Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1.Former President Donald Trump Acquitted In Second Impeachment Trial
On February 13, the US Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection despite significant Republican support for conviction, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in US history and the second for Trump. As opposed to the lack of Republican support in Trump’s first impeachment trial, seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress. That is by far the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history. The final vote was 57 to 43, 10 short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction. Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty. The vote means the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.
2. Iranian Government Demands ‘Action’ From Biden Administration To Revive Nuclear Deal
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded “action, not words” from the US if it wants to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several other world powers, challenging President Joe Biden to take the first step toward a thaw. Iran has set a deadline of next week for President Biden to begin reversing sanctions imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump, or it will take its biggest step yet to breach the deal, banning short-notice inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog. “We have heard many nice words and promises which in practice have been broken and opposite actions have been taken,” Khamenei said in a televised speech. “Words and promises are no good. This time (we want) only action from the other side, and we will also act.”
3. President Joe Biden Begins Process To Close Down Guantanamo Bay Military Prison
President Joe Biden’s aides have launched a formal review of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, reviving the Obama-era goal of closing the controversial facility with the aim of doing so before he leaves office, the White House said on February 12. Aides involved in internal discussions are considering an executive action to be signed by President Biden in coming weeks or months, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, signaling a new effort to remove what human rights advocates have called a stain on America’s global image. Asked whether President Biden would shut the high-security prison located at the Guantanamo Naval Station by the time his presidency ends, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters: “That certainly is our goal and our intention.” But such an initiative is unlikely to bring down the curtain anytime soon on the offshore facility, due largely to the steep political and legal obstacles that also frustrated efforts by his ex-boss, former President Barack Obama, to close it.
4. With Trump’s impeachment trial over, President Joe Biden Discusses His Ambitious Agenda In CNN Town Hall Address
President Joe Biden expressed optimism on February 16 that most US schools would be open by late spring and vowed to continue accelerating the country’s Coronavirus vaccination program, as he sought to elevate his agenda now the drama of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is over. In a wide-ranging televised town hall that touched on the pandemic, economic relief, China-US relations, and race and policing, Biden also aimed to build public support for his $1.9 trillion Coronavirus relief plan, which is awaiting congressional action. “Now’s the time to go big,” he said during a CNN prime-time broadcast, as he fielded questions from voters at the landmark Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “If we pass this bill alone, we’ll create 7 million jobs this year.”
5. Biden Administration Begins Exploring The Concept Of Slavery Reparations
President Joe Biden supports a study on whether descendants of enslaved people in the United States should receive Reparations, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on February 17, as the issue was being debated on Capitol Hill. Psaki told reporters that Biden “continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today.”
Reparations have been used in other circumstances to offset large moral and economic debt, paid to Japanese Americans interned during World War Two, to families of Holocaust survivors, and to Blacks in post-apartheid South Africa. But the US has never made much headway in discussions of whether or how to compensate African Americans for more than 200 years of slavery and help make up for racial inequality. HR-40, a bill to fund the study of “slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies” has been floated in Congress for more than 30 years, but never taken up for a full vote. Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced it in January. Fellow Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen, who chairs the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, told a hearing on February 17 it was fitting to consider HR-40 at a time when the country is reckoning with police violence against African Americans and a pandemic that has disproportionately affected African Americans.