1/ The first day of Trump’s impeachment trial began with more than 12 hours of contentious debate over the procedural rules that will guide the proceedings as senators repeatedly voted along party lines to reject efforts to subpoena new witnesses. Senate Republicans rejected 11 Democratic amendments to subpoena records from the White House, State Department, Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget related to Ukraine, which the White House blocked during the House inquiry. Senate Republicans also blocked amendments to issue subpoenas for testimony from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, Michael Duffey, a White House budget office official, and Robert Blair, a Mulvaney adviser who was involved in the decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine. Even an attempt to make a deal to shorten debate was rejected. At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the prosecutors and the White House legal team for the quality of their discourse, warning them about using inappropriate language. The Senate adopted Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial after more than 12 hours of debate and discussion over the rules. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / Axios / CNN / CBS News / ABC News)
2/ Mitch McConnell made last-minute, handwritten changes to the proposed impeachment trial rules following criticism from Democrats and key Republicans. McConnell initially circulated the proposed organizing resolution late Monday night, which would have provided House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team each 24 hours over two days to make their opening arguments. McConnell’s proposal would have also put the decision of whether to admit the House evidence to a Senate vote. Following complaints from lawmakers, however, McConnell revised the resolution, instead giving House prosecutors and White House lawyers each 24 hours over three days to present their opening arguments, as well as a provision to automatically enter evidence collected during the House impeachment inquiry. The change means the trial days, which start at 1 p.m., will likely now conclude daily around 9 p.m. – instead of after midnight. The condensed timeline also raises the prospect that the trial will conclude before Trump’s Feb. 4 State of the Union address. (CNN / NPR / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press)
3/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the impeachment trial a “sham” that is “deliberately designed to hide the truth,” saying McConnell “has chosen a cover-up” with a “dark of night impeachment trial.” McConnell initially pledged to conform to the same standard the Senate used during Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial. The impeachment managers, however, said McConnell’s proposal “deviates sharply from the Clinton precedent — and common sense — in an effort to prevent the full truth of the president’s misconduct from coming to light.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, called the proposal “appalling” and accused McConnell of seeking to turn the trial into “a farce” and a “national disgrace.” (NBC News / Axios / The Hill / Daily Beast / Washington Post / The Guardian)
- READ: Pelosi’s statement on McConnell’s resolution (Speaker.gov)
4/ Trump’s defense team and Senate Republican allies plan to block witnesses from testifying in public if Democrats manage to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks. One option being discussed would be to move witnesses testimony, including potential testimony by former national security adviser John Bolton, to a classified setting for national security reasons. Trump has also previously said he would assert executive privilege if Bolton were called to testify, and the White House has indicated that it could appeal to federal courts for an injunction to stop Bolton if he refuses to go along with their instructions. (Washington Post / NBC News)
- The White House appointed several prominent House Republicans to advise Trump’s impeachment defense team ahead of the Senate trial, which begins today. Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe, Mike Johnson, Mark Meadows, Debbie Lesko, Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik, and Doug Collins have been tapped to help Trump with the trial. Republicans in the Senate warned against the appointments, saying that it would cast the Senate trail in a partisan light. (The Hill)
poll/ 57% of Americans say House managers should be able to introduce new evidence in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. Another 37% say that the managers should be limited to sharing only what was revealed during the initial impeachment inquiry. (Monmouth University Poll)
poll/ 51% of Americans say Trump has encouraged interference in U.S. elections. 41% say the U.S. is not prepared to keep the 2020 election safe and secure from outside interference. (NPR)
poll/ Eighty-two percentage points separated Republicans’ (89%) and Democrats’ (7%) average job approval ratings of Trump in 2019 – the largest degree of political polarization in any presidential year. (Gallup)
Where is Trump? At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, repeatedly calling the impeachment trial a “total hoax” and touting his economic achievements, which what he described as a “blue-collar boom.” Trump called the impeachment trial “disgraceful” before insisting “I’m sure it is going to work out fine.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Washington Post)
The Trump administration plans to add seven countries to its travel ban list – three years after its original order, which targeted several majority-Muslim nations. A draft being considered would place immigration restrictions on people from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania, but not necessarily ban all citizens from entering the United States. Some countries could face bans only on some visa categories. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Reuters)
The Supreme Court declined to expedite a legal challenge that could kill the Affordable Care Act, likely pushing the issue until after the presidential election. A coalition of states and the House of Representatives had asked the court to fast-track their appeal after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / The Hill)
Lev Parnas asked Attorney General William Barr to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation. Parnas has been charged with federal campaign finance violations in New York and was also part of the team that helped Giuliani pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden. Parnas claimed Barr “had to have known everything” about the effort and that he was “basically on the team,” rendering Barr unable to fairly prosecute the case against Parnas. (NBC News)
Trump – again – threatened to impose tariffs on European automobiles if he can’t strike what he called “a fair deal.” Trump, however, declined to set a public deadline, instead saying “They know what the deadline is.” A previous deadline for auto tariffs lapsed on Nov. 13, 2019. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
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