President Biden formally announced his decision to end the 20-year, largely unsuccessful American effort to remake Afghanistan, declaring on Wednesday that he would withdraw the remaining few thousand United States troops in the country by Sept. 11.
“It is time to end the forever war,” Mr. Biden said.
Speaking from the Treaty Room in the White House, the president made the case that the United States had only one real task in the country: ousting Al Qaeda and making sure that the country would never again be the launching pad for a terror attack on the United States, as it was on Sept. 11, 2001.
“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Mr. Biden said. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives.”
Moments after speaking, Mr. Biden traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of service members who lost their lives in Afghanistan. He said the decision to withdraw American troops was “absolutely clear” to him.
Standing in the rain among rows of white headstones, the president said he was “always amazed at, generation after generation, women and men are prepared to give their lives for their country.”
In announcing his decision, the president made only passing mention of the other objectives that were added to the mission over the years and that came to justify the continued American military presence. That included building a stable democracy, eradicating corruption and the drug trade, assuring an education for girls and opportunity for women, and, in the end, creating leverage to force the Taliban into peace negotiations.
All may have been noble goals, he suggested, but keeping American troops in the country until they were accomplished was a formula for a perpetual presence after the killing of Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden.
“We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago,” he said. “And we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since. Since then, our reasons for remaining Afghanistan have become increasingly unclear.”
If Mr. Biden carries through on his vow to remove all American troops permanently based in the country by the 20th anniversary of 9/11, he will have accomplished a goal that his two immediate predecessors, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump, embraced but never completed. Yet a clean break will not be easy, and the risks are considerable.
In a series of briefings during which Pentagon officials argued for a continued, modest presence in Afghanistan to collect intelligence and provide support to still-shaky Afghan forces, they warned that the Taliban could attack American troops and their NATO allies on their way out of the country. So Mr. Biden issued a warning, saying “we’re going to defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal.’’
White House officials said Mr. Biden had spoken with Mr. Obama about his decision, and the president said he had also informed former President George W. Bush, who ordered American forces into Afghanistan almost two decades ago. But after noting that he was the fourth president to deal with the question of troops in Afghanistan — two Republicans and two Democrats — Mr. Biden said, “I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
Mr. Biden is the first president to have rejected the Pentagon’s recommendations that any withdrawal be “conditions based,’‘ meaning that security would have to be assured on the ground before Americans pulled back. To do otherwise, military officials have long argued, would be to signal to the Taliban to just wait out the Americans — after which, they would face little opposition to taking further control, and perhaps threatening Kabul, the capital.
But some architects of the policy agreed that it was time to go. Douglas Lute, a retired general who ran Afghan policy on the National Security Council for Mr. Bush and then for Mr. Obama, wrote for CNN with Charles A. Kupchan on Wednesday that “those who argue that we need to stay in Afghanistan to thwart attack against the homeland are wrong,” because the terror threat from inside the country “has been dramatically reduced in the last 20 years.”
For the United States, Mr. Biden’s announcement was a humbling moment. The Afghan war was not only the longest in American history, it was one of the costliest — more than $2 trillion. Nearly 2,400 American service members were killed, and more than 20,000 were wounded.
But the president said the United States would continue fighting terrorists, “not only in Afghanistan, but anywhere they may arise, and they’re in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.”
The Biden administration is set to announce on Thursday a string of long-awaited measures against Russia, including far-reaching financial sanctions, for the hacking of government and private networks and a range of other activity, according to people who have been briefed on the moves.
The sanctions will be among what President Biden’s aides say are “seen and unseen” steps in response to the hacking, known as SolarWinds; to the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia offered to pay bounties to militants in Afghanistan to kill American troops; and to Russia’s yearslong effort to interfere in United States elections, according to American officials and others who have been briefed on the actions.
The moves will include the expulsion of a limited number of diplomats, much like the Obama administration did in response to the Russian efforts to influence the election five years ago. But it is unclear whether this set of actions will prove sufficient to deter Russia from further hacking, influence operations or efforts to threaten European countries.
