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Trump considering lawyer who spoke at rally for impeachment defence: Sources

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President Donald Trump may hire a law professor who spoke at his rally before the riot at the US Capitol to help defend him in an impeachment trial over a charge that he incited the violence, according to two people familiar with the matter.
John Eastman, who joined Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on stage at the Jan. 6 rally, is being considered for a role on Trump’s defense team, the people said.
Giuliani, 76, who told the crowd they should engage in “trial by combat,” may lead the impeachment defense, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing a source. Giuliani has not responded to requests for comment.
Eastman, 60, who made unsubstantiated claims of election fraud at the rally, would neither confirm nor deny whether he will represent Trump, citing attorney-client privilege.
Asked whether he would be willing, Eastman said: “If the President of the United States asked me to consider helping him, I would certainly give it consideration.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Eastman and has declined to comment on Giuliani.
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday made Trump the first US president to be impeached twice, charging him with inciting an insurrection as lawmakers sought to certify President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory in the Nov. 3 election.
A former clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Eastman represented Trump last month in unsuccessful challenges to the election.
At the rally, Eastman, who until Wednesday was a professor at Chapman University in California, spoke about “secret folders” of ballots used to defraud the election before Trump took the stage and repeated the discredited claim that the election was stolen from him.
Faculty members and students, among others, subsequently called for Chapman to fire Eastman. In a statement on Wednesday, the university president said an agreement had been reached under which Eastman would immediately retire from Chapman.
Eastman told Reuters he did not believe he did anything wrong. He does not think Trump has culpability, either. “None, whatsoever,” he said.
Eastman came under fire last summer for an op-ed he wrote in Newsweek that questioned whether Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was eligible to serve because her parents were not US citizens or permanent residents.
Newsweek later apologized for publishing the piece.
Trump may have a tough time retaining legal talent. He has had trouble hiring lawyers since former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the widespread condemnation of the violence at the Capitol and pressure from anti-Trump groups may discourage others from signing up.
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House in 2019 on charges that he pressured Ukraine’s president to announce an investigation of his rival Biden, but was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate in February 2020.
Giuliani’s own pressure on Ukraine helped lead to Trump’s impeachment trial.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who helped lead the defense effort during the impeachment over Ukraine, is not expected to participate in the latest effort, according to one person familiar with the matter. Cipollone will leave his post on Jan. 20, when Biden becomes president.
Jay Sekulow, another personal lawyer for Trump who played a role during the first impeachment, also is not expected to be involved.
John Yoo, a conservative legal scholar who also clerked for Thomas and worked in the Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration, said on Wednesday he did not think Trump would want him to represent him.
“I think he committed impeachable acts,” said Yoo, although he added that he thought incitement was the wrong grounds and “the Senate should not convict him.”
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US issues terror alert over anti-government extremists

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WASHINGTON: The US Department of Homeland Security declared a nationwide terrorism alert Wednesday, citing the potential threat from domestic anti-government extremists after Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the department said.
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NSA Ajit Doval speaks to American counterpart Jake Sullivan

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NEW DELHI: National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Wednesday held a telephonic talk with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan during which he underlined that India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and global issues, including combating the scourge of terrorism and ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests.
“National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had a telephone call with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan on January 27. NSA Doval conveyed his best wishes to Sullivan on his appointment as National Security Advisor,” it said.
“Doval underscored that as leading democracies, with an abiding faith in an open and inclusive world order, India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including combating the scourge of terrorism, maritime security, cyber security and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” the MEA said in a statement.
It said Sullivan stated that the US was looking forward to working together on the bilateral agenda and the common global challenges.
“The two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations, which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests. They highlighted the need to work collectively to address challenges in the post-Covid era and further expand the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” the MEA said.
Earlier, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to defence minister Rajnath Singh and exchanged views on pressing regional and global issues, including developments in the Indo-Pacific.
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America's leadership is needed around the world, says Blinken

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WASHINGTON: Newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that America‘s leadership is needed around the world and vowed that the Biden Administration will provide it.
“The US has enormous sources of strength – and we will build upon them. America’s values are noble and powerful – and we will recommit to them,” Blinken said in his maiden address to the employees of the State Department soon after his arrival at its Foggy Bottom headquarters in downtown Washington DC.
“America’s leadership is needed around the world, and we will provide it, because the world is far more likely to solve problems and meet challenges when the US is there. America at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good,” he said.
A long-time aide of President Joe Biden, 58-year-old Blinken was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of State. Soon thereafter he was administered the oath by Carol Z Perez, the acting Under Secretary of State for Management.
Well aware of the challenges ahead, Blinken told the State Department that the world is watching the United States intently right now. “They want to know if we can heal our nation,” he said.
“They want to see whether we will lead with the power of our example… and if we will put a premium on diplomacy with our allies and partners to meet the great challenges of our time – like the pandemic, climate change, the economic crisis, threats to democracies, fights for racial justice, and the danger to our security and global stability posed by our rivals and adversaries,” Blinken said.
The American people are watching too, he noted. “They want to see that we are safeguarding their well-being, that we care about their interests, that our foreign policy is about them and their lives,” he said.
“We will do right by them – by pursuing a foreign policy that delivers real benefits to American families, protects their safety, advances their opportunities, honors their values, and leaves their children and grandchildren a healthier and more peaceful world. We have our work cut out for us. But I have no doubt that we will succeed,” Blinken said.
Honoured to begin work as the country’s 71st Secretary of State, Blinken said he is excited about all that lies ahead. “It’s a new day for America and the world. Today feels like a homecoming,” he said.
Blinken has worked in the building in the past in various capacities including as an intern 28 years ago and as Deputy Secretary of State during the Obama Administration.
“As Deputy Secretary of State, I learned what it means to help lead an institution as vital as this one – how to safeguard what makes it great, invest in its future, and leave it just a little bit stronger than you found it. I take that work very seriously. And as Secretary, I will not let you down,” he said.
Blinken said that the State Department he walked into today is not the same one he left four years ago. The world has changed and the Department has changed, he noted.
“We need only look around to see that. I’m speaking to a nearly empty lobby. The people who are here are wearing masks. To date, the pandemic has claimed the lives of 5 State Department Americans and 42 locally employed staff around the world. Many more have gotten sick,” he said.
“And outside our doors, our government buildings are surrounded by new barricades. We’ve never been in a moment quite like this before. The President is committed to getting us through it as quickly as possible, so that soon, we can all gather in person again, travel freely again, and have confidence that the foundations of our democracy are strong,” Blinken said.
“We at State have a role to play in all of this. It starts with rebuilding morale and trust. This is a priority for me, because we need a strong Department for the United States to be strong in the world,” he asserted.
Blinken’s speech was greeted with applause from the smattering of employees gathered in the lobby.
Prior to his remarks, Blinken was officially welcomed into the Department for the first time as Secretary of State by approximately 30 of the women and men representing a small cross-section of the larger workforce, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said.
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