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Biden's first 100 days: January to March, China hand to lead East Asia policy

US 'watching' Chinese pressure on global brands

U.S. military advisers from the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade walk at an Afghan National Army base in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan, in August 2018.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK -- U.S. President Joe Biden has taken his first military action by ordering a strike targeting Iran-backed militias in Syria.

For more on the start of the Biden era -- and the Asian angle -- read our in-depth coverage:

Biden's first 100 days win praise but experts wary of China divide

Biden puts Japan at the center of US policy in Asia

Key US lawmaker calls for more 'clarity' on Taiwan policy

Here are the latest developments during Biden's first 100 days in office:


Friday, March 26

5:00 p.m. Biden picks veteran diplomat and China expert Daniel Kritenbrink to be assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. A career member of the senior foreign service, Kritenbrink has been U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam since 2017.  

In February, the ambassador gained social media fame by recording a rap video as a Lunar New Year message to the people of Vietnam. 

During his multiple tours of China, he served as political officer, political minister counselor and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. From there, he went on to be the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.

Earlier, he was a political-military officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and speaks fluent Chinese and Japanese.

4:32 p.m. Biden will invite counterparts Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China to an international climate summit to be held in Washington despite his administration's strained ties with both their countries, The Associated Press reports, citing administration officials.

3:07 p.m. The White House says it is closely watching for human rights abuses in China, including the use of forced labor.

The remarks come as several companies, such as Nike and H&M, face a boycott in China for speaking out against the alleged use of forced labor to grow cotton in Xinjiang, the region home to the Uyghur Muslim minority.

"The international community, in our view, should oppose China's weaponizing of private companies' dependence on its markets to stifle free expression and inhibit ethical business practices," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki says.

"It is something we are watching closely," she says. "I would expect that [the departments of] State and Commerce will have more to say on this later today."

Thursday, March 25

6:33 p.m. Biden calls for greater investment in the U.S. tech sector in his first formal news conference since his inauguration.

"The future lies [with] who can own the future, as it relates to technology, quantum computing, a whole range of things, including the medical fields," he says. "China is out investing us by a long shot because their plan is to own that future."

Biden also says he will revitalize U.S. alliances with Europe and other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad -- Japan, India and Australia -- and invite "an alliance of democracies" to come to the U.S. to discuss the future.

Wednesday, March 17

8:00 p.m. A white gunman was charged Wednesday with killing eight people, including six people of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. The attack sent terror through the Asian American community, which has increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said the FBI briefed him.

"The investigation is ongoing. And the question of motivation is still to be determined. But whatever the motivation here I know that Asian Americans are very concerned, because as you know I've been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple of months and I think it is very, very troublesome," he said.

"I'm making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer, and waiting for an answer as the investigation proceeds from the FBI and from the Justice Department," he said.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman in that position, expressed support to the Asian American community after the "tragic" shooting and offered condolences to the victims' families.

"We're not yet clear about the motive. But I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people," she said.

Saturday, March 13 (U.S. Eastern time)

11:43 a.m. U.S. airports screen their highest number of passengers in nearly a year, the Transportation Security Administration says, as air travel begins to rebound from a pandemic-related drop.

The administration says it screened 1.36 million U.S. airport passengers on Friday, the highest number since March 15, 2020. This number was still down 38% compared with pre-COVID-19 levels.

The coronavirus pandemic stalled air travel, knocking U.S. airline passenger demand down 60% in 2020. But bookings have picked up in recent weeks as more Americans receive vaccinations.

7:30 a.m. Afghanistan's government will participate in separate U.S.- and Russian-backed peace conferences in the coming weeks, officials say.

A conference to take place in Russia is set for Thursday, while the U.S.-sponsored meeting will take place in Turkey next month, officials said.

"The Afghan government will take part in both the Moscow and Turkey conferences," Hamdullah Mohib, the country's national security council advisor told reporters in Kabul.

The announcement comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed a series of measures to revive the stalled Afghan peace process.

Blinken in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this month made a new urgent push for a United Nations-led peace effort and asked Turkey to host a senior-level meeting of "both sides in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement."

Blinken wrote to Afghan leaders that the U.S. is "considering the full withdrawal of forces by May 1 as we consider other options."

President Joe Biden signs the COVID-19 relief package at the White House on March 11. 

Thursday, March 11 (U.S. Eastern time)

2:40 p.m. President Joe Biden signs into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that will provide direct payments to millions of Americans, marking the first legislative victory for his administration.

"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country," Biden said, "and giving the people of this nation -- working people, the middle-class folks, people who built the country -- a fighting chance."

The relief package also offers an extension of a $300 weekly jobless-aid supplement and a one-year expansion of the child tax credit.

The president will deliver his first prime-time address Thursday night to lay out a plan for getting the pandemic under control.

Wednesday, March 10

3:40 p.m. The Senate confirms Merrick Garland as President Joe Biden's attorney general, putting a respected federal judge in charge of a Justice Department poised to confront domestic extremist threats and a reckoning on race and policing.

Garland was confirmed in a 70-30 vote, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hailing him as well-equipped to restore morale and integrity to a department embroiled in controversy under the previous administration.

2:20 p.m. The House of Representatives passes a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill and sends it to Biden for his signature.

The relief package, one of the largest injections of federal funds since the Great Depression, will provide another round of direct payments to many Americans. It also includes an extension of jobless benefits and billions of dollars in federal aid for vaccine distribution.

Biden is expected to sign the bill Friday.

China's top diplomat and Politburo member Yang Jiechi speaks during a meeting in Beijing in September 2019.   © Reuters

12:50 p.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet on March 18 in Anchorage, Alaska, with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the State Department announces.

"The meeting will take place following Secretary Blinken's meetings with two of our closest regional allies in Tokyo and Seoul. Secretary Blinken and NSA Sullivan will discuss a range of issues" with China, the statement says.

7:40 a.m. The State Department announces that Secretary Antony Blinken will visit Tokyo on March 16-17 and Seoul on March 17-18. He will host a virtual roundtable with "emerging journalists" in both countries.

7:30 a.m. The Pentagon announces that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will embark on his first overseas trip Saturday, to visit U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii, U.S. troops and senior government leaders in Japan and South Korea, and senior government leaders in India.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greets the commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, upon arrival at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on Feb. 24. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense)

Austin and Blinken will hold a "2-plus-2" meeting with counterparts in both Japan and South Korea, the announcement said.

In India, Austin will meet counterpart Rajnath Singh as well as other senior national security leaders to discuss deepening the U.S.-India Major Defense Partnership and advancing cooperation between the countries for a free, prosperous and open Indo-Pacific and western Indian Ocean region, the Pentagon said.

Saturday, March 6

3:51 p.m. With the Senate's passage of the coronavirus aid bill, Biden says that $1,400 payments to most American will start to go out this month. Among other provisions, the American Rescue Plan bill will speed up manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.

12:27 p.m. The Democratic-controlled Senate passes Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on a 50-49 vote along party lines. The stimulus package includes $400 billion in one-time payments of $1,400 to most Americans, $300 a week in extended unemployment benefits, and $350 billion in aid to state and local governments. The bill returns to the House for a vote on Tuesday.

Friday, March 5

7:00 p.m. The Pentagon holds another session of its China task force. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks tweets that the 20-member team discussed force posture, technology, intelligence and partnerships as priority issues.

