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News & Politics Thread (Part 5)

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    ja

    He is GONE. 🙂

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    Biden promises to be “a president for all Americans”

    by Maeve Reston, CNN
    Updated 1:42 PM ET, Wed January 20, 2021

    (CNN) President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States Wednesday, ushering in a new era of calm and comity to Washington after four divisive and tumultuous years under former President Donald Trump.

    Standing at the Capitol just two weeks after a mob of insurrectionists invaded that building seeking to overturn the presidential election based on Trump’s lies about the results, Biden set out on the daunting task of uniting the nation by urging Americans to come together as they confront the deadly pandemic, an economic collapse that has left millions unemployed and deep divisions over issues of racial justice and police brutality.

    “Today on this January day, my whole soul is in this — bringing American people together, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me in this cause,” Biden said in his inaugural speech.

    The former vice president, who decided to run for the White House after Trump’s shocking reaction to the White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, noted that the nation is struggling through a rise of White nationalism, racism and deep political divisions.

    “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together. “We have to be different than this. America has to be better than this.”

    “I will be a president for all Americans,” Biden said speaking directly to those who did not support him in the November election. “I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as those who did.”

    Moments earlier, he was sworn in with his hand on the Biden family Bible, which has a Celtic Cross on the cover and has been a family heirloom since 1893. The President-elect has used the Bible each time he has taken an oath of office, both as a senator from Delaware and as vice president.

    Vice President Kamala Harris made history Wednesday when she was sworn in as the first female, the first Black and first South Asian vice president of the United States.

    After a tumultuous year that began a new chapter of the civil rights movement as Americans took to the streets to protest against racial injustice and police brutality after the death of George Floyd, the swearing in was a remarkable achievement for a country that has often struggled to live up to its ideals of equality for all.

    Biden noted the historic nature of Harris’ swearing in during his speech.

    “Here we stand looking out on the great Mall, where Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) spoke of his dream. Here we stand where 108 years ago, at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. Today, we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris,” Biden said.

    Harris was sworn in on two Bibles — one that belonged to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, one of her heroes who inspired her to pursue a career in the law, and that of Regina Shelton, a neighbor who cared for Harris and her sister Maya when they were growing up and attended church with her.

    In soaring tones before a bipartisan audience — that symbolized a moment of democracy restored after the turmoil of recent weeks — Lady Gaga performed the National Anthem and Jennifer Lopez sang a medley of American musical selections including “This Land is your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”

    Trump, who was the first president in more than 150 years to refuse to attend his successor’s swearing-in ceremony, arrived in Florida before Biden was sworn in. In Washington, more than 25,000 National Guard troops were in place to ensure that the nation’s transfer of power took place peacefully.

    Unlike the former president, former Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Capitol when it was stormed by Trump’s supporters earlier this month and presided over the certification of the election results, and former second lady Karen Pence attended the inauguration — walking out onto the inaugural stands to bipartisan applause. The incoming vice president and outgoing vice president and their spouses shared a laugh shortly before the Pences departed for private life.

    Speaking at the ceremony as the nation’s first youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman recited a poem about bridging divides that she finished on the night that Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

    “Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished,” Gorman said in the poem she read after Biden’s speech. “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

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    VPKH

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    NewDemSens

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    InaugBiden

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    TheObamas

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    Biden’s solicitor general will play critical role in early efforts to undo Trump policies

    by Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
    Updated 12:41 PM ET, Thu January 21, 2021

    Washington (CNN) President Joe Biden will name a powerhouse lawyer, Elizabeth Prelogar, to serve as acting solicitor general, in an acknowledgment that the office charged with representing the government before the Supreme Court will face an enormous workload both reversing Trump administration legal positions and developing a defense strategy as Biden’s executive actions come under inevitable legal challenge.

    Under normal circumstances, when an election produces an administration of a different political stripe, the solicitor general plays a key role managing a wave of potential reversals on certain issues. As Biden replaces Donald Trump, however, it could look more like a tsunami.

    In the short term, for instance, the solicitor general’s office is likely to notify the court of a new position in a blockbuster dispute concerning the future of the Affordable Care Act, defending the law rather than seeking to overturn it — but also in other cases tied to controversial Trump policies, some of which the Biden administration may attempt to rescind before the Supreme Court can rule on them.

