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From a golden statue to Trump hinting at a second and third presidential run, here are some striking moments from CPAC

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
  • GOP lawmakers and supporters flocked to the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.
  • CPAC this year was marked by an allegiance to Trump and an expectation that he will remain influential.
  • Here are the most striking — and the weirdest — moments of the four-day event.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

GOP lawmakers and supporters convened for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, where they praised former President Donald Trump, mocked masks, and promoted illegitimate claims of voter fraud.

Some, like Donald Trump Jr., used his stage power to rally the crowd against Big Tech and the mainstream media. Among his targets was Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House who voted to impeach Trump last month.

The conference, running from February 25 to 28, teemed with top GOP leaders from all over the United States, most of whom largely stood by the twice-impeached former president. 

CPAC marks Trump's first public appearance since leaving office, as he was the headlining guest of the conference.

Here are some of the most striking moments of this year's CPAC:

There was a golden statue of Trump.
Trump statue CPAC 2021
People take a picture with former President Donald Trump's statue on display at CPAC.

Standing at more than 6 feet tall, the statue was unveiled late Thursday. It's a golden structure resembling Trump, with a suit jacket, red tie American-flag shorts, and flip-flops.

Attendees posed with and took pictures of the statue.

The artist behind it, Tommy Zegan, said he spent six months making the statue in Mexico.

"He's wearing a business suit because he's a businessman. The red tie represents the Republican party, the red white and blue shorts represent the fact that he's a patriot," Zegan told the New York Post

Zegan said he hopes to sell it for more than $1 million or submit it to a Trump presidential library in the future.

And Trump merch for sale everywhere.
Trump merch at CPAC
Various items are seen on sale at the merchandise show at CPAC on Saturday.

Trump, despite leaving office more than a month ago with the inauguration of President Joe Biden, was a focal point of the GOP conference. 

Attendees came dressed in Trump gear, and speakers alluded to or explicitly referred to his hold on the Republican party. 

"Let me tell you right now, Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday to a crowd. 

Trump, for his part, has embraced the idea that he maintains a strong influence in the party. He's floated several possibilities to remain relevant in politics, such as a potential 2024 presidential run and the formation of a political action committee. His support from top GOP lawmakers indicates that Trump, while out of office, still maintains deep influence in GOP politics. 

Gov. Kristi Noem defended coronavirus handling in South Dakota.
Kristi Noem at CPAC
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Noem has frequently flouted coronavirus guidelines that have since become regular and expected in dozens of states across the country. 

On Saturday, she slammed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading coronavirus expert, while defending her own policies that go against guidelines from health officials. 

"I don't know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot," Noem said, receiving applause from the CPAC crowd.

For months, Noem has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate in South Dakota, even as the state earned a reputation as one of the 10 most dangerous when its COVID test positivity rate neared 60% in November.

And despite having the 6th smallest population in the country, South Dakota has the second-highest overall rate of coronavirus cases. The only state that beat out South Dakota is North Dakota.

Roger Stone danced to a rap about Trump.
Roger stone
Roger Stone dances with rapper Forgiato Blow as he arrives for CPAC.

Convicted felon Stone danced outside the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida.

He arrived at the event without a ticket and began to dance on the sidewalk next to Forgiato Blow, a rapper who's been described as "Trump-loving" by hip-hop outlets. 

Forgiato Blow was at the time rapping about Trump winning the election, which did not happen. 

The two were standing by and dancing near a truck featuring a giant image of Trump in the style of "Rambo" with an assault weapon.  

And he signed autographs.
Roger Stone autographs CPAC
Roger Stone signing an autograph at CPAC.

Stone also posed for pics with onlookers and Trump supporters. 

Conference organizers did not let him to the event since he didn't have a ticket.

Trump in December pardoned Stone, who was found guilty of seven felonies last year in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mask-less attendees made up the crowd.
maskless people at CPAC
People listen as Don Trump, Jr. addresses the CPAC crowd on February 26, 2021, in Orlando, Florida.

Though many attendees wore masks, many others did not. 

And when a CPAC organizer urged the audience to wear a mask, she was met with resistance.

"We are in a private facility and we want to be respectful of the ordinances that they have as their private property, so please, everyone when you're in the ballroom, when you're seated, you should still be wearing a mask," said CPAC organizer Carly Conley.

