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House impeachment managers walk through Capitol

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!



Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 463,477; Tuesday, 465,072; Wednesday, 468,203.



The Senate determined on Tuesday that former President TrumpDonald TrumpUS gives examples of possible sanctions relief to Iran GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban MORE can be tried for alleged impeachable offenses under the Constitution as a private citizen. 

 

The 56-44 vote, which fell largely along partisan lines, made history but did not shift expectations that Trump ultimately will be acquitted after being impeached by the House for a second time in the span of 13 months, yet another asterisk for the record books.

 

Convicting Trump would require a two-thirds majority in the 50-50 Senate. If every Democrat voted to convict the former president of inciting insurrection against the U.S. government on Jan. 6 at the Capitol, 17 Republicans would have to embrace the Democrats’ arguments and the punishment. That will not happen, senators in both parties agree (The Hill).

 

Only six Republican senators joined Democrats to vote in favor of allowing the trial to proceed after an afternoon that included dramatic video presented by House Democrats who serve as prosecutors (pictured above) and what even Trump defenders panned as wobbly counter-arguments from Trump lawyer Bruce Castor (pictured below) (The Hill and Reuters). 

 

GOP senators who voted to proceed with the trial: Sens. Ben SasseBen SasseSenate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban On The Money: Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl | Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term | Left-leaning group raises concerns about SALT cap repeal Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl MORE of Nebraska, Bill CassidyBill CassidySenate GOP crafts outlines for infrastructure counter proposal Bottom line Calls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic MORE of Louisiana (who changed his vote on the question of constitutionality and commended the House Democrats for doing a better job than Trump’s legal team), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHarris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee Bipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE of Alaska, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Tensions rise as U.S. waits for Derek Chauvin verdict Mark Halperin hired by bipartisan policy group No Labels MORE of Utah, Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE of Pennsylvania (who is not seeking reelection next year and said the prosecution’s arguments were “persuasive”) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate locks in hate crimes deal, setting up Thursday passage Bipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE of Maine (who has said Trump incited the Capitol siege that left five people dead on Jan. 6) (The Hill and Reuters). 

 

Journalists across the nation’s capital reported on Trump’s reaction as he watched the trial from Mar-a-Lago in Florida. According to unnamed sources cited on social media and in news accounts, the 45th president was unhappy with his lawyers and their defense presentation (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Trump lawyer David Schoen says the former president’s team will be “very well prepared” following criticism.

 

NBC News: Everything you need to know about the first day of Trump’s second impeachment trial.

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage in The Memo writes that Democrats want to persuade the court of public opinion that Trump should never be able to shirk responsibility for the events of Jan. 6.

 

House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinCongress and the administration cannot play games with the Congressional Review Act Capitol Police watchdog paints damning picture of Jan. 6 failures The Hill's Morning Report - Biden officials brace for worst despite vaccine data MORE (D-Md.), will resume their case against Trump today at noon. Day Two follows more than 13 minutes of graphic video evidence recorded at the Capitol, which prosecutors assembled with the belief that it would outrage many voters and serve to maximize political discomfort among Republican senators who have indicated they will clear the former president of any wrongdoing, The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report. The former president contends that his remarks for months to supporters and his rally speech on Jan. 6 encouraging his allies to march to the Capitol to “fight” to prevent his defeat in the Electoral College were protected speech under the First Amendment.

 

Video presented by House Democrats is HERE. More video is expected today, including some that hasn’t been seen before (The Associated Press).

 

The Associated Press: What to expect today at the trial.

 

Public polling conducted before the trial suggests most Americans believe Trump bears responsibility for the Capitol attack but a smaller majority support conviction. Partisan divisions remain firmly in place (The New York Times). 

 

During his presentation, Raskin described how he felt when he was separated from his daughter Tabitha and another family member in the Capitol and feared he would lose her to violence just a day after burying his son, who had taken his own life on Dec. 31.

 

When he was reunited with his daughter, Raskin apologized and promised it wouldn’t happen the next time she visited the building.  

 

“She said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol again,’” Raskin recounted, choking up. “Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day … that one hit me the hardest. That and watching someone use an American flagpole, with the flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers, ruthlessly, mercilessly, tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life.”

 

 

Former President Trump's lawyer, Bruce Castor Jr.

 

 

Amid the trial, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Lawmakers reintroduce bill to invest billions to compete with China in tech MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Democrats are moving forward with the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. 

 

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports Republicans are rankled by Democrats’ efforts to convict the former president while also pressing ahead with major legislation that could become law by a simple majority in the Senate with no Republican votes. 

 

The situation threatens to further harden political lines (if that’s even possible) and complicate President BidenJoe BidenCornyn, Sinema to introduce bill aimed at addressing border surge Harris to travel to Northern Triangle region in June Biden expected to formally recognize Armenian Genocide: report MORE’s future priorities in Congress. 

