Post-Inauguration Pandemic and Political News Briefs (February through August 2021)
Early days of the Biden administration and beyond
August 30: During late August, 116,000 people are evacuated from Kabul before last American general departs.
August 24: House passes Biden's $3.5 trillion "soft" infrastructure bill, which faces strong opposition in Senate from some Democrats as well as all Republicans.
August 24: Taliban refuses to allow any Afghans to leave the country, orders everyone in huge crowd at airport to return home.
August 15-23: Massive, chaotic crowd fills Kabul airport and surrounding area in Afghanistan, as Afghans who assisted U.S. military plead for evacuation from the country. Chaos reigns for more than a week. Americans remaining in the country also need to be evacuated.
August 15: Taliban fighters enter Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, following takeover of various cities along the way.
August 21: Nearly 200,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported on August 20. The new-case count has showed a steep rise since July 4th, which had only 2,922 new cases.
August 21: News sources report that as many as 14,000 people are still crowded into Kabul airport, desperate to be evacuated from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Biden administration hopes to compel commercial airlines to help speed up the evacuation.
August 7: For fourth day in a row, U.S. reports more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases. Most infections are tied to Delta variant, and affect the unvaccinated.
August 7: Trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, focusing on "hard" items like bridges and highways, awaits final vote in Senate.
July 31: Eviction moratorium is set to expire at midnight, leaving millions to face possible homelessness. Deadline for extension passes, allowing evictions to begin on Sunday August 1. Extension opponents complain that Congress has already allocated $47 billion, but only $3 billion has been spent.
July 30: Newly released handwritten notes pertaining to December phone call suggest that Trump pressured Department of Justice to declare 2020 election "corrupt," adding that they could "leave the rest to me" and Republican allies in Congress. DOJ officials refused.
July 27: Four Capitol police officers testify in House of Representatives about their experience during the January 6 riot, as part of committee proceedings initiated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Officers describe being beaten, crushed, and subjected to taser. Also during hearing, one Democrat confronts Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) over his remarks comparing the Capital assault to an everyday tourist visit.
July 27: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revise guideline, now recommending mask-wearing at indoor events.
July 21: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejects two of the five Republicans put forth by minority leader Kevin McCarthy to serve on committee investigating January 6 Capitol riot. Pelosi cited statements made and actions taken by Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Indiana), including their intense promotion of the baseless charge that the 2020 election was "stolen" from Donald Trump. McCarthy soon announced that no Republicans will serve on the committee. Previously, Republicans had rejected attempt to establish a fully bipartisan investigation.
July 16: White House releases video featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci (age 80) and pop singer Olivia Rodrigo (18), encouraging young people to get vaccinated. Rise in number of Covid-19 cases among young people has been worrisome, while the CDC director warns of "pandemic of the unvaccinated." (CNN)
July 13: "We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War." So said President Biden during a Philadelphia speech on voting rights.
July 13: After hosting Euro 2020 football (soccer) finals, United Kingdom sees daily Covid case rate shoot up to 42,000 – a figure unseen since January. Meanwhile, cases are surging in U.S. "hotspots," mainly among the unvaccinated. (CNN)
July 8: President Biden announces that American military will depart from Afghanistan by August 31, ending 20-year "mission." Critics blast his speech, warning that the Taliban will continue to gain strength.
July 2: Supreme Court denies access by House Democrats to secret grand jury records pertaining to Mueller investigation, which aimed to determine whether Donald Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)
July 1: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selects Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) to serve on commission investigating the January 6 rioting at the U.S. Capitol. Minority leader Kevin R-Calif.) claims to be "shocked," having warned that any participating Republican would lose his or her committee assignments.
June 30: C-SPAN poll of presidential historians ranks Trump one of worst ever. His highest ranking (for public persuasion) was 32nd. He ranked lowest (position 44) in moral authority, with administrative skills close behind. Overall, Abraham Lincoln ranked No. One, followed by George Washington. Trump ranked fourth from the bottom, ahead of Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan.