Attendees shouted "freedom" and booed at the directive.  

It's been almost a year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Since then, more than 28 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that, more than 500,000 Americans have died

Many of the speakers who got on stage, which included a wide array of top GOP politicians, did not wear masks. 

Mask-wearing for months has been one of the guidelines that various health agencies have touted as most effective for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in public spaces.

Ted Cruz mocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ted Cruz at CPAC
Ted Cruz addressing the crowd at CPAC.

Cruz appeared to make fun of Ocasio-Cortez for her response to the January 6 Capitol riot. 

"I thought I was going to die," Ocasio-Cortez said after the insurrection.

"We're gathered at a time where the hard left, where the socialists control the levers of government, where they control the White House, where they control every executive branch, where they control both houses of Congress. Bernie is wearing mittens, and AOC is telling us she was murdered," Cruz said. 

His remarks about her come just days after she raised millions for Texans who were suffering after a storm knocked out power.

During that storm, Cruz fled to Cancún.

A woman advertises a book of Trump's tweets.
Woman Trump tweets CPAC
A woman shows a publicity of the book "Just the Tweets."

A woman walked around dressed as a giant book titled, "Just the Tweets," an advertisement for a book containing the former president's tweets from his first year in office.

Trump was banned from Twitter in January because of his potential to incite further violence following the deadly siege on the US Capitol, during which five people died.

Immediately following Twitter's permanent suspension of Trump, top conservatives began sharing their Parler accounts on the platform, encouraging their followers to gravitate there. 

The former president was infuriated when he learned he was ban. A senior administration official told Politico that Trump went "ballistic." Shortly after Twitter removed his @realDonaldTrump account, the president tweeted from the official @POTUS and @TeamTrump handles. But Twitter immediately deleted those posts as well. 

Trump hints at a second and third run for president.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

Former President Trump began his closing remarks by asking a cheering crowd, "Do you miss me yet? Do you miss me?"

Trump, who was expected to speak on the unity of the GOP, said "For the next four years, the brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media and their toxic cancel culture -- something new to our ears ... and I want you to know that I'm going to continue to fight right by your side."

"We're not starting new parties. You know, they kept saying, 'he's going to start a brand new party. We have the Republican. It's going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news."

"Wouldn't that be brilliant? Let's start a new party. Let's divide our vote so that you can never win. No, we're not interested in that."

He spent most of his remarks railing against the Biden administration's immigration policies, executive orders, and COVID-19 response, particularly around vaccines and school reopenings.

"This alone should be reason enough for Democrats to suffer withering losses in the midterms and to lose the White House decisively four years from now," Trump said, setting off a chant of "USA, USA, USA."

"Actually, as you know, they just lost the white house," he added, likely referring to a possible 2024 run. "But who knows ... I might even decide to beat them for a third time."

Read the original article on Business Insider

From a golden statue to Trump hinting at a second and third presidential run, here are some striking moments from CPAC

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
  • GOP lawmakers and supporters flocked to the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.
  • CPAC this year was marked by an allegiance to Trump and an expectation that he will remain influential.
  • Here are the most striking — and the weirdest — moments of the four-day event.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

GOP lawmakers and supporters convened for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, where they praised former President Donald Trump, mocked masks, and promoted illegitimate claims of voter fraud.

Some, like Donald Trump Jr., used his stage power to rally the crowd against Big Tech and the mainstream media. Among his targets was Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House who voted to impeach Trump last month.

The conference, running from February 25 to 28, teemed with top GOP leaders from all over the United States, most of whom largely stood by the twice-impeached former president. 

CPAC marks Trump's first public appearance since leaving office, as he was the headlining guest of the conference.

Here are some of the most striking moments of this year's CPAC:

There was a golden statue of Trump.
Trump statue CPAC 2021
People take a picture with former President Donald Trump's statue on display at CPAC.

Standing at more than 6 feet tall, the statue was unveiled late Thursday. It's a golden structure resembling Trump, with a suit jacket, red tie American-flag shorts, and flip-flops.

Attendees posed with and took pictures of the statue.

The artist behind it, Tommy Zegan, said he spent six months making the statue in Mexico.

"He's wearing a business suit because he's a businessman. The red tie represents the Republican party, the red white and blue shorts represent the fact that he's a patriot," Zegan told the New York Post

Zegan said he hopes to sell it for more than $1 million or submit it to a Trump presidential library in the future.

