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Democrats could swiftly create a commission to begin the process of removing Trump through the 25th Amendment, or take the unprecedented step of impeaching a sitting president for the second time in one term.

“While there’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America,” Pelosi said.

But she said the “best route” would be for Pence to initiate the action himself, which would involve the vice president and a majority of either the Cabinet, or another body “established by law” — which could include Congress.

Pelosi told reporters she hoped to hear from Pence Thursday on whether he was willing to act and if not, she was prepared to move quickly in the House. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to reach Pence by phone earlier Thursday but weren’t able to, Schumer said in a separate press conference in New York. Schumer, too, called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and said Congress should move to impeach if that did not happen.

“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said in a statement.

“The quickest and most effective way,” he said, would be to invoke the 25th Amendment. “If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” Schumer said.

The comments to call for Trump’s immediate removal with less than two weeks remaining on his term are remarkable for Pelosi — second in line to the presidency — who had long resisted impeachment before the House went ahead with the proceedings last fall.

The once-unthinkable push for a second impeachment vote had been steadily gaining ground across the House Democratic Caucus, with members incensed at Trump’s role in the deadly chaos on Wednesday that gripped Capitol Hill — and put the lives of themselves and their staff at danger, according to multiple lawmakers and aides.

Shortly before Pelosi’s press conference, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries also endorsed the move, in what many saw as a sign that the House could, indeed, take some kind of action next week.

“Donald Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office immediately,” Jeffries tweeted.

Across the Capitol, there has also been a very real discussion of Congress pressuring Pence and Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would install Pence as president for the final two weeks of Trump’s term.

At least one Republican lawmaker has endorsed that option, though many Democrats say it doesn’t go far enough as Pence would still need to agree.

“It’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said Thursday, becoming the first Republican to call for invoking it. “The president is unfit and the president is unwell.”

Privately, multiple Democratic members and aides insist that there is a larger group of Republicans beyond Kinzinger that support the move, and are in discussions about how to proceed.

The timeframe for any floor action is impossibly tight: There are just 13 days until President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath, and both chambers are slated to be on recess next week.

“A number of us are planning a full court press to demand we reconvene immediately,” one Democratic member said on the condition of anonymity to discuss private discussions. “A growing number of Republicans have privately indicated support for the removal of the president.”

Schumer became the highest-ranking Democrat on Thursday to endorse using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, along with Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. So far, a single House Republican — Kinzinger, who has been sounding the alarm about Trump’s dangerous and false rhetoric for weeks — has voiced support.

While Senate Republicans are escalating their condemnation of the president, no one so far is calling for Trump to be removed from office. When asked about the 25th Amendment late Wednesday evening, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who unlike Kinzinger voted to impeach Trump last year, said: “I think we’ve got to hold our breath for the next 20 days.”

But some GOP officials have begun discussing deploying the drastic option, according to multiple reports, while some Trump administration officials have already resigned in protest.

The responsibility for invoking the 25th Amendment falls on the vice president and Cabinet, but some lawmakers believe action in the House and Senate would drum up pressure on the rest of the administration.

Dozens of House Democrats have now publicly called for Trump’s removal, either through the 25th Amendment or another set of impeachment proceedings.

Democrats are currently circulating two different sets of impeachment articles, led by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), respectively. It’s unclear for now if either of those articles would be “privileged,” which would mean the House would be forced to move quickly to consider it on the floor.

Within the Judiciary Committee, there is a push by several members to return next week to take further action. Several potential options are being discussed, including someone introducing impeachment articles, a concerted push for the 25th Amendment or something else, according to multiple sources.

Several Judiciary members had discussed impeachment on their group text chat on Wednesday, in the same moments that members were evacuating from the House chamber as Trump supporters breached the Capitol building.

It’s uncertain if more Republican lawmakers will deliver additional public statements rebuking the president. A majority of the House GOP caucus still voted to back Trump’s doomed bid to overturn the election results Wednesday night after a day of mayhem in the Capitol.

Kinzinger, along with many Republicans, directly blamed Trump for inciting the violence that led to yesterday’s deadly riots at the Capitol and then refusing to denounce it forcefully. Meanwhile, all three major social media platforms — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — have suspended Trump’s accounts over his rhetoric.

Kinzinger, a 42-year-old Air Force veteran, has long pushed back on Trump’s foreign policy moves. But while most of the Republican Party was still paralyzed by Trump’s brazen attempts to overturn the election in the immediate aftermath of Nov. 3, Kinzinger was one of the few Republicans willing to stand up to the president.

