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A Second Impeachment: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. It’s hard to overstate the gravity of the crisis the United States is facing. Here’s the latest.

The debate was sharp and emotionally charged (watch here). Summoning the darkest chapters of American history, Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored colleagues in both parties to embrace “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe,” calling Mr. Trump “a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting for impeachment. In the debate, a few allies defended Mr. Trump, but most in the party simply argued that a rush to impeach raised constitutional questions, or, as Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, put it, would “further fan the flames of partisan division.”

Read more comments from lawmakers here.

2. The timing of the president’s trial in the Senate is not yet certain.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said he would not use emergency powers to bring the Senate back into session before next Tuesday, the day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Whenever the trial begins, the outcome will occur after Mr. Trump leaves office. If convicted, he could be disqualified from holding public office again.

The process is taking place with extraordinary speed and will test the bounds of impeachment procedures. Here’s how it may unfold.

And if you need a refresher, here’s how impeachment works.

3. The “People’s House” looked like a war zone — even before the new federal warnings about emboldened domestic terrorists.

The warning came in a bulletin issued by the National Counterterrorism Center and the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, which was disseminated widely to law enforcement agencies across the country. Among the armed militia groups and racist extremists it said would target Joe Biden’s inauguration were the “boogaloo,” a movement that seeks to start a second civil war.

Mr. Trump released a video in which he sought to take a harsher tone against the breach and those who committed it.

Today, thousands of armed, camouflage fatigue-clad members of the National Guard ringed the Capitol and lined its halls as the House met. Lawmakers were supposed to walk through new magnetometers in response to concerns about Republicans taking guns to the House floor; on Tuesday and Wednesday, some Republicans sidestepped the devices.

Democratic lawmakers also accused unnamed Republicans of giving tours of the Capitol to insurrectionists ahead of last week’s deadly siege.

4. The fallout from the Capitol siege is overshadowing the surging U.S. virus death toll.

More than 4,400 deaths were reported across the U.S. on Tuesday, according to a Times database, a number once unimaginable. The U.S. death toll, already the world’s highest, is now about 20,000 shy of 400,000 — only a month after the country crossed the 300,000 threshold. Above, Baltimore.

Oklahoma, where there is no statewide mask mandate, is faring particularly poorly. The state is averaging nearly 4,000 new cases each day, an increase of almost 50 percent from two weeks ago. Some states are scrambling to meet the skyrocketing demand for vaccines.

5. China ordered more than 22 million people into lockdown — double the number affected last January by the world’s first coronavirus lockdown, in Wuhan.

Facing the country’s worst coronavirus flare-up since last summer, the authorities have bolted into action, ordering testing, shutting down transportation and canceling weddings and other events. The flare-ups remain relatively small — an average of 109 new cases a day over the past week — but they threaten to undercut China’s success in subduing the virus and restarting the economy.

In another setback, scientists in Brazil have downgraded the efficacy of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine that they hailed last week as a major triumph. That’s a blow for China’s vaccine diplomacy, as well as the 10 countries — many in the developing world — that have ordered hundreds of millions of doses.

6. In other international news:

Italy started its largest mob trial in decades. Prosecutors in the southern region of Calabria opened a trial of 325 defendants linked to the ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate, who are accused of murder, corruption, drug trafficking and other crimes. On trial (via video links because of the pandemic) are alleged leaders and foot soldiers, politicians and white-collar professionals believed to be working with the criminal organization.

(We’re also watching to see if Italy’s government, a wobbly coalition of unpopular populists and the center-left establishment, will fall.)

And Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who has been in Germany for months recovering from a nerve-agent attack believed to have been carried out by the Russian state, said he would return to Russia this weekend despite the threat of being jailed upon arrival.

7. The pandemic has decimated the arts at a time that we need them most.

Governments around the world have tried to keep artists afloat, some more generously than others.

Our critic Jason Farago says the Biden administration has “the chance — the responsibility — to offer a new settlement for American culture.”

Among his suggestions: a federal cultural works project similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, the permanent expansion of unemployment eligibility, grants to keep venues afloat and a White House Office for Culture.

8. American women are making their mark in a sport long dominated by Nordic countries: cross-country skiing.

Jessie Diggins, above, recently made history in the prestigious Tour de Ski, becoming the first American to win the notoriously brutal 10-day race. Her teammate Rosie Brennan came in second, right behind her, in two of the race’s eight stages, which includes sprints and long courses. The race culminated in northeastern Italy with a 10-kilometer climb up a downhill ski area.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to test major league sports. Less than a month into the N.B.A.’s season, which is running without last year’s restricted bubble, coronavirus cases and game postponements are piling up. The N.H.L. season begins tonight, and at least one opener is delayed because of the virus. Here’s a preview of the hockey season.

9. This cave painting may be the oldest figurative art by humans ever found.

The image dates back at least 45,500 years, according to a new study. The animal resembles the warty pig, a species still living on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where the painting was found.

The island was already considered by some experts to be the site of the earliest known cave art in the world. Some scientists think the artists may not have been Homo sapiens, but members of a now extinct human species.

And in case you missed it, relics from the favorite hideaway of Caligula, ancient Rome’s most infamous tyrant, have been recovered and put on display.

10. And finally, an ode to chips.

Sam Anderson, a contributing writer to The Times Magazine, invites readers to give the news a rest and briefly turn ourselves “into dusty-fingered junk-food receptacles” in this week’s delightful Letter of Recommendation.

Junk food — ageless, reliably flavored and yet unique — breaks through the tedious self-scrutiny the era of quarantines has forced on us, he writes, offering a temporary taste of infinity.

“The chips come like ocean waves,” he says, “like human breaths, serial but unique, each part of a huge eternal rhythm but also its own precious discovery.”

Hope you get a break tonight.

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

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

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at briefing@nytimes.com.



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