HEADLINEDEC 23, 2020
Trump is expected to grant more pardons in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, urged Trump to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly considering granting legal immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing a federal lawsuit over a plot to assassinate a former top Saudi intelligence officer who now lives in Canada. Such a move may provide the legal basis to protect bin Salman over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
President Trump threatened to thwart the $900 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package, which he called a “disgrace” in a video released on Twitter Tuesday night.
President Donald Trump: “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple. I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package. And maybe that administration will be me.”
Trump did not say whether he would veto the bill, which passed with a veto-proof majority. Top Democrats seized on Trump’s remarks Tuesday night to repeat their own calls for higher direct payments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reminded Trump that Republicans blocked the move. Pelosi tweeted, “Democrats are ready to bring this to the floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” And progressive Congressmembers Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last night they already prepared an amendment to add the $2,000 payments to the bill. Senator Schumer responded to AOC’s tweet, “I’m in. Whaddya say, Mitch?”
This comes as the U.S. is averaging over 200,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, with record-breaking deaths and hospitalizations. 2020 was the deadliest year ever in U.S. history, mostly due to the pandemic. The country is on track to top 3.2 million deaths this year — over 400,000 more deaths than in 2019.