AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EST News Staff

Some in the GOP parrot far-right talk of a coming civil war

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — War-like imagery has begun spreading in Republican circles after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters, with some elected officials and party leaders rejecting pleas to tone down rhetoric calling for a second civil war.

In northwestern Wisconsin, the chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party was forced to resign Friday after refusing for a week after the siege to remove an online post urging followers to “prepare for war.” The incoming chairwoman of the Michigan GOP and her husband, a state lawmaker, have joined a conservative social media site created after the Capitol riot where the possibility of civil war is a topic.

Phil Reynolds, a member of the GOP central committee in California’s Santa Clara County, appeared to urge on insurrectionists on social media during the Jan. 6 attack, declaring on Facebook: “The war has begun. Citizens take arms! Drumroll please….. Civil War or No Civil War?”

The heightened rhetoric mimics language far-right extremists and white supremacists have used for years, and it follows a year of civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer and its links to systemic racism. Some leftists have used similar language, which Republicans have likened to advocating a new civil war.

The post-Floyd demonstrations prompted governments and corporations alike to reevaluate, leading to the removal of Confederate symbols across the South and the retirement of racially insensitive brands.

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Biden outlines ‘Day One’ agenda of executive actions

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

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Biden to prioritize legal status for millions of immigrants

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to immediately ask Congress to offer legal status to an estimated 11 million people in the country has surprised advocates given how the issue has long divided Democrats and Republicans, even within their own parties.

Biden will announce legislation his first day in office to provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States illegally, according to four people briefed on his plans.

The president-elect campaigned on a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, but it was unclear how quickly he would move while wrestling with the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and other priorities. For advocates, memories were fresh of presidential candidate Barack Obama pledging an immigration bill his first year in office, in 2009, but not tackling the issue until his second term.

Biden’s plan is the polar opposite of Donald Trump, whose successful 2016 presidential campaign rested in part on curbing or stopping illegal immigration.

“This really does represent a historic shift from Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda that recognizes that all of the undocumented immigrants that are currently in the United States should be placed on a path to citizenship,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who was briefed on the bill.

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Will Trump’s mishandling of records leave a hole in history?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The public won’t see President Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there’s growing concern the collection won’t be complete, leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies.

Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring that records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House records workers to spend hours taping them back together.

“They told him to stop doing it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records analyst. He said the first document he taped back together was a letter from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about a government shutdown.

The president also confiscated an interpreter’s notes after Trump had a chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump scolded his White House counsel for taking notes at a meeting during the Russia investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Top executive branch officials had to be reminded more than once not to conduct official business on private email or text messaging systems and to preserve it if they did.

And now, Trump’s baseless claim of widespread voter fraud, which postponed for weeks an acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, is delaying the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, further heightening concern about the integrity of the records.

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Guard troops pour into Washington as states answer the call

WASHINGTON (AP) — By the busload and planeload, National Guard troops were pouring into the nation’s capital on Saturday, as governors answered the urgent pleas of U.S. defence officials for more troops to help safeguard Washington even as they keep anxious eyes on possible violent protests in their own states.

Military leaders spent chunks of Thursday evening and Friday calling states in an unprecedented appeal for more National Guard troops to help lock down much of the city in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In dribs and drabs, governors responded, some agreeing to send an extra dozen, 100 or even 1,000, while others said no.

The calls reflect fears that violent extremist groups are targeting the city in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The threats range from armed insurgents to possible attempts to plant explosive devices at so-called soft targets. But as Washington begins to resemble an armed camp, with more than 25,000 Guard due in the city by early next week, concerns about violence at state capitals has grown.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she turned down the federal request to send at least 100 more National Guard troops to D.C. “I didn’t think that we could safely fill that commitment,” Brown said. Oregon has already agreed to send 30 to Washington, but state leaders are worried about violence at the state capitol in Salem.

Others agreed, setting off a dizzying torrent of military flights and convoys into the region.

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Trump’s presidency not just a blip in US foreign policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to scrap President Donald Trump’s vision of “America First” in favour of “diplomacy first” will depend on whether he’s able to regain the trust of allies and convince them that Trumpism is just a blip in the annals of U.S. foreign policy.

It could be a hard sell. From Europe to the Middle East and Asia, Trump’s brand of transactional diplomacy has alienated friends and foes alike, leaving Biden with a particularly contentious set of national security issues.

Biden, who said last month that “America’s back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” might strive to be the antithesis of Trump on the world stage and reverse some, if not many, of his predecessor’s actions. But Trump’s imprint on America’s place in the world — viewed as good or bad — will not be easily erased.