 

Politico: Schumer dodges on whether a proposed federal minimum wage increase can survive Senate parliamentary scrutiny.

 

The Hill: Firing of National Labor Relations Board top lawyer attracts GOP scrutiny in Congress.

 

> Security: There’s a push to build three miles of permanent fencing and barriers around the perimeter of the U.S. Capitol. Not so fast, says D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonHouse Democrats eye passing DC statehood bill for second time House committee approves DC statehood bill House committee expected to pass DC statehood bill on Wednesday MORE (D). She introduced a bill that would ban such structures as permanent features around the seat of U.S. democracy. The interim Capitol Police chief and House sergeant at arms recommended a permanent fence as part of the building’s security solution; fencing appeared on Jan. 7 and will be in place until at least the conclusion of the impeachment trial (DCist).

 

 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

 



LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: The White House announced on Tuesday that community health centers will be receiving COVID-19 vaccines directly from the federal government next week, an attempt by the administration to broaden distribution of scarce doses. 

 

“Equity is core to our strategy to put this pandemic behind us, and equity means that we are reaching everyone, particularly those in underserved and rural communities, and those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsCDC: 30 percent of US adults fully vaccinated, nearly 50 percent have received at least one dose The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause The Memo: Specter of vaccine hesitancy rises after J&J blow MORE, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a press briefing. 

 

As The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel details, the program will start out with baby steps and ramp up over time as the number of vaccines increases. The administration will initially send doses to at least one health center in every jurisdiction across the country, with 1 million doses divided across 250 clinics as the program phases in over the next few weeks. That means 500,000 first doses and 500,000 second doses.

 

> Yearly vaccines?: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) CEO Alex Gorsky said on Tuesday that individuals may need to receive an annual COVID-19 vaccine in the coming years as the pandemic turns into an endemic and the virus lingers into the future.

 

“Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads, it can also mutate,” Gorsky told CNBC. “Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”

 

The Hill: The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday gave emergency use authorization for a new combination antibody drug from Eli Lilly that the company says can treat mild and moderate cases of the coronavirus. 

 

The Associated Press: South Africa scraps AstraZeneca vaccine, will give J&J jabs.

 

Reuters: Vaccine versus variant: Promising data in Israel's race to defeat pandemic.

 

 

People wait in line for coronavirus vaccine

 

 

> International: The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that COVID-19, which first appeared in humans in Wuhan, China, was unlikely to be the result of a leak from a Chinese laboratory, but the origin in December 2019 is unknown. Infectious diseases expert Dominic Dwyer, part of a team of researchers sent to China, said it would probably take years to fully understand how the coronavirus made its way into humans. Many virologists believe bats are likely part of the viral jump out of animals. China suggests frozen foods, including imports across borders, warrant further study (The Associated Press).



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IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: The Florida Democratic Party is in disarray as it deals with financial turmoil and internal divisions that render ambitions to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis suggests Chauvin jury may have been 'scared of what a mob' would do 34 states considering anti-protest bills introduced by Republicans: report Florida Senate appears unlikely to pass transgender sports bill MORE (R) or Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban On The Money: Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl | Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term | Left-leaning group raises concerns about SALT cap repeal MORE (R-Fla.) all the more difficult.

 

The challenges for Florida Democrats are clear. The party has suffered disastrous electoral losses in recent years at both the state and federal levels and, as The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports, finds itself in a dire financial situation. A year-end report filed on Sunday with the Federal Election Commission showed the Florida Democrats’ federal entity with less than $61,000 in the bank, with their debts eclipsing $686,000. 

 

Across the aisle, the Republican Party of Florida has more than $5.8 million in cash on hand and is debtless.

 

> Primaries: Amanda Chase, a Republican state senator in Virginia who describes herself as “Trump in heels,” is creating problems for the state party and its push to take back the governor’s mansion later this year. 

 

Chase has collected raucous support from some Republicans in the state, as The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes. However, she is being treated by state Democrats akin to how Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is at the national level as they attempt to tether her to the GOP brand and make her the face of the Republican Party of Virginia. 

 

Unlike national Republicans last year in Greene’s primary, Virginia Republicans are eager to stop her. On Tuesday, the Virginia GOP plowed ahead with plans to hold a nominating convention rather than a primary, a move viewed as an attempt to stop Chase. Last month, Chase was censured over comments appearing to show support for the rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

 

******

 

ADMINISTRATION: Biden on Tuesday continued to tout his proposed $1.9 trillion relief program, known as the American Rescue Plan, among lawmakers, stakeholders and members of the public. In the Oval Office, the president, Vice President Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit Overnight Energy: Biden will aim to cut US emissions in half by 2030 | Oil and gas leasing pause on public lands will last at least through June National childcare policy is pro-entrepreneurship and pro-growth MORE sat down with corporate leaders amid increasing opposition from congressional Republicans who argue another relief bill should be considerably smaller and targeted exclusively to the public health crisis (The Washington Post).

