit payments may begin arriving as early as tonight for some and will continue into next week."

The statement continued, "Paper checks will begin to be mailed tomorrow, Wednesday, December 30. This second round of payments will provide critical economic support to those who, through no fault of their own, have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Treasury and the IRS are working with unprecedented speed to issue a second round of Economic Impact Payments to eligible Americans and their families," Mnuchin said. "These payments are an integral part of our commitment to providing vital additional economic relief to the American people during this unprecedented time."

According to the statement, eligible individuals will receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child. Generally, if you have adjusted gross income for 2019 up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, you will receive the full amount of the second payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris gets vaccinated: 'I trust the scientists'

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, received his vaccination on the same day.

"That was easy! Thank you. I just barely felt it. I barely felt it," Harris said after receiving the vaccine.

"I look forward to getting the second vaccine. Literally this is about saving lives," she said. "I trust the scientists, and it is the scientists who created and approved the vaccine. So I urge everyone when it is your turn, get vaccinated. It's about saving your life, the life of your family members and the life of your community."

Harris followed President-elect Joe Biden in becoming vaccinated on live TV on Dec. 21. His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, received her first dose that day, too.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife received their vaccinations on Dec. 18.

President Trump and his wife Melania have not yet received their vaccinations.

"From a scientific point of view, I will remind people that the president has had COVID within the last 90 days," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Face the Nation. "He received monoclonal antibodies and that is actually one scenario where we tell people, 'Maybe you should hold off on getting the vaccine, talk to your health provider to find out the right time.' Politics aside, there is a medical reason."

Harris' vaccination comes at a critical time in the pandemic timeline. It's been proven that Black Americans are more likely to be at risk of contracting and dying from the virus.

Watch the video below.

Biden: Trump's mishandling of transition is 'nothing short' of 'irresponsibility'

President-elect Joe Biden made it clear Monday that his incoming administration will be operating from a disadvantage on day one if the Trump administration didn't start cooperating immediately.

"From some agencies, our team received exemplary cooperation … from others, most notable, the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department," Biden said in remarks delivered after a briefing with his national security and foreign policy advisers.

"Right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the hand-off between administrations," Biden said. "My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies."

He then added, "We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch up that our adversaries may try to exploit."

Biden then called out the current administration for their "irresponsibility" in protecting the nation.

"Right now, we just aren't getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas," he said. "It's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility. Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that the Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office, starting with our diplomacy."

Watch the video below.

Biden to invoke Defense Protection Act to vaccinate Americans after Trump team fails to meet goal

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to invoke the Defense Production Act to ensure that Americans are protected against COVID-19 at the earliest date possible.

The wartime measure will boost the pandemic timeline to ensure "adequate supply" of "personal protective equipment, the test capacity and the raw materials for the vaccines," Biden adviser Dr. Celine Gounder told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday. According to the report, the Defense Protection Act "could help U.S. secure components and specialized products that manufacturers need to produce the vaccines."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that fewer than 2 million people have received the vaccine as of Saturday.

"That's far below the administration's previously stated goal of vaccinating 20 million people before the end of the month, though Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health, has said there are delays between the states and the CDC data," CNBC reported.

Gounder added that under the Biden administration, the U.S. will see "a major increase" in testing to track mild and asymptomatic cases of the virus, as well as in genomic surveillance, which tracks mutations of the virus to pick up on new variants.

"We did not do that routinely," Gounder said, referring to genomic surveillance under the Trump administration. "We have the technology. We just chose not to spend the money on that kind of public health surveillance."

Trump's coronavirus vaccine czar, Moncef Slaoui, said during a press briefing on Wednesday that their original goal of 20 million vaccinations was "unlikely to be met" by the end of 2020.

Trump suffers bipartisan rebuke as the House votes by large margin to override his veto

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted 322-87 on Monday to override President Trump's veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). If approved by two-thirds of the Senate, the override would be the first of Trump's presidency in an increasingly split Congress with just three weeks until President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Prior to Trump's denouncement and veto of the critical defense bill, it had been passed by Congress every year since 1967. He said he would veto the bill "if lawmakers did not repeal liability protections for social media companies outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act," Axios reported Monday.

The 74-year-old president also opposed legislation in the defense bill that proposed renaming 10 military installations currently named after Confederate leaders.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said Monday, "It is enormously important we pass this bill. We did it once. Let's just do it one more time and then we can all go home for the year."

During his remarks, Smith referred to the Armed Services Committee as "the most bipartisan committee in Congress."

He continued, "That's not an easy thing to achieve. We have a lot of things we passionately disagree about in this body, and we should. But on the armed services bill, we manage to come together. It's not always easy, but we get it done. I think it is enormously important we let the country know that that process hasn't died."

A Senate vote is expected to occur this week on the bill.

Military on 'red alert' that Trump may invoke martial law to stay in power: report

A series of pardons, post-election protests claiming voter fraud that has never been proven, and one man's probable mental illness at the head of the nation are adding up to a "red alert" in what has normally been a quiet time of the year for many: the holidays. But not this year.

"Pentagon and Washington-area military leaders are on red alert, wary of what President Donald Trump might do in his remaining days in office," Newsweek reported on Thursday.

One officer who spoke with Newsweek on the condition of anonymity said the inaugural and transitional planning is being kept out of sight of the White House and Trump loyalists in the Pentagon for fear that it would be shut down.

