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Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in office three weeks. He arrives at a challenging time: the U.S. must figure out how to deal with China, Russia and Iran, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, and the State Department must rise from the morale slump it suffered during the Trump administration.

In an interview Tuesday with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, Blinken said that "there is no doubt" that the ability of American diplomats to promote democracy and human rights has been "tarnished by recent events."

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NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Secretary of State Tony Blinken about foreign policy goals under the Biden administration and how he plans to shape America's standing on the global stage.

Mary Louise Kelly: Secretary Blinken, welcome.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: Thanks. It's so good to be with you, Mary Louise.

It is good to have you with us. Let's start here: If I asked you for one sentence, what is the goal of U.S. foreign policy under this administration, the mission statement. What would that sentence be?

Amy Cooper, a white dog owner who was at the center of a controversial encounter with a Black man bird-watching in New York's Central Park last year, had her misdemeanor charge stemming from that incident dropped on Tuesday.

The woman had been facing a charge of falsely reporting an incident to police after she told them Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, threatened her and her dog. He did not.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson is suing former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and two far-right groups — the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers — for allegedly conspiring to incite the deadly violence on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. Capitol police union issued an overwhelming no-confidence vote for the force's top leaders, including acting Chief Yogananda Pittman and a half-dozen other agency leaders.

The news comes as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Rules committees announced plans for a February 23 joint oversight hearing to examine security failures.

Pittman drew a 92% no-confidence vote, while Capitol Police Captain Ben Smith received the highest rebuke from 97% of voting members, the union said.

Updated 5:43 p.m. ET

David Perdue has taken the first step on the road back to the U.S. Senate, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to set up a potential political comeback in the Peach State in 2022.

"This was simply a necessary legal step that will allow me to continue to keep all options open," Perdue said of his paperwork in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. Ben Sasse is one of seven Republicans who crossed party lines to vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his historic second impeachment trial.

The effort fell 10 votes short of the 67 needed to convict but served to fortify the junior senator from Nebraska's bona fides as a conservative with an independent streak and put him further at odds with party leaders back home.

In a wide-ranging interview with NPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday, Sasse said the Republican Party is in a battle between what he calls "conservatism and short-term-ism."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for Congress to establish an outside and independent commission to investigate "the facts and causes" related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, the California Democrat said the commission will be modeled on the commission established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Far-right-friendly social media site Parler limped back to life on Monday with a new Web host, retooled community guidelines and a promise that content inciting violence will be removed.

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Even before taking office, former President Donald Trump's administration obsessed over the U.S. census.

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Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday

A majority of senators voted Saturday to convict former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

But the Democrats' side needed 17 Republicans to join them in order to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

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Feb 14, 2021

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Following former President Donald Trump's second acquittal in an impeachment trial, House Democratic managers are defending their decision not to forge ahead with seeking witnesses to help make their case.

Just before voting Saturday to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, the Senate seemed to reverse course, with a decision not to call witnesses.

Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the U.S. Virgin Islands who was one of the House impeachment managers, is defending the agreement between House managers and Trump's attorneys not to call witnesses after all.

President Biden responded to the Senate's acquittal of Donald Trump on Saturday by reminding Americans that truth must be defended, saying the impeachment of the former president was a stark illustration of the danger posed to democracy by lies, misinformation and extremism.

And Biden said that although Trump was acquitted, his actions in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection were not "in dispute."

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATRICK LEAHY: Two-thirds of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charge contained therein. It is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is, hereby acquitted of the charge in said article.

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Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler thrust herself into the national spotlight on Friday when the Washington Republican came out with a stunning account of Donald Trump's actions on the day of the Capitol insurrection. In a statement put out on the eve of the vote in Trump's Senate impeachment trial, Herrera Beutler said that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her that in a conversation with the then-president on Jan. 6, Trump appeared to side with the mob, telling him the rioters were "more upset about the election than you are."

White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned on Saturday after a report emerged that he verbally threatened a reporter who was pursuing a story about his romantic relationship with another reporter.

Ducklo, who had been serving a weeklong suspension without pay for the incident, posted a statement on Twitter confirming his resignation.

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