 

House Democrats have unveiled key portions of the legislation and on Tuesday began holding what will be a lengthy series of committee meetings this week to vote on various portions of the package, leading up to final House passage later this month.

 

With masks on and seated well apart on chairs and sofas arranged in the nation’s most famous government C-suite (pictured below), Biden and his team conferred with JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon; Tom Donohue, the outgoing CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart; Sonia Syngal, president and CEO of Gap Inc., and Marvin Ellison, president and CEO of Lowe’s Companies Inc.

 

“I have a job. My job is to help people. We have already lost over 450,000 people, and we could lose a whole lot more if we don’t act and act decisively,” Biden told reporters. “A lot of people, as I have said before, children are going to bed hungry. A lot of families are food insecure. They are in trouble. That’s my job.”

 

 

President Biden leads an Oval Office meeting

 

 

Biden plans next week to share his message about what’s needed to battle COVID-19 and boost the economy during a trip to the Midwest. The president will participate in a CNN town hall on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. ET in Milwaukee, home of Wisconsin’s largest county, where Biden trounced Trump in November. The discussion will air live and will take place in person, the network announced on Tuesday.

 

The Hill’s Brett Samuels profiles Louisa TerrellLouisa TerrellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Day 1 goes to Dems as GOP fumes at Trump lawyers Meet President Biden's legislative affairs chief Biden makes inroads with progressives MORE, White House legislative affairs director, chosen by Biden to help him move his ambitious agenda through a narrowly divided Congress in a short period of time. Terrell has a track record with the legislative affairs shop during the Obama years and with Biden when he was out of government. As Politico reported in December, the president’s lobbyist to Congress functions like “the connective tissue of lawmaking — the inside liaison who hammers out the little deals that makes the big laws happen.”

 

> Nominations: Neera TandenNeera TandenFive ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet White House delays release of budget plan MORE, who faces the rockiest path to confirmation among Biden’s Cabinet nominees, on Tuesday sought to defuse tensions over her many years of barbed tweets and cable commentary as a partisan Democrat, apologizing to senators in an effort to be confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 

 

“I regret that language and take responsibility for it,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

 

“Over the last few years, it’s been part of my role to be an impassioned advocate. I understand, though, that the role of OMB director calls for bipartisan action as well as a nonpartisan adherence to facts and evidence,” she said.

 

A longtime adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE and an unpaid adviser during the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign, Tanden is president of the Center for American Progress. During Trump’s term, she rarely passed up an opportunity to skewer the former president or Republicans, including some of the same senators who will vote on her nomination. She faces additional scrutiny today when she testifies before the Senate Budget Committee (The Hill).

 

The Hill: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold two days of hearings on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 on Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSenate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote Sherrod Brown: Teenager killed in Columbus police shooting 'should be alive right now' Watch live: Garland announces investigation of Minneapolis police MORE’s nomination to be attorney general. 

 

The Hill: Biden’s Justice Department begins replacing U.S. attorneys appointed under Trump.

 

> Biden and the military: The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Amie Parnes preview Biden’s first trip to the Pentagon as commander in chief, scheduled today, following his visit to the State Department last week. They describe the event across the Potomac River as immensely personal, according to longtime aides and Biden advisers. The president wants to restore trust among national security personnel following years of tumult under his predecessor and to underscore the contrasts. Biden views the stakes through the eyes of a former senator and vice president who weighed the risks and rewards of U.S. military intervention and as a father whose late son served in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.

 

The president in 2020 captured some key support from military voters, which helped him win in battleground states, including Georgia.

 

The Hill: Biden last week told CBS News that Trump’s receipt of intelligence briefings as a private citizen poses risks and such information should not be shared with him because there is “no need.” How do intelligence officials in the new administration assess setting a precedent to deny Trump U.S. intelligence?



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 



OPINION

Can members of Congress carry firearms on the Capitol complex? by Kimberly Wehle, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2NghdHF

 

It's time to impose a COVID-19 equity surcharge on Wall Street, by Amitai Etzioni, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/36W5NQE



WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

 

The Senate convenes at noon to resume the impeachment trial. The Budget Committee at 10 a.m. holds a confirmation hearing for Tanden to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

 

The president and Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden and Harris will visit with Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Top Pentagon nominee advances after Harris casts tie-breaker | Air Force general charged with sexual assault first to face court-martial | House passes bill to limit Saudi arms sales Overnight Defense: DC National Guard activates 250 troops ahead of Chauvin verdict | Planning update on Afghanistan withdrawal Top officers believe they have 'zero' extremists in their forces MORE and senior personnel at the Pentagon between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The vice president will join members of the coronavirus response team at 5:30 p.m. to confer with mayors from the African American Mayors Association about Biden’s COVID-19 response plan, now making its way through Congress.