The sanctions are meant to cut deeper than previous efforts to punish Russia for interfering in elections, targeting the country’s sovereign debt, according to people briefed on the matter. Administration officials were determined to draft a response that would impose real costs on Moscow, as many previous rounds of sanctions have been shrugged off.
“It will not simply be sanctions,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said in February. He has frequently said it will include “a mix of tools seen and unseen,” though there have been disagreements in the administration about how many of the steps to make public.
Restrictions on sovereign debt affect a nation’s ability to raise dollar-denominated bonds, with lenders fearful of being cut off from American financial markets. The United States has used similar techniques against Iran, among others.
Russian bond prices have fluctuated in recent weeks in anticipation of possible sanctions. Russia has relatively little debt, making it potentially less vulnerable to the tactic. And rising oil prices will benefit the country’s economy.
Nevertheless, any broad sanctions on Russia’s financial sector would amount to a significant escalation in the costs that the United States has been willing to impose on Moscow. And part of the administration’s concern has been whether Russian entities could retaliate by exploiting “back doors” implanted in American systems.
Officials have acknowledged that they do not know if the SolarWinds hacking — in which Russian hackers gained access to network management software used by thousands of government entities and private firms — opened routes for counterretaliation.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, warning Mr. Putin about the Russian troop buildup on Ukraine’s border and in Crimea. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday that the call was meant to emphasize the consequences of Russia’s activities, but it was unclear if Mr. Biden telegraphed any of his administration’s pending moves.
The Biden administration has already carried out one round of sanctions against Russia, for the poisoning of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny.
A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend for the first time the creation of a commission to consider providing Black Americans with reparations for slavery in the United States and a “national apology” for centuries of discrimination. It comes three decades after the measure was first introduced and a century and a half after the end of slavery.
The vote by the House Judiciary Committee was a major milestone for proponents of reparations, who have labored for decades to build mainstream support for redressing the lingering effects of slavery. Democrats on the panel advanced the legislation establishing the commission over Republican objections, 25 to 17.
The bill — labeled H.R. 40 after the unfulfilled Civil War-era promise to give former slaves “40 acres and a mule” — still faces an uphill path. With opposition from some Democrats and unified Republicans, who argue that Black Americans do not need a government handout for long-ago crimes, neither chamber of Congress has committed to a floor vote.
But as the country grapples anew with systemic racism, the bill now counts support from the president of the United States and key congressional leaders.
“We’re asking for people to understand the pain, the violence, the brutality, the chattel-ness of what we went through,” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, said during a nighttime committee debate. “And of course, we’re asking for harmony, reconciliation, reason to come together as Americans.”
The renewed interest in reparations comes as Mr. Biden has positioned addressing racial inequities at the center of his domestic policy agenda, proposing billions of dollars in investments in Black farmers, business owners, neighborhoods, students and the poor. The White House has said Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion jobs agenda aims, in part, to “tackle systemic racism and rebuild our economy and our social safety net so that every person in America can reach their full potential.”
Proponents of reparations differ on what form, precisely, they should take, though many agree that Mr. Biden’s proposals encompass the kinds of compensation that might be considered the modern-day equivalent of 40 acres and a mule. But that does not mean they are a replacement, they say.
“If this is about the full ramifications on Black wealth, about the destruction of entire businesses or neighborhoods, or the deprivation and loss of land, then we are talking about numbers that are far beyond the reach of what are relatively small programmatic initiatives,” said William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University who has written a book on reparations.
Mr. Darity’s vision of reparations primarily focuses on closing the wealth gap between African-Americans and white people, something that he estimates would take $10 trillion or more in government funds.
The bill before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday would establish a body to study the effects of slavery and the decades of economic and social discrimination that followed, often with government involvement, and propose possible ways to address the yawning gap in wealth and opportunity between Black and white Americans. It would also consider a “national apology” for the harm caused by slavery.
