Democrats are preparing to bypass Republican objections to speed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic aid package through Congress, rather than pare it back significantly to attract Republican votes, even as administration officials and congressional moderates hold out hopes of passing a bill with significant bipartisan support.
“You have to act now. There is no time to delay,” Mr. Biden said Friday when he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with their economic advisers, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “The risk is not doing too much. The risk is not doing enough.”
Ms. Yellen also emphasized the urgency and the need for a large infusion into the economy.
Yet there are early signs that Mr. Biden will need to at least partly trim his ambitions in order to secure even the full support of his party in the Senate — which he almost certainly needs to pass any bill.
On Thursday, when new data from the Commerce Department showed that the economic recovery decelerated at the end of last year, Democratic leaders in Congress and administration officials said publicly and privately that they were committed to a large-scale relief bill and would move next week to start a process that would allow it to pass with only Democratic votes, if necessary. Behind closed doors, congressional committees are already writing legislative text to turn Mr. Biden’s plans into law.
Party leaders remain hopeful that Mr. Biden can sign his so-called American Rescue Plan into law by mid-March at the latest.
“We want it to be bipartisan always, but we can’t surrender if they are not going to be doing that,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Officials across the administration are engaged in a whirlwind series of virtual conversations with lawmakers, governors, mayors, civil rights leaders and a wide range of lobbying groups to build as much support as possible for the aid package. It includes $1,400 checks to many individual Americans, extensions of supplemental safety net benefits through the fall, and hundreds of billions of dollars for vaccine deployment and other efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Some moderate Democrats have joined many Republicans in pushing the administration to narrow the scope of recipients for the direct checks to more directly target low- and middle-income Americans. Such a move would shave hundreds of billions of dollars off the proposal’s overall cost.
But many Democrats say privately that they see little hope of attracting the 10 Republican votes they would need to overcome a filibuster and avoid using the budget reconciliation process to advance the bill unless they significantly scale back Mr. Biden’s ambitions.
When asked if he supported using reconciliation to pass his relief package, Mr. Biden said Friday afternoon that he wanted to get “support from Republicans” for the bill “if we can get it.” But he said the priority was ensuring that some aid was in place.
“The Covid relief has to pass,” Mr. Biden said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts.”
Haunted by what Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, referred to as the “mistake” of 2009, when the Democratic Party was in control of both chambers and the White House but was “too timid and constrained in its response to the global financial crisis,” top Democrats are pushing to avoid settling for a small package.
“If our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them,” Mr. Schumer said, adding that he planned to press ahead with a budget resolution as early as next week.
The new director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, has tapped a veteran of the last Bush administration to lead President Biden’s daily briefings, according to current and former government officials.
Mr. Muir is an experienced briefer. He served as one of President George W. Bush’s briefers for a period of three years that started well after both the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and the intelligence failures that occurred in the run-up to the Iraq war, according to former officials.
It is unusual for a C.I.A. analyst to return for a second tour as the presidential briefer. But the intelligence community tries to match the briefer to the president. Given Mr. Biden’s deep knowledge of foreign policy, finding the right briefer for him presents a challenge that the intelligence agencies have not faced since George H.W. Bush, a former C.I.A. director, became president in 1989.
Mr. Muir, said former colleagues, will be adept at anticipating Mr. Biden’s questions during the briefings.
“He is the best analyst in the intelligence community,” said Michael J. Morell, who proceeded Mr. Muir as a presidential briefer in the George W. Bush administration. “He’s the best briefer in the intelligence community.”
Mr. Biden has wasted no time giving a slew of assignments to the intelligence community, asking for new assessments of Russia, its role in a highly sophisticated hacking of government and corporate computer networks, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as assisting the F.B.I. with a look at domestic terrorism.
Ms. Sanner plans to “complete her tour in May,” said Amanda Schoch, the top spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
For now, Ms. Sanner has been deeply involved in getting Ms. Haines fully briefed on the national intelligence office’s endeavors and working on the White House’s requests for new intelligence assessments.
For almost two years, Ms. Sanner, a career C.I.A. analyst, briefed Mr. Trump, an assignment in which she had to endure the president’s digressions, rants and conspiracy theories about the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Mr. Trump did not like to hear intelligence about Russia, and unless it was carefully presented, mentioning Moscow’s efforts to interfere in American elections could derail a briefing with the president, according to those familiar with the sessions.