Marianne LeVine, Kyle Cheney and Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.



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Pelosi to move forward with impeachment if Pence doesn’t act to remove Trump

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“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi said in the letter to Democrats on Sunday night laying out next steps.

The House will try to pass a measure on Monday imploring Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, through which he and the Cabinet declare Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the Vice President would immediately exercise powers as acting president.” If Republicans object, as is virtually certain, Democrats will pass the bill via a roll call vote on Tuesday.

“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”

But it’s not clear when exactly the Senate will take up the House’s measure. The Senate isn’t scheduled to return until Jan. 19, but will hold pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday. In theory, a senator could try to pass the House resolution by unanimous consent, but as of now it appears unlikely that it would pass.

On Monday, multiple House Democrats plan to introduce impeachment resolutions that would become the basis of any impeachment article considered by the House later this week.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will introduce an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, said on Sunday that roughly 200 Democrats have co-sponsored the measure.

Currently, 211 voting members (plus three nonvoting members) support Cicilline’s legislation, and they are hoping to reach 217 voting members by Monday morning, enough for the House to impeach Trump, one Democratic source familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

A small number of Democrats have opted not to co-sign the bill, but privately say they will vote to support the resolution on the floor, the source added.

The impeachment effort in the House is likely to be bipartisan, with Democrats expecting at least one GOP lawmaker — Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to sign on. A handful of other House Republicans are seriously weighing it, according to several sources, though those lawmakers are waiting to see how Democrats proceed, and some are concerned about dividing the country even further.

Among the GOP members whom Democrats are keeping an eye on are Reps. John Katko of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.

Across the Capitol, at least two Republicans — Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have called on Trump to resign. On Saturday, Toomey told Fox News, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” but told CNN the next day that he does not believe there is enough time to impeach.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has also said he would consider articles of impeachment.

Another option has emerged among some Republican and moderate Democratic circles — censuring Trump — though it remains highly unlikely to advance.

A censure resolution would gain far more support in the GOP than impeachment. Some Republicans have privately been pushing for that route and are trying to get Biden on board, according to GOP sources. That group of Republicans is also warning that impeachment could destroy Biden’s reputation with Republicans.

But censure is considered a nonstarter in an incensed House Democratic Caucus, where members see it as a slap on the wrist that gives Republicans an easy out.

The Democrats’ enormous step toward impeachment on Sunday comes after Pelosi and other top Democrats held a private call on Saturday night in which they discussed the potential ramifications that a lengthy impeachment trial could have on Biden’s presidency.

Democratic leaders discussed several options to limit the political effects on Biden’s first 100 days, with one option — floated by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — for the House to delay the start of an impeachment trial in the Senate by holding on to the article of impeachment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sent out a memo to senators explaining that the Senate could not take up impeachment until Jan. 19 at the earliest, absent unanimous consent.

A final decision has not been made, and House Democrats will discuss the matter on a 2 p.m. caucus call on Monday.

Lawmakers are already privately expressing concerns about returning to the Capitol for multiple days this week, worried about both a potential coronavirus outbreak and whether the building is secure, given how easily an armed pro-Trump mob invaded on Wednesday.

The Capitol physician urged House lawmakers and staff to get tested in a memo Sunday, saying they might have been exposed to someone who had the virus while huddling for safety in a large committee room for hours on Wednesday. During the hourslong lockdown, several Republican members refused to wear masks despite being offered them by Democrats worried about the spread of the deadly virus.

Melanie Zanona, Olivia Beavers and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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Matt Hancock Scraps “Unnecessary Training Modules” Blamed For Slowing Vaccine Rollout

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Matt Hancock has agreed to remove some of the training modules required for volunteers to sign up to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine (PA)


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Matt Hancock said people will no longer need to undertake training including an anti-terrorism course to give the coronavirus jab after MPs said “bureaucratic rubbish” was delaying mass vaccination.

It comes as MPs called for the government to produce targets for the number of people given immunity before lockdown can be lifted.

The health secretary said a series of “unnecessary training modules” are being scrapped to speed up the process of getting people qualified to deliver the jab.

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said he was shown by his fellow the Tory MP, a qualified GP, the “ridiculous form” he had filled out to start delivering the vaccine.

“When he’s inoculating an old lady, he’s not going to ask her if she’s come into contact with Jihadis or whatever, so the Secretary has got to cut through all this bureaucratic rubbish,” he said.