And Trump merch for sale everywhere.
Trump merch at CPAC
Various items are seen on sale at the merchandise show at CPAC on Saturday.

Trump, despite leaving office more than a month ago with the inauguration of President Joe Biden, was a focal point of the GOP conference. 

Attendees came dressed in Trump gear, and speakers alluded to or explicitly referred to his hold on the Republican party. 

"Let me tell you right now, Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday to a crowd. 

Trump, for his part, has embraced the idea that he maintains a strong influence in the party. He's floated several possibilities to remain relevant in politics, such as a potential 2024 presidential run and the formation of a political action committee. His support from top GOP lawmakers indicates that Trump, while out of office, still maintains deep influence in GOP politics. 

Gov. Kristi Noem defended coronavirus handling in South Dakota.
Kristi Noem at CPAC
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Noem has frequently flouted coronavirus guidelines that have since become regular and expected in dozens of states across the country. 

On Saturday, she slammed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading coronavirus expert, while defending her own policies that go against guidelines from health officials. 

"I don't know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot," Noem said, receiving applause from the CPAC crowd.

For months, Noem has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate in South Dakota, even as the state earned a reputation as one of the 10 most dangerous when its COVID test positivity rate neared 60% in November.

And despite having the 6th smallest population in the country, South Dakota has the second-highest overall rate of coronavirus cases. The only state that beat out South Dakota is North Dakota.

Roger Stone danced to a rap about Trump.
Roger stone
Roger Stone dances with rapper Forgiato Blow as he arrives for CPAC.

Convicted felon Stone danced outside the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida.

He arrived at the event without a ticket and began to dance on the sidewalk next to Forgiato Blow, a rapper who's been described as "Trump-loving" by hip-hop outlets. 

Forgiato Blow was at the time rapping about Trump winning the election, which did not happen. 

The two were standing by and dancing near a truck featuring a giant image of Trump in the style of "Rambo" with an assault weapon.  

And he signed autographs.
Roger Stone autographs CPAC
Roger Stone signing an autograph at CPAC.

Stone also posed for pics with onlookers and Trump supporters. 

Conference organizers did not let him to the event since he didn't have a ticket.

Trump in December pardoned Stone, who was found guilty of seven felonies last year in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mask-less attendees made up the crowd.
maskless people at CPAC
People listen as Don Trump, Jr. addresses the CPAC crowd on February 26, 2021, in Orlando, Florida.

Though many attendees wore masks, many others did not. 

And when a CPAC organizer urged the audience to wear a mask, she was met with resistance.

"We are in a private facility and we want to be respectful of the ordinances that they have as their private property, so please, everyone when you're in the ballroom, when you're seated, you should still be wearing a mask," said CPAC organizer Carly Conley.

Attendees shouted "freedom" and booed at the directive.  

It's been almost a year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Since then, more than 28 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that, more than 500,000 Americans have died

Many of the speakers who got on stage, which included a wide array of top GOP politicians, did not wear masks. 

Mask-wearing for months has been one of the guidelines that various health agencies have touted as most effective for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in public spaces.

Ted Cruz mocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ted Cruz at CPAC
Ted Cruz addressing the crowd at CPAC.

Cruz appeared to make fun of Ocasio-Cortez for her response to the January 6 Capitol riot. 

"I thought I was going to die," Ocasio-Cortez said after the insurrection.

"We're gathered at a time where the hard left, where the socialists control the levers of government, where they control the White House, where they control every executive branch, where they control both houses of Congress. Bernie is wearing mittens, and AOC is telling us she was murdered," Cruz said. 

His remarks about her come just days after she raised millions for Texans who were suffering after a storm knocked out power.

During that storm, Cruz fled to Cancún.

A woman advertises a book of Trump's tweets.
Woman Trump tweets CPAC
A woman shows a publicity of the book "Just the Tweets."

A woman walked around dressed as a giant book titled, "Just the Tweets," an advertisement for a book containing the former president's tweets from his first year in office.

Trump was banned from Twitter in January because of his potential to incite further violence following the deadly siege on the US Capitol, during which five people died.

Immediately following Twitter's permanent suspension of Trump, top conservatives began sharing their Parler accounts on the platform, encouraging their followers to gravitate there. 

