⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 4.

What happened today? Trump’s legal team concluded its defense, accusing House impeachment managers of “political vengeance” and calling Trump’s second impeachment trial “a politically motivated witch hunt.” Trump’s team spent two hours and 32 minutes of the 16 hours allotted to present a defense, calling Democrats’ allegations that Trump incited the Capitol riot “patently absurd” and that his calls for supporters to “fight” on his behalf “ordinary political rhetoric” that fell short of the legal standard for incitement. “No thinking person could seriously believe that the president’s January 6 speech on the Ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection,” Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s attorneys, said. Trump’s defense then showed a selectively edited video of Democrats using the words “fight” or “fighting” in political speeches. Trump’s other lawyer, Bruce Castor, echoed complaints of “cancel culture,” saying “Let us be clear: This trial is about far more than President Trump. It is about silence and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints.” And, finally, Trump lawyer David Schoen complained about “the hatred, the vitriol, the political opportunism that has brought us here today.” He blamed Trump’s impeachment on “hatred, animosity, division, political gain – and let’s face it, for House Democrats, President Trump is the best enemy to attack.”

What’s next? The Senate completed a question-and-answer session, and a vote on whether to convict or acquit could come as early as Saturday.

1/ The CDC released updated guidance to help schools safely bring students back into classrooms during the pandemic. The agency now recommends a combination of in-person and remote learning, proper use of masks, social distancing of six feet, strict cleaning and maintenance of classrooms, and rapid contact tracing. The guidance doesn’t mandate school reopenings, but calls it “critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged states to prioritize teachers for vaccination, saying it would serve as an “additional layer of protection,” but that schools need to keep up safety practices “for the foreseeable future.” (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~108,070,000; deaths: ~2,379,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,478,000; deaths: ~481,000; vaccinated: ~10.9% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The FDA agreed to allow Moderna to put as many as 14 doses in each vial of the company’s coronavirus vaccine — up from the current 10. Moderna currently supplies about half of the nation’s vaccine stock and a 14-dose vial could increase the vaccine supply by as much as 20%. (New York Times / Politico)

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration reportedly covered up the scope of the coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes out of fear it could be used against them by the Trump administration. (New York Times / ABC News)

2/ Trump was sicker with Covid-19 than publicly acknowledged and officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator. When he was hospitalized with the coronavirus in October, Trump’s blood oxygen levels dropped into the 80s. Covid-19 is considered severe when blood oxygen levels fall to the low 90s. Trump received the Regeneron antibody cocktail before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which was not widely available at the time. Once at the hospital, Trump received the dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for Covid-19 patients with severe or critical forms of the disease, who often need mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen. Trump also received a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, repeatedly downplayed concerns at the time, saying he wanted “to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had,” and that he “didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.” (New York Times / CNN)

3/ The 2020 census data needed for legislative districts won’t be ready until Sept. 30 – six months after the March 31 deadline. The delay, first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the Trump administration’s interference, threatens to upend the 2022 elections as states face tighter redistricting deadlines for Congress, as well as state and local offices. (New York Times / NPR)

4/ The Biden administration will phase in a new asylum process on Feb. 19 for tens of thousands of people seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border who have been forced to wait in Mexico under a Trump-era policy. The Department of Homeland Security plans to process about 300 people per day from among an estimated 25,000 people with “active cases” in the now-defunct “Remain in Mexico” program. (Associated Press / NPR)

5/ Biden’s deputy White House press secretary was suspended for one week without pay after verbally harassing and threatening a female reporter. T.J. Ducklo was put on leave following a Vanity Fair story reporting that Ducklo had made derogatory and misogynistic comments to a Politico reporter, including tell her “I will destroy you,” after learning that Politico was planning to publish an article about his relationship with a reporter at Axios. (NBC News / CNBC)