Opponents of reparations often argue that the wrongs of slavery are simply too far past and too diffuse to be practically addressed now. They question why taxpayers, many of whom came to the United States long after slavery ended, should foot a potentially large bill for payments or other forms of compensation to Black Americans.
Roy L. Brooks, a law professor at the University of San Diego who has also written on the issue, argues that the purpose of reparations should not be viewed as primarily monetary nor something that can be dealt with in the course of normal policymaking, no matter how effective.
“The purpose has to be bringing about racial reconciliation, and it can’t get swallowed up in generic domestic legislation, or else the significance is lost,” he said.
The Senate voted on Wednesday to advance legislation that would strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans, paving the way for passage of the measure and sending a bipartisan denunciation of the sharp increase in discrimination and violence against Asian communities in the United States.
The vote came the same day that President Biden named a liaison from his administration to the Asian-American Pacific Islander community.
The bill, called the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, passed a procedural hurdle in a 92-to-6 vote, and a final vote is expected later this week. The bill — sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, and Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York — would create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite the review of hate crimes related to the coronavirus pandemic, expand public channels to report such crimes, and require the department to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
Later on Wednesday, the White House announced the new position. Erika L. Moritsugu will serve as deputy assistant to the president and liaison to the A.A.P.I. community, a role created after the Senate’s two Asian-American Democrats, Ms. Hirono and Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, criticized the Biden administration for a lack of A.A.P.I. representation at the highest levels.
Ms. Moritsugu, who is of Japanese and Chinese descent, is currently the vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, a nonprofit group that advocates for women’s health, reproductive rights and economic equity. She previously served in the Obama administration as an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and worked as the general counsel for Ms. Duckworth on Capitol Hill.
The announcement comes as attacks targeting Asian-Americans, many of them women or older people, have increased nearly 150 percent in the past year, according to experts who testified last month before a House panel. Ms. Hirono, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, had spoken earlier this week in personal terms about violence against Asian-Americans, saying she no longer felt safe walking in public wearing headphones.
“At a time when the A.A.P.I. community is under siege,” Ms. Hirono said, “this bill is an important signal that Congress is taking anti-Asian racism and hatred seriously.”
Despite the lopsided vote, the legislation could run into roadblocks later in the week. Ms. Hirono told reporters that Republican and Democratic leaders were still negotiating the amendment process and that Republicans hoped to introduce at least 20 amendments — some, she said, that were not germane to the legislation.
Republicans had initially offered a tepid response to the bill but ultimately decided they could not line up in opposition to a hate-crime measure. Most rallied around it after Democrats said they would add a bipartisan provision — proposed by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas — to establish state-run hate crime hotlines and provide grant money to law enforcement agencies that train their officers to identify hate crimes.
The legislation would also allow judges to mandate that individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws receive education about the targeted community.
“As a proud husband of an Asian-American woman, I think this discrimination against Asian-Americans is a real problem,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, whose wife, Elaine Chao, is of Chinese descent.
Six Republicans — Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama — voted against advancing the bill.
Mr. Cotton said in a statement before the vote that “the Senate should have the benefit of hearing from the Department of Justice before blindly acting on this issue,” noting that Democrats had expedited the bill’s consideration before holding a hearing about it.
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Brenda Mallory, an environmental lawyer who served in prominent roles during the Obama administration, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, making her the first Black woman to hold the position.
Her confirmation, by a vote of 53 to 45, will allow the council to move forward with what President Biden has described as an expanded focus on racial and social equity in environmental decision-making. The agency helps coordinate environmental policy across the federal government and will play a key role in meeting Mr. Biden’s climate change goals.
Ms. Mallory is assuming the role of administrator of the C.E.Q. as the Biden administration tries to deliver a $2 trillion infrastructure package that would rebuild highways and bridges as well as develop electric vehicle charging stations, replace every lead service line in the country and modernize the country’s electricity grid. At the same time, the administration has vowed to restore provisions that the Trump administration rolled back in a 51-year-old permitting law known as the National Environmental Policy Act.