The former president was infuriated when he learned he was ban. A senior administration official told Politico that Trump went "ballistic." Shortly after Twitter removed his @realDonaldTrump account, the president tweeted from the official @POTUS and @TeamTrump handles. But Twitter immediately deleted those posts as well. 

Trump hints at a second and third run for president.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

Former President Trump began his closing remarks by asking a cheering crowd, "Do you miss me yet? Do you miss me?"

Trump, who was expected to speak on the unity of the GOP, said "For the next four years, the brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media and their toxic cancel culture -- something new to our ears ... and I want you to know that I'm going to continue to fight right by your side."

"We're not starting new parties. You know, they kept saying, 'he's going to start a brand new party. We have the Republican. It's going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news."

"Wouldn't that be brilliant? Let's start a new party. Let's divide our vote so that you can never win. No, we're not interested in that."

He spent most of his remarks railing against the Biden administration's immigration policies, executive orders, and COVID-19 response, particularly around vaccines and school reopenings.

"This alone should be reason enough for Democrats to suffer withering losses in the midterms and to lose the White House decisively four years from now," Trump said, setting off a chant of "USA, USA, USA."

"Actually, as you know, they just lost the white house," he added, likely referring to a possible 2024 run. "But who knows ... I might even decide to beat them for a third time."

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy says Trump won’t be the party’s 2024 presidential nominee

Bill Cassidy
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).
  • GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy said he doesn't believe that Trump will be the party's nominee for president in 2024.
  • The party needs a candidate "who lifts all boats, and that's clearly not happened over the last four years," Cassidy said.
  • Trump and other GOP members have said the former president will remain relevant to the party.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy said on Sunday that he does not believe Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in 2024, contrary to strong suggestions from the former president that say otherwise.

Trump's days in office came to an end after President Joe Biden got inaugurated on January 20. But he is still able to run in future elections, and he has shared vague plans to do so. 

Before Biden even entered office, for example, Trump said he'd like to host a 2024 campaign event

Trump this weekend is headlining the Conservative Political Action Conference. One of CPAC's most prominent features this year is a golden statue of Trump himself.

Recently, Republican lawmakers have begun to publicly back Trump for a 2024 bid. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, said he'd support Trump in 2024 should he be the nominee. His remarks came just days after the senator accused the Trump of "dereliction of duty" over the Capitol siege on January 6.

Sen. Mitt Romney last week predicted that Trump would win the 2024 GOP nomination "in a landslide."

And Sen. Lindsey Graham revealed plans to leverage the former president's influence to ensure that the Republican party takes back the House and Senate in 2022. 

In an interview with Politico, Graham said he'll meet with Trump to discuss the future of the GOP and his role in it.

"I'm going to try and convince him that we can't get there without you, but you can't keep the Trump movement going without the GOP united," Graham said.

"If we come back in 2022, then, it's an affirmation of your policies," he said. "But if we lose again in 2022, the narrative is going to continue that not only you lost the White House, but the Republican Party is in a bad spot."

His actions and the continued support for him from politicians and voters show that Trump, while out of office, still maintains deep influence in GOP politics. 

Still, not everyone in the GOP is convinced that Trump still has a grip on Republican politics. 

"He'll be 78 years old. I don't think he'll be our nominee," Cassidy said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "Over the last four years, we've lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Political campaigns are about winning. Our agenda does not move forward unless we win." 

"We need a candidate that can not only win himself or herself but we also have to have someone who lifts all boats, and that's clearly not happened over the last four years," Cassidy added.

Cassidy was among the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

New York lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo

andrew cuomo leak
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • Top New York lawmakers have come out in favor of an independent investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • Two former staffers have publicly alleged they were sexually harassed by the New York governor.
  • Cuomo's office said there would be an investigation, but critics worry his pick to conduct one will not be impartial.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

State and federal lawmakers are coming out in support of an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

In December, a former aide said she had been sexually harassed by the governor "for years." At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists. 

But last week, Boylan broke her silence in a Medium post, said Cuomo had touched her inappropriately and kissed her without her consent

Cuomo's office has repeatedly denied her claims. "As we said before, Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false," press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.

The New York Times on Saturday published the account of a second former aide who said Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her multiple times. 

"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared," Charlotte Bennett told the Times. "And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job."