9:00 a.m. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will join the Washington-based think tank The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University as its first John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow.

In his new role, Esper will "lead a bipartisan team to assess, discuss and promote policy solutions to the challenges facing U.S. national security decision-makers in the executive branch and Congress," the think tank said in a press release.

Then-U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a joint news conference at the Pentagon in March 2020.    © Reuters

"Any effective approach to the rise of China will need to reflect American values, be bipartisan and have the weight of the entire U.S. government and our allies behind it," Esper said. "These are hallmark characteristics of Senator McCain, and I look forward to tackling this important work at the McCain Institute."

Wednesday, March 3

4:10 p.m. The Biden administration releases a document titled the "Interim National Security Strategic Guidance."

The White House says the aim is to "convey President Biden's vision for how America will engage with the world, and to provide guidance for departments and agencies to align their actions as the administration begins work on a National Security Strategy."

"As we position ourselves to deter our adversaries and defend our interests, working alongside our partners, our presence will be most robust in the Indo-Pacific and Europe," the interim guidance says, noting that these priorities will be reflected in the Global Posture Review.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin departs Singapore after a scheduled port visit. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy) 

3:30 p.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks on the phone with Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen.

"Secretary Austin expressed appreciation for the regional access Singapore provides to U.S. forces, and both leaders expressed interest in further collaboration on U.S. force posture and counterterrorism," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a readout.

Former Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite had said last November that the U.S. Navy was considering reinstating a "1st Fleet" to cover the Indian Ocean, possibly in Singapore. Singapore's Ministry of Defense issued a statement at the time saying it had not been consulted on basing a new fleet.

Tuesday, March 2

3:00 p.m. Biden's Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is confirmed by the Senate with a 84-15 vote. The former Rhode Island governor is tasked with leading an agency that repeatedly sparred with China during the Trump administration.

2:00 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the new U.S. sanctions on Russia over the attempt to kill opposition figure Alexei Navalny are the latest in the administration's efforts to coordinate policies with trans-Atlantic partners.

"As a demonstration of our transatlantic unity and cooperation with partners over the ocean many of the actions we are taking are the steps the EU took in October and match additional EU measures being taken today," she says at the daily news briefing.

Psaki says that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with high confidence that "officers of Russia's Federal Security Service used a nerve agent to poison" Navalny on Aug. 20, 2020.

12:10 p.m. Kayleigh McEnany, who served as former President Donald Trump's final press secretary, has joined Fox News.

"It is my distinct pleasure today to welcome Kayleigh McEnany to the Fox family," anchor Harris Faulkner says on her "Faulkner Focus" show. "We will be seeing much more of her in the future."

In an interview with Faulkner, McEnany speaks of the shock in the White House when the Capitol was stormed Jan. 6.

"I think at the beginning of the day, before everyone went to the rally, everyone was expecting peace," she recalls.

But "as those events transpired, it was disbelief, shock, somber, sad, horrified by the violence, and it was a very hard, difficult day in the White House, there is no doubt," McEnany says.

9:00 a.m. The U.S. imposes sanctions on Russian individuals and entities after concluding that Russia attempted to kill opposition figure Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent, senior administration officials say. The officials tell reporters the moves are being taken in coordination with the European Union. They reiterate Biden's call for Russia to release Navalny from prison.

Monday, March 1

6:00 p.m. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, tells a virtual event that the U.S. military aims to distribute forces "across the battlespace's breadth and depth" to prepare for the challenge of China.

"A historical look at the region over the past 50 years highlights the shift of our U.S. force posture as we moved out of Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan in the 1970s and then out of the Philippines in the 1990s," Davidson says in his keynote address for the TechNet Indo-Pacific conference. "Now, we are adapting from our historic service-centric focus on Northeast Asia and Guam toward a more integrated and distributed joint force blueprint."

"This includes revising our Indo-Pacific force laydown with our allies and partners to account for China's rapid modernization," he adds.

"Our force design and posture in the region must enable the convergence of capabilities from multiple domains and create the virtues of mass without concentration," Davidson says.

He says the most credible way to demonstrate America's commitment and resolve to Beijing while assuring allies and partners is "persistent presence through forward-based and rotational joint forces."

12:10 p.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is attending the inaugural meeting of the China task force. A team of 20 civilian and military experts, drawn from across the department, including the office of the secretary of defense, the joint staff at each of the armed services, combatant commands and the intelligence community are attending, press secretary John Kirby says.

"Today's meeting is intended to formalize the mission, timing and outputs of the task force as they work towards a baseline assessment of the department's policies, programs, and processes on China related matters," Kirby says.

"That assessment will then inform the core objective of the task force which is to identify a discrete set of top priorities and provide the secretary with specific and actionable recommendations and milestones to meet the China challenge," he explains.

The task force aims to conclude the assessment within four months, Kirby says. "Throughout the process much of their findings will be classified -- I think we've talked about that before -- but we'll provide you updates as we can," he says.

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier arrives at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego on Feb. 26 after a more than 10-month deployment to the areas of the U.S. 5th Fleet and the U.S. 7th Fleet. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Pacific Fleet)

4:00 p.m. Crew members of the USS Nimitz line up around the perimeter of the flight deck as the aircraft carrier returns to San Diego Bay after a nearly 11-month deployment.

The flagship's sailors and marines walked aboard on the ship on April 1, 2020, at home port Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington, according to the 3rd Fleet.

Sailors stationed in San Diego embarked later that week aboard support ships USS Princeton and USS Sterett "for a restriction-of-movement period to ensure the health and safety of the crew during the pandemic," the fleet says.

The Nimitz carrier strike group departed from San Diego for deployment on June 8 following strike group integrated training.

1:10 p.m. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby corrects his previous statement supporting Japanese "sovereignty" with respect to the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Tokyo.

Kirby had said in Tuesday's briefing: "We hold with the international community about the Senkakus and the sovereignty of the Senkakus, and we support Japan obviously in that sovereignty."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks at the press briefing on Feb. 26.

The remark was notable given that Washington had previously made clear that it takes no position on the question of territorial sovereignty over the Senkakus, which are claimed by Beijing as the Diaoyu.

"I need to correct something that I said during the Tuesday press gaggle," Kirby says in a briefing. "There is no change to U.S. policy regarding sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands."

He adds: "As President Biden underscored in his call with Prime Minister Suga, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed in his call with Foreign Minister Motegi, and Secretary Austin further reaffirmed in his call with Defense Minister Kishi, the United States is unwavering in its commitment to the defense of Japan under Article 5 of our security treaty, which includes the Senkaku Islands. The United States opposes any unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo."

Kirby expresses regret for the error, says "that was on me" and apologizes for any confusion.

Thursday, Feb. 25

11:00 p.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters traveling with him to the West Coast. On the airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria, he says: "We're confident in the target that we went after. We know what we hit. And we're confident that that target was being used by the same Shia militia that conducted the strikes," referring to the Feb. 15 rocket attack that wounded Americans.

Austin confirms that the president ordered the strikes on his advice.

"It was my recommendation," the defense secretary says. "We've said a number of times, we will respond ... on our timeline. And once again, we wanted to be sure of the connectivity and wanted to be sure that we had the right targets."

Biden had authorized the strike Thursday morning, Austin says.