U.S. allies aren’t blind to the large constituency of American voters who continue to support Trump’s nationalist tendencies and his belief that the United States should stay out of world conflicts. If Biden’s goal is to restore America’s place in the world, he’ll not only need to gain the trust of foreign allies but also convince voters at home that international diplomacy works better than unilateral tough talk.

Trump has insisted that he’s not against multilateralism, only global institutions that are ineffective. He has pulled out of more than half a dozen international agreements, withdrawn from multiple U.N. groups and trash talked allies and partners.

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Donor backlash fuels GOP alarm about Senate fundraising

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are worried that a corporate backlash stirred by the deadly Capitol insurrection could crimp a vital stream of campaign cash, complicating the party’s prospects of retaking the Senate in the next election.

The GOP already faces a difficult Senate map in 2022, when 14 Democratic-held seats and 20 Republican ones will be on the ballot. That includes at least two open seats that Republicans will be defending because of the retirements of GOP Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Burr of North Carolina.

But some in the party say the problem may be bigger than the map. Eight Republican senators voted to reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, even after the ransacking of the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters who were exhorted by the president to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. Five people died in the mayhem, including a Capitol Police officer.

Recriminations were swift, with more than a dozen corporate giants — including AT&T, Nike, Comcast, Dow, Marriott, Walmart and Verizon — pledging to withhold donations to Republican lawmakers who voted to reject the outcome of the election in Arizona or Pennsylvania. One of those lawmakers, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, is the new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a post that makes him the public face of the Senate Republican fundraising efforts.

“That’s the crux of the issue: Is this a storm that will blow over, or is … challenging (Biden’s) Electoral College certification a scarlet ‘A’?” said Republican donor Dan Eberhart, who has contributed at least $115,000 to Senate Republican efforts in recent years.

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After Trump, Biden aims to reshape the presidency itself

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Joe Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday outside a wounded U.S. Capitol, he will begin reshaping the office of the presidency itself as he sets out to lead a bitterly divided nation struggling with a devastating pandemic and an insurrection meant to stop his ascension to power.

Biden had campaigned as a rebuke to President Donald Trump, a singular figure whose political power was fueled by discord and grievance. The Democrat framed his election as one to “heal the soul” of the nation and repair the presidency, restoring the White House image as a symbol of stability and credibility.

In ways big and small, Biden will look to change the office he will soon inhabit. Incendiary tweets are out, wonky policy briefings are in. Biden, as much an institutionalist as Trump has been a disruptor, will look to change the tone and priorities of the office.

“It really is about restoring some dignity to the office, about picking truth over lies, unity over division,” Biden said soon after he launched his campaign. “It’s about who we are.”

The White House is about 2 miles up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, where broken windows, heavy fortifications and hundreds of National Guard members provide a visible reminder of the power of a president’s words. Trump’s supporters left a Jan. 6 rally by the president near the White House to commit violence in his name at the Capitol, laying siege to the citadel of democracy and underscoring the herculean task Biden faces in trying to heal the nation’s searing divisions.

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State capitols boarded up, fenced off, patrolled by troops

A double row of chain-link fencing circles the Arizona state capitol. Windows on the Illinois and Ohio statehouses have been boarded up. National Guard troops in camouflage and flak jackets and heavily armed state troopers were stationed at state capitals across the U.S. in advance of protests planned for Sunday.

With the FBI warning of potential for violence at all state capitols, the ornate halls of government and symbols of democracy looked more like heavily guarded U.S. embassies in war-torn countries.

Governors have declared states of emergency, closed capitols to the public and called up troops ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

They are trying to avoid a repeat of the mob rioting that occurred Jan. 6, when supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving a Capitol Police officer and four others dead.

Details were vague, but demonstrations were expected at state capitols beginning Sunday and leading up to Biden taking the oath of the office Wednesday.

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Betty White marks 99th birthday Sunday; up late as she wants

LOS ANGELES (AP) — True to form, Betty White has something impish to say about her birthday Sunday.

“Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!” she told The Associated Press in an email.

White’s low-key plans include feeding a pair of ducks that regularly visit her Los Angeles-area home. Her birthday meal will be a hot dog and French fries brought in — along with a bouquet of roses — by her longtime friend and agent, Jeff Witjas.

The actor’s TV credits stretch from 1949’s “Hollywood on Television” to a 2019 voice role in “Forky Asks a Question,” with “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” among the enduring highlights.

In January alone, White is on screen in reruns including “The Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland”; the 2009 Sandra Bullock movie “The Proposal,” and the 2018 documentary “Betty White: First Lady of Television,” about her life and career.

The Associated Press

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