In the coming months, Ms. Mallory is expected to face key decisions about how to strengthen that law while allaying concerns from industry leaders — including in the renewable energy sector — who argue that too much red tape could delay or block badly needed infrastructure development.
In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March, Ms. Mallory gave few clues to her position, saying that the law should be reviewed in a way that “ensures that we have significant infrastructure projects and that economic recovery which is based on those projects can occur.”
Ms. Mallory most recently served as the director of regulatory policy for the Southern Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit group. As an environmental lawyer, she joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 2000, serving there and at the Council on Environmental Quality in various positions for 17 years before rising to general counsel of the C.E.Q.
Her nomination was supported by 13 past Republican heads of the council and the E.P.A., as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware and chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said Ms. Mallory would get the United States “back on track” on environmental issues, “to harmonize our efforts to address the climate crisis, safeguard public health and ensure that we’re treating others the way we want to be treated.”
Critics — including Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who voted against Ms. Mallory on Wednesday — said they worried that her work would slow construction projects.
“If we want to ‘build back better,’ we have to be able to actually build,” Ms. Capito said during Ms. Mallory’s hearing.
The Biden administration plans to suspend sales of many offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia that were approved under the Trump administration, but it will allow the sale of other matériel that can be construed to have a defensive purpose, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The plan, which Congress was briefed on last week, is part of the Biden administration’s review of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that the White House announced soon after President Biden’s inauguration.
The original sales were met with strong opposition last year from congressional Democrats, who are angry over the countries’ involvement in the war in Yemen and wary of transferring advanced military technology to authoritarian Middle Eastern nations with ties to China.
The Biden administration will approve $23 billion in weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates, according to a State Department spokesman, including F-35 fighter jets and armed Reaper drones. Administration officials had signaled that those arms, sold to the Emirates soon after it signed a diplomatic agreement with Israel brokered by the Trump administration, were likely to be approved.
The fate of arms sales to Saudi Arabia had been less clear. Mr. Biden, who has said that he wants to reset Washington’s relationship with Riyadh, announced in February that he would end “all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales,” but the White House did not provide further details.
Since then, U.S. officials have debated which weapons sold under the Trump administration might plausibly be used for Saudi Arabia’s self-defense, including against missile and drone attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, whom the Saudis have been fighting in Yemen. Even as Biden administration officials have criticized Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, they have repeatedly pledged to help the Saudis defend themselves.
After its review, the administration plans to suspend the sale of air-to-ground offensive weapons used by fixed-wing aircraft — mainly fighter jets and drones — to Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials said. This includes systems that can turn regular bombs into precision-guided munitions.
The suspension is aimed at addressing one of the main concerns in the Yemen war: the killings of civilians, including many children, because of the Saudi-led coalition’s use of such bombs.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland urged senators on Wednesday to confirm President Biden’s nominees for top Justice Department posts, saying that he will be ill-equipped to enforce civil rights protections without them.
He said that the department was doing “everything within our power” to get confirmed Vanita Gupta as the department’s No. 3 and Kristen Clarke as the head of its Civil Rights Division.
“I meant it when I told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they have skills that I do not have. They have experiences that I do not have,” Mr. Garland said in remarks to the National Action Network, the civil rights organizations founded by Rev. Al Sharpton.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee forced Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, to bring Ms. Gupta’s nomination to a floor vote without the panel’s support to advance her nomination to be associate attorney general, a role that oversees several key divisions, including civil rights, antitrust and civil, as well as grants to the nation’s police departments.
Republicans have expressed skepticism about her approach to policing issues and other policies, though Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the committee chairman, accused them of misrepresenting Ms. Gupta’s views.
During Ms. Clarke’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Republicans on the panel criticized her past comments on policing, judicial nominees and religious groups that defied pandemic-era restrictions on gatherings, signaling that she was also unlikely to receive their support.
