The National Security Agency is moving forward with hiring a Trump administration loyalist, the agency said Sunday, after the acting defense secretary ordered he be made the spy agency’s top lawyer.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller had ordered the agency’s director, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, to install Michael Ellis as its general counsel, giving him a 6 p.m. Saturday deadline.
The deadline came and went with the National Security Agency remaining silent. But the agency said in a statement on Sunday that “Mr. Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon. N.S.A. is moving forward with his employment.” Mr. Ellis has not been formally sworn in, and it is not clear when that would happen.
Mr. Ellis has been accused of having a hand in one of the more contentious legal decisions the Trump administration made: the attempt to stop John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, from publishing a damning book about the president.
Mr. Ellis’s allies had pushed for him to be installed before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is inaugurated. While it will be difficult to fire Mr. Ellis under Civil Service rules, the Biden administration could easily reassign him to another, less important post.
A senior official at the National Security Council and a former top lawyer to Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Ellis applied months ago to be the National Security Agency’s general counsel.
He was one of three finalists, although he did not get the highest score from the panel evaluating the candidates, according to people familiar with the hiring process. Nevertheless, White House officials told the Defense Department general counsel that the administration favored Mr. Ellis for the job.
Positioning a political appointee in a Civil Service job is a complex procedure requiring various approvals to prevent favoritism in the hiring process. With Mr. Ellis, the Office of Personnel Management eventually determined that the general counsel position was exempt from a policy requiring special approval, though those deliberations slowed the process. Mr. Ellis also had to seek a new security clearance.
Although General Nakasone was not pleased that Mr. Ellis was chosen over career officials at the National Security Agency, he did not actively block or slow the process of installing Mr. Ellis in the position, according to two people familiar with the matter. He did however, insist that all procedures were followed and all approvals be put in writing.
Frustrated by what they saw as a slow-rolling of Mr. Ellis’s installation, the Pentagon ordered the National Security Agency to swear him in, a move The Washington Post reported on Saturday.
Although Mr. Ellis had no formal training in the classification of national security information, he overruled the decision by a career official to clear Mr. Bolton’s book for publication. The Justice Department, under pressure from Mr. Trump, has sued Mr. Bolton to recoup his profits from book.
A judge overseeing the case issued a ruling on Thursday that makes it highly likely that Mr. Bolton’s lawyer, Chuck Cooper, can question White House officials, like Mr. Ellis, about whether the classification decisions were made in bad faith.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who remains a United States senator from California, plans to resign from her seat on Monday ahead of her inauguration two days later, a Harris aide said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a fellow Democrat, will appoint a successor to Ms. Harris, who was elected in 2016. Mr. Newsom said last month that he intended to tap Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, for the seat. Mr. Padilla’s Senate term will expire in 2022, when he can seek re-election.
Ms. Harris continued to attend Senate sessions after her November election, and was in the Capitol for the certification of the election results this month when the building was stormed by a violent mob of Trump supporters.
Ms. Harris will be sworn in as vice president on Wednesday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a ceremony in which the first woman of color to become vice president will take her oath from the first woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court.
Ms. Harris chose Justice Sotomayor for the task, according to a Harris aide who was confirming a report by ABC News. The vice president-elect and Justice Sotomayor have a shared background as former prosecutors. And Ms. Harris has called the justice a figure of national inspiration.
“Judge Sonia Sotomayor has fought for the voices of the people ever since her first case voting against corporations in Citizens United,” Ms. Harris wrote on Twitter in 2019. “As a critical voice on the bench, she’s showing all our children what’s possible.”
Justice Sotomayor, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009, swore in Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his second term as vice president in January 2013 (first in a private ceremony and again in public the next day because of a quirk of the calendar).
Representative Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who will lead the prosecution of President Trump in a Senate trial, vigorously defended the impeachment effort on Sunday, arguing that Mr. Trump needed to be held accountable even after he leaves office for his role in inciting a mob of loyalists that culminated in a deadly riot and the first occupation of the Capitol in two centuries.
“This was the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America — the most dangerous crime by a president ever committed against the United States,” Mr. Raskin, a constitutional law professor, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Everything is due to his actions.”
Mr. Raskin took on the high-profile role of lead impeachment manager this month soon after burying his 25-year-old son, Tommy, who died by suicide on New Year’s Eve.