While Ms. Sanner understood that the information had to be presented in a way in which Mr. Trump would be responsive, she also made sure the intelligence she delivered accurately reflected the community’s analysis, current and former officials said.
Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained during the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, will lie in honor in the building’s Rotunda next week, congressional leaders announced on Friday night.
An arrival ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday evening, followed by a viewing period for members of the Capitol Police and lawmakers. A congressional tribute is planned for Wednesday morning. Officer Sicknick will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said Congress was “united in grief, gratitude and solemn appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Officer Brian Sicknick.”
“The heroism of Officer Sicknick and the Capitol Police force during the violent insurrection against our Capitol helped save lives, defend the temple of our democracy and ensure that the Congress was not diverted from our duty to the Constitution,” they said. “His sacrifice reminds us every day of our obligation to our country and to the people we serve.”
Officer Sicknick will be only the fifth person to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda — a rare honor that is bestowed upon private citizens, while government officials like former presidents lie in state.
Most recently, the Rev. Billy Graham laid in honor in the Rotunda in 2018. Before that, Rosa Parks received the honor in 2005, as did two Capitol Police officers who were killed in 1998, Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson.
President Biden spent six grueling months at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center more than 30 years ago, battling two brain aneurysms. In 2015, he was at the hospital again as his son, a major in the National Guard, lost his fight against brain cancer.
On Friday, Mr. Biden returned once again to the sprawling military medical facility where troops with some of the most severe battlefield injuries are treated and rehabilitated — this time as the nation’s commander in chief.
Mr. Biden’s visit to the hospital — and his private conversations with patients, their doctors and their families — is a rite of passage for presidents. And less than two weeks into his presidency, the short trip from the White House offered the new occupant of the Oval Office a reminder of the costs of war, and the consequences of the decisions that he may be called upon to make.
“I’ve spent a lot of time at Walter Reed,” Mr. Biden said as he left the White House for the visit. “They’re great Americans. They’re great people.”
The president’s public grief over his son’s death made the visit to the hospital an especially poignant one. Beau Biden was a major in the Delaware National Guard and was deployed to Iraq as a lawyer for a year during his time as Delaware’s attorney general.
The younger Biden died at the end of May in 2015 after fighting cancer for nearly two years. His father cited the emotional toll of his son’s death as one of the primary reasons he chose not to run for the presidency in 2016. He referred to the personal tragedy as he met with the leaders of the hospital.
“You’ve done a great deal for my family,” Mr. Biden said during a part of the presidential visit captured by cameras. “My son, Beau, after a year in Iraq, came back with glioblastoma, you took care of him in his final days, with great grace and dignity.”
Three weeks after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and included a former Air Force officer who was captured on video holding zip ties inside the Senate chamber, the senior leaders of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s alumni association held a virtual meeting to discuss “key priorities.” But the arrest of Lt. Col. Larry R. Brock Jr. was not among them.
When pressed to condemn the Jan. 6 riots, retired Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, the Association of Graduates’ C.E.O., pointedly refused to do so on Thursday.
When asked by an attendee whether the majority of the group’s board of governors thought the attack on the Capitol was justified, Lieutenant General Gould, who served as the academy’s superintendent from June 2009 until his retirement from active duty in 2013, jokingly said, “That was an easy one.” But instead of offering a straight answer, General Gould indicated that board members had “emotions that went across the spectrum, and opinions and ideas.”
“We made it a point that we would stay totally apolitical, which is very important in what we do,” the general said. “And that we weren’t going to pick sides in any of this.”
General Gould said that the board of governors instead chose to release “a reminder of who we are, and not divide by leaning one way or another as to the events that happened, but to remind us, each other, of the oath we took to support and defend the Constitution.”
The general’s comments also ignored the significant involvement of Mr. Brock, who graduated from the academy in 1989, in storming the Capitol.
In a statement after his arrest in Texas, the Justice Department said that Mr. Brock, who was filmed on the Senate floor, was wearing “a green helmet, green tactical vest with patches, black and camo jacket, and beige pants,” while also carrying restraints typically used by law enforcement officers to detain people.
Mr. Brock was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. A federal prosecutor said in a Texas court earlier this month that Mr. Brock had intended to “take hostages.”
“He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government,” said the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer.
General Gould’s failure to say whether he or the board of governors condemned the Jan. 6 riot was reflected in a statement issued by the organization on Jan. 15. “Our nation needs us to be leaders finding solutions during civil discourse so that we can truly be ‘We the People,’” the statement said, explaining that the way to do that was to engage with local alumni chapters.
