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Deal reached to avoid witnesses

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Deal reached to avoid witnesses

The Senate and lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Saturday reached a deal to avoid witness depositions in his impeachment trial — averting a potentially weeks-long drama sparked by an 11th-hour request by Democrats to depose a Republican congresswoman.

The deal allowed for a statement by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) to be read into the record without the congresswoman or anyone else being deposed as a formal witness.

The compromise allows for the trial potentially to end on Saturday as was initially expected. Trump is expected to be acquitted of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in a mostly party-line vote.

Impeachment managers led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) surprised senators on Saturday morning by saying that they wanted to depose and subpoena notes written by Herrera Beutler regarding Trump’s remarks during the riot.

Herrera Beutler said overnight that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told her that he pleaded with Trump during the riot to call his supporters off, but that Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

Herrera Beutler — one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump — said in a press release that she was not a direct witness to Trump’s remarks to McCarthy, but that the GOP leader “relayed to me” what Trump said.

Both Democratic and Republican Senate leaders agreed to the compromise of reading her statement into the record.

A fight over witnesses threatened to be a brutal political slog, diverting Washington’s attention for weeks if not months.

“We could conceivably go well into March, just on debating who could be called,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) told reporters. “Under the agreements that we have, both sides have the right to ask for and debate witnesses one at a time. And each one of those is amendable with two hours of debate on each one.”

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Barasso slams Biden for pushing through $1.9T ‘liberal wish list’

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Barasso slams Biden for pushing through $1.9T 'liberal wish list'

​GOP Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday hit President Biden for ​pushing his $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package through Congress despite pledging to work with Republicans — calling the bill a “liberal wish list”

The relief bill passed the Senate on Saturday and the House last week without one Republican vote.

“Ten Republicans went to the White House and said, ​’​Al​l ​right, let’s work together.​’​ Instead, the White House chief of staff said this is the most progressive, the most progressive piece of domestic legislation in a generation​,” Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” referring to Ron Klain.

“​This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school or the disease behind us. That’s where it should have been focused.​”​

Instead of enlisting Republican support for a bipartisan bill, he said the president and Democrats passed “a liberal wish list of liberal spending just basically.”​

Even though the Biden package had strong support from the American public, Barrasso predicted that will soon diminish.​​

“When people find out what’s in this bill, they’re going to lose a lot of any enthusiasm they may have for it right now,” he said.

“Because this was not really about coronavirus in terms of the spending. This was a liberal wish list of liberal spending just basically filled with pork. It didn’t need to be this way​.”

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‘Full faith’ in AG Cuomo probe, mum on resignation

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'Full faith' in AG Cuomo probe, mum on resignation

US Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday said he has “full faith” in the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual-harassment allegations against embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo — although he refused to say whether the governor should resign.

Schumer’s comments came after two more Cuomo accusers stepped forward Saturday.

“The allegations of each of the women have to be taken seriously,” the Senate majority leader (D-NY) said of the now five women accusing Cuomo of harassment.

“They’re deeply troubling,” Schumer said of the accusations. “Women have to be listened to. I’ve long believed this, I’ve said this for a very long time, that sexual harassment is never acceptable, can never be tolerated.”

New York state Attorney General Letitia James said last week she was launching an independent probe into the allegations surrounding the governor.

“The investigation of these women’s allegations – as I said, they’re serious – they’re being investigated in the very capable hands of the New York State attorney general,” Schumer said during an announcement of how New York will benefit from the COVID relief-bill funds.

“I called for that type of independent investigation, and she is doing it. I have a lot of faith in her. I believe that she will turn over every stone, and I believe that she will make sure there is no outside interference – political or otherwise.”

But he wouldn’t say whether Cuomo should resign.

“I have full faith in the attorney general’s investigation,” Schumer would only say.

In the latest round of accusations, Karen Hinton, a former gubernatorial press aide, told the Washington Post that she struggled to free herself from the governor’s constant hugging in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000.

And Ana Liss, who worked for the governor from 2013 to 2015, said Cuomo’s behavior left her feeling like “just a skirt,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Liss and Hinton bring the number of Cuomo accusers to five, joining Charlotte Bennett, 25, Lindsey Boylan, 36, and Anna Ruch, 33.

The governor’s office denied Hinton’s claim, saying it “did not happen.”

Liss’s claims that he kissed her hand and touched her lower back are just a reflection of the usual behavior at public receptions, Cuomo’s camp added.

“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” said Rich Azzopardi.

The growing scandal has prompted calls for Cuomo to step down.

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White House COVID official admits vaccine inequality is ‘unacceptable’

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White House COVID official admits vaccine inequality is 'unacceptable'

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients admitted Sunday that it was “unacceptable” that people of color have received the vaccine at lower rates around the country.

“That is unacceptable. Communities of color have been hit disproportionally hard by this disease, suffering death rates twice the average,” Zients told NBC anchor Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” when confronted with showing the disparity in Washington, DC.

“So it’s really, really important that when we come to vaccine distribution that we do it in a fair and equitable way, the situation that you’re describing is not fair and equitable.”

Zients said that federal programs have been established to ensure that vaccines are more easily accessible in these communities in the future.

“We need to bring vaccines to people where they are, which is why community health centers are so important they serve over 30 million Americans,” he said. “Two-thirds of those that use community health centers live below the poverty line, 60 percent come from communities of color. That’s why the president established a program to send vaccines directly to community health centers.”

He said that the feds are also using mobile units to “reach people where they are” and designed the pharmacy program to focus on giving the shots to “disadvantaged” areas — but said states had to be “accountable.”

“We are holding states and governors accountable for fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine.”

Zients said the US is currently averaging about 2.2 million shots administered per day.

He added that the US being on track to have enough COVID-19 shots for every adult American this spring is “really big progress” from when President Biden entered office.

“It’s really big progress to have enough vaccine supply for all adult Americans by the end of May,” Zients said.

“When we walked into office, six, seven weeks ago, there was not enough supply and it was pushed much further out.”

Zients credited the Biden administration for invoking the Defense Production Act to enable drugmaker Merck to ramp up its facilities in order to help rival Johnson & Johnson with vaccination production.

“Thee actions by the president, including using the Defense Production Act and bringing Merck and Johnson together into a historic partnership, have accelerated our ability to have enough vaccine by the end of May for all adult Americans,” Zients said. “That’s progress and that is really important.”

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