    Under the Trump administration, the solicitor general’s office was particularly aggressive defending a broad array of Trump’s policies in hot button areas such as immigration, religion and abortion, often asking the justices to jump in before an issue had made its way through the lower courts.

    Biden has yet to put forward his nominee for the permanent job. The solicitor general is the person who traditionally represents the US government in cases at the Supreme Court and regularly jousts with the justices in their majestic red velvet lined chamber — or, as with current practice, over the telephone.

    In the interim, Prelogar will be in the forefront. She is a veteran of the Office of Solicitor General having served as an assistant in the office and also worked recently as an adviser to former special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.

    Prelogar worked as a former clerk to Judge Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee for Attorney General, as well as the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Elena Kagan. Biden has yet to nominate a full-time solicitor general, and once that person is confirmed, she will be the principal deputy.

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    As expected, Biden intends to keep FBI director in his post, an official says

    by Jeff Zeleny, Kevin Liptak and Caroline Kelly, CNN
    Updated 1:24 PM ET, Thu January 21, 2021

    (CNN) President Joe Biden intends to keep FBI Director Christopher Wray in his post, a senior administration official tells CNN, a sign of confidence for the bureau’s leader who has more than six years remaining in his term.

    This is not unexpected.

    During the transition, Biden signaled his plan to keep Wray on board — if he wasn’t fired first by President Donald Trump. Like all FBI directors, Wray has a 10-year term. Wray was appointed by Trump in 2017 and faced criticism from the ex-president on a number of issues.

    Wray had no reason to think he wasn’t on solid footing with the new Biden administration — despite the fact that White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not answer on Wednesday when asked if Biden had confidence in Wray.

    “I have not spoken within him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days,” press secretary Jen Psaki said, “but I’ll circle back if there’s more to convey.”

    Psaki followed up on Thursday, tweeting: “I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing.”

    An official said she simply had not spoken to Biden about the FBI leader, so she answered honestly at her first briefing.

    Wray’s team of federal investigators is currently chasing thousands of leads in twin efforts to prosecute people involved in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and to try to prevent feared follow-up attacks in Washington and around the country.

    Wray announced last week that investigators have identified more than 200 suspects in their probe of the attack at the US Capitol and arrested more than 100 individuals, a challenge that FBI and Justice Department officials say is “unprecedented.”

    While federal law enforcement officials have sought to reassure the American public in recent days that they are up to the task on both fronts, their public remarks also lay bare the enormity of the challenge they face in tracking potential threats to not only the nation’s capital, but across the country.

    Law enforcement officials have indicated to CNN that authorities missed key signs ahead of the siege, which left five dead and the Capitol ransacked, and the FBI’s preparations leading up to the day of the attack on the Capitol have come under scrutiny.

    The Washington Post reported last week that the FBI warned of a violent “war” at the US Capitol in an internal report issued a day before the deadly siege, but it wasn’t acted on urgently enough to prevent the domestic terrorist attack.

    The Post said that the Tuesday prior to the attack, an FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, issued an “explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and ‘war.’ ”
    The report “painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up” in several states before heading to Washington.

    Prior to the attacks, Trump made little attempt to veil his disdain for Wray, who many of Trump’s allies have suggested to him is doing little to stamp out what they view as rampant corruption at the FBI. He complained privately that Wray refuses to rebuke his predecessor James Comey, has chastised those who recommended him for the job and has said he would love to replace him.

    Officials at the Justice Department and the FBI told CNN last year that Wray knew Trump was often unhappy with him and that the possibility remained ever-present he could be fired by tweet. But Trump’s repeated attacks on Wray appeared designed to motivate a subset of his political base eager to hear him rail against a swampy deep state — despite holding responsibility himself for executive branch appointments and at the time enjoying Republican control of the Senate, which confirms administration nominees.

    CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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    Biden targets Trump’s legacy with first-day executive actions

    by Eric Bradner, Betsy Klein and Christopher Hickey, CNN
    Updated 8:48 PM ET, Wed January 20, 2021

    (CNN) President Joe Biden is finalizing 17 executive moves just hours after his inauguration Wednesday, moving faster and more aggressively to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy than any other modern president.

    Biden is signing a flurry of executive orders, memorandums and directives to agencies, his first steps to address the coronavirus pandemic and undo some of former President Donald Trump’s signature policies.