8:30 p.m. U.S. forces have struck at Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria that had launched rocket attacks on American bases in Iraq, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

At Biden's direction, U.S. military forces, earlier this evening, launched airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria. These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel, Kirby says, according to a Pentagon news release.

4:00 p.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin flies onto the USS Nimitz off the coast of California to greet the aircraft carrier as it returns from a record-setting deployment.

"From all of us: Welcome Home," Austin tweets.

"By the time the carrier strike group reaches home, the sailors and Marines aboard will have been gone for 321 days," the Defense Department says.

The deployment -- the lengthiest since the Vietnam War -- was prolonged by pre-departure quarantining, Middle East tensions, and the U.S. presidential transition. While the Nimitz's main mission was to support the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, the Nimitz also conducted drills in the western Pacific with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Ronald Reagan carriers.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

3:30 p.m. William Burns, Biden's nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is introduced to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee for his nomination hearing by former Secretary of State James Baker. Via video, Baker likens Burns to his old boss, former President George H.W. Bush, saying: "President Bush and Bill Burns admittedly represent contrasts in terms of age, background and career, but they do share one important -- indeed, essential -- characteristic: an absolute and abiding sense of responsibility and duty to the United States of America."

William Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director, testifies during his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 24.   © Reuters

Burns says that there will be four crucial priorities for his directorship: China, technology, people and partnerships.

There are "a growing number of areas in which Xi's China is a formidable, authoritarian adversary -- methodically strengthening its capabilities to steal intellectual property, repress its own people, bully its neighbors, expand its global reach, and build influence in American society," Burns says.

"For CIA, that will mean intensified focus and urgency -- continually strengthening its already impressive cadre of China specialists, expanding its language skills, aligning personnel and resource allocation for the long haul, and employing a whole-of-agency approach to the operational and analytical challenges of this crucial threat."

Tuesday, Feb. 23

3:15 p.m. The Senate confirms Tom Vilsack to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the second time. Vilsack, 70, previously served for eight years as head of the USDA under former President Barack Obama.

12:52 p.m. The Senate confirms Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in a 78-20 vote.

But Neera Tanden's nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget is in peril, and some Democrats are discussing potential candidates to replace her. Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, both Republicans, said they will oppose Tanden to lead the White House budget office.

Neera Tanden's nomination to be President Joe Biden's budget chief is in trouble.   © Reuters

Tanden's bid to become OMB director came under threat Friday when Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said he would oppose her, citing her controversial Twitter feed. Without support from Manchin in an evenly divided Senate, Tanden needs backing from at least one Republican.

The Senate is poised to confirm Tom Vilsack to lead the Agriculture Department. Merrick Garland, Biden's nominee for attorney general, is also expected to be confirmed with bipartisan support next month.

Monday, Feb. 22

4:00 p.m. Biden's State Department signaled that the U.S. is not going to soften its stance on Chinese human rights issues and what it sees as problematic economic practices.

In response to calls by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a reset in bilateral relations, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wang's remarks "reflect a continued pattern of Beijing's tendency to avert blame for its predatory economic practices, its lack of transparency, its failure to honor its international agreements and its repression of universal human rights."

"We'll continue to stand up for our democratic values when human rights are being violated in Xinjiang, Tibet or elsewhere in China or when autonomy is being trampled in Hong Kong," Price said. Wang had urged Washington to stop interfering in China's internal affairs and to lift Trump-era sanctions and tariffs in technology and trade.

Price also sounded a tough tone on Chinese 5G players. "The stakes for securing these networks could not be higher," he said. "We're deeply concerned about the dangers of installing networks with equipment that can be manipulated, disrupted or controlled by" China, Price said.

Saturday, Feb. 20

5:10 p.m. Biden pays a visit to former Sen. Bob Dole, days after the 97-year-old World War II veteran and 1996 Republican presidential nominee announced he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Biden served in the Senate with Dole for more than two decades and the two are "close friends" according to the White House.

In a statement, Dole said he plans to begin undergoing treatment on Monday. "While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own," he said.

Dole represented the state of Kansas in Congress for almost 36 years before resigning from the Senate in 1996 to challenge Democratic President Bill Clinton. Dole was President Gerald Ford's vice presidential running mate in 1976, when Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

4:30 p.m. Trump is set to speak at an event hosted by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), his first public appearance since leaving office, Fox News reports.

The former president is scheduled to give a speech on Feb. 28, where he will talk about the future of the Republican Party and will rip Biden's "disastrous amnesty and border policies."

Friday, Feb. 19

9:45 a.m. The Group of Seven virtual leaders meeting begins. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the G-7 chair, welcomes new members Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, but the meeting is interrupted by noise from the German live feed.

"Can you hear us Angela," Johnson asks Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I think you need to mute."

8:30 a.m. The U.S. officially rejoins the Paris climate agreement.

"On Jan. 20, on his first day in office, President Biden signed the instrument to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement. Per the terms of the agreement, the United States officially becomes a party again today," Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

"The Paris Agreement is an unprecedented framework for global action. We know because we helped design it and make it a reality," he says.

Noting that climate change has been woven into the most important bilateral and multilateral conversations at all levels, Blinken says, "We are reengaging the world on all fronts, including at the President's April 22nd Leaders' Climate Summit. And further out, we very much looking forward to working with the United Kingdom and other nations around the world to make COP26 a success."

Wednesday, Feb. 17 (U.S. Eastern time)

4:30 p.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends his first NATO defense ministers' meeting. He notes a rising China, along with destabilizing behavior by Russia and such global problems as COVID-19 and climate change, as threats and challenges faced by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers remarks to Department of Defense personnel on Feb. 10. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense)

Austin "welcomed recognition by NATO allies that China's growing influence and international policies present challenges to trans-Atlantic security and looks forward to working together to address these challenges," according to a Pentagon readout.

4:00 p.m. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweets that he has spoken with Biden on the phone. The long-awaited call stood in contrast to Trump's call to Netanyahu two days after his inauguration in 2017. Netanyahu said the call lasted about an hour.

Former President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, had a famously rocky relationship with the Israeli leader, and Biden's delay in picking up the phone was seen as a possible sign of displeasure with Netanyahu's stance on the Iran and Palestinian issues.

Biden has already called major leaders in Europe and Asia. The White House had said Netanyahu would be the first Middle East leader he would call.

The White House later releases a readout of the call which says the President "emphasized U.S. support for the recent normalization of relations between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world."

11:55 a.m. Two of the U.S. military's most senior female generals are set to be promoted to four-star commands, The New York Times reports. But the decisions to nominate Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson of the Army were made during the Trump administration, interviews with former Pentagon leaders reveal. The Department of Defense avoided sending their names to from the White House, and later Senate confirmation, out of fear that Trump would veto the choices, according to the Times.

"So the Pentagon officials agreed on an unusual strategy: They held back their recommendations until after the November elections, betting that if Joseph R. Biden Jr. won, he and his aides would be more supportive of the Pentagon picks than Mr. Trump, who had feuded with [then-Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and has a history of disparaging women," the Times reports.

Then-U.S. Army Major Gen. Laura J. Richardson, now Lt. Gen. and soon to be four-star general, listens while seated behind Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February 2016.    © Reuters

Van Ovost, already a four-star officer leading the Air Force's Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, is expected to be nominated to lead the multiservice Transportation Command, which oversees the military's sprawling global transportation network.