Cuomo's office denied her claims and said the governor had always "tried to act as a mentor to Bennett." His office also announced a "full and thorough outside review" into Bennett's allegations.

Former federal judge Barbara Jones, who has close ties to a Cuomo advisor, has been tapped to carry out the investigation. Lawmakers are not convinced that her investigation will be fair and objective.

Instead, they're calling for New York Attorney General Letitia James to determine the third party that conducts the investigation.

"The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are deeply troubling and deserve a thorough investigation," said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler. "It must be transparent, impartial, and above all else, independent. As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also called for an independent investigation, saying in a tweet that Boylan and Bennett's accounts "are extremely serious and painful to read."

New York Rep. Antonio Delgado echoed those sentiments, saying Cuomo "should follow precedent by referring this matter to the Attorney General."

"Breaking from past practices in the face of such serious allegations is not acceptable," Delgado added.  

"The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator," New York Rep. Kathleen Rice said. "PERIOD."

Some state legislators are siding with the House dems as well. 

"I believe the Attorney General should make an appointment to ensure that it is a truly independent investigation," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wrote on Twitter.

President Joe Biden on Saturday also indicated that he supports an independent probe into the allegations.

Cuomo's office did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.

James in a tweet Sunday morning said she stands "ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary" but awaits the governor's call to initiate an investigation. 

"Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor's office and must include subpoena power," James said. "I urge the governor to make this referral immediately."

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Fauci says he ‘would have no hesitancy whatsoever’ taking the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine

fauci vaccine
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci on Saturday urged Americans to trust the FDA-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • The J&J vaccine got FDA authorization on Saturday and has an efficacy rate of 66% at preventing COVID-19.
  • "If I would go to a place where they had J&J, I would have no hesitancy whatsoever to take it," he said on NBC News' "Meet the Press."
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said he trusts the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the latest to get authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Johnson & Johnson is offering a single-dose vaccine that the company expects to distribute to 4 million Americans shortly. The FDA approved the vaccine on Saturday, marking the third one available in the United States. 

The healthcare giant said it expects to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of March and 100 million by the end of June. 

It is 66% at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19, according to the results of a 40,000 person trial. 

Pfizer and Moderna - the two companies whose coronavirus vaccines preceded Johnson & Johnson's - have higher efficacy rates, at 94% and 95%, respectively. 

Chuck Todd of NBC News' "Meet the Press" asked Fauci on Saturday to justify Johnson & Johnson's lower efficacy rate. 

Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the three vaccines "were not compared head to head." 

"They were compared under different circumstances," he said. "All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that's most available to them."

"If you go to a place and you have J&J, and that's the one that's available now, I would take it," he continued. "I personally would do the same thing. I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible. And if I would go to a place where they had J&J, I would have no hesitancy whatsoever to take it."

Vaccines against the coronavirus have been rolling out in the United States since December 2020, after Pfizer became the first company to produce and receive FDA approval to distribute.

With the third vaccine on the market, the US is expected to have enough doses to immunize 300 million people. 

More than 48 million people in the United States have already received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine

It's been almost a year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Since then, more than 28 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that, more than 500,000 Americans have died

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy said he’d bet his ‘personal house’ that Republicans will ‘get the majority back’ in 2022

US House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks during his weekly news conference December 5, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Saturday said he'd bet his home on the odds that the GOP secures a majority in 2022.
  • "I would bet my house. My personal house. Don't tell my wife, but I will bet it," he said. 
  • Democrats have a slim majority in the House. Republicans will need to flip five seats to regain control.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Saturday said he'd wager his own home on Republicans reclaiming a House majority in 2022. 

"We're going to get the majority back. We're five seats away," he told a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"I would bet my house. My personal house. Don't tell my wife, but I will bet it," he continued. "This is the smallest majority the Democrats have had in 100 years."

In the 2020 elections, Democrats retained control of the House. Democrats now have a slim majority in the lower chamber, and Republicans need to flip just five seats to regain control. Democrats also took back the Senate from the Republicans, giving President Joe Biden a Democratic stronghold in Congress. 

McCarthy also said there's "not a chance" the Republicans will lose in 2022. 

Since the days surrounding Biden's formal inauguration into office, other Republicans have also begun to clamor about a potential GOP win in 2022. 

Earlier this month, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he'd try to leverage former President Donald Trump's influence to ensure that the Republican party takes back the House and Senate in 2022. 