    “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office as he began signing a stack of orders and memoranda. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.”

    With the stroke of a pen, Biden has halted funding for the construction of Trump’s border wall, reversed his travel ban targeting largely Muslim countries and embraced progressive policies on the environment and diversity that Trump spent four years blocking.

    Biden also reversed several of Trump’s attempts to withdraw from international agreements, beginning the process of rejoining the Paris climate accord and halting the United States’ departure from the World Health Organization — where Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, will lead the US delegation.

    His first action was to impose a mask mandate on federal property, a break in approach to dealing with the pandemic from Trump, who repeatedly downplayed the virus. Biden also installed a coronavirus response coordinator to oversee the White House’s efforts to distribute vaccines and medical supplies.

    Press secretary Jen Psaki and other top Biden officials had told reporters on the eve of his inauguration that the first-day actions are only part of what will be a series of moves to undo Trump policies and implement Biden’s campaign promises in his first weeks in office.

    He plans to follow Inauguration Day by centering each day of January on a specific theme, according to a draft of a calendar document sent to administration allies and viewed by CNN.

    Thursday, Biden’s first full day in office, will be focused on the coronavirus pandemic, and Friday will highlight Biden’s push for economic relief — including executive orders restoring federal employees’ collective bargaining rights and directing agency action on safety net programs, including Medicaid and unemployment insurance.

    The themes next week will be “Buy American,” with a Monday executive order beefing up requirements for government purchases of goods and services from US companies; equity on Tuesday, coupled with a push to eliminate private prisons; climate on Wednesday with an executive order kicking off regulatory actions reestablishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and combating climate change; health care on Thursday, a day on which Biden will rescind the so-called Mexico City Policy blocking federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services; and immigration on Friday, when Biden plans to sign executive orders focused on border processing and refugee policies and establish a family reunification task force.

    February will focus on what’s identified in the calendar document as “restoring America’s place in the world.”

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    Senate confirms Lloyd Austin to be first Black defense secretary

    by Clare Foran, CNN
    Updated 11:46 AM ET, Fri January 22, 2021

    (CNN) The Senate voted on Friday to confirm President Joe Biden’s defense secretary pick retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, who will be the first African American to run the department.

    Austin, who retired in 2016 and had to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job. The House approved the waiver Thursday afternoon, followed by Senate approval of the measure.

    Thursday’s votes cleared the way for final confirmation in the Senate. Friday’s vote was 93-2. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri were the only two no votes.

    Confirmation of the defense secretary gives Biden another key department chief in place as congressional Democratic leaders attempt to move swiftly to confirm Cabinet members and other key officials following Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. The Senate confirmed Biden’s first Cabinet nominee Wednesday evening, voting to approve his pick for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, on his first day in office.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday that the Senate should “pause and reflect” on the fact that Congress has granted waivers to both the Trump and Biden administrations to confirm defense secretaries.

    “The law that we keep waiving actually exists for a good reason,” McConnell said. “Civilian control of the military is a fundamental principle of our republic. We emphatically do not want high-ranking military service to become a tacit prerequisite for civilian leadership posts over the Department of Defense.”

    In the run-up to his confirmation vote, Austin has worked to overcome objections from some lawmakers to allowing a recently retired general to assume the top civilian post at the Pentagon.

    He addressed those concerns directly at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, saying, “If confirmed, I will carry out the mission of the Department of Defense, always with the goal to deter war and ensure our nation’s security, and I will uphold the principle of civilian control of the military, as intended.”

    “I understand and respect the reservations some of you have expressed about having another recently retired general at the head of the Department of Defense,” he said at the hearing. “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil.”

    This story and headline have been updated to reflect additional developments Friday.

    CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.

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    Schumer says House will send impeachment article to Senate on Monday

    (CNN) Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the House’s article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the Senate’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

    “I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

    The House’s transmission of the impeachment article on Monday would mean that the Senate trial would begin at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday — unless the Senate reaches an agreement that would push back the trial itself.