“I’m not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021,” Mr. Raskin told CNN’s Jake Tapper, as he delivered a heartfelt eulogy.
Another of the nine impeachment managers, Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, said on ABC’s “This Week” that the team would not need much lead time to move forward with a Senate trial.
“We’re preparing as though we’re going to go in the next hour,” he said.
Both Mr. Raskin and Mr. Castro declined to offer details about when the impeachment article against Mr. Trump would be brought to the Senate or whether Democrats would push to call witnesses in the trial.
No witnesses were called in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, which unfolded last year while the chamber was controlled by Republicans. Democrats will control the Senate for this second trial.
The remarks by Democrats defending the impeachment effort came as Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, wrote a letter to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, calling for a vote to dismiss the article of impeachment. Mr. Graham argued that a trial after Mr. Trump’s departure was unconstitutional and would further divide the country.
In an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Mr. Graham also called the strategy “insane on every level” and urged President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to call on members of his party to change course.
“If you don’t stand up against the impeachment of Donald Trump after he leaves office, you’re an incredibly weak figure in American history,” Mr. Graham said, directly addressing Mr. Biden. He also claimed, without further explanation, that Mr. Trump was “trying to heal the nation.”
But even as Mr. Graham lobbied his Republican colleagues to vote against convicting Mr. Trump and offered a stream of flattery about the president’s success in office, he rejected the suggestion that Mr. Trump should pardon any members of the mob before leaving office.
“I don’t care if you went there and spread flowers on the floor,” Mr. Graham said of the rioters. “You breached the security of the Capitol.”
Other Republicans maintained that the House has moved too quickly to impeach. Representative Nancy Mace, a first-term Republican from South Carolina who voted against impeachment, said that the House had “every right to impeach the president” but that the process should have been more deliberate.
“The fact that we bypassed Judiciary, we did not open up an investigation, that we bypassed due process, that set a dangerous constitutional precedent for others,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “No matter — even if you think the president is guilty as hell, like many, many do believe, there has to be due process, there has to be an investigation.”
When asked if she felt the same way as Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, who revealed last week that he feared his vote against impeachment would ultimately put him on “the wrong side of this debate” after more facts came to light, Ms. Mace said that she was also concerned. She argued that more Republicans would have backed the effort if more due process had been allowed beforehand. She pointed to a bipartisan push behind censuring the president, which she said was blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Officials in the incoming Biden administration braced the country for continued hardship in the days after the inauguration, with the president-elect assuming control of a struggling economy and surging coronavirus outbreak in less than three days.
Ron Klain, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s incoming White House chief of staff, had a dire forecast for the course of the coronavirus outbreak in the new administration’s first weeks, predicting that half a million Americans will have died from the coronavirus by the end of February. The current toll is nearing 400,000.
“The virus is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Klain said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month, will add to the death toll in late February, even March, so it’s going to take a while to turn this around.”
Average daily U.S. deaths from the virus have risen to well past 3,000, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sounded the alarm about a fast-spreading, far more contagious variant of the coronavirus that officials project will become the dominant source of infection in the country by March, potentially fueling another wrenching surge of cases and deaths.
Mr. Klain, in comments directed at states’ disappointment that a reserve of additional vaccines that the Trump administration had promised to release did not exist, said that his team was “inheriting a huge mess” in terms of vaccine production and distribution.
“But we have a plan to fix it,” Mr. Klain said, alluding to a federal vaccination campaign that Mr. Biden announced on Friday. “We think there are things we can do to speed up the delivery of that vaccine.”
He was particularly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, having served as the “Ebola czar” under Mr. Obama during an outbreak of the deadly disease in his second term. A video of Mr. Klain lecturing Mr. Trump about the pandemic was widely seen during the campaign.
Trump administration officials last week urged states to loosen eligibility criteria and to begin vaccinating all Americans 65 and older. Some states, including New York, moved quickly to comply, prompting a surge of interest — and confusion — as thousands of newly eligible people sought appointments to get vaccinated.
But there was no stockpile of additional vaccine doses awaiting distribution to those states, it turned out — only the amounts already promised, much of it to be given as second doses to people who already had received their first doses.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that he, too, had been trying to sort through the confusion about how many doses were held by the federal government and where they were going.