Gen. Richardson, a three-star commander of the Army component of the Pentagon's Northern Command, based in San Antonio, is set for the Southern Command, which oversees military activities in Latin America.

Tuesday, Feb. 16

11:30 a.m. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks by phone with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

"Secretary Blinken agreed on the key role of ASEAN-centrality in the Indo-Pacific, and underscored the importance of protecting and preserving a free and open South China Sea," a readout from the State Department said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at the U.S. Department of State in Washington on Jan. 27. (Photo courtesy of the State Department) 

The two leaders also expressed deep concern over the coup in Myanmar, it said.

"Secretary Blinken also thanked Minister Retno for her important work to bring peace to Afghanistan, applauded her leadership as a positive role model for women and girls, and noted that as the world's largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has unique insights that it can offer Afghans in their pursuit of a political settlement," it added.

Saturday, Feb. 13

4:09 p.m. Trump says in a statement after he was acquitted that the trial had been another phase of the "greatest witch hunt in the history of our country."

Trump, who has not ruled out running for president again in 2024, adds that he has "much to share" in the months ahead.

"We have so much work ahead of us, and we will soon emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant and limitless American future."

3:51 p.m. The second impeachment trial closes, with seven Republicans joining all Democrats to convict Trump, but failed to reach the 67 vote threshold to find the former president guilty.

The Senate vote of 57-43 falls short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection after a five-day trial in the same building ransacked by his followers on Jan. 6 shortly after they heard him deliver an incendiary speech.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, says after the verdict that the day of the Capitol riots says will live as a "day of infamy" in America and the Republican vote to acquit Trump "will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the United States Senate."

Republicans saved Trump in the Feb. 5, 2020, vote in his first impeachment trial, when only one senator from their ranks -- Mitt Romney -- voted to convict and remove him from office.

Despite voting "not guilty" Saturday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offers scathing remarks about the former president when the trial was over.

"There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," he says. "The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president."

McConnell adds: "President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he's in office. He didn't get away with anything yet."

1:40 p.m. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate head off a prolonged impeachment trial for Trump with an agreement to enter into evidence details of the former president's remarks in a call with a top Republican during the deadly Capitol riot.

The agreement follows a chaotic vote to allow witnesses in the proceedings, which could have delayed a conclusion for weeks, heightened divisions and stymied efforts by Biden to move beyond the controversies of his predecessor.

The Senate, Trump's lawyers and the House lawmakers serving as prosecutors later agree that a statement from Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler about a call between Trump and the top Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, could be entered into evidence.

"'Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,'" Beutler quoted Trump as saying in the call in the middle of the attack.

Herrera Beutler was one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, making him the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

10:56 a.m. U.S. senators vote in favor of allowing witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial, extending the proceedings as lawmakers weigh whether to convict the former president of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The development came after news that Trump told a top congressional Republican during the deadly assault by his supporters last month that the mob was "more upset" about his election defeat than lawmakers.

The 55-45 vote to allow witnesses means a decision in the trial is unlikely to come on Saturday. Prior to the vote, closing arguments from the House lawmakers serving as prosecutors and Trump's defense attorneys had been expected after a week-long trial.

10:17 a.m. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicates that he will vote to acquit Trump, multiple sources tell U.S. media.

The decision by McConnell, the chamber's most influential Republican, would all but close the door on convicting Trump, who was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting the Capitol riots that left five people dead.

The Associated Press reported that the longest-serving GOP Senate leader in history made his views known in a letter to fellow Republican lawmakers, according to two sources familiar with McConnell's thinking.

Friday, Feb. 12

5:05 p.m. North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs are an urgent priority, according to the U.S. State Department. The Biden administration's lack of direct engagement should not be seen as an indication that the issue is not a priority, says spokesman Ned Price.

North Korea had continued to push forward with both programs in recent years, making "this an urgent priority for the United States and one that we are committed to addressing together with our allies and partners," says Price.

2:16 p.m. The White House suspends a deputy press secretary for threatening a reporter. T.J. Ducklo is suspended for a week without pay, press secretary Jen Psaki says, over an incident with a Politico reporter who was pursuing a story about Ducklo dating an Axios reporter.

Ducklo threatened Politico's Tara Palmeri, as reported by Vanity Fair, telling her that "I will destroy you" if she published the story. The Axios writer had covered Biden's presidential campaign and was allowed to continue covering him as president, Palmeri reported this week.

12:13 p.m. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urges fellow Group of Seven finance leaders to pursue additional stimulus to recover from the pandemic, saying that "the time to go big is now."

On fighting climate change, the Biden administration is committed to multilateral engagement, Yellen tells G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors.

"We understand the crucial role that the United States must play in the global climate effort," a Treasury statement quotes her as saying.

10:38 a.m. Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticizes Trump for his role in the Capitol rioting and says her old boss has no future in the Republican Party.

"He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him," Haley tells Politico in an interview. "And we can't let that ever happen again."

"I don't think he's going to be in the picture," she says of the former president's future in the Republican Party. "I don't think he can. He's fallen so far," she says.

"Never did I think he would spiral out like this. ... I don't feel like I know who he is anymore," Haley says, referring to Trump's actions since he lost the 2020 election.

Haley is widely considered to be among those with presidential aspirations in the Republican Party.

Thursday, Feb. 11

5:55 p.m. The U.S. government has bought 200 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Biden says, putting the country on track to have enough for 300 million American by the end of July. Final contracts were signed for 100 million more vaccine doses from both Moderna and Pfizer.

4:02 p.m. China is "going to eat our lunch" unless the U.S. rises to the challenge, Biden warns at a meeting with a group of senators on the need to upgrade the nation's aging infrastructure.

"They're investing billions of dollars dealing with a whole range of issues that relate to transportation, the environment and a whole range of other things," Biden says. "We just have to step up."

Biden outlines plans to modernize the country's infrastructure that would "withstand the impacts of climate change and fuel an American clean energy revolution," according to a White House statement.

3:44 p.m. The U.S. has profound concerns about China's "predatory" behavior in the technology sector, says a State Department spokesman. The Biden administration will engage with China when in the interest of the U.S., according to spokesman Ned Price.

1:45 p.m. The Biden administration is addressing a growing shortage of semiconductor chips affecting auto production, with officials "currently identifying potential chokepoints in the supply chain," says White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

The administration is "actively working alongside key stakeholders in industry and with our trading partners to do more now," says Psaki.

Biden plans to sign an executive order for a comprehensive review of supply chain issues for critical goods.

1:17 p.m. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctions 10 current and former Myanmar military officials, including the commander-in-chief, for their role in the Feb. 1 coup.

The blacklist targets those who played a "leading role in the overthrow of Burma's democratically elected government," according to a Treasury Department statement. Three companies with ties to Myanmar's military or security forces are also sanctioned.

11:57 a.m. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she expects legislation for Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to be completed by the end of February. The legislation would include a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, according to Pelosi.

Wednesday, Feb. 10

10:45 p.m. Biden expresses his "fundamental concerns" regarding China in his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping since taking office. The issues addressed include "Beijing's coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan," the White House says in a statement.

Biden tells Xi that a free and open Indo-Pacific region is a priority for the U.S., while Xi warns that a confrontation would be a "disaster."

3:56 p.m. Prosecutors in Georgia's biggest county have opened a criminal investigation into former U.S. President Donald Trump's attempts to influence the state's 2020 election results, ordering government officials to preserve documents in the second known criminal probe facing Trump, reports Reuters.