But the alumni association’s tepid response has both bitterly disappointed and enraged many Air Force Academy graduates, many of whom said they could not understand the association’s inability to support a forceful statement sent by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs, including the Air Force’s top officer, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., which called the insurrection at the Capitol a “direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process.”
Fifteen Air Force Academy graduates signed an opinion piece published by The Denver Post on Wednesday that condemned both the violence at the Capitol and the actions of Mr. Brock.
“We urge leaders at the Academy and Association of Graduates to condemn any graduates involved with the insurrection,” they wrote.
In an interview, David Corpman, one of the article’s co-authors and a 2010 graduate of the Air Force Academy, said he was disappointed with General Gould’s statements on Thursday.
“We wrote that piece in The Denver Post to reassure the public that many academy grads unequivocally denounce what happened at the Capitol,” said Mr. Corpman.
When asked Friday for comment on General Gould’s refusal to condemn the attack, the Association of Graduates referred to their Jan. 15 statement and ignored a request to interview the general.
In a statement Friday evening, academy spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Andrews declined to address the substance of General Gould’s message during the meeting on Thursday, saying the academy would not comment on meetings or discussions involving the alumni association, which is a private, non-federal group headquartered on the academy’s grounds in Colorado Springs, Colo.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Both the Afghan government and its Taliban foes appear to be gearing up for a violent spring amid uncertainty over whether the Biden administration will meet a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan.
On Thursday, the Pentagon raised questions about whether the pullout — agreed to in a February 2020 U.S.-Taliban peace deal — would go ahead on schedule as the incoming Biden administration reviews the agreement made by its predecessor. That statement followed bellicose remarks by Taliban and Afghan government officials, amplified by waves of violence across the country.
“Without them meeting their commitments to renounce terrorism and to stop the violent attacks against the Afghan National Security Forces, it’s very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement,” John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said at a news briefing. “But we’re still committed to that.”
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said Friday on social media that Mr. Kirby’s assertions were “unfounded.”
The agreement between the Taliban and the U.S. government started the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan in exchange for counterterrorism pledges from the Taliban and a promise to push the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners. The move amounted to the strongest attempt yet by the United States to extricate itself from its longest war and potentially paved the way for the Taliban’s future inclusion in the Afghan government.
A former F.B.I. lawyer who has admitted to doctoring an email during preparations seeking renewed court permission to wiretap a former Trump campaign aide as part of the Russia investigation was sentenced on Friday to one year of probation and 400 hours of community service.
Prosecutors led by John Durham, a special counsel, had asked the judge overseeing the high-profile case against the former F.B.I. lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, to impose several months of prison time.
But the judge, James E. Boasberg of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, said that the destruction of Mr. Clinesmith’s career — including a harsh media spotlight that descended amid former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to portray the entire Russia inquiry as a “deep state” plot — had already provided significant punishment and a broader deterrent against similar abuses.
The F.B.I. first obtained a national-security wiretap of the former Trump aide, Carter Page, in October 2016 as part of its investigation into Russia’s election interference and whether any associates of Mr. Trump were conspiring in it. The bureau obtained three extensions of that surveillance in 2017.
An investigation by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general later uncovered numerous errors and omissions in all four applications. The most egregious was Mr. Clinesmith’s alteration of an email used in preparation for the fourth and final application.
A colleague of Mr. Clinesmith’s at the F.B.I. who was going to sign a sworn description of the facts for that application had asked him to check with the C.I.A. about its relationship with Mr. Page, who had publicly claimed to have worked with the government. Mr. Clinesmith inserted the words “and not a ‘source’” into an email from a C.I.A. official before forwarding it to his colleague, who was satisfied.
When Mr. Clinesmith pleaded guilty to making a false statement last year, he claimed that he had intentionally altered the email but that he did not intentionally mislead his colleague because he thought, at the time, the words he inserted were true.
Prosecutors on Friday suggested that was not true and that Mr. Clinesmith must have known that he was misleading his colleagues.
But Judge Boasberg said that based on the record, he believed Mr. Clinesmith’s account. He also said that the court might have approved the wiretap extension even without Mr. Clinesmith’s action.
Judge Boasberg is also the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which handled the disputed wiretaps of Mr. Page, although he did not personally sign off on any of them. After the disclosures, Judge Boasberg ordered the F.B.I. to review all other wiretap cases Mr. Clinesmith had been involved with and the bureau adopted more stringent rules for its national-security wiretap applications.
