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Tim Kaine, Susan Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Donald Trump

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on-the-record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.


What we're hearing: Some Democrats are interested only if at least 10 GOP senators publicly commit to a censure, thus ensuring the 60-vote margin needed to pass major legislation in the chamber.

  • It's still unclear whether a resolution would be in lieu of or come after a trial.

Driving the news: Kaine (D-Va.) and Collins (R-Maine) have been interested in a censure resolution for weeks now and have discussed it on multiple occasions.

  • But the bipartisan discussions among senators grew more earnest after 45 Republicans voted today in favor of a motion to dismiss the trial because Trump is now out of office.
  • The vote was a clear indication he won't be convicted.

Between the lines: In some ways a censure vote could be more difficult for Republicans, because they can't rely on the argument that a resolution is unconstitutional — like they are for an impeachment conviction.

  • It would also be a history-making vote. No other president has been censured after leaving office.

What they're saying: "I think it's pretty obvious from the vote today, that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted. Just do the math," Collins told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

  • Kaine has said he wants to do whatever possible to keep the focus on the Biden-Harris agenda and COVID-19 relief, so he supports a speedy trial or alternate way to hold Trump accountable.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to congressional leadership

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

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FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Food and Drugs Administration on Saturdayissued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

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Italy tightens COVID restrictions for 5 regions amid warnings of a growing prevalence of variants

Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.

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Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

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Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."

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Scoop: Biden admin call on Putin pipeline provokes GOP anger

A briefing between the State Department and congressional staff over Vladimir Putin's Russia-Germany gas pipeline got tense this week, with Biden officials deflecting questions about why they hadn't moved faster and more aggressively with sanctions tostop its completion.

  • The Biden officials also denied negotiating with the Germans over a potential side deal to allow the pipeline to be finished.
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