1:15 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden announces a series of actions to "begin imposing consequences" on the leaders of the Myanmar coup.

Biden says he has approved a new executive order to freeze U.S. assets that benefit the Myanmar military, impose export controls and take other measures.

"The military must relinquish power," Biden says in a news conference.

Biden says the U.S. has engaged in "vigorous" diplomacy on the situation in Myanmar in the Indo-Pacific region.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

10:00 a.m. Neera Tanden, during her confirmation hearing to lead the Office of Management and Budget, is grilled by Republicans for her past statements about lawmakers on the opposite side of the aisle. Sen. Rob Portman, the ranking member of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, says: "I'm concerned that your personal attacks about specific senators will make it more difficult for you to work with them."

"You wrote that Susan Collins is, quote, the worst. That Tom Cotton is a fraud. That vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz. You called [Senate Republican leader Mitch] McConnell 'Moscow Mitch' and 'Voldemort,'" Portman says, asking, "How do you plan to mend fences?"

Tanden replies: "I recognize the concern. I deeply regret and apologize for my language."

Tanden, a close aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, later says: "I know it's on me, to demonstrate to this committee and to Republican members and Democratic members I can work with anyone and that burden is on my shoulders, and it is one that I plan to take on and I will do my best to work with you on any issue where we can make progress."

9:30 a.m. The confirmation hearing for Neera Tanden, Biden's nominee for the director of the Office of Management and Budget, begins on the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee. The Indian American nominee is introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who says: "If confirmed, she will make history as the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget."

Watch the hearing here.

Monday, Feb. 8

3:10 p.m. Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agree in a call to work closely to fight COVID-19, renew their partnership on climate change and defend democratic institution and norms around the world, including in Myanmar.

"The leaders agreed to continuing close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, including support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the Quad," the White House said in a statement.

10:31 a.m. The U.S. will return as an observer to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which it quit under the Trump administration, says Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"The Biden administration has recommitted the United States to a foreign policy centered on democracy, human rights, and equality. Effective use of multilateral tools is an important element of that vision, and in that regard the President has instructed the Department of State to reengage immediately and robustly with the UN Human Rights Council," Blinken said in a statement.

The Human Rights Council meets at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Feb. 27, 2020.   © Reuters

But Blinken noted that the council is a "flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel. However, our withdrawal in June 2018 did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of U.S. leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage."

"To address the Council's deficiencies and ensure it lives up to its mandate, the United States must be at the table using the full weight of our diplomatic leadership," he added.

Saturday, Feb. 6

3:22 p.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabia's foreign minister have discussed issues ranging from regional security to human rights and the war in Yemen, the State Department says.

The discussion between Blinken and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud took place Friday, the same day that the U.S. said it intended to revoke a terrorist designation for Yemen's rebel Houthi movement -- against which a Saudi-led coalition is fighting -- in response to Yemen's humanitarian crisis.

"The secretary outlined several key priorities of the new administration, including elevating human rights issues and ending the war in Yemen," State Department spokesman Ned Price says.

Blinken's first call to a Persian Gulf state since assuming his new role was to the United Arab Emirates minister of foreign affairs on Thursday.

3:10 p.m. Washington must act fast to return to the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran's foreign minister says, pointing out that legislation passed by parliament forces the government to harden its nuclear stance if U.S. sanctions are not eased by Feb. 21.

Mohammad Javad Zarif also referred to elections in Iran in June. If a hardline president is elected, this could further jeopardize the deal.

"Time is running out for the Americans, both because of the parliament bill and the election atmosphere that will follow the Iranian New Year," Zarif says in an interview with Hamshahri newspaper. Iran's new year begins on March 21. The parliament passed the law in December that set a two-month deadline for an easing of sanctions.

Biden's administration is exploring ways to restore the nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers but was abandoned in 2018 by Trump, who restored sanctions.

Friday, Feb. 5

7:35 p.m. Biden does not believe his predecessor should have access to intelligence briefings because of Trump's "erratic behavior" and the concern he might share information, the Democrat says in an interview.

"I think not," Biden tells CBS Evening News when asked if Trump, a Republican, should get the briefings. Former U.S. presidents traditionally receive some intelligence briefings even after they have left office.

Trump frequently denigrated the intelligence community and was not known for taking long briefings during his White House tenure. He also called into question U.S. intelligence that showed Russia had intervened in the 2016 election.

Biden says his view was not connected to the Capitol riots. "Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection," Biden says, describing his reasoning.

2:35 p.m. The House of Representatives votes largely along party lines to approve a budget plan passed by the Senate earlier in the day, bringing Biden's COVID-19 relief package one step closer to reality.

The House approval prompts committees to start working on the details underlying Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which would include checks of up to $1,400 for low- and middle-income families, extended jobless benefits and $160 billion to strengthen the public health response to the pandemic.

11:00 a.m. The U.S. paves the way for Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package following Senate approval of a budget resolution early in the morning. This comes as the Labor Department reports tepid nonfarm job growth of just 49,000 for January.

Biden cites the disappointing jobs report as evidence of economic weakness, calling for swift passage of his expansive stimulus plan.

"It's people's lives. Real, live people are hurting, and we can fix it," Biden says in a meeting with top House Democrats at the White House. "When we help them, we are also helping our competitive capacity," he says.

The Senate budget resolution passed 51-50 after 5:30 a.m. Friday, with Vice President Kamala Harris casing the tiebreaking vote. This paves the way for the next step in the budget reconciliation process, which would allow Democrats to advance Biden's plan without Republican votes.

Thursday, Feb. 4

12:00 p.m. Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, says the administration will conduct a global force posture review led by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Sullivan, who spoke to reporters ahead of Biden's foreign policy speech at the State Department later in the day, said the administration will be "making sure that our global force posture is consistent with our national security and diplomatic priorities."

In line with the review, Sullivan said the U.S. will freeze any troop redeployments from Germany -- hitting the brakes on a policy pursued by Trump-era predecessor Robert O'Brien.

Sullivan said the National Security Council team he leads has also been reshuffled to meet Biden's priorities. New additions include a coordinator for the Indo-Pacific and a new deputy for cyber and emerging technology.

New or elevated topics that the NSC will handle include democracy and the threat of domestic violent extremism.

Sullivan also talked of pursuing a foreign policy for the middle class.

"Everything we do in our foreign policy and national security will be measured by a basic metric: Is it going to make life better, safer and easier for working families?" he said, adding that this means "a different approach to trade policy."

"We're not about trying to make the world safe for multinational investment; we're about creating jobs and raising wages here in the United States," Sullivan said. "So our priority is not to get access for Goldman Sachs in China. Our priority is to make sure that we are dealing with China's trade abuses that are harming American jobs and American workers in the United States."

Wednesday, Feb. 3

4:00 p.m. The Treasury Department names several hires who will be tasked with increasing tax enforcement and regulation overseas as well as at home.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to pursue big changes in global tax enforcement. Biden reportedly seeks sharper enforcement in order to reduce income inequality and to pay for spending proposals.

3:30 p.m. The U.S. has not altered its support for the "one-China" policy asserting that Beijing represents the one sovereign state under the name "China," State Department spokesperson Ned Price says.

