Good morning. In today’s AP Morning Wire:
Chilling video footage becomes key exhibit in Trump impeachment trial.
‘Overwhelm the problem’: Inside Biden’s war footing on COVID-19.
Countries curb diplomatic ties, weigh sanctions on Myanmar after coup.
Yemen War: A difficult road to peace despite Biden’s new push.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR – GLOBAL NEWS COORDINATION, LONDON
SENATE TELEVSION VIA AP
Chilling video footage becomes key exhibit in Trump impeachment trial; Georgia prosecutor opens criminal investigation after Trump election call
It was raw and visceral. And it un-mistakenly brought home just how much worse last month’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol could have been.
Chilling video footage presented by the prosecution, including of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, is a key exhibit in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Lisa Mascaro, Eric Tucker, Mary Clare Jalonick and Jill Colvin report.
Lawmakers prosecuting the case in the Senate aim to prove that Trump bears singular responsibility for the siege.
The footage shown at trial, much of it never before seen, has included video of the mob smashing into the building, distraught members of Congress receiving comfort, rioters engaging in hand-to-hand combat with police and audio of Capitol police officers pleading for back-up.
It underscored how dangerously close the rioters came to the nation’s leaders, shifting the focus of the trial from an academic debate about the Constitution to a raw retelling of the Jan. 6 assault.
Today brings the second and final full day of House prosecution arguments, with the Trump legal team taking the lectern Friday and Saturday for up to 16 hours to lay out their defense.
Trial Highlights: Harrowing footage, focus on Trump’s words on Day 2, captured by Jill Colvin.
The Scene: Senators in both parties were stoic and rapt as they relived the horror, watching almost 90 minutes of terror unfold on large screens near their desks. If any senators had tried not to look at images of the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol, or to bury their memories after they fled a violent mob of Trump supporters that day, they were not able to do so any longer. Senators braced themselves in their chairs, leaned forward over their desks and stayed absolutely silent — impartial jurors but also witnesses to the violence, Mary Clare Jalonick writes.
Biden Keeps His Own Counsel: Did someone say impeachment? President Joe Biden has avoided wading into the debate. Biden has said he wouldn’t watch the trial and was leaving it up to the Senate to decide whether to convict Trump. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has dodged question after question about the trial. The message reflects the political and practical realities of the moment. White House aides privately note that the president doesn’t gain much from weighing in. And they say staying above the fray allows him to focus on his national COVID-19 plan, Jonathan Lemire and Alexandra Jaffe report.
Trump’s Lawyers: Trump has employed high-powered litigators for decades, but since losing the election to Biden, he’s been bleeding attorneys. More established firms have backed away from his baseless claims of election fraud, leaving him with legal teams that repeatedly made elementary errors in cases that were quickly rejected. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was ridiculed for his performance before a federal judge during one election case. By the time Trump’s second impeachment trial rolled around, he was looking far outside the top law firms that typically would represent an ex-president. Alanna Durkin Richer, Nomaan Merchant and Colleen Long report.
Georgia Election Investigation: A Georgia prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” the outcome of last year’s general election. Officials did not mention Donald Trump by name, but a spokesman said that is part of it. Trump has come under intense criticism for a call he made to the state’s top elections official last month. Trump pressed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state, Kate Brumback reports.
AP PHOTO/TED S. WARREN
Inside Biden’s war footing on COVID-19; AP-NORC Poll: A third of US adults skeptical of COVID-19 shots; In UK, roving vaccination teams bring virus jab to homeless
President Joe Biden’s team is putting itself on war footing as it fights the pandemic. Top aides say the administration is using every “tool the federal government has to battle on every front.”
To defeat the virus, Biden’s team must oversee a herculean logistical effort to put shots into hundreds of millions of arms. It also must overcome vaccine hesitance, politically charged science skepticism and fatigue across all corners of society, Zeke Miller reports.
His team has been rolling out an almost dizzying array of new efforts and appeals — everything from building a surgical glove factory to asking Americans to wear masks while walking their dogs.
The goal, Biden aides say, is as simple as it is ambitious: After a year of being on defense they want to take the fight to the virus — to “overwhelm the problem,” a kind of mantra for the team.
U.S. Vaccine Poll: About 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get the coronavirus vaccine. That’s according to a new poll that some experts say is discouraging news if the U.S. hopes to achieve herd immunity and vanquish the outbreak, MIke Stobbe and Hannah Fingerhut report. The poll from The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that while 67% of Americans plan to get vaccinated or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t and 17% say probably not. Many expressed doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, even though few serious side effects have turned up more than a month and a half into the U.S. vaccination drive.
Suing U.S. Nursing Homes : As the virus takes a devastating toll on seniors in nursing homes, many attorneys are turning down grieving families seeking to sue long-term care providers for wrongful death. That’s because more than half of U.S. states have granted nursing homes and other health providers protection from lawsuits during the pandemic. The federal government says about 162,000 nursing home residents and workers have died, accounting for roughly 1-in-3 virus deaths in the U.S., Russ Bynum reports.
Vaccinating the U.K. Homeless: In a pandemic, homeless people face being more forgotten than they already are. Because those sleeping outside have no address doctors can contact them at, some local authorities in Britain have begun sending out roving vaccination teams to identify the clinically vulnerable among them. Some doctors are on a mission to bring the vaccine to those hardest to reach and often most at risk of getting sick. One small team of doctors and nurses have been showing up at homeless centers in east London, a COVID-19 hotspot, offering a free jab to dozens who may otherwise get left behind in Britain’s mass vaccination drive, Sylvia Hui reports.
