Your Wednesday Briefing

Trump’s impeachment trial begins.

By Natasha Frost

Good morning.

We’re covering the Senate vote on Trump’s impeachment trial, the investigation on the origins of the coronavirus and the effects of American ideas on French identity.

Trump’s impeachment trial will proceed

The Senate yesterday voted 56 to 44, with six Republicans joining all 50 Democrats, to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, rejecting his defense team’s claim that it would be unconstitutional to prosecute a president after he had left office.

House managers presented video footage of mayhem and violence at the Capitol siege, in which extremists stormed barricades, beat police officers, set up a gallows and yelled, “Take the building!” “Fight for Trump!” and “Pence is a traitor!” Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that his words at the rally on Jan. 6 constituted free speech akin to typical political language and hardly incited the violence.

Even though Mr. Trump can no longer be removed from office, conviction would permit the senators to bar him from running for federal office again.

Quote: “What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life,” Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado, a House manager, told senators. “Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”

Outcomes: A two-thirds vote would be required in the Senate to convict Mr. Trump, meaning that 11 more Republicans would have to abandon the former president, who still holds great sway over their party. That appears unlikely.

A W.H.O. investigation on the origins of the coronavirus

After 12 days of fieldwork, a team of World Health Organization scientists said in China on Tuesday that the coronavirus had probably first spread to humans through an animal and that it was “extremely unlikely” it had spread from a lab accident.

Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the food safety scientist who is leading the team, dismissed the idea that the virus might have emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, a theory that had gained momentum in the U.S. and elsewhere. “It was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place,” he said, citing safety protocols.

This theory is different from a widely discredited one, pushed by some Republicans, that claimed a lab in China had manufactured the virus for use as a bioweapon.

Science and politics: The W.H.O. experts on Tuesday delivered praise for Chinese officials and endorsed critical parts of their narrative, including some that have been contentious, including a suggestion that the virus might have spread to humans through shipments of frozen food.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

People with dementia are at significantly greater risk of contracting the coronavirus, and are much more likely to be hospitalized and die from it, than people without dementia, a study found.

The United States is on the verge of administering 1.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine each day, nearing a goal that President Biden set shortly after taking office last month.

The Netherlands pauses international adoptions

The Netherlands has suspended international adoptions after an investigation found that the government had failed to act on known abuses, including child theft and trafficking, between 1967 and 1998.

“Adoptees deserve recognition for mistakes that were made in the past,” Sander Dekker, the minister for legal protection, said on Monday, as the results of the investigation were made public. “They have to be able to count on our help in the present. And for the future, we have to critically ask ourselves if and how to continue adoption from abroad.”

The government formed an independent commission in 2018 to look into international abuses after a lawsuit showed that the Dutch government had been involved in an illegal adoption from Brazil in 1980 and pointed to the possibility of more such cases. Experts said they knew of no other Western country that had stopped international adoptions.

Details: In its report, the independent commission said it had found systematic wrongdoing, including pressuring poor women to give up their babies, falsifying documents, fraud and corruption, and, in effect, buying and selling of children.

If you have 12 minutes, this is worth it

The threat of American ideas to French identity

Above, a Black Lives Matter-inspired demonstration against racism and police brutality in Paris last year. Politicians and prominent intellectuals in France say social theories from the United States on race, gender and postcolonialism, some of which they regard as out-of-control woke leftism, threaten French national identity and the republic.

“It’s the sign of a small, frightened republic, declining, provincializing, but which in the past and to this day believes in its universal mission and which thus seeks those responsible for its decline,” said François Cusset, an expert on American civilization at Paris Nanterre University.

Here’s what else is happening

Kobe Bryant crash: The pilot in the helicopter crash that killed the retired basketball star, his daughter and seven others flew into clouds in violation of federal rules, investigators said.

Olympics: The Tokyo 2020 chairman, Yoshiro Mori, 83, has apologized after a firestorm over his sexist remarks but has declined to resign. Since then, prominent political backers have lined up to say that Mr. Mori should remain in charge.

London real estate: England’s extended winter lockdown has shaken the usual arrangement between landlords and tenants in London ahead of a government review of leasing legislation. “Landlords are not used to being in business with one hand behind their back,” said a commercial property restructuring specialist.

Kim Wall: A Copenhagen court imposed a 21-month prison term on Peter Madsen, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of the Swedish journalist in 2017, for an escape attempt in October.

Snapshot: Above, a farmer kneeling to feed a lamb on the tiny island of Fetlar. A wealth of old photograph slides depicting Scotland’s Shetland Islands in the 1960s and ’70s was saved from the trash at a recycling center in Lerwick, the capital of the archipelago.

Capitol Riot Fallout

From Riot to Impeachment

The riot inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, followed a rally at which President Trump made an inflammatory speech to his supporters, questioning the results of the election. Here’s a look at what happened and the ongoing fallout:

    • As this video shows, poor planning and a restive crowd encouraged by President Trump set the stage for the riot.
    • A two hour period was crucial to turning the rally into the riot.
    • Several Trump administration officials, including cabinet members Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao, announced that they were stepping down as a result of the riot.
    • Federal prosecutors have charged more than 70 people, including some who appeared in viral photos and videos of the riot. Officials expect to eventually charge hundreds of others.
    • The House voted to impeach the president on charges of “inciting an insurrection” that led to the rampage by his supporters.

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