A statement by the Biden administration on Jan. 23 expressing strong support for Taiwan in the face of military pressure from Beijing made no mention of the long-held U.S. policy toward the island.

10:30 a.m. The U.S. has agreed with Russia to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty for five years, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

Anair-Launched Cruise Missile is released from a B-52H Stratofortress over the Utah Test and Training Range.   © Reuters

"Extending the New START Treaty makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners and the world safer," Blinken says. "An unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us all."

The treaty, which is the only pact restraining an arms race between the two nuclear powers, had been set to expire Feb. 5. Extending it was a priority for Biden.

Tuesday, Feb. 2

6:00 p.m. Biden signs three executive orders that aim to undo Trump's efforts to make immigration into the U.S. more difficult.

Two of the orders authorize a review Trump's immigration policies that limited asylum, stopped funding to foreign countries, made it more difficult to get green cards or be naturalized, and slowed down legal immigration into the U.S.

In another order, Biden forms a task force that will attempt to re-unite several hundred families that were separated under Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that sought to discourage migrants from crossing America's southern border.

3:30 p.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin purges last-minute Trump administration appointees from at least 42 Pentagon advisory boards, according to news reports.

All were appointed by former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. Those named to the committees by a president or Congress are protected by law.

12:30 p.m. Pete Buttigieg is confirmed by the Senate as secretary of transportation, becoming the first openly gay cabinet member in U.S. history.

10:00 a.m. "If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be," House Democrats say in an impeachment briefing they file with the Senate.

The nine House impeachment managers make their case that Trump should be convicted in the incitement of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. They say the protection of free speech under the Constitution's First Amendment does not apply, as it was not intended to let a president "provoke lawless action if he loses at the polls."

The managers also reject the argument that a president cannot be impeached after leaving office, a stance held by most Senate Republicans. There is no "January Exemption," they say.

Monday, Feb. 1

5:20 p.m. Kamala Harris speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in her first call with a foreign leader as vice president, telling him that the U.S. will keep doing everything it can to win the release of two Canadians detained by China.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been held in China since 2018, just days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou -- who is also the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant -- at the request of the U.S.

Harris and Trudeau also speak on fighting the pandemic and climate change as well as on expanding the economic partnership between the two nations.

1:30 p.m. The U.S. economy will return to its pre-pandemic level this year even without a stimulus, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says in a report. But unemployment is not predicted to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

12:30 p.m. Biden issues a statement calling on the international community to "come together in one voice" to press the Myanmar military to relinquish the power they have seized.

11:53 a.m. In his first talks with new Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso says Japan will "make it our top priority to achieve an early exit from the crisis through bold economic measures."

Aso says he and Yellen "reaffirmed the importance of maintaining G-7 and G-20 agreements."

Yellen "conveyed her readiness to work closely with Japan, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to address key regional and global challenges such as the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change," according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

10:00 a.m. How much is enough for stimulus spending? Ten centrist-leaning Republican senators offer their version of a coronavirus relief package, this one costing $618 billion, compared with the $1.9 trillion touted by Biden. Though both plans have large amounts of spending on actions to fight the pandemic such as vaccine distribution, the Republican plan offers direct payments to citizens of just $1,000, less than the $1,400 in the Biden plan, and would have a lower family income cutoff point for the checks.

The group of 10 Republican senators, which includes Utah's Mitt Romney, will meet with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House at 5 p.m.

12:30 a.m. Trump hires a new legal team for his impeachment trial after all five lawyers on his original team quit. The trial is set to begin Feb. 9.

David Schoen and Bruce Castor Jr. are both experienced criminal-defense lawyers.

No official explanation was given for the departure of the original team, but some reports suggest it was because Trump wanted to emphasize his belief that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Sunday, Jan. 31

10:30 p.m. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issues a statement regarding the military arrests of civilian leaders in Myanmar.

"The United States expresses grave concern and alarm," over the arrests, he says and calls on the nation's military leaders "to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8."

"The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately," he says, but unlike the White House statement issued earlier, he does not talk of any "action" that the U.S. may be take as a response.

9:00 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki issues a statement condemning the Myanmar military for the arrest of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials, adding that Biden has been briefed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

"We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma's democratic institutions and, in coordination with our regional partners, urge the military and all other parties to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, and to release those detained today. The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar's democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed," she says.

Saturday, Jan. 30

1:10 p.m. Iran rejects any new negotiations or changes to the participants in Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, after French President Emmanuel Macron said any new talks should include Saudi Arabia.

"The nuclear accord is a multilateral international agreement ratified by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which is non-negotiable and parties to it are clear and unchangeable," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh is quoted by state media as saying.

Iran began breaching the deal's limits on uranium enrichment activity after Washington withdrew from the pact in 2018 under Trump and reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran.

Biden's new administration has said it will rejoin the deal but only after Tehran resumes full compliance with its terms.

9:37 a.m. A super market heiress donated about $300,000 to fund a rally that preceded the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol last month by Trump supporters, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The funding from Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a prominent donor to Trump's 2020 campaign and heiress to the Publix Super Markets chain, was facilitated by far-right show host Alex Jones. The Journal says her money paid for the lion's share of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse park where Trump spoke and urged his supporters "to fight."

More than 135 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden's victory in the November election. Five people including a Capitol Police officer died.

Protestors demonstrate outside the home of Tucson's Mayor Regina Romero in opposition to a mask mandate in Tucson, Arizona, in June 2020.    © Reuters

12:47 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a sweeping order requiring the use of face masks on nearly all forms of public transportation, an order the CDC wanted to issue last year but was blocked by the Trump administration.

The order, which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, requires face masks to be worn by all travelers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares and at transportation hubs like airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations and seaports.

Biden on Jan. 21 ordered government agencies to "immediately take action" to require masks in airports and on commercial aircraft, trains and public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation.

Under Trump, a CDC push to mandate masks in transit was blocked and the agency instead only issued strong recommendations for mask use. Trump also rejected efforts by Congress to mandate mask use.

Thursday, Jan. 28

4:03 p.m. Trump meets with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the ex-president's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and agrees to have his Save America committee help the Republican Party as it tries to win a majority of House seats in 2022.

"President Trump has agreed to work with Leader McCarthy on helping the Republican Party to become a majority in the House," Save America says in a statement. It calls the meeting "very good and cordial."

"President Trump's popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time," the committee says.

2:57 p.m. The White House says Biden didn't hold back on expressing his concerns during a phone call this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding Moscow's treatment of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and other difficult issues, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

1:51 p.m. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says more security is needed for Congress as "the enemy is within" the House, following a warning by the Homeland Security Department of heightened threats.

Wednesday, Jan. 27 (U.S. Eastern time)

3:15 p.m. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will travel this week to Florida to visit Trump, multiple sources say. McCarthy's relations with the ex-president soured when he did not apply pressure on fellow Republicans to vote for or against Trump's impeachment.

Trump verbally attacked some Republicans who did not fully back him in his challenge to the 2020 election results. In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, 10 House GOP members voted to impeach Trump, creating a rift in the party.

12:30 p.m. Biden speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga by phone. The White House says in a press release that the American leader expressed his commitment to the defense of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The two leaders "discussed the United States' unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan under Article 5 of our security treaty, which includes the Senkaku Islands," the statement said.