In an interview with Politico, Graham said he planned to meet with Trump to discuss the future of the GOP and his role in it.

"I'm going to try and convince him that we can't get there without you, but you can't keep the Trump movement going without the GOP united," Graham said.

"If we come back in 2022, then, it's an affirmation of your policies," he said about Trump. "But if we lose again in 2022, the narrative is going to continue that not only you lost the White House, but the Republican Party is in a bad spot."

McCarthy's office did not immediately return a request for comment. 

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back at McCarthy's remarks in a statement to Insider:

"No one should be surprised the Minority Leader is willing to wager his home," said Robyn Patterson, deputy communications director. "McCarthy doesn't have much to give after sacrificing his integrity trying to cancel $1,400 survival checks for Americans trying to make ends meet during a deadly pandemic."

Democrats and Republicans are once again clashing on the contents of the next stimulus bill. House Democrats this weekend approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package containing $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans.  

McCarthy, the House minority leader, was one of the bill's dissenters, saying on the House floor that its price tag was untenable.

"The Democrats' spending bill is too costly, too corrupt, and too liberal for the country," the California Republican said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here are the 7 GOP senators who voted to convict Trump and are beginning to face backlash from other Republicans

Sen. Pat Toomey
GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was one of seven senators to vote in favor of Trump's conviction.
  • The Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial.
  • But seven Republican senators sided with Democrats and voted to convict Trump.
  • They are now beginning to face backlash — and most of it is coming from their Republican colleagues.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Seven Republican senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial are now beginning to face backlash for doing so. 

The seven senators were:

  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump a second time in January, just days after the January 6 riot during which insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building. House members impeached him on an "incitement of insurrection" charge.

Ten Republican House members were among those who voted to impeach Trump.

On Saturday, the Senate voted to acquit him. The decision was split largely along party lines, with all 50 Democrats voting to convict, and 43 Republicans voting to acquit.

But, with the 7 GOP senators who joined ranks with the Democrats, this impeachment trial had the strongest bipartisan support in history, lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said Sunday.

Immediately after their vote Saturday, their Republican colleagues began shunning them for going against the majority of the party.

Here's a look at what each of the seven senators said in defense of their position: 

Burr

Richard Burr
Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina).

Burr of North Carolina, for example, faced criticism from Rep. Mark Walker, who said Burr cast the "wrong vote." 

"I am running to replace Richard Burr because North Carolina needs a true conservative champion as their next senator," Walker said on Twitter. Burr's seat will be vacant after the 2022 midterm elections.

The North Carolina Republican Party called Burr's vote "shocking and disappointing." 

In defense of his vote, Burr said "the president bears responsibility for these tragic events."

"The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors," Burr said in a statement. "I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary. "

Cassidy

Bill Cassidy
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).

Cassidy of Louisiana was unanimously censured by the members of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Louisiana. In a statement, the group said, "We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the vote today by Sen. Cassidy to convict former President Trump."

"Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and President Trump has been acquitted of the impeachment charge filed against him," the group's statement continued.

Cassidy, however, continued to stand by his vote. 

"I listened very carefully to all the arguments," he said in an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "It was clear that he wished the lawmakers be intimidated. And even after he knew there was violence taking place, he continued to basically sanction the mob being there and not until later did he actually ask them to leave. All of that points to a motive and a method and that is wrong, he should be held accountable."

Collins

susan collins
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Collins, in her defense of her vote to convict Trump, listed instances during which the former president tried to sow disinformation about the 2020 election results. 

"On January 6, the atmosphere among the crowd outside the White House was highly combustible, largely the result of an ill wind blowing from Washington for the past two months," Collins said in a lengthy statement.

"President Trump had stoked discontent with a steady barrage of false claims that the election had been stolen from him. The allegedly responsible officials were denigrated, scorned, and ridiculed by the President, with the predictable result that his supporters viewed any official that they perceived to be an obstacle to President Trump's reelection as an enemy of their cause."

This isn't the first time Collins broke from her party. 

In September 2020, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Collins indicated that her replacement should be decided by the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Her Republican colleagues wanted to move immediately to replace Ginsburg with a Trump-appointed nominee. 

Murkowski

Lisa Murkowski
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asks a question at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

Murkowski released a damning statement that indicates her belief that Trump "set the stage" for the Capitol riot on January 6. 