Mr. Biden has said that his administration will tackle civil rights issues, a promise that has taken on urgency amid an uptick in violence against Asian-Americans and the high-profile trial of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer accused by prosecutors in Minnesota of murdering George Floyd, a Black man.
Mr. Garland told the civil rights leaders that he has requested a larger budget to support the Justice Department’s civil rights mission, ordered an expedited review to determine how to use the department’s resources to combat hate crimes and telegraphed his intent to scrutinize whether government agencies, including police departments, engaged in “patterns or practices that deprive individuals of their federal or constitutional rights.”
But he said that “dedicated, experienced leadership is also needed” to curb law enforcement misconduct, ensure the right to vote, and combat discrimination in housing, education and employment.
“I meant it when I said I needed both of them, and their experiences and skills, to be successful as attorney general,” Mr. Garland said of Ms. Gupta and Ms. Clarke, both veteran civil rights lawyers.
Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday that she would visit Mexico and Guatemala “as soon as possible” as part of the administration’s broader effort to stop surging numbers of migrants and unaccompanied children from traveling to the southern border.
Speaking ahead of a virtual meeting with immigration advocates, Ms. Harris said that Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, would address what is going on at the border, and she will focus on what is convincing migrants to leave their homes in Central America.
“I have been asked to lead the issue of addressing the root causes, similar to what the then-vice president did many years ago,” she said, referring to Biden’s actions as vice president under Barack Obama. “But I will tell you that these are not issues that are going to be addressed overnight.”
Border officials apprehended more than 170,000 migrants at the southwest border in March. The administration has especially struggled to move thousands of unaccompanied minors from border jails into shelters, although it has made progress in recent weeks. Nearly 3,000 children and teenagers were stuck in the jails on Tuesday, according to documents obtained by The New York Times, compared to the roughly 5,000 last month, the most in any month in more than a decade.
The announcement by Ms. Harris seemed to be a response to calls from Republicans that the travel to the border to see the situation firsthand.
“There is no substitute for seeing overcrowded migrant facilities in person and speaking directly with our border agents and officers who are dealing with this crisis on the human level every day,” a group of seven Republican lawmakers wrote to Ms. Harris in a letter dated Tuesday.
The remarks may also have been intended to clarify President Biden’s announcement, made in late March, that Ms. Harris would “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle,” comprised by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It was a broad and politically fraught mandate, and since then, officials across the administration have been stressing that Ms. Harris will be focusing on the “root causes” of migration.
They have offered few specifics on what that means, but have said that Ms. Harris recently hosted calls with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico, and Alejandro Giammattei, the president of Guatemala.
On Monday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that “bilateral discussions” had led to a commitment from the countries to increase troops along their borders and along migration routes to deter people from making the journey.
On Wednesday, Ms. Harris’s office did not immediately respond to a question about whether the vice president had been the person to secure the deal. And Guatemalan officials said the troops were sent to the border months ago, according to news reports.
Addressing the root causes of migration, which administration officials say include gang violence, human trafficking and natural disasters, could take years, and providing humanitarian aid to combat those problems has become a matter of political debate.
The Biden administration has committed $4 billion to Central American countries to address migration.
Ms. Harris will also soon be taking over work from a departing official with years of experience. Last week, Roberta S. Jacobson, the former ambassador to Mexico chosen as Mr. Biden’s “border czar,” said that she would retire from government. She said she was happy to see Ms. Harris assume the work of stemming migration from Central America.
“Nobody could be more delighted to see the vice president take on that role,” Ms. Jacobson said.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.
Voters largely approve of President Biden’s coronavirus response but disapprove of his handling of the situation at the southern border, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
The poll also found that Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan is more popular if it is funded by an increase in corporate tax rates, which congressional Republicans oppose.
Nearly two-thirds of the people polled — 64 percent — said they approved of Mr. Biden’s response to the pandemic, and only 29 percent said they disapproved. But on his handling of the situation at the border with Mexico, 29 percent approved and 55 percent disapproved.