    Short of an agreement to push the trial back, Democratic sources say that senators and the presiding officer — it’s still unclear whether Chief Justice John Roberts will preside — would be sworn in Tuesday afternoon. Then arguments would start on Wednesday. The length of the trial is still an open question, which will depend both on whether the House impeachment managers seek to call witness and the length of senators’ questions for the legal teams. But sources say most believe the trial will be shorter than the three-week 2020 impeachment trial for Trump.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had proposed delaying the trial until mid-February in order to give Trump’s legal team time to prepare, beginning the ceremonial functions next week but allowing two weeks for pre-trial briefs to be filed by the House and Trump’s lawyers. Schumer’s announcement puts a new deadline for the Senate leaders to reach an agreement — as the impeachment logistics are part of a broader negotiation over the Senate’s power-sharing agreement that remains stalled over a fight about the filibuster.

    Schumer said Friday that McConnell’s insistence the Senate’s organizing resolution include a provision protecting the filibuster was “unacceptable — and it won’t be accepted.”

    But pushing forward with the trial against GOP wishes also threatens to stall the confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet nominees.

    “We won’t be doing any confirmations, we won’t be doing any Covid-19 relief, we won’t be doing anything else other than impeaching a person who’s not even president,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of Senate GOP leadership.

    Cornyn said Republicans haven’t given consent to bifurcate the trial days to take up nominations during the trial. “No, it’s not gonna happen,” he said.

    If the Senate begins the trial next week, it will have to pass a resolution to set the rules of the trial. Schumer’s goal is to do so on a bipartisan basis, but the Democratic sources can be adopted with a majority of senators.

    Schumer also pushed back on an argument from Senate Republicans that an impeachment trial for a former president was unconstitutional, noting legal scholars have said there is precedent for doing so.

    “The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Schumer said. “It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial, and when that trial ends, senators will have to decide if they believe Donald John Trump incited the insurrection against the United States.”

    McConnell said Friday that the Senate should give Trump a “full and fair process” to mount his impeachment defense.

    “This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House. The sequel cannot be an insufficient senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself,” McConnell said.

    “Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake.”

    This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.

    CNN’s Lauren Fox, Alex Rogers, Ali Zaslav and Jessica Dean contributed to this report.

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    I’m gettinge a kick reading qanon, which is preferable to transparent msm.

    I dont care if he’s Donald Duck. I’ll support a Nationalist over the Great Reset, Operation Lockstep and Agendas 21 and 30. No Thanks UN commies.

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10219548459405514&id=1335622963

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
    Philip K Dick Blade Runner

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    Leahy, not Roberts, expected to preside over impeachment trial

    (CNN) The contours of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial are starting to take shape, with the Senate’s longest-serving Democrat expected to preside over the trial and Democrats still weighing whether to pursue witnesses during proceedings that could take up a chunk of February.

    Chief Justice John Roberts will not be presiding like he did for Trump’s first impeachment trial, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

    Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the President pro tempore of the Senate, is expected to preside, the sources said. The Constitution says the chief justice presides when the person facing trial is the current president of the United States, but senators preside in other cases, one source said.

    There are still two big looming questions over the Democrats’ impeachment case: Whether they will seek witnesses and how long the trial will take. The answers to both are still not known yet, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

    But if the House impeachment managers seek witnesses, they want prospective witnesses to be cooperative, rather than threaten to fight in court over executive privilege, a snag that hampered Democrats’ efforts to seek witnesses the first time around.

    The exact time frame of the trial itself, which will begin the week of February 8, is also unknown, but multiple impeachment managers have said they don’t think it will go as long as the 21 days of Trump’s trial in 2020. The expectation is still, however, that it will take up much of February and wrap up by month’s end, if not sooner.

    The impeachment trial officially gets in motion Monday evening when the House impeachment managers will walk the impeachment article to the Senate, even though the substance of the trial has been put off for another two weeks.

    The House’s transmission of the single impeachment article is the first of several ceremonial functions of the trial that will be completed this week, before the Senate will turn back to confirming President Joe Biden’s Cabinet and potentially taking up the President’s Covid-19 relief package.

    The likelihood that Leahy will oversee the trial has raised questions about whether he will also be eligible to vote, but constitutional experts say that nothing would stop him from doing so.

    “He’s a sitting senator, he still gets to vote. Nothing in the Constitution would preclude him from voting,” said Frank Bowman, a University of Missouri law professor who has written extensively about impeachment.

    Leahy told reporters Monday that he’s “up to the responsibility” of presiding, and his role will be to make sure “the procedures are followed.”