“I think there was just a misunderstanding,” Dr. Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “When doses were released, an equal amount was kept back to make sure if there was any glitches in the supply flow that the people who got their first doses would clearly get their second doses,” he said.
Once it was clear that production of the vaccines would be reliable, he added, “the decision was made, instead of just giving enough for the first dose and holding back for the second dose, that as soon as they got the doses available, they would give it because now they would have confidence that the next amount they would get.”
Brian Deese, the incoming head of the National Economic Council, also stressed the urgency of passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that the incoming Biden administration had unveiled last week to assist in the recovery effort, pointing to data suggesting increasing unemployment and that more Americans are going hungry.
“The truth is, we’re at a very precarious moment,” Mr. Deese said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve got an acute economic crisis and human crisis, and we need decisive action.”
Representative Peter Meijer acknowledged on Sunday that “I may very well have” ended my career after joining nine other Republicans who voted last week to impeach President Trump.
But in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Meijer — a Michigan freshman who succeeded Justin Amash, who joined the House as a Republican but became in independent in 2019 before voting to impeach the president that year — stood by the decision.
“But I think it’s also important that we have elected leaders who are not thinking solely about what’s in their individual self-interest, not what is going to be politically expedient, but what we actually need for the country,” he said, noting that his seat was once held by former President Gerald Ford.
Mr. Ford committed a “courageous act” — one that ended his political career — when he pardoned Richard M. Nixon after Watergate, Mr. Meijer said. Although he did not wish to mirror Mr. Ford’s electoral defeat, he said he wanted to ensure that political leaders focused on “the fact that we are a nation of laws, not men” and put the nation’s interest above that of their own careers.
Mr. Meijer said the last few days had been “absolutely gut wrecking.” Impeaching a president, especially one from his own party, he added, was not something he had ever wanted to do.
Amid the impeachment vote last week, Mr. Meijer said that Mr. Trump had “betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered.”
As thousands of National Guard troops continued to flow into Washington ahead of Inauguration Day, the Pentagon on Sunday sent another strong signal to Iran and other potential adversaries in the Middle East not to exploit the nation’s focus on domestic terrorist threats to carry out attacks against Americans in the region.
The military’s Central Command sent two B-52 bombers on a 36-hour round-trip show-of-force mission from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to the Persian Gulf to deter any possible strikes by Iran or its Shia proxies in Iraq against U.S. troops in the region. It was the fifth such bomber mission in recent months, and the second this year.
U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed for months that Iran is seeking to target senior American military officers and civilian leaders to avenge the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in an American drone strike last January.
Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of the Central Command, said in a statement on Sunday that, in addition to improving readiness, the B-52 flights delivered “a clear and consistent message in the operational environment to both friends and potential adversaries alike.”
This month, the Pentagon ordered the aircraft carrier Nimitz to remain in the Middle East because of Iranian threats against President Trump and other American officials, just three days after sending the warship home as a signal to de-escalate rising tensions with Tehran.
When Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president, she will represent many firsts: First female vice president. First Black woman. First woman of Indian descent. But there is another milestone that will be on display: that of her family.
As Ms. Harris ascends to this barrier-breaking role, millions of Americans will see a more expansive version of the American family staring back at them — one that could broaden rigid ideas of politically palatable family dynamics or gender roles.
“It’s striking,” said Ralph Richard Banks, a law professor at Stanford who has written about race, gender and family patterns. “In some ways they are at the frontier of different aspects of American families and how they’re changing.”
Ms. Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, was raised with both Christian and Hindu practices, while her husband, Doug Emhoff, who is white, grew up attending Jewish summer camp.
She was in her 40s when they married, older than the median age of first marriage for women in this country, though that number continues to rise.
Mr. Emhoff was divorced, with two children from his previous marriage, making his children, Cole and Ella, among the one in four who do not live with both biological parents, according to the Census Bureau. Ms. Harris did not have children.
In her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August, Ms. Harris spoke about her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an immigrant who came to California as a teenager and raised Kamala and her sister, Maya, after she and their father divorced. For most of Ms. Harris’s life, it was the three of them. When Maya became pregnant at 17 with her daughter, Meena, it became four.
When their family gathers this week in Washington, it will be the first time they’ve all seen each other in more than two months.
