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Impeachment, Jeff Bezos, Captain Tom: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Dueling filings provide the clearest preview yet of a politically fraught impeachment trial — the second in just a year.

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers denied that he incited the assault on the Capitol and argued that the Senate had no power to try a former president. Mr. Trump’s words to supporters were protected by his First Amendment right of free speech, they said, adding that his comments were not meant as a reference to violent action, but were “about the need to fight for election security in general.”

In their filing, House prosecutors argued that Mr. Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack and a broader attack on democracy that showed he would do anything to “reassert his grip on power” if he were allowed to seek election again. The trial is set to start next Tuesday.

2. President Biden is still at work rolling back his predecessor’s policies, this time his assault on immigration.

Mr. Biden signed three executive orders: one that created a task force to reunite several hundred families who were separated at the Mexican border, and two that authorized a review of the former president’s measures on asylum and legal immigration. Above, Honduran migrant families in McAllen, Texas, in 2019.

“I’m not making new law,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m eliminating bad policy.”

Separately, the Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, making him the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold that job. Pete Buttigieg, 39, was confirmed as transportation secretary, the first openly gay cabinet secretary to have been approved by the Senate and the youngest member of Mr. Biden’s cabinet.


3. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, will step down as chief executive this summer and transition into the role of executive chairman.

“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Mr. Bezos, 57, said in an email sent to employees. As executive chairman, he said, he intends to focus “on new products and early initiatives.”

Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will be promoted to run all of Amazon. Mr. Bezos had stepped back from much of the day-to-day business over the past several years, though the pandemic pulled him back in last spring.

In other business news, GameStop plunged 60 percent, a second day of sharp declines in the stock, as a social media-fueled buying frenzy quickly lost its momentum.


4. Moderna is asking U.S. regulators to allow it to increase the amount of coronavirus vaccine put into each vial to speed vaccines to patients.

Moderna, one of two Covid-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S., has already been ramping up production of its doses, but the process of filling, capping and labeling millions of tiny vials has emerged as a roadblock. Upping the number of doses in each vile to as many as 15, from 10, Moderna said, would help ease the bottleneck.

The need for more vaccines comes as a study found that a fast-spreading coronavirus variant first observed in Britain has gained a worrisome mutation that could make it harder to control with vaccines.

In other vaccine news, a peer-reviewed study found that the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, has been shown to have 91.6 percent efficacy against the coronavirus. The results leave Russia well positioned to deliver a cheap vaccine at home and abroad.

5. Vaccine shots in many cities are disproportionately going to white people.

Although low-income communities of color have been hit hardest by Covid-19, health officials in many cities say that people from wealthier, largely white neighborhoods have been flooding vaccination appointment systems and taking an outsize share of the limited supply.

Officials in Washington, D.C., above, quickly pivoted to offer new appointments to people in ZIP codes with the highest rates of infection and death from the virus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded vaccine eligibility in New York to include restaurant workers after he called doing so “a cheap, insincere discussion.” He also recently decided to reopen indoor dining, despite virus data showing that average per capita case counts are higher than before the ban.


6. A Moscow court sentenced Aleksei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s loudest critic, to more than two years in prison for violating parole.

Mr. Navalny may seek to appeal the ruling, but the Russian authorities have signaled that they would not be swayed by public pressure to release Mr. Navalny, despite hundreds of thousands of demonstrators pouring into Russian cities over the past couple of weeks calling for his freedom.

“You cannot lock up the whole country,” Mr. Navalny said during his hearing.

Prosecutors argued that Mr. Navalny violated parole from a 2014 suspended prison sentence by not checking in with prison authorities, including while he was in Germany recovering from being poisoned in August.


7. “He just stayed on my neck.”

That’s Zoya Code, above, who found herself in a similar position as George Floyd, three years before his death: handcuffed facedown, and pinned to the ground by Derek Chauvin’s knee.

Ms. Code’s case was one of six arrests as far back as 2015 that the Minnesota Attorney General’s office argues show how Mr. Chauvin used excessive force when he restrained people just as he did in arresting Mr. Floyd. Mr. Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder in Mr. Floyd’s death.

Ms. Code and three others spoke to The Marshall Project about their encounters with Mr. Chauvin for an article written in partnership with The Times.


8. The Bruins gymnastics team of the University of California, Los Angeles, has more than one secret weapon.

You may have seen Nia Dennis’s floor routine go viral last week, an exuberant and powerful celebration of Black culture set to music from Kendrick Lamar and Missy Elliott. But behind her is another rising star: the choreographer Bijoya Das, who is the Bruins’ volunteer assistant coach.

Ms. Das, a former gymnast with a deep relationship to dance, is training U.C.L.A. team members to let their personality light up the mat. “I just want the routines to bring them joy and to make them happy,” she said.


9. Welcoming the year of the Ox.

If there’s one occasion to prepare dumplings from scratch, wrappers and all, it’s the Lunar New Year, which starts Feb. 12. Everyday dumplings take on special significance for the holiday, symbolizing good fortune for the year ahead and assuring family unity.

The more immediate reward comes from the process of making them, writes our Food editor Genevieve Ko, who describes a therapeutic project “that lulls like rowing on a still lake.” Try her crisp dumplings, or tang yuan — chewy balls with black sesame filling that simmer in sweet ginger soup.


10. And finally, farewell to a British hero.

Tom Moore, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, was propelled into superstardom last spring when he raised $45 million for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps around his brick patio outside of London during lockdown. At the time, he said he wanted to support Britain’s medical workers during the pandemic, just as the country had backed him during his army days.

Mr. Moore, nicknamed Captain Tom, died on Tuesday. He had been treated for pneumonia in recent weeks and tested positive for the coronavirus last month.

“The first step was the hardest,” he told The Times in May of his feat. “After that, I got into the swing of it and kept on going.”

Have a resolute evening.


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

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