    “I’m not presenting the evidence, I’m making sure the procedures are followed,” Leahy said when asked about being a frequent critic of the former President. “I don’t think there’s any senator who over the 40-plus years I’ve been here would say I’m anything but impartial in ruling on procedure.”

    The Vermont Democrat declined to say when the decision was made that he would preside over the Senate trial.

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    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump’s Former Press Secretary, Announces Campaign for Arkansas Governor

    Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made it official on Monday that she is running for governor of Arkansas, posting an announcement video that has echoes of Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.

    “As governor, I will defend our right to be free of socialism and tyranny, your Second Amendment right to keep your family safe and your freedom of speech and religious liberty,” she said. “Our state needs a leader with the courage to do what’s right, not what’s political correct or convenient.”

    She also refers to “far left and their allies at CNN or the New York Times,” an indication that at least part of her campaign will co-opt Trump’s attacks on the news media.

    Sanders was White House press secretary from 2017 to 2019, the longest tenure of any of the four figures who were in that role during Trump’s term.

    The video opens with an anecdote in which she went with Trump to Iraq to visit troops at Christmas.

    She also notes that “I was the first White House press secretary to require Secret Service protection because of a credible violent threat against me.”

    She says that “we have seen violence in our streets, at a congressional baseball practice and at our Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans. To remain free, we must have law and order, and resolve our differences peacefully.”

    Sanders was referring to the 2017 shooting attack on Republican members of Congress during baseball practice, and this month’s siege on the Capitol. In the latter case, she did not mention that Trump was impeached again on charges that he incited the riot.

    Sanders’ father, Mike Huckabee, was governor of the state from 1996 to 2007. The current governor, Asa Hutchinson, cannot run again because of term limits.

    She won’t be the first former White House press secretary to seek elective office. After serving as press secretary for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Pierre Salinger was appointed to fill a vacancy to the U.S. Senate in 1964 but lost an election for a full term that year.

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    Biden replaces controversial White House physician

    Washington (CNN) President Joe Biden has replaced the controversial White House physician who offered misleading information about President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis last fall.

    A White House official said Biden had selected Dr. Kevin O’Connor to replace Dr. Sean Conley as his doctor. It’s not uncommon for a president to name his own physician when taking office, though his two most recent predecessors each retained the incumbent doctor who had attended the men who served before them.

    Conley generated controversy in the fall when he admitted to offering rosy descriptions of Trump’s condition because the White House wanted to project optimism. In reality, Trump suffered serious conditions like shortness of breath that required supplemental oxygen.

    Biden has a long history with O’Connor, who served as his physician while vice president. He is a retired US Army colonel who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the United States Army Special Operations Command.

    He administered Biden’s physical in 2019 and prepared a report that deemed the then-candidate “healthy” and “vigorous.” At 78, Biden is the oldest newly inaugurated president in history.

    A White House physician is responsible for medical care of the President, the first family and White House staff. They oversee a team of doctors and nurses that comprise the White House Medical Unit, which is headquartered in the ground level of the White House.

    White House physicians travel wherever the President does, including on the Marine One helicopter and aboard Air Force One. They can frequently be seen walking a few paces behind the President, carrying a large medical bag. They also traditionally perform an annual physical and provide a summary for reporters.

    Both O’Connor and Conley hold degrees in osteopathic medicine, one of the two degrees in the United States with which physicians can practice medicine — either as a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathic medicine. About a quarter of US medical students train at osteopathic medical schools, according to the American Medical Association. Historically, doctor of osteopathic medicine programs have touted their methods as “more holistic.”

    Conley drew scrutiny during Trump’s bout with coronavirus in the fall. He supervised a team of specialists at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump was treated.

    At first, he did not disclose the President had received supplemental oxygen, and defended the decision by saying he wanted to “reflect the upbeat attitude of the team.”

    “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something,” Conley said.

    He replaced Dr. Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral who was nominated to be secretary of veterans affairs. Jackson later withdrew following a string of allegations that included he loosely handled prescription pain medications, was intoxicated during an overseas trip and created a toxic work environment. Jackson denied the allegations. He later ran for a Texas congressional seat as a Republican and won.

    On Wednesday, Conley was seen departing the White House alongside Trump, who was making a final trip to Florida before his term ended.

    This story has been updated with additional background information.

    CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

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