President Biden received his first formal economic briefing from Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen on Friday as the White House pushes to get another stimulus package moving through Congress.
The meeting took place in the Oval Office and Vice President Kamala Harris was also in attendance. Ms. Yellen was sworn in on Tuesday and has spent her initial days in the job getting briefed by advisers on the status of the existing stimulus programs and speaking to foreign finance ministers about America’s plans to engage with its allies. She has also been monitoring the unusual stock market activity related to GameStop this week.
“The price of doing nothing is much higher than the price of doing something and doing something big,” Ms. Yellen said before the briefing. “We need to act now. The benefits of acting now and acting big will far outweigh the costs in the long run.”
Ms. Yellen was joined in the meeting by Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Jared Bernstein of the Council of Economic Advisers.
The economic recovery shows signs of slowing, fueling concerns among White House officials that time is running short to pass a robust package before some emergency benefits expire in March. Democrats in Congress are still debating whether to push legislation forward on their own, using a mechanism called reconciliation, or work with Republicans on a bipartisan bill.
Ms. Yellen foreshadowed her advice to Mr. Biden during her confirmation hearing last week. She called on lawmakers to “act big” and said that providing robust support was the fiscally responsible thing to do to avoid long term damage to the economy.
Ms. Yellen’s team at Treasury is still taking shape and people close to her suggest that she will most likely assume the role of offering the White House high-level economic advice and helping to close the deal with lawmakers in Congress, rather than directly engaging in negotiations. The Treasury Department will also be heavily involved in the design and implementation of the relief programs.
Mr. Biden indicated that passing relief legislation was his top priority.
“People are going to be badly, badly hurt if we don’t pass this package,” Mr. Biden said on Friday.
President Biden has named Robert Malley, a veteran Middle East expert and former Obama administration official, to be his special envoy for Iran, despite charges from conservatives that Mr. Malley would offer too many concessions in trying to strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.
Two senior State Department officials said Mr. Malley would be responsible for persuading Tehran to rein in its nuclear program — and stop enriching uranium beyond limits imposed by a 2015 deal with world powers — and agree to new negotiations before the United States lifts its bruising economic sanctions against Iran.
It is far from clear if the strategy, as directed by Mr. Biden, will succeed.
Iran has repeatedly said it will not come back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord until the United States eases its sanctions, setting up a high-stakes contest over which side will blink first.
Returning to the nuclear deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, was among Mr. Biden’s campaign promises after President Donald J. Trump withdrew from it in 2018. Since then, Iran has steadily violated the agreement that had sought to limit its nuclear program, and last year, international inspectors concluded that it again had enough fuel to build a bomb.
One State Department official said that negotiations remained far in the distance and that Mr. Malley would initially consult with leaders in Europe, in the Middle East and in Congress before any talks began. The official said American negotiators would ultimately seek a “longer, stronger but also broader deal” to curb Iran’s missiles and proxies — another strategy that Tehran has already refused to consider.
But it echoes what the Trump administration had demanded when it withdrew from the 2015 deal and imposed a pressure campaign of harsh sanctions and military threats against Iran and its senior officials.
Even before Mr. Malley was appointed, conservatives had accused him of being too accommodating toward Iran and Israel, although dozens of foreign policy experts described him as an “astute analyst and accomplished diplomat.”
On Thursday night, prosecutors unsealed charges of unlawful entry and disorderly conduct against two brothers whose pictures had been shared across the country in an F.B.I. lookout alert in connection with the Capitol riot this month.
After climbing through a window and kicking down a door, prosecutors said Jerod and Joshua Hughes, brothers from Montana, found themselves involved in one of the most widely seen standoffs in the Jan. 6 riot. According to court papers, they were in the crowd that confronted an officer with the Capitol Police, Eugene Goodman, who held the mob at bay just long enough for members of Congress to escape.
Neither man could be reached for comment Friday, and it was unclear if they had hired lawyers.
The criminal complaints against the brothers indicated that they were among the first 10 attackers to breach the Capitol, just as members of Congress were conducting the final certification of the presidential election. Prosecutors say that Jarod Hughes smashed a window to the building with Dominic Pezzola, a member of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys, who has also been charged in the attack.