Slightly more respondents supported Mr. Biden’s infrastructure plan (44 percent) than opposed it (38 percent), with 19 percent not expressing an opinion. Support rose significantly, to 53 percent, for a plan funded by higher taxes on corporations.
The poll, conducted April 8-12 among 1,237 adults, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
On policies related to coronavirus vaccinations, the poll showed Americans closely divided on so-called vaccine passports, businesses’ requiring their employees to be vaccinated, and colleges’ requiring students to be vaccinated.
But on one matter, they overwhelmingly agreed.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said that many of the more than 560,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States could have been prevented. Only 17 percent said that number was inevitable.
The annual summer awards dinner and ceremony held by the White House Correspondents’ Association in Washington — often called “nerd prom” — has been canceled for a second straight year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced on Wednesday.
But the 117-year-old W.H.C.A. made it clear that the show — downscaled and stripped of frippery during the three years President Donald J. Trump boycotted it — would go on next year.
“We will do all this in person next year, with the W.H.C.A. annual dinner on April 30, 2022,” officials said in a statement posted on the organization’s website.
Last year’s dinner was pushed back from its traditional late spring slot to late summer, and finally called off as the coronavirus spread. Organizers tried to figure out a way to hold this year’s dinner, but planning to socially distance the journalists, politicians and celebrities who usually attend proved too challenging. (The New York Times does not attend the event.)
“We have worked through any number of scenarios over the last several months, but to put it plainly: While improving rapidly, the Covid-19 landscape is just not at a place where we could make the necessary decisions to go ahead with such a large indoor event,” the organization’s board wrote.
The group, a nonprofit that represents the interests of White House journalists and funds education programs, will soon announce its annual journalism award winners and scholarship recipients, and it still plans to hold a town-hall meeting to discuss logistical concerns in covering the Biden White House.
The organization was at a crossroads even before the disruptions of the virus.
Over the past decade, and especially during the Obama years, the dinner grew from what amounted to an oversized capital gathering of political tradespeople into something with more swagger, cultural currency and national political punch.
Thanks to the glamour of the Obamas, the dinner became a celebrity-filled event, replete with athletes, movie stars and red carpets.
But no attendee has had as lasting an impact on the institution, both in his presence and absence, as Mr. Trump, who boycotted all three dinners held during his presidency and ordered his staff to stay away. But he also went much further: His administration abandoned the practice of daily briefings, and Mr. Trump regularly called members of the news media “the enemy of the people.”
In recent years, while the dinner was still a big event, it was refocused to celebrate freedom of the press.
After a tenure in which Republicans lost both houses of Congress and the White House, former President Donald J. Trump continues to talk privately about running again in 2024. His firm hold on a devoted group of voters, even after the deadly riot by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, has left many Republicans trying to avoid alienating him.
While Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, and a few other Republicans directly criticized Mr. Trump’s conduct after the Capitol riot, many in the G.O.P. have privately said they hope he will fade away. Yet party leaders have discussed the need to continue appealing to the new voters Mr. Trump attracted over the past five years.
This week on Fox News, Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, tried to avoid giving a direct answer about the caustic behavior of Mr. Trump, who had called Mr. McConnell “dumb” and used a coarse phrase to underscore it while speaking to hundreds of Republican National Committee donors on Saturday night.
“I think a lot of that rhetoric is — you know, it’s part of the style and tone that comes with the former president,” Mr. Thune said, before adding that Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell shared the goal of reclaiming congressional majorities in 2022.
And Nikki Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations under Mr. Trump who enraged him when she criticized his actions in connection to the Jan. 6 riot, told The Associated Press this week that she would not run if Mr. Trump did, a display of deference.
To some extent, the posture recalls the waning days of Mr. Trump’s first primary candidacy, in 2015 and 2016.