June 24: Accompanied by several Congressional Republicans, President Biden announces bipartisan "deal" on infrastructure, focusing mainly on "hard" items like roads and bridges. Price tag is $1.3 billion, down substantially from the broader $1.9 billion bill he'd favored. Later, the president states that he will not sign this bill unless he also submits an additional bill that would include "softer," socially-relevant items.
June 18: President Biden signs legislation establishing "Juneteenth" as national holiday, starting immediately. "Juneteenth" commemorates the last group of slaves in Texas, who did not hear about their release from slavery until June 19, 1865 – 2.5 years after Abraham Lincoln had signed Emancipation Proclamation.
June 17: In 7-2 vote, Supreme Court blocks third attempt by Republicans to overturn Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Two Trump appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, join in majority opinion.
June 15: Twenty-one House Republicans vote against awarding four congressional gold medals to Capitol police officers who engaged with rioters on January 6.
June 15: Governors of New York and California announce re-opening of their states, citing percentages of people vaccinated and decline in Covid-19 case. See comment at right.
June 8: Bipartisan Senate report on January 6 assault on Capitol contains new details, but omits Trump's role as instigator and avoids the world "insurrection."
June 7: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) calls Trump's incendiary speech prior to January 6 Capitol riot "the most dangerous thing" any president has done, adding that it's the worst violation of the presidential oath of office. (CNN)
June 3: CNN reports that Donald Trump's fixation on his imaginary election loss has been intensifying, as he curtly dismisses warnings from close advisers that it's time to "move on."
May 31: Marking the close of the 74th World Health Assembly, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared that despite the decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths, "it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed. (CNN)
May 31: Speaking at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, President Biden urges Americans to remember and consider those who died during military service. "Democracy itself is in peril," he asserted, both "at home and around world.... how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure."
May 31: Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 53 percent of Republicans believe Trump is the "true" president. In Quinnipiac University poll, 66 percent of GOP respondents expressed belief that Biden's election was illegitimate. An even greater number (85 percent) said they prefer political candidates who generally agree with Donald Trump. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that while he was president, Trump made more than 30,000 false and misleading claims.(CNN)
May 30: Poll finds that 23 percent of Republicans support QAnon conspiracy theories. which assert that government, media, and financial interests are controlled by Satanic pedophiles. "True patriots," in the opinion of 28 percent of Republicans, "may need to resort to violence to save the country," as reported by CNN.
May 28: Senate votes 54-35 against establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the root causes of the January 6 insurrection. Only six Republicans voted in favor of doing so: Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, and Ben Sasse. Sixty "yea" votes would have been needed for passage.
May 23: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) likens face-mask mandate for House members with the Holocaust, comparing it to the Nazi requirement during World War II that Jews wear a Star of David. Her comment drew intense backlash from both Democrats and Republicans. Rep. Lyn Cheney (R-Utah), recently ousted from her GOP leadership role for calling out Donald Trump's false election claims, called Greene's statement "evil lunacy."
May 13: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updates Covid prevention guidelines, announcing that vaccinated people no longer need to wear face masks or maintain social distancing. Exceptions include public transit and hospitals. President Biden calls the move a "milestone; a great day." Despite widespread enthusiasm, critics - including many epidemiologists, according to The New York Times - suggest that the change was premature.
May 12: Rep. Andrew Clyde (R -Ga.) denies that an insurrection occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, declaring that the riotous attack seen across the world on video was actually more like a group of ordinary tourists wandering through the building. His comments drew major backlash, though a number of other Republicans also downplayed the incident.
April 29: CNN poll finds that 26 percent of American adults (44 percent of Republicans, but only 8 percent of Democrats) do not intend to seek a Covid-19 vaccination. At this point, 55 percent have received at least one dose. Some 58 percent of those who have received one dose say they're ready to return to normal life, while a whopping 87 percent of Americans who say "no" to vaccination are prepared for prompt return to normalcy.
April 28: President Biden addresses joint session of Congress.
April 28: Federal officers raid apartment and office of Rudy Giulani, seizing his phones and computers.