 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. The administration’s coronavirus response briefing will take place at 11 a.m.

 

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports at 8:30 p.m. on the consumer price index in January as well as real earnings last month.

 

INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live event: Thursday at 1 p.m., “COVID-19 & the Opioid Epidemic.” Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution Democrats seek Barrett's recusal from case tied to conservative backers For a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game MORE (D-R.I.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHarris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs How to save the Amazon rainforest MORE (R-Ohio), Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyThe Memo: Hunter Biden and the politics of addiction OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Native groups hope Haaland's historic confirmation comes with tribal wins | EPA asks court to nix Trump rule limiting GHG regs | Green group asks regulators to block use of utility customers' money for lobbying  Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack MORE (R-W.Va.), and a panel of experts will discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the path to saving lives. RSVP HERE

 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube



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ELSEWHERE

CYBER SECURITY: Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeHillicon Valley: Twitter will not allow Trump account archive on platform | Commerce Dept. still weighing approach to Huawei, TikTok | Dating apps work to reinvent amid COVID-19 pandemic Key House leader to press for inclusion of cybersecurity in infrastructure bill Biden risks first major fight with progressives MORE (D-N.Y.), the new chair of the House Homeland Security cyber-security subcommittee, faces a range of critical challenges. Clarke told The Hill during an interview that she plans in her panel to tackle one of the largest cyber incidents in U.S. history, ongoing election security concerns, resources for hospitals and schools increasingly targeted by hackers, and support for the nation’s key cyber agency as it enters its third month without Senate-confirmed leadership (The Hill). … With Virginia poised to become the next state to pass a data privacy bill this week, pressure is on Congress to create a federal framework (The Hill).

 

TECH: Read how Tim Cook transformed Apple, a $2.3 trillion fortress, after Steve Jobs’s death at age 56 a decade ago. Current and former employees, executives at rival companies and Washington insiders point to Cook’s shrewd management, equally shrewd politicking and zero reluctance to wield Apple’s market power (Bloomberg Businessweek). … Twitter on Tuesday reported record total revenue of $1.29 billion, an increase of 28 percent year over year. Ad revenue was $1.15 billion, up 31 percent from the same period a year ago. The social media platform posted 27 percent user growth, missing Wall Street estimates, and warned this rate would slow in the upcoming quarters as a boost from the pandemic fizzles. In the fourth quarter, Twitter said it had 192 million average monetizable daily active users (its term for the number of daily users who can view ads). That was below analysts’ predictions (Reuters). … Tesla revealed a $1.5 billion bitcoin investment, burying the detail deep inside the company’s 2020 annual report, which was released on Monday. CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskNASA picks Elon Musk's SpaceX to build spacecraft for manned moon missions Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure MORE has made no secret of his enthusiasm for the soaring cryptocurrency (Reuters). 

 

U.S. Postal Service: Lawmakers and Americans of all political persuasions and in many regions want to see some serious improvements with mail delivery. Ron Bloom on Tuesday became the new chairman of the U.S. Postal Service board of governors, and he said the board is developing “a bold and comprehensive plan ... to revitalize the United States Postal Service.” He has served on the board since 2019 and worked during the Obama years as a senior Treasury Department official overseeing the restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler. At least two Democratic lawmakers want Biden to fire the entire nine-member board, on which there are three current vacancies. A White House official said Biden wants to fill the vacancies with officials “who reflect his commitment to the workers of the Postal Service – who deliver on the post office’s vital universal service obligation” (Reuters). Getting control of the board is seen by Democrats as a path to jettison U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyTammy Duckworth pressures postal service board on firing DeJoy House Democrats introduce 'DeJoy Act' to block postal service changes Let's end the Postal Service political theater and create needed reforms MORE, who imposed postal policies that came under heavy criticism on Capitol Hill last year (The Washington Post). 



THE CLOSER

And finally …   We looked for an excuse to share this photo of a koala behind the wheel of an SUV on Monday in Australia, taken after it caused a five-car traffic pileup as it tried to cross the freeway in heavy traffic. One driver rescued the marsupial using her coat as a net and drove the animal to a service station to wait for pickup by a wildlife group. She temporarily restrained the adorable troublemaker in her trunk while she stood outside, but it didn’t take long before the koala maneuvered into the front seats to wait for its next ride (The Associated Press).

 

 

A koala involved in an accident in Australia