“I always thought that was like a rational choice in 2015,” the former Jeb Bush adviser Tim Miller said, referring to the instinct to lay back and let someone else take on Mr. Trump. “But after we all saw how the strategy fails of just hoping and wishing for him to go away, nobody learned from it.”
Still, Mr. Trump does not have the complete control over the party that he did while in office. Republican lawmakers have found common cause in battling President Biden’s policies, and some hope that the ongoing criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s business could be the beginning of a slow turn away from him.
“Trump did self-destruct eventually, after four years in office,” said Mike DuHaime, who advised former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey when he ran against Mr. Trump in the Republican primary. “But he can still make or break others, and that makes him powerful and relevant.”
The nation’s top intelligence officials faced a congressional panel on Wednesday for the first time in two years to discuss global threats faced by the United States, fielding questions on China, Russia, Iran and more.
Lawmakers said they would press the intelligence chiefs on China, Russia, Iran, as well as domestic extremism, cyberattacks and election interference. Senators are also likely to raise prospects for continued violence in Afghanistan now that President Biden has decided to pull out troops by September.
The intelligence community’s annual threat assessment report released ahead of the hearing emphasized the growing challenge of China and the continuing threat from Russia, though it acknowledged that both powers wanted to avoid direct confrontation with the United States.
“China is employing a comprehensive approach to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbors to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences,” Avril B. Haines, the director of national intelligence, told senators.
The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, also emphasized the threat from China. “We’re opening a new investigation into China every 10 hours,” he said of the bureau, “and I can assure the committee that’s not because our folks don’t have anything to do with their time.”
In his opening statement, Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who leads the committee, emphasized that the challenge was not from the Chinese people, and especially not with Asian-Americans, but Beijing’s communist government.
Ms. Haines was joined at the hearing by four other agency directors: Mr. Wray, William J. Burns of the C.I.A., Gen. Paul M. Nakasone of the National Security Agency and Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Both Russia and China have been blamed for conducting cyberoperations that compromised broad swaths of the software supply chain. Lawmakers said they would press Ms. Haines and the other intelligence officials on the Russian hacking, which penetrated nine federal agencies, and another by China that compromised Microsoft Exchange servers. The Biden administration is expected to respond to the Russian hacking soon.
Ms. Haines said Russia uses hacks to sow discord and threaten America and its allies. “Russia is becoming increasingly adept at leveraging its technological prowess to develop asymmetric options in both the military and cyber spheres in order to give itself the ability to push back and force the United States to accommodate its interests,” she said.
Biden administration officials have emphasized that they want the intelligence agencies to take a wider view of threats, and the officials are expected to discuss the impacts of climate change on national security. The threats report linked surges in migration to both the pandemic and climate change.
Ms. Haines noted that another recent intelligence report on global trends highlighted how the pandemic and climate change, along with technological change, were testing “the resilience and adaptability” of society. The “looming disequilibrium,” she said, compels intelligence agencies to broaden their definition of national security.
After a nationwide flurry of arrests in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, defense lawyers are homing in on what they describe as fundamental weaknesses in the government’s case.
Some have challenged the marquee indictments against members of the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right group the Proud Boys, saying that the evidence so far does not support claims that their clients conspired to plan an attack against Congress.
Others have complained about prosecutors’ use of an unlawful entry statute and a 1960s-era law intended to silence leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Still others have questioned the relevance of a federal obstruction law used to charge dozens of people, saying that it does not technically cover a proceeding like the certification of the presidential vote.
“The statutes being used don’t always describe what actually happened at the Capitol,” said Gregory T. Hunter, who has represented several people charged in connection with the riot. “I don’t think that anyone foresaw, when they wrote these laws, that they would be meant for a violent mob willing to do damage and stop Congress from doing its job.”
Without a legal guidepost, prosecutors have sometimes seemed to reach. They have, for instance, charged many defendants with aiding and abetting but not fully explained who they helped or precisely what they did.