"The facts make it clear that the violence and desecration of the Capitol that we saw on Jan. 6 was not a spontaneous uprising," Murkowski said.

Trump, she said, "did everything in his power to stay in power," including urging his supporters "to come to Washington, DC" and asking them to "'Stop the Steal' of an election that had not been stolen."

Murkowski made headlines days after the Capitol riot when she became the first Republican senator to call for Trump's resignation. 

"I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage," Murkowski said in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News.

Until that point, only Democrats in the Senate had been calling for Trump's removal.

Romney

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a news conference with a group of bipartisan lawmakers to unveil a COVID-19 emergency relief framework in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.

Throughout Trump's tenure as president, Romney has consistently emerged as one of his most frequent and vocal critics from within the GOP.

During Trump's first impeachment trial last year, Romney was recognized as the only Republican senator to have voted to convict Trump.

This year, during the former president's second impeachment trial, Romney again said Trump was guilty.

"After careful consideration of the respective counsels' arguments, I have concluded that President Trump is guilty of the charge made by the House of Representatives," he said in a statement defending his vote in this year's impeachment trial.

"He did this despite the obvious and well known threats of violence that day," the statement continued. "President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the Vice President, and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction."

Sasse

ben sasse
Senator Ben Sasse, R-NE.

Sasse, in a statement, said he "promised Nebraskans I'd always vote my conscience even if it was against the partisan stream."

"In my first speech here in the Senate in November 2015, I promised to speak out when a president - even of my own party - exceeds his or her powers," his statement continued. "I cannot go back on my word, and Congress cannot lower our standards on such a grave matter, simply because it is politically convenient. I must vote to convict."

Sasse is reportedly interested in a 2024 run for president, according to the Associated Press. His vote to convict Trump and go against his party, however, might have alienated him from his Republican colleagues, according to the AP.

Toomey

pat toomey
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) leaves the Senate chamber during a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the US Capitol on January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.

"President Trump's conduct in response to losing the 2020 election" was unacceptable, Toomey said in a statement defending his position to convict. 

"As a result of President Trump's actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful. A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders' greatest fears motivating the inclusion of the impeachment authorities in the U.S. Constitution," Toomey said.

"His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction," he added.

trump impeached

After the Senate voted to acquit, Trump broke his silence and said, "Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun."

And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump's staunchest supporters, said on Sunday that Trump is "ready to move on" and suggested he'll still politically involved going forward. 

"He's ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party," Graham said. "He's excited about 2022. I'm going to go down to talk with him next week, play a little golf in Florida. And I said Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue."

Graham also said earlier this week that he plans to meet with Trump and "convince" him to help the GOP secure the House and the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

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GOP Sen. Marco Rubio suggested Hillary Clinton could be impeached if Trump was convicted in impeachment trial

Marco Rubio
Rubio worked with several bipartisan leaders to secure $377 billion in funding to support small businesses during the pandemic.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio argued that if Hillary Clinton could be convicted in light of Trump's impeachment.
  • The Senate on Saturday voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial. 
  • Prior to the acquittal, Rubio said that if Trump were to be convicted, Clinton could be impeached in the future.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida argued on Friday that a conviction for former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment could mean there's nothing preventing the Senate from doing the same to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Voting to convict the former president would create a new precedent that a former official can be convicted and disqualified by the Senate," Rubio said. "Therefore, is it not true that under this new precedent, a future House, facing partisan pressure to lock her up, could impeach a former Secretary of State and a future Senate be forced to put her on trial and potentially disqualify from any future office?"

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the impeachment manager tapped by the House to oversee the proceedings, said Trump was impeached a second time while he was still in office. 

The "hypothetical [scenario raised] has no bearing on this case," Raskin said.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump a second time in January, just days after the January 6 riot during which insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building. House members impeached him on an "incitement of insurrection" charge.

Ten Republican House members were among those who voted to impeach Trump.

On Saturday, the Senate voted to acquit Trump. All 50 Democrats and 7 Republicans voted to convict Trump, while 43 Republicans voted to acquit.

During the four years of his presidential tenure and on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump used "lock her up" as a rallying cry against his former rival Clinton. His supporters have since applied this call to other women in power, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Trump often blasted Clinton, referring to her as "crooked Hillary" in tweets and while addressing crowds. 