The last time was the week of the election, gathered at a house in Delaware, where they passed the time with games, karaoke, food — and waited, anxiously, for the official results to come in. “There was one night that just turned into a dance party,” Cole said.
In other words, just a family hanging out — hoping for history to be made.
Loews Hotels said on Saturday that it would not host a fund-raiser with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, the latest indication that many companies are distancing themselves from Republicans who voted to overturn the election results.
Fighting for Missouri, a political action committee affiliated with Mr. Hawley, had planned to host a “fun-filled, family-friendly Orlando weekend event” with the senator at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 12 to Feb. 15, according to an invitation for the event. Tickets were being sold for $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the group.
But Loews said that the fund-raiser had been called off after the deadly riot at the Capitol, which many Democrats and Republicans have blamed in part on Mr. Hawley and other members of his party who supported President Trump’s efforts to stop the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
“We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions,” the company said on Twitter. “In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fund-raiser that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels.”
Mr. Hawley sharply criticized the decision by Loews, which was established in 1960 and owns or operates 26 properties in the United States and Canada.
“If these corporations don’t want conservatives to speak, they should just be honest about it,” he said in a statement. “But to equate leading a debate on the floor of the Senate with inciting violence is a lie, and it’s dangerous. I will not be deterred from representing my constituents, and I will not bow to left-wing corporate pressure.”
Mr. Hawley persisted in his challenge to the election results even after the mob was cleared out of the Capitol this month, forcing the House and Senate into two hours of debate over Pennsylvania’s electoral votes even though he never made a specific charge of wrongdoing.
The rejection by Loews came after Simon & Schuster said that it would cancel the publication of an upcoming book by Mr. Hawley, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” which had been scheduled to be published in June.
Simon & Schuster said that it had made the decision because “we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.”
Mr. Hawley had said the cancellation “could not be more Orwellian,” and added, “We’ll see you in court.”
In recent days, a flurry of companies have suspended donations to some of the Republicans who voted to block the certification of the Electoral College results.
Morgan Stanley said it was suspending all PAC contributions to members of Congress who did not vote to certify the results. Marriott said it would pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election.” And the chemicals giant Dow said it was suspending all PAC contributions “to any member of Congress who voted to object to the certification of the presidential election.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., inheriting a collection of crises unlike any in generations, plans to start his administration with dozens of executive directives on top of expansive legislative proposals in a 10-day blitz meant to signal a turning point for a nation reeling from disease, economic turmoil, racial strife and now the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol.
Mr. Biden’s team has developed a raft of decrees that he can issue on his own authority after the inauguration on Wednesday to begin reversing some of President Trump’s most hotly disputed policies. Advisers hope the flurry of action, without waiting for Congress, will establish a sense of momentum for the new president even as the Senate puts his predecessor on trial.
On his first day in office alone, Mr. Biden intends a flurry of executive orders that will be partly substantive and partly symbolic. They include rescinding the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate change accord; extending pandemic-related limits on evictions and student loan payments; issuing a mask mandate for federal property and interstate travel; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border, according to a memo circulated on Saturday by Ron Klain, his incoming White House chief of staff, and obtained by The New York Times.
The blueprint of executive action comes after Mr. Biden announced that he will push Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion package of economic stimulus and pandemic relief, signaling a willingness to be aggressive on policy issues and confronting Republicans from the start to take their lead from him.
He also plans to send sweeping immigration legislation on his first day in office, providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people living in the country illegally. Along with his promise to vaccinate 100 million Americans for the coronavirus in his first 100 days, it is an expansive set of priorities for a new president that could be a defining test of his deal-making abilities and command of the federal government.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Representative Kevin McCarthy of California has been pilloried nationally and throughout the state for being loyal to President Trump to the bitter end — voting to overturn the election results hours after a mob of the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol and urging censure of the president instead of impeachment.
Democrats and some Republicans called on him to step down. The anti-Trump Lincoln Project released an ad calling him a “pathetic enabler” and urging his staff to “pack up your desk and leave that loser behind.” A scathing Sacramento Bee editorial denounced him for having “a soulless lack of principle” and for abusing his authority “to promote big, dangerous lies about the election.”
But in his home district — one of the most conservative in California — Mr. McCarthy has been under fire for not being loyal enough.