“The Capitol attack was, thankfully, an unprecedented event,” said Aitan Goelman, a former federal prosecutor who helped try Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. “But that means you’re not going to have any blueprint cases to know how — or what — to charge.”
From the start, prosecutors have run into an overarching problem: The attack was committed by a mob, but justice is supposed to be meted out on an individual level.
“Those who actually assaulted police officers and broke through windows, doors and barricades, and those who aided, conspired with, planned or coordinated such actions,” the federal appeals court that oversees the Capitol cases wrote in a recent ruling, “are in a different category of dangerousness than those who cheered on the violence or entered the Capitol after others cleared the way.”
Nearly three years ago, a little-known left-wing organization helped engineer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shock victory over Representative Joseph Crowley in a House primary. Last year, the group, Justice Democrats, aided Jamaal Bowman’s ouster of Representative Eliot Engel in another House primary.
Now the group has found its next New York target: Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, 75, a Democrat first elected to Congress in 1992, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Justice Democrats will throw its support behind Rana Abdelhamid, a community organizer and nonprofit founder, in her bid against Ms. Maloney, laying the groundwork for a generational, ideological and insider-versus-outsider battle that will test the power and energy of the left with President Donald J. Trump now out of office.
Ms. Abdelhamid, a 27-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America who is keenly focused on matters of housing access and equity, intends to officially launch her candidacy for the 2022 primary on Wednesday.
“We strongly believe in Rana’s leadership capabilities to build a coalition like we’ve been able to in some of our previous elections,” said Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, adding that she believed Ms. Abdelhamid could connect with younger voters, working-class voters of color, some older white liberals and those inspired by left-wing leaders like Senator Bernie Sanders and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.
Ms. Maloney’s district, the 12th District of New York, is home to wealthy, business-minded moderates along the East Side of Manhattan. But it also includes deeply progressive pockets of the city in western Queens and a corner of Brooklyn with a well-organized left-wing activist scene.
There is great uncertainty around what the district will ultimately look like following an expected redistricting process, and Ms. Abdelhamid is not Ms. Maloney’s only likely challenger; Suraj Patel, who has unsuccessfully challenged Ms. Maloney twice, has indicated that he intends to run again.
But for now, Ms. Abdelhamid’s candidacy will measure whether New Yorkers reeling from the pandemic and navigating economic recovery are skeptical of elevating another political outsider to steer the city forward — or if vast inequalities, which only worsened over the last year, have put the electorate in an anti-establishment mood.
Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, announced on Wednesday that he would retire from Congress at the end of this term after more than two decades in the House.
Mr. Brady, who first won his seat in the state’s Eighth Congressional district in 1996, is the latest seasoned lawmaker to announce his retirement in recent months.
“Is this because I’ve lost faith in a partisan Congress and the political system? Absolutely not,” Mr. Brady said in remarks announcing his departure at an economic conference. “In the end, I’ll leave Congress the way I entered it, with the absolute belief that we are a remarkable nation — the greatest in history.”
Mr. Brady is just the third Texan to lead the House Ways and Means Committee as chairman, overseeing the committee’s successful passage of the 2017 tax overhaul before Democrats won control of the House in 2018.
But should Republicans take back the House in 2022, Mr. Brady would not be allowed to take back the chairmanship because of term limits in the Republican conference.
“Did that factor into the decision? Yeah, some,” Mr. Brady acknowledged. But he said that the committee term limits ensured that a variety of members would be able to rise through the ranks of the conference, and he “remained confident in its future.”
The committee’s current chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, said that he and Mr. Brady’s relationship was predicated “on doing our best for this country we both love so dearly.”
“With the time he has left on the dais, I look forward to once again coming together and tackling the unfinished business of the committee, starting with overhauling our nation’s infrastructure,” Mr. Neal said. “He has left his mark on this great committee, and I wish him and his family all the best in what’s to come.”
Representative Filemón Vela, Democrat of Texas, has also announced his plans to retire at the end of the 117th Congress.