WHO Vaccine: Independent experts advising the World Health Organization have recommended using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine even in countries that have turned up worrying coronavirus variants in their populations. The new comes amid growing doubts about that particular vaccine’s effectiveness against a variant that emerged in South Africa. The advice is used by health care officials worldwide but doesn’t amount to a WHO green light for the U.N. and its partners. That approval could come after separate WHO group meets Friday and Monday to assess whether an emergency-use listing for the AstraZeneca vaccine is warranted, Jamey Keaten reports from Geneva.
How are experts tracking variants of the coronavirus? The AP is answering Viral Questions in this series.
After the coup in Myanmar, countries curb diplomatic ties, weigh sanctions; Digital siege: Internet cuts become a favored tool of repression
A growing number of governments are curbing diplomatic ties with Myanmar and increasing economic pressure on its military over the coup last week.
President Joe Biden issued an order that will prevent Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion in assets in the U.S. and promises more measures. The U.S. was among many governments that lifted most sanctions in the past decade to encourage democratic transition in Myanmar.
One of the strongest reactions came from New Zealand, which suspended all military and high-level political contact with Myanmar and denied recognition to its military-led government. Malaysia and Indonesia called for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to convene a special meeting to discuss Myanmar, but it’s unclear if the bloc can come together. Kim Tong-hyung has this story from Seoul.
In Myanmar itself, members of the country’s myriad ethnic minorities marching behind their groups’ flags joined the large, enthusiastic protests against the junta after resistance to the coup received a major boost from abroad from Biden.
Tens of thousands of protesters, if not more, have marched daily in Myanmar’s biggest cities. Participants have included civil servants, medical workers and people from all walks of life. Buddhist monks also have been visible, as have LGBTQ contingents behind rainbow flags, underlining the breadth of opposition to the coup.
Internet Shutdowns: When army generals in Myanmar staged a coup, they briefly cut internet access in an apparent attempt to stymie protests. Ugandans couldn’t access social media platforms for weeks after a recent election. Ethiopia’s Tigray region has been cut off from the internet for months. Internet shutdowns are an increasingly popular tool for repressive and authoritarian governments and some illiberal democracies.
Digital rights groups say governments use them to stifle dissent, silence opposition voices or cover up human rights abuses. One report found 93 major internet shutdowns in 21 countries last year. It’s the digital equivalent of the pre-internet seizing of control of local TV and radio stations by despots and their rivals, Kelvin Chan reports.
Yemen’s Ruinous War
“It’s a wise decision, but it’s too late,” says the uncle of a child traumatized by a Saudi Arabian airstrike that destroyed her home in the Yemeni capital and killed her parents and her five siblings in August 2017.
It’s also far too early, he and many suggest, to say whether President Biden’s move to stop backing the Saudi coalition and push for an end to the war will bring peace to Yemen, Sam Magdy reports.
Yemenis have suffered six years of bloodshed, destruction and humanitarian catastrophe.
There’s no doubt it’s a difficult diplomatic road ahead. The warring sides have not held substantive peace talks since 2019 and are dug in, with Houthi rebels launching a new assault against government forces just days after Biden’s announcement.
Biden’s halt to support for the Saudi-led coalition was a dramatic break with the air campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, which had brought international condemnation for causing thousands of civilian deaths. But that does not immediately undermine the coalition’s ability to fight the ruinous war.
Yemen today marks 10 years since the fall of longtime autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh in the wake of an Arab Spring uprising — a moment Yemenis hoped would lead to effective governance and greater freedom.
Instead, a brutal war followed when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in late 2014 along with much of the country’s north, ousting the government of Saleh’s successor, President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi.
TIMELINE: Yemen war began in 2014 when Houthis seized Sanaa. Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and other countries, entered the war alongside Yemen’s internationally recognized government in March 2015. The war has killed some 130,000 people and driven the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.
Other Top Stories
Biden in call with China’s Xi raises human rights, trade; Beijing pushes back
Joe Biden has held his first call as president with Xi Jinping, pressing the Chinese leader about trade and Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong. A White House statement says Biden raised concerns about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices.” Biden also pressed Xi on China’s actions toward Taiwan and human rights abuses against Uighur and ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province. China’s state broadcaster says Xi pushed back against those concerns and warned “the U.S. should respect China’s core interests.” The two leaders spoke just hours after Biden announced plans for a Pentagon task force to review U.S. national security strategy in China.
Rare witness accounts are illuminating the heavy toll of the shadowy conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as fighting enters a fourth month. An American nurse who recently escaped tells the AP that perhaps 1,000 people were killed around her family’s town alone. And an opposition official says his party and others have compiled “thousands of names” of dead civilians. He warns that once the region becomes accessible, “the world will apologize to the people of Tigray, but it will be too late.” Red Cross officials now warn that thousands of people could starve to death in the coming weeks.
Pressure is coming from all sides in Japan for Yoshiro Mori to step down as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. This follows his demeaning comments about women more than a week ago and an ensuing public debate in Japan about gender equality. A move could come as soon as Friday, according to some reports, when the organizing committee’s executive board meets. The executive board is overwhelmingly male. The 83-year-old Mori at a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee essentially said that women “talk too much” and are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry.” He gave a grudging apology a day after his opinions were reported, but declined to step down.
Larry Flynt, who turned his pornographic Hustler magazine into an empire while fighting numerous First Amendment court battles, has died at 78. Flynt’s career began with Ohio strip clubs but in 1974 he founded Hustler, an unashamedly crude, hard-core skin magazine that offended conservatives and feminists alike. Flynt fought numerous court battles over obscenity and other charges and depicted himself as a fighter for free speech. He also staged political stunts, such as offering $10 million in 2017 for information to impeach Donald Trump.