The split illustrates the gulf between the national outrage over the violence at the Capitol and the local hold the president still has on conservative parts of the country. Mr. McCarthy’s district, which includes the city of Bakersfield and most of Kern and Tulare Counties in the San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento and north of Los Angeles, is a place where oil, agriculture and MAGA dominate.
Some Republicans said Mr. McCarthy, the son of an assistant chief with the Bakersfield Fire Department, has done too much for conservative voters in the region for them to abandon him. They believe his delicate navigation of the events in Washington in recent days — speaking out against impeachment but saying the president bears responsibility for the attack on Congress by rioters — would not hurt him significantly in his district as he eyes becoming speaker of the House in two years.
Mr. McCarthy, now entering his eighth term in the House, has become a kingmaker of sorts in Kern County, helping his allies climb the political ranks, and enjoys a reservoir of good will among Republicans.
But the events of this month in Washington have brought Mr. McCarthy, 55, more criticism than he is accustomed to in his hometown.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Saturday that he was “always going to lead with science and truth” as he announced top science and technology officials on his White House staff, reaffirming trust in the kind of expert research that the Trump administration often ignored or disdained.
Extolling what he called “some of the most brilliant minds in the world,” Mr. Biden said his new team’s mission would be to ask: “How can we make the impossible possible?” He vowed to elevate scientific research and thinking on topics like the coronavirus, cancer research, climate change, clean-energy jobs, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing and other fast-advancing technologies.
The appointees included Eric S. Lander, whom Mr. Biden will nominate to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position that will for the first time hold cabinet rank.
President Trump left the position of science adviser unfilled for 18 months and his administration routinely ignored the guidance of government scientists on issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change.
Without specifically mentioning Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris drew an implicit contrast with his administration’s dismissive attitude toward expert opinion.
“The science behind climate change is not a hoax,” Ms. Harris said during the introductions, held at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del. “The science behind the virus is not a lie.”
Dr. Lander, who will also serve as presidential science adviser, was a leader of the Human Genome Project. As Dr. Lander’s deputy in the science and technology office, Alondra Nelson, whom was also named by Mr. Biden, is a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, who has studied the intersection of science with social inequality and race.
Mr. Biden also named two co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology: Frances H. Arnold, the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Maria Zuber, a geophysics and planetary science expert and the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission.
Mr. Biden also said that Dr. Francis S. Collins would remain as the director of the National Institutes of Health.
Earlier on Saturday, the Biden-Harris transition team announced several nominations to the State Department, including that of Brian P. McKeon, who has worked with Mr. Biden for more than 25 years, to be deputy secretary of state for management and resources. Bonnie Jenkins, a veteran arms control expert, was nominated for under secretary for arms control and international security affairs; Ms. Jenkins is also the founder of a group for women of color in national security.
Uzra Zeya, who has held multiple roles at the State Department, was nominated for under secretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights. Mr. Biden also formally announced the nominations of Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as under secretary for political affairs; his plans to nominate both Ms. Sherman and Ms. Nuland were previously reported.
Congressional Democrats said on Saturday that they had initiated a review of the nation’s top intelligence agencies to determine what they knew about threats of violence and how they shared that information leading up to President Trump’s rally this month, and whether those threats were related to foreign influence or misinformation.
Democratic leaders asked the F.B.I., the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for any documents related to their preparations for the rally, which spiraled out of control and led to the assault on the Capitol, according to a letter sent to those agencies.
They also asked those agencies to schedule briefing meetings with the House Oversight and Reform, Intelligence, Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees.
“The committees will conduct robust oversight to understand what warning signs may have been missed, determine whether there were systemic failures and consider how to best address countering domestic violent extremism,” the committee heads said in their letter.
Democrats said that the security and logistical preparations for the rally were “not consistent with the prospect of serious and widespread violence,” even though there have been many reports in the news media saying that law enforcement had information indicating the event could pose a “dire security threat against the Congress’s meeting to certify the election results.”
Lawmakers also wanted to know whether any people holding security clearances participated in the attack.
And they wanted to know what work was being done to apprehend and identify violent extremists, noting that some members of the mob were armed and had tactical gear, and at least one had plastic zip ties that could be used as handcuffs to restrain potential victims. Photos and video from the attack also show a number of people in the crowd wearing neo-Nazi, white supremacist and anti-government gear.