The brothers then confronted Officer Goodman — who was recently promoted to be the Senate’s acting deputy sergeant-at-arms — in a hallway outside the Senate chamber, pursuing him with a group of fellow rioters. Prosecutors said the pair ultimately made it to the Senate floor, where they were photographed rifling through papers.
Nearly 150 House Republicans supported President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him. But a handful of the chamber’s Republicans had deeper ties to extremist groups who pushed violent ideas and conspiracy theories and whose members were prominent among those who stormed the halls of Congress in an effort to stop certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Their ranks include Representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, both of Arizona, as well as Representatives Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
It is not clear whether any elected officials played a role in directly facilitating the attack on the Capitol, other than helping to incite violence through false statements about the election being stolen from Mr. Trump. Officials have said they are investigating reports from Democrats that a number of House Republicans provided tours of the Capitol and other information to people who might have gone on to be part of the mob on Jan. 6. No evidence has surfaced publicly to back up those claims.
But in signaling either overt or tacit support, a small but vocal band of Republicans now serving in the House provided legitimacy and publicity to extremist groups and movements as they built toward their role in the attack on Congress.
Ms. Boebert, who has close connections to militia groups including the Three Percenters, said in a statement that she had “never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to anyone besides family members in town for my swearing-in,” and she called accusations from Democrats that she gave a “reconnaissance tour” to insurgents an “irresponsible lie.”
Both Mr. Biggs and Mr. Gosar have been linked to the “Stop the Steal” campaign backing Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election’s outcome. Mr. Biggs has denied associating with “Stop the Steal” organizers and condemned violence “of any kind.” Mr. Gosar did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Ms. Greene said she now rejected the QAnon conspiracy theory that she previously promoted, and he tried to distance her from militia members. Before being elected to Congress last year, she used social media in 2019 to endorse executing top Democrats and has suggested that the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was a staged “false flag” attack.
Mr. Gaetz, who appeared at an event last year that was also attended by members of the Proud Boys, another extremist organization, said on his podcast that the group’s members were there to provide security, and that “just because you take a picture with someone,” it does not mean “you’re tied to every viewpoint they’ve ever had or that they will ever have in the future.”
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was former President Donald J. Trump’s foremost defender in his House impeachment proceedings, has decided not to run for an open seat being vacated by the retirement of a fellow Republican, Senator Rob Portman, in 2022, an aide said Thursday.
“Mr. Jordan believes that at this time he is better suited to represent Ohioans in the House of Representatives, where, as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, he can advance an America first agenda, promote conservative values and hold big government accountable,” Russell Dye, a spokesman for Mr. Jordan’s congressional campaign, said.
Mr. Jordan’s high-profile defense of Mr. Trump made him widely considered to be the Republican with the best chance to win Ohio’s 2022 Senate primary. While more than a half-dozen other Ohio Republicans are weighing Senate bids to replace Mr. Portman, none has the national profile or Trump bona fides of Mr. Jordan, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom five days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Mr. Jordan has long had ambitions to lead House Republicans and has hoped to become speaker if his party takes a majority in the chamber following the 2022 elections. But the conservative firebrand lost a bid for minority leader to Representative Kevin McCarthy of California following the 2018 elections.
Mr. Jordan’s decision not to run was first reported by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.
No major candidate has formally entered Ohio’s 2022 Senate race since Mr. Portman’s Monday announcement that he would not seek a third term. But Republicans said to be weighing a bid include Josh Mandel, the former state treasurer who lost a 2012 race to Senator Sherrod Brown; Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state; J.D. Vance, the Ohio-born author of “Hillbilly Elegy”; Jane Timken, the Ohio Republican Party chairwoman; and several members of Ohio’s congressional delegation. Two other Ohio Republicans, Jon A. Husted, the state’s lieutenant governor, and former Representative Pat Tiberi, have said they will not run for Senate.
Ohio Democrats who have expressed interest in running for the Senate include Representative Tim Ryan, who was among the early field of candidates vying to unseat Mr. Trump in 2020; Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, who is also considering running for governor in 2022; and Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health, who received encouragement on Twitter from Connie Schultz, Mr. Brown’s wife.
Mr. Portman is one of three Republican senators who has said he will not seek re-election in 2022. Senators Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina are also retiring, leaving the party to defend three seats in what are expected to be competitive states next year. That list could grow. Senator Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, has not yet said whether he will seek a third term, nor has Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is 87, or Richard Shelby of Alabama, who is 86.
Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia — two Democrats who joined the chamber after winning special elections — will face voters again in 2022 for full six-year terms.