April 9: Public health experts anticipate a surge in Covid-19 cases, exacerbated by the more contagious, more deadly variants of the virus. By mid-April, every American 16 or older will be eligible for vaccination - though appointment-making remains a tedious ordeal in many areas. President Biden's goal of providing 100 millions doses by the end of May is expected to be reached well before that date, but tens of millions are refusing to accept vaccination.
April 9: In new memoir, former House Speaker John Boehner not only regrets voting for impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1990s, but holds Donald Trump responsible for inciting insurrection at U.S. Capitol on January 6.
April 3: CNN reports that lawmakers in 47 of the 50 states have introduced at least 361 bills that would make voting more difficult. Only Ohio, Delaware, and Vermont have thus far resisted pressure from Republicans to initiate legislation that restricts access to the ballot box.
April 2: More than 915,000 jobs were created in March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, at least 8 million jobs that existed a year ago have not yet resumed – and may or may not do so.
March 31: President Biden initiates multi-faceted, $2 trillion "infrastructure" bill. Republicans, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, immediately signal opposition, citing excessive cost. Biden has vowed to "go big" with investment in the country, despite the high cost.
March 11: In his first primetime address to the nation, Joe Biden vows that vaccines will be available to every adult American by May 1. He also promises to ease the procedure for making appointments and obtaining the inoculation, including a new federal website and substantial increase in number of vaccination clinics.
March 11: President Biden signs $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus/relief bill, including $1,400 payment to most Americans, boost in child tax credit, and additional $300 per week for workers receiving unemployment compensation. Bill passes the Senate without a single Republican vote. Proponents, including Bernie Sanders, consider it the most important progressive legislaton "in decades," while Republicans insist it's too expensive and includes elements unrelated to the Covid pandemic.
March 3: Congress cancels March 4 session, because security analysts found credible threats of an attack against the U.S. Capitol on that date, by far-right militia grouops. (Originally, March 4 was the date for the inauguration of a new president.) Conspiracy theorists have indicated they expect Donald Trump to be returned to the presidency at that time. (CNN)
February 28: Donald Trump makes his first public appearance since leaving the White House, speaking at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference). Rather than focusing on issues pertaining to the Republican party, he spends considerable time continuing his baseless claim that he won the election, and on plans for revenge – attacking those Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of impeachment.
February 16: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) files civil lawsuit against Donald Trump, charging incitement of the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Rudy Giuliani is named in the siut, along with several far-right groups, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Additional lawsuits against Trump are expected. The current suit was filed under the Ku Klux Klan Act, a vestige of the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.
February 16: In a statement, Trump attacks Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-KY) for his caustic, unambiguous criticism of the former president's behavior related to the Capitol assault.
February 15: Nancy Pelosi announces intent to establish "911-style" commission to investigate January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
February 13: After voting to acquit the former president, citing concern about the constitutionality of impeachment, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admits that Trump "is practically and morally responsible for provoking" the assault and rioting at the Capitol on January 6.
February 13: Senate votes to acquit Donald Trump in impeachment trial, with seven Republicans joining the 50 Democrats in vote of guilty. Those seven, along with 10 House Republicans who voted guilty, face possible censure from party officials in their home states.
February 9: Second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump begins in U.S. Senate. Trump lawyers intend to challenge the constitutionality of impeaching a public official who is no longer in office. Democratic strategists are expected to make extensive use of video taken during and prior to January 6 storming of the Capitol, focusing on Trump's own words rather than introducing witnesses.
February 6: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is officially censured by her state's Republican party for voting to impeach Donald Trump.
February 4: Eleven Republicans join full complement of House Republicans to take committee assignments away from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
News Briefs from the Trump Years Are Available
Please Click Here for News Briefs from mid-March through December 2020 – plus the final days of the Trump presidency (January 1-20, 2021). Two years of Trump News Briefs (January 2017 to December 2018) may be downloaded as a PDF file. News Briefs from the period prior to Trump's 2017 inauguration also are downloadable in PDF form..
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