His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Lindsey Graham says he’ll try to convince Trump to help the GOP secure the House and Senate in 2022

Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., walks off after speaking to reporters during a news conference at the Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington. Graham said Thursday that the president must accept his own role in the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham wants Trump to help drum up support for the GOP in the 2022 elections.
  • Graham will meet with Trump to talk about the future of the Republican party.
  • "I'm going to try and convince him that we can't get there without you," he told Politico.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Sen. Lindsey Graham wants to leverage former President Donald Trump's influence to ensure that the Republican party takes back the House and Senate in 2022. 

In an interview with Politico, Graham said he'll meet with Trump to discuss the future of the GOP and his role in it.

"I'm going to try and convince him that we can't get there without you, but you can't keep the Trump movement going without the GOP united," Graham said on Friday.

"If we come back in 2022, then, it's an affirmation of your policies," he said. "But if we lose again in 2022, the narrative is going to continue that not only you lost the White House, but the Republican Party is in a bad spot."

In the 2020 elections, Democrats took back the Senate from the House, giving President Joe Biden a Democratic stronghold in Congress. 

In the remaining weeks of his presidency, Trump signaled that he'd stay involved in politics. He had at one point planned to hold a 2024 campaign event ahead of an eventual potential second run at president. 

But support for Trump within the Republican party has dwindled.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump a second time in January, just days after the January 6 riot during which insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building. House members impeached him on an "incitement of insurrection" charge.

Ten Republican House members were among those who voted to impeach Trump.

The Senate is set to vote later Saturday on whether to acquit or convict Trump. A conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which means Trump is likely to be acquitted

Most Republican senators have come out ardently against the impeachment proceedings

Graham indicated he's looking to channel that allyship with Trump into bolstering the GOP in the next mid-term election cycle. 

"Trump's got to work with everybody," Graham said. "You got to put your best team on the field. If it's about revenge and going after people you don't like, we're going to have a problem. If this is about putting your best team on the field, we've got a decent chance at coming back."

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Insurrectionists are rushing to delete evidence of their participation in the Capitol riot, report says

US Capitol riot
Riots at the US Capitol Building.
  • Insurrectionists from the Capitol riot are reportedly rushing to delete evidence of their involvement.
  • CNN reported that several rioters have smashed their own phones to thwart FBI investigators.
  • Others have reportedly scrubbed their social media accounts.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Insurrectionists are scrambling to delete photos and social media posts proving their participation in the January 6 Capitol riot, according to CNN.

The outlet obtained and analyzed FBI affidavits and court documents that allegedly show about 30 riot attendees have actively taken steps to delete or remove any evidence of their participation. 

Several broke their cellphones, scrubbed their social media accounts, and tried to wipe hard drives that might contain photos and other proof of their involvement, CNN reported. One man is even believed to have stolen body cam gear from a police officer who was reportedly present at the riot, CNN reported. 

FBI investigators had search warrants to go through the contents of the phones of some of the people who attended the riot. Their goal was to find relevant photos and videos that would serve as further evidence of their participation, CNN reported. But the FBI discovered smashed phones instead, CNN reported.  

Joshua Black is allegedly one of those rioters who's been deleting contents related to the attempted coup. 

"After being told by an acquaintance that he was wanted by the FBI, [Black] says that he deleted things from his phone, which had been with him at the Capitol," prosecutors said, according to CNN.

The Capitol riot left at least five people, including one police officer, dead. Members of the Proud Boys, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were reportedly present.

Organizers were emboldened by Trump's urges to protest the results of the 2020 election with him, despite Democrat Joe Biden's election victory. While members of Congress were meeting inside the Capitol building day to certify the results, supporters organized an attempted coup and stormed the Capitol building.

Upon news that the riot breached the Capitol building, lawmakers began to shelter in place and many evacuated.

On the day of the riot and in the weeks after, those who attended were eagerly posting selfies and other photos to their social media platforms, according to various analyses. 

Vox, for example, noted that plenty of rioters posed for photos. Others bragged of their attempt to pull off a coup, the Washington Post said. One woman even identified herself by name in an interview with a reporter posted to Twitter. The woman, who referred to herself as Elizabeth, said she's from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her face is fully visible in the tweet, posted by Yahoo! News correspondent Hunter Walker. 

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