"I've been associated with the military for over 40 years and I've never seen the discussions that are being had right now, the need for such discussions," said the retired flag officer, who is currently a defense contractor. He was granted anonymity in order to speak without fear of reprisal.

"Right now, because of coronavirus," one retired judge advocate general said, "the president actually has unprecedented emergency powers, ones that might convince him—particularly if he listens to certain of his supporters—that he has unlimited powers and is above the law."

He continued, "But martial law is the wrong paradigm to think about the dangers ahead."

"There is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election," Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff General James McConville said in a joint statement last Friday.

"At this point there's no telling what the president might do in the next month," a former Northern Command (NORTHCOM) commander told Newsweek. "Though I'm confident that the uniformed military leadership has their heads screwed on right, the craziness is unprecedented and the possibilities are endless."

The retired flag officer also requested anonymity because he is actively advising senior officers and is not authorized to speak on the record.

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, President Trump's first national security advisor and a recently pardoned felon, publicly broached the subject of martial law on the conservative channel Newsmax last week, saying that the president should use the military to seize voting boxes and "rerun" the election in certain states.

"He could take military capabilities and he could … basically rerun an election," Flynn said. "The president has to plan for every eventuality because we cannot allow this election and the integrity of our election to go the way it is."

Flynn's statement has been condemned by numerous retired officers who referred to Flynn as a "disgrace to his uniform."

Trump has so far denied the martial law suggestion publicly.

Trump breaks with the GOP and vetoes $740 billion defense bill

President Donald J. Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Wednesday in a move that defied Congress. The bill had previously been passed by Congress every year since 1967.

The $740 billion defense spending bill had been passed by the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, which could set up a potential fight to override the outgoing president's veto power.

"The Act fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision," Trump said in a message to the House Wednesday.

He continued, "My Administration recognizes the importance of the Act to our national security. Unfortunately, the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military's history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions."

He then said it was a "gift to China and Russia."

Pence tells Trump supporters to 'stay in the fight' — raising alarms

Alarm bells rang Tuesday when Pence continued the Trump team's false election fraud rhetoric – even after no evidence was obtained through various investigations. "Stay in the fight," he urged.

It is federal law that Congress must meet Jan. 6 to open the sealed certificates from each state containing a record of their electoral votes. At that time, bipartisan representatives from both chambers read the results out loud and conduct an official count.

The president of the Senate, in this case Vice President Mike Pence, then presides over the session and declares the winner from the official tally.

This is how it's historically happened, but what if Pence makes the decision not to announce the winner as President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris? Then it gets dicey.

"The role of the vice president as presiding officer is often an awkward one, as it will be for Pence, who will be charged with announcing Biden's victory — and his own defeat — once the electoral votes are counted. It will be especially tense for the former Indiana congressman as his boss, Trump, has refused to concede," the Associated Press reported in their explainer piece.

"I think there comes a time when you have to realize that, despite your best efforts you've been unsuccessful," Texas Sen. John Cornyn told reporters, saying he hopes anyone entertaining the idea of an objection would realize that it "would be futile and it's unnecessary."

Watch the video below to see Pence's remarks from a news conference on Tuesday.

Trump’s personal bankers abruptly resign from Deutsche Bank

President Donald J. Trump's personal bankers, Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi, have resigned from Deutsche Bank. The financial institution has loaned the Trump Organization more than $300 million over the years.

"Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi have tendered their resignations to Deutsche Bank effective as of year-end, which was accepted by the bank," Daniel Hunter, a spokesman for the bank said in a statement.

CNN Business reported Monday that Vrablic and Scalzi have worked closely together for years since joining Deutsche Bank 10 years ago. Vrablic was a trusted contact to the Trump Organization and Kushner and assumed the bank's lending relationship with Trump in the private side of the bank after the commercial lending division stopped doing business with Trump.

"I've chosen to resign my position with the bank effective December 31 and am looking forward to my retirement," Vrablic said in a statement.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office and New York Attorney General have both subpoenaed Deutsche Bank about its lending relationship with the Trump Organization.

'We are sorry': Kansas City newspaper apologizes to the Black community for decades of racist reporting

In the first installment of a six-part series, The Kansas City Star apologized for what the newspaper called decades of "robb(ing) an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice, and recognition."

The article, "The truth in Black and white: An apology from The Kansas City Star," described an unabashed look at how publishers and writers "disenfranchised, ignored and scorned generations of Black Kansas Citians" for the last 140 years.

"It reinforced Jim Crow laws and redlining," Mike Fannin, president and editor of The Star, wrote on Sunday. "Decade after early decade it robbed an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice and recognition."

Fannin continued, "Reporters were frequently sickened by what they found — decades of coverage that depicted Black Kansas Citians as criminals living in a crime-laden world. They felt shame at what was missing: the achievements, aspirations and milestones of an entire population routinely overlooked, as if Black people were invisible."

"Before I say more, I feel it to be my moral obligation to express what is in the hearts and minds of the leadership and staff of an organization that is nearly as old as the city it loves and covers:

We are sorry."

The Star now says it is encouraging other Kansas City businesses to examine their own histories. Management has formed The Kansas City Star Advisory Board to help guide coverage in the future.

"A positive step by the [Kansas City Star] with more needed," wrote Mayor Quinton Lucas on Twitter, in response to the apology by the newspaper. "Now I hope my friends in the local TV news business do the same."

Earlier this year, The Los Angeles Times also issued a similar investigation and subsequent apology to its readers.


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