In response Mr Hancock said: “I am a man after Sir Edward’s heart and I can tell the House that we have removed a series of the unnecessary training modules that had been put in place, including fire safety, terrorism and others.

“I’ll write to him with the full panoply of the training that is not required and we have been able to remove, and we made this change as of this morning and I am glad to say it is enforced.

“I am a fan of busting bureaucracy and in this case I agree with him that it is not necessary to undertake anti-terrorism training in order to inject vaccines.”

Dr Fox had earlier challenged Boris Johnson to drop the “bureaucracy” and “political correctness” of the forms vaccine volunteers must fill out.

He told MPs: “As a qualified but non-practising doctor, I volunteered to help with the scheme and would urge others to do the same. 

“But, can I ask the Prime Minister why I’ve been required to complete courses on conflict resolution, equality, diversity and human rights, moving and handling loads and preventing radicalisation in order to give a simple Covid jab?”

Mr Johnson said he had been “assured by the Health Secretary that all such obstacles, all such pointless pettifoggery has been removed”.

The government has been attempting to recruit thousands of volunteers to help with a mass vaccination programme, and with the recent approval of the more easily deliverable Oxford/AstraZeneca version has today revealed the location of seven mass vaccination centres set to open next week.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists at a briefing they would be at Robertson House in Stevenage, the ExCel Centre in London, the Centre for Life in Newcastle, the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester, Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol and Millennium Point in Birmingham, and it is expected they will be run with a combination of NHS staff and volunteers.

But so far the government has not said how many people need to be inoculated before it has an impact on the coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Hancock was asked by a number of MPs if the measures could be eased once the top few tiers in the vaccine priority list had been clear.

Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper said once the top four groups, which includes care home residents and staff, frontline NHS workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and everyone over 70 “we’ve taken care therefore of 80% of the risk of death”.

Adding: “What possible reason is there at that point for not rapidly relaxing the restrictions that are in place on the rest of our country?”

The health secretary replied: “We have to see the impact of that vaccination on the reduction in the number of deaths, which I very much hope that we will see at that point, and so that is why we will take this – an evidence-led move down through the tiers, when we’ve broken the link, I hope, between cases and hospitalisations and deaths.”

The ex-Tory minister and another doctor, Andrew Murrison, said: “The logic of anticipating what is going to happen in two or three or four weeks’ time from the number of cases we are getting at the moment is that we can do the same in reverse.

“That is to say, when we have a sufficient number of people vaccinated up we can anticipate in two or three or four weeks’ time how many deaths have been avoided. 

“That means, since it cuts both ways he will be able to make a decision on when we should end these restrictions.”

Mr Hancock replied: “The logic of the case that Dr Murrison makes is the right logic and we want to see that happen in empirical evidence on the ground.

“This hope for the weeks ahead doesn’t take away, though, from the serious and immediate threat posed now.”

The Cabinet minister said the challenge for the government is to increase the amount of doses available, claiming “the current rate-limiting factor on the vaccine rollout is the supply of approved, tested, safe vaccine”.

He added: ”We are working with both AstraZeneca and Pfizer to increase that supply as fast as possible and they’re doing a brilliant job.”

But Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to ramp up its vaccination programme to six million doses a week.

He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has promised almost 14 million will be offered the vaccine by mid-Feb. That depends on around two million doses a week on average.

“Both [Mr Hancock] and the Prime Minister have reassured us in recent days that it’s doable based on orders.

“But in the past ministers have told us that they had agreements for 30 million AstraZeneca doses by September 2020 and 10 million of Pfizer doses by the end of 2020.

“So, I think people just want to understand the figures and want clarity. Can ministers tell us how many of the ordered doses have been manufactured?”

Mr Ashworth added: “Two million a week would be fantastic but it should be the limit of our ambitions, we should be aiming to scale up to three, then five, then six million jabs a week over the coming months.”

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How South African police are tackling pangolin smugglers

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Quiet, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has few natural enemies, but researchers believe it is the most trafficked mammal in the world. The tough scales covering its body are sought after for use in Chinese medicine, in the erroneous belief that they have healing properties.

The animal has also been of interest to researchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Related viruses have been found in trafficked pangolins, though there is continued uncertainty around early theories that pangolins were involved in the transmission of the virus from animals to humans.

After South African police seized a pangolin from suspected smugglers, BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding witnessed how vets tried to save the animal’s life.

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