"President Biden reaffirmed to the Prime Minister his commitment to provide extended deterrence to Japan"

Tuesday, Jan. 26

5:00 p.m. Biden signs a memorandum condemning rising racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., and praising the the Asian and Pacific communities for their contribution to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin," according to the document. "Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons."

Though Donald Trump is not mentioned, the reference to "political leaders" seems meant to recall the former president's use of "China virus" and "kung flu" to describe the coronavirus, some observers note.

4:30 p.m. Biden's nominee for secretary of commerce, Gina Raimondo, strikes a firm tone on protecting U.S. telecommunications networks from Chinese threats while saying she would "review" the Trump-era policy that blacklisted Huawei.

"As commerce secretary ... I would use the full toolkit at my disposal to protect America and our networks from Chinese interference or any backdoor influence in our network, whether that be Huawei, ZTE or any other company," the Rhode Island governor testifies at her Senate confirmation hearing.

Asked specifically whether she would keep Huawei, China's top telecom equipment supplier, on the list, Raimondo says she would "review the policy ... consult with industry, consult with our allies, and make an assessment as to what is best for American national and economic security."

3:25 p.m. On a vote of 55-45, the Senate rejects the notion that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for Trump on the grounds that he is no longer in office. Only five Republican senators join with Democrats to allow the trial to proceed. This is a poor omen that Trump will be convicted, which would require a total of 67 votes in the 100-seat chamber.

1:53 p.m. Biden speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since taking office and raises concerns about Russian activities including the treatment of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the White House says.

The two countries strike a deal to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty, a move that preserves the last major pact of its kind between the world's two biggest nuclear powers.

Moscow and Washington had failed to agree an extension under Trump, whose administration had wanted to attach conditions to a renewal that Moscow rejected.

12:43 p.m. The Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state. In his confirmation hearing, Blinken criticized Trump's approach but said he was "right" to be tough on China. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration.

10:30 a.m. The acting chief of the Capitol Police apologizes to Congress for the security failures that led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building, telling lawmakers in a closed briefing that the department knew there was a "strong potential for violence" but failed to take adequate steps.

Yogananda D. Pittman says the Capitol Police Board had declined a request two days earlier for National Guard troops and then delayed for more than an hour as the violence unfolded.

Monday, Jan. 25

9:38 p.m. Trump establishes the "Save America" committee based at Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Florida. The aim, according to a news release, is to support Republicans who share his "America First" agenda. One of its first moves is to back Trump's former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in her bid to be elected governor of Arkansas.

9:20 p.m. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell drops his demand that the new Democratic-led Senate promise to preserve the filibuster, allowing the Democrats to take control of the 100-seat chamber, which is split 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris gives the Democrats control with her tie-breaking vote.

The filibuster is a parliamentary procedure that requires most legislation to receive support from at least 60 senators to reach the floor for a vote. This provides a powerful means for the minority Republican Party to block Biden administration priorities from becoming law.

McConnell's demand had obstructed work in the Senate. Democrats agreed not to end the filibuster, for now. Senate committee seats will be split evenly between the two parties, with a Democrat serving as chair.

7:07 p.m. Nine House impeachment managers deliver the sole article of impeachment to the Senate for the second trial of Trump, the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice.

5:45 p.m. The Senate confirms Janet Yellen as the first-ever female treasury secretary. Yellen is the first person to have filled that post and to have chaired the Federal Reserve and the Council of Economic Advisers.

The vote in the 100-seat chamber was 84-15. All the no votes came from Republicans, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both of whom had objected to certifying certain state votes for Biden in the presidential election.

She was widely expected to win confirmation. Fellow Brooklynite and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated even before the vote.

1:30 p.m. Biden will sign a "Buy American" order that strengthens rules directing the federal government to purchase goods and services from U.S. companies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki says. The order will reduce waivers that let contracts be granted to overseas companies.

12:56 p.m. Biden reverses Trump's ban on transgender troops serving in the military. The White House announces the move as Biden meets in the Oval Office with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

11:00 a.m. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio says he will not run for reelection in 2022. He is considered a relatively moderate member of the Republican caucus. The decision puts the seat in play for the Democrats.

10:27 a.m. Thousands of National Guard troops will stay in Washington until mid-March, sources say, amid concern that the trial of former President Trump in the Senate will draw large demonstrations.

8:00 a.m. Biden's two dogs -- Champ and Major -- arrive at the White House. They are first pets to live at the presidential residence in four years.

Sunday, Jan. 24

5:19 p.m. Biden will ban entry by most foreigners traveling from South Africa, Brazil, the U.K. and dozens of European countries in an effort to protect the U.S. from new strains of the coronavirus, reports say.

3:30 p.m. "I think the trial is stupid," Sen. Marco Rubio says while appearing on Fox News Sunday, indicating he will vote to dismiss the article of impeachment against former President Trump.

"We already have a flaming fire in this country," the Florida Republican says, comparing the trial to "a bunch of gasoline."

1:45 p.m. Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, says former President Trump was presented with "a parallel set of data" on the pandemic, complicating her work.

"I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made, so I know that someone -- someone out there or someone inside -- was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president," Birx says on CBS's Face the Nation. "You can't do that."

12:30 p.m. Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, says politicians in his party who claim the election was stolen from former President Trump are lying.

"Folks in my party who are doing that, quite frankly, are just trying to make political points with those people who the president and others lied to about this over the course of the 10 weeks after the election," he says on ABC News. "And it's shameful that they're doing it."

Friday, Jan. 22

2:15 p.m. "I am proud to be back on your team," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in his first message to the Pentagon following his Senate confirmation.

The retired Army general assured that the armed forces would have the necessary weapons and technology to defeat the enemy, backed by sound policy, strategy and clear missions. He also staked a role in helping the country get control of the pandemic, saying that "we must help the Federal Government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus."

1:20 p.m. The Biden administration plans to discuss the need for economic stimulus with a group of senators on Sunday, White House national economic council director Brian Deese said on Friday, as it seeks to build support for what it sees as a critical round of new coronavirus relief.

"We're at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy. Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves," Deese told reporters at a White House briefing.

11:06 a.m. The U.S. Senate confirms retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense by an overwhelming 93-2 vote.

The confirmation, coming two days after Biden was sworn in as president, shows a bipartisan support for the first Black Pentagon chief.

While the former four-star Army general has spent most of his career in the Middle East, he assured Senators in his confirmation hearing that he would be laser-focused on China, and preparing the military to be ready to meet any challenges.

Thursday, Jan. 21

4:37 p.m. In a national security directive that is a clear departure from Trump-era policies, Biden orders relevant administration officials to submit within 30 days recommendations on how to strengthen and reform the World Health Organization, "exercise leadership" there, and work with partners to "lead and reinvigorate the international COVID-19 response."

The White House has also released a letter from Biden to WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, assuring them that the U.S. will not withdraw from the WHO.

1:50 p.m. Former Vice President Mike Pence concluded his four years in the Trump administration by attending Biden's inauguration on Wednesday followed by a farewell address in his hometown in Indiana, with the promise that he will be moving back to the state this upcoming summer, according to the Indianapolis Star.

12:44 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, a former State Department spokesperson, clarifies in a tweet that Biden will be retaining the services of FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The former lawyer is considered a China skeptic, and led an extensive investigation against Beijing's efforts to steal U.S. data during the Trump administration.

