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Impeachment, W.H.O., Serena Williams: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began at the very site of the riot he is accused of inciting.

The House managers prosecuting the former president opened the proceedings with a vivid and graphic sequence of footage of his supporters storming the Capitol last month in an effort to prevent Congress from confirming his election defeat.

The chaotic scenes highlighted the drama of the trial for the senators who lived through the events.

“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution,” Representative Jamie Raskin, the leader of the House Democrats prosecuting the case, said in an emotional appeal. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers responded by arguing that his words at the rally on Jan. 6 constituted free speech, and they characterized the impeachment as yet another partisan attack.

In a 56-to-44 vote, the Senate said that a former president could be tried, allowing the trial to move forward. But Mr. Trump appeared to have enough support for acquittal.

The trial adjourned until noon tomorrow. Here’s what lies ahead.

2. As the Senate began the impeachment trial, actions taken by paramilitary groups in Michigan explain how, under Mr. Trump’s influence, the Republican Party aligned itself with a culture of militancy.

Dozens of heavily armed militiamen crowded into the Michigan Statehouse last April to protest a stay-at-home order by the Democratic governor to slow the pandemic. Following signals from Mr. Trump, Michigan’s Republican Party welcomed the support. The intrusion signaled a profound shift in Republican politics and a national crisis in the making.

“It is like the Republican Party has its own domestic army,” said Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan party and a vocal Trump critic.


3. President Biden met with the chief executives of JPMorgan Chase, Lowe’s, Walmart (pictured left to right) and the Gap at the White House to build support for the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. Also on the agenda: raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Such a move would not happen right away, if at all, and Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have already committed to not raising the wage until the pandemic has subsided. But Mr. Biden and his allies in Congress see it as a central weapon for fighting poverty and inequality.

There also seems to be support for a simple new approach to helping families: send parents money with no strings attached. Under plans by Mr. Biden and Senator Mitt Romney, parents of children 17 and younger would be sent $250 to $350 a month. In contrast with the current child tax credit, the poorest families would be eligible.


4. The coronavirus probably first spread to humans through an animal and was “extremely unlikely” to have been the result of a lab accident, the World Health Organization said.

The findings, delivered after 12 days of field work by a team visiting Wuhan, China, were the first step in what will most likely be a painstaking process to trace the origins of the global pandemic.

5. Colleges vowed a safer spring semester. Then students — and coronavirus variants — arrived.

Many U.S. universities instituted new testing protocols, like at the University of California, Davis, above, hoping to avoid the problems of the fall when infection rates soared on campuses and in surrounding communities. But more contagious variants and uncooperative students have already driven outbreaks. The University of Michigan has announced more than 1,000 new virus cases since Jan. 1.

Separately, the Chicago Public Schools and its teachers’ union reached a tentative deal to bring younger students back over the coming weeks. The city committed to offering 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses this week to staff members as part of the agreement. A full union vote is expected tonight.


6. The pilot in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant violated federal rules by flying into fog, where he became disoriented, investigators said.

“This weather did not sneak up on the pilot,” the lead investigator on the case told the National Transportation Safety Board. He said that the pilot had crashed just minutes from an airport where he could have landed, and that when he indicated he was trying to climb above the clouds, he was actually rapidly falling, a sign that he was disoriented.

Mr. Bryant, the retired star basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, died in January last year when the helicopter slammed into a fog-shrouded hill near Calabasas, Calif., and killed all nine people on board, including Mr. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, pictured with him in 2019.


7. You may want to be careful where you park your car.

Stricter car emissions rules around the world have driven demand for the precious metals found in catalytic converters, which scrub the worst toxic pollutants from the car’s exhaust. Thieves with hacksaws have noticed, and the police are reporting a surge in thefts nationwide. Rhodium, just one of the metals in catalytic converters, is worth 12 times more than gold.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Jerry Turriff, proprietor of Jerry’s Certified Service and Towing in Milwaukee. “Now if I have a vehicle I think’s going to be targeted, I take the air out the tires, so they can’t slither underneath.”


8. We remember Mary Wilson, a founding member of the Supremes.

With the original members Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, Ms. Wilson was part of one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s, spinning up a dozen No. 1 singles as an instrumental part of Motown’s legendary sound. Ms. Wilson died at 76. Above, Ms. Ross, Ms. Wilson and Cindy Birdsong, who replaced Ms. Ballard.

While there was friction in the group behind the scenes, their impact on Black girls and women across America was undeniable. The Supremes went on to influence countless musical acts and girl groups like Destiny’s Child, En Vogue and SWV.

“My whole life is like a dream,” Ms. Wilson told The Guardian in 2019. “I tell you — if I were not a Supreme, I would want to be a Supreme.”


9. Tom Brady’s seventh Super Bowl win reignited the debate over who’s the greatest ever. Of course, he’s never won a title while pregnant.

Serena Williams told us she’s finding inspiration in Brady’s win while in pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles win at the Australian Open. In September 2017, she delivered her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, nearly seven months after she won the Australian Open.

10. And finally, a cat got this lawyer’s tongue.

It was a civil forfeiture case hearing like any other hearing — except courts don’t usually let cats argue cases. Rod Ponton, a county attorney in Presidio County, Texas, found himself unable to figure out how to turn off the cat filter on his Zoom call during a hearing.

“I’m prepared to go forward with it,” Mr. Ponton said, exasperated at the words coming out of his kitten face. Then, clarifying: “I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

The video was shared widely, and Mr. Ponton took it in good spirits.

“If I can make the country chuckle for a moment in these difficult times they’re going through, I’m happy to let them do that at my expense,” he said.

Have a good-humored evening.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

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