5:00 a.m. In fresh comments following Biden's inauguration, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says she believes "if both countries put in the effort, the kind angels can triumph over evil forces," Reuters reports.

"In the past years, the Trump administration, especially [former Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo, has laid too many mines that need to be removed, burned too many bridges that need to be rebuilt, damaged too many roads that need to be repaired," she said.

Asked about the Biden team's decision to invite Taiwan's de-facto ambassador to the inauguration, as well as its criticism of China's sanctions against Pompeo and 27 others, she insisted Beijing would defend its sovereignty and interests.

4:10 a.m. Leaders across Asia have congratulated Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration, with some of the warmest greetings coming from allies such as Japan and South Korea. Read our wrap-up of Asian reactions.

Wednesday, Jan. 20

<Read the full transcript of Biden's inaugural address here>

10:15 p.m. China's sanctions against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other Trump administration officials are "unproductive and cynical," a spokeswoman for Biden's National Security Council says in a statement to Reuters.

Roughly coinciding with Biden's inauguration, Beijing announced penalties against 28 Trump officials, accusing them of interfering in its affairs. It banned the 28 and their families from entering China and placed restrictions on companies associated with them.

"Imposing these sanctions on Inauguration Day is seemingly an attempt to play to partisan divides," spokeswoman Emily Horne says, calling on both Democrats and Republicans to condemn the move.

7:13 p.m. Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki, in her first press briefing at the White House, tells reporters that she has "deep respect for the role of a free independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play." She says that the president works for the people and is committed to bringing transparency and truth.

She also says that the White House will revive regular news conferences with health officials to keep the public updated on the pandemic.

Psaki says Biden's first phone call with a foreign leader will be on Friday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

6:00 p.m Biden signs 15 executive actions in the Oval Office, undoing policies put in place by Trump and making his first moves on the pandemic and climate change.

"Some of the executive actions I'm going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we're going to combat climate change in a way that we haven't done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities" Biden says. "These are just all starting points."

Biden signed a document to begin the process of re-entering the Paris climate accord, an order to establish a new White House office coordinating the response to the coronavirus and halting the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization.

4:00 p.m. Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff, America's first second gentleman, arrive at the White House. They walk up the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where her office is.

3:55 p.m. Biden enters the White House for the first time as president, after walking an abbreviated parade route. He and first lady Jill Biden wear masks.

3.08 p.m. Biden appoints Andy Baukol as acting treasury secretary, Monty Wilkinson as acting head of the Justice Department and Dan Smith as acting secretary of state.

1:18 p.m. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweets after Biden's inauguration that "only the US can fix itself -- in practice; not just words.

1:00 p.m. Trump left a letter in the Oval Office's Resolute Desk for Biden, Politico reports. A tradition since the time of Republican President Ronald Reagan, the contents of the letter have not been revealed yet, triggering a series of online memes such as this and this.

12:30 p.m. Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old U.S. youth poet laureate, delivers the inaugural poem, in which she calls for Americans to "leave behind a country better than the one we were left." (Read the full transcript here)

12:19 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sends a 2 a.m. tweet, local time, congratulating the new American leader.

"Japan and the United States are allies tied firmly by bonds and shared universal values. I look forward to working with you and your team to reinforce our alliance and to realize a Free and Open Indo-Pacific," he writes.

12:17 p.m. Biden concludes his inaugural address.

"Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear; of unity, not division; of light, not darkness; a story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness," he says, calling for the country to work together.

"May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history," Biden adds.

"So with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love, with all our hearts. May God bless America. And may God protect our troops. Thank you, America."

12:14 p.m. After a moment of silence to pray for the 400,000 American lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden says many challenges are ahead for the country.

"We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America's role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways," he says. "But the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had."

12:11 p.m. Biden vows that things will change under his new administration as history has been made with the nation's first Black, Asian American and female vice president.

"Today, we marked the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris," he says.

12:09 p.m. "We must end this uncivil war that pits red versus blue," Biden says. "We can do this if we open our souls ... if we show a little tolerance and humility and if we are willing to stand in the other person's shoes -- as my mom would say, just for a moment stand in their shoes."

"If we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous ... And we still can disagree," he adds. "We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation."

"We will get through this together! Together!" Biden says.

"The world is watching all of us today, so here's my message to those beyond our borders ... We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday's challenges but today's and tomorrow's challenges ... We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace."

12:07 p.m. "I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans," Biden says, repeating a promise he made during his campaign. "I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did."

America's values lie in "opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and, yes, the truth," the president says.

12:04 p.m. "This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward," Biden says, admitting the challenges his new administration will face.

"And we must meet this moment, as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail -- we have never, ever, ever, ever, failed in America when we have acted together!"

Biden calls for a new beginning and more respect between people with different ideologies.

"At this time, in this place, let's start fresh, all of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another," he says.

"Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a total war," he adds.

12:00 p.m. "The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer," the 46th president says. "To restore the soul and secure the future of Americans requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity."

"Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, uniting all Americans, and I ask every American to join me in this cause," he says.

"Through struggles and setbacks, our better angels have always come through," says Biden. "Without unity, there's no peace, only bitterness ... No nation, only a state of chaos... Unity is the path forward, and we must meet this moment as the United States."

11:58 a.m. "I thank my predecessors in both parties for their presence here today," Biden says in a message of unity. "The American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people who seek a more perfect union."

Trump, who made a point of skipping the inauguration, left for Florida earlier Wednesday.

11:56 a.m. President Biden begins his inaugural address.

"This is America's day. This is democracy's day," Biden declare.

"We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile," he says, but adds that "democracy has prevailed."

11:49 a.m. Biden is sworn in as president by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

11:43 a.m. Kamala Harris is sworn in as the first woman, first Black person and the first South Asian American to be vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

11:20 a.m. The inauguration ceremony begins.

11:14 a.m. Vice President Mike Pence is introduced to cheers.

11:10 a.m. Biden's bible is prepared.

11:00 a.m. Former presidents arrive at the inauguration venue.

10:45 a.m. Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, is among those attending the inauguration.

"Democracy is our common language, and freedom is our common objective," Hsiao says in a video posted to Twitter, where she describes herself as a Taiwan ambassador. "I look forward to working with the next U.S. administration in advancing our mutual values and interests."

10:30 a.m. Joe and Jill Biden arrive at the U.S. Capitol. The inauguration ceremony is set to begin.

10:05 a.m. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, one of Trump's harshest critics in the GOP, tweets about the importance of unity in America.

10:00 a.m. Shortly after Trump finishes his remarks, Biden leaves the presidential guest house in Washington and heads to church. He is joined by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

8:50 a.m. "I wish the new administration great luck and great success," Trump says. "I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."

"So, just goodbye. We love you. And we will be back in some form," he says.

8:44 a.m. Trump says the foundations for economic growth have been put in place. "You're going to see incredible numbers start coming in, if everything is left alone."

"And remember us when you see these things happening," he says. "It's a rocket ship up."

8:35 a.m. Trump begins his address in front of Air Force One. "It has been an incredible four years. We've accomplished so much together," he says.

"I hope they don't raise your taxes," he says of the Biden administration. "If they do, I will tell you, 'I told you so.'"

8:15 a.m. Trump leaves the White House for the last time with first lady Melania. Trump is expected to give remarks at Joint Base Andrews before flying to Florida. He tells the press "thank you" and "goodbye."

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